As you may have noticed, as you probably check my blog at least daily, I have not updated anything in the past week. Last week was my week in the central office of EDAPROSPO in Jesus Maria, Lima. What you see on Kiva’s website is only half the story. The other half is called Partner Administration and this side is where the Field Partners manage their relationship with Kiva, transfer the funds from Kiva lenders to their Kiva borrowers, and post new entrepreneurs as well as journal updates. Well, this side of the Kiva equation is getting a pretty radical makeover on October 30th and my job last week was to prepare EDAPROSPO for the switchover. This task culminated with me giving a three hour presentation in Spanish to the central office staff on what changes were coming, why they were coming, and how to function in the brave new world of partner administration version 2.0 . If you can imagine how hard it is to give a three-hour presentation in English to professional staff of another organization on loan management and Internet technology, try doing it in Spanish. All said and done, the presentation was a success (I only had to filter a few questions back up to Kiva staff in San Francisco, and those were more to confirm what I told EDAPROSPO then new revelations).
However, to make up for my lack of time further in the field with actual Kiva clients, Guillermo (the guy at EDAPROSPO overseeing everything Kiva-related…and my housemate) has set up enough interviews to cover last week’s absence as well as this week’s target and a few more just for kicks. Today I went to the Huarochiri branch of EDAPROSPO, which happens to be the furthest away of their six branches. For those of you who have visited Lima, Huarochiri is actually the province east of Lima that edges up to the resort town of Chosica. I visited three clients in Chosica and three more in a small sierra town called Matucana an hour and a half further out. All said and done, I spent seven hours on buses today to conduct six interviews! This fact may find its way into my next “treatise post” (one that goes on the Fellows Blog and this one…ie Trust as a Foundation and The “Between” Week) which is tentatively entitled “Moving Right Along”. As is readily apparent, traditional banks don’t lend to these poor clients not only because of the lack of collateral mentioned in “Trust…” but also because of these ridiculously high transaction costs (i.e. transportation & time) which will be mentioned in “Moving…”.
The point of this post, however, remains to be mentioned. Why is taste in quotes? Well, besides that little insight into how my days involve a lot of traveling, I had a very interesting lunch today in Matucana. Being my adventurous self, I decided to get a new dish. The plate consisted of rice, sliced roasted potatoes, onions, fried tomatoes and red peppers, and oh yeah, bull penis.
Bull penis. I ate bull penis today.
It got better though. Since it had taken the better part of 4 hours to get to Matucana, the loan officer and I had our bull penis lunch before visiting the three Kiva clients in this small town in the sierra. The first client, as luck would have it (obviously there was some luck leftover as I didn’t have any with my lunch), was a sweet lady named Leonor Cordova. Leonor buys pigs, cows, and bulls (gulp), kills them, chops them into big 100-kilo pieces, brings them via taxi to her house in town, puts them in a large fridge, cuts them up with a fantastic machine (I took some video and it will be included in her journal update whenever I get that on the blog) into smaller pieces, and sells them in the market down the street to restaurant owners. Because I didn’t take a picture of the meal (one, I because I didn’t know it was note-worthy until the plate arrived and the loan officer casually informed me I was eating the penis of a bull; two, I was too busy concentrating on finishing the meal while playing it off like I was totally fine [successfully…btw, if you read my old posts on Memorable Pseudomemories, it tastes like llama]), I took a picture with Mrs. Leonor Cordova with the remains of the bull I had eaten. Needless to say, what remains of the bull could be a good eunuch in the Kingdom of Bulls because, I can assure you, it has been castrated.
The rest of the week I will be going to two more branches of EDAPROSPO and visiting thirty-odd more Kiva clients. And while you still don’t really know what I did last week (I think I was sufficiently vague to merit a nod and a “That’s right. I just realized I really don’t know what Josh did last week. Well done, Josh, well done.”), you now have a “taste” of what I did today. And if you want to take heart, I recommend yet another Peruvian dish called anticuchos, which are, you guessed it, skewered bull heart on a stick.
Thanks for reading the blog and I’ll try to keep it updated more frequently in the future. I had an urge to only post when I had a grandiose thought or insight into microfinance but now I realize that may leave you guys in the dark for a week or more. Therefore, expect more posts like this interspersed (usually every two weeks, sooner if I can) with grandiose posts befitting the Fellows Blog and PseudoMemories & VeriDreams. Also, in a shameless way of boosting my stats on the Fellows Blog, I will probably be posting a link to my next well-thought-out post on the Fellows Blog here for a few days (the number of views of our blog entries on that site are shared between Fellows in a competition-like manner) then post the entire thing here with some additional meanderings a few days later. In that way, the people who read the same post (ie “Trust…” is identical on both sites) can be counted on my internal Kiva Fellow stats.
In sum, I had bull penis and not only did I eat the whole plate of it, I met the lady who killed the bull and some of you may have given her a loan to do so. So from all of us at the other end of the transaction (clients of the clients of the clients you lent to): Thanks. I am now proof that these loans can have a big impact on people’s lives. Moving right along…
Update: I was informed that I misheard what the loan officer said. It was not bull penis but rather testicles that I ate. While that is obviously a relief (the eunuch part still holds I think in the Kingdom of Bulls), I decided to leave the post as is because as we all know, perception is reality and that was my perception that day.