On The Road To Arequipa

Arequipa Travel Blog

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Poverty outside of Lima.
Taking the bus out of Lima quickly reminded me that most of it's citizens live in abject poverty. Run down shanty towns seemingly afloat on a sea of brown dirt line the double lane Pan American Highway. I saw what is almost a cliche for us privileged folk. A young girl, not much older than my nephew squatting over a mound of muck, playing with a plastic toy. A pack of stray dogs ran past her as the bus zoomed on, taking me completely out of her life. Further down the road our luxury double decker sped past a slow moving bus out of the 70's. As i reclined in my chair i noticed that this particular bus as crammed to the brim with passengers, many of them standing in the aisle.  I sincerely hope they were not traveling as far as we were.
Shanty hut town from the window of speeding bus.
  I made eye contact with an older woman and saw disdain. Who can blame her? I don't kno much about the Shinging Path Revolutonaries that made life very dangerous for the people of Peru but i can not help and wonder at the irony. The end of the Shining Path signaled a return of tourism to Peru, and also the death of whatever sort of equality and wealth distribution they might have envisioned.

The bus ride continues as night fell. The "highway" became a single lane in either direction, and seemed to be mostly devoid of passenger cars. Trucks and buses ruled the road. As the bus played obnoxious american movies such as the Jennifer Aniston classic "Love Happens" and the ohn Cena Die Hard 3 rip off "12 Rounds" the country side sped by. Not much to be seem other than shanty huts on either side.
Plaza De Armas, Arequipa.
The occasional town brought more of the same. Complete poverty. People living in small squat concrete or brick huts out in what looks like to be the middle of no where. Fuck me, but i can't imagine life like that. Really makes me appreciate all the work and effort that my grandmother and my parents put into carving out a life in America. The appreciation is lined with guilt tho. 

We stopped in Ica, six hours south of Lima, and continued on our way. At some point, as i drifted in and out of sleep, i became aware that we were driving along a cliff. The road turned bumpy and switch backed up and down hills, taking our swaying bus percariously close to the edge of the road. From my vantage point upfront on the second tier of the double-decker it looked like we could end up off the cliff at every turn.
El Misti.
Our driver as also in the habit of passing every slow moving truck and bus in our path, veering into the other lane at times heading straight into the headlights of uncoming traffic. I tried to sleep but was filled with an acute sense of danger at every lurch and bump and turn.  Whenever i DID drift off my dreams were akin to nightmares, filled with arguements and accidents.

I don't want to exagerate but it was borderline terrifying.

By morning we were driving thru a desert, a brown hard landscape devoid of life. I finally fell asleep and woke up in Arequipa.

Arequipa is filled with history. My hostel is half a block from the main Plaza De Armas with is bookended by two magnificent cathedrals. Gorgeous architecture can be seen on almost every street i visited, and the awesome volcano El Misti looms over the entire city. I met with my Travbuddy friend Rafael and he took me on a cool tour of the surrounding area, helping me with my Spanish as he showed me around. It turns out he is a huge fan of Polish culture, and has seen more Polish movies than me! Crazy. We made plans to go biking tomorrow and to venture into the Colca Canyon for a 4 day trip on Saturday.

I am off now in search of some music and some cerveza.

Cheers!
wolfrelic says:
96 soles semi cama via Cruz Del Sur.
Posted on: May 22, 2010
RJ82 says:
how much was the bus ride?
Posted on: May 21, 2010
Balefont says:
Thank you so much for sharing, Michael! (And your writing is muy bueno, er something like that.) It's all beautiful, even if simply for the fact that it's so different from home. This is so exciting following your travels. So glad you decided on this adventure and looking forward to more entries.
Posted on: Apr 29, 2010
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Poverty outside of Lima.
Poverty outside of Lima.
Shanty hut town from the window of…
Shanty hut town from the window o…
Plaza De Armas, Arequipa.
Plaza De Armas, Arequipa.
El Misti.
El Misti.
My new friend Rafael.
My new friend Rafael.
Me.
Me.
Lots of churches here. Rafael tell…
Lots of churches here. Rafael tel…
El Misti looms.
El Misti looms.
No idea. Religion puzzles me.
No idea. Religion puzzles me.
Arequipa
photo by: halilee