Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nothing original here, but we promise less blood and more alpaca-bell!

Francisco Pizarro, the Original Tourist - "Where can
I get my photo taken with the baby alpaca lady?"
Cassie and I have been on the ground in Peru for four days now, landing in Lima early Wednesday, moving on Friday to Cusco: capital city of the Incas, and first stop in a sacred pilgrimage for throngs of consumers pursuing transubstantiated vestiges of Incan culture: pom-pom hats, 12-sided stones, and photos with women holding baby alpacas.

Even as I draft this post at 3 am, the sacred Noche del Turismo rages on in the Plaza de Armas, a quarter mile down the hill from our studio. No doubt introduced by Francisco Pizarro himself, the Noche has become a key rite of the sun festival Inti Raymi. Though Cusco's Original Tourist is long gone, less flashy invaders such as ourselves continue to play a role.

But I digress. This is Cassie's bailiwick. She'll tell you about the commodification of indigenous cultures--and maybe even share our early brush with a Pachamama-UFO cult. Or not.

So we're here, gearing up to capture the sights and sounds of Peru over the next two and a half months. We've brought cameras and audio recorders and fancy bound journals. We're specifically interested in learning what we can about the social and psychological impacts of global warming in Peru. The threats to Peruvians are real and immediate. According to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, after Bangladesh and Honduras, Peru faces the greatest ecological and social risk from global warming. Among the more significant threats is the rapid loss of the Quelccaya Ice Cap, one of the principal sources of water for western Peru. In Cusco, a city of more than half a million people, the municipal utility rations water access. For most of the afternoon and after 10 in the evening, the city water's shut off.

A study of climate change in Peru--we realize that's nothing new. But we want to see what we can add to the conversation. We'd especially like to introduce new voices and perspectives, preferably from Peruvians themselves. Cassie's reaching out to Peruvian activists and social justice organizations. We're both engaging people on the street.

I also plan to share my attempts at running over the summer, hoping to sustain my fitness for the Oregon Coast 50K in October. So far, I've come up empty, but I'm hoping to find a treadmill or flat empty field at 12,000 feet.

With any luck, we won't get abducted by vegan aliens. If you don't here from us every few days, please contact the U.S. embassy.

Anything to add, Cassie?


  1. I was haunted by the leftovers of sugar colonization in Hawaii last time i was there. Then thought of my friend's birth-great-grandfather (he never met him, and had only heard of him through me) who was the dubbed "the gold king of the Philippines", after going there during the spanish american war and scoring the gold mine. Then a week later that friend was dead. Well, I digress. I am with you in spirit. XO

    1. Nice to have your spirit with us in Peru, Sarah! We'll need to see you in the flesh when we get back!