June 06, 2008

Terremoto (Earthquake)

Terremoto (earthquake), not to be confused with Taximotos, which are these great, little three-wheeled carts that scoot all over the little towns in and out of places that cars would never be able to go. Pat, Andrea, Anne and I went by bus with Hna. Pat to the towns of Chincha and Pisco, two places badly damaged in the earthquake last summer (Aug. 15th, around 6:30 p.m. as most people could tell you). The four hour bus ride, mas o menos, took us south from Lima down the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There were mountains and sanddunes, little towns, and country farms. It is definitely desert here, which, with the housing situation, is a good thing. Many of the one-room homes are made of thin, woven strips of wood, which look like straw mats. Some were adobe before the earthquake, but no more. Outside of Pisco there is a mile long strip of rubble moved from the center of the city to make room for the new construction. In the section nearest the city they have planted trees in the pile. I hope they make it.

In Chincha we stopped to see two of our sisters from Rochester who are living there for the year with two native Peruvian CSJs from Pembrooke. The sisters brought us to see one of the pre-fabricated houses that the Carondelet Congregation has financed. We have helped to build 300 homes in three cities. The walls, which look like presswood to me, come in six pieces, two on each side, one on the front, and one on the back. A hard rubber roof on top. The family that we met was dear. A father, mother, two sons, and the mother or sister of one of the parents. The father works at the hospital and was there when the earthquake hit. After the quake he ran home through the dust to find the walls of his adobe house leaning near to the ground. He called for his family, expecting the worst. His boys, however, returned his call from the back corner where the family was huddled. Ricardo (the father) demonstrated with his hands and arms that he soon had one boy on one leg, one boy on the other. The family stayed in a tent in the street for a few months and then in the home of a neighbor until their pre-fab home was finished.

(I wish I could upload some pictures to share, but I´ll just have to show you later or when I get home.)

Pisco was even more destroyed that Chincha. Everyone has a story. The cabdriver that took us from the bus to where we were staying shared that he had twenty-eight family members killed in the earthquake. They had all been at a memorial mass for his deceased uncle. Edwardo (the cabdriver) had been late in getting ready or he would have been in the church as well. Three days later Edwardo´s baby cousin was found alive in the rubble underneath a pew. The baby is being taken care of by an uncle who wasn´t able to get off of work to attend the mass.

While the streets are a mess and the homes are so different than what I know, the attitudes of the people are not consumed with sorrow. The music was loud and alive late into the night. Everyone greeted us with a smile and was quick to offer assistance (Partly, I´m sure because we are so obviously Gringas, which is why it was great to have Pat V. with us. Pat has been here thirty some years and knows exactly what she is doing.). They are so grateful for their homes and their family. Very generous, relational people.

I´ve had goat meat and purple juice made from corn. Lots of papas (potatoes) y pan (bread), even some helado (ice cream). One scoop was some fruit that I have never heard of before, kind of a coconut, pineapple flavor. Everything has been so good.

We also got to go to a reserve just south of Pisco. I can´t describe the beauty of everything. AHHH! As I am typing, the sun is coming out! We has sun in Pisco, but this is unusual here in Lima! I´d type more, but I´d rather go out and walk the streets, warm up a bit. Party for Pat tomorrow and to the formation house for a visit on Sunday. More later.

--Hna. Sarah


  1. sara--please give my love to all the sisters you meet. Your comment about relationships being primary is right on target--at least that was my experience, too. I do hope you enjoy yourself. Go for it, take all in, ask and receive. Kathy Crowly

  2. Wonderful to hear your news and impressions. Beautiful place, beautiful people! Amy

  3. Sounds like ya'll are fairing well on your adventures....enjoy and take it all in.....
    Nancy in Atlanta

  4. Sarah,
    Muchas Gracias por la descripcion de Lima, Chinca, y Pisco. I enjoy your impressions of the people, customs, and environs!

    May you continue to be present to each moment in Peru and soak in God's love.

    con carino,
    Margaret G.