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.

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