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World Fair Trade Conference in Peru - Part 1 Arrival

World Fair Trade Conference in Peru - Part 1 Arrival

I flew to Peru on Sunday. We crossed the Atlantic ocean at 1000km an hour. As minutes turn to hours – over nine hours - you get a real sense of how vast the big blue really is.

Finally we reach land. We fly over Georgetown, Guyana. Fifteen minutes or so later we fly over a patch of grey brown, the mountains of Raposa Serra do Sol. Brazil.

I have never seen the green sea. I stand transfixed staring through a small window at the back of the plane. For 20 minutes I stare out at a landscape that contains not a single road, not a single village, no sign of humanity's presence at all.

Huge brown rivers snake through this lazy sea of mottled green. My school geography books smile back at me from the ground. Look ox-bow lakes. Real ones, flanking the meandering backfolding rumpled river like raised eyebrows. Has a human foot ever stood beside these lakes?

I see occasional rocky outcrops and speculate how they must appear from the ground. Fifty metres high? Five hundred metres high?

And so it goes, at 1000km an hour. In that time I must have passed over more than 300 km of virgin forest, no human touch visible from one horizon to the other. I imagine the calls of a million birds, the wings of billions of insects, the growls and squeaks of the hunting and the hunted, the careful waiting poses of lizards, snakes and frogs. All safe in that vast wilderness. For now.

I return to my seat, overwhelmed as the forest continues rushing beneath my feet.

There is no one to meet me at Lima and, like a fool, I haven’t brought phone numbers with me. I find the information desk and they contact the hotel. Two hours later a taxi turns up just as night comes crashing around our ears. The journey is straightforward and forty minutes long, but it is not cheap. The air smells of exhaust fumes. Lima contains 9 million people according to Wikipedia, 13 million according to the taxi driver, around a third of the population of Peru.

The city is encrusted with mountains that lie like piles of salt across a dusty table cloth. It hardly ever rains in Lima, just 1-3cm a year. Everything is thick with dust. I will later see two guy at the hotel painstakingly cleaning the leaves of bushes, one leaf at a time.

The taxi journey takes 40 minutes. I later learn that this is almost a record. Jeremy takes the same journey a day later and sits in his taxi for two and a half hours, during which he witnesses half a dozen accidents and an overturned lorry that is being looted in the lacklight.

At reception they hand me a key and walk me through a park to a wooden bungalow. The map tells me that I am beside one of the funicular stations. Lights in the night sky reveal that we are in a valley and that some of the hotel rooms are 60 or even 100 metres above me. Given that I am dog-tired after an epic 20 hours travelling I am more than happy to remain in the valley. I have a few hours to produce my speech and a Powerpoint presentation and maybe grab a few hours sleep.

I drift to sleep remembering the Amazon rainforest. Our beautiful world still exists. My speech must encourage WFTO members that it is down to us to ensure that it carries on existing. On Thursday, Jeremy is presenting Shared Earth’s motion to the board, calling for climate change action and environmental action to be placed at the heart of WFTO’s mission statement. The signs are looking good.

Created On  18 Sep 2019 19:15  -  >>


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