01.04.2012 - 01.04.2012 23 °C
Hi all -
Hope you have found the new site ok (well, obviously you have if you're reading this) ...... after a few weeks sojourn back in Blighty I'm pleased to say I have returned to Peru.
My arrival at the airport was somewhat fraught as Jose had asked me to bring some accessories for his aquarium from England with me. So, all boxed up and additional baggage charge paid for I find myself at the conveyor belt awaiting my backpack and "box of things for Jose" ...... backpack duly arrives - no sign of the box, baggage hall emptying until me and another frantic looking guy are left. We find an official and try to describe our lost items .... after about a 20 minute wait 2 similar looking boxes are brought "round from the back" much to our relief. I then join the queue for customs, they have this great system here where you press a button, if it flashes green you can proceed unmolested, if it's red it's your turn to get the 3rd degree. Even before I had my turn at the "button of doom" I was approached by an officer and questioned about the contents of my "box for Jose". As my Spanish vocabulary for all things aquarium isn't the best I spluttered something that obviously wasn't satisfactory and was "invited" to have my belongings searched. Great. Box opened, all aquarium accoutrements on display with me thinking "please, for god's sake don't ask me what they are for, even in English I havent a clue". Lots of head scratching ensued and about 45 minutes later I'm told I have to pay a "tax" (yeah right) but only $28 to add to Jose's bill so not too bad. After the inevitable - go to this window to get your invoice, go to another window to pay your invoice, return to first window to prove you've paid, go to another window to get your passport returned I was free !!!
Thank god after all the delay Jose was still waiting for me so we loaded up the jeep and heading back to Miraflores.
So, this first week it's been all dolphin fin identification, we're almost at the end of identifying all of the groups (6 years worth of data). Next stage is to review the approximately 1800 dolphins identified to ensure there are no duplicates - not an easy job and we aren't entirely sure how to approach it at the moment. We have another local volunteer (Clara) helping us which is good.
Yesterday, Stefan and I took a documentary film crew out on the boat, we took them down to Isla Asia. They are making a short film on the fishmeal industry and its effects on marine biodiversity. To summarise, fishmeal is made of small fish (like anchovies), crushed down and used in pet food and used to feed cattle, pigs and chickens etc. being bred for human consumption. Peru supplies a large % of the world's fishmeal. Problem is, anchovies are the key food of many marine birds, cetaceans (dolphins for example) and larger prey fish. With their food source reduced by industrial fismeal manufacturers the negative effects on said species is quite dramatic. There are also health implications for those living near the fishmeal factories (asthma and other lung diseases). So, this film (being made by 2 English guys with WWF - not the wrestling - and Greenpeace associations) is trying to highlight the problems. They've headed up to Chimbote today with Stefan to interview some of those affected up there.
Anyway, it was really interesting watching them in action and seeing how they go about the process - watching Jim, the producer trying to summarise the film "Happy Feet" to Phil, the presenter for his bit to camera in front of the Humboltd penguins was very amusing.
When we'd got the boat all closed up I was heading back in the jeep with Jose and, as it was a Sunday, I thought I ought to take the bull by the horns and get some "Peruvian" driving practice under my belt. So, we pulled over on the Panamerican and swapped seats. I've been driving for 24 bloody years but I was still nervous, a knackered old jeep, an automatic, a left hand drive ..... and the bloody vagueries of Peruvian traffic norms, undertaking, driving on hard shoulder (past a police van I add), stopping to give way for no apparent reason ... yes, I did it all and we arrived back in Lima no worse for wear I'm pleased to say !!
That's more or less it for my first week back here, Semana Santa this week so we're only working 3 days !!
More news soon.