You’ll have seen from our posts in recent weeks that there is a lot to like in Peru. The scenery is splendid. The history is rich. The people we have met have been lovely: this week, a couple picked us up on the road into Lima and invited us to stay in their house for two nights. Yep, Peru has a lot going for it.
Sadly, there is an ugly scar defacing this masterpiece: the rubbish. It is everywhere.
We’ve been told it’s worse in Honduras. The problem is much the same in other countries we’ve been to in Africa and Asia, and most likely in many countries we haven’t visited. Let’s not be fooled that in England we’re any superior; we’re lucky to have such a reliable rubbish collection system, but an experiment in Hyde Park last year suggested our country might start to look the same if the system broke down. How devastating that we cannot look after the world around us. And how sad for Peru that it is so spoiled in this way. What is it going to look like years down the line? The outlook is anything but pretty.
The sun was glinting on the plastic bottles as we made our way north on Monday, with Lima, the capital city of Peru, our next target. Easy peasy! Fabio the trucker took us over 500 kilometres of the distance at our first attempt, and the next day we were in the city and set up in Jesús and Nana’s apartment by 10.30am.
By the time we reached Lima, the sun was concertedly hidden behind the clouds, but for once we did not feel hard done-by: Lima is grey for eight months a year. Eight months! Can you imagine? We’ve found a place that’s cloudier than England!
Whilst in Lima we took the opportunity to visit a Tearfund-supported organisation, Agape, with projects in one of the suburbs, called Huaycan. There, the team works with young people and their parents to educate and encourage them away from trouble; domestic abuse and mother-to-child violence are big problems. Additionally, there is still prejudice relating to terrorist activity in the 1980s, when many of the perpetrators from the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) group hid out in Huaycan. It was really encouraging to see the strong relationships our hosts have with the families in the community.
Now, imagine that on Thursday you had started the day in, say, Hampstead, with the aim of getting down to the M3 towards Reading without using public transport or driving. Or, for a less London-centric comparison, standing on a street in the south-west of any city with approximately seven million inhabitants and wanting to leave via the ring-road in the north-east. This was the challenge facing us the morning we left Lima: located in the very pleasant district of Miraflores, lovely but completely the opposite side of the city to where we needed to be. So we walked. And walked. Around 15 kilometres in all, our backpacks seeming to weigh more with each hour that passed. (By the by, if anyone knows of an osteopath and/or masseur(/se) who has recently been talking about their deep and urgent desire to go on an adventure in the Americas, now would be a good time to send them our way.)
We were only really expecting to make it a little bit out of Lima that day, but with a combination of various drivers willing to stop in ridiculously illogical locations to pick us up, and the chance flagging down of Eliban travelling over 600 kilometres north of Lima, we instead arrived not many hours short of the Ecuadorian border. Now we are in Chiclayo, where the sun has come out again and we have spent several happy hours exploring one of the biggest markets we have ever been to.
Important information on a sign in a Limeño cafe:
By the by, the people here, particularly in Chiclayo, seem as concerned for our safety as they were in Brazil. We appreciate this – we really do – but the oft-repeated “cuidarse” (be careful) seems one of the more vague pieces of advice. If anyone has more specific directions, please let us, and the Chiclayeños, know.
Total number of lifts: 166
Week Twenty distance travelled: 1,386 km
Total distance travelled: 23,491 km