Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Woman with baby

It sounds like the title of a painting but this morning it was just a thought that briefly passed through my mind during today’s English class for artisans at the municipal auditorium in Monsefù. The baby cried a couple of times, but me and everyone else ignored it while the mother did her best to deal with the baby and pay attention to the lesson. In the States that situation would have irritated me. Here it’s the opposite. It kindles a feeling of admiration and respect in me for her. She probably got up at 5:30 this morning to bake bread and cook breakfast for her husband and however other many kids she has. She also probably washed and pressed the kid’s school uniforms before going to the market to buy ingredients for today’s lunch and dinner, then cleaned the house prior to walking a mile or more carrying the baby to the 10:30 class. When class ends at noon she’ll go home to cook lunch for the family.

After the dishes are washed and put away she may work a few hours on whatever handicraft product she makes. Then the kids will come home and the cooking process starts again. After dinner she’ll work with the kids on their homework until it’s time for them to go to bed. She may put in another hour on her handicraft work or practice English but will be in bed by 9:00pm or so. There isn’t much to do in Monsefù at night and 5:30am comes early. The little money she makes selling her work to tourists is needed to make ends meet. She’s hoping that learning English will help her make a few more sales during tourist season. I hope she’s right.

After class while ‘woman with baby’ was walking home Maribel and I decided to eat lunch in Monsefù before heading back to Chiclayo. We asked a woman if there were any good restaurants in town. She said no. When asked if there were any restaurants at all, she said the chicken joint was closed but the tavern/restaurant “Mi Fernando” was probably open, which is where we ended up. The menu listed fried fish (pescado frito for those of you zooming on the photo), but when the woman told us they didn’t have fish (in these small out-of-the-way restaurants it seems like 50% of the time whatever you ask for isn’t available) we decided on Cabrito; a culinary delight comprised of rice, frijoles and goat. Now, I must have missed the announcement on television and in the newspapers, but I’m sure Peru’s oldest goat died yesterday and was being served today in this restaurant. Even Maribel gave up trying to chew it. When it came time to pay the bill the woman said 20 soles…definitely the gringo price. In Chiclayo it would be 12 to 16 soles tops. When Maribel pointed out the goat was so tough we couldn’t eat it, the woman stared into space for a moment as if she were deciding the fate of the planet, then said 20 soles. The combi ride home was uneventful.


1 comment:

  1. I love your little slices of life, Tom. You make even the most ordinary things seem extraordinary. Your description of woman with baby's life was dead on.