Susan Gottshall, Oikocredit USA Board Member and Associate Executive Director for Communications at American Baptist Home Missions Society, participated in the 2014 AGM in Piura, Peru. Here are her first impressions. Her series on the AGM can be found here.
Sunday, June 15: Day One
Night falls slowly, gently, as the light fades to gray behind majestic palm trees. The wind kicks up, stirring the trees’ branches, rustling the fronds and bringing a breeze that sweeps away memories of the day’s heat. This tranquility by the aqua blue pool, the focal point of the Rio Verde Hotel and Convention Center in Pirua, Peru, is a rejuvenating end to the day.
It’s a long way from Macungie, Pa., USA, to Piura, Peru, and the journey was a frustrating one: Three planes, each requiring their own trip through security; seats in the last rows of the planes; endless walks from terminal to terminal.
I shared the taxi to the hotel with a man from Tanzania who left the day before yesterday to get here.
At some point on journeys like this, you ask yourself, “Why, why in the world am I doing this?” The lack of sleep, the bumpy plane rides, and the so many oh-so long lines. But then you finally get to where you're going, you take a nap, and you wake up knowing you are blessed by the opportunity of this experience. The inconvenience and frustration of the trip falls away, and you see clearly a part of the world so different from your own.
And it adds such richness to your worldview.
At 11 a.m. when my taxi navigated the streets in Piura on the way to the hotel, the thoroughfares were as crowded as New York’s Times Square. Cars, buses, bikes and motorbikes wove from lane to lane.
New to me were three-wheeled taxis, of a sort, that look like half a Harley in the front with a passenger carriage added in the back. Behind the “carriage” is a makeshift cargo area that I saw filled with a refrigerator, still in its box.
Along our route, a block-long flower market burst with color and the pride of the growers. A young boy, who looked about 7 or 8, sat alone in front of a tired building. Doorways to houses were opened in hope of finding a breeze blow through; people gathered in conversation.
Such was the energy of daily life this morning in Piura, a city of about 400,000 in northwestern Peru, founded in 1532. I am so thankful to have witnessed it.
I know the week holds much more.