Saturday, 10 January 2009
First Impressions of Piura
I have found that people in South America often exaggerate physical danger and discomfort. I have been told so many times how hot it is here in Piura and although true, I have experienced hotter in Southern Spain. I haven't felt overcome by Piura's dryish heat. The Plaza de Armas is typical, fairly family based with a friendly feel. There is some begging around the place but it is not as intrusive as in Cuzco. Around the town you notice in fairly high numbers and roughly in this order, Banks, street traders (mobile) kiosks, farmacias and boticas, restaurants and photo-copying shops.
Peru is far from emerging as a paperless economy and I was surprised to come upon a thriving market of copy typists, all men, hunting and pecking on aged manual typewriter, creating formal letters and documents which were commissioned by individuals with a particular requirement; nearby photocopying businesses complemented this trade in bureaucracy.
I was as impressed with the tourist office as I was unimpressed with the library. The latter, the second that I have visited, continued the trend of aged and very worn books, poorly presented and very little IT access. The librarians are very welcoming but library use is thin owing to the poor resources. I have yet to build up the confidence to ask why there is no fiction! But, at the tourist office I received great assistance and nothing was too much trouble – I emerged with some useful literature and a fully annotated and personalised map of the city.
As luck would have it today is the 27 anniversary of Caja Piura, a large national bank with services in all Peru's regions. I happened on a procession in preparation and became absorbed in the varying costumes depicting all the many and varied cultures. I particularly liked those of la selva reinforcing my my intention to visit - you can probably appreciate why!
I had two tasks today, firstly to confirm my place on a Spanish course beginning on Monday. It looks to be a viable group and I am looking forward to some regular study. The second was to get some keys cut – I had expected to find key cutting in a ferreteria (ironmonger), but no, it was among the photocopying shops – logical if you think about it!
I have just bought a second hand bike for 22 pounds and am looking forward to my enhanced mobility - it is a bit of a wreck but the largest I could find. The main problems seem to be a bent crank and untrue wheel but the top gear works well and as there are no hills here I doubt the need to change it. More of this anon!
Piura like the rest of Peru has all aspects of society but I suppose it is more marked by its growing middle and lower working classes. This is a cash and increasingly a credit society and everywhere you can hear people talking about the products they have bought or are going to buy. The world economic crisis does not seem to have impinged yet and maybe it won't. Luckily Peruvian's have not lost contact with their culture and although there is a growing tendency towards fast foods you can see here Anita's mum and a friend preparing a bucket of tamales. But equally there are luxurious hotels and people who live here and earn a western wages have tremendous spending power as can be evidenced by the splendid pool in a local hotel which is a hive of business rather than tourist activity.
Posted by malarkey at 17:45