Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Things are looking up in La Raya

On October 18th we wrote about the village of La Raya and the plight of Luzmila Valdera and her daughters. It was our hope that we could raise $1500 to build a house for her. We didn’t come close to that amount but, as it usually seems to happen, things worked out in the end. A local church group agreed to shore up the mud/cane walls of the house and replaced the roof with new galvanized metal. There are still some walls waiting for repair but rain no longer enters the house. With the reinforced walls the house should serve for a few more years.

We visited La Raya today to give the money and clothing we’d received to Luzmila. When we arrived Luzmila was not in the house but a few minutes later she and other workers who had been harvesting rice in nearby rice paddies returned to the village for the noon meal. Luzmila and her 9 year old daughter Ruth work in the rice paddies while 7 year old Romelia stays home to take care of 2 year old Ariana.

With the basic requirement for shelter taken care of we were able to help with other needs, and here I’d like to say a bit about the help we receive from fellow Chiclayanos. The people who help us are not wealthy. They have little themselves but do what they can to assist the very poor. For example Herlinda, who accompanied us today (on the right) was able to contribute a bag of rice and a blouse and skirt for Luzmila. And Herlinda knew of several other women who had an item or two of serviceable clothing. Maribel’s sister Magali contributed a few clothing items for the girls and shoes for Luzmila. One item from this person; another from someone else and before long these modest donations added up to three large bags of much needed clothing…a literal bonanza for this family. We very much appreciate the time, effort and items given from the heart by these people.

The furniture in the house consists of two tables and two bed frames. Thanks to Marco, Jim and others we were able to present Luzmila with $210. She indicated that she will purchase mattresses for the beds and stools so they finally have something to sit on. And there will be some money remaining for other needs. Another example where several modest donations added up to improved quality of life for a family with next to nothing.

And thanks to Lander, Victor, Carmen and several others we were able to present a substantial amount of needed medicines to Doctor Corrales at the medical clinic. We didn’t have the vitamins she indicated were needed during our first visit, but all in all we didn’t do badly.

We would like to give Doctor Corrales the vitamins she asked for, and we would like to help Luzmila with school uniforms and supplies for her daughters Ruth and Romelia. If you’d like to help us do that please visit the Promesa Peru web page to donate.


Readers may remember that last March we wrote of Edith Fuentes and her difficulties. We’re still occasionally in touch with her. Her circumstances remain pretty much the same. Last December there was another hearing regarding possible work release for her husband. Two members of a three-judge panel voted no so he remains in prison. Edith’s attitude is good and she continues to keep her chin up while hoping and believing that tomorrow will be better. There’s always hope.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has ruled….

…and Peru has triumphed….sort of. The dispute between Peru and Chile involves territorial Pacific Ocean fishing rights. What the court did was issue a surprising compromise verdict. Peru has more water than it had, but less than was expected. Chile has less water than it had but more than expected. This Reuters article presents a good background on the issues involved.  Most observers had expected a ruling totally in Peru’s favor. The Chilean government had announced that it was prepared to offer its fishing industry compensation for lost fishing grounds.

Peruvian news media are at the moment attempting to put a positive spin on the verdict, but early reactions from Chiclayanos are not so positive. They wanted nothing less than total victory over their old enemy. Intellectually Chiclayanos know that Chile’s and Peru’s economies are tightly linked, and that Chilean investment in Peru amounts to many billions of dollars, but emotionally the resentment against Chile dating to the War of the Pacific (1879-1883) still exists among the old and young.

Last year in Chiclayo’s city hall there was a photo exhibition of Chiclayo’s history. One of the photos showed Chilean solders in the city…a fact most Chiclayanos are not aware of (Chilean forces were also in Paita, Chimbote and Lambayeque). Facial and vocal expressions of attendees in reaction to that photo were deeply and strongly emotional. Maribel’s comment…”The _ _ _ _ _ were in Chiclayo!!” was representative.

Ask a Chiclayano why they still resent Chile over a war fought 130 years ago and the answers generally are that “they took our land” and “they took our boat.” Peru did lose a large chunk of territory as a result of that war, but perhaps the most visible reminder of defeat is the ship Hu├áscar located in the port of Talcahuano and open to the public as a museum. Chiclayanos regard the ship with reverence as the place where their most beloved war hero, Admiral Miguel Grau was killed in battle. Peruvians view the refusal to return the ship and using it as a Chilean museum as a deliberate insult.

It will take some time (if ever) to implement The Hague’s ruling. It will be interesting to see reactions over the next few weeks, and what if any problems result from the implementation.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Escaping the Heat in Chiclayo

Looking for relief on a hot Chiclayo summer day usually means water in the form of a pool or beach. Chiclayo has some public and private pools, but typically families leave the city for a short ride to one of the beaches in Pimentel, San Jose, Santa Rosa or Puerto Eten. Another option is the water parks near Chiclayo. El Mirador is popular as is AquaPark which we recently visited for the first time.

The park is located a short distance off the Pan American highway and unless you know where it is it would be easy miss it. Once at the park the entrance is plain and unimposing, giving no hint of the spacious and impressive facility inside.

There are two well-maintained pools with just about every type of slide imaginable including the towering toboggan. The kids and some adults enjoyed standing under three huge bucket that dumped their contents at about three minute intervals. The pools are not deep and we saw lifeguards constantly patrolling the perimeters. The clothing/swimsuit changing areas and restrooms are spacious and clean. Beside the pools there is a children’s playground, several soccer fields with artificial turf, and plenty of room to stroll around in.

Sometimes all this activity can wear a person out and there comes a time when young and old alike need to take a break.

For those not inclined to enter the pools there is seating for literally hundreds of people in poolside lounge chairs and at benches and tables under thatched umbrellas (even with the large seating capacity I suspect that on Saturday and Sunday it could be a problem to find a vacant table). Relaxing on one of those chairs or benches with a favorite beverage while people watching or perhaps reading a book strikes me as a great way to spend a hot lazy afternoon. There was a constant breeze which made the temperature bearable even in the afternoon heat.

Surprisingly, carry-in food and beverages is not prohibited. In fact the majority of families we saw (ours included) brought their food with them including plates, glasses, utensils and large pot and pans filled with still warm meals. Food and snacks are available at the park and are ordered at and delivered to your table. Typical dishes on the menu are chicharron, lomo saltado and ceviche. Prices are reasonable…my chicharron de pollo including fries and salad cost $4.30. Beer (Cristal) and pop are available.

AquaPark has no lighting and closes at 6:00pm; something that puzzles me. It seems to me that the facility with lighting and music would be a huge draw for the younger crowd at night, but Peruvians seldom miss a business opportunity so I assume there is a good reason for not going that route. The park opens at 10:00am 365 days. The entrance fee for ages 6 to 65 is $3.60 and is free for those outside those ages.