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Lima at Last!

Our journey finally ended in Lima from March 17-21, 2011. Seems like such a long time ago now… we had a lovely visit, staying with Nelida Silva, a friend I made at the TedXAmazonia conference in November last. I gave a Nowtopia talk at a “Charla Solidaria” sponsored by Programa Democracia y Transformación Global, a non-party left group in Lima, Peru. I also gave a Critical Mass/bicycling talk for Cicloaxion, the local activist group we met there, thanks to Octavio who contacted me ahead of time…

This was a typical scene in downtown Lima, gorgeous old colonial buildings painted in bright colors.

Wandering around Lima was a great pleasure. I have to admit that I’d been a bit worried about it, having heard countless fearful accounts of people getting mugged in Lima, how street crime is out of control, etc., but we didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact, we walked around and rode the combi vans all over and never even felt like we were in a risky situation. Lima is great! Of course we only saw a part of it in the four days we were there, but we did get around a bit…

We were heading to a small anthropological museum when we saw this plaza in the distance. After we came out of the museum we walked over to see what it looked like more closely.

The plaza was filled with campers under cardboard roofs. Sugar workers were occupying the plaza, turns out they’d been there for three months, demanding that the government take steps to preserve a national sugar industry. It didn’t seem that their protest was getting much traction, but the occupation was impressive nonetheless.

Sugar workers demand a law of national protection.

Hard to imagine living in this space for months, but these folks had been doing just that.

It's quite a picturesque plaza, surrounded by beautiful blue colonial buildings.

Plenty of traffic whizzing around at all times, too.

Somehow a poignant juxtaposition, the welder's mask and the Peruvian flag, flying over the cardboard village.

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Arequipa, Peru

Once again, I resume the tale of our trip to Ecuador and Peru from late February to late March, 2011. Sorry for the slowness, and the long absence from blogging about other topics. My new book (you can see the link at right) “Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78” came out and we’ve been super busy with it since the beginning of June, including having put up a 24-stop self-guided audio walking tour that you can follow online if you like. After this entry on Arequipa, I’ll have another on Lima and finally will reconnect to books, San Francisco, politics, and the usual gamut of topics.

We arrived in Arequipa around 11 p.m. after riding buses all day from Cuzco. It sits in a gently sloping valley and at night the place is all lit up, the urban area stretching for huge distances in every direction. We didn’t realize that Arequipa was so big, even though we’d read it was Peru’s 2nd largest city.

In the center of Arequipa, a colonial city with incredible architecture, there are dozens of these 17th century courtyards that have been converted to shopping centers. Still, really beautiful!

We were pretty tired after the four days on the Inca Trail, and the 14 hours on the bus from Cuzco, so we took it slow and started by finding a great restaurant near our hotel to enjoy some famously great eating.

At Las Conchitas we had incredible seafood meals two or three times while we were in Arequipa.

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Across the Altiplano

We spent a day riding the bus from Cuzco to Juliaca, and then south to Arequipa. This is about 3 hours south of Cuzco.

We slept about 5 hours in Cuzco after getting back from Machu Picchu, and got on the special “cama bus” we’d booked before leaving for the hike. Well our so-called bed bus was a broken down piece of crap, and the reclining seats didn’t really recline, and the place for our feet was broken too…

No way to sleep, but I was so fascinated by the passing landscape that I couldn't rest anyway. It was a gorgeous day and the views were amazing.

Lots of snowy mountains during the early part of the ride.

Once again we were fighting to get photos from a jostling bus, but once in a while it would stop and we'd be able to lean out and get a shot that wasn't vibrating.

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