Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Garment District of Lima

Welcome to Gammara!

Gammara is a happ'n place, a kind of hive. Besides running into characters like this guy, we watched worker bees, young men and women, who run from store to store and from street to street with heavy loads of material, clothing, and even food packed on handcarts or push carts, a kind of dolly, but wide and roughly constructed. Crowds of shoppers push their way along the streets. The streets are walking malls. Anyone who drives has to find parking outside the shopping area which must be more than a mile square in area. Most people arrive and leave by cab. Clothing hangs from balconies, in windows, and on mannequins that look as if they have been used in car demolition advertisements. Some of the mannequins have missing limbs and broken or dented heads. Hangers suggest, in an exaggerated form, the figures of women and men. Blocks and blocks of fabric stores just boggle the shopper's mind. Some have the fabric artfully displayed. Others have the fabric hanging over doors, tables, or just in piles. One block may have curtain fabric for homes--kitchen, bathroom, windows, etc. Another block will have fabric for clothing--everything from filmy material to fine wool. It helps to go with someone who has been before and knows where the best value and variety are.

The only way we can get our bearings is to enter at Avenida Mexico where the taxis enter. The street is relatively calm in this picture. Two workers are carrying heavy bundles.

This is one of the mall stores where clothing of every sort hangs on the outside of the stores. It's hard to get a clear picture of any of the buildings because of the crowds. Also, it isn't a good idea to be seen carrying a camera. Gammara has a reputation for crime. That said, however, someone told us that the district has beefed up the security and is trying to make it safe for shoppers.

The blue contraption is a cart-like dolly strapped to the back of one of the workers who passed us earlier with a massive load of fabric strapped to the dolly. He was bent almost in half as he carried his load. He was running back for another load.

I wish these pictures were larger so the other buildings in the background were more visible. An open sweater market is on the right. Some stores are filled with sports clothing, or levis, or winter clothing; others are dedicated to notions. One store we saw had bags of buttons, maybe a 1000 in a bag. That same store had a display case of unpackaged zippers, hundreds of zippers. I wonder how one would buy a 7" navy blue zipper. How would the salesperson know how to find it?

These two characters were selling gum for a sole a package. You met one of them at the beginning of this blog. When the one in pink saw me taking a picture he came over to me and pressed a little package of gum balls into my hand and asked for a sole, the equivalent of 30 cents. That picture is the first one on the blog.

As we were leaving in the cab, I saw this--a man pulling a small cart loaded with carpets.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day at the CCM

The Comedor at the CCM serves a good variety of delicious, authentic Peruvian dishes. Since a registered dietician was hired in April, the choices of vegetables and salads has really increased and improved. The new pastry chef, who taught Hna. Whetten and me to make churros, has added variety to the postres or desserts as well.

President Whetten on the far left, Dad, and Carlos, who has worked at the CCM as the general manager for 25 years, were presented with individual tres leches cake for Father's Day. This cake is incredibly rich and moist, a Latin American dessert worth traveling afar to taste.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Have Camera...Will Shoot What Catches the Eye

One of fun things about carrying a camera every day is that I can capture some everyday shots. These pictures tell a story of life in Lima. This shoeshine man has his stand on rollers, umbrella to protect from the sun, and newspapers and magazines for the gentlemen to read. His stand is across the street from the Dominican Cathedral where the first university in the Americas was established in the mid 1500s.

This picture is of two MTC missionaries contacting a street artist who stopped them to sell them his water colors. They called me back from across the street to help them tell the man where he could find a chapel. He told the Elders he is Catholic but he would like to attend our meetings. He gave us his cell phone number. Later he chased the missionaries to the San Francisco Cathedral (about three blocks) where our bus was waiting. He recognized me and gave me his wife's business card (she has a artesania shop near the cathedral) and another copy of his cell phone number. He is serious about being taught the Gospel. The wonderful thing about this day trip with the North Americans is that they gave away seven copies of the Book of Mormon. They did more contacting than shopping--something we hadn't seen before on our trips to Old Lima.

The guards in front of the Governor's Palace enjoyed all the attention. They allowed the missionaries to have their pictures taken with them. We had heard the streets around the Plaza de Armas were closed and that we may not be able to go into the city center. When we arrived downtown, however, we learned the meetings were adjourned. The guards were quite relaxed.

This is a picture of the Governor's Palace through one of the ornate iron fences. The picture shows a group of men rolling up the red carpet.

This is a close up of the red carpet being rolled up. We had never seen this before. We were there at a good time. At noon every day the ceremonious changing of the guard takes place. We want to see that before we leave Peru.

This narrow street, originally a carriage way, is the route the bus takes to the coast. The bus nearly fills the road. I love this stretch because of the ancient Spanish Colonial structures, the beautiful balconies, and the varied colors of the painted stucco and brick.

This shot was also taken from the bus. This old building still functions as a home with businesses on the street level.

The street entertainers are a common sight in Lima and in every district for that matter. This college aged student juggled knives while the light was red. Then she made her way between the cars collecting change.

Sometimes we think we have seen everything. This was quite a sight--a guy walking his bike down a busy highway. The basket is loaded with cans. His bike chain had broken. We followed him for five minutes or longer because there was no room for the huge tour bus to get around him.

One of the many street vendors who come through our neighborhood on bicycles is the knife sharpener. He blows a kazoo-like whistle to announce his presence. Dad ran down with a half dozen very dull knives.

On the way home from the North Mission clinic last Friday, I shot this picture of two men playing a card game on the highway. We had just come through the toll booth where the traffic is quite heavy. I had a clear shot for just a moment.

At the corner of the Governor's Palace these missionaries found two quite friendly guards. After the Hermana left to walk across the street to the artesania shops with her companion, who was also taking a picture of her, the guard asked the Elder what her name was. She is a music major at the University of Arkansas. She plans to teach in a bilingual school.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Outing to Ceramica Peru

The wife of our Area president invited me to visit Jorge, the owner and developer of Ceramica Peru, located about 20 miles from here on trecherous and truck clogged roads. After an hour we finally arrived unscathed and ready for an adventure. My friend Mary Ann Creer's daughter-in-law went as well. She and her husband are in their last month of a year in Peru. He has been working with the Area lawyer before he begins his own law practice this summer in the Chicago area. Stacy was buying gifts, Shelley was picking up a special order, and I had gone just to look, or so I thought.

Jorge and his wife are on either side of us. He told us that at one time he had over 100 artisans working for him. Now he has two potters, two painters, and his wife who helps with design and sales. He is the chief designer.
Behind us is an example of his designs and wares. He does full-service dinner ware in addition to specialty pieces like cake plates, serving platters, ice cream bowls, salsa servers, vases, pitchers, and candlesticks and candle holders of all shapes and sizes, and plant pots. I especially was fascinated with flat-back pots which can be hung on a wall or a fence.

This color, by the way, is the typical color used on inside walls, on cement buildings, and even on the old Spanish Colonial style buildings downtown. Our apartment building's trim is in this color--maracuya--(the final syllable is accented). The color mimics the color of a mild and sweet Peruvian fruit.

This is just one of serveral displays of pieces to choose from. Notice there are no fancy glass shelves or large tables displaying his different lines. The other pieces are scattered about on the floor like these colorful pieces in the typical colors and designs of Peru.

The painter near the wall is painting a large candle stick. The one near is painting a large serving tray. The brushes they are using are long and pointed for painting fine lines. There are brushes of all thicknesses and lengths for the different applications. The wall is constructed in the Inca manner, great stones fitted together to make a wall which runs the length of the property and holds back the mountain which comes right to the property. The clay quarry is on the property.

These pieces are waiting to be painted. They are sitting on a stone floor. The clay is fired at a 1000 degrees for nearly two days. The funky flower vases at the beginning of the blog were waiting to be painted as well, and I was surprised to see how rough and wihout personality they are before being painted. Dad and I have seen these vases at markets and in boutiques. They are painted in such designs to make one smile. It's fun to know where they were crafted.

These are a few of the designs. I am not sure what the pieces on the left are. I didn't get a picture of the salt and pepper shakers and I didn't see any finished shakers. Dad and I will go back together because he was quite fascinated by the pieces I bought.

We watched the potter make this pie plate. When we went back to watch her finish her project, she was fluting the rim just the way one would flute a pie crust.

Jorge asked this potter to show us how he uses this old potting wheel to make a bowl. He had the foot wheel really flying. There is more control with the foot than with an electric wheel. Jorge told us nothing is done by machine here. All the ceramics are done a mano.

The chunk of clay in the foreground is for his next project. He threw a small fruit bowl with a really graceful shape.

When we first arrived, the woman was working on this serving dish which will be fired later.

The potter is cutting and kneading the clay. He must have cut, pounded, and kneaded one piece 20 times. We didn't count...

The clay is in layers--when he finishes with the clay, it will be a solid block. Right behind him are great slabs of wet clay drying to the right dampness.

This is the bowl the young potter threw for us. Later he cut it free of the wheel.

Our tour was quite private. Shelley had to call Jorge ahead to tell him we were coming. Then we arrived at the unmarked garage door which she had to knock on quite loudly. He opened the garage door and motioned for us to park our car inside the hidden property. He closed the garage door behind us. Shopping is by appointment only. While we were there, a couple who have been in Peru for three years with the US Embassy, came to shop for gifts to take home. I am really looking forward to our return trip.