GC Students Join Limeños in Taking Back Busy Arequipa

On a sunny Sunday, our group spent an hour biking along Arequipa Avenue, part of the weaving stream of hundreds of walkers, runners, skaters and cyclists who have exclusive access to the roadway for a few hours every week.

After renting bikes, the group prepares to ride.
After renting bikes, the group prepares to ride.

This was the first time that Goshen students participated in the tradition. When we first served as SST directors, in 2007, the only Arequipa we knew was one of constant honking and relentless traffic. Our second-floor apartment was right along the avenue.

The noise and  vehicle exhaust was so bad that we almost always had to keep our windows closed — even on a Sunday.

The memory of that time made us all the more appreciative of recent steps taken by the city to add permanent bike lanes along streets and the ocean promenade and to ban motor vehicles entirely on one of the city’s busiest avenues for one extended morning a week.

As Karen said, “There’s something about traffic. You don’t think about how jarring it is to your system until it’s not there.”

While we haven’t seen the official impact studies, we’d have to say that based on how many people were smiling, the city has plenty of evidence to justify adding linear freeways like this one.

Jimena, Joanna and María pose along Arequipa.
Jimena, Joanna and María pose along Arequipa.

On Sunday, we rented bikes from one of several stations located along the avenue (8 soles per person, or about $2.66, per hour). Afterward we shared a picnic of chicken empanadas, carrot sticks and cookies.

Joanna’s two host sisters, María y Jimena Laos Ríos, joined us on the ride. We also visited with Elizabeth’s family, Christian and Nancy Mucha, and their two daughters, Eva and Ana; and with our SST study coordinator, Celia Vazquez, and her husband, Oswaldo Aguirre, who were walking the central promenade of Arequipa.

Photos and editing by Karen Stoltzfus.