October 25, 2013, by Guest blog
Breathless in Peru
9th August was when I first touched down in Lima, Peru. I have been in Peru now for over 2 months and I am still loving it.
Groggy after nearly 2 days of travelling to get there, when I first arrived in Lima I was not very impressed to say the least. The city is incredibly busy, a huge amount of traffic hurries down a confusing network of roads directed by brave traffic wardens in small Inca Kola sponsored kiosks. It may sound exciting but most of the time you are at a complete standstill and being pestered to buy newspapers, nuts, pastries or even toy trucks by vendors who walk up and down the many lanes all day long. Furthermore the relative humidity of Lima is very high leaving the city covered by a white blanket with no sun in sight for most of the year, which dampens the atmosphere. But I soon left the big fog behind on the 8 hour bus journey to where I would be staying for the next 5 months, the city of Huaraz.
Coming from a small town in Lincolnshire, Huaraz with a population of some 100,000 was quite a change for me. The city sits in the middle of the Andes at 3,100 metres above sea level and right on the doorstep of the tallest mountain in Peru, Mount Huáscaran at over 6,700 metres. During my time here as a volunteer teacher I am staying with a Peruvian family and their house commands stunning views of the city with intimidating Huáscaran as a dominating backdrop. To my relief, life in Huaraz is of a much slower, laid-back pace than Lima, and the people on the whole are very friendly and welcoming. Everywhere are streets named after key people in the fight for independence and statues of such heroes, showing just how important gaining independence from Spain was and still is today for Peruvians. The catholic faith has remained very strong however, with processions of marching bands and crowds carrying religious idols frequently parading the streets from one of the many churches dotted around the city.
Luckily I did not suffer greatly from soroche (altitude sickness), but for the first few days was pretty breathless from being three thousand metres higher up than normal. I quickly settled into life in Huaraz and took a liking to the place, it is already sad to think of leaving in December!
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