The Village of Cura Mori

December 19th, 2009

An apartment building in Barranco…a wealthy suburb of Lima. It sits high atop a bluff overlooking a beautifully maintained park with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. The rent for one of these units starts at $1,500 per month.

Then there’s the typical home in Cura Mori. You could probably buy it for $1,500 including land and livestock.

An apartment in BarrancoIts equivalent in Cura Mori

An apartment in Barranco and its equivalent in Cura Mori

Cora Mori is a small desert community located twenty miles south of Piura. Maribel’s uncle Manuel and aunt Laura live here. I like to visit because the contrast between Cura Mori and Chiclayo is vast. The only sounds you’ll hear are from the livestock and occasionally children’s voices.

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There is also what the villagers refer to as a radio station that consists of a microphone in someone’s house, and loudspeakers mounted on poles placed throughout the community. It is used for announcements and sometimes but not often to play music.

Typical street

Typical street

The village has water and electricity but lacks paved roads, which is okay because the primary transportation is either feet or donkey cart. There are no combis, motos or taxis.

The people raise turkeys, ducks, pigs, cows and goats mostly for their own subsistence. Their cash crops are corn and sugar cane grown on irrigated farms located several miles from the village.

It’s the men’s job to tend the fields each day and bring the harvested crops to the village where the women take over the work of processing the harvest.

Division of labor

Division of labor

This photo illustrates what appears to be the strict division of labor.

Everywhere I looked women were doing women’s work and men did men’s work. Women were cooking while men were cutting fire wood. Women were tending the house, children and livestock while the men were…….observing.

It reminds me of what I imagine to be the frontier days of the west in the States. Right about now you’re probably thinking what I’m describing is the well known macho Latin society. You’d be wrong. Based on my experience and observations women are the guiding force, but that’s a topic we’ll discuss at some other time.

Manuel and Lauras house

Manuel and Laura's house

Manuel and Laura have lived on this site for many years. They’ve raised a large family in this home. Some have remained to work the farm while others have heard the call of bigger cities.

Many of the homes in the village are constructed of cane stalks, mud and perhaps plaster. The roofs are mostly thatch. Ten years ago Manuel and Laura constructed a new home of brick and plaster.

It looks impressive from the inside, with modern appliances including two televisions and comfortable furniture, but it’s used mostly just for sleeping.



The old structure still stands alongside the new, and it is here where the family prefers to spend their time.

The cooking is done on an ancient hearth where Maribel’s grandmother prepared meals many years ago, just as cousin Noelia and Aunt Laura are doing. Probably many of the cooking utensils date back to that time. Meals are eaten here as well.

The laundry is washed here by hand and hung to dry in the hot desert sun.

The impressive main square

The impressive main square

Cura Mori has its principal park, which to me was impressive given the obviously limited resources of the community. The school is basic but well maintained.

The village and its people have a good feel to it. It’s a place where I like to think about different lifestyles. Here life seems simple and in-your-face real. Your existence and whether you eat tomorrow depends on your fortitude and what you do today. It’s a demanding yet rewarding life. At least that’s what Manuel and Laura say.

By Tom Filipowicz

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