Monday, June 27, 2016

Back in San Felipe

I've been in Lima just over a week, and am settling into the apartment and back into San Felipe.  

For those unfamiliar with Lima's topography, the Residencial San Felipe (to residents usually just, San Felipe or "la Resi") is a large housing development inaugurated in 1966 (but finished in 1968) during the presidency of Fernando Belaude Terry, who was an architect by trade.  Belaunde was determined to build housing for Lima's growing middle class and assembled a team of several hundred architects and engineers to design it.

The result, built on land that had housed the San Felipe horse racetrack, is a unique community within the city, with 30-some building in five different styles.  Despite housing for 1,085 families, and containing three nursery schools and a commercial center, close to 70% of the Resi is open space, with many and ample tree-filled gardens.

Of course, those gardens require frequent maintenance, which occasionally means pruning of trees and shrubs.  The debris, of course, must be gathered in one spot so it can be hauled away, as in the photo below, from this week.

Seeing that pile, I was reminded of an incindent from my childhood in the Resi.

In the 1970s the gardens usually were surrounded by low hedges --no more than two or three feet. In 1977 many of those were drastically pruned or removed, and many shrubs cut back, in order to deal with an infestation of rodents that had made them their home.  The resulting green waste was deposited in a single pile many times larger than the one above, in one of the parking lots.

It so happened, if I recall correctly, that this came around our midwinter school break, but it also coincided with a period of unrest against the military dictatorship headed by Gen. Francisco Morales Bermudez.  The major labor confederations went on strike, and so the debris was not hauled away from some weeks.

A friend and I started playing in it, and soon had devised a shelter in it complete with a "secret" exit. In the course of a few days we were joined by more and more neighborhood kids, and for a couple of weeks we had great fun expanding our warrens with extra rooms, hidden entrances, and long, winding tunnels, all practically invisible to the casual passerby.

We were much saddened when the government finally managed to get the place cleaned up.

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