Domestic Servants in Peru

I have an empleada. Her name is Ernestina. She’s the building’s domestic servant. She came for the first time Sunday to do my laundry. She brought her two year-old son, Javier. She washed our clothes by hand in our laundry room sink. I went back to bed.

I woke up and went for something to eat. Did she want anything? She said no. I offered a soda. She gladly accepted. A Coke. I appreciate her services and want to treat her generously. I want her to like me. I want her to think highly of gringos. I want her to take my phone calls and give me higher priority than others. Most of all, I want to be nice to someone who was born with so much less. I returned with a bottle of Coke for her and some chocolate for Javier. She was grateful.

She finished the laundry an hour later. Roy’s load cost seventeen soles ($5.48) and mine twenty ($6.44). One sol per garment, socks free. I noticed the sink and counter were full of disgusting dishes. I asked her how much to wash the dishes, and she said it’d be free. I think she was grateful for the tip, soda, and chocolate. I told her to say a number. She said two soles ($0.64). I offered five ($1.61). She agreed and washed the dishes. She gave me her phone number, said goodbye, and left.

While in Peru, I won’t wash dishes, do my laundry, or clean the apartment because it’s so cheap to have someone else do it. Plus, I’m creating a job.

I’ve been eating lunch with Carlos lately. He has a new empleada. The one he had before – who he had for four years – resigned to focus on a little store she and her husband opened. But she brought a new girl to Carlos and vouched for her honesty. Domestic servants have been known to steal so finding them is done through networking and recommendation.

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