"Ayacucho, Peru" Ayacucho by crummey

Ayacucho Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 33 photos

The trip to Ayacucho

Ayacucho is well off the beaten tourist track. It is nestled in the Andes and midway between Lima and Cusco.

To get here, you take a bus. The road is dirt. It snakes up one mountain and down the next and up the next and then down the next; Hair pin turn after hair pin turn after hair pin turn after hair pin turn after hair pin turn. And Avalanch followed by land slide followed by avalanche.

It takes like 20 hours to get here, snaking along at maybe 20, 30 sometimes even 40 km an hour. The road is dirt. The road is narrow. The road almost always a cliff on one side and a terrifying canyon on the other. When the bus eventually runs into a truck going the other way, something has to give. Both trucks stop, drivers get out, look around and then someone has to back up until a wider part of road is found. Often the other truck was a flat bed, simply loaded to the gunnels with people standing in the back.

You drive to the top of a mountain and from there the view was simply mountain tops and the odd glacier as far as the eye could see. You then snake down the montain through fields of tufty grass, then shrubs, then coniferous trees, then willowy tall thin tufty trees, then arbutus, then orange and lemon tree orchards, then deserts and then across a dried river bed and then up the next mountain to see it all again.

On my trip, there were atleast three police check points. Where police seemed to arbitrarily pick some person and rip their bags open, looking for contraband or whatever.

The police drove brand new SUVs but their police stations were literally windowless mud huts. The people living in the communities through the mountains all lived in mud huts too; Mud huts that had thatch roofs and plastic sheets for windows. No one appears to have a chimney and smoke from the fire simply billows out the front door. Except for the police, no one had a car, not new, not old.

In the communities scattered along the road, there were goats everywhere. There were sheep everywhere. There were pigs everywhere. There were ducks everywhere. There were llamas everywhere. There were not many donkeys or horses at all. When there were horses, they were small hairy ponies, like the Newfoundland pony.

Finally, we arrived in Ayacucho. It was late and after dark. The first thing that happened is that some people ran up to me, stuck an electric guitar in my and and got their picture taken with me; Like I was a rock star or something. It as then that I knew for sure that they do not see too many gringos in these parts.

The city of Ayacucho is a lot like Cusco only not touristy. There are no tourists here. And the people stare at me when I walk down the road because I am he only gringo for miles and miles.

Ayacucho very obviously has a Inca heritage as strong as Cusco or anywhere else for that matter; Every man looks like a handsome Inca prince and Every woman looks like a beautiful Inca Princess; Black hair, the classic protruding nose, flat face and olive skin.

However, there was nothing here for the Spaniards, no gold no silver. And it has not been marked as a tourist mecca; no Maccu Picchu ergo no tourists

Corredor Del Torres

Like most Peruvian cities, Ayacucho has bull fighting every sunday. I went to the bull fight. But I also was in a bull fight in Ayacucho.

It as my first time either seeing or being in a bull fight.

The arena was all made out of old boards. It seemed very unsafe. There were thousands of people in the rickety stands and two bands. And symbolic kings and queens of the bull fight all decked out in regalia.

I thought it was going to be a bull fight like you see on TV. But instead it was bull baiting.

My mother would die (if she were alive) at what her son did.

There was a couple of dozen people baiting the bulls. I was one of them. The bulls were corralled in and let out one at a time. We wave our jackets. People were trampled and gored.

Some kind people tried to convince me not to do it. They feared for me. I suppose other people wanted to see me trampled. Well that is all neither here nor there. Both symbolic kings gave me liquor. Others gave me moonshine to get me hammered. What ever...Quel Que Corsa....

I used my camcorder until the battery ran dead. Some boys took my fireman's jacket. One ran past and snatched it out of my hand. Then they started arguing over it. and I let them keep it....you have to be a good sport.

The last bull was huge.I grabbed a bull by the tail and had him drag me around until the chucherros beat me with a bull whip to let go. It was only when the chuccero{s beat me with the bull whip did I realizre that there were rules. I was a hero. The crowd went mad.

While leaving the arena, I had to walk through a crowded narrow corral. It was there that I was pick pocketed. This was the third time I was robbed since arriving in Peru....four weeks.

But I am neither as rich as they thought nor as stupid. I caught them red handed. Even though I had caught them, I immediatly wrote the wallet off. But I got it back. Then I wrote the $$$ off. But I got that back too. Who have thunk it.

The police dragged two older men away with me following along saying "Esta Bueno Esta Bueno Let them go, let them go".

The day after the bull fight

In Ayacucho, in fact in all of Peru, there is usually some sort of parade this morning. There is always a parade in Peru.

The parade is often followed by a demonstration or a strike. A taxi drivers strike, a teachers strike etc.

On the monday following the Bull Fight there was a taxi drivers' strike. Most peruvian taaxis are little 3 wheeled motorcycles.

Apparently, the riot police were aware of the planned strike and had blocked off Ayacucho's Plaza de Armees with armoured personel carriers and trucks and jeeps.

The Plaza de Armee is Ayacucho's main square. The taxis blocked the traffic on all the surrounding streets.

What appeared to be a couple of hundred riot police arrived. They all wore dark green dungarees, some had bamboo poles others machine guns, other had batons and riot shields. They lobbed a couple of tear gas cannisters into the crowd. And the taxi drivers all got into their cabs and putted away.

I was trying to get pictures, but it was not easy. I got some of me posing with some cops. But no action shots.

The cops were all pointing at me and laughing at me and saying GRINGO TORRERRO and made pantomine about the pair of pick pockets that I caught at the bull fight the other day.

I laughed and made pantomime and said SI SI, ME AMIGO!! CHURO, CHURO TONTO. SOY GRINGO TONTO GORDO!!

From the gossip and all, I gather that the two pick pockets must still be in jail. And since all of these cops knew, it must be the high point of atleast that day.

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  • In a nutshell:Ayacucho, the capital of Ayacucho province
  • Intro Updated Sep 6, 2005
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Comments (2)

  • Feb 6, 2004 at 8:02 PM

    Your account on the Peruvian "bullfight" recalls me an almost identical experience I had in Maicao (Colombia), except by the fact that I had a still camera instead, was not directly involved in the "fight" and was not robbed...Your story is very accurate!

  • melosh's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2004 at 7:47 PM

    I appreciate your warning, but not your "you've got to be a good sport about it"sentiment. This is not a game and people do get hurt.

crummey

“an inter-act card and a sense of humour is just about all you need.”

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