Shape of Things to Come

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The COP20 kicks off here in Lima tomorrow, which is kind of a big deal. What is the COP20? COP stands for “Coalition of the Parties”, which is United Nations-speak for meetings of the countries participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and this particular meeting is called the COP20 as it is the 20th such meeting of the Parties. Previous COPs worth mentioning include: 1995: COP 1, Berlin,… Read More

Twelve months ago this week I unpacked my bags in a simple hotel room and stepped out to meet Lima, the city that would be my home for the next year-and-a-bit. Lima… almost 10 million people pressed up against the desert coast. The kind of place where no-one is truly from, if you go back far enough. The pre-Colombian cultures that built their mud and stone temples here fished and worshipped in… Read More

So what’s it like being an environmental volunteer in the developing world? I can only answer as to my experiences here in Peru, but the same things hold true in many other places. For me, this year has brought a lot of big challenges beyond just from being a long way from home and working in a foreign language and culture. The toughest stuff has been the reality of my work: good… Read More

Head north out of Lima to the town of Huaral, in the valley of the river Chancay. Turn east and follow the river valley through the desert plains and into the foothills of the mighty Andes, passing the irrigated fields and orchards that help to feed the mega-city. Drive by ancient mud-brick temples crumbling back into dust, by rural villages nestled into bends in the river…

Last week I passed the half-way point of my project here in Lima, so it seems a good time to reflect on the six months that have been and to consider what the rest of my year here may bring. It hasn’t been easy. Really: under-statement. As some of my posts have documented, I’m struggling with the day-to-day reality of life here, as well as with the bigger issues of environmental management… Read More

Grafitti in Lima

So here I sit in a specialist coffee chop, tucked away underground, at Larcomar, the boutique brand outdoor mall on the edge of the sea cliffs of Miraflores. Larcomar is a celebration of rampant capitalism: it is consumerism taken to extremes, where international brands and local high-end stores cater to tourists and wealthy Peruvians in a bubble so detached from the reality of this developing world country. Larcomar is consumerism packaged as… Read More

Sunset San Isidro

It might sound crazy, but sometimes I forget I’m living in Peru. The part of Lima that fills my day-to-day world isn’t so different from any other city. “Home” is in the expat precinct, a clean, safe world of apartment buildings, multi-national businesses, chain-store shops and fancy restaurants, as modern and soulless as any other young tourist city. It’s the Surfers Paradise of Peru, equally vapid and self-obsessed as Australia’s beachside tourist… Read More

When you’re living in a desert city of 10 million people in the developing world resources are stretched tightly. There’s not much room for nature in Lima, beyond the inevitable urban pigeons and a few hardy native birds that take advantage of the artificial oases of urban parks and gardens. There’s no space for wild places within the vast city limits, with one remarkable exception: Los Pantanos de Villa.

It’s a strange thing to find yourself slipping into the rhythm of daily life in an unfamiliar world. I’ve been in Lima four weeks now and my days are starting to take on a more familiar shape. Two weeks ago I moved into an enormous share-house. Eight of us – a mix of Peruvians and other foreigners – share 6 bathrooms, 2 lounge rooms and 1 kitchen. It’s a big adjustment after… Read More