Shape of Things to Come

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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

I should be doing a final check for references on the blog post I’ve had sitting as a draft for the last fortnight: an article on one of the ecosystems here in Peru that’s really caught my aquatic-scientist attention. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story that I think is far more important. The story of Andres. 

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

Caporales is a folk dance originating in Bolivia and spreading into parts of the Puno district of Peru and areas of Argentina that share the Amaya culture. The roots of the Caporales go back to the Saya, an Afro-Bolivian song and dance style that developed in the negro and mulatto slave communities brought to the Viceroyalty of Peru to work in the mines and on the plantations of the Spanish conquerors. The… Read More

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

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

Happy New Year, my lovely readers. I’m sorry it’s been so quiet around here, but living and working in another country, culture and language is pretty tiring stuff. Once again the half-written posts are piling up as I run out of steam to finish them off and post them up. 2014 is shaping up to be an exceedingly busy year between my project here in Peru and the adventures I have planned…. Read More

My friend Van, who writes the lovely Speed River Journal, invited me to participate in a positivity experiment: to post 10 good things that have happened to me in 2013. It’s been a big year for me, and it’s not over yet, but the Solstice is a good time to reflect on the challenges and rewards the year has brought. 1. The garden was a rich source of pleasure this year. It provided grounding when I needed… Read More

Today is International Volunteers Day, apparently. There’s a day or a week or a month for everything, it seems, but volunteering is a good thing to stop and think about now and again. Volunteering – donating our knowledge, labour or skills for free – is a powerful way of creating the kind of future we’d like to see. I’m volunteering on a big scale, spending a year working to help to develop… Read More

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