When you think Peru, you probably think Machu Pichu. But there is SO much more to the country where even altitude sickness can be deadly for tourists. BMX bikers, Aaron Chase, Chris Van Dine, Ali Goulet, Katie Holden and Rich Van Every take us on the wildest of rides down the country’s mountains with a GoPro. You better hold on!
“These mountains go forever and ever and as we’re going up, the mountains are going up,” one of the bikers said. “When we get up to these ruins… it’s a lost world up there and we’re rediscovering it on our bikes.” And they don’t only rediscover ruins, but also Peruvians who welcome them with open arms.
As they ride down the mountain to the city center, one biker puts everything in perspective: “Anyone who makes it out alive is like a brother.”
One of the most dreaded side effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, is that it took with it our travel plans. Whether we were simply set to have weekends at the beach, visit our abuelos in Mexico, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, so many of us have seen our travel plans taken away.
Well, one traveler made it across the world to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu but as soon as he arrived, so too did the pandemic. He became stuck in foreign country and couldn’t travel or see the sights he had hoped to visit.
As Peru has slowly reopened, this now world-famous traveler is being known as the first person to see Machu Picchu post-lockdown and he got to do so all by himself.
One lucky traveler got to experience the city of Machu Picchu all by himself.
Peru’s famous Machu Picchu ruins, closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened on Monday for one lucky Japanese tourist after he spent months stranded in the country due to global travel restrictions.
In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams. Months ago he had arrived in a small town near the Incan city, where he has remained ever since because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.
Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority.
In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”
Takayama had been stuck in Peru since March when the country shut down its borders because of the pandemic.
Takayama arrived to Peru in March and promptly bought his pass to the ancient city but little did he know the world (and his plans) would come to a screeching halt. Peru was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (and continues to struggle) and was forced to close its borders and institute a strict lockdown.
Peru was forced to implement drastic COVID-19 restrictions on travel including an end to all incoming international flights earlier this year, which only relaxed this month after the nation’s rate of new COVID-19 cases began declining in August.
The last statement posted on the Machu Picchu website, dated from July, says that “the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Trade and Tourism are coordinating the prompt reopening of Machu Picchu”.
Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.
The country’s Minister of Culture, Neyra, stressed that “the reopening of Machu Picchu is important for Peruvians, as a symbol of national pride and also as a budget issue, because it is one of the places that generates the most income for the culture sector.”
The BBC reports that the Inca stronghold, a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, is expected to reopen at reduced capacity next month.
More than 1.5 million people make the pilgrimage to the Inca city annually. In 2017, Unesco threatened to place the famous ruins on its list of endangered heritage sites because of fears about overcrowding; Peruvian authorities subsequently brought in measures to control the flow of tourists and visitor numbers were capped at around 2,240 per day.
Peru is still experiencing one of the region’s worst outbreaks of Coronavirus.
After beginning a phased reopening, Peru has started to see its contagion rate increase in recent days. The country still faces one of the worst outbreaks in South America, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Neyra added. “It will be done with all the necessary care.”
Peru has recorded just over 849,000 total cases of COVID-19, and 33,305 deaths since the pandemic began.
Earlier this month, Peru’s Congress moved to initiate impeachment proceedings against the country’s president over his alleged involvement with a singer involved in a fraud case. However, Peru’s struggle to contain the Coroanvirus outbreak also became a focal point of the impeachment proceedings.
Although, President Martín Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote this week, his country is still spiraling out of control in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic. Peru now has one of the world’s highest mortality rates, made worse by political strife and Peruvians are wondering where the country goes next amid all the turmoil.
Peru’s President survived his impeachment trial but he still faces serious hurdles in the road ahead.
What started out as an alleged fraud and corruption case, devolved into a sort of referendum on Vizcarra’s handling of the country’s failed Coronavirus response. The Coronavirus tragedy has fueled political insurrection. On Sept. 18, an opportunistic legislature tried to oust the president, who has been dogged by accusations of misusing public funds and then covering up the scandal.
However, the revolt fell flat. Just 32 lawmakers voted to remove Vizcarra, glaringly short of the 87-vote impeachment threshold, which is a good thing. Regime change on top of a public health hecatomb might have pushed the afflicted nation that much closer to collapse.
The decision came after long hours of debate in which legislators blasted Vizcarra but also questioned whether a rushed impeachment process would only create more turmoil in the middle of a health and economic crisis.
“It’s not the moment to proceed with an impeachment which would add even more problems to the tragedy we are living,” lawmaker Francisco Sagasti said.
The original impeachment case stemmed from his alleged involvement with a singer who faced serious charges of fraud.
President Vizcarra faced the challenge to his leadership after the Congress approved a motion to start impeachment proceedings against him over leaked audio tapes and alleged ties to a singer involved in a fraud case.
Lawmakers in Peru’s Congress, a mosaic of parties from the left and right with no overall majority, heard recordings of two private conversations between Vizcarra and government officials about meetings with Richard Cisneros, a little-known singer.
Vizcarra told reporters that the new challenge represented “a plot to destabilise the government.” “I am not going to resign,” he said. “I have a commitment to Peru and I will fulfill it until the last day of my mandate.”
Presidential elections are due to be held next year and Vizcarra has already said he will not run again.
But given Peru’s failed Covid-19 response, the president also faces serious doubts in his abilities to bring the country back from the brink.
Latin America has been devastated by the pandemic and it’s only been exacerbated by the total obliteration of growing wealth across the region – as millions are left out of work. The pandemic has largely undone decades of hard work that helped pull millions of Latin Americans out of poverty.
And Peru once the showpiece of Latin American economies — growing at a pacesetting 6.1% a year between 2002 and 2013 and lifting 6.4 million out of poverty — the country saw gross domestic product fall 30% in the second quarter, and is likely to finish the year aound 17% poorer before rebounding next year, according to Bloomberg Economics. Despite generous aid to the poor and strict social distancing rules that drew international praise, the Andean country has been burdened by the pandemic with one of the world’s highest mortality rates.
The possibility of a president being impeached amid the pandemic, had many in the U.S. wondering if we could do the same.
In the U.S., Donald Trump has left much of the country to fend for itself as the pandemic ravages state after state. There has been little in the way of a national plan for how to overcome the outbreak. In fact, many lies about the virus, treatment, and contagion have come directly from the president himself.
He’s even instructed the CDC to stop sharing pandemic-related information with the public, and instead to send all data directly to the White House.
Donald Trump and his administration have sowed division and false information that has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans and months of on and off again quarantine orders that seem to have no end in sight. With policies like this, it’s no surprise that some are seriously considering a second impeachment trial.