21 February 2008

The Great Paro

Cusco, Peru :: Cusco Aeropuerto

PARO (pá•ro) 1. The Spanish word for strike. 2. A collective, class-based protest organized around a central theme, cause, or idea, or united against a common purpose (e.g. privatization, the Helvetica font, Hillary Clinton's hairstyle). 3. Synonym for HUGE PAIN IN MY FUCKING ASS.

Yup. After we were told that the strike wouldn't happen, it did. Taxis, buses, trucks, combis--everything shut down. Erika and I had no other choice except to ride in an open-top military truck with some policía nacional guards escorting us from the Pretty Villa to the airport, as I tried to peek at the streets that were filled with rubble, small boulders, demonstrators, someone threw a rock at me. I almost got my head torn off. There was a wall of National Guard soldiers lined up in the front of the airport, in addition to riot police. It was some serious shit.

Passengers were arriving in bike rickshaws, or walking on foot. Once we got inside, the airport was swamped with tourists, most of them, freaking out, calling their friends and family on cell phones, pleading to send rescue planes, other passengers were calm and relaxed, listening to their iPods, looking out the window as if an airplane was going to land at any minute. We found out that all flights had been canceled and that we would be stuck inside this damn airport for at least 2 days, possibly longer. Then we found out there had been a bomb that exploded in Arequipa the day after we left, and pretty much after that I realized the world was going mad.

Now I understand why I was getting so many dagger-looks yesterday in Aguas Calientes, and why there was a wall of rocks blocking the road. ¡Qué dia!

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