12th October 2015: Greeting one and all how is the weather over there? Phew! It is gathering memento here, we didn’t have our winter, a few sand storm days, possibly 5 maximum and then the odd real cloudy day and a few scattering showers, so we are truly within the “El Nino” effects. Today is really hot (26 degrees), very draining and then to top it off we have no water! We have enough for the essentials like the cooking and of course the cup of tea, in this heat hydration is important. Then all water after that is recycled from the dish water into the toilet cistern. Shower/Wash in basin, the rinsing of clothes and then the wiping of the floor, to keep the dust down. I’m heading to Lima for the weekend here’s hoping they have water and if so I will have a lovely hot shower as they have water immersion, something we don’t have. We rely of Mother Nature, the heat of the sun warms the water tank, so it’s luke warm.
16th October 2015: Wow! nothing like a juicy mango in season, grown up the north of Peru in an area called “Tambogrande, Piura and some natural yogur (sin azucar/without sugar), made by my own fair hands, well, not quite. Rosa, Pattie, Milagros and Jenny plus me make up the team and it tastes all the better with the team effort, I have to own up to licking the plate it was that tasty, yum!
I’ve had a lovely few days with “wee doggie” as Mary was away on retreat, plenty of occasions to be marked with The house novena to San Martin De Porres, plus a few cuplanoes (Roberto, Marie, Charo) plus birthday anniversaries for the departed (Aleka) and then we have the Confirmacion (17/10) So plenty of preparations/preparacion and meetings/reunions
We are experiencing extraordinary weather, here in San Clemente the sun is very strong during the day 20/25deg and just three and a half hours away in Lima, Mary had to buy an extra jumper and had to wear three pair of socks all to do with the Nino effect, watch out Ireland!!
I’m off up to Kelly the vet for my hour of hablar espanol and all the experiences of the animal world, if it’s not injections its “wee” coats for the doggies. Unfortunately no class, Kelly was operating on a dog, disappointment and relief. Still nothing like a walk around the market and capture all the activities of the sellers from fruits/ vegetables and “cures”. Plenty of herbs here for all kinds of aliments, I got a combination of two herbs from the little women in the market Manzanilla and I just can’t remember the name of the second herb, and it cleared up my stomach. I also had on standby Imodium just in case, but there is nothing like trying a local remedy, that is tried and tested and works, plus if you haven’t got Dioralyte sachets then it’s a liter of water with sugar and salt, to re-hydrate.
From 22nd to 30th October I was back in Lima for an intensive “hablar espanol”/ to speak, Spanish with Esperanza, I was tongue tied and twisted after the week and am still recovering. I’m struggling to grasp how difficult I’m finding it, of course some days are better than others and people are generous with their patience BUT I can’t wait for the day when my ability and confidence meet, watch out San Clemente!!
Saturday 17th October was “Mi Confirmacion” what a celebration and no wonder, the amount of preparations/preparacions between parents meetings, the young people/”jovenes” retreat day, catechetic every Sunday afternoon 2/3 hrs culminating with mass. It is all parish based, no school input within class time. It is a major investment of the person and their parents to explore and practice their faith. Confirmation is more than the day it is a big commitment by everyone, the young person, their parents and the parishioners to each other. Talking of commitment the young person (around 17/18yr) and their parents along with the rest of the parish have undertaken to demolish “the banos”/toilets, all two of them and reconstruct three banos and three showers.
They have been running actividads/activities i.e. tumbola/whist drive type, where you buy a ticket and the number gets you the “prize” worth 3/4soles for 2 soles. Talking about the “prizes”, these are nearly new children clothes and of course adult pantalon/pants/trousers, bags of sugar/tea. Arroz/rice, tins of leche/milk etc. all practical, useful and necessary items. I was very humbled by the experience, of course I bought the ticket and got a prize every night and had the privilege of sharing it with someone. Maga and Miriam two of the main organisers of this event raised over 700soles.Then the young people went out last weekend 7/8th November, it is the official weekend celebrations for “San Martin De Porres” whose feast day is 3/11, and of course our parish is San Martin De Porres. They went out in groups and covered the length and breath of San Clemente and raised over 1200 soles, amazing efforts by so many. Then there was the “Gran Rifa./Raffle”, again over a thousand soles, this time the prizes were kettles, irons, much coveted licuadora/blender, given that “ours” crashed over two weeks ago from too much use. Nothing to do with my culinary skills, whenever there is meal being prepared such as carapulca then it is borrowed, hence the “ours” Unfortunately we didn’t win it in the raffle, I bought one instead.
Where we are today nearly three weeks after confirmation, the jovenes turned up day after and duly used their muscle power and demolished the banos, then there were the screams and scattering as cockroaches appeared, I for one didn’t hang around! Nothing runs smoothly when demolishing walls here, it’s only then that you realise the neighbors houses were build using the existing walls as their support, so you can imagine the panic…When the dust settled literally and metaphorically and peace was restored with the neighbors, the workmen have cleared the site and put in the foundations and iron frames to supports for the bricks.
What can I tell you about my social life? Well, it’s going to birthday parties and celebrations whenever they fall and that consists of food and chat and the odd time some dancing depending on the age of the person. Church circles are inclined to be elderly, of course I’m 60, what can I expect!! Then there are all the public feasts or activities to raise money and that is usually a big cook up with giant pots and a massive washing and peeling of potatoes, roughly about 30 kilos for a public event, like the recent San Martin Celebrations, we wash and boil and then skin removed so that you don’t waste any of the goodness, or peel away the potato. For the months of September/October finishing up on the 7th November, I was out most nights when here in San Clemente doing the house to house visitation/novena with the statue of San Martin, carried in procession through the streets/”calle”.
After a 100 visitations over the two months we finished off that evening with a giant procession of all San Clemente, it took with the stops for prayers, the exchange of flowers and then something to eat which could be a meal “carapulca”, a bread roll or a drink, a local brew called “Chicha” or “Maracuya” and we had a bit of everything before, wait for it, the 5 hour marathon/walk was completed back to the parish church. Then Wow!, you would have to see this, the statue is carried on frame decorated with flowers and lights, the pride and joy of the organisers. It reminded me of picture of when the Pope was carried before the modern” pope mobile”, anyway before I get distracted again. There were 5 men involved in the final carrying in to the church and they danced a dance reminiscent of “I stepped in and you stepped out again”, so they would dance up to the door and then we pulled back again by the “leader” who pushed and pulled the group to the music and chants of the people plus a fireworks display that was memorable, this went on for 10/15minutes and to wild applause’s “San Martin De Porres” was home among them again. Then there is the ritual stripping of the throne of all the flowers gather on route from the various houses and they were shared among the people, we got a lovely sunflower. The final meal was then shared and a wee glass of wine later for the committee, I being one of them and at 12.30am in the morning I hit the bed exhausted.
I have to tell you a funny story…my visa needs to be renewed every 3 or 6 months, it all depends on the official and whether its Lima or a border crossing like Ecuador. I chose to visit a place called Loja in Ecuador, apart from the 14 hr bus journeys (San Clemente/Lima 3 and a half hours, Lima/Piura 10hrs, Piura/Loja 3 hrs), which left me “wall falling” from tiredness and saddle sore from the constant sitting, but wait for it I really enjoyed it! On the long journey bus trip, Lima to Piura, I had a wee TV all to my very self and I could watch films or listen to music, I chose to watch 6 films all in espanol The scenery into Ecuador was jaw dropping, up and down huge mountain terrain, fabulous greenery, just amazing. Loja is a beautiful city, strikingly clean, and the buildings all seemed to be completed which is a huge contrast to San Clemente, Pisco and Lima, where all the buildings seem to be left unfinished. Whether it’s to do with the earthquakes/tremors, fears I’m not sure. But,Ecuador is an expensive place and they deal in US$. We stayed in the Howard Johnston Hotel for 3 nights, where we got to swim, even had a Jacquie, but the light went on when I found the table tennis table, whow! Was it good to play.
Anyway the point of telling you this is my “yogur companions” wanted to know why I needed to travel and when I explained about the visa restrictions for a tourist they started wondering who I could marry, going through the bachelors of San Clemente and saying No/Yes/Maybe…. and as we fell around the place laughing the story has grown legs and I now have a possible Mother In Law/”suegra”? Who the intended”novo”/ espouso “Jorkie” is I have no clue, but I do know his sisters and brother….Watch this space.
So life in San Clemente is full of surprises and activities and now I’m off to Lima to take part in a Healing Touch Training in energy medicine, which is very big here, that a story for another day. I hope you enjoy my travels as much as I enjoy living here among a very rooted and earthy people. So from the parish of San Martin De Porres, every blessing and from me take care, love to all.