Friday, March 16, 2012

Puno to Lima, wild ride

Wild ride to the airport in Juliaca yesterday: roads were all blocked by the informal miners who want to keep mining and polluting without restrictions. We hired a taxi (for a small fortune) to take us on the back roads past the ruins of Sillustani. The ride included a run through a flooded zone where the Toyota Station wagon bumper pushed a wake through the water. Sam and I got out of the car to run around the flood and wade a stream. A bus full of passengers made the same run; they were sympathetic to me "madrina," as I walked barefoot to put my shoes back on in the car. We got a flat tire just before finally reaching the good pavement; Sam helped change the tire and it was done before I could even reach in a grab a camera. We arrived at the airport 5 minutes from flight time to learn the flight had been postponed for an hour. Excellent. Direct flight to Lima in about an hour and a half.

For more about the miners

It's tricky because you want to sympathize with people who work hard, and some of the talk is that the formal mines aren't so good about environmental protection either, but apparently with no regulation at all the informal miners are really making a mess.

In the meantime, we're in nice hot Lima. We stayed one night in a beautiful 150 year old building hotel in the center of the city, marble staircase, nice carvings, high ceilings. Our guide friend, Eduardo Mamani, was also staying there for a conference in Lima this week, so we took his advice. They have a safe luggage storage. Eduardo took us to a nearby market for breakfast. Then we repacked, stored our luggage and went off with only our daypacks to Felipe's house. He lives up a steep staircase (Sam counted  190 steps) in a pretty basic situation but has running water and electricity, little gas stove, even a cool washing machine with a separate high speed spinner to drive out the water.

With Felipe as a companion and guide, we shopped for mosquito netting, which we will need at our next visit, north of here in Huacho where Noemi lives. Then we rode the electric train all the way to the end of the line, Villa El Salvador. The train is brand new and still free. We met a nice woman who recommended a restaurant, ate ceviche with an excellent lunch and returned on the train. The 35 minute ride would have been over 2 hours by bus. Clean, quiet, fast: quite impressive.

Fredy came from work to be with us for a couple of hours before bedtime; we may see him one more time if he can get a little more time off work.

Right now we wait for Celbia and Asunta, who are riding the bus from Puno. We had bought direct bus tickets for them, but the blockade and subsequent strike has delayed everything and they are on a slower bus. They should be arriving soon (4 hours later than we planned; I'm sure glad we caught our plane, or we'd be on the same bus) and we'll all go to Huacho together. Noemi's husband, Alejandro, is with us, all on the internet as we wait for their arrival.

Soon to see my eldest god daughter!

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