Travels

Trilingual by 2015, or why I might give $1000 to the Tea Party

I’ve been in this situation before. Hopelessly monolingual in a foreign country, wishing for meaningful dialogues instead of simple pleasantries and broken conversations about the weather. In both Nicaragua and Spain, I told myself I’d go back home and learn Spanish so that next time it wouldn’t be like this, but it’s never happened. I know people who are fluent in 5 languages, how can I still only speak one?

Starting today that changes. I’m going to rid myself of that stereotype that plagues Americans the world over – that we’re too lazy to learn another language besides English.

Actually, I’m going to learn two languages, and do it by my 25th birthday.

Continue reading

Standard
Travels

Intra-tourism

I’d been in Lima for nearly 4 weeks and I hadn’t seen the historic city center.

Every tourist in Lima goes to the city center; it’s like seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Opera House if you’re in Sydney. Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima there almost 500 years ago and some of the buildings remain to this day. It’s definitely worth a visit, if not for the historical draw, then at least for architectural, cultural, culinary, or check-it-off-the-list reasons.

IMG_2088

Yet nearly a month into my South American adventure, and I hadn’t made it 7 stops north on the bus line to check it out. So when my good friend Jonathan stopped by Lima this weekend for the first day of his whirlwind, 81-day, trip around the world, we made it one of our first stops.

Continue reading

Standard
Travels

Mood Swing Amplitude Trends

File under: nerdiest blog post title ever.

#nofilter

15 days ago exactly, my plane touched down in Lima. It feels like such a long time ago, but at the same time I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 2 weeks. One of those paradoxes that everyone knows so well and deserves a name of its own. But I digress.

A fourth of my brief time in Lima already behind me, I couldn’t help but reflect on these first few weeks south of the equator on my commute home from work today. So, how am I enjoying Lima? For the first week, my answer would have been remarkably unpredictable.

Continue reading

Standard

Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Travels

Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Image
Global Health, Travels

Two Limas

As the taxi “merges” (read: changes lanes with zero consideration of the other vehicles in its path) onto the highway of sorts, I realize that everything I know about Lima and Peru after my first 10 days in the country will have to be amended. I’m jammed into the back seat with a fellow TB researcher and a nurse, another nurse in the front by the driver, ducking my head slightly to avoid a painful collision with the low ceiling at every bump in the very bumpy road. We’re on our way to the district of San Juan de Lurigancho, home to over a million residents in Lima, and the location of our TB study population. I’ve already been working for about a week on the project, but until now have mostly remained in my home district of Miraflores and at the University at which I’m working, an easy (hour-long) bus ride away. I have some vague idea of the rest of Lima, the sprawling slums and poor urban regions that comprise much of the 9-million person metropolis, but am not quite prepared for the poverty that faces me. I haven’t seen anything like this since a trip to Nicaragua 3 years ago, and not in the vastness that is Lima.

San Juan de Lurigancho

San Juan de Lurigancho

Continue reading

Standard
Travels

Semi-Organized Chaos

Yesterday I almost got hit by a bus. I was walking back to my new home around 10 at night, crossing at a small street after purchasing a botella de agua con gas, and a micro (privately owned small bus) came out of nowhere and passed within about a foot of me before speeding on to its next stop.

A micro in Lima

A micro in Lima

Most cities this large have a decent public transportation system, perhaps a subway of sorts, or at least an organized system of public buses. Lima is a free-market-purist’s dream come true. The public transportation system largely consists of unregulated and unofficial taxis and private microbuses that are decades old, resulting in pretty bad air pollution and traffic. Regulation is largely absent and the system is largely chaotic, though indeed cheap. Since each taxi and microbus is essentially a private business, it’s in the driver’s best interest to drive extremely quickly down the street, trying to pick up as many people as possible. Rules, if any, go unenforced from what I can tell, resulting in pretty crazy traffic. For instance, taxis frequently turn left from a right turn only lane, across 2 lanes of traffic that are clearly going straight.

Continue reading

Standard
Travels

86 Days in a Carry-On

Well, a carry-on plus a laptop bag really.

I’m in the Panama City Airport right now, waiting for a couple more hours for my plane to take off to Lima, Peru. I’ll be spending the next 10 weeks or so in Peru followed by 2 in Colombia before returning back to the furnace that is Austin in August.

Here’s everything I’m bringing for the next 3 months. I tried to pack as lightly as possible since I’ll be moving around a bit after the first 8 weeks.

Continue reading

Standard