Hola! Soy en Puerto Maldonado! Well, I was super excited about not being in 10 degree weather. I probably should have been careful what I was wishing for! It's probably around 100 degrees now, very sunny, very humid. But ... there's no snow!
Despite the exciting events at Newark the night before I flew out of the country (the man walking back through security and then just ... disappearing), my time at Newark was sadly uneventful. My flight left Manchester at 6:30, I got to Newark at about 7:45, and then hung out until my plane left for Lima 6 hours later. I read a lot - thanks to my awesome and fantastic new Kindle! I met the first of the other research assistants, Karina, in Newark. We recognized eachother by the ridiculous rubber boots we were both wearing (as they were too big to
The flight from Newark to Lima wasn't bad. It was long, and a smaller plane than we anticipated (3 seats, an aisle, and 3 seats), but they had a pretty sweet movie selection. I watched X-Men, Wizard of Oz, and a half hour movie about golden lion tamarins at the National Zoo. I almost watched Bringing Up Baby, but dozed instead. The biggest issue was that apparently both of their dining choices were meat filled - my other international flights have had a not-meat option just as a matter of course. So I ate the little side salad and roll, hah.
We got into Lima at about 11:15, got our visas stamped, and gathered our luggage. I was carrying a lot of equipment for the project - things like syringes, wire mesh, DNA paper, etc, and had been having increasingly more nightmarish dreams about going through customs. Fortunately, it was not a problem!! Even better, when we got out, our hostel had indeed sent out a taxi to pick us up, complete with our names on a little board. Unfortunately, we were waiting for two other groups to come, so we hung out at the airport for a Very Long Time. When we finally got out and headed on our way, it was close to 1:30. I talked to the driver of our taxi, Jose Carlos, for the ride to the hostel - he's 23, an architecture student, etc. etc. Anyone who heard my Kenya stories can probably see where this is going ...
The hostel we stayed in, Hostel Malka, was very nice. As I suspected, it is Jewish in some way, but I wasn't able to figure out the connection. We met up with another research assistant at the Hostel, and pretty much passed out. Emma's luggage had gotten left behind in Spain (she's British and flew through Madrid), so our plan was to go to the airport to pick up her luggage and try to extend our visas from 90 days to 180. Jose Carlos's father, Carlos, drove us up there. We got Emma's luggage, and while she was working on getting through customs, Jose Carlos called his father and said hello to me. His father told me to tell him "Te quiero mucho," but I declined. No actual proposal there, but Carlos called me "Mi hija" for the rest of the day.
It turned out we couldn't extend our visas at the airport, so we'd have to go to Imigracion. Carlos said he'd drive us over there, but first wanted to stop somewhere and get breakfast. He took us to this tiny little hole in the wall and ordered us mountains of food (tamales, huevos, y huevos especial). It made me think of the restaurant in Lokichar, though tamales are way preferable to ugali. Then we drove off to immigration. In the car, he was playing music very loudly, one song over and over again (La Camisa Negra, which I made the mistake of recognizing). Driving through Lima was a lot like driving through a combination of Nairobi and Boston. Huge cars on very small roads, lots of matatu-esque minibuses, and only moderate attention to traffic lights. However, we made it to Imigracion in one piece, only to find a huge line around the building. Carlos, who apparently knows everyone in Lima, took us to talk to a friend who holds some high immigration position, who told us we couldn't exchange our visas but it wouldn't be a problem, and have fun. We then returned to the hostel after taking an extended drive around Lima to see exciting sites - in particular a giant Incan ruin! Craziness... they just have ruins lying around. The US has such a shallow archaeological history.
Erm, after that we napped and read around the hostel all day. I told a number of people I didn't speak Spanish well, and read a lot. We repacked, and prepared to head out to the Amazon!
I need to give Kat (our fourth!) back her computer, but hopefully next time I write, I'll be writing from CICRA! Adios!