Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pescado y Silbido

A day in the life of Consuelo: 

On many a Friday evening, we all jump in the car and ask if Consuelo is going to Monte Sion with us. Someone usually has the answer, but if not, we give her a call. I would say she is game to go about 70% of the time. So, we drive over to her house (well, across the street) and Wilfredo honks his horn. Apparently, that is sufficient to let her know we have arrived - and it works. 

Once Consuelo gets in the car, she starts on her rants as to why she was running late or is very tired. She always seems to forget to wash the clothes or start dinner because she fell asleep on the couch watching some TV show or another. She feels bad about it for a moment and then figures her kids, Eder (who is 26) and Betzabe (she's 30), will figure it out or she'll just take care of the stuff when she gets back. 

Terminal Pesquero de Ventanilla
The reason Consuelo is always so tired and the thing that amazes me most about her coming to Monte Sion is that her job is to sell fish. 

The boats arrive at the dock around 3am and the first wave of people, those selling the largest quantities of fish or transporting them to other places to be sold get first dibs. 

Around 4am, Consuelo gets up (if her body gives her the luxury of sleeping that late, sometimes she wakes up at 3 or 3:30am - yuck!) to start cooking breakfast for her kids and getting ready for the day. She leaves her house around 5:30am and has to take 2 buses to get to the pesquero, which seems to take about 20 minutes when there is no traffic in the morning. I wouldn't want to be awake either. 

She gets to the pesquero and starts hunting around for the fish she wants to sell. After each purchase, she carries the bag over to a holding area, so she doesn't have to cart the fish all over the place. 

Consuelo picking out her picudos.
Once all of her purchases are made, a guy with a cart helps her take all of her fish out to the parking lot and Prudencio picks her up and takes her to the market. 

Around 8am, she gets to the market. After a quick run to grab breakfast from Graciela's HerbaLife store, she starts to set up shop and sell her fish. She usually finishes up and closes up shop around 2pm. 

In sum, she wakes up at 4am and then gets done with work around 2pm. How she has an energy or desire to go to Monte Sion from 6pm to 10 or 11pm is beyond me. Her exhaustion shows - Consuelo's nickname is "Con sueno" - as she is always falling asleep. She gets an A for effort for sure though! 


After hearing about her adventures all year long, we finally made plans to go with her to see what it's all about. Prudencio and Consuelo came to pick us up at 5:30am. We wandered around for a little bit upon first arriving - Consuelo doesn't wear a headlamp and says she prefers to wait until there is light to buy so she knows she is getting fresh fish, none of that frozen stuff. 

According to Prudencio, the place used to be very dirty and disorganized, and while it still has a ways to go, it is much better. I mean, I'm not fish market expert, but it seemed pretty organized and clean to me. 


We were told it would be cold and there would be lots of water and everything would smell like fish (surprising, I know).  As we don't have the proper pesquero clothes (mainly rubber boots!), we were told to wear short pants and sandles, but be bundled up on top. In the end, it was entirely unnecessary as there wasn't that much water and it wasn't that cold and Consuelo didn't let us touch much of anything. But so it goes. 

As the resident foreigners in Callao (not so much tourism here), we stick out like a sore thumb. In the last year, we have had the experience of getting whistled at, applauded, honked at, and people like to say "hello," "hello lady," and occasionally "hello baby," among other things. 

Now at the pesquero, where we stand out without any help, we also are the only people in capris and sandals at 6 o'clock in the morning. So in true Peru form, someone whistled at us. Ok, that was sort of expected. But then somone else started in and then someone else and pretty soon the sound of whisteling was straight up overwhelming. It was so incredibly awkward. I have been told to just ignore the "woo woos" and comments, but when everyone is whistling at you, it is so hard to ignore. I had to laugh, which I am sure did not help make it stop. And of course this happened on the way to drop off some of Consuelo's purchases, so then we had to walk BACK through the same group where we got another wave of whistles. So hilarious.

Consuelo's favorite part of the morning was telling people we were her nieces. And then, an old man asked if we were single and when she said yes, he proceeded to let her know that he too was very single. Hilarious times at the pesquero. 

Consuelo and Me
In all, Consuelo purchased about 25 kilos (50lbs) of fish. The types she bought were called: bonito, pejerrey, merluza, and picudo. I don't know if they have different names in English, sorry. 

And all that fish!
We survived a part of the morning of a fish vender. To close out our morning of hitting up the pesquero, we went for some juice in the market. A very successful morning indeed! 

~nos vemos~ 

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