Sunday, January 15, 2012

Archie’s Place

Archie is an interesting character for several reasons. For starters, he’s an 87 year old native Peruvian who has lived in the Canary Islands for the last 14 years with his German wife. And his name isn’t Archie…its Manuel Bravo Soldevilla. People started calling him ‘Archie’ when he became an architect by profession and the name has stuck for over 60 years. It was while studying architecture in Germany that he met and married his wife. Archie was born in Huancavelica but spent most of his working life in Chiclayo. He has family living in Motupe, and returns to Peru to visit at least once every year.

Another thing that makes Archie interesting is that he is a dreamer. Four years ago he purchased a large lot in Motupe and began constructing a hotel/restaurant/activity hall. He designed it himself and talked with infectious enthusiasm as he showed us where the rooms, kitchen and dining area would be. There hasn’t been much work done on the place lately. Money is scarce plus Archie’s wife is starting to question ‘all the dead money’ he’s got tied up in investments. He says she’s a great wife but there are some things she doesn’t understand.

Also some years ago Archie bought a plot of about 160 acres in a dry forest just south of Motupe. Thirty five years ago the Pan American highway went right past his door. Today the Pan American is many miles to the west and the old road is little more than a gravel path. He built a large house with two complete apartments and six rental rooms. The plan was for Archie and his wife to live in one of the apartments; his sister and her family in the other; and rent out the single rooms to tourists. To date no one has lived in the apartments, and no serious attempt has been made to rent the tourist rooms.

Several of Maribel’s family made the visit today with us, and while most decided to sit and talk out of the hot sun, Archie, Augustine and I wanted to climb the mountains bordering his property. We hadn’t gone very far from the house when we saw three bee hives. We started to approach them when one of them seemed to explode with bees, and within seconds we were surrounded and being attacked. Archie and Augustine were each stung three times. I escaped untouched. I found out I can still run when I’m scared.

Archie led us first through the forest mostly comprised of algarrobo and beautiful green palo verde trees. Once onto the mountain he climbed at a steady pace, undoubtedly going to a specific location. I hope I can climb at his pace when I’m 87. After awhile we arrived at a large flat rock, which Archie promptly sat on and said it was his ‘el mirador’…scenic overlook. (His house is dead center in the photo) He said that often when he returned to Peru he would come to this rock to enjoy the tranquility, and to think about things. He was obviously pleased to see that Augustine and I appreciated the view also, but I had the feeling his preference is to be there alone. I can understand that.



  1. Another nice essay, Tom!

    What I like best about it is that Archie is active and energetic, and full of plans, at 87 years of age. Now that I am solidly in middle-age, reading about "elderly" people using their talents, knowledge, and skills to live life to the fullest, inspires me to believe that I can do the same too.


  2. Un gran orgullo ser tu hija y haber heredado esa inquietud por descubrir. Al igual que tu sigo en busca de mi refugio. Gracias por enseñarme a soñar y hacer realidad esos sueños....te amo viejo!!

  3. "...tengo el orgullo de ser peruano y soy feliz"... mi tío Mañuco como cariñosamente le decimos en casa es el gran ejemplo de nuestro apellido BRAVO, como nuestra raza, y nunca se cansa de soñar, buena BRAVO.

  4. Muy interesante Mañuco.

  5. Ecología en su punto máximo. Te sirvieron las clases de los grandes maestros: W Groppius y Le Corbussier. Felicitaciones cuñado.