Thursday, November 10, 2005

LIMA IN WINTER - La Venganza de los Incas:

Coastal Peru is a 1,000-mile-long desert, a beach in most places 50-100 miles wide sloping up into the foothills of the Andes. In winter the cold Humboldt Current comes up the coast from the south. Lima is uniquely cursed by high ground close in the east where there is constant tropical sun, the rising heat of which sucks cold air in and up off the Pacific. Too cold to contain enough moisture for rain, this air merely condenses into a chill gray mist, the garua, a drizzle that does not fall and hangs over the city as constant humid overcast. Winter in Lima can last from March to January. Weeks, months, lives pass without sun, and the city becomes a purgatory without shadows or stars. Mixed with the pollution of Lima's 8,000,000 congested people and traffic, the garua eats metal and fills lungs with more or less chronic bronchitis. Add the poverty that sluices people down out of the mountains into the whirling drain of the capital and Lima in winter is grim - a vision of what Los Angeles will be when we use up the planet. The living is cheap, though, and the Humboldt Current provides nutrients for the delicious variety of fish here. Summer comes in December when the sun is in the southern hemisphere and warmer currents come down the coast from the equator, and the equalizing temperatures of sea and land clear the garua. In years of El NiƱo the warmer equatorial currents last all year, killing fish but giving Lima a rare year-long summer.


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