Posted by: Ali | March 18, 2010

El Paro

Paro is a Spanish word for a strike; literally it means “a stop.”  Strikes are a natural part of living in Latin America.  When I was in Bolivia, my guide told me that Bolivians were not very good at democracy; anytime they were unhappy with something they would just go on strike, and so usually there was a strike every day in various parts of the country.

Peru is not terribly different.  In the time I have been here, we had the bus companies go on strike, and the national police have threatened to go on strike, as well as a few smaller events.  And now this.

Today is the day my family and I were supposed to leave Cusco.  We had a flight booked and everything, and my parents leave for Canada tomorrow night, so we really don’t have  a lot of freedom.  So imagine our collective horror when last night, Marita informed us that there was going to be a 24-hour province-wide strike today, so we would be unable to take a taxi to the airport.

“What about getting a friend to drive us?” I asked, knowing that it would be inconvenient, but if the taxi drivers were on strike, it would be the only option.

“No,” she replied, “The roads will be blockaded so no cars will be able to get through.”

“Holy crap!” I said, well it must be nice that you get the day off.

“We don’t,” says Angela, Marita’s daughter.  “We have to walk to work.  It’s only the lower class that’s going on strike.”

“How long would it take to walk to the airport?” I asked, shocked.  “With bags?  Is it safe?”

“It would probably be better if you paid an ambulance driver to take you,” she said sensibly.  “They’re emergency vehicles, so they’ll be able to get through.”

And that is the story of how my family and I took an ambulance to the airport.  For the record, it cost $40 USD.

Our ambulance (okay so it's a little one)


%d bloggers like this: