In Honor Of Pepe Hileno Cristobal


Pepe died in Peru with his family. We are not certain of his exact age, as every year when we celebrated his cumpleaños, he would say he was setenta y dos (72) years old. For the last few years, before heading back to Peru, Pepe would let us know that he was old and ready to retire. We would throw him a siesta. A couple months later, we would get a call from him that he would like to come back to work. He would return, grateful as ever. Pepe was an amazing shepherd who worked with us for over a decade. His resourcefulness in making things work without a lot of tools or new supplies was a gift to our operation. Countless times, he would “MacGyver” up some solution out in the field with limited resources. Pepe taught me many things, including how to prepare lamb and chiva meat, sharing a delicious marinade recipe. Pepe was a muy bueno amigo that shared in our lives. He was a quiet leader, gentle in his ways. When I first met Pepe, it was a Sunday morning, and we were dropping a couple dozen newborn lambs every morning. He showed me how to carry the lambs so that their mothers would follow to the nursery pens. Afterwards, he asked me why I wasn’t in church. With limited Spanish, I pressed my hand to my chest over my heart and then his, saying, “la iglesia está justo aquí”. He responded in the universal language of a big, warm smile. We became friends. My favorite story of Pepe is him preparing a special lunch for me in appreciation of the help with lambing that Spring. It was a hot summer day when I arrived at camp. There under the shade of the front of his trailer, was an overturned water trough covered in a bedsheet for a tablecloth, an old jar with wildflowers neatly placed in the center and overturned buckets & bags of supplement for chairs. Peruvian music was playing and everyone had cleaned up from the mornings work. Like a caring brother, he served me delicious marinated goat steaks, whole boiled papas and his special salad. I felt like I had been whisked away to Peru for a couple hours. I remember thinking, these are the moments of life that will be memories. Mucho gracias, Pepe.