The weather has again taken a strange turn, perhaps even more extreme than in 2010. Lima should be starting to cloud over by now, but until my last day there it continued hot and sunny. The afternoon we went to the coast, you could see the sea fog trying to come in but burning up before it got on shore. Meanwhile, by April, skies above Arequipa should be cloudless but there's still a lot of cloud and haze around the mountains, with big cumulonimbus puffing up in the afternoons. The January to March period apparently saw the heaviest rains for many a year, so intense they damaged some of the streets in the city centre. Rain and even snow continues in the sierra and there is apparently likely to make some crop harvests late or significantly reduced.
Both Lima and Arequipa, especially the former, have seen rapid and significant modernisation of their vehicle fleet, which seems to have had a notable impact on pollution levels.
The issues of great debate in the national media continue to relate to exploitation of natural resources. The most prominent controversy at the moment relates to plans for a mine known as Conga in the northern department of Cajamarca, part of the mining project Yanacocha. This project was approved by the previous government but is opposed by the majority of locals in Cajamarca -- including the regional government -- because of fears of the impact it will have on water sources (four highland lagoons are slated to be used for depositing tailings from the mine). The current government ordered a review by a panel of international experts, which has recently been completed. Barely three days later, President Ollanta Humala announced that the project would go ahead, but with stronger conditions related to direct generation of employment, water storage and protection of the environment, as recommended in the international expert report. Early indications are that many in Cajamarca are not happy with this compromise, so debate and protest are likely to continue.