Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Caucato - Re-buidling after the Earthquake

The wall was made of adobe, fifty years old, easily lifted as gratifying as picking black heads. You wouldn't imagine the things that sprang out of the falling wall. Cockroaches, scorpions and mice. The locals stepped on the mice as though they were cockroaches and picked up the scorpions, slitting off their needles from where they became play-things to put on your face. In this small village called Caucato, where 30 families were left unhoused, living in their own ruins, after the 7.9 earthquake.

'Un techo para mi pais'(a roof for my country)serve to help those in need of houses. The foundation started ten years ago, funded by private enterprises and now running in nine latin american countries. The 'voluntarios' are all mainly university students, or anybody between the ages of 18-29.

Caucato, 3km from the port Pisco in the province of Ica, from where the old hacienda of the Montero family stood, whose land was taken away by 1973 reformation of General Velasco. The remains of the hacienda sit on a small hill overlooking the rest of the village from which only rubble and bits of the years-old scratched out graffiti are left. The community there of around 30 families resemble any other possible village, with each character with his/her own role, from the troublesome teenager walking like a badman with his personal stereo to the mad woman most of them ignore. There was even the town's very own historian who elagantly told stories of the past and of its mythology. One of the stories being that the original Montero made a pact with the devil so that his field may reap rewards. He somehow beat the devil at his own game and kept his soul as well becoming the local land owner.

I went along as a journalist/photographer helping a student crew with a documentary. This aided me to momentarily intrude. Half the people we interviewed cried in front of camera. A strange disposition came over them where they all felt they had spill all the evil done onto them. The state does nothing really other than to give them tents. So meanwhile the demagogue president Alan Garcia speaks with oral flowers nothing much is done. It is thanks to these organisations that any sense of normality can arise. After feeling like I was intruding I felt my efforts would of much better use helping with the mass house building. When it came to lunch all the women in the village prepared giant broths, chicken and rice. As moving orchestrated gesture each future-owner would bring the plates of food to their workers.

I can say with all honesty, I don't think I have ever done something as enriching. Laying the beast which is ambition aside and giving for giving sake. What is reciprocated is something money can never emulate. And I don't mean this in any cheesy sense, it truly is something awe inspiring.

In total over 600 people died and 4,000 were seriously injured during the earthquake in Ica that happened in waves from 18:41 on a Sunday. Had it been at night it would have been much worse. There are many stories. The most awful one is of the church in Pisco that sunk in itself and killed 200 worshippers as they ran to the exit. 80% of Pisco's buildings will now have to be demolished as most of the structures are at risk.