Sunday, December 26, 2010

A 232.5 million year old mystery solved!

Several weeks ago family members who own a farm near the city of Jaèn were plowing a recently cleared plot of land to plant yuccas. The plow unearthed this oddity shown in the center of the photo. Knowing that I collect and have shelves of unusual things I’ve found, they brought the piece to Chiclayo as a Christmas gift for me. Opinions during a family discussion about what the object might be ranged from an octopus tentacle to a man-made artifact to a part left behind by alien visitors. To me it looked like a fossil of a giant snail, so that’s how I started my Google search.

It didn’t take many tries to learn that what I had was an ammonite fossil. These fossils are very common and are found all over the planet. The internet is loaded with photos like this one. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, but all have a typical snail shaped shell mostly with ribbed segments, though they were related closer to octopuses and squids than their shelled relatives. Black ammonites are of the species Asteroceras Obtusi.

Ammonites first show up in the fossil record about 400 million years ago. Fossils have been found in Huancayo Peru dating back 350 million years, and in other parts of Peru to 150 million years. The species went extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs, about 65 million years ago.

So the newest and most senior member of my oddity collection is an ammonite fossil dating back 232.5 million years, give or take 167.5 million years. Almost makes me feel young again!


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Last Chocolatada…

The last chocolatada for this Christmas season was a bit unusual. It was held in a private home in the district of La Victoria; one of Chiclayo’s poorer areas. This was the only Christmas party these kids will have and honestly, if you judged it with a ‘fun meter,’ it wasn’t much of a party. We were told the kids were not accustomed to gringos, which probably accounted for the look of apprehension on most of their faces. They weren’t a whole lot warmer even with Maribel. These poorer communities tend to be close-knit and don’t easily warm up to strangers. The house dog shared their uncertainty…growling at us continuously from under a table all the while we were there. Still…when we passed out the toys, paneton and chocolate milk there was a ‘thank-you’ from each child and a momentary look of excitement in their eyes.

They didn’t loosen up until they got outside, and even then many of them ran to their homes, apparently to show mom what they had received. I’ve been wondering about this situation since we returned to our apartment. I’m sure these kids play normally among themselves, but have they ever been to a party? They didn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. This location is only a 10 minute taxi ride from our apartment. I’m already thinking that next year we’ll return, and this time do it right. We’ll do it outside, and have a clown and games and loud music and we’ll do it for the whole neighborhood! And we won’t let the party end until every living soul has a semi-permanent smile on their face!...well, maybe not that damn dog.

We’re going to take off our Promesa Peru vests for a few days and relax. Joyce returns to the States in two days, and there are still things we want to show her. And I’d like to get back to Patapo to do some mountain climbing, and Maribel swears she can hear the pier at Puerto Eten promising lots of fish for our baited hooks.

We’ll be updating the Promesa Peru web page soon and hope you’ll find the time to check it out occasionally. In the meantime Happy Holidays to all of our readers!

Tom & Maribel (and Joyce & Brian)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas means Chocolatada

When we first decided to ask for donations to help us sponsor various activities in the Lambayeque Region, we had no idea what to expect. We know the world economies are not doing great and there aren’t a lot of people standing in line to give away their money, but we needed help so thought we’d ask. The short story is that you answered the call. Thanks to the generosity of Chris, Maria, Jim, The North Hills Country Club of Menomonee Falls, Karen, Rose, The Wednesday Women’s Golf League of Germantown, Pauline, Ray and David, we’re able to sponsor two chocolatadas and contribute to a third. What follows happened and will happen because of you.

The Promesa Peru team arrived at the Jose Carlos Mariategui school in the village of Collique Alto on the 15th after a grueling 1½ hour combi ride. Nearly all of the non-perishable food along with balls, jump ropes and other gifts had been transported to the school some days in advance. Fifty pounds of chicken had been purchased the previous day. All we brought with us were bags of candy and 200 empanadas.

This is something I wish those of you who contributed could experience. To have 50 or so little kids rush up to you smiling and yelling and wanting to hug and kiss you to thank you for giving them a party…well…it just feels good. And that wasn’t all. Inside the classrooms were more kids waiting their turn to march out to greet us; each carrying either a Peruvian or American flag. Several of our team wiped away tears and I admit to a lump in my throat.

The kids, teachers and parents had obviously put some work into this party. There were signs expressing friendship, and each class from kinder through secondary put on dance/song performances that were very entertaining and made their parents proud. The Promesa Peru people on site for the party are Betzy, Maribel, me, Joyce and Yesenia.

We were told that the kids had never seen a clown so we brought one with us. When the clown first appeared many of the younger kids were frightened, and some of the parents looked uneasy, but Jorge aka “Kokoroko the Clown” did an excellent job of entertaining and involving the kids, parents and teachers.

It’s customary to prepare food and beverages for a chocolatada in the school’s kitchen or at the town’s community center but Collique Alto has neither, so the food was prepared at parents homes and brought to the school where the students ate in their classrooms. Each kid had a plate heaping with chicken, potatoes, paneton and empanadas plus all the chocolate milk they could drink. Looking at some of their faces I had the feeling that they had never seen so much food on their plate at one time.


For me personally the chocolatada I will enjoy most is one we didn’t sponsor; at least not directly and probably will not attend. The Jorge Chàvez Dartnel school will hold their chocolatada on the 21st. Our only contribution is a couple dozen balls for the school and bags of candy for the kids, which we dropped off today. The school doesn’t need any further help from us.

In September Promesa Peru supplied tools for the students to increase production and improve quality of their carved and painted gourd enterprise. The plan worked, and with the proceeds from their increased sales plus money from two bake sales the community is able to finance its own chocolatada. This is a great example of helping people to help themselves.


And with the money we have left over we will sponsor another chocolatada this coming Monday; this one in a very poor district right here in Chiclayo. These kids live in an area where the schools, churches and communities simply don’t have the money for parties. With the help of some friends in the area we’ve identified a number of needy families and are presently working on a location for the party.

We hope you feel good about the help you’ve provided. You’ve got our thanks as well as the thanks of the kids, parents and teachers.


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Ole’ Boy Turned 70!

When the clock struck 12:00:01am this last Sunday I reached 70 years of age. Now…lots of people live to that age and beyond these days, but still…70 is getting up there. I blew right by 50, 60 and 65 without even thinking about it – no big deal, but I wanted friends and family with me for this birthday so we held a celebration at the Beirut Restaurant in Chiclayo. I’ll let the photos summarize what for me was a very special and memorable occasion, though I do want to repeat some words spoken at the restaurant by my sister Joyce somewhere around 2:30am…”Maribel throws one hell of a party!”

Some last minute finishing touches

Me, Brian and Maribel

My sister Joyce flew in from Milwaukee.

We had a clown as part of the entertainment. His instructions were to help as many guests as possible make fools of themselves. He succeeded admirably.

I’m pretty sure my friend Lucho didn’t expect to be wearing a toilet plunger as a hat at the party.

I was not immune

Maribel planned several surprises for me this evening. One of them was these young Marinera dancers. I had seen the boy Carlos dance previously. Our guests appreciated them as much as I did.

So you think you can dance?

Another surprise was this jazz combo, who played during dinner. I like many types of music, but jazz has always been my favorite.

Perhaps the nicest gift I received was this banner given to me by a group of friends.

It was an evening I will never forget. My thanks to those friends and family members who were there to share it with me.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

It’s Election Day Again...

…which means Peruvians are voting for their favorite candidates, and I am doing without wine tonight because I forgot to buy it yesterday and it is illegal to sell it today. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in the voting process in Chiclayo. It’s quite similar to the process in the boonies of northern Wisconsin. In Lima electronic voting is just beginning to be put in place.

Voting takes place at various schools. The first step is to determine what group you are registered to vote in and what room the group’s officials are in. You do this by checking lists for your name outside of the classroom doors. The voting ‘officials’ have their names and photos posted above the registration lists. Just as voting is mandatory, so is serving as an official if you are selected. Yes, that’s Maribel 4th from the left. This group has 140 people registered in it.

Once inside you will be greeted by three officials. All three of them must witness every step of the process, except of course for your selection of candidates.

The first step is to hand your DNI (Peruvian national identification card) containing your personal information plus photo to an official, who will verify your identity against their registration list and the copy they have of your DNI as seen on the desk.

When your identity has been confirmed you’ll be handed a paper ballot and pen if you need one.

The ‘voting cabin.’ There were only two candidates on the ballot for Regional President so most of the voters I watched took only a few seconds to indicate their choice.

The ballot box is clear corrugated plastic sealed with security tape.

After depositing your ballot you need to sign the official’s copy of your DNI. But you’re not done yet.

The final step is to place your fingerprint next to your signature.

Lastly your DNI is returned to you along with a tissue to wipe the ink off your finger. The entire process averages less than three minutes.

Voting begins at 8:00am and finishes at 4:00pm. The woman and man on the right in this photo represent the two candidates. When I asked what specifically they were watching for the man responded, “We want honesty.” After the doors close the three officials will tabulate the result in the presence of the candidate’s representatives.

Maribel will be home somewhere around 7:00pm tonight after 11 hours at the school. “What’s for supper?” would not be a good question to ask her.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Village of Collique Alto

I read somewhere that one should not use superlatives lightly because they will have been all used up when you really need them. Looking back at some of the posts I’ve written about villages, I see I was too liberal with the use of words such as ‘remote’ and ‘desolate’ and ‘poverty stricken’ and ‘middle of nowhere.’ I should have saved those words for the village of Collique (‘ko-yee-kay’) Alto and the Jose Carlos Mariategui School.

The school has existed for 35 years and according to veteran teachers (there are six for the 117 primary, 20 secondary and 12 kinder students) the school has never been remodeled or upgraded. Morning classes are for primary students only. They go home for the day at noon, which is when the secondary students arrive. This schedule exists because the school cannot provide lunches, so the kids hopefully eat a noon meal at home. The schedule also allows the secondary students to work in the fields in the morning, and the younger kids to work the fields in the afternoon.

This is the only school we’ve been to where uniforms are not mandatory. David, the school’s director explained that parents can’t afford uniforms, so the school has compromised and asks only that clothing be clean. Even that has got to be a chore because we didn’t see any concrete or asphalt within miles of the village. Nothing but dirt and sand everywhere, and some of these kids are walking several miles to and from school.

We visited the school at the suggestion of Promesa Peru Chiclayo board member Betzy Calderon who has a connection to the area through family and has a friend teaching at the school. Betzy is a full time student at the University of Sipàn where she studies administration. During her spare time she is a volunteer at a medical clinic in Chiclayo. When word spread that the ‘doctora’ was at the school, several mothers with sick children sought out Betzy to ask for advice.

It was through her teacher friend that Betzy learned the Collique Alto Christmas party was recently cancelled because parents were unable to raise the money. We’ve heard of Christmas parties being scaled back for lack of funds but never before cancelled. In our discussion we learned the situation is not unusual. I don’t know why Collique Alto seems to have ‘slipped through the cracks’ in all areas of government support but there’s no question that it has. Perhaps David and his teachers haven’t pounded on agency doors enough to demand attention, as most village school directors are forced to do.

We don’t get involved in politics, at least not yet, but through Promesa Peru we do get involved to the best of our ability in helping communities. We’re going to help these kids to have a Christmas party. We sure could use some assistance. Please visit the Promesa Peru web site at: to lend a hand.

Tom & Maribel

Friday, November 19, 2010

New life for a Glorious old Town

Walking through the town during my first visit in 2005 it was difficult to imagine that Zaña at one time rivaled Lima in wealth and grandeur and was being considered as the capital of Peru. Of course that was some 400 years ago, before pirates repeatedly looted and ravaged the city in the late 1600s, and a flash flood in 1720 completely destroyed the city, leaving only the massive Saint Augustine church standing.

Five years ago Zaña was the stereotypical ‘sleepy little village.’ Located 30 miles southeast of Chiclayo, burro drawn carts, sheep and cows competed with what little motor vehicle traffic there was for room on the dirt streets. The only sounds to be heard were the voices of playing children and barking dogs, along with the oohs and aahs of the occasional bus load of tourists appreciating the grand scale of the church ruins.

These days there is a different sound to the city. Dozens of pieces of heavy construction equipment bearing the name plates of Caterpillar and John Deere are the dominant sound as they tear up the dirt roads in preparation for concrete and asphalt. We were told that of the $15,000,000 allocated to the District of Zaña, a significant portion of that money is being used to replace the city’s dirt streets. And we can testify that every single square foot of every single street is under construction. In great wisdom or folly, the city administration decided to do the entire town at once. The work began last June and is on schedule to be completed by the end of December.

We were also told that $1,700,000 has been allocated to remodel and add on to the existing school – already large compared to schools in similar sized communities. While I have a hard time believing the financial numbers given to us, there is no doubt that the school has been upgraded substantially.

And it’s not just the school and roads getting attention. The city hall has also been remodeled. As we toured the offices we noticed that all of the furniture including desks, chairs, and file cabinets are new…very different from the typically dilapidated furniture usually found in village municipal offices.

The renovation is being done to bring needed modern services to the city, and also to encourage new commerce and increase tourism. I’m not sure that new business and increased tourism will result from modern roads, but there is no doubt that traffic will increase and soon the horns and engines of mototaxis and taxis will dominate the senses. I guess that’s progress. For me…I’m going to miss the sound of the little bell on the lead goat’s neck and the sight of the young child directing the procession of animals down Main Street.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Medical care in Chiclayo Peru

On Thursday October 14th I experienced what was initially diagnosed as a stroke. For informational purposes I thought readers might be interested in the process I’ve gone through since then together with the costs incurred, as well as an assessment of the quality of health care received. Healthcare was a subject important to me prior to deciding to move to Peru.

Thursday Oct. 14 – I experienced stroke-like symptoms in mid-morning. I delayed seeing a neurologist until early evening when it became apparent my thought process was not clearing up and my speech remained slurred. The doctor listened to an explanation of the symptoms and concluded that I had a stroke. He wrote orders for a CAT scan and EEG. His instructions were to come back when we had the results. His manner was casual with no sense of urgency.
Clinic: Salud Vida
Doctor: Neurologist Carlos Rocha
Consultation cost: $7.20

Tuesday Oct. 19 –We visited an otolaryngologist, wondering if perhaps what I had experienced was actually a problem caused by the severe head cold/allergy symptoms I’ve been having. After listening to an explanation of the ‘stroke’ incident he said the issues were “independent” and suggested I continue seeing a neurologist. He diagnosed me as having chronic rhinitis and prescribed loratadine tablets and mometasone furoate nasal spray.
Clinic: Clinica del Pacifico
Doctor: Otolaryngologist Jorge Melendez Tuesta
Consultation cost: $28.80
loratadine cost: $0.72 each
mometasone furoate cost: $43.20

Later that day I had a CAT scan and EEG done at a different clinic. I was impressed with the professionalism of the technician who did the scan and the neurologist who performed the EEG. Waiting time was only minutes and the procedures were done back to back.
Clinic: Hospital Metropolitano
Cat scan cost: $86
EEG cost: $54

Wednesday Oct 20 – We returned to the above clinic and decided to have the neurologist who performed the EEG do the analysis of the EEG and CAT scan rather than return to the original neurologist. The results of both procedures were completely normal. His conclusion is that I may or may not have had a stroke, but based on three separate experiences I’ve had he is convinced that something is restricting blood/oxygen flow to the brain. He wrote orders for comprehensive lab work involving blood and urine samples, and prescribed two medications; ginko biloba extract to open vessels in the brain and citicoline to repair any undetected damage.
Clinic: Hospital Metropolitano
Doctor: Neurologist Ricardo Mallorga Velasquez
Consultation cost: $28.80
citicoline cost: $3.60 per tablet
ginko biloba cost: $0.72 per tablet

Thursday Oct 21 – Visited a third clinic where blood and urine samples were taken.
Clinic: Integra Salud
Lab cost: $25.20

Saturday October 23 – Returned to the clinic Integra Salud for lab work results. Clinical analysis of complete blood count, complete urine, glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides showed all results to be within normal ranges. The cause of my episodes remains undetected. Recommendation is to continue with present medication, monitor blood pressure twice daily, and return in 30 days.


Doctor availability is a problem. They may have an office at one or more clinics, but they ‘float’ to wherever the patients are. Their scheduled hours at each clinic are limited, not reliable, and vary from one day to the next. Also, the concept of a central coordinating doctor does not exist. For example, a neurologist, cardiologist and otolaryngologist treating the same patient do not seem interested in what treatment is being given by the other doctors or why, or what medications are being prescribed by each.

Family or patient health history forms do not exist to my knowledge, nor were any questions of that nature asked of me. Medical professionals are not accustomed to having the patient be a part of the diagnostic or treatment process. They listen only until they think they have a grasp of the symptoms and then reach for the prescription pad. You need to be assertive to make them listen.

The physical facilities and most of the medical equipment resemble vintage 1950s in the States, even in a clinic that was built just two years ago. The administrative systems and procedures are cumbersome and inefficient.

But the end result is what counts, and in my opinion the health care I received…from diagnosis to treatment has been of excellent quality. I would not hesitate to recommend the clinics and doctors I visited to anyone, provided you follow my advice and insist on being involved in the process. That includes not having a procedure done until you’ve researched it yourself and are confident it makes sense given your symptoms. The same for medications…I researched all of the drugs mentioned above before buying them. Learning that the procedures and drugs did make sense given my symptoms reinforced my confidence in the competency of the doctors.

One final comment based only on impressions. I was not involved in the emergency response system but have observed scattered pieces of it during my two plus years in Chiclayo. The system…from the initial 911 call through transport and reception at an emergency facility is slow and basic. For example, ambulance personnel I’ve seen in action more resemble furniture movers than trained medical technicians. In my opinion, if a situation is life threatening and minutes count you’re probably going to die. If time is not an issue, you have a good chance of receiving excellent medical care.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Point of Departure

Airports, train stations and bus depots have always conjured up exotic images for me. Growing up in Milwaukee’s blue-collar south side was pretty much a stay at home experience. Travel was normally limited to family summer vacations to a destination not more than five or six hours away in the family car (the concept of a two-car family was still far in the future). Anytime anyone in the neighborhood ‘crossed the border’ into another state it became a topic of conversation over backyard fences for several weeks. We traveled vicariously. Maybe once per week we’d drive to the airport to watch planes take off and land. Many families did that. We’d bring popcorn or other snacks and Kool-Aid. It was tradition for us kids to shout “have a good trip” as the departing planes faded into the distance. One day the newspaper announced that for the first time a jet was going to land in Milwaukee. You couldn’t find a place to park within a half mile of the airport that day. I don’t remember if we saw the jet or not. Probably many people didn’t, but you had to say you did to have any status in the neighborhood.

The vast majority of Chiclayanos haven’t flown and never will. Older folks wouldn’t set foot into anything that leaves mother earth, and younger travelers who might take the risk can’t afford it. Which is why I sometimes find myself at Chiclayo’s Ormeño bus terminal located just off the Pan American highway. Sunday is normally the busiest night of the week, usually because Chiclayanos are returning to their lives/jobs in Lima or because they intend to buy or sell products there. The atmosphere outside is best described as semi-controlled bedlam. There is the blare of moto and taxi horns as vehicles and shouting people with luggage compete for space. Adding to the clamber is the shouts of vendors illegally offering their snacks and souvenirs. There are also men who are eager to help you with your luggage and packages as they unapologetically direct you to the bus line they represent. The big guy in the photo has a reputation for filling his company’s busses quickly.

Once inside the traveler is greeted with more bus line representatives, each of them looking for that inexperienced traveler while shouting, “lowest cost!” and “leaving immediately!” Show the slightest hesitancy and you will find yourself and your luggage being forcefully escorted to the ticket counter of Crisolito, Titanic, Valturs, Continental/Ormeño, Murga Serrano, ETTI, La Perla del Alto Mayo, Mori, Latino, or any of a half-dozen other companies. All it takes is a ‘look’ from a savvy traveler to get them to back off. Then all you have to contend with is the noise and crush of bodies.

Busses are generally scheduled to leave every hour on the hour but they won’t go until all available seating is sold, so there are usually busses leaving the terminal every 10 minutes or so. Rates range from a normal $7 - $11 to $18 - $36 on holidays. These busses make many scheduled and unscheduled stops en route to Lima, even stopping on a desolate section of the highway to pick up or drop off a solitary passenger. Total time from Chiclayo to Lima is normally 12 – 14 hours.

Watching people ‘seeing off’ friends and family is generally what you would expect. There is everything from playful slaps on the back accompanied with a smiling “Hasta pronto!” to tearful hugs and a whispered “Vaya con Dios.” I usually hark back to the days at the airport and think to myself, “Have a good trip.”


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean mine workers rescue

Thirteen Chilean mine workers have been rescued as of this writing. Evo Morales is on site, modestly downplaying Bolivia’s role in the rescue (?) while warning Chileans that the United States team who reached the trapped miners are actually spies and agitators intent on stealing Chile’s gold and copper. Toy manufacturers are still puzzled as to how King Hugo Châvez is able to manipulate the Morales puppet over such long distances.

Peru’s president Alan Garcia reacted angrily to Chavez’s comments on Venezuela’s national television in which he said,…”If the trapped miners had been in Peru, the Peruvian government would charge each of them 100 soles to ‘ride in the rescue capsule.’" He further commented…”it would have been a short-lived business because Peruvians would steal the rescue equipment.” Garcia did not deny the charges but said that Châvez “could have put a more positive spin on it.”

In a related matter, all but three representatives of the world’s nations have dutifully recited United Nations speech #812S which reads:

”Our thoughts and prayers go out to the (insert heart-rending condition here) and their families.”

The Chilean government has threatened reprisals against the three offending nations for breach of protocol.

Brought to you by chiclayogringo…your source for cynical news

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Election Day Hijinks

October 3rd is Election Day all across Peru for the offices of mayor and regional president. It will be a busy day because voting in Peru is mandatory. Not voting means a substantial fine when attempting a transaction at a bank or other governmental office. The ‘system’ knows who did not vote, and will flag the individual’s record. There are other interesting sidelights.

Would you buy a used car from this man? This is Roberto ‘Beto’ Torres, Chiclayo’s present and probably future mayor. The photo was taken as he was denying allegations of spending public money on his campaign commercials. Surely people understand that those videos were public service announcements about public works happening in Chiclayo. The fact that his reelection banners just happened to appear in them was purely coincidental.

His banners are everywhere, including at civic improvement sites…and recently there are lots of civic improvement sites. Moto and taxi drivers know how to navigate what passes for roads in Chiclayo without causing too much discomfort to their passengers. In the last 30 days things have gotten much easier for them. Almost overnight city crews were everywhere tearing up and replacing roads and sidewalks; always in the shadow of a Beto Torres banner proclaiming his tireless efforts to improve Chiclayo, all the while doing it with ‘clean hands’. People aren’t fooled. They know this is all about getting reelected. In 4 years come election time there will be another rash of civic improvements. It’s all part of the game.

People also know that television stations will be airing interviews of indignant passengers at bus stations all across Peru complaining about price gouging. See…you have to vote in the city listed on your National Identification Card, which means lots of Peruvians who haven’t bothered to change their address legally need to return to their home cities. The bus lines know this, so tickets normally costing 30 soles now sell for 90. That’s what happened during the last election, is happening now and will happen again in 4 years when television stations will again be airing interviews of indignant passengers at bus stations.

What’s also part of the election game is that the sale of alcohol is prohibited for 72 hours prior to election. Go ahead…try to get a Pisco sour or a glass of beer at a restaurant or bar. Ain’t gonna happen. And your favorite store will have their liquor section closed off. Just for the hell of it during the last election I tried to talk the bartender at the Gran Hotel’s Fantasy Club lounge into serving me a drink. He politely declined. It was the same at our local neighborhood store when I asked for a bottle of wine. The fines and potential loss of license are too severe to risk it. Al Capone, Chicago’s prohibition era bootlegger would have loved this situation.

So…if you like a glass of wine in the evening while watching “public service announcements” and coverage of irate bus passengers as I do, and you’ve forgotten to stock up as I did, there’s always Inca Cola. Cheers!


Monday, September 27, 2010

The school at Monte Hermoso – Part II

I realize this is the third post on Monte Hermoso and the second about the school, but Thursday, September 23rd was a special day for a couple of reasons. First, we were able to take part in Jorge Châvez Dartnel’s 25th anniversary celebration. I think there were about 300 kids from Monte Hermoso and the surrounding schools plus some 100 parents…mostly moms.

Dancing is usually a part of any celebration. A group of primary students in colorful costume started the program by dancing the Saya. Speeches from several local officials took up the next half-hour, following which a pair of secondary students danced the marinara. Peruvians revere the marinara with a feeling that seems to go beyond the dance itself. I don’t share that feeling, but I will say that watching 12 year old Carlos dance was inspirational. This kid has been dancing for 6 years and is just plain good for any age. I hope he keeps at it.

Mothers were busy cooking lunch to feed the huge crowd while fathers did the serving. First up was ceviche (I surreptitiously handed my plate to one of the kids who quickly wolfed it down) followed by a heaping plate of goat, beans and rice known as ‘cabrito’. It’s one of my favorite meals. In these remote village settings it’s even more delicious. Somehow food tastes better when it’s been cooked in these conditions and warmly given by people who don’t have that much to give, if that makes sense.

Another reason it was a special day is because we had the pleasure and privilege of delivering shelves, tools and materials needed to ramp up the student’s carved and painted gourd manufacturing enterprise. It’s interesting how that came about.

Last May while visiting our friends Ray and Rose Harris in California they mentioned wanting to help needy Peruvian families, schools, and clinics in some organized fashion. We had several discussions, including Maribel and I agreeing to be members of whatever organization might take shape, but life has other demands and upon our return to Peru the subject was put on the back burner by them and all but forgotten by me. Shortly after posting the initial story about the school I got a phone call from Ray saying the project looked interesting and that maybe it was time to forge ahead with the charitable organization we’d talked about. That sounded like a good idea, so Maribel and I spoke with some folks in Chiclayo while Ray and Rose contacted friends in the States and in a short time we had the money for the project, and a new charitable organization…Promesa Peru was born. Heartfelt thanks from us, the kids, the school's director Martin and the teachers to Ray, Rose, Joyce and the others who made this project happen.

If you’d like to learn more about Promesa Peru or help us with upcoming activities, visit the following link...

...or send an email to me

We hope to hear from you.

Tom & Maribel