Have you ever seen the rain in Huaraz?

S ome faithful followers of our newspaper might wonder why its editor has written an editorial for this month since there will not be an October issue of our newspaper. According to Google Analytics, many people read these small pieces where I give my point of view on things that have happened in Huaraz. I like to share my standpoint on a couple of things, so here we go!

While listening to a great classic song by the Californian rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, I noticed that the tourist season in Huaraz had come to an end. The city is more tranquil and not overrun with tourists, and it´s raining! This is a good thing because, for the past couple of months, many agriculturalists have (intentionally or not) caused fires in the mountains. These fires have damaged many hectares of vegetation and plant life. Unfortunately, because of old traditions and beliefs, many peasants believe that setting a mountain on fire will bring the rain any sooner. People interested in a fascinating article on a possible relation between fire and rain (changing rainfall patterns) should click here.

At first glance it seems that this year Huaraz received more tourists compared to previous years, which is great. On the other hand, it also showed the shortcomings of many entrepreneurs who weren’t able to handle the colossal orders at restaurants. During the weekend of 28 de Julio tourists weren’t even able to buy a pack of biscuits in the town of Chavín, and some restaurants had to close their doors because they had run out of food.

Huaraz normally receives the vast majority of tourists between the months of June and August. Sadly, there aren’t many statistics available on tourist numbers as the entrance tickets sold at the Llanganuco Lakes during the year are basically the only ´official´ numbers available. And these numbers say nothing about tourists´ needs or desires.

Personally, I believe it´s rather shocking that neither the Chamber of Industry, Tourism and Trade, nor the Regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism (DIRCETUR) nor the Faculty of Management and Tourism of the University UNASAM in Huaraz have any figures available. Under what stone have they been living for the past 30 years, and worse, how on earth are plans made in Huaraz without having any real figures? We know simply nothing! Are tourists treated the way they expect to be treated? How do they rate the food or lodging in our town? What do they think about the (terrible condition of the) roads or, for example, the Parque del Periodista in Huaraz, a square in the centre of Huaraz that was earlier qualified as pathetic by famous mountaineer Richard Hidalgo in an interview. How professional are the guides and agencies that work in our city? Do tourists use public transport a lot? Can they easily find ATMs, and what do they think about safety at night, for example. The answers to these questions could lead to a (very much needed) strategic business plan to make Huaraz a more attractive place throughout the whole year.

Anyway, it´s low season, which means there is time to repaint the walls and have a look at the four editions of The Huaraz Telegraph we have published this year.

Looking back at the beginning in 2012, I find it hard to believe that we have published 24 editions over the course of the years. Twenty-four editions that have cost a lot of sweat, energy and tears. This year, as mentioned in my September editorial, we have been contacted many times by our readers and this is a great thing. It shows that we have gained the credibility we were looking for in the beginning of 2012, and it shows that we´re still going into the right direction.

Another interesting thing is that many locals have mentioned a couple of articles that they thought were worth publishing; the comparison between the local ´guide booklets´ in particular. Little did they know that there was so much wrong in formation in them. This is shocking because local businesses have been paying a lot of money for their advertisements in these booklets. But it doesn’t stop there. How on earth can one say that the Santa River is a great place to do rafting, or that the Pastoruri Glacier would be the best place to do skiing? Not only is this information totally false, the publishers are misleading tourists.

At The Huaraz Telegraph we often get criticised for being straightforward, but I believe we shouldn’t make things out to be better than they are, nor should we lie to tourists.

Let me give you one attention-grabbing fact on trying to do what´s right. This actually concerns an article we published on the cover of the very first (April 2012) edition of The Huaraz Telegraph. In that edition we informed on a landslide that had happened at the very popular Santa Cruz Trek. Tourists were up to their waist in mud but the agencies were still selling the trek as if nothing had happened.

Instead of cleaning up the trails, or at least informing the visitors of our city, most dodgy agencies blamed us; The Huaraz Telegraph was held responsible for the fact that tourists didn´t want to buy this trek anymore for a couple of months. And since that particular article, along with another interesting investigation we ran on the honestly of local agencies, till today only three local tour agencies have bought an advertisement in our paper. We are 100% convinced that if we hadn’t published those articles, we would have been able to sell more ads. In the end, if local businesses or businesspeople can’t cope with the truth, we´d rather not have their money, or have the paper available at their establishments.

A highlight of this year´s publications was the opportunity to meet the American paleoclimatologist and distinguished university professor at the School of Earth Sciences, Ohio State University, Lonnie G. Thompson. A fascinating and incredibly smart man who has dedicated his life (and his second life as in 2012 he underwent a successful heart transplant) to the study of ice cores from mountain glaciers and ice caps in the tropical and subtropical regions. On the downside there was the loss of two Peruvian professional mountain guides of Casa de Guías and two Mexican mountaineers. Sadly, accidents happen every year, and this is the kind of news that you least want to report about, although we can image that for family members abroad it´s worth reading something about the situation.

Well, that´s it for now. Please comment on our articles to let us know what you think about them. Don´t forget that we are open for suggestions or contributions from guest authors though the year.

Be in touch,

Rex Broekman

Founder and editor in chief of The Huaraz Telegraph

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