Saturday, January 30, 2016

Not Your Typical Saturday Morning

Chiclayanos woke up this morning to flooded streets. That’s not to say they were surprised…the rain had started shortly before midnight and showed every indication of being a serious rainfall. We average about ¼ cup of rain all year. We got more than that last night. The topic of discussion for the next few days will be whether or not this is the beginning of El Niño.  

Chiclayo and most Peruvian cities do not have the infrastructure to handle lots of rain. We lack storm sewers and road engineering that would aid in proper drainage. As a result we’ll have some streets with mini lakes until the sun and evaporation dries them…in about 3 or 4 days.

It was still raining when this electrical fire broke out. It began with what sounded like a very loud explosion, and for the next 30 minutes continued to ‘explode’ with brilliant flashes of light and showers of huge sparks cascading to the ground. Then, either because power was deliberately turned off or a short occurred the fireworks stopped. As of this writing there are still no repair crews.
When the excitement died down and the rain tailed off it was time to begin cleanup. Chiclayo roofs are flat. Most of them have no mechanism for drainage and those that do usually are plugged up and don’t work. And so all over Chiclayo this morning bucket brigades will be the major occupation.

When the roofs have been attended to the streets come next. These city workers and community minded neighbors (there are two nurses, a doctor and engineer in this photo) will be kept busy today. Home owners will also be sweeping in front of their houses. There is no place for them to sweep the water to, but by spreading it out it will dry faster. By the way, the site of the electrical fire was above the tree (and notice a repair crew has just shown up).

A rain of this magnitude is a two-sided coin for moto and taxi drivers. More passengers are available because people fear walking on the slippery and muddy sidewalks, but the vehicles will need cleaning throughout the day.

We’re fortunate. We have power while many of our neighbors do not. The drain pipes on our roof did their job, so I am free to sit at the window with a cup of coffee and take photos of my fellow Chiclayanos at work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Please don’t step on the pigeons

Actually I don’t think it’s possible to step on a pigeon. They may not be the smartest bird around but they’re really fast and awfully good at getting out of harm’s way.

The pigeons I’m talking about were our informal dining companions at a Miraflores restaurant in Lima. Miraflores is an upscale section of Lima, with modern skyscraper offices and apartments; the Larcomar Mall overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and 5 star hotels and restaurants. There are sections of Miraflores that are not so fashionable…like the restaurant we and the pigeons were eating lunch in. I’m not talking about a quaint sidewalk café. These pigeons were inside the building, happily availing themselves of the crumbs dropped by careless diners while avoiding the comings and goings of waiters and customers. Sitting at a table aware that there were pigeons underneath I tried not to move my feet, keeping them firmly planted on the floor but soon learned from watching other customers that there was no need to be concerned.

During our meal my attention was drawn from the pigeons to an animated discussion at the cash register between a waiter and a dissatisfied customer; both of them older men. The exchange went something like this:

Customer – “The piece of fish you gave me was small. I will pay only 8 soles ($2.34)”

Waiter – “You will pay 11 soles ($3.23) which is the price on the menu, not what you want to pay!”

Customer – “I would pay 11 soles for a real meal, not what you gave me!”  

Waiter – “Where can you get fish for only 11 soles?!”

Customer – “Not here!…the piece you gave me was smaller than this crumpled up napkin!”

Waiter – “Senor you exaggerate!”

Customer – “Argh!!” This utterance is usually accompanied by a gesture of disgust which the customer performed flawlessly. The hand, starting at about waste high is rapidly raised with a half circular motion to slightly over head height, with the back of the hand being displayed to the object of disgust.

Waiter - “Argh!!” The waiter did a commendable job with the same gesture.

Customer - “Argh!!” The customer threw 11 soles on the counter and while turning to leave executed the dismissive gesture, which is pretty much the opposite of the disgust gesture. Starting above the head, the hand is rapidly lowered with a half circular motion to waist height, with the palm facing the object being dismissed.

Waiter – (shouting at the rapidly disappearing customer) “Senor please!...a little respect!!”

Pigeons and customers ignored the whole thing. I enjoy people watching, always trying to understand why we act as we do and found it fascinating.

During our five days in Lima we also ate at some non-pigeon restaurants. Rigoletto’s in Miraflores is one of them. It is ranked #17 of some 1400 restaurants rated by Trip Advisor and lives up to its billing (interestingly it is 3 blocks from the pigeon restaurant). Ambience, service and food were excellent. What made it even better was the pleasant conversation we had with M and Z, whom we met for the first time. (Let me explain why I am using initials instead of names. The internet is a great communication tool but it also has become a playground for psychopaths who get their jollies by harassing people. I don’t want my friends to have to put up with that crap.)  

It was a near perfect lunch, and I say near perfect only because of one nit-picky point. The waiter put my napkin on my lap. Don’t put my napkin on my lap. If I want my napkin on my lap I’ll put it there. If you put my napkin on my lap you’re telling me that I look like some sort of bozo who’s going to spill stuff on himself. I don’t spill stuff on myself. I may drop a fork, or spray my companions with food because I tend to talk while chewing but I don’t spill stuff.  I may also knock over a glass but to cover up I pretend I did it deliberately to show my extreme displeasure with something. When the waiter comes to clean up I say, “Garcon…look at the color of those peas! They’re too green and spoil the appearance of the salad!” or, “Don’t ever put beets in my salad! People who like beets probably like sucking blood in Transylvania!” I don’t know if my act fools anyone but I feel that it may somewhat deflect the focus from my ineptitude.

One day we ate at the Salòn China restaurant in China Town. It is a very large, pleasant appearing restaurant with a dozen white-shirted waiters at your elbow with anything you need. The unlimited refills of chicha morada were welcome on this hot afternoon. For lunch we chose the buffet. Both of us had two full plates and commented on the quality of taste and appearance of every offering. The next day Maribel had an extreme headache with nausea. I had diarrhea. Not saying our problems were due to the restaurant; not saying they weren’t. Whatever the cause, that day was un dia perdido.

We did more than just eat at restaurants. For example, we almost saw the exhibits in the national museum in San Borja. You know that sinking feeling you get when you’re approaching a major attraction like a theme park or museum, and you don’t see any people going in or coming out?  I knew there was no point to walking up the stairs to the main entrance but we did it anyway. The security guard told us there were no lights and wouldn’t be for the next two days. As an alternative activity we phoned some friends and asked if they’d like to join us for lunch at the Plaza San Miguel where we hadn’t been in a couple of years, but were told that the mall is undergoing major renovations and is “…not a good place to be right now.” We salvaged the day by going to some friend’s apartment in the afternoon and watched the Packers defeat the Redskins. After the game we looked at photos of their recent trip to England.

Other friends we visited were D and G. D is a mining engineer and G is a clinical psychologist. We’ve known them for several years and always enjoy being with them. They’re the kind of people you can discuss politics, religion and family secrets with without having to worry about offending, being offended or judged.

With the exception of the lost day it was a nice visit. Hopefully next time around the national museum will have lights and we can see what we missed.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Promesa Peru 2015 Financial Report

During the year 2015 Promesa Peru took part in thirteen activities. They were:

Month/Activity                                                                              Cost   

February – Pinglo family school supplies                             $36.88

April – Conchucos pronoei school equipment                    662.95

April – Conchucos primary school equipment                   553.97

June – Santos Vera pronoei equipment                                 208.60

July – Las Salinas pronoei school equipment                      147.45

July – Los Riojas pronoei school equipment                       354.42

July – Los Riojas primary school equipment                       552.87

August – Los Reynoza primary school equipment            796.48

September – Sapamè primary school equipment              364.47

September – Las Salinas primary school equipment        145.54

October – La Raya primary school anniversary                 126.04

December - Las Salinas chocolatada                                        259.43

December – Los Reynoza chocolatada                                   310.35

                                                            Total cost      $4519.45

Donation information

Source                                                                                           Amount

Public donations                                                                         $4682.81

Promesa Peru board member donations                              200.00
                                                           Total donations                 $4882.81

                                                           Beginning balance                 142.21

                                                           Total cost                                4519.45

                                            Ending balance                $505.57

The ending balance is largely comprised of donations made toward the Posope Alto pronoei project that was postponed to March of 2016.

In-kind donations amounted to less than $100 consisting of food and clothing given to the Maria Idrogo family.

Our thanks to those who contributed to a successful 2015. We hope we can count on your support for what looks to be a very busy 2016.