Life is a little surreal right now. I’m about halfway through my 6th day in Puerto, and going on 96 hours without leaving the hotel. I’m sitting on a remarkably comfortable bed with a fan blowing directly at me. I have a refrigerator that, while less full of food than I’d like considering that the strike is still officially indefinite, does have cold Coca-Cola and a few plums (and other stuff, don’t worry). The internet works intermittently, and the two times I’ve turned on the TV, I’ve watched an episode of Third Watch and the Yankees-Red Sox game (wish it’d gone better, but still very exciting).
Outside, I occasionally hear angry men shouting through bullhorns. I can only catch a few words intermittently – mineros, lucha, the names of Alan Garcia and Brack followed by jeers and boos. Every now and then, we hear The city seems pretty quiet right now. Earlier this morning, police helicopters were flying overhead so low that I could practically see the pilots’ faces. We’re not entirely sure what’s going on now in Puerto, but we’re doing fine here. It’s almost time for lunch – probably avocado and tuna sandwiches. I’m almost done with my second bottle of Coke, so it’ll be water for me for the rest of the strike. We’ve still got a bunch of big bottles, so that shouldn’t be too bad. Dinner has been pasta and tuna and cucumber, or ramen noodles. We’ve still got some apples and peaches, and I think granadillas as well – a tangy fruit that looks and tastes a lot like passion fruit.
Stocking up on groceries before the strike was fun. Sarah went out with us to the mercado to help us buy things – mayonnaise, bread, tuna, coffee powder, pasta, avocados, yogurt. The best find was at the fruit stand we stopped at, staffed by a Peruvian guy probably about 5 or 6 years older than us. About 30 soles into our purchase of plums, granadillas, apples, avocados, peaches, and cucumber, we realized that the stand was named Karina – just like Karina! So Sarah asked what the owner of the store got, since she was right here in front of him. He ended up giving us some oranges for free, and we all walked off giggling. The next morning, we needed to stop at the grocery-esque store to get our ramen and some cookies and other things, but we headed out too early and it wasn’t yet open. We spent a while at one of the DVD piracy stores. Karina got Where the Wild Things Are and Stardust; I got La Princesa y El Sapo – the Princess and the Frog – and 6 Gael Garcia Bernal films on one DVD for the small prices of 8 soles and cheating Walt Disney out of his money. After trying all of those films successfully (and a few others unsuccessfully) to make sure they were either in English or had subtitles, we still had time to spare, so we went back to Karina to supplement our fruit supply. He was happy to see us on our return!
I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be in Puerto. I don’t have a good sense for how the strike is progressing, though it’s officially still indefinite and the government says they will not be caving to the miners’ requests. It still feels very strange to be a Bad Guy. I have lots of research to do when I get back to the US, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be purchasing much gold jewelry in the near future.