And lo they came down from the Andean mountains…to smog afflicted Lima, and didn’t see the sun for three days. For our Last Supper in Lima we thought we’d do something non-traditional, without a single figure of catholic idolatry in sight. So we nipped along to our fave vegan cafe in Magdalena del Mar – the excellent ‘Sinfonia vegana‘ on Jr Junin, 685 (website and FB) – for a couple of vegan pizzas. The ‘Espanola’ with the chorizo, and the ‘Campestre’ with seitan. Followed up with some luscious vegan cake, and washed down with a herbal infusion. Yum! We’ll shortly be leaving south America in peace and nipping back to our own ‘planet’ for a bit. But there’s still plenty of stories to tell and comments to be made on where we’ve been and what we’ve seen here, so the blogging will continue…here’s a few pieces lined up: – Is there true memory & justice in post-Pinochet Chile? – The Valley of the Moon and human erosion (Bolivia) – Chased down the Devil’s Molar by a storm (Bolivia) – The Sea – La Paz – the jewel in Bolivia’s communist crown? – What truth and justice in Peru after Shining Path and state oppression? – History and tragedy in Ayacucho (Peru) – Six weeks in the navel of the world (Peru) – So who the bloody hell were the Inca? (Peru) – Will ayahuasca change the world? (Peru) and maybe a few more…but if you are bored in the meantime check out our posts on Street Art in Bolivia and Chile. Salud!
So enough of this mucking about at sea level and enjoying hot weather on beaches, it’s back up the mountains for a while for us. This time to the Ayacucho region in the south central Andes of Peru, an area steeped in Andean history for the last 2000 years, with a rebellious reputation that has endured. The history of the Wari (or Huari) culture intrigues because of its influence on the later ‘Inca empire’; the Battle of Ayacucho (1824) was a final stage of the war for Peru’s ‘independence’ from Spain; and for the last 20 years of the 20th century Ayacucho was at the centre of a bloody civil war that convulsed Peru and has repercussions to this day.Continue reading →
In early May we got out of Chile, and came back to Peru to check out some more pre-Inca history up on the north coast near Trujillo & Huanchaco – the Moche & Chimu cultures, and some sea going reed fishing boats, or rafts, called ‘caballitos de totora’ (or ‘de mar’), constructed using ancient craft skills dating back several thousand years and known only to a few. These boats are clearly linked to the Moche & Chimu cultures, and possibly earlier.
However they’ve moved with the times as you can see in the fotos, and now use polystyrene blocks to help float the boats, not something available in these parts two thousand years ago. Although the paddle or oar remains very basic, just a long bamboo pole cut in half lengthways. It looks hard work on the hands…but it seems to do the trick though as they negotiate their way out to sea through decent sized waves, and eventually back in again. The sea here looks and is cold, but the weather isn’t, even now in the autumn – a good 25 degrees minimum most days, and too hot on other days to even sit in the sun for long.Continue reading →
Take a walk down a busy street in any of Peru’s larger towns & cities and the problem soon hits you – in the back of the throat, up the nose, in the eyes. It’s the choking stench of black cardon, fine particles like soot, pumped out of the exhuasts of Peru’s many older diesel combi-collectivos (small busses, people carriers, minibuses), taxis & lorrys of various sizes. It blackens the streets & buildings, causes serious health problems for the people, and contributes to climate change (read – the effects of black carbon).
Climate change – the causes of it and the problems it excaberates – is a real time problem in Peru and across Latin America. The 33 Latin American & Caribbean leaders meeting as the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC, founded in 2010 – report here) in the Dominican Republic since Saturday, may well be looking nervously north to the Trump fantasist & bully, but they should also be looking closer to home before man-made & natural disasters sink their economies for good.
Arequipa the ‘white city’ now just dirty white
This late-2014 report ‘Dumping Dirty Diesels in Latin America: Reducing Black Carbon and Air Pollution from Diesel Engines in Latin American Countries’ (opens as a 48page pdf), written for the US based Natural Resources Defense Council (about NRDC), sets out in detail the short to long term impacts on public health & the environment, and provides a wealth of frightening statistics. It also calls for & suggests available solutions. Sadly, history indicates that the vast majority of the ruling elites (and their corporate buddies) of CELAC are unlikely to give a damn about anything except amassing their own power & fortunes, and will never commit to the necessary infrastructure and changes, never mind the funds required, to turn back climate change.Continue reading →
Here in Arequipa, in Peru, we find plenty of signs for the ‘playa’, which seems unlikely given we are some 2400m above sea level, with no sea in sight. In fact the many ‘playa’ signs signify the entrance to a car park, or ‘estacionamiento’, payable by the hour or part thereof. Costs vary from S/.3 to S/.5 per hour, depending on the centrality of the car park. Car parks offer security for the car, which is a big issue here where the theft of parts (if not the whole car) seems to be a big issue.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such signs. We saw them in Lima, Peru’s capital city, which even more confusingly also has ‘playas’ in the more traditional sense – being a coastal city it does have beaches, although the ones closest to the city are man-mad (at the foot of cliffs) and hard to access.Continue reading →
The PanAmericana Norte, the northern half of Peru’s section of the Pan-American Highway, was shutdown on Thursday from 7am to 8pm by protesters opposed to new toll booths some 27km north of Lima centre, in the district of Puente Piedra. See great photos & text (in Spanish); good Al Jazeera vid; Ruptly video; timeline of events + pics + vid (in Spanish). This road is the major north-south coastal road in/out of Lima and along the entire Peruvian coastline!
This was the second successive Thursday protest (5 January report in English), although people from nearby neighbourhoods have been protesting since last August. In fact it had been announced late on Wednesday that the toll would be suspended for 30 days, but this didn’t calm the peoples anger. Yesterday’s protest was led by the Mayor of Puente Piedra, and initially marchers shut down the north to south side of the Highway. Matters escalated with both sides of the Highway closed around 27km north of Lima centre, with police firing teargas & rubber bullets and baton charging protesters, who responded with rocks etc and barricaded parts of the Highway, trashing infrastructure & some bridges. Peruvian news coverage has been wide & mixed, generally condemning ‘violent’ protests whilst conceding the protesters have a point! Typical. Continue reading →
In the four places we’ve been to so far in Peru, we’ve seen the slogan ‘Huelga Nacional Indefinida’ hanging on the bars at the entrances to various of Peru’s courts. On the 22 November in Lima, we saw a street protest on the first day of the strike, that was swamped by riot police when it marched towards Peru’s Congress. Police had also sealed off roads around Lima’s Plaza Mayor in case strikers headed there.
The Poder Judicial del Peru is a part of the government structures, and was first set up in 1825 to manage Peru’s court systems and ensure equality for all before the law (a laughable claim in Peru!). The strikers are employees of the Poder Judicial, and members of theFNTPJP union, the cause of this strike is for better pay & conditions, and because of previous broken promises. It has attractyed significant media interest, especially in Lima.
Info on the Poder Judicial in english & spanish.Background to strike in spanish.
Report on 28 November, largest strikers march to date, in central Lima in spanish.