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Thursday, May 25, 2023 Traveling the Pacific Coast Highway

Today we have a ten-hour drive in front of us, but the drive is beautiful and gives us a feeling of the vast nature of the country.

Along the way we visited Yauma. It is a place where olives are grown. One can buy olives, olive oil, or honey made from the pollen collected from the olive flowers. I bought a jar of honey. I hope that the glass jar doesn’t break in my suitcase.

Olives grow well here because hot temperatures are not good for olives. This year was very hot because of a strong El Niño. We don’t really understand that weather so Kati tried to explain it.

El Niño is a hot water current in the Pacific Ocean. It occurs every year at Christmas. Every 8 to 10 years they get a very strong one, but you can’t predict it. It gets warm and there is a lot of rain. The higher temperatures linger. This extreme weather even affects the mountains and causes landslides. Mega Niño happens when there is a hurricane and El Niño at the same time. These are the most devastating.

La Niña is a cold water current which also occurs at Christmas. This one is milder and calmer. They don’t know which current they will get. Not only do these weathers affect the climate, they affect fauna in the ocean. The fish and fauna will go far away to be able to survive at the right temperature. This affects the fishermen and food supply.

The climate is warming in Peru. It is two degrees higher than in the past and glaciers are melting. Cusco and Puno are now warm and they used to be cold. No jacket is needed.

Next we drive through Chala where there was a mining explosion that killed 27 people this May. It is a dangerous job. One can read about it here:


Here are some examples of the scenery:

The first part is along the coast looking down from cliffs and the crashing waves and resulting white foam.
Every so often we would see men and crude temporary shacks made of driftwood.
A load of seaweed taken to the drying flats prior to export to China.
Lush green farmland in the river valley.

On the long ride to Arequipa, I had a chance to talk about history, geography, politics, weather … well, just about everything.

Peru is divided into 24 departments and one constitutional province, and they elect leaders. This is like our states and D.C. Each department has provinces. Then it is divided into districts, and lastly communities (neighborhoods) which is the smallest level of political division.

This is the district of Arequipa.

For example, Arequipa is a department which has a capital of Arequipa. It has 29 districts AND one is Arequipa AND there is an Arequipa district. It is a little confusing, but I think I’ve got it.

This shows the districts in the Province of Arequipa.

Ministers exist at a national level such as the Cultural Ministry. etc. They have a national Congress with representation from the departments.

The beginning of the revolution that led to the independence of Perú started in 1782 in the mountains. As a Spanish colony, taxes were expected. In the mountains, they sent the native people into the mines. They were treated badly like slaves. The men had to work in the mines starting at the age of 18 and work until they were 60, if they lived that long. Many men went into the mines and never came back.

Also, they had to work on the large haciendas and pay taxes. The first Perúvian hero was a mestizo named Tupac Amaru II. He was a well-educated business man. He had a Spanish father and his mother was an Incan princess. He went to school in Spain.

In more recent history, the War of the Pacific took place between Chile and Peru in the 1880’s. Chile wanted the prized guano islands. Parts of southern Peru are now part of Chile as a result. Chile still wants land, etc. from Peru. Currently, Chile is expelling immigrants without papers such as Venezuelans, Nigerians, and Haitians at the Peruvian border. This puts a burden on Peru.

Our merry band of travelers: Arnold and Sharon from Vancouver, B.C. then Kati, our guide, then me and Rob. Our tour is with G-Adventures and they guarantee the tour regardless of the number so we have a semi-private tour.
Our bus drivers Robinson and Cesar. Our guide Kati was explaining about Cesar’s name and said like the lead monkey in Planet of the Apes. Haha. I would have gone for the powerful rulers of Rome for my explanation!!
This poster was hanging on the wall of our lunch stop. He may still hold the record at 126 years!
This cookie is called alfajor. It was like a shortbread Oreo with caramel in the center … but if you try to untwist the cookie, it dissolves into crumbs!! It is best to pop it in your mouth. YUM!
Gather round children. I have something interesting to show you.
Cochinilla is a parasite that grows on the Nopal cactus. We call this cactus, prickly pear.
This parasite is scraped off the cactus and dried. When it is smashed, a red color is produced. This is called carmine and is used in lipstick.
This is what it looks like on your lips!!

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