Saturday the 24th of May 2003 – Day 95 to Monday the 26th of May 2003 – Day 97

Saturday the 24th of May 2003 – Day 95

Got up at 5.30am and paid the bill for the hotel which was 20 soles per night (5 EURO). Grabbed a taxi (3 Soles) and headed for the main bus terminal (terminal terriste). A friendly bus counter official told me that the bus was 6.30PM and not AM. Must have been too tired and hungover yesterday to check. Anyway found a another bus company that was leaving at 6.30am, so got a partial 50% refund from my original ticket and paid another 20 Soles (5 EURO) for my 10 hour bus journey to Ayahuasca. When I jumped on, I was the only gringo on a pretty full bus. These people know their rights. As soon as 6.30am came, they started stamping their feet, banging the windows with their fists and shouting at the driver to get gong. A fun form of persuasion.. and the bus left on time. Alot of stopping and staring as people got off and on. Anybody who waved from the road side meant we stopped to pick them up. Its a fast process, guy jumps out to push them in and asks for payment depending on destination. Lasts a few seconds. We stopped in Abancay for an hour for lunch. Just had soup. Seemed like and Ok place for a night. Tiny. Nice scenery on the way, and the road was paved as far as Abancay. After that it was unpaved and he head up the mountains. All the road was winding and consisted of switchbacks. We left Abancaya at 1.00pm and at 4.00pm, I could still see the town, as we were just getting higher and higher on the same mountain. I have admiration for the drivers as the roads are tint (barely enough for one vehicle). The driver has to use his horn on every bend. Stopped worrying about the steep crevices after a while. The driver knew his vehicle.

We arrived in Ayahuasca at 5.30pm (11 hours drive). I was tired but not as shook as I thought I would be. It was dark, so it was hard to get a feel for the town. I had the opportunity to continue my journey to Ayacucho (another 10 hours) at 6.30pm but passed on the idea. I wanted a room, and I wanted to see the scenery tomorrow. The idea of driving in the dark on those roads did not appeal to me either. I found the name of the Wari hostel in the South American Lonely Planet. It was a great nice and one of the nicest places I have stayed in. Two minutes walk from the bus terminal, twin bedded room, airy, bright, clean sheets and warm blankets. All with ensuite bathroom and hot shower. All for 15 Soles (3.80 EURO). Anyway, I wandered around for an hour or two. Lots of Internet places (2 soles an hour) but the electricity in the town failed on a few occasions. It was an interesting place where you can witness small town Peruvian life. Lots of corn beer been sold and enjoyed dinner there. Want feeling great so went to bed very early at 10.30pm. Had a sore throat so took two aspirin.


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Ayahuasca – Peru – On the bus to Ayahuasca – Scenic Shot (24-05-2003)


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Ayahuasca – Peru – On the bus to Ayahuasca – Scenic Shot (24-05-2003)

Sunday the 25th of May 2003 – Day 96

I had already paid for my ticket to Ayacucho (10 hours, 20 Soles) and got up at 5.45am to catch the 6.20am bus. Lots of activity at the bus station, and the bus did not depart until 6.45am. One other “hippie” gringo on the bus. Didn’t like he had shaved or washed for months. Another scenic drive but instead of having half of the trip paved like yesterday, this trip was totally unpaved and alot more rural. Enjoyed the passing scenery and watching the farmers and their cops. Mostly maize and corn. Very small amounts of crop, very small scale but if you do not have access to machinery like tractors and plough, what can you expect. Very traditional here and we stopped many times for people to put their produce in the hold of the bus including bigs (in coal bags) and all sorts of things. Alot more stops including 40 minutes because of a flat tyre. Alot of people in the small villages drinking (and getting drunk) on the corn beer. A tough journey and I didn’t feel great with a worsening sore throat. Found it hard to drink even water. Bought oranges and bananas (normal price is 1 Sole for 5) and endured the long trip. Arrived at 6.00pm (12 hours) . They don’t have toilets on buses and will not stop upon request. Either grab a moment when they are loading someone’s produce or get together with a few others to demand a stop. They rush when stopping to collect people or produce so you got to be quick.

Felt terrible when we reached Ayacucho. Taxi drivers were looking for 5 Soles to get to my chosen hotel (the Colmena) so I walked 20 yards up the street to wave down a motorized rickshaw (cost 1 sole) for the 3 minute journey yo the hotel. Booked into a single room (without bathroom) for 15 Soles. Paid for 2 night as I need a rest with this throat. Felt faint so went to a Pharmacy for drugs. Told them my problem and paid 1.50 Soles for 2 antibiotic pills and 2 Vitamin c pills. Took one of each and went to bed at 8.30pm. Had to pass the main square to get to the pharmacy. Its totally blocked off by the teachers. They have been sleeping there for 15 days. Could here them all night (making speeches, cheering) etc. The pills had an immediate effect and slept OK.


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Ayacucho – Peru – Ayacucho. The place reminded me of South East Asia because of the bike transport and the motorized rickshaws. This is hard work at 6.00am in the morning. (25-05-2003)


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Ayacucho – Peru – On the bus to Ayacucho. Early morning mist shot. (25-05-2003)


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Ayacucho – Peru – On the bus to Ayacucho. Waiting for transport! (25-05-2003)


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Ayacucho – Peru – On the bus to Ayacucho. Crowd Shot. (25-05-2003)


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Ayacucho – Peru – On the bus to Ayacucho. Nice patchwork of fields everwhere you went. (25-05-2003)

Monday the 26th of May 2003 – Day 97

Got up at 8.30am. felt alot better and took more pills (every 8 hours they said) and went to get more for today and tomorrow.

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Ayacucho – Peru – Teachers are also striking in Ayacucho. They have slept, ate and demonstrated here for the past 15 days. They are DIY kitchens, mattresses, posters and flags everywhere. This is the town centre and the commercial heart of the city. All roads in have been blocked. Many demonstrations here during the day but no riot police like Cuszo. Many of them asked me did I know the situation and did I want to know. Explained I knew their basic demands and supported the, They were happy that I knew why they were doing this and why they had to close the tourist / commercial centre of the city. (26-05-2003)

My throat was still recovering so taking it easy. There as many churches here in the city centre as in Corboda (Argentina). Its a nice place as its a lot hotter here than in Cuszo. Walked around the town and the various markets for a number of hours.Spent alot of time on the net.

Carlos Abimaël Guzman was a philosophy professor at the University of Ayacucho when he founded the Shining Path breakaway faction of the Peruvian communist party and launched his “enduring people’s war”. He began it in May 1980 with a symbolic act—a commando burned ballot boxes in Chuschi, a remote village in the area, two days before elections were to be held.

The guerrillas and their “enemies”, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, a rebel group founded in 1983 and destroyed by its 1996 seizure of hostages at the Japanese embassy in Lima, were both defeated in the “dirty war”.

But the toll was enormous—more than 26,000 dead, 4,000 missing and 50,000 children orphaned mostly in the department of Ayacucho and neighboring areas. From 1980 to 1990, an estimated 200,000 persons were driven from their homes. The government has put its cost at more than $25 billion—the equivalent of Peru’s foreign debt, on which interest charges alone absorb a third of the foreign exchange earned by exports of fish, copper, zinc and silver. . In five provinces in Ayacucho, the resident population dropped by two-thirds, and many villages were virtual ghost towns.

Ayacucho, capital of the Peruvian department of the same name, still lives on edge nearly 20 years after the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrillas first went into action there. Relief over the guerrillas’ defeat is matched by the tension of an “armed peace” maintained by the continued presence of underground elements of this terrorist organization in nearby districts and provinces. See for an article by a Shining Path Follower.

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