01.05.2012 - 01.06.2012 23 °C
So, after a slightly fraught month things have changed a bit. After having lived in a room downstairs from the office in Jose’s back garden for nearly 8 months, I have made the decision to find somewhere a bit more comfortable. A difficult decision as I wasn’t paying anything at Jose’s so my finances will take a bit of a hit but I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve moved into a shared house literally 3 minutes’ walk from Jose’s but it feels better to be away from the work environment and have a bit more privacy …. And access to a kitchen !
So, my new housemates include Ben (French / Italian), Elisa (Argentinian), Alec (Peruvian), Dara (Canadian) and Titiana (French). We had a goodbye party for a German housemate last night and it was a good chance for me to get to know everyone a bit better.
Workwise, things have been a bit “difficult” as I have found a lot of things frustrating this last month and I have been pondering my future plans – I know I have a flight booked back to England in mid-September as I need to sort a few bits and pieces out, so I have decided to see if I can make things move forward here by September. If I don’t feel, by then, that I am making headway then I suppose I will have to consider whether or not to return to Peru. Decisions …. Decisions !!
So, moving on from that slightly negative note, what else have I been up to ?
Well, at the beginning of last month we took a Peruvian TV crew out on the Ocean Spirit so they could record some interviews with Stefan about the dolphins and get some good footage. I have to say that most Peruvians who we have taken out on the boat seem to suffer from seasickness …. Must be a national affliction ! Anyway, the reporter was no exception but by god was she a professional; she had been suffering for a good hour during the trip, hanging over the side, doing a bit of involuntary fish feeding …. So, when we anchored up at Isla Asia and she went up to the front to record an interview with Stefan I was thinking “god knows how many takes she’ll have to do” … but no, she conducted a 20 minute interview, at the end turned to the camera to do her sign off, all smiles, camera stops recording and she promptly leaned over the side of the boat to continue vomiting – great timing !
After the recent dolphin and pelican deaths in the north of Peru there has been some frustration with the government who have seemed to drag their feet in identifying the problem (still not very clear now – conflicting views). So a protest march was organised by various organisations including Sergio Bambaren’s ”Delfinus” NGO. Sergio is the vice president of Mundo Azul and a friend of Stefan’s. Diana, Clara and I attended the march in San Isidro, I have to say, the turnout was a bit disappointing and it was a very polite march …. Nothing like the student protest marches back home !
Sergio has a campsite on a beach a bit further south from Isla Asia and he is encountering problems with access. In theory the public has legal access to all beaches in Peru (the first 50 metres from the ocean). The campsite beach is only accessible via a neighbouring, larger beach which is currently being developed into a “private beach club” and they have blocked access to Sergio’s campsite. I said “in theory” the public has legal access because, of course, this is Peru – corruption and backhanders are rife so the access has been blocked and trying to fight the powers that be will be a challenge. However, Sergio has found out that the company doing the developing is predominantly Chilean owned so …. With Stefan’s help, cue preparations for a publicity stunt (bear in mind the relations between Chile and Peru aren’t the best since the Peruvians believe Chile stole some of their southern land). The plan is to get a massive Peruvian flag on the beach, get as many people camping on the beach as possible, the only way to supply provisions to the beach will be via the sea so, get the fishermen on board to bring supplies and have some sort of slogan “Chile shouldn’t be allowed to steal any more of our land” ….. could be interesting ! Watch this space !
Last weekend we had a contract with a cruise ship (Semester at Sea) which was coming into Callao to take some students on either a dolphin watching trip or swimming with sea lions. Stefan was to take charge of the dolphin watching, I was to take charge of the sea lion swimming (with Clara helping me). Having only done it once before a fair amount of blagging would have to take place, but, after a few days of studying about the South American Sea Lion I felt prepared ! So, I’ve got my 19 students on the boat we hired from Callao, heading towards the Palominos Islands, there I am, pointing out San Lorenzo Island, regaling them stories of Charles Darwin visiting the islands, explaining the Sir Francis Drake connection and why the Peruvians call him a pirate (outrageous !) …. when the time comes to get them into their wetsuits. Getting into wetsuits whilst on a boat should be an Olympic sport. For getting 19 people into wetsuits in a very small cabin, on a boat, Clara and I should get the gold medal !
As we approached the Palominos islands I start to look to see whether I can see any sea lions in the water. The words from Stefan ringing in my ears “it’s never happened to me before but, if you don’t see any sea lions in the water, if they are all on land, then it’s likely there’s a predator around (for that, read - shark) so don’t swim” ………. Oh great, I can see 3000 bloody sea lions sitting on the island and not one, solitary, bloody animal in the water !! I’ve got 19 paying tourists all trussed up in wetsuits and the sea lions aren’t playing ball ….. what to do ?? Well, I monitored the situation for about 15 minutes then saw a few sea lions jump into the water, took a calculated risk and in I jumped, followed by my tourists all a tad nervous due to the bloody huge jelly fish loitering in the vicinity. Didn’t particularly cherish the idea myself of cuddling up to a jelly fish, especially not one the same size as me but I couldn’t let that show. So, I had us all swimming on our backs with our hands out of the water – we looked a sight ! Unfortunately we weren’t very lucky with the sea lions and they didn’t come very close but I think the students had a good time – when I pointed out to them that they were swimming in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Peru, within 20 or 30 metres of a massive sea lion colony I got loads of U.S. style “woops” and “awesome” !!
So, that’s my May update complete ….. tomorrow we are on a research trip on the dreaded zodiac so it’s unlikely Stefan will be able to get any decent photos if my past driving experience on that boat is anything to go by …..