Wednesday May 19
We visited the prison in the outskirt of the city in the morning. Situated in the midst of the most impoverished neighborhoods, which still lacked sewage systems and paved roads, the walls of the prison stood menacingly tall and guarded.
When we arrived, there was already a long line of women, some carrying small children, waiting patiently at the security checkpoint for their turn to see their beloved on the other side of the walls.
With guilt, we cut the line and passed into the prison after receiving couple stamps on our arms.
Proudly sporting our prison stamps
Marisol informed us that the prison had exceeded its capacity of 700 inmates by 100%. Most of the women prisoners were serving sentences for drug trafficking, a lucrative trade that was prospering in the high mountains where the new Shining Path grew their own cocoa fields.
We were surprised by the community atmosphere inside the prison. (unfortunately, photography was strictly forbidden). There were no dingy crammed cells that we often saw on TV. Instead, the men worked on looms and various sewing machines in an open space. It was no different from a street market. The male inmates were required to weave mantas (the colorful intricate cloths that Peruvian women use to carry things on their back) to earn a living inside the prison. After they finish weaving, they would sell their mantas for 40-50 soles (divide by 2.83 to get the dollar equivalent) each to the female inmates, who would add the embroidery and sell the finished products to visitors and market retailers for 80 soles.
Besides mantas, the men would make shoes, gym bags, women purses, and tablecloths, etc. The bustling activity and productivity rendered the prison a congenial community. Although the men and women inside needed to work long hours each day and lived in sordid conditions, I was relieved to some degree to see an absence of physical abuse and violence. I left with the impression that the people here were not desperate – they worked hard to support themselves while learning a trade skill that they could use to earn a living when they leave the prison.
Before lunchtime, we had the opportunity to go see a strike in the plaza.
It was very peaceful, with long lines of people following banners of different causes
No a la corruption.
Corruption is a serious problem in Peru. The government, from top to bottom, is mired in embezzlements and briberies. Marisol imparted to us that some of the prisoners charged with drug trafficking were scapegoats sacrificed by both the police and real drug traffickers to satisfy the police’s work quota. On our way to the prison, we saw an unusual number of gas stations, which we later learnt were built for the purpose of money laundering.
In the afternoon, we hiked in the mountainous regions close to the Quinoa village. Here on the summit, we rode horses across the vast grass plains.
These photos look like shots from a movie
The girl and boy who let us ride their horses for only 3 soles (about 1 dollar)
the war memorial that pierces the white clouds in the blue sky
When I spread my arms, I felt I could fly.
On our way down, we passed through several artwork shops in the Quinoa Village, known for its great artists. At one of the shops, I saw the prettiest Peruvian girl.
her posture resembled a Goddess
In the village of Quinoa, you can find this exotic sculpture on top of every house. It symbolizes the church and protects the household it is watching over.
We walked at sunset towards the Wari Ruins. This historic archeological site contained the last vestigial relics from the Wari civilizations in 500 CE, way before the Incan Empire, which came into being in the 15th century.
The lovely sunset and Pablo