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November 24, 2004

Futbol and Paracas

Hola from Lima! This is a huge update...

Lisa and I have had a pretty great last week or so. Last Wednesday (the 17th), Valentin, Lisa and I went to the World Cup qualifier futbol game between Chile and Peru. I have always wanted to go to a huge European or South American soccer game and this one lived up to all of my expectations!

The game took place in the late evening (8pm) at the National stadium just outside of the center of Lima. We got there about 45 minutes before kickoff and the place was packed! Both teams were on the field having their pre-game warm-up and the crowd was already going crazy. Everyone had some sort of red or white shirt on and bandanas to match. There were hundreds of these giant red and white tubular balloons (advertising either Coke or Cristal) that were bouncing along on the heads and hand of the fans. Over half an hour before kickoff and the wave even made laps of the stadium! We were quite impressed.

Lisa, Valentin and I were fully equipped to cheer on the home team. We each had a red bandana (¡Yo Te Amo Peru!), I had a #14 (Pizarro) jersey and we all had whistles! Throughout the crowd there were banners and flags being waved. Just before the game started they unfurled a massive flag that stretched from the first row to the top of the stadium over the heads of the people. Everyone underneath jumped and the flag waved and shook. Some people had drums, there was confetti and toilette paper rolls - there were even some flares lit before the game.

This is not my photo (I didn't take my camera):

Peru Vs Chile

Our seats were in the sixth row, just to the field side of the goal line. The fans were kept separated from the field by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Our 'expensive' section was seperated from the cheap seats by a 15ft tall metal fence featuring spikes (with impaled tubular balloons). As Peru and Chile have quite an emotional rivalry there were also police in full riot gear attending the game. We learnt after that there were over 3000 of them! Whenever Chile would have a corner kick or throw in, four or five riot police would run out and protect the player from projectiles with their plastic shields.

The game itself was aslo full of action. There were lots of chances for both sides. There was even a fight/melee between players right in front of us! It resulted in a red card for each team. The chilean player had to be escorted off by half a dozen police ! Peru ended up winning 2-1 and so on our walk home (with a few Cervezas from the store) we joined the street celebration. We were repeatadly woken up through the night by the honking and yelling outside in the street.

Hola friends and family... Lisa here! So, yes the last little while has been pretty eventful, I was looking at the calendar today to try to plan the remainder of out trip, and I was shocked with how little time we have left!!!

The soccer (sorry futbol) game was amazing! I can't even begin to describle the experience. It was chaotic and great. I loved the intensity of the fans, I definitely felt like an outsider in their world, but I definitely got into the game. ¡ARRIBA PERU! I called the score too, which made me even happier!

My volunteering has been good lately too! It's been a great way to see a lot of Lima and also practise my spanish. I'm starting to work on the more complicates verb tenses, but it's challenging. Also I'm sure that my French is being entirely eclipsed by my new spanish vocabulary. Oh well, I'll listen to a little french CBC when I get back and it'll be like new again (It's Alistair who needs his French more anyway!).

We went to an information fair the other day, and the entire table of pamphlets and posters that I was to be handing out got devoured by the school children when they were let out of school. It was a crazy pirrhana-like experience, I cried from laughing so hard, and I was completely afraid that they were going to take our table and permanent banners too! And it wasn't just the children but the parents too!!! INSANE!!

Last weekend I went on an outing with the HIV positive kids and their parents. It was pretty chaotic at the start, there was a huge line of parents and kids waiting to verify that they were here (then they were given little ribbons to give out to their kids to make sure we knew that they had been counted). Well, first of all, people here are incabable of waiting patiently in a line, so it was a frantic push and pull to get to the front... and THEN, we ran out of ribbons, and had to go inside and frantically make more. Once that was finished we piled all 225 or us onto 2 buses (about 125 too many people!). IT was very squishy with about 3 to a seat and people sitting in chairs in the aisle! I was sitting on a six pack of 3L pop bottles. Comfy. Anyhow, we were on our way and then... one of the leaders realized that she had forgotten all of the money and had to take a taxi back to the office and get the money, it took about 45min for that and we were all waiting by the side of the road cramped into our buses. Typical really. At the vacation centre where the retreat was to be held all the kids piled out of the buses, and most of them refused to play any kind of organized game (which was fine, because there was a thousand things to do there). I got completely devoured by these little flies that take giant bites out of you... which was fun. After lunch there were more games which went better. I won the wheelbarrow race with my partner Brillit! We were awesome. Anyhow it took pretty much the whole day for a total of 5 hours at the park, but everyone seemed to be pretty happy to go to a place where there is grass (despite the grass flies).

The Ballestas Islands experience was also great, especially the penguins. When we get our photos up, you'll see all the exciting wildlife that we saw (except the dolphins, it's futile to try to take photos of them).

Penguins on Isla Ballesta

OK, well, don't forget world AIDS day on Dec 1st, wear those red ribbons!

Dec 2nd we will be starting our trip (hopefully).


Jeff said he likes seeing pictures of food andthat gave me the idea of putting up a couple of pictures of interesting things from Lima and Peru.

We have been travelling by bus whenever we go to places like Paracas and Ica. The bus system is very cheap and fairly efficient. The two main cheap bus lines each run a bus every fifteen minutes up and down the Pan American highway (along the coast of Peru). For a four or so hour ride it costs us about $4 cdn! The buses are decent, similar to tour buses. They stop basically anywhere and so they are a good way to get around. Last weekend, when Lisa and I were on our way to Paracas about twenty drunk soccer fans got on the bus in one of the bigger towns. They were all in a pretty good mood and they spent the next hour or so singing and honking their homemade horns (bike pump attached to a bike horn). The buses are a major target for people selling things in the towns. There are always people with sandwiches and pop. The pop sellers have long poles in order lift the drinks up to the bus windows. The bus companies also have their own 'stewardesses' who sell food. They all cary a hanging thing of peanuts and chips that looks like this:

Snacks on the Bus

Each bag costs about $0.50 Cdn and they are hard to resist!

Peru is definitely a developing country, and things are improving at a very slow rate. During the late 80s, violence, terrorism, massive inflation, and chronic budget problems almost caused the country to go bankrupt. Throughout the country you can really see signs that the country was once growing quickly, and then abruptly stopped. This is a picture of a partially constructed public transit train that should have run through the suburbs of Lima.

Lima's LRT

It is quite similar to the skytrain track in Vancouver but it is not even close to being finished. It was built sometime in the 80's and ever since it has just stood there. There are sections that appear to be completed, and others that are just pillars with rebar sticking out. Enough for now! Send us some e-mails please!

Posted by Alistair Howard at November 24, 2004 08:51 AM


Futbol Futbol!!! I am very jealous. What an awesome game to see! Paracas looks very cool too! JB

Posted by: Jeanine at November 25, 2004 11:34 AM

Wow, that is one hell of a sporting culture. Riot police sheilding the visiting team during kickoffs. Amazing.

And very touching, the photo of the two children in blue and a hand holding one of them; great work you're doing Lisa. The island outing, with its tunnel formations looked great, too.

Posted by: Jeff Werner at November 26, 2004 03:34 AM