Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Observations and Random Comments

On every wall, every house, every cliff-face, there are election slogans painted.. just a few days till the regional and municipal elections on Sunday. Vans whizz about the city streets with flags and huge loudspeakers, blaring out the latest party line. In a surreal note, scores of dogs howl at the noise and chase the vans down the street, the noise mixing into a nightmareish screech which would not be out of place in a graveyard in a hollywood scary movie!

The cockerels crow all day here. Dogs only with passing vans. The fairly common sound of pigs been dragged to their slaughter is also one not to be forgotten easily.

The price of a good coffee, in the only place in town I have found that serves good coffee so far, Cafe Andino, is about a pound.

Peruvian roads are terrible, even in cities. Taxies swerve all over the road to avoid holes, bumps and speed ramps. Often speed ramps across the road do not extend to the parking at the edge, so all cars and buses swing round the edge of the bumps. There are a few cyclists on the road. Also motorised tuk-tuks. Almost all taxis have huge cracks across their windscreen.

There doesn't seem to be much of a haggling culture here. One is usually quoted the fair fare. A cab to Monterrey hot springs, about 6km outside the centre, was 5 soles (80p). A collectivo cab back was 2 soles. The hot springs entrance fee was 3.5 soles. For this I sat in a muddy private bathtub for about half an hour. Supposedly all sorts of ailments are cured by this. I do not feel particularly "cleansed" though, as I had a nice non-muddy shower before I went there!

The mountain where the "Touching the Void" near-disaster happened on is in Huayhuash. It's called Siula Grande. I'll be walking past it in a few days hopefully (but not on top of it like Joe Simpson and his climbing partner).

Just yesterday, another horrific accident occurred in the department of Huancavelica taking the lives of at least 17 passengers and left 20 seriously injured after a bus went off the road and fell into an abyss about 100 meters deep. Apparently the bus's brakes failed. The Peruvian authorities are clamping down on the dodgy bus companies, who are now protesting by burning tyres in the streets. Good stuff..

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