Omar is a soldier in the Peruvian army, but his true passion is racing motor-rickshaws in the VRAEM, a remote valley he comes from at the foot of the Andes.
While many know it as a lawless jungle region producing about 70 percent of Peru‘s cocaine, few are aware of its vibrant local traditions including motor-rickshaw racing.
Like Omar, many young coca farmers escape from the fields to compete in huge races, attended by thousands of spectators.
The biggest race of the year is coming up and Omar has decided to overstay his military leave to participate, working on his family’s coca farm to earn the money needed to soup up his bike.
He knows he will be in big trouble when he eventually returns to the army. But for Omar, racing brings a deep sense of pride in representing his community and it’s all worth it for the chance of winning.
“Racing in cocaine valley” was co-directed by Nick Ahlmark and Lali Houghton. Here is Ahlmark on the experience of covering motor-rickshaw racing in the VRAEM.