A Detour Through Peru
Thanks to that pesky day job and the fact that the Pentagon is releasing its budget tomorrow — on the same day the administration is going to announce the details of a deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which I deconstructed in this article a month ago — I’ve been a little busy. Hence, I haven’t been able to write anything fresh about some of my usual topics like Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, or Yemen.
I am following up on some leads about Syria and hope to have something on that next week.
In the meantime, I’ve rifled through my archives and found some nuggets that are not going into my upcoming book. So, today’s subscriber post is about my 2009 reporting trip to Peru.
I spent a couple of weeks there on an International Reporting Project Gatekeepers Fellowship — sadly the IRP is no more, but in its time, it facilitated some brilliant international reporting.
The program was a whirlwind tour of the country. We began with a few days in Lima, flew to Cusco, visited Machu Picchu, trekked off to the Amazon region of Madre de Dios, and back to Lima. After the completion of the program, some of us stayed on for few more days to do some additional reporting. I visited a sprawling illegal gold mining operation. It was basically a small city in the Amazon, visible from space, where people were raping the land and environment to extract gold.
During the fellowship, we met with government, business, academic, and development figures. We explored public health, development, environmental, and political issues. We even visited the International Potato Center and learned that the country has more potato varieties (on the order of 3,000), than any other country.
The following subscriber content includes a couple of posts I wrote for my personal blog at the time, and for the IRP blog, which no longer exists. One is an overview of the trip — what’s interesting to me as I re-read it is how much hasn’t changed, and also how much was similar to Afghanistan in terms of corruption and people flocking to cities to find a better life. The second is a narrative of a ridiculous meal we had to introduce us to Novo Andean cuisine. Enjoy!