Don’t bother to look for the caserio Sasape on a map. None of the maps I have or have found on the internet show Sasape. It is visible on Google maps but it’s not labeled. If you’re curious, paste these coordinates: -6.510802,-79.904206 into Google maps. A green arrow will appear in the center of the village square. The large building complex below the arrow is a school that serves the surrounding area. If someday the village is included in Peruvian maps, I’m not sure what its name would be. Technically it is Sasape, but if you ask the residents they will tell you they live in “Hacienda Vieja” which translates to ‘old hacienda’… hacienda being a Spanish word for ‘estate’. I don’t know why they call it that and neither do they. Just another example of a community name lost in the past.
There isn’t much in Sasape, but there is a broom factory, although the word ‘factory’ may be a bit pretentious. Manufacturing businesses in small villages are ‘cottage industries’, usually located in one small room of a house and that is the case with the broom factory we visited. This shop is owned and operated by Herminio along with his son (left) and wife.
The broom making equipment is hand-made and manually operated. The raw material is inexpensive and gotten locally. The straw-like substance is sorghum, grown throughout much of Peru’s Pacific coast. It has a pleasing fresh-mown hay aroma. The wood staves are gotten locally and can be from several kinds of trees. The metal wire and strap and red twine probably come from Chiclayo’s Mercado modelo. At the time of our visit I didn’t think to ask how long it takes to make a broom; how many they make in a given time period; how they market them, etc. I wish I had, but it had been a long morning and we were tired. Perhaps we’ll return to ask those questions someday.
Several of the manufacturing steps probably date back 1500 years. For example, the sorghum stalks are pounded with a wooden mallet and anvil to soften and separate the fibers.
When the broom has worn down to the wire - about three months of everyday use, it’s time to dismantle it. You don’t throw it away. There are uses for the wood handle (herding cattle, cooking fuel, etc), the metal strap and wire, and even the red twine. Some of it could even end up as another broom.
Besides learning how these brooms are produced, what I enjoyed most was the slow, easy pace of assembly; the soft tap-tap of the mallet and the sound of birds outside. No power equipment, no conveyor belts, no assembly lines and no time clocks. Just a father and son earning a living with their hands doing what their ancestors may have done hundreds of years ago.