Arequipa is in the southwestern corner of Peru. It has a population of about 1M people and my friend Alvaro tells me that the people are the subject of cruel jokes by the rest of Peru – the equivalent of Newfies in Canada. But as it happens I really like the Arequipans and I love their city.
The atmosphere in the park is constantly festive. You can always see kids taking photos of themselves. I don’t think it’s my imagination but after a couple of months in Peru I think the Arequipans are more extrovert than elsewhere. They appear to be homogenous and local. Although Arequipa is on the visitor’s trail you don’t see many tourists
One of the reasons I’m hanging out in Arequipa is to receive a front brake pump which is being shipped here, together with a mechanic from BMW Lima. They’ve not done a great job previously so they’re re-doing it here at no cost.
While I’m waiting I get an email from Alvaro in Lima. I met him at the Touratech dealer in Lima and rode down the coast with him a few weeks ago. He’s in his mid-thirties and’s a successful businessman in Lima.
He wants to know if I’m in Arequipa and if so he wants to know if I want to go exploring while Lucinda and I wait. We decide he’s going to ride the 1000K down and we’ll head off to the Colca Canyon. Great idea.
Talking about businessmen, I was searching for BMW Motorrad bike service earlier and here’s what the BMW cars pages look like here in Peru. Fully armoured, and as they emphasize, AK47 proof. In this ad they emphasize how they’ve dealt with traditional vulnerable spots
We go out on the town the night Alvaro arrives and are set to leave the next morning. But the hotel is a block off the Plaza de Armas where there’s a military ceremony, so we watch for awhile. Two sides of the square are filled with hundreds of soldiers
The altiplano troops are more indigenous than the others, and thus shorter, and much younger. Some of them don’t look like soldiers at all. But I’m assured that not only are they skilled, but they’re fully able to support the government no matter what uprising occurs
The marching style of the forces is strident and impressive. See the video to the left.
There are security forces carefully watching the crowds. See the other video for a serious badass on the alert. A drunk older but otherwise presentable man forces his way to the front of the crowd, right beside me, and starts yelling something about how they lost their last war with Chile. The crowd around us isn’t uncomfortable. The security badass gently and very respectfully escorts him away.
I had to think about this for awhile – then it came to me, another Peruvian penny drops – the family extends to all here.
The night before we’ve bribed the parking lot attendant to come and unlock the armoured gate on a Sunday, telling him to be here at exactly 10:00 am but there’s a glitch. A truck pulls up and dumps troops that line up right in front of our parking lot