Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Village of Las Salinas

Las Salinas has been in existence for thirty years according to Jorge, who is the unofficial mayor. Most of the structures look much older than that, but it's difficult to judge the age of a desert structure because adobe brick, mud plaster and cheap paint age very quickly. There is electricity but no water. There are about 20 families living here, with houses so widely spread apart that it is impossible to point to one location as the center of the village. Most of the houses we saw had truckload quantities of freshly picked corn packed in large black bags stacked in their yards. The corn will be sold in nearby cities for animal feed.

Besides corn, pumpkins and honey are the base of the economy. And to transport everything there are burros…lots of burros. We watched a steady procession of people either mounted on burros or sitting on carts pulled by burros all carrying pails or water bags and going to the well for water. From the several descriptions we were given of the well I am not sure if it is a drilled well or a natural pond. I wanted to follow the people to see the activity and take photos but we were told, “…it is very far.”

A pink wall surrounding the primary school dominates the landscape. The wall encloses an area of over 6,200 sq meters. The classroom buildings inside the walls occupy only a small space against one wall. We were unable to learn why so much space had been allocated for the school.

In all of our travels in the backcountry this is the first neglected chapel I have seen. Usually they’re the best maintained building in the village. The door was ajar and I was curious to see what was inside so I opened it to look in. The lone occupant, a buzzard that appeared to be the size of an Andean condor blasted through the open door inches above my head. Thankfully my pantaloons remained unsoiled. It turns out that the chapel predates the school wall, and after the wall was constructed it was decided that the chapel was now in an inappropriate location. All religious artifacts were removed and the chapel was decommissioned, or whatever you do to a chapel that you no longer want to use. There has been talk lately of remodeling the building and once again using it as a chapel.

We were invited to Las Salinas by Karina Suyon, the director of the pronoei. Inside the pronoei looks pretty much like every other pronoei…the same colors, same basic furnishings and not enough chairs and tables. When we entered the building four boys were sitting on the floor, which an embarrassed Karina told us is their usual location because of the lack of furniture. She has 21 students...10 boys and 11 girls.

Karina doesn’t need school supplies, teaching aids or uniforms for her kids. She asked for two tables, ten chairs and storage shelves. We can do that for $190 including transport.  Please consider helping us by making a donation at the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

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