Friday, January 23, 2015

An Afternoon in Mòrrope

The city of Mòrrope is the capital of the District of Mòrrope, which is one of 12 districts in the Lambayeque Province of the Lambayeque Region. It is located about 20 miles north-northwest of Chiclayo.

Mòrrope combines the appearance of a city with the feel of a small village. Peace and tranquility reign here. There is combi and mototaxi traffic, but not much and they don’t drive with their horns or roar their engines. There aren’t elbow-to-elbow people, and those on the streets are walking slowly, conveying the impression that whatever or whoever is at their destination will wait a few minutes.

The women wear traditional clothing…dresses made at home from an inexpensive shiny material. Bright orange, green and blue are popular colors. Only the young women wear pants.

The city has a pleasant, well maintained central park with enough shaded benches to accommodate those of us who like to sit, relax and watch.

Across from the park is a huge church. We were told that sections of the church go back to the 1500’s. Inside are some beautiful religious relics dating to colonial times.

Several blocks from the park is the city’s Fun Park. It occupies an entire block. It offers a wide range of playground equipment as well as a basketball/soccer/tennis/volleyball court, and a full size swimming pool with a kiddie’s pool adjacent to it. On this day what were missing were the people. It was a hot day; school is closed for vacation and there were no kids…nobody in the pool. I don’t get it.

During our stroll through the town we stopped at the mercado. We always stop at a mercado in every town we visit. And Maribel always buys fish. And I always ask her, “What’s for dinner tonight?” And she always replies, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”

We had another reason to be in Mòrrope besides visiting the town. We were there to learn about the district and the many villages within it. Of the 38 districts within the Lambayeque Region, Mòrrope is 1 of 4 districts that are classified as being in extreme poverty.

Approaching Mòrrope from the south you pass mile after mile of what were active farm fields now lying uncultivated. The area has little irrigation to draw from and the lack of rain for the past two years has been devastating. The loss of crops was followed by a reduction of farm animals. Without farming, options for income are limited. There is a thriving plaster manufacturing industry (see Getting plastered in Morropebut the work is unskilled and doesn’t pay much. Some of the women formed an association to cultivate and make articles from native cotton for sale in Chiclayo but the drought has hampered that effort. A lack of education is another limiting factor. Most of the adult population of the villages didn’t complete primary school. Last year the Australian Embassy in Lima donated 10 milk cows to the village of Cucufana, located just a few miles north of Mòrrope. At that time the embassy people discovered that 95% of the village population was illiterate.

Henry Llonto, a civil engineer and the Manager of Urban Area Control supplied us with a lot of information about the district and the over 40 villages within it. He was genuinely happy and enthused to learn that we were interested in working with the schools in his district to hopefully improve education. He said that there are one-page documents describing each village including schools, and that he would assemble the information for us.

Henry also gave us a map, and with it a caution. He reminded us that the area is poor and suggested that for security and safety reasons we should contract with a taxi from town, and to have that individual stay with us during our visits. He also said we could call on him for any help we needed.  

As we were leaving Henry asked, “With over 40 villages, where will you start?”  Good question Henry.


  1. I'm amazed at your success at taking photos with little to no people in them.
    Usually when I am out in the street so are a bunch of people.

    Do you edit them out or are you just lucky with the timing?

    1. Hi Felix - the answer to your question is neither. When I visit a town and decide to write a post about it, I take dozens of photos with the hope that a few of them will illustrate what I'm trying to say. You don't see the dozens of rejects. :)