Greetings to one and all from San Clemente, Pisco, Peru, that sounds nice to my ears as I have spent the last two weeks traveling up and down to Lima and then a return trip as I was heading to ‘Cajamarca’ up in the North/Norte.
So yesterday 5th Sept’15 I returned to San Clemente after a grueling 20 hour bus trips, 17 hrs from Cajamarca, we left Jueves/ Thursday at 6.30pm sharp in a luxury bus “Cruz del Sur”, we had a meal after about an hour and then breakfast just before we arrived back in Lima at around 11.am. We each had our own personal TV with internet connection and a great selection of films and music.
I watched about 3 films going up and another 3 on the return trip. Good practice for the Espanol, mind you I was a little disappointed with one in English and no espanol subtitles! They are a great way to listen and learn and be entertained as well.
I headed back to San Clemente the next morning after a visit to the sea shore fish market in Chorrellos, it was amazing all kinds of fish even octopus and one of the ladies did a great impression of explaining what it could do to me? Well, I took a giant step back and took in my nose, how does the saying go “curiosity killed the cat”, well, I didn’t fancy my chances if it got a “suction” on me.
The crabs were big and quite lively. There is a fish dish that everyone craves for “suchie”. The road down to the seafront looked treacherous, it was a cliff face with massive erosion, and the sandbank didn’t look too healthy. We came across an accident scene when we got down, it was a body of a man who had probably fallen, slipped, or jumped who knows, it’s at times like this that the only response is a prayer for the deceased and his family and friends.
I got the bus around 9.30am back to San Clemente 3 and half hours, well, it was good to be back, but was I exhausted from the journey both emotionally and physically, I hit the bed early after a glass of wine and awoke to the sound of the cement mixer. Yes, I was home and we had a big day ahead, the front of the church was being cemented. I was on cooking duty, well, more of a fetch and cut, stir and mix, it was all go.
People here are like the Irish, start the job over a cup of tea and the news, only here they gather with cups of milky porridge and a bread roll, the discussion as to what to cook?. I am telling you this is serious business ‘the cooking’ the preparations that go into the meal is phenomenal everything from scratch, no tins or kits, a marvel to behold and its delicious in its taste, today’s menu was Soupacecca con/with papas , where would you be without the “spud”. We were about 25 and the majority had seconds, big hungry work, “mucho ambrea/much hungar.” This was one big community actividad, everyone mixing in and helping out even the Padre Fran. I fell onto my bed at around 3pm as I was exhausted the jet lag from the travels and the altitude difference was beginning to be felt, my legs were like jelly
12th September 2015.
Today was a good day in so many different ways. I headed to the Mercado/market with my list apples. Oranges, kiwi, beetroot, pears and the” La Republica” paper. I felt an air of confidence within myself that I can only describe as being a bit more confident with the language; especially in hearing I stumble and stutter through speaking, and knowing that I will find what I’m looking for.
I suppose I’m feeling at home even though I get very tired and sometimes irritable with always trying to hear what’s being said, my frustration is more about being on the “outside”, when I want to be apart of the people and place. Patience is called for and a wee prayer goes up every so often, actually probably a few times every day. I met Virginia selling her drinks, bumped into Camila, a small 7 year old who spotted me with a great greeting “Hola! Anna, Come esta? Wow!, there was something very Balbriggan about it, it was lovely. I then managed to get” kidnapped” by Louise, the motor taxi driver who has taken a shine to me, he proceeded to give me the grand tour of San Clemente stopping every so often to inquire about my “status”.
Honestly I think the best policy is not to say” Si/yes” when “no entendo” might cuts through any misunderstandings. Anyway after about 20/30minitues, (it’s hard trying to negotiate with people here and not to come across rude and yet there is the safety issue, so lesson learned!) I preset my alarm to go off as if taking a call and we returned to the parish, as I had a visitor! Having brushed off Louise, (for the time being!), I headed back down to get some minerals for the big actividad happening here tomorrow.
A very useful phrase I learned when up with Kelly, the Vet , I go to her every Thursday to practice speaking espanol and helping her with her English. She has a wee boy Rodrigo (5yrs) and a niece jade (7yrs) anyway, they, the kids must find me a great source of amusement, this women who can’t speak espanol? Well they duly correct my pronunciation, I know it’s why I go to Kelly, but to have the two kids jumping in and shouting, anyway Kelly came to my rescue, first by telling the kids” to go/salir” and then “afura/outside” she told me a very useful phrase to have on the ready because most people respond to be asking Que/what? With shouting and speaking even faster and louder!! “No Gritar/shouting” “habla mas lento/speak slower” Needless to say it will take time for these phrases/words to find a place in my head; everything is a ‘matter of time’.
“Actividad /Activity” is the great insurance policy here in San Clemente. Today (Sat 12th/9) was the turn of a young man who got his figures caught in a” motor” at work, all of this figures severed. I’m not sure of the long-term outcome whether he will lose them or they managed to be saved? What I do know is that they need money for his hospital treatments, family support etc.
So as I was coming up the street from the market today I noticed a gathering and of course I could smell the cooking. It was his friends from the local soccer club and family cooking and selling “Gran Carapulcrada” this is a favorite dish here, it’s a potato base, massive amount of potatoes all diced up, but the secret is” the spices” and the length of time it takes. It’s bulked up with packets of tallarines/ a thin type of spaghetti, with a very small/sparse amount of meat if you’re lucky, mind you today’s didn’t have meat (probably too costly). Each dish is 5 sols. Hopefully they will raise or sell enough plates of food.
It is hard to work out how costly it is to live here? I know the average professional salary i.e., teacher/policeman is roughly 100 sols a month. I do know that everyone has some little earners going on whether selling yogur, knitting, actually it’s very rare you would see someone without something happening in their hands knitting or crochet or hand spinning cotton as they walk along the road.
The word entrepreneur wouldn’t do justice to the ingenuity of the people, small little enterprises setting up every week. Today (Monday 14th Sept) I noticed a new Liberia/bookshop ”Anita’s”, with photocopier etc. as I made my way to the Mercado/Market to get the paper and some elsalada/lettuce.
On the way I noticed 4 cyclists with their packs, obviously bike touring, it’s a very usual sight given that it’s the “Pan Americana highway” that goes through and also divides the town of San Clemente. Crossing it is a daunting experience, you needs eyes in the back of your head literally, especially because of the little mototaxies, that whiz from all angles and have no ‘caution’ for the pedestrian. It also “kicked off” in the street, dogs, yes they are everywhere, I give them a wide berth as I walk, I was told never stop and look at a dog or dogs barking as they are libel to turn on you, well, I am not for testing that warning. I have a health yet nervous disposition towards them, as rabies is common enough thing here.
I will finish with telling you the second part of the cement project, for the front of the church took place yesterday. It’s an awe inspiring event, we were 19 men and 5 women, with the coordination of the mixer, filling and emptying and of course the women fetching the water, dropping the bucket down the well and hauling up the water it, reminded me of the gospel story of the woman at the well, it was tiring and of course the aches and pains today remind me of the day.
I took time out to bring Romina, Chrito and Juancian up to the “street games”, which were also happening. Again a mighty community effort with vendors setting up eats and drinks also a few locals providing “foods”. The sports event was sponsored by the local municipality, this time the department of health and they were doing the importance of washing your hands.
We all lined up had our names taken and the washing of the hands then we were given a ticket that entitled you to a bread roll and drink plus entry into a free draw. We also had a talk of healthy eating. Then there was volleyball and football games and there was the multitude of children playing ball on the fringes, give these kids a space and a ball and they will entertain themselves all day (sound familiar?).
Of course we had the incident where one of the side events, their ball went on to the court of the volleyball game and then the ball was not returned by the referee. When he wasn’t looking I nicked it back and kicked it back to the girls, of course he noticed and was about to demand it, when I mustered up, “disfrutando/enjoying” with a pleading smile and hand gestures as one does, and then a wee girl all of 7/8years came up and gave me a kiss/”gracias” and I responded denada/your welcome and a sly “poder femenino/girl power”.
So, life in San Clemente is different every day and by the time you hear from me again I will have travelled up north again to cross the border into Ecuador to get my visa renewed hopefully for another 6 months on 4th October, so prayers requested because it’s a hit and miss it can be 3 oo 6 months, depending on “the official” so it will be a charm offensive backed up with a few prayers and buckets of positive energy on the day.
So from San Clemente to Balbriggan is how many miles? Its worlds apart and yet very similar if you turn the clock back, people are similar no matter where you meet them. Here they are the essence of generosity very supportive towards each other and they love the banter and craic.
Love and prayers to you
Anne Reilly (San Clemente)