Thursday, December 24, 2015

Helping out the neighborhood

Every year, a bit before Christmas, the condominium complex where we live sponsors a fun night for the residents.  The kids dress up in their pretty dresses,
and a clown is hired.  (The clown is on the left.)
This year, as it does in the rainy season, it rained.  Hard.  We had just arrived back from Huánuco, a seven-hour drive, after participating in the Christmas Zone Conference there, when a knock came on the front door.  It was the president of the condo association, asking if they could use our driveway/parking places for the clown show, as we have a covered area there.
We had planned to turn off the lights and hide out and go to bed early, but we said, "Sure, bring it on."  And bring it on they did, including the small shelter they had set up, and a bunch of chairs.
The kids had a great time with the two clowns and their helper.  They had fun for about an hour,
then everyone had 'panettone' and hot chocolate and chatted.
Panettone is a kind of fruitcake popular here for the holidays.  Consistent with Peruvians' distaste for really sweet things, it is not.  Also, they go kind of light on the fruit.  The stacks of boxes and bags of panettone go up in the stores long before Christmas.
All the neighbors clapped when they were asked to show their appreciation for our allowing them to use the venue.  We thought we could finally crawl in bed.  Not so fast, gringos!  We were appointed the judges of the annual competition for decorating the houses.  They go nuts down here with the lights and other stuff, and the winning entry was complete with a live manger scene with their kids (getting wet), and enough lights that I'm sure they were using about 10% of the city's electricity.
When all was said and done, we were glad that we had answered the knock on the front door, and could help out the neighbors.
We hope that you aren't called upon to judge your neighbors, and that you have a Merry Christmas!
Dave & Paula

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reason #172-G why things sometimes don't work well here.

In the entire district of Huancayo, only 40% of everyone ever receives a water bill, and of those, only 60% ever pay a centavo.  The water supply is failing, and the estimate to fix it is roughly 500 million soles, or about $150 million US.
That sum was requested of the Ministry of Housing Construction and Sanitation, and Huancayo received $385,000.  Oooh, nice start.
Sixty percent of the buildings in Huancayo, the capital of the Junín Region, are "informal," meaning that they have been built without any permit, registration with the city or professional advice.  They just find the local water, sewer and electrical feeds and tap in to them, then call the neighbors and put up a house.  Yipee!  Certainly a lot easier than messing with all those silly forms.
The Huancayo newspaper reports that one of the four large areas of our fair city only collects taxes from about 20% of its 100,000 citizens.
When the citizens were surveyed as to why they don't pay their taxes, their answer was, "Because the city hardly provides any services."
The municipal leaders were asked why services aren't better, and they of course answered, "Because hardly anyone pays their taxes.  Duh."
This certainly begs the question of who is going to do so something first.  Meanwhile, visions of arguments going around in circles is giving me a headache.
We hope that things are going more smoothly in your neck of the woods.  And that you pay your taxes.  And the water bill.  And tell someone that you built a house.  And that your head stays put.
Dave & Paula