The old adobe bricks are now used to make walls around the homes
As our group was checking into our upper-scale hotel in Pisco, Yolanda was settling in for another cold, dark night in the desert town of Chincha. As we compared our success (or lack thereof) with hot water in the shower, Yolanda and her family may not have had any water at all. As I smiled with surprise at having an indoor bathroom with tile, Yolanda may have been walking outside in the dark to hers. Would she trip in the dark and fall into the wells that used to collect water (when it actually came)? Doubtful. Yoland and her family have lived in the poor squatter area outside of Chincha for many years now. They have lived in the dry, sandy desert longer than I have been alive...and long before the earthquake of August 15, 2007 occurred. Everything was destroyed. And yet Yolanda and her family remain there today.
Before the earthquake, 152 adobe homes made up the neighborhood. Only two of those homes survived the 7.9 magnitude earthquake. Upon seeing their homes destroyed, some families left after the destruction. Today there are around 95 homes, all of which have been rebuilt in one way or another.
Our gracious host proudly offers us her apples
disaster assistance can only help a family so much. Many have had to take out loans to help them rebuild, loans that may haunt them and forever hover over their heads like the dreary winter clouds of Peru. Some homes are being rebuilt with bricks, concrete, and rebar, yet many are still being built with nothing more than thatch-like walls and ceilngs. But what happens when it rains? you may be thinking. Well, it's doesn't, so that's not a concern. The desert reassures them that a weak roof is OK...but an earthquake offers no guarantees. Previously, prior to the 2007 earthquake, the homes were contructed with adobe bricks. Though those houses did not survive the quake, many of the individual bricks seemed to have and now make up walls around homes. These walls seem to be a contant reminder of what was and is no longer.
At the point when we were all feeling pretty glum about the physical, mental, emotional, and financial task of rebuilding, we saw the life that is in that desert. Our host Yolanda's eagerness to show us around the neighborhood was life-giving. As a great surprise to all of us, we were shown her
Stronger than an earthquake
Yolanda and her mother took good care of us on our visit
own little oasis--a vast orchard filled with grapes, pears, and apples. Now I have seen people very proud of their gardens before, but Yolanda's pride in the orchard that she shares with her family and four other families was so amazing. Her excitement over every little thing in the orchard was contagious. At the end of our tour she blew us away with her hospitality. She pulled out a giant basket of red apples from her thatch-roofed house and offered them to us. She was so happy to be able to share her apples with us, strangers from a land far away that she'd only met 20 minutes earlier. How could we possibly take this woman's apples when it seemed to be a miracle that they could even grow in the desert in the first place? Yet how could we not??
I may not be the only one who can't fall asleep as easily tonight. Maybe others in the group, staying in a strong, concrete hotel, can't sleep so well either. We heard troubling stories of destruction and death today. Yet what is apparent is that there is life and resurrection in that desert, too. As I process today's
A stronger home now stands in the place of the former home. (Carlos, notice the cross! They were all over....!)
events, Yolanda's words echo in my mind--"Before things were really bad and we couldn't even sleep at night. But now we have homes and so we are able to sleep again."
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