Hola buenas personas!
Today it is our 4th day in Peru. We arrived in Lima at Tuesday after a long and tiring journey. The journey was, nonetheless, without any troubles or delay but was for Anouk and me maybe slightly more inconvenient because of a 15 hour stop at Madrid airport. Although this route was much cheaper than other routes, sleeping at the tiny sofas of the Burger King is something that at least I will try to avoid in the future.
Our time in the capital of Peru, however, has so far been a great experience but, in a way, a different one for each of us. Anouk told me, for instance, that it feels rather weird to return to a city that she has visited 7 years ago. To her, the city has brought up great memories of a journey she made throughout South America and in fact feels rather homely, especially because of the Spanish language and the typical South American culture. So far, Anouks, almost perfect control of the Spanish language (the taxi driver who picked us up thought she was from Spain) has been very convenient for her two companions. Although many young people here do speak English, not every bus or taxi driver does as well. Even still, Anouk stimulates me and Guido to learn the language as well by not saying a word, for instance in a shop up to the moment that things seem to go out of hand.
Guido told me when I asked about his feelings about these first days that “the city, with its chaotic traffic, exotic coastline, bossa-nova whistling birds and its concrete buildings hidden in the ever present fog, leaves a melancholic and poetical impression.” Here, I have to mention that I have the feeling the Guido is repeating the words of the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa of which he has probably read only read a few pages while pretending to have read a whole book. To me, Lima so far, feels rather familiar, although I have never been here off course. Also, the city feels quite relaxed and much less chaotic than expected. The view from the cliffs on the coastline of Lima is spectacular. The extent of the slums across the hills of Lima are equally impressive but confronting at the same time.
In our first days here, we have visited of course some highlights of the city but also the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH). The campus of the UPCH is located in the North of Peru and has a very relaxed and cosy atmosphere. Raúl, our supervisor in Peru and professor at the UPCH, guided us throughout the campus and showed research facilities that we can use in the coming months. The university felt rather familiar and, except for the size, not so much different than the University of Amsterdam. The three of us look very much forward to working at this university. In two weeks we will go the Cordillera Blanca, the Andean mountain range at which we will study life in extreme conditions (see ‘Profiel’). The last three weeks of our stay in Peru, we will mainly spend at the UCPH to conduct a part of our analysis. We’ll keep you posted on our future experiences and for now buenos noches!