Peru is exploding in civil unrest and we’re smack dab in the middle of it. The protestors we passed in Juliaca laid siege to the airport and set cars and trucks on fire. Arequipa, the perfect little town I wanted to get back to, is completely blockaded. People have been stranded in the bus station for 2 days and the airport is surrounded by tanks. Lima has been turned upside down by protestors who, one traveler wrote today, have tagged all the historic buildings. The teachers who don’t want to get fired if they fail a basic skills test THREE times have been joined by construction workers, farmers, and anyone else with a bone to pick with the President.
Despite the fact that Peru Rail took $400 from us for train tickets yesterday and the tourist board took $120 from me today for Machu Picchu tickets, it looks highly unlikely we’ll make it there. The latest info we can find on the internet says that Peru Rail has suspended operations to Machu Picchu after strikers tried to take the station today and have blocked the tracks with rocks (there is a seemingly infinite supply of stone here). The most frustrating thing is that we can’t get a straight story from anyone. Everyone in the hotel and tourist information center acts as if things will magically resolve, but President Garcia called out the army today and the local news reports matters are only getting worse (as best we can figure given our limited Spanish). And we thought Bolivia was crazy!
Cusco isn’t a bad place to be stranded but we have no idea how we’re going to make it to Lima for our flight home next week. We can’t get a bus to anywhere else in the country and we don’t have any flights booked. Lima isn’t looking like that attractive of a destination at the moment anyway. I’ve emailed the consular representative here to get some advice, but for the time being all we can say is “This is madness.” 11 months on the road without incident and we get this in our final 10 days!