Thursday, July 14, 2016

Above the Clouds in the Village of Shita Loma

It’s an adventure getting to Shita Loma, and frankly one that I don’t want to repeat again. We left Chiclayo at 6:30 AM, arriving at the city of Salas at 9:15 where we picked up Maria who is one of two pronoei coordinators in the Salas District.

From Salas we took a boulder strewn, deeply rutted dirt road that twisted its way upward into the mountains. At first our vision was obscured by clouds but when we broke through the cloud line we were greeted by some beautiful scenery though it was nearly impossible to take photos due to the violent motions of the truck. It was 45 minutes after leaving Salas that we arrived in Shita Bajo. That’s where the road stops and the climbing begins.

With young, fresh legs it would probably be a 45 minute climb to Shita Loma. It took us 2 hours. The path is covered with boulders, slippery mud, and deep ruts made by rain and burro traffic. Occasionally a mountain brook would be bubbling on either side of the path, and sometimes it became the path. That’s when we learned why Maria was wearing knee-high rubber boots. We were not and our tennis shoes took a beating.

At the time this photo was taken we were about half-way up. Shita Bajo, our starting point is below the orange butterfly.

The pronoei Estrella de Maria is located in one room of the second and only other house we saw. We were told there are 20 families in Shita Loma with houses scattered among the sugar cane and coffee fields that are the main sources of income. 

Dagoberto Rojas (blue shirt) has 9 students attending the one year old pronoei. The classroom is barren. Though there are only 20 families in the village, many of them are young and have one or two kids of pronoei age but because of space and equipment limitations most are not being schooled. The community has a plane to deal with that.

Like several of the villages we’ve visited recently, there is a building lot where the villagers plan to build a pronoei. They will make and erect adobe brick walls themselves, much as each of them did with their houses. They hope to have the walls up by October. What they need help with is corrugated metal for the roof, and a metal door and window. They have some donated chairs and tables that need repair and painting and have asked for our help with the expense of that.

We asked them to get costs for what they want, and in October when they have the walls erected we will try to help them. I asked how they will get from four to six large sheets of corrugated metal for the roof, and a large metal door up that mountain path. They told me that’s what all the burros we saw are used for. I’d like to see that but there is no way I’m going back up that mountain again.

Sitting on a log in the shade deliberately procrastinating about facing the path again I asked some of the men and women what their lives were like up in the clouds; what did they do during the days and nights, how often did they make the journey to Salas (once every Saturday) and was there a lot of visiting back and forth. Those are not normally questions you would ask a Peruvian so it took some time to get answers. My final question was, “Is it a good life up here?” They looked at each other with hesitant smiles, and finally one of them said, “We are accustomed to it.”  

1 comment:

  1. When a young gringo sets off to the see the wilds or Peru - mostly they end up in a part Hostel in Cusco. You my friend are seeing the real remote parts of Peru and for that I envy you. Climb on old friend!