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Ayacucho: Poverty, example jiron La Mar no. 425

Washing clothes on the roof, Pamela and Shirley 01  Toilet of the neighbour without curtain with corrugated
            iron roof

Photo reportage by Michael Palomino (March 2007)



Jiron La Mar, picture of the street with
                        moto taxi vergrössernJiron La Mar, picture of the street with moto taxi

The houses have one or two floors. The pavement has heavy damages and the footpath / sidewalk also. At the right side there is no footpath / sidewalk at all.

In many families a moto taxi is the only income they have.

One has to know how the urban development in South "America" functions, or in reality does not function. first there is a hut, then there are some huts and a wild footpath. Then are built little houses of stones which have only a ground floor. Then the wild footpath becomes a country road. The state or the government are not organizing anything. In the next 10 years it can be that current, water and telephone will be installed. Often people of the outer quarters have no telephone, also no cement floor and are living with direct contact to the Earth. Then a bath room is built. When a new row of houses is built up the inhabitants have toe think about to construct a new road. When there is no luck all has to be payed by oneself. By this there are whole quarters in Ayacucho without one single paved street, and on these sandy streets are bus lines. When it's raining the buses bear the mud of the sweat country roads into the center of the town which normally is clean more or less...

So, South "America" functions right the other way than Europe: In Europe is a plan first to build up a quarter with streets which are fixed already on the plan, and then the houses are built and rented. In South "America" first are built the huts, then the houses, and at last the streets. When there is no luck all house owners have to pay for the street their selves...

Jiron La Mar 425, old house front, missing
                        window panes
vergrössernJiron La Mar 425, old house front, missing window panes

The color to paint a house front again costs. When the family hardly has any income the house front has the last priority. Also window panes of the terrace door are missing. The boy of the family has broken the window panes with a football, and the window panes in the Sierra are very expensive and will be replaced at best in winter.
Jiron La Mar 425, stairs open air outdoors
vergrössernJiron La Mar 425, stairs open air outdoors

By the stairs open air can be avoided a trapdoor. The rain in Ayacucho can be very heavy, so the stairs outdoors of the house is the safest method that the roof gets no damage. By this a breakthrough by the roof can be avoided and also a construction on the roof. And as a result of the stairs outdoors there is a new slot under the stairs to deposit things. The roof itself will be the floor for another floor later.
Jiron La Mar 425, washbasin and toilet open
                        air outdoors on the roof
vergrössernJiron La Mar 425, washbasin and toilet open air outdoors on the roof

The toilet and the shower only have a fabric curtain, the shower only has cold water if functions. Households where the father is absent much time have special problems for repairs because women have no emancipation at all in Peru concerning handicrafts. A shower which is not working or a toilet which is not working is not working until the husband comes back. Here for example a tube was missing for the water case of the toilet, and there was missing a sealing ring for the shower. By this the toilet had to be handled with a bucket, and the shower was also a bucket, and a big water bucket.

Persons which have to got on the roof during a rain have to pass the stairs in the rain. The householder placed the bathroom in the first floor because the drain will be better then.

And: There is not always water. The big water buckets have always to be filled with water for handling the toilet otherwise one is not prepared for times when the water tap is dry. I was glad I had at least a functioning shower in the hostel, but also only cold water, the warm water did not function, or there was only given a cold shower with the room...

Later, when sometimes is saved enough money, will be built the next floor of the house. Whilst the tenants have to be satisfied with an open air toilet and an open air washing facility on the roof. This is not the only house in Ayacucho where one brushes the teeth open air...

Cock and hen in the backyard, and a
                        football game
vergrössernCock and hen in the backyard, and a football game

A neighbor has hens and a cock which is calling up all the neighbors since four o'clock. The rural population is accustomed to the cock since four o'clock. A big part of the population of Ayacucho begins at four o'clock with their preparations and begin to work at half past five, for Europeans unimaginable.

In the background young men are playing a football game in the courtyard. Football is an important diversion in the life of the population of South "America", because sports with snow do not exist because there is hardly snow, and all sports with an expensive equipment have no chance in the population...

Backyard with cock, hen and black pigs, and
                        a football game
vergrössernBackyard with cock, hen and black pigs, and a football game

In a part of his garden the neighbor also has black pigs which eat his drops and give meat. This animal husbandry in the garden is no exception. In Cusco I also could see sheep in a part of a garden in a little stable.
Toilet of the neighbor without curtain with
                        corrugated iron roof
vergrössernToilet of the neighbor without curtain with corrugated iron roof

The corrugated iron roof is absolutely typical for rear buildings in Peru.

The Peruvians have a very natural relationship to the toilet, but also very careless. A toilet open air outdoors in a backyard is no exception in Peru but can be seen often, in the desert climate of Lima even in hostels and hospices. To urinate is called "number 1" (span. "número uno") and the defecation is called "number 2" ("número 2"). The noises are absolutely socially acceptable but not heard when people is speaking or TV is running...

The toilet papers with the rests of number 2 are folded and collected in a little basket and given to the garbage collection / refuse collection also with the argument that the tube system should be kept cleaned.

Washing clothes on the roof, Pamela
vergrössernWashing clothes on the roof, Pamela

Only a few Peruvians in the countryside have a washing machine. Or when they have any washing machine they save current and although wash by hand. Clothes hanging outdoors is drying quickly with the Peruvian sun.

The women say that the clothes washed by hand is softer and the colors keep longer than laundry washed with a laundry machine...
Washing clothes on the roof, Pamela and
                        Shirley 01
vergrössernWashing clothes on the roof, Pamela and Shirley 01

The women loose much time with washing, at least four hours a week. But the children learn to wash their own clothes with five years and get accustomed to it. The develop a certain pride on the washing their clothes by hand. It seems to be also a kind of balance of fitness which is working like a machine and naturally. So many women cannot imagine a life without the cult to "wash their clothes by hand" any more.
Washing the clothes on the roof, Pamela and
                        Shirley 02
vergrössernWashing the clothes on the roof, Pamela and Shirley 02

Practically whole Ayacucho is washing their clothes by hand with a huge waste of time, soap and water. During two weeks of stay in Ayacucho I could not find one single laundry. After my return to Lima my clothes were washed in a laundry...

Shirley did not want to be taken with the face. Washing the clothes should not be this photogenic also when she likes to do it.

All in all there are much worse circumstances than these of Jiron La Mar no. 425 when one goes to the outer quarters of Ayacucho. There are no showers, no toilets, no cement floors, there is only one water tap outside of the house which has to be shared with others, so there is no shower possible at all, eventually there is no current either, and only seldom there is a telephone etc.

But to many Peruvians beer and casino is more important than a better life because IQ70 does not want more than that.