SEGUNDA VUELTA: Returning to Peru for the Run-off Election
All of the students from the University of Winnipeg who were Organization of American States election observers are heading back to Peru for the run-off election. Remi, Ewald, Geoff, and I (Derrick) are joined by Remi's brother Ben who is visiting here and may volunteer for the OAS on his own dime. Emina and Jennifer are held over in Toronto right now, due to very bad winter fog in Lima.
And we were close to not making it as well. After running the gauntlet of a dozen armed customs folks with guns in the loading tunnel in the Toronto airport, after discovering that we were leaving early due to fog in Lima and running to catch our flight, we settled in a for a long direct trip.
As we approached Lima we found out that there was some serious fog in Lima - why is fog an issue when we land aircraft in bad winter conditions in Canada, I thought - and our pilot explained that we would make one attempt to land and if it didn't work, we would head up to Chiclayo to land. And if the fog was too serious there, we would land in Ecuador... and then the pilot refreshed all our memories on emergency exit procedures.
Needless to say, all of a sudden the ground appeared under us and we were down. It turns out we were the only flight to have landed that night, as all others were cancelled, delayed, or diverted. I found out later that not only does the thick winter Lima fog make navigation very difficult, but the runway surface becomes very slippery. Another OAS observer later told me her plane was only a few feet above the runway when it roared back to life and flew to Chiclayo, where she was waylaid for a day until she was flown back.
Enough said about airplanes. We arrived a day early, so after some sleep Remi, Ben, Ewald and I rented a car and visited Pachacamac, not far south of Lima. It was truly an Indiana Jones experience (minus the action) as we drove around to different sites in this sand-dune covering pre-Incan city. Our guide joined us in our tiny red Fiat and led a conversational style tour of the site. We got out and looked at the tiny portion of temples, administrative centre, and houses that have been excavated. Yet you can turn around and spot dunes all around in the desert, and see how, for example, that one dune is likely another house, with the evidence at your feet in the form of a few bricks sticking out of the sand, while another huge dune is might be another administrative centre. It was capped off by a climb up the Incan Temple of the Sun. The site was absorbed or conquered by many different groups of people. It was first created approximately 600 AD, and was controlled at various times by the Wari, Ishmay, Incas, and even the Spaniards. The Spaniards, apparently led by Hernando Pizarro, briefly occupied the place and robbed the temples and buildings of all their gold and silver.
That's it for tonight. Tomorrow is a long day of many meetings and a special dialogue between our group and students from Lima's Catholic University. More election-related updates coming soon.
-- Derrick Martens