Peruvian Entrepreneurs

Then come to rural Peru and meet the entrepreneurs serving the mines with everything from janitorial services, catering, bus transportation to heavy equipment leasing. Doesn’t sound as cool as the iPad? Well the iPad is a wonderful tool (and has been a godsend on this trip), but some of these accounts of setback, perseverance and just plain motivation would make a Goldman Sachs trader look like a slacker.  If short on time or plane fare, hopefully we’ve captured the essence of this amazing week in our upcoming video.

Meeting the film crew – producer Denisse and cameraman Sandro – in the hotel lobby at 4am on Monday must have the first time I’ve met actual people in my sleep.  Luckily they were also asleep so our conversation drifted easily from one non sequitur to the next. Touching down in Trujillo hours later, our dream state was perpetuated by the distinct sound of African singing somewhere near baggage claim. The singers turned out to be real (just like Sandro & Denisse): students from the University of Pretoria, in town for a dance festival.

That day in Trujillo, then two in Cajamarca with round trips to Lima between them, was an eye-opener.  Driving for hours on winding dirt roads at high speeds just to arrive in time for a 10-minute interview at a freezing bus stop (ah yes, it’s winter down here) as trucks roared by each time Sandro hit RECORD, seeing the pigeon-eating falcon who protects the town square from polluting birds, meeting the woman who started her first business at age 9…this is I’m sure what makes filmmaking such fun.  Addictive really, despite the backbreaking schedule.

El Ichu is a plant native to the altiplano where my favorite interviewee Gladys comes from.  It grows by the side of the road, and whenever one gets destroyed, another comes up right next to it.  Just like Gladys – defeat her in one area and she emerges in another, repeatedly.  So she named her company Los Ichus, and her description of its (her) strength moved me so much that I just might change my company name to copy her…if I could have half her strength I’d be a superstar. Not sure I’ve met a woman owner of a construction company anywhere, and in rural Peru it has to be even more of a challenge than in Denver.

In Cajamarca for the second time, I fell even more in love with the gigantic customary hats worms by the locals – the sombreros de Bambamarca.  It’s like a cowboy hat on steroids, and doubles as a water cup among myriad other uses.  Already a foot taller than anyone around, I got stares and even uncontrollable laughter from passersby as soon as I donned the hat for a quick establishing sequence in the Plaza de Armas. I don’t wear it quite as naturally as the locals, yet.

Today in Lima, the capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty in South America at the time of the conquistadors and now home to a third of all Peruvians, we spent hours in traffic jams and saw a very different side of Peru from the campesinos near the mines.  These were Peruvian-based, sophisticated international companies who benefit from their business with the mining sector, but are not dependent upon any one company or even industry.  Towering glass skyscrapers in the heart of town, we could have been in any metropolis in the US or Europe.

At lunch I felt compelled to try the pig’s hoof placed before me as a “delicious” appetizer. I have to admit it tasted exactly like a foot – so I politely placed my napkin over it and waited for the ceviche.


Now off to Cusco and Machu Picchu for some R&R — more to come.


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