Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Peru

Yesterday the municipality delivered gifts, chocolate and cakes to all the kids in the district of Rio Grande. I went along for the ride to meet the folks in my district and to see what Christmas is all about in the remote areas of Peru. After some hemming and hawing and waiting we left at the Hora Peruana (more than an hour late). The mayor, a couple of the town regidores (representatives), a clown, a couple of kids and I hopped into a dump truck with boxes of toys for boys and girls and headed off to Pampa Blanca about 42 kilometers away, the furthest little pueblo in my district. The road started off OK and was paved but after we made the first river crossing about halfway to Pampa Blanca it was just a dusty, gravelly dirt road. A short 25 miles took over 2 hours and I´m probably 2 inches shorter than I was before we started off. When we got close to Pampa Blanca, the driver hopped out, donned a Santa Suit and hopped into the bed of the truck with the clown and the two kids.

I’d been out to Pampa Blanca the night before for a primary school graduation. The remote town makes its living off dirt farming, cattle and mining. Apparently back in the day, they would pull out kilos of gold at a time out of the hills surrounding the town. Now they scrap together a little golddust at a time by grinding rock with a giant stone, adding mercury to the sludge and drying it. I’m not sure where they dump the sludge and waste excess water but I’m pretty sure it just goes right into the river.

Anyway, when we pulled up, all the kids playing futbol on the dirt pitch above came running down the rocky hillside after the truck. The clown put on a little show, gave out presents with Papa Noel (Santa), and we drank hot chocolate. The children were so precious and so grateful. It really melted my heart and stirred up some paternal instinct that I’ve managed to bury for all these years (Don’t get all worked up mom, I’m over it today).
I little different than the crass commercialism and excess I´m used to.

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