Hasta Luego, Trujillo!

November 18, 2008

Ebele and Jen left on Thursday and I am a mad woman both Thursday and Friday trying to wrap everything up: submitting my final reports, running errands, packing, planning. It’s been a busy couple days trying to get myself ready for Pucallpa. On Thursday I made my last few visits to the neighborhoods of Trujillo.

I met women of the Florencia de Mora district, a twenty-five year old neighborhood that was colonized by immigrant families from the sierras in the seventies. The area was literally colonized in a process known as invasion. Dozens of families would arrive at the ever expanding border of Trujillo and form small neighborhood councils. Each newly formed council would organize among themselves to divide several hectares of dusty nothingness into plots of equal size for each family. The families would then stake out their plot and guard it day and night against squatters. In this way entire suburbs were formed; it reminds me of claim jumpers and squatters in the Western US in the 1800’s.

Florencia is a dangerous neighborhood plagued by drugs and drug addicts in the outskirts and by opportunistic criminals in the interior. One of the bank members I spoke to on Thursday told me that she joined Manuela Ramos because her son was attacked just in front of her house and she depleted her savings paying his medical bills. It turns out that the attacker was her neighbor’s son; in a drug-induced craze he mugged the bank member’s son and stabbed him in the ear. I ask her if the police ever did anything about it and she says the justice system here in Perú is feeble; apparently, the perpetrator is still roaming free in the neighborhood. The woman tells me relations between her and her neighbor are strained to this day, three years after the incident occurred. The upside to this story is that her son is alive and well. She has been able to rehabilitate her shoe-making business through capital loans from Manuela Ramos and her son works side-by-side with her making up to 40 dozen shoes per week.

On Friday, I turned in a journal account of this woman’s story as well as all the other outstanding profiles that I’ve been working on in the past week. It’s time to say goodbye to the promotoras and they bid me farewell just as warmly as they welcomed me. I have also had to say goodbye to my internet café friends, my hotel manager friends and my neighborhood bakery. I get one last surprise invitation from Amelia, the director of the regional office: she wants me to come to her house tonight for dinner and her mother’s birthday celebration in the Los Jardines neighborhood.

I’m surprised and flattered and so glad that I get to visit with her family. She has one daughter that is my niece Ally’s age (3) and another that is still in high school. Her mother is a cool and beautiful lady of 67. We’re also dining with her in-laws and her nieces. I eat my weight in tamales and also taste a delicious cocktail that looks like Bailey’s but tastes like… gosh, I don’t even know how to describe it or even what the name of the fruit it was made from but it was GREAT! We sang happy birthday over the craziest cake I’ve had the chance to eat: it had layers of Jell-O and cheesecake interspersed with pound cake – wowza!

After dinner I said my last goodbyes – to Amelia, to my room, to the city – and got on my night bus to Lima. I’ve truly loved this gorgeous, coastal, colonial city. Maybe one day I’ll be back to rehash old times. But for now, my first four weeks is up and I’m about to begin the second leg of my trip: onward to the Amazooooooon!



  1. what a nice compliment, to share a meal/bday celebration with her fam. hope you took pictures.

  2. Trujillo sounds like a great place. We’ll go back some time honey to see how it changes/stays the same.

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