|This wasn´t my first trip to Chachapoyas and it would definitely not be my last. It wasn´t a coincidence that I planned to come back to this remote, relatively unknown Andean town and spend almost one year here teaching English and enjoy life - the relaxed life in Chachapoyas is a good cure for stressed, career-oriented city life. Here the value of social life comes in an other aspect and one realize how materialized the western world is when observing the many things that can be done by hand and with a simple knife, the same things that many of us are used to do using washing machines, dish washers, can openers and other tools.
On my first great around-South America-tour my experience of Chachapoyas started when I got invited to live with a lovely older middle-aged couple that treated me like a son of theirs and I soon got to know all of their eight sons and daughters around the country. I taught them about healthy food (many Peruvians eat way to much salt, sugar and fried food) and they showed me a hospitality I never had seen before.
As a biologist want to make changes to improve the environment and that is why I made a project measuring heavy metal concentrations in selected samples around the region. My work can be e-mailed upon request. Amazonas is a mainly Andean (NOT JUNGLE!) region, probably one of the cleanest in the continent, however, some mining companies are knocking on the door to exploit without considering environmental regulations, such as clean water. Soon the idyll can become another health hazard if no one will react on time. (Look what happened to La Oroya!)
In my next visit to Peru I took some samples in the shame of humanity (La Oroya) some days before returning to the clean Chachapoyas. I was looking for useful things to do while spending time with my Chachapoyan girlfriend when I found out about the International Language Center. It was a very nice experience that I recommend those that appreciate environmental and cultural change. I also appreciated to work with Fidel and Vanessa, in spite of some less important cultural differencies we got along and understood each other very well. The biggest cultural shocks were not the food (people eating chicken and rice almost every day, even for breakfast), neither the curiosity of the locals (anyone can ask how many children I have and if I´m married), the shocks came when watching garbage being thrown in the nature, treatment of wooden floors with smelly, carcinogenic petroleum oil, poor hungry homeless dogs opening garbage bags on the streets looking for food and streets getting muddy and transforming themselves to streams during heavy rains. These are things Peruvians take for granted. Of course I mentioned some issues with the friendly “alcalde” (mayor) and archaeologist Peter Lerche of German origin but with less improvements than expected. But that is also the only disadvantages, all other things I enjoyed with all my mind.
To make the life funny for Fidel and Vanessa, bring them some exotic food from your country to break the dependence of chicken with rice. It can be some fish that some people here might find smelly or a dish with avocado, eggs and fresh cow milk ;-)