East of Heart

Arrivals

¡¿Que fue barrio?! On the tail of more fish, Boris and I traveled to the resort town and fishing port of Ancón north of Lima. We had been told in Ventanilla that the main port activity took place in the afternoon. It took a 40 min bus from mine to meet Boris in the north of the city and then nearly a 1h bus to exit Lima along the Panamerican highway and make it back to the coast. This route had us follow the progression of former and present informal settlements in the capital’s periphery and the nodes of concentrated social and economic activity that have formed at predictable optimal distance from each other when people start to favour close-by local offerings instead of the more established, varied and specialized, but traffic-alienated options closer to the centre.

We didn’t find anything immediately interesting other than some small arrivals of shellfish and coastal fish, but the docks were still busy with porters hauling dry ice and provisions to small shuttle boats that were loading medium-sized fishing boats. These were preparing for 20-day trips at sea going “all the way to the border” in some cases. They probably return from their long trips to unload their catch early in the morning, so I am tempted to go back and stay the night, if only to enjoy being a little bit out of the city again. Once in a while a giant sea lion popped its head out amidst the boats. This made for a pleasant Friday afternoon of our now established philosophical banter which we ended with a beer amongst the throngs of people readying their first plunge into the weekend nightlife in Los Olivos.

You are perhaps wondering why I haven’t ventured out more from the city and when I’ll be showing you more of Peru’s more notorious external image of Andean landscapes. Simply, I don’t feel like travelling for only 4-day spurts and I find this city absolutely fascinating. There is so much to take in, to get to know, explore, every weekday and weekend. I am also lucky to have a busy life here with the incredibly friendly and welcoming people I have met always offering me more interesting things to see and do.

I’ll be hitting the road mid-December for a little exploration which should yield the pictures of terraced mountains, camelids and bright-colour-dressed people with flushed cheeks that are expected of theses geographies. Time-allowing, I am hoping to spend time in villages to provide more perspective on these stereotypes though, and comprehending Lima is essential to understanding the current Andean reality: the vast majority of the continuously arriving new citizens of the capital are from the interior, following a rural exodus tragically exacerbated by terrorism in the 1980′s and 90′s. Millions were forced to uproot, abandon their land and move to Lima in search of some security and accessible currency. Others fled deeper into the interior. More than one third of the country’s population now lives here, it’s worth attempting to uncover its diversity. In the next month, I’ll be trudging through end-of-term schoolwork and hopefully get to share a few more urban excursions with you before hoisting the real pack. Summer is almost here too.

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