No need for a crystal ball to predict the future of Huaraz

D uring a short holiday to the north of Peru, I got to see how much repair work the respective local and regional governments had executed after this area was struck hard by floods and landslides. In one word: nothing. It rains almost twice or three times a day in Huaraz which makes people worry that history might repeat itself. The results of the heavy rainfall and mudslides in the first quarter of last year have also affected tourism, as Huaraz became inaccessible for tourists and many climbers, mountaineers and travellers cancelled their reservations. As expected, there´s hope amongst local entrepreneurs that this year everything will turn back to normal and Huaraz will be a prime destination for national and international travellers. However, it´s not completely clear exactly on what this hope is based.

Have tourism services recently significantly improved? Have local authorities and tourism entrepreneurs come up with a plan to put Huaraz firmly on the map? Are all access roads to Huaraz repaired? Has the only airline that goes to Huaraz dropped its fares to a more attractive rate? Will all bus companies this year choose to freeze their prices during public holidays instead of raising them? Will the Regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism (DIRCETUR) finally become a respected entity showing leadership? Will local agencies and hostels be able to unite and offer a quality product to the benefit of their consumers? Will Laguna Palcacocha finally be given its much needed early warning system? Will the huaracinos in 2018 elect some proper politicians to govern their province instead of demagogues? Will the road to the Llanganuco Lakes be finally paved? Will tourists be wished welcome when they visit a local restaurant instead of being looked at with a sense of ´what are you doing here´? Will the problem of the touts lurking at the bus stations be solved? Will this year´s carnival be a success? Will local foreign owned NGOs become transparent? Many questions, however, I don’t think you´ll need an orbuculum to answer them. On the other hand, I agree that it´s by far easier to criticise instead of coming up with solutions.

One remarkable thing happened when returning from my short trip which answers all of the above. A couple of days after I got back to Huaraz, I took a taxi. Fares in Huaraz are three soles, that´s it. No need to bargain like in Lima or other big cities in South America, it´s the standard set fare, no matter the number of traffic lights, traffic jams or marches that block off the streets. Arriving at my destination, I paid the driver with a banknote of ten soles. To which he asked, ¨Don´t you have three soles and fifty cents¨? I replied that if he is offering taxi services, he should at least leave his house with some change, adding that I wasn’t paying him with a 100 soles banknote, but a 10 soles one. Additionally, I protested to the fare of 3,50 soles. I said that it´s three soles and not a penny more. The driver and I started a discussion. In the end, the taxi driver indicated that he didn’t have any change at all. After searching his whole car from top to bottom, he was able to find six soles and a couple of cents. I refused his money and said he needed to give me seven soles exactly. It´s not about these couple of cents, it’s about the principle. The driver suggested going to a gas station to change my 10 soles banknote, which I refused, because I was already at my destination and gave him the option of himself going to his house to get change, or not charging me. I believe the discussion took at least five minutes and I could have made it a lot longer if I had wanted. In the end, I explained to this young driver that he had lost five valuable minutes in his attempt to overcharge his client but I imagine he will try it again. Some things will never change in Huaraz, is what I thought when I slowly closed the taxi´s door.

Rex Broekman

Editor The Huaraz Telegraph

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