Scenes from this Week – the Trujillo Penultimate!

November 7, 2008

I can’t believe it will be my last week in Trujillo soon.  I’m not ready to head to the jungle yet – actually, I’d love to get some hot sun and see the Amazon basin – but I could also stand a few more weeks here.


This week was lovely just like the others.  I felt like this week I worked more than most: going to meetings, tracking down bank members through random markets and neighborhoods and a (last?) trip up to the Sierras on Thursday.


I’m so surprised and flattered by how warm and inviting most of the socias are within five minutes of meeting.  I’ve definitely also noticed an initial caution from almost everyone I’ve met – I think any stranger knocking on your door is automatically met with wariness.  Maybe it’s something we disguise in the US and we grin no matter who is approaching; but for me it was a little intimidating at first to be regarded somberly and with sidelong glances when I entered meetings or homes.  Maybe that’s why I’m so surprised when – after I’ve explained myself and chatted with her for a few minutes – the mood changes completely.



This Señora was as somber as they come when I knocked on her door.  She opened the window and asked me what, when, why and who before she dropped the curtain, closed the window and then scared the bejesus out of me when she popped out the side door to let me in.  But soon we’re chatting away over leftover birthday cake and Inca Kola while Barney is blaring in the background.  She tells me she loves brown people – I never would’ve guessed just going on our first few moments’ interaction.  The little boy is her grandson; she minds him while her daughter works in the city.



This is a picture of the El Cortijo neighborhood.  It looks deserted right? I was convinced no one lived here; but ten minutes down this road I did manage to find some people.  Too further my surprise I found out they were farmers – but where? We’re across the street from the mall!  We weeded through some backyards and brick houses and sure enough, there are one and two acre tracts of vegetables growing here and there.  This woman grows broccoli, spring onions and coriander on this leased plot.



In running around Trujillo this week I finally remembered to take this picture.  These guys sit outside along a block of government buildings typing forms for petitioners, lil old ladies in knee high stockings and campesinos in tall hats and ponchos.



Yesterday I went to the Sierra for another dose of motorcycles and rain.  I can’t complain though.  A 56-year old woman in this meeting told me afterwards that she was about to start her three hour walk home to a “nearby” hamlet named Catarata, or waterfall.  I was dreading three hours on the bus; but here she is pointing to a huge hill, donning her hat and telling me she’s about to trudge through the downpour to where she lives on the other side of the rise.



The day started off with some heart-breaker sunshine.  We had a meeting at 7 am here in a bakery one of the women owns in Mache.  I broke away halfway through to track down a woman who had missed another meeting we’d held last week.



I ended up tracking down her son at school and here he is leading me to her house.  By the time I finished interviewing her and Mara finished the bank meeting we were too late for the bus.  So we took a forty minute tandem ride to Agallpampa.  This time I got my picture taken on the bike a la Peruana: no smiles… Well, I tried.




This one is a la Jenny, no?!


I rode at the back of the moto which stinks because there are no foot pedals.  These bikes (like the people?) are fairly short.   To keep my feet from dragging through the mud I was either lifting my legs until they tired or holding my ankles in my hands until my arms got tired.  Like-a Zheese…



In Agalllpampa I interviewed Señora Nila who was gutting guineas pig during out conversation. I don’t think they’re so cute anymore.  When she was working with the head, she would turn it on its back and break its jaw by knocking it a couple of times under the chin with the blunt side of the blade.  This made it easier for her to then insert the knife in the little guys mouth and cut off his lower jaw and throat.  From then, he gets cleaned like any other animal: cut from butt to belly to get the insides out and Voila! A rodent ready for roasting.



From there we headed to Motil just as the weather started to change.  You can see the clouds about to let loose here.



Our next meeting was in this outdoor area under a corrugated tin roof.  The rain was thunderous, we could barely hear each other.  It’s so cold too! I wonder who picks the meeting places and why they’re all content to wear skirts and ponchos.  I would love a neck to toes down puffer right now.  And I don’t know how sandals or loafers are appropriate either.  But they’re way more used to the wet and the cold then me; one woman said to me today, “Well, without the rain we won’t get the potatoes.”  They do have amazing potatoes here…





  1. hi rennie,
    how did you doctor that drawing on the motorcycle? it is so cool. i am concerned though that whilst holding your ankles, that you will fall off with all the bouncing around. oy veh! well, you will have strong quads, arms and core though, huh?
    when will you get yourself a set of warm poncho, hat and mittens?

  2. I think you have a bright future as a Private I when you return to the US.

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