Ciudad del Eterno Sol or Ciudad del Eterno Calor. Eternal Sun or Eternal Heat, take your pick. It never gets cold here 5 degrees latitude south of the equator tucked up in the little corner of Perú near the Ecuadorian border and 40 miles inland. 96 at noon today which isn’t impressive for my Arizona friends but gets one’s attention in the Badger State, especially in February. I’m here for three days training newborn resuscitation trainers with the regional College of Midwives (Obstetras). This is the re-establishment of neonatal resuscitation training program (NRP) number 16 and I have a talented group to work with.
Piura, now a rapidly growing city of 400,000 (feels a lot smaller), has a rich history with Incan colonization only about 50 years before Francisco Pizarro and the Spaniards showed up in 1532 to establish the first Spanish city in Perú and fourth in all of South America, For years it was the gateway to Lima because of a better port. The Plaza de Armas is punctuated by mature tamarind trees painted white around the base of each trunk, and prides itself in the usual classy old colonial cathedral. With the constant heat it’s a city of flip-flops, T-shirts, shorts, and tank tops, all ages. The obstetras took me out to lunch today at a traditional restaurant and I enjoyed Seco de Cavelo, classic Piura cuisine made with salted marinated beef strips, fried green plantains, chifles (salted banana chips), tomato, onion, etc. all together, quite delicious.
The last couple nights I've enjoyed a cold Cusqueña sitting in a non-descript pizza joint on an open balcony overlooking a busy intersection on a downtown retail street. 10 PM on a Wednesday with all shops open, and streets full of people, cars, and motorcycles, a horn honking about every 2 seconds. Still almost 80 degrees but comfortable with a nice breeze. I love the activity and energy. This evening, after another long day in the Colegio de Obstetras, I’m enjoying a Capitán, my new pisco “go to” drink at the bar of a classy old hotel on the Plaza de Armas, Los Portales, with recorded jazz piano as an acoustic backdrop. Señor Segundo, the bartender, kindly shared his recipe. I’ve collected several and will determine which I like best for home enjoyment. Kind of Manhattan-like. I wonder if Segundo has an older brother Primero?
Piura is arid, rainfall largely influenced by El Niño which came in spades last April and inundated the entire downtown under 3-5 feet of water. The mosquitos thrived resulting in a recent outbreak of dengue. Other delightful local mosquito options include malaria and chikungunya (I love to say that word) though thankfully not too much of either.
To Lima tomorrow night and then a red-eye home the next night. I’m actually looking forward to the bracing frigid Wisconsin air, at least for a few minutes…….
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.