Doug and I spent a couple of days in Lima. Doug called me from the states Wednesday morning and said there were a lot of people who wanted to visit with him. He suggested I meet him there and join him for the visits. I got on the bus Wednesday evening and was at the airport to meet Doug on Thursday night.
On Friday we met friends Maricruz and her daughters, Mafer and Adriana for lunch at their home. Antonio wasn’t able to join us as his work keeps him in Piura. After lunch, Maricruz took us to her dental office. She cleaned both Doug’s and my teeth and refused payment for her trouble. She was both thorough and gentle. Both Doug and I were so glad to meet Maricruz… we both knew we needed to have our teeth cleaned and to have a dental exam, but were reluctant to go to someone we didn’t know.
Later in the evening, we ate dinner with our long time Peruvian friend and guide, Luis and his family. He has three children, Nicole (8), Rosemary (4) and Luis (4 months). His apartment was full of life; children playing, squealing and having a good time. Luis has been so helpful to us and has made our transition to Peru so much easier than it might have been. He is an excellent guide and knows some of the most incredible archeological sights in Peru; many that most people don’t even know about.
Saturday morning we rested in the hotel, catching up on some long awaited sleep. Then we went to lunch with Rafo’s family; Roseanne, Ursula, and Mateo. Rafo and his family were guests in our home during the SudAmerica Cup soccer games. We ate lunch at one of the private country clubs in Lima where Rafo has had a membership most of his life. The club had a golf course, two swimming pools, tennis courts and at least a couple of restaurants. We had a great meal and then went to their home. Georg’s family, Nathalie, Melanie and Matias joined us there. Rafo played his guitar and we all sang songs and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
We got back to the hotel relatively early, 10 p.m., as we were supposed to be at the airport by 4 in the morning. We had tickets on a Peruvian Airline flight at 6. However, the government grounded all of Peruvian Airline planes for an unspecified reason. They were given 90 days to make corrections or be shut down permanently. So…what about our tickets? We were told to appear at the airline’s counter at the airport and show our vouchers. They then sent us to LAN Airlines where we were put on a flight that left at 5:40 a.m. We were fortunate to be going to a less traveled destination as people with tickets to Cusco (and thus Machu Pichu) were not able to be accommodated as easily.
By some fluke of the universe, we met up with friends Edhie and Sarah in the airport. They were taking the same flight as we were, although all four of us were seated separately. We then shared a taxi to the bus station in Piura and caught buses to our home towns. All in all, it was a quick trip with no real hitches.
The Peruvian government has limited the number of visitors to Machu Pichu, one of the seven wonders of the world. The UNESCO designation requires that the number of people within the park at any one time be limited to 2500 people. The problem has been that no provisions had been made to limit the number of people who came to Agua Calientes, the village from which people access Machu Pichu. Many tourists were arriving, expecting to be able to visit the park, but would not be able to do so because of the restrictions. Another criticism I’ve heard from Peruvians is that the park should stagger visitors for various times throughout the day. In general, visitors can easily see the park within two or three hours. So, if entrance to the park were broken into three or four sessions a day, they could increase attendance three or four fold.
The other “big” news in Peru lately is the decision by the president to suspend cocaine eradication programs. Peru is now the number one producer of cocaine in the world. Most of the cultivation of the coca plant is done in the most remote parts of Peru. Some of these areas are strictly forbidden to foreigners and are extremely dangerous to any visitor. The picture below says a lot.