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June 1, 2003
We're ready to enter Peru yet we hear that riots there have shut down everything. Government workers, including teachers and bus drivers, are protesting low wages - the riots have grown violent enough that one person died in Lima. Yesterday evening we were at the border town, Machala, and nothing seemed amiss. People tell us that the riots have ended the day before and operations have returned to normal. Since the border stands open, we're willing to cross it. Ecuador and Peru haven't been good neighbors. The two countries warred against each other over border disputes since 1941. Recently, in 1998, they negotiated a settlement. Because it's more powerful, Peru retained a majority of the disputed region. Last night we boarded a cama bus (one designed for overnight trips). It's was a good stretch of road to sleep away - the coast all the way to Lima is mainly desert, punctuated by fog in the mornings and evenings. This afternoon we arrived in Peru's capital, Lima, halfway down the desert coastline.
Lima bustles with activity. The pedestrian shopping street, anchored at both ends by picturesque fountain squares, is a pleasant place for a stroll. Don't listen to all the reports about terrible street crime, rioting workers, and begging urchins, Lima offers a friendly atmosphere.