Saturday, December 24, 2011

Meet Pit Stop Willie

Willie’s day begins at about 6:00am in the Moshoqueque market. I don’t know why Moshoqueque has its own name…its part of Chiclayo, but that’s what everyone calls it. It’s a farmer’s market. Local farmers start converging on the area at 4:00am with fresh vegetables and fruits. Buyers like Willie are mostly small resellers from Chiclayo and towns as far as 30 miles distant. Prices are very inexpensive, making it cost effective for resellers to sell at a price that covers transportation and still make an acceptable profit.

Prices fluctuate daily so on any given day Willie will buy whatever he feels he can sell the most of at the highest price. For example, at Moshoqueque he can buy bananas for about $1.85 per 100. On the street he’ll sell them at 5 for 37 cents or $7.40 for the hundred. Not a bad profit. The box mounted on his tricycle normally contains bananas, watermelon, pineapples, mangoes, apples, grapes and oranges.

Willie doesn’t ride his tricycle. He pushes it with one hand while announcing his wares through a bullhorn in the other hand. His territory includes the urbanizations of Santa Victoria, Villarreal and CafĂ© Peru; about a 5 square mile area. He’s got a distinctive sound…a gentle yet strong voice with sort of a melodic chant. Maribel and I often smile to each other upon hearing his voice off in the distance when walking in his territory. He covers the entire area 3 to 4 times during the course of his 6:00am to 7:00pm day. I couldn’t hazard a guess at how many miles he walks in that time.

What I am sure of is that at least once during the day while selling on our street he will stop momentarily at a small vacant lot near our apartment to heed the call of nature. Which is why we call him Pit Stop Willie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Las Colmenas Chocolatada was just plain fun!

Despite the rain…yes, we were rained on for almost the entire party, and despite Kokoroco the Clown having to deal with a balky sound system, kids and adults alike had a great time yesterday. There were games, music (sometimes), entertainment, toys for the kids and lots of food and candy for everyone.

For the kids and the community of Las Colmenas this Chocolatada is their Christmas. The parents and kids told us by word and actions it will be one to remember. A big thanks from us and the town to those who helped make it possible. If you’d like to see photos and read more about it please visit the Promesa Peru web page.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Total Package

I was talking with my friend Lucho the other day. Lucho is a wedding photographer and he was lamenting about how crowded and competitive his occupational field has become. He mentioned marriage proposals as an example. He says that the videoing of marriage proposals has become a mega production, even in Chiclayo. These days proposal packages routinely include fireworks, choreographed singers and dancers, a mariachi band, and a cameo appearance from a minor celebrity who is either up-and-coming or on the way down. You can even rent a ring, and if you want, dozens of ‘friends’ to witness the happy occasion. Lucho says it’s becoming harder to come up with new offerings to stay ahead of the competition.

But he’s working on a plan. Every photographer offers proposal and wedding packages, but nobody does them at the same time. Lucho figures he can not only offer his customers a lower price, but can save them time by filming the two events back-to-back. All the principals have to do is change clothes – he into a rental tux and she into a rental wedding dress. One of the rented friends becomes a preacher and viola!…instant wedding! I can see the possibilities and was congratulating Lucho on his cleverness when he stopped me short by saying - “You haven’t heard anything yet!” I could see he was just warming up.

“Tom…” he said to me, “it’s a sad fact that the majority of the marriages I film will end in divorce. Though we may not like it, if we know it’s going to happen why not film all three – proposal, marriage and divorce at the same time? The rented friends from the proposal segment become judges, lawyers, bailiffs and character witnesses for each of the principles, who again only have to change clothes”. I pointed out that they would also have to act sad rather than happy, but Lucho waived that off as trivial.

I have to admit I was impressed and told him so. Chiclayanos are nothing if not practical and would see the logic, and of course will jump at the chance to save money. When he asked if I thought his ‘total package’ plan could succeed, I told him it would succeed without question and that for six months to one year he’d be king of the hill…until his competition caught up, then he would be in the same position he is now. I saw the gleam in his eye and knew something else was coming.

“Tom, when I said I wanted to offer the ‘total package’, that’s exactly what I meant. I have an idea in the works for another offering, to be filmed all in the same morning with the proposal, wedding and divorce segments. I call it the R.I.P. option.”

It could work.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A message to Promesa Peru donors

In checking our Promesa Peru Paypal account for donations to the upcoming chocolatada we found donations dating as far back as last February from four different donors. We were not aware of these donations as they were not listed with others in Paypal reports. We have no explanation as to how this happened. To Deborah Martin, Jim Glen, Jackie Rodriguez and Pauline, all we can do is apologize and say thank you.

If your intent was to donate to a medical campaign or school supplies activity, please send an email to me and we will hold your donation for the next occurrence of one of those events. If we don’t hear from you we’ll assume you approve of spending the money for the Las Colmenas chocolatada.

Thanks again for your donations.

Promesa Peru board members

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Village of Las Colmenas

The first hour of the hour and ten minute drive to the village of Las Colmenas is a pleasant and relaxing ride. The entire road from Chiclayo to Las Colmenas and beyond to Chongoyape has recently been repaved, so the potholes that in the past made that journey literally a pain in the gluteus maximus have been eliminated. Once past the sugar cane towns of Pomalca, Tuman and Patapo the scenery changes to mountains on the immediate left and a lush green agricultural valley about one mile wide on the right. Rice and sugar cane dominate, but banana plantations and vineyards have a significant presence.

Las Colmenas isn’t located directly on the highway. You need to get off the combi at the Tocmoche intersection about a mile before reaching Chongoyape. There, if you’re lucky, a moto taxi will be waiting to take you to Las Colmenas and school I.E. 11249, which is where we were going at the invitation of Juan Garcia Posada, the school’s director. During the ten minute ride the moto taxi struggles mightily to first climb and then descend hills, all the while navigating through rocks the size of soccer balls, plus fording a wide but shallow stream. Cows share the road with moto taxis – neither seeming to mind the occasional bumping into each other.

This is main street. The gate to the school is on the right. The town looks to be about ¼ mile in length. I didn’t see any cross streets so I assume main street is probably the only street. It’s difficult to imagine riding this road for another three hours to the village of Tocmoche.

The school has three classrooms plus an administration office/textbook storage room. There are 44 students between the ages of 6 and 12 attending primary classes from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Students graduating from primary have to go to Chongoyape for the secondary level. There are 20 students attending kinder from 9am to 12pm in a separate building constructed two years ago with donations from a charity located in Spain.

Many of these kids are from the immediate area though some walk an hour each way to and from school. Their parents are engaged in subsistence agriculture, and following school each day the kids will probably be in the fields or tending farm animals and poultry. None of them have school uniforms and most of them don’t have shoes, wearing instead the plastic clogs generally prohibited by school policies. Adults in the photo (l-r) are Yayny who is in charge of the vaso de leche program, teacher Isabel, and director Juan. They have been associated with the school for many years.

We were invited to the school because Juan had heard of the activities of Promesa Peru. He asked if it would be possible to provide a Christmas party (Chocolatada) for the kids, as neither the school nor the community has ever been able to afford one. Our visit yesterday convinced us that this community is deserving. Our goal is to provide hot chocolate, Paneton, a clown and music for entertainment and some modest toys for each kid on Tuesday December 20th. If you’d like to help us please visit the Promesa Peru webpage.