June 27, 2011 14:23:20 | in Expat Life
By Larry J. Pitman
It is not the richest neighborhood in Lima nor is it the poorest. I think that puts us right in the middle, a solid middle class environment. Ok, maybe it is even a little higher than the average because it is Barranco.
For me, it is home, where things begin and end. It is the center of my existence, and all that I do springs from here.
One short block, that is all. Someone visiting us might believe that it is just a quiet tree-lined lane. To them, it could appear boring. Yet it has so much going on. For me, it is a stage. And on that stage are some fascinating players.
The flow of traffic is uneven. Early mornings and evenings, the street is deserted. Once in awhile a car will pass by at these times, but that is all. Usually, I can stand in the middle of the street and not be molested by a car.
Early in the morning, when I am first out with the dogs for a relief break, Sonia, our next door neighbor, slips silently out of her house on her way to mass at the church in the next block. Every morning she goes. She is very pious no doubt, but some think that the mass is a great excuse to get away from a difficult husband. This is her chance to escape, to get a little quiet time.
Pedro, just up the street, is often out early in the morning working on his car. Probably hitting seventy years of age, Pedro still loves to dress in tee shirt and shorts even in the coldest weather. He has an ancient yellow Mercedes that is his pride and joy. But like a jealous mistress, it needs constant care. Certainly he puts a lot of love into that car. Pedro is the neighborhood joker, and always makes my wife laugh with his off the cuff comments.
Victoria has wheeled her cart loaded with treats into position. I see her sitting alone on the cold mornings waiting for her first customers. Soon they will come, seeking hot coffee and her sandwiches for their breakfast.
Meanwhile, Hilda, the maid next door, comes out to scrub the sidewalk clean. She is joined by her little dog, Mocha, who maintains a vigil watching out to see that no one bothers her mistress.
Towards the end of the street, Victor emerges from his house. Extremely tall and lanky, he was once a basketball star. I watch as he folds himself into the small car that he owns. He needs a bigger car, I think.
The scene changes dramatically about the time that school opens; we get a stream of children and parents both in cars and walking. They are heading for the all girls school in the next block. The chatter of the young girls and their quiet laughter break the early morning silence.
Now the day begins and the players go into action.
Larry J. Pitman is a college professor and writer who moved to Peru in 2005. He is part of the Peru Writers Group. Read his essays every Monday at LivinginPeru.com.
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