Tuesday, December 23, 2014

One Last Pleasant Task

We thought that the chocolatadas in San Bernardino and El Pavo would be our last activities for the year but that was before we received a generous donation from Mrs. Taylor with instructions to use it to “help a needy family”. In the desert villages of the Lambayeque Region the word ‘needy’ is a matter of degrees. Nearly all of the families are needy; it’s just that some are poorer than others.

During the chocolatada in San Bernardino we asked Rosa, one of the pronoei directors if she could steer us to a needy family in the village. She told us of the Pinglo Santa Maria family, adding that she occasionally helps them with a bag of rice or article of clothing.

The Pinglo Santa Marias live in a modest adobe house on the edge of the village. Maria Ines and her husband Porfirio have six children: Maria 13, Daisy 12, Maritza 5, Janina 3, Giancarlo 2 and Luis Miguel 6 months, who is sleeping in the bag suspended from the ceiling. Porfirio works in farm fields owned by others. Maria takes care of the house and kids. Based on our walk through the village and discussion with others, the Pinglo Santa Marias probably are the poorest of the poor in San Bernardino.

When we asked Maria what would help her she said food and clothing for the kids, so that is what we returned with today. Maria had taken the baby to a clinic so was not at home when we arrived. Her mother was there watching the kids. Shown on the table is everything from paneton to toilet paper. There are noodles, rice, sugar, tuna, cooking oil, chocolate and candy among other things. Some of the canned and packaged items are probably new to the family, being beyond their financial means. Augmented with food from their garden these items will probably carry them through for the next four weeks.

Each of the six children were given two pairs of shorts and two tops. The family won’t need to buy clothing for the kids for the coming summer months.

Half of the village kids were in that house thirty seconds after we arrived. It was hard to ignore their stares as we gave a toy to each of Maria's three youngest kids. Maritza already had her toy from the chocolatada.

Maribel and I were impressed with the responsibility shown by Maria and Daisy, the two older girls. They took charge of the food, toys and clothing, telling their siblings they couldn’t eat, wear or play with anything until mom came back. We like to see those indications of training and discipline in the home.

It was a good experience in San Bernardino this morning. Lots of happy people including us! Mrs. Taylor, thank you from the Pinglo Santa Maria family, and thank you from Promesa Peru for allowing us to finish our year on a high note.

Happy Holiday Season to Everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Marcos’s House

We were about fifteen miles south of Tùcume, returning from the San Bernardino chocolatada when Marcos turned off the highway onto a dirt road. He said he wanted to show us something. He and Saida, me and Maribel were all feeling that combination of satisfaction and weariness we usually experience after a successful event and weren’t quite ready to return to Chiclayo. We drove for several miles and with each passing mile the road got narrower and the houses fewer. At a point in the road he slowed and began to turn, and when I saw what he apparently was going to turn onto, I couldn’t believe it. He eased the car onto a mud ramp that stood two feet above a surrounding, recently plowed field. The ramp led to a tiny house several hundred yards in the distance. If Marcos had varied the car three inches either way, of if a small section of the ramp had collapsed I have no doubt that we would have spent the night in his car, waiting for a tow truck the next morning. But he didn’t vary and it didn’t collapse, and after several harrowing minutes (for me and Maribel) we arrived at the house.

This is the house Marcos was born in. It sits on an island surround by farm fields as far as the eye can see. The house was built, and the fields farmed years ago by Marcos’s father. The father is gone…the fields now owned by Marcos and his siblings are rented to others to farm. But the house remains and will remain as a tribute to their father.

The adobe house had two rooms, one used as a bedroom and the other for everything else. Though the roof is gone, the walls are still surprisingly intact. On the west side of the house there is a bench and a flat rock. The rock was the father’s favorite place to sit after the day’s chores were finished – the kids and mom sat on the bench.

There are grape arbors on two sides of the house, where several of the ancient vines are still producing grapes. Shading the house is a small grove of mango trees of two varieties – criollo and alcanforado. The branches were drooping with fruit. On the south side of the house there are two tamarindo trees, also loaded with fruit. Marcos shook the branches while Maribel and Saida gathered the fallen fruit.

While the others were gathering mangos and tamarindo I slowly circled and listened to the house. It talked to me. I sat on the rock that Marcos’s father sat on and listened as he must have done to the wind rustling the leaves of the mango trees. Occasionally I could hear the others talking, and once a single-engine plane passed in the distance, but beyond that there was nothing…only the wind in the trees.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The El Pavo chocolatada

I’d like to start this post with a general observation about small desert villages and ‘events’, be it a birthday, anniversary or chocolatada. After five years of attending these things, It seems to me that the purpose of these activities is to have the event…. enjoying it isn’t even a consideration. All the ingredients for fun are there – a cause, food and music, but rarely is there laughter. That’s not a complaint, merely an observation. If that’s the custom and culture of these villagers, fine with me.

Brian is home during a university break and offered to help with the El Pavo chocolatada. He has seen poor villages in his travels but I think he was a bit surprised at the degree of poverty in El Pavo. His question to me, “This is the school….?” is what tipped me off.

Those parents who had the means chose to dress the kids in their best finery. The school director Amalia started the activities by leading the kids in a song. They sang Cholito Jesus, a common song that is sung at Christmas in schools throughout Peru.

While the kids were singing, the village women brought the food that they had prepared in their homes into the classroom. It was the standard chocolatada meal; chicken, paneton, and hot chocolate, followed by empanadas, candy and juice that had been donated by Promesa Peru member Yescenia.

When we began to hand out the toys we heard ooohs and ahhhs from several of the parents. The toys we gave to the kids were not extravagant, but the parents were expecting balls and other simple toys. If you click on the photo and look at the little girl lower left, you’ll see that she has discovered that her doll lights up and talks. Those are the good moments at a chocolatada.

This is a rare photo at a chocolatada… showing village men who attended. Usually they are either working or for whatever reason never show up. These men stood in the background and didn’t participate, but upon our leaving each of them thanked us for our contribution.  

The El Pavo villagers are poor and uneducated. They don’t have much but they do know how to work the land…and to show appreciation. They gave us these food items to take home with us.

Our thanks to Chris R, Amy B, Ray and Rose, Yescenia, Pablo and especially to Graham T for donating the toys.

Friday, December 19, 2014

It’s always a good idea to start a chocolatada…..

…. with a clown. People in villages like San Bernardino aren’t accustomed to organized events, and particularly to events sponsored by strangers so the atmosphere at first is always reserved. The clown quickly relaxes them, and when he gets the kids, parents and teachers involved in games and foolishness things really start to loosen up. Payasito the clown did a good job of setting the tone for the remainder of the time.

This is the classic chocolatada meal…pantone, empanadas, chicken and hot chocolate. The second course consisted of candy, cookies and orange juice. The kids knew that toys would be next so most of them ate at warp speed or gave what was left of their food to their mothers so they could show that their plates were empty. 

The reaction to the toys wasn’t what we expected. There wasn’t the excitement we usually see, and only a few of the kids took the toys out of the containers. Later we were told that most of the mothers had told their kids not to play with the toys until they got home and could share them with their siblings.

Teachers Viviana and Rosa had done most of the organizing including arranging for us to use the primary school for the party.

The Promesa Peru ‘crew’ included Maribel, Marcos, Saida and our newest member Yescenia. Yescenia had gathered donations of candy, used clothing, shoes and household items which were given to the teachers to be distributed to the villagers.

Three hours after it started the party was over. Mothers carrying leftover food, and kids with their toys returned to their homes. That was yesterday. Later today our crew will be returning to the Tùcume District for the El Pavo chocolatada. It’s going to be a smaller, less involved event. We’re curious to see how it turns out.

Thanks to Chris R, Amy B, Ray and Rose, and Graham T for making both chocolatadas possible.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It’s interesting how things work out

Six weeks ago it looked as if we wouldn’t be able to sponsor a chocolatada. Now we’re four days away from a chocolatada for two pronoeis in San Bernardino, and the following day in El Pavo. All the arrangements are in place and everything is bought and paid for. And on top of that we’ve just received a generous donation for the purpose of “helping needy families.” There are going to be a lot of happy and grateful kids, parents and teachers in those villages this Christmas season, and all because some caring and generous people stepped forward. 

We know you don’t need our thanks but we offer it anyway. Thank you. We hope you’ll enjoy the posts and photos to come.

Monday, December 1, 2014

You did it and we thank you

You did it. We’ve got the money for a chocolatada for both pronoeis in San Bernardino. It will take place on Thursday, December 18 at 2:00 PM. The primary school has agreed to let us use their facility which has plenty of room for the 50 kids plus parents, teachers and others attending. We’ve already purchased most of the toys and will soon buy the paneton and hot chocolate ingredients. The clown and transportation are arranged for. The Parent’s association will provide the food. Everything is in place.

It’s going to be a fun-filled and enjoyable afternoon and I don’t want to detract from it at all, but as we're buying these things Maribel and I can’t help but think of the 8 other schools we had to say no to, and especially the kids in the village of El Pavo, where we donated classroom equipment a few months ago. That village is just.....it's so poor and forlorn. If we hadn't already committed to trying to raise funds for a chocolatada for San Bernardino we would have chosen El Pavo instead. We spoke yesterday with the school director Amalia, hoping that a merchant or two in Tucùme might have donated things for a chocolatada, but no luck. This morning over breakfast we made a decision. We're going to give toys to those kids.

There are 15 of them…3 boys and 12 girls.  

This is a list of their names. The cost for a toy like those shown above is $7. If you'd like to provide a toy for Grecia or Kiara or Dayan or any of the others please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. That would take some of the financial burden from us and will give those kids something to treasure. Thank you.

*UPDATE* A very generous individual has donated the money to purchase toys for all 15 kids in El Pavo. We will provide panetone, candy and hot chocolate. El Pavo is going to have a chocolatada this year! Any further donations received this month will be held for activities in the coming year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Who are the ‘Good Guys’?

During a visit to Tarapoto in 2011 we rode in a moto taxi to an isolated jungle clearing to see petroglyphs. The site had the look of an attraction…if it can be called that, that hadn’t been visited or cared for in tears. The jungle is in the process of reclaiming it. The site is located at the end of a dead-end road, and as we got out of the moto taxi I noticed a man who had been sitting at the side of the road get up, and with the help of a young boy the man placed a tree trunk across the road.

It took only 10 minutes to view the petroglyphs and as we got into the mototaxi to leave I saw the man again stand up, but this time with an ancient shotgun in his hands. The moto taxi driver stopped at the tree trunk barrier. She said and did nothing but stare straight ahead…it was obvious she’d seen this situation before. After a minute or so the man motioned with his gun toward a pail the boy held. At that moment I actually had a flashback to the movie ‘Deliverance’. This was raw humanity in a jungle, stripped bare of all societal norms. My stubborn side didn’t want to give this guy a penny under these conditions, but I had Maribel and her father with me and couldn’t gauge what the shotgun toter would do if I refused so I put some money in the pail…I don’t remember how much. The man and boy removed the barrier and we returned to Tarapoto.

The following year on the outskirts of Jaèn in route to Zapotal we were stopped at a police checkpoint for a routine look at our identification documents. Having satisfied the police we resumed our travel, only to be stopped 100 years further by a large band of young men dressed in black military clothing from boots to beret. They were carrying military assault rifles. Maybe it was because of a gringo in the car that they waved us through. All other drivers handed money to the men before being allowed to continue. This was in full view of the police checkpoint.  

In Peru, the man and boy in Tarapoto and the quasi-military group in Jaèn are known as ‘ronderos’ – a sort of community vigilante force supposedly existing to provide protection to the public where the national police can’t or won’t do it. I would choose a different word to describe them – I think extortionist would be a good fit for what they do. How the activities of the ronderos described above is protecting the public is beyond me. And yet Maribel’s relatives living in Jaèn support them, saying that crime would be even worse without them.

An article appeared on the internet today dealing with the activities of ronderos in the city of Cajamarca. It is well worth reading in that it deals with the murkiness of these groups.

Incidentally, unless I’m reading it wrong there is an inconsistency in the article. One part of the article reads, “Esperanza Leon, the local chief prosecutor, said the rondas, which are illegal, are trying to create a parallel justice system”, while further down the page it says they, “won legal status in the 1993 constitution...” If anybody can clear that up for me I’d appreciate it.

Corruption in Peru is rampant. Organized gang theft and petty street theft is rampant. Both are imbedded in the culture. I am firmly convinced that crime in Peru is in an extreme condition and that extreme measures to combat it are called for. I see nothing wrong with corporal punishment including broken bones, and branding the foreheads of criminals with a T for thief. Nothing short of that will bring about change. If ronderos can help with that - and some of the videos the guy from Cajamarca has posted looks like he's on the right track, then I’m all for their existence. On the other hand if their main activity is extortion, they’re part of the problem. Get the branding iron ready.

Monday, November 24, 2014

We’re back from an enjoyable trip to the USA…

….and would like to tell you about it, but first an update on our hoped-for chocolatada in San Bernardino in December. We’re very close to being able to sponsor a full-blown food, candy, clown and toys chocolatada for both pronoeis in that village. Neither pronoei has the space for a joint chocolatada but the primary school located there has plenty of room and has all but promised to let us use it. We’ll hear for certain some day this week. Our target date is Saturday December 20. We’re only a few donations away from providing those 48 kids with a day they will remember for a long time. We need to start shopping for toys now, before prices go up. If you can help us please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you. Okay…on to the trip to the USA.

We began with a few days in Miami where we spent quality time with Dino and Sara Luisa; friends we hadn’t seen in four years. When not with them we visited beaches and just generally looked around. From Miami we drove ‘alligator alley’ to Ft. Meyers and then Interstate 75 to Clearwater Beach. I was last there 35 years ago when a friend and I drove our motorcycles from Wisconsin to visit. I was looking forward to showing the Adams Mark hotel to Maribel, with its tiki shack on the beach where my friend and I had consumed vast quantities of Piña Coladas.  That didn’t happen because Adams Mark isn’t there anymore. In its place is a construction project. We enjoyed 3 days of relaxation; walking the beaches, taking photos of the sunset from Pier 60, eating at the many fine restaurants, and doing other touristy things like cruising on the gulf looking for dolphins (there are 5 or 6 tour operators - we chose the Sea Screamer).

From Clearwater Beach we drove to Cocoa Beach, mostly for the purpose of being near to the Kennedy Space Center. Cocoa Beach is completely different from Clearwater Beach in that it is not tourist oriented at all. There’s not much happening at the Cocoa Beach pier, and nothing to see when walking the beach. Merritt Island provides a lot of shopping opportunities and we did take advantage of that.

We spent an entire day – from 9:00am to 5:00pm at the Kennedy Space Center and could have used more time. There is so much to see and do if you’re interested in the history and workings of the space program. For us the highlight was viewing the Atlantis space shuttle. The shuttle, rockets, spacesuits etc are so much more impressive in person than in photos.

We finished our Florida adventure in Miami with two days of marathon shopping at the Westland, Dadeland and Dolphin Malls. We had sunshine every single day. The Lima to Miami and return flights on LAN airline is about 5 ½ hours… a little lengthy for me so as an experiment we chose to stop in Bogota Columbia on the return trip. That broke up the flight into two 3 hour segments, which was good, but the 7 hour layover plus being limited to the ‘international connection’ section of the airport was too long. We won’t do that again.

It always feels good to get back to Chiclayo. With our internal travels in Peru and occasional trips to the USA we’ve got the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

There’s something in the Air……

…..and it ain’t perfume. It’s been about two weeks since trash has been collected in Chiclayo. The problem as I understand it goes back to the arrest of the ex mayor and other city officials. There is no one authorized to sign checks (meaning a signature officially on record at the banks) for the trash collectors to get paid. At least that’s the story from the trash collectors. City residents have a different explanation. They say that the former mayor and his cohorts have taken all the money so there are no funds to pay the workers.

Whatever the truth, residents have taken to depositing trash in the middle of intersections in an attempt to force the city to take action. The Agency for Assessment and Environmental Control (OEFA) in Lima has apparently been in contact with Chiclayo officials urging them to get the issue resolved before it becomes a health hazard. It may not have reached that stage yet, but walking the streets these last few days is certainly a hazard to the nostrils.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Chocolatada…..Plan B

We met with Rosa Lopez and her kids and some of their parents this morning to discuss the status of the hoped-for joint chocolatada for two pronoeis in San Bernardino.

Sometimes we have to make some tough choices. It looks like there will not be enough money to cover the cost for both schools, and space is also a problem so we reluctantly decided to focus on just one. We explained the circumstances to Viviana, the director of the other pronoei and promised her that we would try our hardest to give her kids a chocolatada next year. It was a disappointing moment for her and us.

On the bright side, there will be a chocolatada for pronoei “My Sweet Home” on or about December 17. Members of the parent’s association said they can provide chicken, empanadas, and the beverage if Promesa Peru will provide milk, chocolate and sweetbread (panetòne). That we can do…. those three items cost $57. What is still uncertain is if there will be toys and a clown. Rosa now has 28 kids in her class. If we can find $5 toys, that would be $140. A clown is $75, and transport would be $70. So our portion of the cost would be $342. We have $115. We’re only short $227. If we have to we can go without the clown, but that would be a shame.

If you’re able to donate to the San Bernardino chocolatada, please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Papa Noel has an Empty Sleigh

We’ve never been very successful at raising money for a chocolatada. We assume a donation of $10 or so isn’t going to bankrupt anyone, so either we’re not doing the job of describing how important a chocolatada is in the life of a village community, or the cause simply doesn’t appeal to potential donors.

A few years ago we routinely sponsored one and sometimes two chocolatadas each December. We would ask for donations but never received much and usually ended up paying most of the cost ourselves. We could do that because the cost of a chocolatada was half of what it is today. Today, except for ‘hot wheel’ cars it’s difficult to find a $3 toy, even in the mercado modelo. Toys in Tottus or Plaza Vea start at around $7 and go up to as high as $125 with an average of probably $17. There is a whole new middle class of Chiclayanos today that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and they are paying those prices. But they’re not the people who are asking us for a chocolatada. The people who call us are the school directors in small isolated villages like Payesa, Horcòn, El Pavo and San Bernardino where a ‘toy’ is a can swung on a string, or straddling a broom and pretending it’s a horse.

We’ve had 11 phone calls in the past 3 weeks…. two this morning asking if we can sponsor a chocolatada. In each case we’ve had to say no, explaining that we committed some time ago to trying to raise money for a chocolatada for two schools in San Bernardino. What usually follows is, “I understand, but if you could just donate the toys….” We can’t. We’d like to but we can’t.

We spoke yesterday with Rosa Lopez, the director of one of the schools in San Bernardino. She said she’s collected just $10 from parents so far toward a chocolatada. The goal of the parents association was to raise $265. Several of the parents who work at a sugar cane factory in Tùcume have promised to pay their share at the end of the month when they get paid, but that’s probably not going to happen. So Rosa hasn’t been successful and neither have we. We’ve received $115 in donations…far short of the $650 needed to put on a real chocolatada for the two pronoei schools in the village.

Most of these kids have never been to a bigger city like Chiclayo. Many of them have never even left their village except to walk to school and back. A full blown chocolatada with toys and a clown would be the biggest event of their young lives, and probably for many of the parents.

We’re going to return to San Bernardino next Wednesday to talk with Rosa to see if there is something less we can do that would at least resemble a chocolatada. If you can help us…if you have $10 to spare please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. It would be very much appreciated.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Transport Stuff Cheaply to El Pavo

When we donate classroom equipment or school supplies or school uniforms, transportation is usually 15% to 20% of the project’s cost. The standard fee for a small truck to transport us and the donated items to any village within 50 km of Chiclayo is from $70 to $90.  We have a couple of friends who own trucks but even they charge us $70, explaining that they’d be losing money if they did it for less. Maybe so, but every time I look at the project receipts and see the one for transportation it bothers me. We didn’t have a lot to deliver to El Pavo today so we made up our minds to find a cheaper method.

A neighbor has an older station wagon with a good sized rack on top. The rack was big enough to hold a whiteboard. Everything else could fit in the back. He said he would take us to the city of Tùcume for $18 but would not go to El Pavo because of the poor roads. El Pavo is only 1 ½ miles from Tùcume so we accepted his offer. In Tùcume we unloaded our stuff on the side of the road, and I stood guard while Maribel went to pick up the tables a local carpenter had built. I assumed that we would need a convoy of at least 3 motos to transport our stuff to El Pavo. I was wrong.

This guy insisted he could get everything on his moto. And he did. There is a whiteboard, 25 chairs, 5 tables and 2 storage shelves tied to his moto. It was not the most comfortable ride we’ve ever had, but we got to El Pavo without damaging or losing anything. He charged us $7, which included waiting for us and taking us back to Tùcume.

When we arrived at El Pavo the villagers were waiting for us. Almost before we got out of the moto some of the women were carrying tables, and the kids were hurrying to help.  

The kids made a game of carrying the chairs. They were squealing and laughing and trying to see who could carry the most chairs and make the most trips. One of them told Maribel it wasn’t her job when she lifted some chairs.

I’m sure their excitement won’t last long, but they really enjoyed arranging and sitting at the new tables in their new chairs.

This is an example of what we have replaced… chairs held together with string. We’re going to feel a lot better knowing that there won’t be any more chair or table legs collapsing under the kids.

The villagers and kids were grateful for what they were given. As we were leaving we were given a hand-made basket filled with fresh picked peas and corn, and a box containing a cooked chicken.

So how did we do on the transportation cost? The combi ride back to Chiclayo was $2, for a grand total of $27 – a savings of $43. That, plus Maribel negotiating a frequent buyer discount on the whiteboard brought the entire project cost to $378… a full $72 under the $450 budget.

Our thanks to David P., Chris R., the Alice Cool Foundation and others for making this project possible.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some good news!

We received a phone call yesterday from Guadalupe Gallardo, the director of the primary school in the village of San Miguel. She said that her students won first place in an inter-district math contest. Picsi is a large district with many schools. Winning this competition is an impressive accomplishment. Guadalupe credited the Alice Cool library donated last July for a part of the kid’s achievement, saying that the library gave them the perfect place to study. This is a good example of helping people to help themselves. Good job kids!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beto is in the Slammer!

Roberto ‘Beto’ Torres, former mayor of Chiclayo is in the big house. His new address is c/o the federal prison in the town of Picsi. Beto was sentenced to an initial 18 months after pleading guilty to charges of money laundering, criminal conspiracy and corruption of officials. Beto changed his plea from innocent to guilty after being confronted with a notebook found in his house listing business transactions including names and dollar amounts. He has pledged to cooperate with authorities during the ongoing investigation.

The 18 month sentence is just the beginning. During this period judges will be deciding on the merits of at least 10 separate charges, which could conceivably lead to a 30 year prison term.

During country-wide elections for mayor and regional presidents held this month, at least1300 candidates are known to have criminal records. Peru law allows convicted felons to run for and hold office if a court has declared them to be ‘rehabilitated’. Presumably each of the 1300 rehabilitated candidates is dedicated to running a clean administration.

Chiclayo’s new mayor David Cornejo Chinguel takes office January 2. He has pledged to “…eliminate the scourge of corruption and theft in government”. Vamos a ver.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Tribute to Special Education

Every year on a day in October special education is commemorated throughout Peru. It is done in recognition of the schools, teachers and the kids themselves. Today one of Chiclayo’s special educations schools; La Victoria, held their celebration at the Beirut Restaurant. We felt privileged in being asked to help sponsor and attend.

Approximately 25 of La Victoria’s 35 special education students were in attendance. The age range appeared to be from 4 – 5 to late teens. The differences in cognitive ability were striking, with some seemingly only slightly impaired and others nearly catatonic. About half of those present were able to understand the directions of the clown and participate in the games. The others were less able to focus but seemed to enjoy the excitement around them.

The highlight of the day was when candy was handed out and the cake was about to be cut. At that moment the excited anticipation and laughter of the kids made them indistinguishable from ordinary kids everywhere. The highlighted phrase on the banner reads, “People, like birds in flight are different but equal in their right to fly”.

Our hats are off to these teachers. We have no doubt that the patience and loving care we saw them display toward the kids on this day happens every day at the special education school of La Victoria. In our view the kids and the teachers are special.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Discovering Chiclayo’s Street Art

It was one of those days where I felt like writing but couldn't think of anything to write about, so I put a camera in my pocket and Maribel and I took a walk to look for something inspiring. It took awhile before we discovered that what we were looking for was right under our noses, and had been there all along.

Street art is probably a worldwide phenomenon. There are lots of talented people, and when given a blank wall to express themselves on they can produce some really beautiful art…at least in my opinion.

This is where the idea for this post came from. We walk past sidewalk chalk artists almost every day, usually oblivious to their work. On this day for no real reason his creation caught our attention, which started us wondering about what other ‘art’ might exist on the streets of Chiclayo. We didn’t see any other chalk artists on this day, but we did discover dozens of street murals, most of which we’d probably walked past hundreds of times without noticing.  

Other than the chalk art I don’t think I've ever seen street art actually being created. I guess I assumed that phantoms painted these wall murals in the dark of the night, so I was surprised when we came across these folks doing their thing. The guy holding the hat had quite a few coins in it contributed by passers-by. We were told the mural would be finished that afternoon.

This photo shows the finished product. It reads, “Cañaris, you are not alone!” Cañaris is an isolated district of 38 villages in a remote section of the Lambayeque Region. It has the reputation of a dangerous area. It is difficult to reach and receives minimum government attention. The majority of the people speak Quechua, the language of the Inca. The photos following are a sample of other murals we came across.

This could probably be called neighborhood pride street art. It reads, "A town with culture is a progressive town".

This mural extends uninterrupted for nearly one-quarter mile. It depicts historical events both real and mythical, and cultural aspects of the region. It is one part of an elaborate beautification project on a major street in Chiclayo.

There are some very talented people in Chiclayo. We're looking forward to discovering more of their work.