ShowsBefore You GoBulletin BoardContactAboutSearch
Show and Features |
Culture Watch | Question of the Week | Letters of the Week |
Traveler's Aid | Library | Host's View


Adventures in Arequipa

Dear Savvy Traveler,

Our introduction to Arequipa, Peru, was when our bus ground to a halt after almost 24 hours of travel from Chile. In the growing dusk, we saw assorted vehicles with flat tires and lines of people heading down the road dragging or carrying their possessions. This was our first taste of the blockades spreading like wildfire across Bolivia and Peru. Luckily Jim and I never bring more luggage than we can carry. We wheeled our suitcases for about 5 kilometers towards town.

Once in Arequipa, we again became carefree tourists. Little did we realize that as we leisurely explored, the citizenry was planning to shut down the country. We never did completely understand what the blockades were about. Some people said they were protests about gas prices, others claimed the issue was wages. People weren't happy, but our adventure continued.

Colca Canyon is seven hours on dirt roads from Arequipa. It is deeper than the Grand Canyon, and the small towns inside can be reached only by hiking. With a guide and his donkey, we set out for one of these towns, one seldom visited by foreigners. Upon entering town, our guide found us a place to sleep in a local family's vegetable shed.

We're not sure if this town has a liberal view of modesty or if our next experience was unusual. After exploring the town, we returned to the shed we called home. Our 20-something landlady was washing her hair in the courtyard with no shirt on. We didn't want to embarrass her, so we quietly walked past. Having seen us, she came running across the street half naked, hair streaming water. She had locked the shed and didn't want us to wait to get in. With a large smile and not a shred of modesty, she opened it for us.

We were on a bus back to Arequipa when we heard wild whooping and hollering. A band of local men had ambushed the bus. The bus swerved and came to a stop. The men let the air out of the tires and then hid to wait for their next target. None of the passengers complained. One English guy exclaimed, "Power to the people!" And then we, the people, collected our luggage and once again began making our way down the road on foot.




{ Previous Letter | This Week's Index }

{ Main Letters Page }

American Public Media
American Public Media Home | Search | How to Listen
©2004 American Public Media |
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy