Russian Houses

After the earthquake, aid was sent to Peru from all corners of the globe. Along with the USA and China, the Soviet Union was one of the biggest donors. It sent money, medical aid, clothing, food, and even housing. 100 prefabricated wooden houses were sent to the new Yungay, although 10 went missing in transit. There are rumours that they ended up housing the regional government offices in Huaraz.

The erection of the first Russian house was an important event. Yungay survivors had battled with federal authorities over the exact site where the new Yungay was to be constructed. The state’s rehabilitation commission recommended that the town be rebuilt some 20km south of the original site, where the risk of a repeat disaster was reduced. But the survivors were loathe to leave their land, their dead, their memories, their heritage, and their independence.

So, against the will of the state, the Russian houses were set around the main square of the new Yungay. Many of these houses continue to exist, although most have been adapted, one or two have been lost to fire, and some have been abandoned. Inhabitants have built walled gardens at the front, and some have added extensions.

One is a ceviche restaurant called Pachucín, established by a policeman who worked as a clown in his spare time. Its interior, pictured below, is immaculate. The Russian house has become symbolic of Yungay, and some people have built their own imitations. One family even have a Russian dog kennel!

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