Saturday, June 24, 2017

Things We Didn’t Expect


In Peru, before I lost my awkward tourist mannerisms, I was panhandled nearly every day. It would usually start as a friendly discussion, “You are not Peruvian…where are you from?” Inevitably it would lead to, “Senor, two soles for bread please?” In addition there were women sitting on sidewalks in the downtown area; a baby in their arms and pleading to buy their candy. I often saw many of those same women over the years, sitting in the same locations with babies who never seemed to grow.

We’ve been in the US for three weeks now, and I have been panhandled several times, each time beginning with a seemingly friendly comment. We’ve seen many men (and some women) standing at main intersections holding hand-printed signs reading, “homeless – hungry – God bless.” We saw three college-age kids sitting under upturned shopping carts in a slight rain hold a sign saying “please help us.” At least one was a female. They had smiles on their faces as we passed, making me think that perhaps this was a college survey for a sociology class. We expected to see these things in Peru, but was not expecting them in the US. Maybe we had lived a sheltered life up there in northern Wisconsin.

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We’re not sure when the closing on our house will happen but we do know that when it happens we’ll need furniture and a car quickly. Yesterday we were at a car dealer in one of those small towns I mentioned in a previous post. We were talking with a salesman about a particular SUV we liked, when Maribel mentioned it was smaller than most SUVs and could be a problem for transporting furniture items to our house if we needed to. The salesman replied, “No problem…come into our dealership and borrow one of our trucks. We do that often”. Okay! Then I raised another possible issue.

Maribel hasn’t driven in nearly eight years, and will need some practice before taking to the road again. If we were to buy the car we were looking at, we’d be at the dealership with our new car and the rental car. We’d need to return the rental to the airport, and I obviously can’t drive both. The salesman, never missing a beat said, “We’ll deliver the car to the airport for you.” When I asked him if he was really serious about the offers he was making, he looked at me with a slightly offended expression and said, “You’re in Georgia now.”

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Speaking of motor vehicles, we did not expect the seemingly constant congestion on the interstates and secondary highways going through and around the city. The city population is less than 200,000 yet traffic conditions are equal to Miami during rush hour. Stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper is the norm during peak hours. That is something we never considered during our research of the area. We thought we had left behind the chaos of Chiclayo streets during ‘hora punta.’ We are very happy that we chose a home in one of those outlying communities, with enough shopping and entertainment support to allow us to go into the city center only when we choose to.

It seems as though we have a lot to learn about living in the south. We’re looking forward to the journey.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Huaca de Toro is a go!


On June 15, we wrote about the village of Huaca de Toro and the equipment needed for the pronoei Mi Nino Jesus. We’re happy to report that thanks to Denny Wallette and The Alice Cool Foundation we have the money to go ahead with that project. The time table for the delivery of the items has not been worked out yet but should be within the next week.

We learned a little more about how the village got its name. There is a hill in the distance that, using a little imagination, resembles a reclining bull. At various times in the past people have reported seeing a bull running in the area at night. It was so long ago that the story has been relegated to legend, but still, no one goes there in the evening.

When looking at the photos and reading the report from Magali, Maribel and I both felt good that Promesa Peru is continuing, and yet a little sad. For the first time in eight years a Promesa Peru project is happening and we’re not there.

So where are we? We’re in the United States. Before leaving Chiclayo we spent months researching weather, taxes, cost of living, geography, crime rates and availability of leisure time activities. We ended up focusing on one metropolitan area, and so far it looks like we made a good choice.

It’s a nice town…not too big and not too small. The 117 page official visitors guide book is full of things to do and places to see, as well as the usual listings for hotels and restaurants. We walked four miles of the river walk today, stopping to talk with just about anybody who indicated a notion to pass the time. People are friendly here. We talked with fishermen fishing on the bank of the river that flows right through the town and learned that although catfish are the prized catch, the river holds perch, crappie, bluegill, rock bass and walleye among others.

Trees are everywhere; so are birds and squirrels. There are no palm trees, but plenty of pine and oaks along with others that I have yet to identify. The town is in a valley surrounded by mountains. Flat terrain is at a premium…you’re always walking or driving on an angle. It’s a good thing they don’t often get snow or icy roads here. In fact January is the only month with an average low temperature below freezing, but the average January high is 50 so any snow or ice melts quickly.

The city is within easy driving distance of three major cities and is itself surrounded by smaller bedroom communities just 20 minutes from the city center. It’s the best of both worlds…all the advantages of a big city while living in a home in a country setting. 

We felt so good about the area that we made an offer on a home in one of those smaller towns and it was accepted. Now we’re in the process of going through all the stuff involved in buying a home. We’re told we’re within ten days of closing. We hope so, ‘cause living in a hotel is not fun.

Another thing on my mind is what to do about this blog? I don’t live in Peru anymore, but I’ve got so many memories and experiences during my time there that I probably could continue writing about Peru, but that would somehow feel like cheating. I don’t know if anyone would be interested in reading about My Slice of Smalltown USA. I guess I’ll wait awhile and play it by ear.

In the meantime, Promesa Peru is still in Peru and is alive and well, and needs your help to continue providing an education for those village kids. You can do that by visiting the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Village is Huaca de Torro


On Monday when Magali Mestar, our new Promesa Peru representative in the Lambayeque Region visited Huaca de Toro, she learned that there are about 20 families living in this little village located about 15 miles south west of the city of Mochumi. Huaca de Toro means land of the bull, though no one knows or remembers how the village got its name.

There is a small chapel in the center of the village named La Manito de Nuestro Senor Jesucristo. Inside the chapel is an ornate statue of a hand (upper center). The villagers refer to it as the hand of Jesus, and every August 5th there is a three-day celebration of the “little hand of Jesus.” Throughout the year villagers pray to the hand, asking for a good growing season, avoidance of illness, and prosperity for family and friends.

Monday through Friday the chapel is home to the pronoei Mi Nino Jesus (my baby Jesus), where Regina (left) has taught for two years. She has 12 students ages three to five who attend more or less regularly. The furnishings are sparse, and the few chairs are broken or nearly so.

There has been discussion with the mayor of Mochumi about constructing a modular pronoei, perhaps as soon as august, though there is no guarantee. If a building is constructed, it will be just a shell, with nothing else provided, so whether class continues in the chapel or a new building, equipment for the school will still be needed. 

We would like to provide 3 tables, 12 chairs, two storage shelves and a whiteboard. Those items will cost $377.44. Transportation will be costly because we’re talking long distances for the furniture from Tucume and remaining items from Chiclayo. That will cost about $55. Magali’s time at an estimated 8 hours will add $48.90, for a total project cost of $481,34.

We believe this is a good project. If you agree with us and would like to help, please visit the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you.

By the way, We think that Magali did a fine job gathering information and taking photos on her first solo project. And there is no doubting her ability to relate to the villagers.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Full Body Contact Shelf Assembly at La Carpa Casinelli


There was a holiday feeling in the air when we arrived this morning at the village of La Carpa Casinelli with the items we had promised. Maybe it was because the sun was shining and the fall temperature was perfect. Or perhaps it was excitement about the new furnishings being brought one by one into the classroom. Whatever it was, the village women descended on the two storage shelves like kids racing for free candy. As usual there was lots of discussion about shelf spacing. As I watched, one women placed a bolt in the wrong location. A woman next to her pulled the bolt and placed it into another hole, promptly followed by the first woman pulling the bolt and throwing it on the floor. This led to an outburst of group laughter and before long bolts and nuts were flying in all directions. When the free-for all finally ran out of steam all nuts and bolts were accounted for and the shelves proudly stood against a wall.

We’ve noticed a gradual improvement in quality in the tables and chairs. We suspect that is because we’ve given the carpenter a lot of business and he probably wants to continue to be our supplier. He has held his price this year, and with quality improving that’s a win-win situation.

The teacher, Martina (left) and the Mochumi District pronoei coordinator Patricia know that we’re returning to the United States, and to thank us for our work presented us with a beautiful wall plaque. It will occupy a place of prominence on our living room wall, wherever that will be.  

We did make a brief stop at El Carrizo to deliver the whiteboard we’d promised. Maria seemed pleased to receive it.




The costs for the El Carrizo project was:

One whiteboard       $51.96
Markers & erasers       7.64
Transport                     1.52
Total                         $61.12

The cost for La Carpa Casinelli was:

Three tables & 12 chairs    $265.56
One whiteboard                     51.96
Markers & erasers                   7.64
Two storage shelves              51.96
Puzzles & books                      3.97
Transport                               42.77
Total                                   $423.86

Not charged to either of the above projects is the training time for Magali, mentioned in previous posts and who will be ‘the new face of Promesa Peru’ in the Lambayeque Region. We agreed to pay her 10 soles per hour while training, which is now completed, and 20 soles per hour when she is fully on her own. Her training time amounted to 12.5 hours for $38.17. Her future time will be charged to whatever project she is working on at the time.

As always, our thanks to Chris Raupe, Clif Brown, Denny Wallette, and The Alice Cool Foundation for funding these projects.

The completion of the La Carpa Casinelli project brings to an end Maribel’s and my in-the-field involvement with Promesa Peru activity. We’re going to miss those tiny, isolated villages, the warm and friendly villagers, and the excitement and gratitude upon first seeing the donated items. But who knows….? We’ll be returning to Peru for visits and may not be able to resist the urge to get back into the field one more time.