A six week adventure in living, traveling, and giving back to communities on the South American continent. From assisting with efforts to preserve marine mammals on Lima's coast to diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galpagos, I will be posting my experiences so that students may take an interest in humanitarian and conservation issues.
Apartementes para los estudiantes de ORCAS Peru (student apartments)
14 Decembre 2010
Yerba luisa, that is the name of the traditional herb used in the Inca Cola naturalismo. I bought some at the market last night and have been drinking it with my tea. The herb looks like a thin scallion and has a refreshing lemony mint tast, much like lemon balm. I am going to find Inca cola naturalismo and drink it when I travel south!
Not much to report today, I awoke at 3AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, then I slept in (again) until 11:30AM. There is a dove that wakes up at 6AM every morning and begins its call in very synchronized, repetitive notes. It has the sound of a low piccolo and is very orchestrated. I am beginning to wonder if it is a persona playing a flute.
Dr. Llanos and Fiorella arrived this afternoon to give me a tutorial on pinnipeds and cetaceans of Peru. Of the pinnipeds, there are two resident and three migratory species. They are the South American elephant seal, the San Juan Fernando fur seal, the South American sea lion, and the Galapagos fur seal. The South American sea lion is a close relative to the Stellar sea lion, and it is thought that the two species diverged from a common ancestor millions of years ago. Of the cetaceans, Peru has the sperm whale, the humpback whale, the killer whale, Bryde’s whale, the blue whale, false killer whale, short finned pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, the bottlenose dolphin, the dusky dolphin, the spinner dolphin, the spotted dolphin and many others. Most of the pinnipeds are locally endangered, meaning their survival off the coast of Peru is in peril. ORCA Peru has a crew of voluntaries that has grown in number over the years, many are local and many come from all over the world. They receive training in the humane rescate (rescue) of stranded and injured marine mammals, and assist Dr. Llanos in their rehabilitation. The animals are tagged and released at the mamiferos marinos centero in San Bartolo, and ORCA Peru receives word that many of the animals continue to do well. Dr. Llanos causes human interaction as the main problem causing the decline of pinnipeds, because the local species will abandon their rookeries and young when too many humans are present. Large whales have washed ashore with gaping wounds, and it is believed that an illegal whale hunt takes place in Peruvian waters. It is illegal to hunt and kill mamiferos marinos in Peru, yet international boats have been sited at the same times that the whales have washed ashore. Another problem is that people in the south of Lima see the stranded mamiferos as a food source. ORCA Peru has responded to emergency calls of live stranded animals only to parts of the animal lying on the beach. ORCA Peru is working to educate people on the hazards of eating mamiferos marinos, not only because of the high mercury levels in the meat but because of the diseases that the animals might be carrying that are making them sick.
As we are talking, Felipe excitedly runs in and out of the room, stopping to whisper into Dr. Llanas’ ear. Tonight is Elena’s birthday and he is planning a surprise, so someone must distract Elena while he sets up the food and the cake. Fiorella is tired and wants to go home, it is a 30 minute ride by autobus to Lima City so Dr. Llanas and Fiorella bid farewell.
Felipe is whispering “Leen! Leen!” from below on the street so I lean out the balcony window. He splays his fingers and holds them up so that I may see “Come down in 10 minutes!” “Si si si” I say, as he runs off with Sebastian into the night and I go back to the little table in the cocina (kitchen area) to continue updating my blogs on the computer. Presently, I hear the click of footsteps on the patio, Elena is returning home from somewhere and she goes inside and closes the door. I wait longer than ten minutes, finally I hear the taxica pull up and two ladies climb out with Felipe. Sebastian is also there, the taxicas are no more than a three-wheeled motorcycle covered by a three sided shelter with doors. I suppose all four of Elena’s family members fit in the taxica and I watch them go quietly inside the gate. This is my cue to come down, but Sebastian comes running up the stairs before I reach the landing. “I have no place to keep the food!” he says, so we keep it upstairs and I wait longer. Presently he comes back, we grab the food; Elena is reclining in her room watching the television, her mother, sister, and nephew (a fifth persona in the cab!) are perched on the sofa in the living room, all are waiting for Felipe to make his next move. Felipe instructs Andrea and Sebastian to go into Elena’s room, and as they do so they shut the door behind. I can hear Andrea babbling to her mother, Elena gently scolds her (mostly likely telling her to stop interrupting her program), but soon the door opens and Elena emerges with her eyes tightly shut, being led by the hand by her two children. Everyone is tight lipped but smiling widely, as Elena is guided to the sunken living room she knows that she is getting close and she swings her foot wide causing everyone to laugh! We all jump up and yell “surpriso!” and the party begins! Elena is giving a festively wrapped package and Andrea begs her mother to hurry and open it. It is a cookie jar with the smiling face of a pig perched on top, and we all say Bonito (cute). Dinner consists of a broiled pollo (chicken), ensalada (salad), and big fat French fries. There are also two kinds of salsa (sauce), one picante (hot) and one media picante (mildy hot).
As we eat we talk, and I trade English words for new Spanish ones. I ask “Que personas en Peru lengue naturalismo?” What I mean to say is, does anyone in Peru speak the native languages? Si, Elena’s mother speaks Chechuan, which is from the people who have lived in the Andes. Elena’s mother is very petite and has a very is very face, she constantly tried to wait on me which is strange for me-I am inclined to wait on elders!
Elena speaks a little bit of French, and we laugh as we substitute French words for the ones that we can’t find in English or Spanish. I say “Escoucher” (listen) and I get everyone’s attention: En Anglais “Thank you”, en francais “Merci”, en espanol “Gracias”, en T’lingit “Gunalshcheesh!” EVERYONE tries to say the famous T’lingit word, Felipe tries the hardest since he is the only one among his siblings that speaks a second language but his brother Sebastian pronounces the word first! Felipe tries again, he can’t get past the second syllable and Sebastian pronounces the word yet again before Felipe can! Andrea motions me to high five her, Sebastian wiggles and dances in his seat, pointing with both hands at Felipe as he continues to struggle with t he word-it is so awesome to witness this friendly rivalry between a boy and his younger brother. Felipe keeps trying, I pronounce the word in sections so that he can hear the sounds and he is able to repeat the syllables in sequence.
It is time to retire and for once I am not exhausted. I plan on rising early tomorrow in order to get to the internet cafeteria, I need to wash the dishes before I caminarde la plaza de San Bortolo va la cybercafe (walk downtown to the cybercafe). I finally go to sleep at 11:30PM. ¡Buenas noches!