An Amazonian chapter

Pucallpa is a pretty charmless city, as far as Peruvian cities go. Unlike Cusco with its cobbled streets and Andean charm, or Iquitos with its crumbling architecture and lush green surroundings, Pucallpa seems dusty and plain. It is city in the midst of being created, with wooden houses on stilts next to shiny new shoppingContinue reading “An Amazonian chapter”

The silence of the coffee forest

“They’re all gone,” the women says when I ask her where the men are, clutching her small child to her side and putting a hang gingerly on her swollen belly, “they’re all gone to the hills”. I glance over at the young women who I have trained to administer the surveys and be my culturalContinue reading “The silence of the coffee forest”

Vivir sano, vivir bonito, vivir bien

“Just write it down, ” Don Luis the community leader says, pointing at the survey sheet, “just write down that they sweep every day, change clothes and do dishes”. A barefoot child runs past him into the dwelling. His shirt is crusted with food and his bare feet are caked with dirt. His mother swaysContinue reading “Vivir sano, vivir bonito, vivir bien”

Thesis-Antithesis

The coffee comes, interrupting our conversation for a second. The woman serving the coffee gently sets down the fresh coffee cups, picks up the old ones and looks respectfully at the older woman seated in the rocker in front of me, patiently waiting to continue her story. “Algo más?” She asks the old woman. TheContinue reading “Thesis-Antithesis”

Sunset paths on the Solentiname Islands

The women puts the final brush stroke on her painting, takes off her glasses and peers at us: two white girls, sunburned from a long day of exploring the Island of San Fernando, standing at the edge of her porch, looking sheepish. “I take it you don’t want to rent the canoe anymore?” she asks,Continue reading “Sunset paths on the Solentiname Islands”

How to kill a chicken Part 2: kill it

  It all happened so fast. In my mind I had it planned out precisely: I would choose the chicken, pay homage to the gods and ask to take it’s life,maybe make an offering, build a fire and dance around it, celebrating the circle of life and all that good stuff.Farmers here aren’t sentimental, well,Continue reading “How to kill a chicken Part 2: kill it”

How to Kill a chicken Part 1: Find a chicken

 A while ago my friend had offered to take me to the countryside to get a “gallina india”, one of those chickens that ranges about in the countryside, scratching for food and coming home sometimes to lay eggs. It is about as free-range and organic as you can get and I was determined to killContinue reading “How to Kill a chicken Part 1: Find a chicken”

Comfort Food

Food is a touchy subject anywhere, far from being merely a source of energy and nutrients, it is intricately linked to identity, emotions, feelings of well-being. Every country has its staple food; in India it is rice and dahl, in Germany it is bread and cheese, and here it is Gallo Pinto: essentially rice andContinue reading “Comfort Food”