By Josh Lowe
Bienvenido a Peru
Volunteering with Karikuy has officially started, and I am definitely not in Kansas anymore. I arrived very early in the morning, taking a midnight flight out of Miami to Lima. Customs was a breeze, just filled out the standard forms, handed them over, and I was off. Julio, the founder of Karikuy, picked me up from the airport around 5a.m. First order of business: sleep. While I did luck out and have a reclining seat (unlike my Costa Rican adventure), I didn’t manage much quality nap time on the flight. Side note though, LAN airlines (the major carrier here) has a pretty sweet in flight entertainment system where you can choose from dozens of movies, television shows, music albums and more. Check their website along with a few of the web agencies though, I found some sites offered the direct flight and some didn’t.
At any rate, I slept in a little bit and woke up in time for breakfast. The volunteer program offers a meal plan that works out pretty well. After refueling the system, Julio showed me around the neighborhood a little bit and we went to the downtown area, saw the changing of the guard at the government palace as well as some churches, shopping, etc. We took a mini-bus for transportation, which is an exciting experience in itself. They are basically extended mini-vans with a couple extra rows of seating crammed in there (advantage to the short people!). Traffic flows quickly and close together. Be sure not to hang any arms out of the window if you are on the passenger side, as even if it is missed by other vehicles, it will no doubt be hit by the door that constantly slides open to let passengers in/out. Also, be sure to get over any fear of personal space, because they will accept as many riders as possible. They are pretty cheap though, and you need to get around town somehow, so this an option and the locals are used to it, so when in Rome, right? The city of Lima will be interesting to learn I’m sure. The population is roughly the same as NYC at 8 million and change. Lima probably wins out on street dog population though, as I am not aware of a governmental animal control system. Luckily they have all been nice so far.
The weather is great right now, clear and sunny, actually pretty warm. I am at this moment sitting right in front of the window, having moved my workstation to take advantage of the nice day and breeze. We have started editing the basic Perupedia site, adding some content links and information. It should grow fairly quickly, however the scope of the project is quite large and will take some time to complete. I am the first and only volunteer here at the moment, though another is coming in a couple weeks and some more are scheduled for several months. Needless to say it will be a learning experience, and I am looking forward it.