Monday, 8 February 2010


Chimbote is a fishing port about 6 hours north of Lima by bus. I would never have heard of it, my parish priest in Levens-hulme spent 20 years in Peru, and a large part of that in Chimbote. I thought it would be a bit different from the posh parts of Peru I used to know.
I stayed with Los Amigos, in the parish buildings. I was only there 3 days, not really enough to work on any projects, but they still welcomed me. I got to accompany the social workers, Uri and Ana, and long term volunteers as they did their rounds, and helped translate for some of the visitors. It was really nice to be able to contribute something. They work in 13 barrios around La Victoria, the barrio of the parish, with all kinds of people. They are all very poor, many with only dirt floors and woven reed walls and roofs. Some of them have AIDS, cancer, or physical or mental disabilities. And many of them have beautiful gardens with avocado and banana trees - no small feat in the middle of the desert!
It rained all night Friday and all day on Saturday, something unheard of around here. Maybe it was El NiƱo, or maybe it was me, bringing British weather. The roads - mostly unpaved - turned to mud, and I imagine a lot of the houses did too. On Saturday morning at the parish a young lady in a wheelchair was laughing because her shoes were soaked - she had left them outside the night before.
On Saturday I had lunch with two of the long-term volunteers, Katina and Luke, and their host family. Juana and Hernan, the parents, started out with a place like the mud floor ones we visited, and built their house themselves bit by bit as they got money. Now they have a beautiful two story place, and a lot of sympathy for everyone who doesn't. Juana made ceviche and papas a la huancaina. Delicioso!
Everyone there really impressed me, the staff, volunteers and community. I was really sad to go, and am still not entirely sure I made the right decision. But I'm sticking with the plan, and I have to say Trujillo is really charming. More on that later.

Pictures: 1) In the courtyard of Hernan (2nd from left), Juana (next to him) and their son, daughter, daughter-in-law, and their two newest gringos, 2) the market goes ahead on Saturday, in spite of the rain, and 3) the roof area of the parish buildings (there's a handrailing, though not where I'd have put it) showing woven reeds like many people have for roof/walls, rebar sticking up should they decide to add a floor, and a beautiful bougainvillea.

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