Tuesday the 27th of May 2003 – Day 98 to Wednesday the 28th of May 2003 – Day 99

Tuesday the 27th of May 2003 – Day 98

Last night I took a moto (motorized Rickshaw) for 1 sole to the bus terminal for Huancayo. Its a pain as as each destination has a different bus terminal run by a different company. There could be five bus companies in five different parts of the city offering a service to Lima. I learned there is only one main one to Huancayo. The cost was 20 Soles for the 10 hour ride (hopefully 10 hours). It goes at 8.00pm tonight.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Ayacucho – Peru – Rickshaw (27-05-2003)

Got back and walked around for a while. One thing I noticed in every single small town and village is that there is a gaming arcade with slot machines. I’ve passed late and there are queues behind people. I’ve passed at 8.30am this morning and there were people playing.

Anyway I got up at 8.30am this morning. Good nights sleep and the throat is on the mend. What to do. Went on the NET for an hour and decided to go to Quinua. I had seen pictures on the travel agencies walls promoting trips to this village and the historic battlefield there for 25 Soles. Its a cheap trick but once you now what the attraction looks like, its as easy go yourself.

Asked a moto driver to take me to the bus terminal for Quinua. Since I’m here in Ayacucho, so close to the historic battlefield in Quinua, I figured I should check it out. The cost there was the standard 1 sole. Just a corner of the road really with a mini-bus with a Quinua sign on it. The cost was 3 soles. As these mini-vans don’t go until full, I had to wait 30 minutes. I talked to a local family (couple with kid) about the weather, false Peruvian coins in circulation and the teachers strike. I had gotten a fake 5 sole coin a few days earlier and gave it to the kid. He will probably pass it off some place. Nice chat.

Anyway it took just over an hour to get to Quinua. Quinua.Is a town famous by the exceptional ability of its potters, who manufacture different pieces,called “Quinua ceramics” showing local customs. Is located at 37 km (23 ml) from the capital. It was the site of the famous Battle of Ayacucho, where the independence of the country and expulsion of the Spanish troops was confirmed.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quinua – Peru – Quiet place (27-05-2003)

No gringoes in view, but once I got to the town could see a high spire. This was the same as the one I saw in the pictures in town. As it was around 11.30am, it was hot. All the time I spend in the town, I only saw 5/6 people. Very quiet place. Walked about 15 minutes to the battlefield site through very nice cobbled streets and galleries. Nice town.

The final decisive battle for Peru’s independence from the Spaniards was fought just outside of the village of Quinua, here in the Central Highlands of Peru. After the Spaniards conquered the Incas in 1532, they continued to rule their rich new colony of Peru through Spanish born viceroys appointed by the Spanish crown. The clear hierarchy that dictated the structure of society consisted of Spanish immigrants at the top, followed by people of Spanish blood born in the colony, followed by Mestizos (people of mixed Indian and Spanish descent). Lowest of all were the natives, the Indians who were exploited and treated as expendable labor.

By the early 1800’s the newly relocated Spaniards were sick of being subordinate to their distant kingdom, sick of their high taxes and lack of freedom (sound like any other revolutionaries that you know?). The far away Europeans were also starting to exploit Peru’s newly discovered, rich mineral deposits. One by one, neighboring countries to the North and South were claiming independence, and by 1822, Peru was ripe to join them. In 1822, Jose de San Martin, who had led the liberation of Argentina and Chile, met with Simon Bolivar, who master-minded the liberation of Venezuela, Columbia, and Ecuador, and it was decided that Bolivar would continue on to vie for Peru’s independence. Two years later, on August 6, 1824, San Martin, Bolivar and Field Marshal Sucre lead a successful battle in Junin, Peru. The final and decisive battle for Peru’s independence was fought on December 9, 1824, here in Quinua, a battle known today as the “Battle of Ayacucho.”

The tall white obelisk memorial to the battle can be seen on its hilltop all the way from the village of Quinua. There was nobody there except me and three old ladies. For a National monument, there was little interest in this place. If you pay 1 Sole you can visit its tiny museum and climb up to the viewing point half way up the monument inside the obelisk. Missable views but for one sole!

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quinua – Peru – white obelisk memorial (27-05-2003)

As this site puts it:

“The “winners” of the “Battle of Ayacucho” were the European descendents whose families had left Spain to conquer new lands and who now no longer wanted to pay taxes to a distant motherland. These very same freedom fighters, which wanted an end to the Spanish hierarchical system, continued to rule according to the same hierarchy once they were on top.

For the indigenous people of Peru, the battle of Ayacucho held no real significance. Little changed in their lives. Whether it was the Spaniards or the new white ruling class, the Peruvian Indians still lived as lower class citizens, the poor laborers of the country with few rights.”

Unfortunately, not much has changed today. The indigenous peoples of Peru comprise over 50% of the country’s population, yet continue to make up the poor bottom class, with the white European descendants on top and the mixed blood mestizos in middle.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quinua – Peru – white obelisk memorial (from L-R: Cordova, Lamar, Sucre, Gamarra, Lara, Miller) (27-05-2003)

Anyway, walked back to the town. Surrounding landscape is bleak. Very hot and had to wait 20 minutes until the mini bus became full. An hour back and was back in Ayacucho around 2.00pm. Did a bit of walking. Nice place to walk with churches and markets all over the place. Quiet until about 5.00pm when all the schools are out. Cant get a NET cafe place then. Went early and found this excellent site on Ayacucho. No teachers striking in the plaza today . Was watching the news programme “24 Horas” last night for an hour. All it showed for an hour was different groups in different parts of the country rioting. Peruvian police must use some amount of CS gas.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Quinua – Peru – Carrying a famous “Quinua ceramics” back on the mini-bus (27-05-2003)

My bus is at 8.00pm tonight. Report in tomorrows post.

Wednesday the 28th of May 2003 – Day 99

Got a moto to the Molina bus terminal (Jr.9 de Diciembre 473) around 7.15pm – 1 sole. Bus was there but so were alot of people. Jumped aboard. After about 15 minutes the bus was full and people were standing. The problem is even thought I have a ticket the vast majority of people do not bother. Many are just travelling two or three km out of town and use the bus as a taxi service. The guy who came on said the same thing thus depriving people of seats. After we started we stopped two or three times picking up bands of people. At about 2.30am at night we made the last major stop for people. After that it was quite bad. Maybe 20 or more people were sleeping in the aisle of the bus. Mothers who had babies put their babies in the aisles. Old women of 80 plus slepping in the aisle. Some of these people had paid 1/3 of the price to stay without seat. Some had no choice. I didnt see any Peruvian man offer a seat to them so…… With all this carry out its hard to get sleep. No toilet breaks and the road unpaved. The old lad beside me ran out of coca leafs but I was able to help out there. Decided to take a sleeping tablet which made my drowsy but not really sleepy. Made the time pass quickly though. Lots of lightening around as we drove but no rain. Arrived in Huancayo at 6.00am and got a taxi (2.50 Soles) to the hostel. It must have rained heavy during the night. Havent seen rain for quite a while.

All the papers are full of news about the presidents decision to declare a State of Emergency. Early this morning (Wednesday), dozens of police in riot gear evicted hundreds of striking teachers — many still groggy with sleep — camped in front of Congress in the capital, Lima. But the main target of the measure was the farmers, who have blocked Peru’s roads with boulders and burning tires to demand lower taxes on some crops and protection from imports. Other sectors are demanding higher wages.

The state of emergency gives police and the military the authority to use force to clear the highways, restore order, detain strikers and enter homes without warrants. It also limits freedom of movement and prohibits public assembly. Congressman Luis Iberico, from a party allied with the government, said on cable news Canal N that approximately 12 of Peru’s 24 provinces would be under military control and that civil liberties would be suspended. Iberico said a decree would be issued Wednesday declaring the ongoing teachers’ strike illegal.

See two stories from the Assocaited Press (1) and (2) while there are another two from the BBC: (3) and (4). At least the Coca farmers have agreed a truce.

Anyway, I got here at 6.00am, got to the hostel and stayed in bed until 9.30am. Walked down down. The main street is very gtotty and had nothing to recommend it. The catherdral was nothing special. Went ont he Net for an hour for 1.50 Soles and watched a big teachers march gathering at the plaza which is just concrete (10 times worsr than Galway´s Eyre Square). This is one of the biggest marches Ive seen yet. May 20,000 teachers. There were military there along with the police this time but things were peaceful.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huancayo – Peru – Catherdral (28-05-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huancayo – Peru – Crowds gathering for the march (28-05-2003)

Good link here on popularity of blogs. Also my site is mentioned here . This is also a popularity checking site which is useful. Thanks to Rebel Dispatch for publicizing my site on the Clare Hurlers site.

Had two portraits done this evening. The first posted here is a caricature. Its a comic effect OK. Not very good but what can you expect for 5 Soles (1.25 EURO). I also got a portrait done for 10 Soles (3 Euro).

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huancayo – Peru – Caricature (28-05-2003)