Anne’s Peru Diary, 19-Dec-15

anne_reilly_picGreetings from a very hot and sunny San Clemente, it was 29 degrees the other day, we (Mary, Consulo and “wee doggie”) went to a place called Paracas, it’s about a good hour by taxi from San Clemente, by the sea, nothing like a good paddle to cool down. Well, “wee doggie” and I went for a walk through this resort, mind you they were not keen to see us but the fact that the dog was on the lead, saved the day.

anne_reilly_peru_18dec15_4Of course, when out of sight I let “wee doggie” sniff around and of course lift the leg. Did you ever wonder about the capacity of a dog “to hold on” and then the 101 times they lift the leg, amazing animals. Anyway, what I really want to tell us is that I think me and the “Wee doggie” got burnt feet. He was yelping and I was hopping in and out of green spaces to cool the feet down, of course I went off walking and exploring after been in the water and just for that slight moment did think of getting my sandals, but then went off and did I pay a price, the cement ground was like walking on hot coals, (Ooh!Ah! Paul McGrath). It’s not what I would call Christmas weather, then again you might be wishing for some of this seeing as you are having terrible weather in Ireland, floods etc. So, the bets are off here, whether we will have a white Christmas?

Have you ever heard of a “silent postal strike”, well, we are in the middle of one, it is going on for over two months and not sure if it will be resolved this side of Christmas. I say silent because there is nothing in the papers and the only reason I know is that I called to check if there was any mail and the doors were closed. So the next time I call will be after Christmas, we will see then if it’s resolved.

anne_reilly_peru_18dec15_16Talking about doing without, we had nearly a week without water last week then I go up to Lima on Saturday 13th for a day’s reflection with some women from Tupac and San Clemente and there is no electricity, can’t you imagine it after a 3 and half hour bus trip, the throat dry for a cupa, of course I could smell the coffee! It’s true I did smell it and it wasn’t my imagination, the cooker was gas. I remember years back when we suffered a lot from no electricity around Christmas; everyone cooking the turkey at the same time, well my mother (Kitty RIP) was a wise woman because we had two cookers gas and electricity, so the lesson was never put all your eggs into the one basket. Panatones is the Christmas cake here, it’s a light Madera type cake with peel mixed in, and people go mad for it, plus a cold chocolate drink, which is “muy dulce”/very sweet. I am reliably informed that on the night of the 24th Dec ”La noche de Navidad”/ Christmas Eve, we will celebrate with mass/misa at 6pm, early I know, but the Padre here, Franklin, a Peruvian Redemptorist Missionary has 3 or 4 outstations, , these are villages on the outskirts of San Clemente, before midnight. A bit like having to celebrate mass in Balbriggan, Balrothery and Balscadden.

I’m getting a wee bit nervous because the countdown has really started now, the children are all on their “summer” holidays, yes, and it is the summer here and boy! Is it hot! There is a little trickle of perspiration/sweat/water running down my back. Standing over the ollas/pots, stirring and watching for the milk to boil keeps the heat up, I was soaking by the time we were finished at 11am.

anne_reilly_peru_18dec15_11This is the time for all the flying insects, we have flying ants and it’s their mating season or so it looks like, yes, I am starting to take an interest in insect life because there are is so many of them, flying black beetles, dragon flies and there are a number of varieties!  It’s one way of dealing with my fear, anxiety revulsion, especially of the cockroaches. Mind you a few of the 4 person Beatles I would quite enjoy listening to, so I’m off to UTube for an hour.

“Novena land” would be a great name for the Peruvian Church, yes, having managed nearly 50 house visits out of the 100 during the 2 months of San Martin De Porres Novena, I found myself within a few days attending Virgen de Guadalupe Novena, which was for a week and we celebrated in style on the 12th December, it had everything, soul music, sexy babe dancers (a gay group) dancing and singing, a few solos and a magnificent cultural dance group.  There was the vaso/glass passed around with a wee drop of wine or pisco/vodka and then to crown it all off,  the crowd probably over 300 people not counting the children were given a meal of rice and pollo/chicken. A great night had by all as we were outdoors and there was a nice cool breeze, what can I say only that the people pull together for one another and boy! Do they know how to celebrate in the moment? I was like Cinderella, a flash moment, what time is it?, it was coming up to 12 midnight and nothing to do with my Prince but I had to be up at 4.30am yes, 4.30am of a Saturday morning to travel to Limas for an Advent reflection day with the women of Tupac and San Clemente, I probably slept the best part of the 3 and half hour journey.

There is an energia/energy medicine therapy called Healing Touch which is developing and growing among the people here in Peru, mostly situated in Lima area, thanks to the Presentation Sisters (Srs. Eileen and Margareta ). I have been taking part in the Training weekends, I have just completed level 4, there are two more before you are a qualified Energy Medicine Therapist. It is all about the Chakras’ and you’re Aura and the different energy levels of our being. It falls within the family of complementary medicine such as reflexology.  Here in San Clemente there is a growing number of the women taking part in the training and receiving the treatment. Rosa and Jenny are my contemporaries in the training while Mary is fully qualified. Then there are quite a number who have completed level 1 and 2 but due to reading and writing difficulties are not going any further YET. I say yet deliberately because we are perusing the possibilities of getting audio books, to help.

anne_reilly_peru_18dec15_6This field of complementary medicine comes natural to the people here, they are also big into the herbs and have a herbal remedy for all most anything (I wonder have they anything for the rotten cockroaches?). On that note, I must tell you about my encounter with a salesman in the Mercado/market the other day in Pisco. Pisco is the main shopping area and the marcado is full of delicious watery fruits and vegetables.  Then there is all the meats, chickens and,” inners”, I am amazed at how they display the chicken and showing you the inners, of course they are for the soup.  Now, if I see another pigs head I will throw up, they are for the soup as well.  As, for the fish, its plentiful and the sellers are so skilful is gutting and slicing, precision, how they don’t lose a finger or two I will never know. Of course there is the little problem for Anne when it comes to ordering a” fish” meal with rice or papas when out in Paracas, Pisco or San Clemente, it comes with head and eyes, haven’t quite got my head around that and there is no way I’m digging into the head for the brain or eyes!

anne_reilly_peru_18dec15_10Oh! back to the Mercado and the Salesman, who is going around with a mike and carrying a billboard with a picture of an old woman, an “abuela/grandmother”, I didn’t quite look at the picture I was trying my best to hear what he was selling. Of course he was going 90 miles an hour “rapido” so I let my imagination free and I thought maybe something to do with face cream, keeping young etc.  Anyway, I kept on the move as we were buying the fruits (pina/fresa/Durazno and fruit a seca) for the yogurt, well, faith/fate is a strange thing, just as we were coming back who is coming towards us shouting his message only my man again, this time I stopped and read his poster and woe and behold what was he selling, top marks to anyone who can guess the answer! He was selling his grandmother’s/abuela’s solution to the “cucaracha”. Spelt backwards in english/ingles “hcaorkcoc”.

So, it’s now down to action, I have found where they are scurrying from, it’s our compost pit and I have blocked the bottom of my door with mats until I get the carpenter and the final solution to keeping the feckers out.

I have met up with a volunteer Bridget McCarthy, from Co. Tipperary who has been living in a very poor and deprived area on the other side of Lima called Puenta Piedre, Bridget has been here for over 14 years, speaks great espanol and is a gifted musician, playing anything from the tin whistle, recorder, piano, harp and her pride and joy,… flippen hell, I can’t remember the name of the music box that you squeeze in and out!. She has been packing up and letting things go to people who really appreciate the gift she has been to them in their lives. It won’t be easy, it is a nice time to go home, she leaves on the 19th Dec., so she will be home on the farm with the brother and sister in law for the Christmas.

I will miss her company. When we met up on 13/12, we went to a local theatre group show,  they were brilliant, it was “Dickson’s’ Scrooge”  and the main character would give any of the Abbey actors a run for their money , even local man Barry Cassin (Balrothery/Balbriggan) would have been impressed. Another highlight to Puenta Piedre was the ice cream and the fresh orange juice, oranges squeezed as they were needed.

They have a novel way of advertising jobs, big billboards on the square, take a number and off you go to phone. It was the landscape that I found incredible, housed built of hill tops, hanging off the edge and then there is the reposing of the land, housing associations, putting up bamboo sheets for the four walls and people, families come to live, of course there is no electricity or running water until they get the land registered in the housing associations name and then the real house can be built, it can and does take years. There are many pop up housing areas in the outskirts of San Clemente, they have been there a number of years and of course the make do ‘toilet latrines’ and the barrel of water.

Did, I tell you, my ambition is to get a table tennis table out here, I have seen two in Parackas, but they are on heavy frames and nailed to the ground (must have heard I was looking for one!).

Hot of the press, our paper “La Rupublica” has just informed us the “silent” postal strike is over and they hope to deliver all the backload before January 2016.

So, from a sunny San Clemente, where I still can’t get my head around that it is just one week to Christmas, come tomorrow 18/12. We will be having gatherings of various groups like the first communion children who will be served the local hot chocolate drink and Paneton cake by the confirmation students.

We, the adults around the Healing Touch, Yogurt, Painters, Tailoring we will have a gift exchange, 5 soles is the marker, plus we will have our Paneton and a glass of wine/tea/cafe or hot chocolate.

I want to wish you “Felix Navidad”, may it be a time for family and friends to gather and “Disfruta Lo Mejor con tu familia esta Navidad”.

I will be home for the New Year as I have a few things I need to do before returning to Peru in March 2016.

Love and Prayers always, do keep me and us in your this Christmas.

Anne (San Clemente, Pisco)

Anne Reilly
Hermanas de Notre Dame, Apartado 017, Chorrillos, Lima09, Peru, South America.