Lima Centro seen from San Cristobal

I’ll postpone the final part of the Roman Jews writing and will speak about Pedro today.

Pedro is a 49-year-old Peruvian emigrated to Italy long ago. He has created a small construction firm that takes care of everything  – masonry, electrical and plumbing infrastructure etc. The work done is professional and accurate.

I find Pedro’s personality impressive. Here are bits of his life story, told trying to use his own words.


His father died when he was 8 so his mother had to roll up her sleeves. She has been a great woman. Pedro as a boy was busy doing any possible job in the streets of Lima, washing windscreens, polishing shoes – he had to be ingenious in many ways.

When coming back to Lima years later and meeting again his former street pals he found out many had ended up in drugs and some had died.

In Peru too, he says, there’s this street children problem and the cleanup squads that murder them. But he committed no crime on the street. It’s his mother – he says. She raised him the hard way. Iron-willed she borne them all completely by herself, tied to a rope fastened to a beam, with the babies being brought to the world and she cutting the umbilical cord with her bare hands.

She is over 80 and sick now. Pedro’s brother phoned him to ask him to come back for next Christmas or he won’t see her again.

Peru map
Topographic Map of Peru. Wikimedia. Public domain

Pedro’s parents were from the Andes. They weren’t native Liman. You’ve got the plains over the ocean, the big mountains and the jungle in Peru [see the picture on the right.]

They teach humility, honesty and hard work in the Andean mountains, he says. That is why when this folk get down to the plains they are too naive and get easily cheated. These people meet a world where cunning and dishonesty are winning. This creates confusion in their heads, he says.

The Andean is more active, has a tougher character and is most resistant to fatigue. At the big markets in Lima lots of them manage the stands. Their bodies are smaller and their skin darker. The native Liman has lighter skin and a bigger body instead.

The Peruvian from the Andes in Italy aren’t usually working in the Italian families for housework. They set up construction, cleaning or transportation firms. Pedro always tells his compatriots to learn a job well instead of trying to figure out how to make money quickly. “It’ll be your wealth” he says.

He is happy when there’s problems to solve. “I love le grane! [trouble]” he keeps saying while shaking a head a bit too large compared to the body. Difficulties do not discourage him. They make him more resourceful instead.

He has learned both from his mother and from the street.

Woman & child. Andes
Peruvian woman and child in the Andean region of the country. Wikimedia. Some rights reserved. Click for credits and larger picture

His mother Maria was a strict woman and when she wanted to punish her children and they fled away like lightning she caught them while asleep in the deep of the night and beat them up soundly. I didn’t ask him whether his mother remarried or not. He told me that, with the years passing, life had become a bit easier for his family. This made his brothers different. They didn’t have to fight as much as he did.

Having a good head is all that matters in life, he says.

He regrets not having had any education, nor having read enough  – he saw the piles of books in our apartment. He’s glad his children had the opportunity to study. One of them will soon be an engineer.

His sons and daughters ask him:

“Papà, had you been born again, what job would you do?”
“The mason.”
“Papà, the mason again?”
“Yes, the mason. That’s the thing I love most.”

[to be continued]

8 thoughts on “Pedro’s Story

  1. What I got from this was that this man was proud of the work he did. No work is too little and respecting one’s work is what makes one happy.


  2. Thanks for this. Stories like his are the foundation of we like to call American civilization. He could easily have been working for me in NJ.

    Just by chance, I read this in the paper today. I’m sure Pedro would be interested if you can show it to him:


    1. I see what you mean.

      Pedro understands only Italian and Spanish. I’ll tell him about the article I’ve read just now. ‘The traditions – I read – stayed alive largely because of Yemen’s deep poverty and long isolation,’ as it usually happens. Modernity is good but erases all.

      For totally different reasons also the Inca civilization was wiped out, which makes Pedro sad, he told me.


  3. This is an interesting story. I didn’t realize Italy had immigrants until my visit in 2002. Ironic, I thought. Here I had left to find a better way, and on my return I find that Italy had done better than anticipated, and I didn’t have to leave at all. My brothers had remained in Italy, and their standard of living is as good as mine.

    The whole world keeps moving around, trying to find better ways to make a living. What they give up is their sense of continuity, their cultural patrimony.

    I know that I did. By the time I realized that, it was too late to do anything about it.


    1. What they give up is their … cultural patrimony. I know that I did

      Well, Rosaria, from your writings you often seem to be more American than the Americans (your pragmatism etc.). You had to adapt to a different world and to look not too immigrant to ‘them’, plus you have married a Scandinavian American, which is far from the Mediterranean.

      You once said the psychological price for this transformation was big. But since you emigrated at 20 your patrimony I’m sure is still deeply inside of you. Under the surface of a ‘burbera benefica’ (I couldn’t translate it) there’s passion and calore from here, for example.


  4. I can’t think of any profession in which one could have any more pride than that of mason. Masons are the fathers and mothers of engineers and all those whose work must function regardless of what people are made to think. Ave Pedro.


    1. Hi, welcome to my blog!

      Yes, I agree. Masons are the foundation, and having Pedro I now understand all the things that were done badly in my building. Moreover, Pedro is a genius in his own way.
      Ave Pedro.


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