Whiteman: How long has it been since you were last here?
Professor Zero: Nine years.
WM: Do you find it has changed?
PZ: Not greatly. It is different from the early eighties when I first came, and from the mid eighties when the Shining Path activity was intense, but I noticed those changes already in 1999.
WM: You are wrong! We have made great progress since 1999! We have many more hypermarkets, big box stores, U.S. chain restaurants, and other modern franchises! Very many of these have been built. We are really advancing!
I have had this conversation several times over the past few days.
Due to an odd set of circumstances I ended up today at a class reunion for the Colegio Militar Leoncio Prado, where Vargas Llosa’s novel La ciudad y los perros is set. This took place at the Fortress Real Felipe in Callao. The foot soldiers, all of whom had strong Native American features, were dressed in 18th century uniforms and they stood nearly immobile at their posts, niches in the fortress wall. They looked like 18th century paintings.
Then I drank a pisco sour at the Naval Club and it was all very surreal.