The equatorial streets of Iquitos are a march of blowing trash and shouting demonstrators over a recent law to pass an IQ test in order to hold a government job. The scenes in other cities across Peru look like the ones here. I tried to enter a bank for money to get out of town and stumbled over a lady in polarized sunglasses strapped face up to the sun against an 8´ log crucifix, twitching as if she wanted loose, but no one would help her.

A phalanx of female National Policewomen as pretty as Playboy Bunnies in black with their ears and trembling mouths tucked under riot helmets formed to protect me from a slowly rolling campaign of protestors shouting at the police and waving 2×4 sticks of beautiful Amazon hardwood at us. I thought it better to avoid both groups and retreated to a neutral corner as a bonfire popped up in the street in front of me.

All the businesses in Peru are theoretically shut down, and before I got a chance the bank locked up. Another group of 200 marchers took the street dashing ground glass in burlap bags onto the pavement to discourage the sparse traffic, as women stabbed the bags with pointed sticks spreading the glass from gutter to gutter.

I had enough cash to hire a scab three-wheeled taxi with a surrey weaving in and out the stinking rubble and logs intended to block all four-wheel transportation, which they did. Following a walk in the neighbor river port of Nanay, I returned to Iquitos to more of the same clogged arteries, and had to walk the last mile to my room in the house of a senora in quaint upper Belen, which became the highlight of the Day One strike in Peru. Fifty buzzards sat outside my door on the largest trash heap of the day piled above my head and sidewalk to sidewalk rattling their five-foot wings and clawing for the spoils of the competency test.

The nationwide strike is planned for two days into the American July 4th, but no doubt will linger per a precedent. Five years ago, the government forced a competency test on all the country´s teachers, and here in the state of Loreto 141 out of 150 failed. No one was fired, as I doubt anyone will lose his job after today´s test. The government figured that it is better to have poor teachers than no teachers, and to have incompetent government workers rather than none.





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