One more time.....

Trip Start Sep 05, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And were back. Around 5 months ago John and I both returned back to the United States from our travels. Both of us have spent those last 5 months vigilently saving money in order to fatten up the bank accounts so that we can leave again. And we have, and so the adventure continues.

Now after approximately 24 hours of travel between Oakland and Lima, were getting all of the last details in order so that tomorrow we can head down to Pisco Peru to participate in post-earthquake disaster relief work. 2 months ago exactly, on August 15th, the west coast of Peru was hit by an 8.0 earthquake. Pisco, a town 4 hours south of Lima by bus, was at the epicenter of the quake and with over 120,000 inhabitants and about 90% of the buildings and homes destroyed is in pretty bad shape. Currently there are a number of aid organizations in Pisco helping out, including UNICEF and most importantly Hands On disaster Response (the organization that we will be working with for the next 3 plus months). The principle current projects are pretty basic- really just removing rubble and destroying the remnants of buildings and homes so that eventually they can be rebuilt.

Were still in Lima so we havent seen any of the destruction for ourselves but Im certainly getting the impression that the devastation is overwhelming. Pisco was never a terribly well off city to begin with so now after the earthquake, the symptoms of poverty are more pronounced. In addition to most structures being destroyed, the irrigation canals which serve the region that receives very very little rainfall were also destoyed. Hands On has a group working on their reconstruction in Canete, slightly north of Pisco.

This trip to Peru, and this segment of the world viewing Odyssey, is different from our travels in the past. When over a year ago we set off to Turkey, India, was to see the world and to observe. This time around we have a purpose, which is to help in which ever way we can, and honestly we will be learning so much more about the peruvian culture by living in one city for three months while working with the folks in Pisco than we could by simply travelling.

Of course, when first arriving in Lima at 11 pm at night, we needed a place to stay. John had found us a hostel in one of the nicest parts of Lima, Mireflores. Aside from the spanish speaking man at the welcome desk, however, one would have no way of knowing that we were actually in Peru or any spanish speaking country. The hostel is fun; theres a bar, blaring American music, and lots of stereotypical backpackers who manage to transport their backpacking lifestyle everywhere they go. I know, Ive seen it, its the exact same scene in Istanbul, in Hampi India, in Borneo Malaysia, you get the point.

My goal with this trip is to avoid such hostels which flourish because of their insularity. John and I are going to rock the spanish, he already is. Were going to meet as many people as possible and really get to know them. This afternoon we headed to a local market, where gringos generally dont go. We are ceviche off the street and it was delicious. Give me as much raw fish and stall food as possible.

Tomorrow our story will change, and those of you who know our blog from before, well give it all to you in pictures, words, and hopefully video as well. Were going to be stationary in Pisco for the better part of the next four months, so while the "adeventures" might not seem as wild as before, our stories are likely to dig much further into a foriegn world we will get to know.

Lastly, a short sales pitch is in order. You may notice that weve added the "contribue to my travels" tab on our page, but really if you are so inclined wed prefer it if you contributed to Hand On Disaster Relief. They organization is a small time organization with very limited resources, of course, money being the major limiting resource. You can make tax deductible donations at the web site Everything really is appreciated.

So thanks all, check back when you want to know what weve gotten ourself into, I guarantee it will get interesting pretty quickly!
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beccasullivan on

so nice to get your first update from Peru and read the vigilante and responsible travel ethics you use during your experiences abroad.

(ranting only for a moment, but...) It is so unfortunate that most travelers don't have the same perspective. The generic international tourism industry is stifling the healthy development of under-industrially/infrastructurally-developed nations by providing their economies with seasonal bursts of capital that are accrued by too few hands and that rarely 'trickle down' to the bottom of the social infrastructure (those who most need it). Funds gained from tourism generally go into developing this $-making industry further (ex. providing better sanitation, more hotels, better entertainment) and not to improving the dire living conditions of those in the bottom echelon of society.

Fortunately, however, i think of you in the disaster relief program and i see that there is still hope and it is possible to travel to marvelous communities and give them something valuable in return for the life experience and memories you'll come home with.

As a Latin Americanist, one thing i know is that modern peruvian history is pretty intense and the poorest sector of society, the Quecha-speaking indigenous rural communities for whom the brutal Senderista 'revolutionarios'('terrorists' in the GVMT's view) theoretically were fighting for bore the brunt of the violence that raged during the 1980's. The rural violence during the 80's caused many indigenous campesinos to move to the peripheries of the urban centers, especially Lima where the threat of guerilla or governmentally-instigated violence was lower.

For these and other reasons i would over-confidently recommend that you find a trusted guide to bring you to the slums (without camera, much money, or valuables) and ask those living there about their life histories. Peru is filled with intelligent, creative and passionate people, but the story of the displaced campesino is one undertold and one that i would like to look into more deeply.

much love,

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