Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Murder in a Small Town

My town is a quiet, sleepy town. A kind of Peruvian Mayberry. Nothing exciting happens here. Really... Nothing... Occasionally there’s a town celebration or a futbol game but otherwise, it’s as tranquilo (laid back) as it gets. There’s virtually no crime. Sometimes the town drunk gets out of hand and hollers at people in the street and throws rocks at things but the folks put up with him and talk him down. Sometimes there are petty thefts committed by outsiders but otherwise it’s a quiet, safe little burg.

A couple of weeks ago, tragedy rocked my little town and made the headlines nationwide. A man in a jealous rage slashed his wife to death with a knife and then turned the knife on himself. He lived but is still in the hospital. According to the newspapers, it was a crime of passion committed when the wife failed to come home when expected.

I was out of town for training but heard of the tragedy through my community partner. I was deeply affected and stunned that such a thing could happen in such a laid back place. I’ve met the man and he seemed about as tranquilo as they come. He was a cab driver and occasionally shuttled me back and forth between Palpa. We had the usual conversations – he’d ask what part of the US I’m from, is it hot there, what kind of crops do they grow there, what kind of music do I like, how do I like Peruvian food, etc. He was always very kind and courteous which made this all the more surprising. I don’t think I ever met the woman. I’m told she was from the selva (jungle).

Of course the man has family in town. His father is also a cab drier. His mom sells bread in front of the store by the plaza. His sister works in the health post. Surprisingly, the townsfolk were sympathetic to the man. They said of the deceased, while being respectful and disrespectful at the same time, that she was sacando la vuelta (cheating) on him. They said she pushed the limit too far, he snapped, and that it was understandable without coming right out and saying she had it coming.

When I got back to site the week after the incident I asked people if anything had happened while I was gone. The response - "No. Todo tranquilo. Nothing ever happens here." Such is life in Mayberry.

Here’s an article from the paper

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