Lunchtime in Piura: A Powerful Break in the Day


Lunchtime in Piura, a Peruvian town of 378,000. Its major personality points are its two universities and its rising middle class.

My four-and-a-half-hour lunch period begins at a vegetarian restaurant. This place serves up delicious soy-based products that far surpass American meat substitutes and remind me of the best tofu products I ever had in China (they were terrific, if they didn’t make you sick for three days).

I climb into a moto. This automotive contraption closely resembles India’s rickshaw and is more dangerous than a Ford Pinto. He charges me two soles (less than a buck) to travel about a mile or so to the mall. This is a good price. (It’s those pesky cab drivers who cater to the University of Piura, a private university, I watch out for. They charge three times the standard rate.)

The roads are pockmarked as Swiss cheese and the moto jiggles me so hard along them that I have to brace my breasts. Momentary we arrive at Open Plaza. This is three-month old mall. On weekends it attracts families of 23 to snap shots in front of a water fountain that’s little more than ceramic blue tiles forming a rectangle around a spitting hose. The families find KFC and Pizza Hut cutting edge, though. They love to place their toddlers in shopping carts and wheel them around the two-story building.

Inside, I feel like I’ve jumped into a Surrealist film. Every interior store is darkened by a power outage. Starbucks can’t serve up a latte. Claro the telecom company cannot recharge cell phones. RadioShack cannot return useless speakers without power to their computer.

As I exit RadioShack, one of the mall’s two anchor stores, Sodimac, is illuminated. But right now I don’t need home goods from a pseudo-Home Depot. Instead it’s time for a bi-weekly grocery trip to Tottus. It too has electricity– and shoppers. Fortunately, there aren’t the throngs that appear on weekends. Tottus on a weekend makes Disneyland on the Fourth of July look like a retirement home.

A few bottles of juice and Diet Coke, four liters of water, soy milk, and a $4 bottle of Argentinian Malbec later, I’m aboard another moto on my way home. For six weeks I’ve lived with a local family in their three-story, lime green house. At less than two months old, the house already has more cracks than a my 38-year-old smoker’s face. It also has a two-year-old who cries more hours daily than I sleep. It also, however, has electricity and Internet conn–.

Shit. If only I had a battery-operated espresso machine to make a latte while waiting for the Internet to kick in again. Perhaps I’ll take join in the local custom and take a siesta.

4 thoughts on “Lunchtime in Piura: A Powerful Break in the Day

  1. Walter Lyndsay Alcántara Salzae

    Nichole, realmente es importante la característica que le das a tu narración de una forma ambigua, tal es una narrativa formal como la coloquial, las cuales te llevan a un público más amplio y de diferentes índoles sociales, muy importante! Estamos en un país donde hay una mezcla de razas y sociedades algo hipócritas a quienes debemos mostrarles lo equivocados que a veces están al querer marginar a gente que se interesa por la realidad humana.

  2. Wandering Justin

    I like this … very vivid. I see you’re starting to get into this very immediate, first-person, present-tense style. It’s a good style for writing something that really hooks the senses.

    1. Nichole L. Reber Post author

      Well, considering my blog posts aren’t showing on my home page, I’m glad they’re at least getting out…and being read. Thanks for reading!
      Yes, the first person seems to elicit the best response. That’s imperative to the reader/writer relationship. On “Creepy” you’ll recall my attempt at second person. Most of my published critics disliked that\– almost vehemently, in fact, saying that it was the first-person perspective that brought them into the story. And here I was, trying not to be an overtly feminine chick in that narrative. Hmmm…


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