Well, my love affair with motorized rickshaws is over. We took one up to Zone Z this morning (Wedneday), and the driver ran out of gas on his way up. I knew something was wrong when the cab started bucking and smelled pungently like sulfur. After a few minutes the engine completely stopped, and we started rolling backwards. As if that wasn’t enough, when the driver finally turned us around and coasted back down towards the town we turned directly in front of a huge bus. I screamed and the driver (whom I no longer liked at this point) cut the wheel sharply and started laughing. We told him to stop the moto and let us out, which he finally did. I was so shaken up because the bus nearly hit my side – these moto drivers can be so reckless. I had not thought much of it prior to this morning though, because I’ve never seen an accident in my time here. Also, the motos don’t go very fast unless they’re headed downhill. Later that day Ana, our neighbor who cooks for us, showed me this horrible scar on her leg from a moto accident. Needless to say, I’ve lost most of my fascination with these rickshaws! Thankfully no one was hurt. We found a different ride up to the zone by asking a security guard at Chocoloco’s work to flag down one of his drivers.
Anyway, the morning started a little rough, but the rest of the day was great. There is a new project going on in Zone Z. Remember when I wrote about how we wanted the kids to clean-up the soccer “field” and paint the goal posts? The community loved the idea, and the board of directors of the zone decided that they wanted to petition the government for help with the project. The community has really jumped on this project idea – and they want to level out the entire area in front of the cemetery and put in a couple of fields for the community and fences so that the drivers from the town won’t use the field as a parking lot. There is no other place for them to play, and the current field itself in its brokenness, the parents have told me, is used by drug dealers in the area. The parents want to put an end to that! Anyway, the board (which is comprised of about 7 or 8 of the area’s leaders) drafted a letter, with our help, to the government. We used Yrma’s connection to the municipality of Huaycan to bring the letter directly to the director, who said we can use the town’s bulldozers and machines for the project. We met with him three times in two days, which was an interesting experience in itself (one of the times, he paraded the “gringas” around these gardens in the back and took about six pictures with us in different locations) Apparently, it is very difficult to get the ear of the government (but it seemed so easy to Lara and myself, thanks to Yrma), so the board used the opportunity to list many of their other grievances. The director actually seemed very concerned, especially with the drug problem in the poorer areas, so hopefully more efforts will be taken to secure the poorer zones. We’ve been told not to trust the police or the government with their word, however, so we’ll see what happens in the end. The entire situation is very overwhelming, but it is neat to see a tiny project idea turn into something much bigger – we’re hoping to empower these people to really take action themselves to change their situation on their own. It’s exciting to see. Anyway, we went up this morning to take pictures and to work on the field a little bit. Many people – from young kids to old women – were out digging up rocks and sweeping trash. I’m glad everyone is so excited about this project. It looks like our big work day will be on next Sunday, the 28th.