The Farms

October 25, 2008

Today I went an hour north of Lima to the farms of the coastal desert.  Mara, one of the newest loan officers, and I had a nice lunch together in Trujillo and then took the bus out to Chongoyape, a tiny town off the side of the highway on the way to Paiján.


dirt road in Chongoyape


The meeting was taking place in Chongoyape, but the women also came from the towns of Lipote and Sauscpe.  None of these places make it into the guidebook.  Chongoyape is a community of homes spread along one dirt road.  At a certain point, this road becomes Saucipe. 


the road to Saucipe


People living here grow mainly sugar cane and asparagus.  It’s hard for me to imagine anything growing in such a dusty, hot place.  But one of the señoras tells me that they are allowed six hours of water per day for irrigation.


farming asparus


The towns are so small, taxis don’t serve the area.  If you want to get here from Paiján you have to take a mototaxi.  I’d be afraid to ride these rickety machines down the highway, but everyone does it.



can you see the mototaxi?


Most of the houses in the town look like this.  I interviewed this señora who sells foods and socks and underwear from this stand in her house.



señora sells from the window on the right


There is a canal that runs the length of Saucipe.  This lady is going to use the water to mop her house.



the canal


It’s super calm here, although the wind is kicking up and giving me an eyeful of dust.  I cross the highway and walk to another señora’s house.  Her loan is for clothing but because sales are slow she invested the Kiva money in her asparagus crop.  Along the way she tells me about the art of cultivating the finicky asparagus.  Here is a picture of the mountains and the path we walk to reach her home.  It kind feels like the beach.



reminds me of the beach


Afterward we visit her store, it’s time to flag down a bus headed for Trujillo.  Señora is kind and she waits along the side of the highway with me.  The meeting did not go well today for her communal bank but she is still cheerful.  Her little dog has followed up through the whole town during our walk together.  It’s name is Azul which means Blue.  Funny huh how some things are so similar?


On the ride back on the bus we drove through a moonlike landscape.  Without irrigation, the coast is a barren mix of gravel and sand dunes. I just happen to sit beside a man that also does microcredit loans to farmers.  We walk home from the bus stop and talk about his family, my family, and of course the economy and the election.  He is worried about the America economy also: the price of asparagus has fallen from $2.00 to less than 50 cents and he worries that his clients will refuse to grow the crop at those prices.


In the end we agree that Bush stinks, that no one knows what is going to happen to the economy, but that I’m going home to eat and he’s going home to his wife and we will be grateful and happy with what we have going for us.  Cheers to that!


One comment

  1. Great photos and writing to accompany them. I learned a lot about farming in Peru.

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