Week two started with a tour of Villa El Salvador, a poor section of Lima known for its self sufficiency. People within this area organized to help each other and resist the efforts of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) a guerrilla organization trying to overthrow the Peruvian government. While there is still extreme poverty in Villa El Salvador, it is held up as a model of what can be achieved when citizens organize themselves. The government is trying to alleviate the severity of the living conditions by providing electricity, playgrounds, and common areas and other amenities that make life a little easier.
Professor Juan Mendoza of Universidad del Pacifico gave a lecture on Peru’s hyper inflation and their attempts to control it with dollarization – tying the Peruvian Sol to the U.S. dollar. We then visited the Central Bank of Peru in the afternoon. The Central Bank is charged with keeping inflation down. We finished the day with a walk down the block to the Central Bank’s Gold Museum, the highlight of which is a collection of gold jewelry and artifacts from the Inca civilization.
Vault door to the museum's gold artifact collection
Gold mask from the Inca Empire
Next installment: our trip south to Arequipa, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, and Machu Picchu.