I have been getting some serious work done down here in the Southern Hemisphere, but that means that I definitely don't have as much to write about. Well, I could give you all a preliminary analysis of my data, but where's the fun in that? (actually, it's pretty cool, but I am jealously guarding it for my thesis... and feeling like this is probably one of those geeky things that only I think is exciting. So, I'm just sparing you guys!) However, I would like to describe the process for you. I am either waiting at prime tourist locations to pounce on people for interviews or I'm waiting at the bus stop for equal amounts of pouncing as people get back from the bus (this usually means I'm out there between 6:30 and 8:30 at night (7:30-9:30 your time!), so that's why I can't answer the phone after work). Tomorrow or Wednesday, I will be staying the night in a tourist town and getting some serious interviews done at Llanganuco. It should be fun.
Anyways, I have 22 interviews now!! (Gasps of amazement! Thunderous applause!) However, I feel like I definitely need more, with more diversity of participants. Plus, I want to interview more guides and tourist agencies and people from INRENA, if I can. I want to build up a happy, robust set of data that can then be used to be the thesis of the century. Yeah, ok, I'm just hoping to pass without anyone telling me that I have no idea what I'm talking about. :) But, honestly, aren't we all??
One misconception that I want to clear up once and for all is that I am eating really well here. I enjoy the food and only rarely get sick from it. I have a plethora of options, but it's just not always the same food that I could get at home. Plus, I had been planning the "Columbus food sucks" rant for a while. I really, honestly miss East Lansing food, but that is not a unique Peru experience. I pretty much always miss EL food, just ask my grad school friends!! They hear about it constantly and were then stuck eating Penn Station or Panera with me because I couldn't stomach the rest of it. (Not entirely true, there are some OK options. But you can't get the best meal of your life for under $5, which is a staple of every EL restaurant.) So, anyways, before all of my family freaks out with remembrances of the 97 lb child that I was in India, I just want to say: I am eating very well and I am not getting really sick from my food. However, if anyone wants to airmail a cooler with a pickle in it, I will happily provide my address and the necessary funds for the transaction. :)
So, I was thinking that although I don't have too many fun and exciting pictures from this week, I definitely have some older ones that I never posted. So, here is a quick splash from my first month in Peru!!
This picture cost a ton of money!! I had agreed to take a picture with the old lady on the left and her lamb. I knew it would cost a couple soles, but whatever, I was in Cusco for the first time. It was OK. Next thing I know, I had two more women, their babies and the girl who took the picture. The handed me the lamb and asked for the camera (a flash went through my head that the women could be blocking me while the girl ran away with the camera, but it was out of my hands at that point.). So, I thought, maybe a sole each. So, after the picture, I had 2 one sol coins or a five sole. Well, a five sole would be 1 and a little bit each, and I though that was generous, considering the whole process took about 30 seconds (including all those people running in from nowhere). However, the women who ran into the picture were pissed because they were from another family and they couldn't share the coin. I was surrounded by angry Incan women yelling at me in Spanish (with some Quechua mixed in). To stem the tide, I ended up digging through my pockets and finding one more 5 sole coin because the first woman who took the original coin had already gone after her next victim. You know, I loved the history and beauty of Cusco the most as a city, but I hated feeling like the minnow surrounded by sharks. Everyone always wanted something there, and that got old very quickly...
This is Sandip and I in Lima with some pre-Incan ruins that we went to with Bryan and Chris. Although I feel this picture makes me look short, it isn't a bad "hey, look, we're in Peru together" picture. Plus, I've got my MSU representation!! Go State!! (Yeah, I hate to say it, but I have very little loyalty to Ohio State... especially the athletic department. I think I'm too used to rooting for the underdog (think football), plus I've learned that I bleed green and white... figuratively. Please nobody ask me what blood disease I have.)
I'm not entirely sure that I am allowed to post this picture, so if it suddenly disappears from the blog, you'll know why. However, I have been bummed since the "Meet the team!" post that I did not have a really good picture of Bryan Mark, my advisor from OSU (ok, for Bryan, I will say, "Go Bucks!" but it only gets one exclamation mark.. ). But, when I looked through my pictures from Lima, here it was, an opportunity to post Bryan AND the Pacific Ocean. It was too good to miss. Plus, I love that he's being goofy. I am definitely less terrified of professors these days!!
So, in Lima, there is this park with fountains. Every night they have light shows where the fountains go crazy. Think the Detroit airport fountain times a bazillion. This is the park where all the conquistadors used to come and hang out (sans fountains). However, it is now a park of the people!! I don't have pictures of all of the fountains, but there were a lot of really cool ones.
This is another fountain in the park. It's a fun pyramid, if you couldn't tell. However, there are about 25 fountains that you can't see here. Plus, there is this amazing show with music and lights and craziness. I tried uploading a video of it, but the video is too long for the internet I have here. However, I would like to point out that amid the classical music, they also through in a Backstreet Boys song... "I want it that way." It was hilarious, and I loved it. It reminded me of the good ol' days of middle school.
This fountain was really cool because you could walk through it without getting wet!! There were other participatory fountains, as well, but they usually involved being a bit damp afterwards. One of them was really cool, but Sandip was too slow on the shutter to catch me playing in it. There were about 5 rings of water sheets with many water jets in between and the goal it to get to the middle and back out with a minimum of wetness. However, the jets are all random, so the minimum wetness is tricky. I am proud to say that I ran through with only my knees down getting wet from a surprise fountain I didn't see. However, that was the second time having soaking wet legs/feet that day (Bryan wasn't the only one playing in the ocean, and I didn't want to roll my pants up that far...). The next day was the day that my fever came back from my flu, with chills, aches and a sore throat accompanying it. So, I guess I learned my lesson. The next time I run through fountains, I will make sure I'm 100% healthy beforehand.
Anyways, I hope you've enjoyed this little recap of previous trip experiences. I'm sure I will be taking more pictures soon. If not, I can go back to ranting about food or maybe even get mushy by telling you all how much I miss my home, family, Sandip, kitties, etc. (not necessarily in that order... you know the kitties are first!!! Just kidding!!)