I have arrived in Lima, Peru to cover the People’s Summit Against Climate Change, which is running parallel with the COP20 (Conference of the Parties), “the supreme governing body” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. I have also found the Casa Activa near the city centre, where activists from the Tierra Activa (Active Earth) groups of Peru and Bolivia are staying. So I have a good spectrum to provide different opinions, happenings and outcomes from Lima.
As well as being an exciting challenge for me to pursue my ideals and cover something I feel is socially important with all the beautiful freedom that a single, unemployed backpacker has, it’s been a funny and exciting few months in the lead up, travelling largely through Bolivia. By the border I was glad to be rid of the mayhem of Bolivian cities, the sudden difficulties of doing usually straightforward things and the lack of understanding I felt with a very interesting and strong indigenous culture. However, now I just have good memories and was privileged to observe the breathtaking landscapes and experience a culture so very different from my own. In Lima, I met an English speaking guy from Bolivia, Johan, who has now provided me with a better context of what I experienced in Bolivia as well.
I already wrote about my culture shock and subsequent recuperation in the very European city of Sucre. I also documented in very graphic detail the horrible food poisoning I suffered in between La Paz and Copacabana. While most Bolivians cities were too eccentric for me, and there were many I didn’t get to know, I’m spoilt to have visited some amazing places outside the cities and it gives me pleasure to pick a favourite from Uyuni, Ojo del Inca, Sietes Cascadas and Isla del Sol. The later was my favourite due to it resembling in vivid colour and grand magnitude, a pure sanctuary for the mind. I mean, a giant lake dotted with acid green mountains, populated by indigenous people living very naturally, backed by snow capped peaks, drenched in sun at an altitude of 3800 feet plus and replete wit Inca ruins is an island paradise in the sky. The place takes your mind like a rainbow and transcends the limits of reality in your imagination.
I still have a few stories and videos from Bolivia while also having now met many people, discovered new things and been able to make some observations in Peru. In Cusco and Machu Picchu I believe the people here to be more tourist savvy and dear lord, never have I seen or tasted better avocados or papayas, a fact I believe Peruvians are rightly very proud of. I have found Lima to be a strange, grey, traffic choked city in which you need to immerse yourself in the people and activities or move along, but with an allure like a dangerous perfume. There aren’t too may opportunities for Kodak moments here, yet I have seen moments of extreme positivism as well as a horrible encounter I witnessed leaving a bar in which I saw men beat a guy on the road with a baseball bat, actions I can’t understand.
After recounting the past I must face the future and I have two options after Lima, which I intend to leave as soon as all the climate activities and the energy that goes with them, dissipates. But maybe that’s a little negative and maybe I will stay a few days afterwards to explore this strange tapestry some more.
Once I’m done here for now, my first option is to fly from Lima to Iquitos before returning and heading north for Ecuador and Colombia. I mentioned in my last ‘Road Ahead’ post that I thought it would be a good idea to see the Amazon in Bolivia as a low cost option but after reading the reviews of how fake and touristic these experiences, like 50 people standing around a snake; can be, I decided to hell with it. Likewise in Peru, although I considered Puerto Maldonado, if I go to the Amazon, maybe Iquitos is the place, after a backpacker from the USA informed me there are many crazy stories to find in Iquitos, they have a local English language news outlet and the place is known for ayahuasca tourism, begging for the industry to be explored on merits of authenticity, phoniness and safety regulations. However, unless The Motorcycle Diaries truly inspires me to make it to Iquitos I’m feeling it’s less and less likely I will deviate from my very Australian coastal quest northwards.
Which is why my other option is just to get to Ecuador as quickly as possible and then Colombia, possibly checking a few lesser known, cheaper beaches in northern Peru on the way. Every day I feel more confident communicating with my limited Spanish, am learning more things, thinking in new ways and realising how big, crazy, diverse and wonderful this continent is.