Wednesday, October 11, 2017

El Cerezo has got their stuff!


When Magali arrived in the village of El Cerezo yesterday morning with all the items that had been promised to the school, there were only five parents and the teacher there to greet her which is unusual because normally anywhere from 10 to 20 parents are anxiously waiting. The good thing is that those five pitched in immediately, some unloading all the items, some arranging the tables and chairs while others helped with assembling the shelves.

As always the kids got a kick out of the new furniture, and books and puzzles. The teacher, Anhela Diaz was expecting only pencils and paper in addition to the furnishings and was thrilled to receive those teaching aids.  

As much as the classroom furnishings were appreciated, it was the seventeen pair of brand new shiny shoes that stole the show. The parents knew only that Anhela had asked for the kids shoe sizes but did not know why. One pair of new shoes is one thing less to worry about for the parents in these villages.

Yovana was one of the students without shoes noticed by Magali’s during her first visit to El Cerezo. While her face in this photo didn’t seem delighted, Magali saw that she would not put down the shoes. We think that Yovana, her mother and everyone else at the pronoei Huellitas de Christo in the village of El Cerezo yesterday morning will remember that day.

These folks know who made this day possible for them. They and we thank you for your continued support.


***
Barring an emergency situation at a school, El Cerzo will be Promesa Peru’s last school furnishing project for this year. If possible we would like to sponsor a chocolatada (Christmas party) in December, or at least be able to contribute to one. Chocolatadas cost anywhere from $300 to $600. Usually at this time of the year we have a good portion of chocolatada money put aside. Not this year. After El Cerezo we have about $42 remaining. We’ve got 6 weeks to raise money for a Christmas party for an as yet unknown school. If you’d like to help us make Christmas special for about 20 kids, please visit the Promesa Peru website. Thankyou.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Been to Murphy Lately?


For no particular reason Murphy was our choice to celebrate Maribel’s birthday yesterday.  We wanted to drive into the Appalachian Mountains so called up Google maps and threw a figurative dart that landed on Murphy, North Carolina population about 1600 people. The map showed a museum, riverwalk, a couple of antique stores and what looked to be a nice restaurant - Murphy Chophouse. We thought that would be enough to occupy us for the day and the scenery would probably be worth the drive, which turned out to be two hours including the time spent asking people, “Where are we?” and “How do we get on HY 74?”. Let me expound on that last sentence.

It is my assumption that the departments of transportation in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina have severe budget restrictions that precludes putting up informational traffic signs. Nearly every time we drive to a destination we’re not familiar with we get lost, including our trip to Murphy. And it should be so simple…interstate 75 to HY 74 to Murphy. And yet we got lost in the city of Cleveland twice, coming and going. Highways 74 and 64 are the same road for a long stretch. After some time of driving through Cleveland Maribel commented that there had been no signs for quite a while. I had noticed the same thing…nothing that indicated we were still on the highway or that the highway had turned or simply stopped. Sometimes there are signs, but of a size and location I wouldn’t expect. And often there are signs saying for example, Murphy with an arrow pointing in the direction of the destination, but nothing indicating the distance. Would it cost that much more to add the distance? We’re at a point where we build in travel time to stop to ask for directions.  Okay…back to Murphy.

About two miles out of Murphy you start to see the build-up of commercial enterprises, usually indicating a city of some size. Upon entering Murphy it does play bigger than 1600 people. The Unicoi Turnpike is the main street and is where most of the attractions/businesses are located. Most of those things that would interest a tourist are located within two blocks of the intersection of Unicoi Turnpike and Valley River Avenue. There is no cost or time regulations for on-street parking. We parked directly in front of the visitor center (second building from the right in the photo) and left our car there all day.

The visitor center should be the first stop. The woman we talked with was very knowledgeable and personable. And they have more maps, brochures and other printed material including menus for every restaurant in town than I have seen in medium size cities. Unicoi Turnpike is an attractive, wide main street with flowers planted about everywhere you look. There is a strong sense of community pride that was later confirmed in our conversations with the residents.


After leaving the visitor center we stopped by the Cherokee County Museum. The admission charge is $3 and is worth it. The museum is small but is packed to the rafters with memorabilia from the cities/counties history. The main theme has to do with the Cherokee Indian’s historic presence and their eviction by the US government in 1838 known as the Trail of Tears. Here I learned that the Cherokees had a written language, a formal government, schools, and were farmers on their own land as early as 1821. Supposedly in 1830 they were more literate as a group than were the white settlers. And here I thought that at that time they were still dressed in breech cloth riding around on horses and waring on other tribes.

Our next stops were at several antique shops. Just like in the Rossville area, some shops looked and felt like junk stores, while others had an exclusive look and their merchandise and prices reflected it. There are a couple of art galleries that we didn’t get to nor did we see the Riverwalk, mostly because we spent too much time chatting with store owners and the museum curator. Murphy residents like to talk about their town.  

We did want to include dinner in Murphy as part of Maribel’s birthday celebration and as I wrote earlier had intended to eat at Murphy Chophouse, but several people expressed a preference for ShoeBooties restaurant so we ate there. Service was good. Everything else; environment, quantity and quality of food was…okay. We wish we would have stayed with our original plan.

Murphy is a nice town to visit. We will probably not return but if some day we’re in the area we wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

What do I do with this blog?


I don’t know what to do with this blog. Over the years there have been readers from 140+ countries. Many were one-time visitors, some were occasional and others constant. I assume all had/have at least a passing interest in Peru. Some have sent emails to me with questions about Peru regarding just about every topic you could think of. I’m proud to say that I was able to answer the majority of their questions. Several Americans have told me that they retired to communities in Peru based in part on information I had given them. All of the information and opinions I offered to those who wrote to me and in this blog came from first-hand exposure. I saw, felt and experienced nearly everything I wrote about. Name a major city in Peru and I’ve been there, with Tumbes being the single exception. Name a tiny remote desert village in the Lambayeque Region and chances are I can name the school teacher and president of the parent’s association. Now I no longer live in Peru.

The question is, what do I do with a blog titled ‘My Slice of Peru’ when I am no longer in Peru? I could continue it…I have friends and family in Peru, and I do read several Peruvian on-line newspapers so I am informed and could write about happenings in Peru, but second-hand information is not the same. If I can’t see, smell and feel something first-hand I can’t bring life to the words I write. I’ve discovered this with Maribel’s sister Magali sending reports to me about villages she’s visited as our Promesa Peru representative. Taking her words and trying to describe a village, school or person I haven’t seen feels to me like I’m writing blind.

I enjoy writing. When I come across something of interest to me I like to share it with anyone else who might have similar interests. I’ve been asking myself if anyone would be interested in a blog titled My Slice of Rossville, Georgia. Certainly the people who live in this area don’t need to read about it, and it really isn’t all that different from anywhere else in the country anyway. So what do I do? While I’m trying to decide, let me talk a bit about our life here in Rossville so far.

We don’t really live in the city of Rossville. As far as I can tell we live in the township of Rossville. We have city water but because we don’t live in the city we have to pay a private contractor to remove trash. That’s okay with me. Our house is in a semi country setting. The only noise we hear is lawn mowers on weekends, an occasional dog barking and if the wind is right the distant sound of traffic on US 2, otherwise known as Battlefield Parkway. The quiet is one major difference from Chiclayo, and is much appreciated.

Speaking of battlefield, the Chickamauga Battlefield Park is an eight-minute drive from our house. It is a huge parcel of land comprised of fields and forests. There is a visitor center with knowledgeable park rangers. There are free maps of auto tour routes and hiking trails. Everywhere in the park, even in the thickest parts of the forest are monuments to various military units, indicating which unit, what action they were involved in and the date and time. There are other monuments erected by the various states honoring soldiers and units from their states. Walking one of the trails during the early morning or late afternoon and sharing paths with deer that are unafraid of humans is an uplifting experience. We do this two or three times each week.

Working in our backyard, getting it to be what we want is another enjoyable activity. I cut a lot of brush and scrub trees during the first month here, which resulted in a huge brush pile. Burning regulations in Georgia are strict, so we’re burning the pile a little at a time in the outdoor grill we built. We both like to sit outside at sunset, watching the smoke from the dying fire twirl slowly into the air and enjoying the aroma of a wood fire.

A couple times each week we drive into the city (sounds like a country bumpkin, doesn’t it?). The city is downtown Chattanooga, only 15 minutes from our house. There really isn’t much to downtown Chattanooga but what there is is worth seeing. The area at the north end of Broad Street is centered around the aquarium; probably the top attraction in Chattanooga. There are nice views of the Tennessee River to be had from many vantage points. Broad and Market streets offer many restaurants, some jewelry stores and a few novelty shops, but there is a disappointing lack of boutiques and other businesses that would attract tourists and local shoppers to the area. Or maybe we just haven’t found them yet.

Serious shoppers go to the Hamilton Place commercial district. The center piece is the enclosed two-level mall featuring the usual selection of mall shops and a food court. Surrounding the mall are many large chain stores…Kohls, Target, Walmart, Pier1 and a host of others. Restaurants include Red Lobster, Outback Steak House and others. To walk through every store in the district  would probably take from two to three days.  

There are many antique shops in the area, some small, others the size of a mall. We like to walk through these shops, not looking for anything in particular though we did buy a vintage telephone table and hall mirror to use as a sort of memorial to Maribel’s mother. We were surprised at how rapidly items in the stores disappear, to be replaced by other things. The old adage, ‘one person’s junk is another person’s treasure’ certainly applies here.

There are several changes we want to make to the house. Neither of us will be fully comfortable calling it “home” until those changes are made, though we have no regrets about buying it. And we have no regrets about returning to the USA. That said, we are talking more lately about planning a visit to our home in Chiclayo, but that’s a way off yet. In the meantime, what do I do with this blog?

Friday, October 6, 2017

We have the shoe money for El Cerezo


Our thanks to Denny Wallette who answered our call for help to provide shoes to the kids in the village of El Cerezo. Magali will need time to get the kid's shoe sizes and purchase them so we don't yet know when the shoes and other items will be delivered. We will post the status of this project as it progresses.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

An update on El Cerezo


We have the money to provide the items needed to the pronoei Huellitas de Christo in the village of El Cerezo. Since informing Anhela Diaz, the teacher at the pronoei of our decision to help the school Magali has received several phone calls from village residents expressing their thanks and eagerness to see the new tables and chairs. Those calls from villagers are a first…we don’t remember that ever happening before.

Something the villagers don’t know is that we received a donation for the purpose of buying shoes, not only for the two girls pictured and mentioned in our previous post about the village, but for all 17 kids. In checking on shoe prices in Chiclayo, Magali reports that the least expensive shoes that are not ‘junk’ cost $9.26 per pair. We are $60 short of the total amount needed for the shoes. If there is anyone who would like to help us to provide shoes to the students please visit the Promesa Peru webpage.

We’re looking forward to Magali’s report and photos when all the items are delivered to the village. We’re not sure when that will happen but we’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

About standing for a National Anthem


Shortly after arriving in Chiclayo, Peru I was walking on Balta Ave and came upon some sort of ceremony. Street ceremonies are common in Peru. There was a stage with officious looking people on it, and a military band was playing officious sounding music. There was room on the opposite sidewalk to walk past so not knowing what was happening I continued on. A policeman stopped me; pointed to the stage and the crowd of people standing and singing with their hands over their hearts and indicated that I should do the same. I complied, and when the music stopped continued on my way. I was a little miffed about that policeman ‘forcing’ me to take part in something I didn’t understand, though if I had known the music was the national anthem I would have stopped out of respect.

The Peruvian national anthem is ubiquitous. It will be heard at the opening of a new park, street, store, school and school activities, sporting events and just about anything else you can think of. And what is interesting is to watch the faces of people during the playing of the anthem. They are not just going through the motions. They are very animated and their faces reflect a fierce pride as they sing. Sure, there are some whose attention is elsewhere but they're a tiny minority. Peruvians, like citizens across the world complain about their governments. Political protests, sometimes violent are part of the culture but there is no doubt about their allegiance to their country. I admire that feeling and demonstration of pride and loyalty.

The headlines today in the United States are all about President Trump’s comments respecting the national anthem, and various people’s/group’s reaction to those comments. There are 14 National Football League games scheduled today. There will be a significant number of players and others who plan to protest the anthem by sitting or other means. The media will have a feast detailing who did what. I’ll be watching as many games as I can today, but not the pre-game ceremonies.

I wouldn’t want to see obligatory participation in respecting the national anthem. In the grand scheme of things participating or not is probably no big deal, but……..

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Desert Village Named ‘The Cherry’??


Actually, the name is El Cerezo, which translates to cherry and it is located about 15 miles directly east of the city of Mochumi. The population is approximately 130 in the immediate area. The economy is agriculture, with the rice being the major crop. In the distant past there was a large plantation that raised cherries, giving the village its name, but the plantation and its cherries vanished to be replaced by other crops. There is no organized artisan community, though several of the women make trinkets to sell in Mochumi and elsewhere.

Anhela Diaz on the left in the photo has been teaching at the pronoei Huellitas de Christo for three years. Patricia, who is the District Coordinator for pronoeis in the Mochumi District is the other woman. The school was built as a joint project 10 years ago by the community, who donated the lot, and the Mochumi District who erected the building and a separate restroom and sink.

The two girls in sandals in the photo are sisters. Their mother apologized to Magali for the sandals, adding that they do have shoes at home that are in good condition but are kept in a box for special occasions.  

The building is in good condition inside and out and is reasonably well equipped except for the plastic chairs that were donated 5 years ago by the city and are starting to break. The whiteboard behind Anhela is cracked right down the middle and held together with tape. Anhela has 17 students who seem to be happy and have a good relationship with her.

Also present to greet Magali was Manuel, who is president of the parent’s association. His aunt, Guillermina Solano Aquino is 87, unmarried, and lives with her brother who is Manuel’s father. Guillermina is proud of her nephew and his commitment toward the pronoei where he has two kids attending.

The villagers have asked for a replacement for the whiteboard, teaching aids, two storage shelves, three tables and 15 chairs. Those items, together with transport cost and Magali’s time would total $621.06.

3 tables - $83.18
15 chairs – 231.05
1 whiteboard with markers and erasers – 60.07
2 storage shelves – 52.37
17 books and puzzles – 68.08
Transport – 64.70
Magali’s time – 61.61
Total – $621.06

We think this is a good project. The teacher and parent’s association show the kind of spirit we like to see. We have $286 toward this project. We need $335 to finish it.

Please consider helping us to help this school and community. You can do that by visiting the Promesa Peru webpage. Thank you from us and the village of El Cerezo.