Sunday, 31 May 2009

The price of things

I am about to embark on a 5 day trip to the Amazon, since I have school holidays this week (the only volunteer who does!). This type of tour is the sort of thing that bucks the general Peruvian trend, and is pretty expensive. In fact, Cusco itself is not exactly cheap - that is, if you stick to the touristy areas. This evening, while wandering through some backstreets, I found a traditional pollería. This is Peruvian fast food - huge chunks of roast chicken with chips. I had a quarter of a chicken, a load of chips, some soup and a Coke for S/. 9.50, which is about 2 pounds 50. I had a similar shock when I got my hair cut last weekend in Cusco: I paid S/. 10, which was apparently a rip off! Back in the valley, the going rate is S/. 3. Peruvians (including those working for Projects Abroad) were shocked when I told them how much I would usually pay back home. A wander through the supermarket in Pisac only underlines the difference: on everyday items, the gap is colossal. Which suits the equally colossal gap in average income. The English teachers we work with earn about S/. 900 a month - I'll leave you to work out how much that is.

Anyway, a bit more about my jungle trip. I am going to an area called the Parque Nacional Manu, an enormous slice of rainforest which is very well protected by the Peruvian government (unlike the northern jungle), and designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is known as one of the best areas of the Amazon for spotting wildlife, though I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high. I could see tapirs, capybara, giant otters, and am almost certain to see hordes of parrots and macaws, as well as the Cock of the Rock, Peru's national bird.

Aside from the national park, there is another area into which practically no one is allowed to enter. In it live several tribes which have hardly had any contact with the outside world, and don't really seem to want any. For once, that wish has been respected.

I forgot to mention in an earlier post that I saw the Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También recently. It's brilliant, since it works as a traditional teenage coming-of-age story (with all the requisite sex), but has one eye on a wider social and political situation. What's more, it's beautifully shot. We watched it with Spanish subtitles, which gave an insight into Mexican slang - a lot more difficult than the Peruvian version!

I had better go...getting up at 4am tomorrow!

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