INTRODUCTION: In Lima, Peru people make the best of whatever is available in the way of motorised transport.
INTRODUCTION: In Lima, Peru people make the best of whatever is available in the way of motorised transport. New cars are prohibitively expensive, so old ones have to be kept going. There are plenty of established garages of course, but also a band of itinerant car mechanics who make their contribution to the Peruvian policy of make do and mend.
SYNOPSIS: The are known as "zanjeros", which literally translated means "ditchers'. The reason for this is obvious -- when they set themselves up for work the first thing they do is dig a ditch. Their main business is changing and repairing exhausts and silencers -- but they will turn their hand to anything that fits their skills -- mending bumpers and car bodywork -- repairing saucepans, cooking utensils and even beds.
To advertise their services the "ditchers" hang spare parts from trees, put up signs or even rush out waving their arms at vehicles they think need repairing. The "ditchers" are to be found alongside most of the roads coming into Lima, but nobody knows how many of them there are at any given moment. They are known as hard-working, taciturn people who have made unsuccessful trips from the provinces looking for jobs in the capital.
A "ditcher" most important -- and expensive -- item of equipment is welding gear and oxygen tanks. They carry these and the rest of their paraphernalia on tricycles, pedalling to their chosen site at around seven o'clock in the morning. Their main asset is being able to exploit their ingenuity, but some of them have grown quite rich on Lima's motorists' constant need for repairs on their decrepit cars. A properly established "ditcher" often own equipment worth about 600 U.S. dollars -- and managed to make extra money by hiring it out to those less fortunate than himself.