This blog is belated. You can tell that it is belated because the last one that I wrote was in April. Seriously April?! What is wrong with me? Okay, new goal for this school year. One blog a week. It may not actually happen but I am setting this as my goal anyway. Let me assure you that in the time that I wasn’t writing thing were actually happening. Not all of them were interesting but still… Anyhow… on to Peru!
As you can probably tell from the title of this blog my Spanish (while pretty darn bad) is much much better than my Mongolian.
The flight to Peru was much shorter than I thought it would be. Just short of seven hours from Newark. The plane was also not the monster that I have become used to taking on jaunts around Asia. This might be insignificant but I think that it was demonstrative of the fact that South America and getting to South America is nowhere near as intense as Asia. Peru had a consistently low key atmosphere that I found very refreshing.
I decided to take a tour around Peru. I wanted to see too much
in too many cities to do it on my own. Okay, I could have done it on my own but I’m lazy. I got into Lima at 11 pm and didn’t have to meet anyone until 2 the next afternoon . Wanting to take advantage of every opportunity I spent the morning wandering, getting lost, finding the hotel again and repeating this pattern about five time. Lima is only 12 degrees south of the equator and I was halfway expecting it to be warm even though it was winter in the southern hemisphere. It ended up being sort of cold and misty. Apparently the mist has a name… garua. Lima is the colonial capital of Peru so most of the interesting buildings are Spanish.
We got up at 3 the next morning so that the bus could leave by 4. Driving south along the pacific coast we were barely out of Lima when it happened. We were on our way to the Ballastas Islands and we were stopped by a protest. There were tires burning on the road and a crowd of people. In front of the bus, but not too close to the protesters, another crowd of people
gathered. They mostly looked like tourist who are pretty easy to pick out here. Actually, when you really think about it do tourist really blend in anywhere? I think that being the odd one out in a crowd might be half the fun of being a tourist. There was a van with what I assumed was a television station logo on it driving up the median to the fires. Later on we heard that the station had been showing the whole thing live and that we were all on Peruvian TV. Why am I so entertained by that? The people milling about were having endless variations of the same conversation. “Who are these people?” “What do they want?” or even perhaps, “How long is this going to take?” No one (tourist or Peruvian) seemed to know the answer to any of these questions. As the sun rose I got to stare at the mist wrapped foothills of the Andes and think of the sleep I could have gotten if only I had known that this was going to happen. Funny how getting up and three in the morning and then stuck on a bus with no bathroom makes you wistful for a hotel room… The column of smoke from the burning tires are oddly hypnotic as I watch and listen to a man on the radio speak Spanish at the speed of light. I was picking up about one world in ten. “Curito”, “Importante” and “ quinto” and just listening to it made me a little dizzy.
The group leader, Fernando spent most of the time talking on his cell phone trying to save the day at the islands. I probably would have been more annoyed or worried but for two things. One: I was not the one who had to deal the logistics and two: I was way way too tired- even though I couldn’t really sleep. I was also bored as nothing had changed except for the light in over an hour. Suddenly the police arrived and Fernando is yelling at everyone to get on the bus and to roll up the windows. Several tear gas bomb later the crowd has been dispersed and the fires put out. Four hours of waiting for the police and the whole thing was over in less than ten minutes. There were still tons of large rocks that had been thrown on the road to black traffic to deal with but a little off roading took care of that.
All in all a fascinating welcome to Peru.
And for those of you who care- we did indeed make the islands before the currents turned nasty for the day…