Surprisingly, there are many similarities and differences with Peru and the Chesapeake Bay. My project topic group relates to access of materials, products, or resources. In our travels, I have come across the comparison that the man made island of Punta San Juan deals with the same problems and hardships of Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
Punta San Juan is a refuge for animals such as guano birds, fur seals, and Humboldt penguins. The CSA created a wall, a barrier, to keep people out of the reserve. The reserve is a breeding ground especially for guano birds. The guano is an important part of Peru’s economy. Because of the man made barrier, it is hard for anyone besides the guano harvesters to get into the reserve. In a sense, Punta San Juan consists as an Island because it is hard to access.
In return, there are actual islands in the Chesapeake Bay. Smith island is a tiny island that not only focuses on their culture, but it is hard to access. This limited access in a way enforces the culture of smith island, yet it also makes the resources valuable. The crabbers on smith island are soft crabbers and their wives and other women in the town pick the crabs.
Because punta San Juan and smith island are considered islands it is difficult to access the resources. The difference between these two are that one is man made while the other is natural.
The Chesapeake Bay is a specific environment that can (could) sustain a plentiful bounty of oysters, fish, and crabs. With the average depth of this estuary being 21 feet and including six different surrounding states, the bay is influenced by many factors. Nutrient runoff, over harvesting, and many other practices that are detrimental to our bay can hurt our access to the abundance of our resources that we demand so heavily.
Instead of a bay surrounding the country of Peru, the Pacific Ocean acts as a perimeter of the country. The ocean has the capability to cycle and disperse pollutants. The Humboldt Current enables nutrient rich water to flow along the coast of Peru bringing many diverse species including the Anchoveta, fur seals, and Humboldt penguins.
The Chesapeake Bay and Peru are similar in the fact that because both of the ecosystems are unique and specific, humans have access to the specific animals (resources) in the area. In the Chesapeake Bay, oysters were once plentiful, and still continue to be in high demand. In Peru, the CSA is pushing for the anchoveta to become an important food in high demand. Although the bay is more susceptible to detrimental problems than the Pacific Ocean, it is important to keep both healthy so that humans continue to have access to the resources from each.
The city of Lima, Peru is populated by about 8.5 million people. With so much push to conserve and shepherd our environment, there is equally as much concern to save our ecology and our planet.
The city of Lima does not have a waste water treatment system, and sewage, if processed at all, is processed poorly. The sewage flows into the Pacific Ocean, and is discharged near where people swim. First and foremost, this is unhealthy for humans swimming in any close relation to these discharge areas. Second, the nutrients from the waste are detrimental to the environment. This water contaminates drinking water for the country and thus, the people of the country use plastic water bottles for drinking water. Although the country focuses on recycling their bottles, recycling plants cause pollution of their own, and emit toxins that are again, detrimental to human healthy and the environment.
Because Peru is a developing country, they do not have a stable enough economy to improve their environmental efforts. In a way, it results back to the intersect of ecology verses economy. Pondering the solutions Lima has would require a more stable economy. If the country would focus more towards creating a decent waste water treatment system, they would not only be focused on a more environmentally approach, but there would possibly be more jobs created. However, switching from an economy of recycling to focusing on waste water would one, require systems for waste water treatment to be built (which for almost 9 million people would be expensive), and two, would require a switch point in order for the economy to not decline.
Most every country, including the United States, has problems between the fine lines of ecology verses economy. Both are equally important, and without our ecology and environment, it would be extremely hard for humans to thrive. The city of Lima has a harder time because they are a developing country and it will be up to the people, leadership, and economy that determines how much care or stewardship will be put into the ecology of their country.
Science and belief has always been a touchy subject. Those who are religious based believe in gods and miracles, while those who are science based search for realistic, tangible explanations. While in Cusco, the Chesapeake Semester visited Saqsaywaman, a stone structure created by the Incans. The stones (80% limestone) came from a quarry that was about 6 miles away from the actual site. Most stones were taller than us. JJ, our tour guide, explained that no one knows how this site was created. The answer from people who have arrived at Saqsaywaman was that ‘it was already here and done before us.’ The rocks towards the top of the structure were approximately 15 tons, while the rocks towards the bottom of the structure were approximately 100-150 tons. There are ideas that the Incas dragged the rocks by ropes somehow, as there were markings on some of the rocks, but no one can positively say how this structure was built.
Those who live in the city of Cusco, accept what is. They are fully aware that there must be an explanation of how these incredible sites were made, yet resort to believing in their ancestors. Same with the Spaniards who came to Cusco. They believed that where the Incans built their most sacred temples is where the gods and powers were most likely to be. So, the Spaniards built their Cathedrals on top of the grounds where the Incans had their temples. When we went to visit the Cathedral, it was the most beautifully decorated religious monument I have ever seen. Between the paintings, intricate tapestries, and painted plaster that created the walls, there was so much to take in.
There is such a blurred line between science and belief. With their being little middle ground, most people are extremists on either the science side or belief side. The Incans believed in their gods, and the Spaniards believed in their own. Yet, without knowing how the ancestors of this spiritual place created their temples, the modern world is forced to resort into calling Saqsaywaman a wonder of the world.
It’s October and I am outside on the balcony of the Punta San Juan reserve in a tank top and shorts at 12pm as I prepare for a soundscape. I looked around and observed the fur seals, kelp forests, and rock structures below me before closing my eyes, laying on the bench, and listening…
Sounds were everywhere. The fur seals communicated to each other with yells and grunts. Our Peruvian counterparts spoke to each other in Spanish. The spilling waves of the Pacific crashed on to each other, passed through the kelp forest, and lapped on to the shore. Guano birds chirped and soared overhead.
The sounds felt like they were right next to me. They took me back to my experiences of the day… watching the seals and penguins, counting their abundance, and recording their behaviors. Listening to the seals calls, I pondered how they go about their lives, the struggles of finding food, a mate, and a niche. The waves moved through the kelp and I thought about the rich ecology of this place. The kelp swayed with the waves. The fish, penguins, and seals frolicked below the water. The wind was rather quiet where I laid, as the building blocked the brunt of it. However, on the point of the island where the Chesapeake Semester group was earlier, we experienced some of the strongest winds in the country of Peru. The guano dust was everywhere, and while I listened to the wind, I thought of how much of it was in my hair, on my clothes, and quite frankly, in my lungs. How did the guano harvesters work with this product, most without respirators? The seals continued to call to each other, as voices of my fellow Chesapeake Semester students began to approach. Little did I know, the voices of the seals eerily continued into the night and barely ceased during our time at Punta San Juan.
It’s almost noon. We were about 40 minutes outside the Naszca Lines. I questioned to myself why we would stop at this time of the day in the middle of a dessert. The Chesapeake Semester got off the bus, and made their way in 8 different directions through the baron desert. Once I found the ideal spot for my soundscape, I moved a rock and sat down on the sand underneath of it, which was still painfully hot. Heat waves made the mountains in the distance appear to be dancing and swaying. There were rocks in every color placed in patterns on the sand.
The first few sounds I experienced were vehicles and the wind. I could feel the wind blowing across the desert, the sand, me. The vehicles came in waves and you could hear them very quietly from a distance, get louder as they came closer and fade out into the sounds of the wind. There was almost a lack of sound as I tried to find some other noise. I had to try to find a sound other than the wind. Nothing. At first I thought this was peaceful. But this lack of noise became ominous. I began to feel lonesome and lost, and my mind began to wander.
Here I sat in a desert of Peru, letting the sand slip between my fingers. My time, my fifteen minutes, spent sitting on this sand, was only a snap shot in the past, present, and future of this place. who was here before me? Who will be here after me? Has anyone touched the sand I’ve touched, held the rock I’ve held? The Inca’s believed in many gods and spirits. Everything had a meaning. As I sat observing the rocks around me and taking in the silence, I pondered the spirits of the rocks, pacha mama (mother earth), and inti (the sun god). Feeling more spiritually overwhelmed at this point in my soundscape, our time was over. Fifteen minutes passed rather quickly when you let go, listen, and think. As we all walked back towards the bus, I silently hoped that I would continue to feel connected to this foreign land, culture, and experiences that awaited us.
I’ve always wanted to visit Machu Piccu. To think that at 1:45 on October 29th, I’m sitting on a terrace overlooking the city and taking in this view, is still unbelievable. Today, not only has Chesapeake Semester climbed Huaynapicchu, but we’ve seen the Inca bridge and explored Machu Picchu more.
I could hear the breeze, quiet footsteps, and voices. This place that was once a city hundreds of years ago, was now a tourist attraction. Millions of people visit this place a day. I thought of how many busses went up and down the mountain side each day and for how long this will be safe without having to refurbish the mountain side. On top of the mountain, it was quiet. The closest noise I could hear was the occasional bug that flew by. The farthest was the river, thousands of feet below. In the quarter of an hour that I sat on the terrace and listened, I heard a train whistle and the hum of the hydro electric factory down the river. Birds flew around and tourists cameras clicked.
I decided to close my eyes as I sat and leaned back against the terrace behind me. My mind immediately thought about how a civilization could live on top of this mountain. I am amazed at how a culture can become so adapt at breathing this air which had little oxygen. Our Chesapeake Semester group could barely make it up a few stairs without breathing heavily. How did this culture live on a daily basis? Climbing Huaynapicchu, I was terrified that I might fall off the side. How were children raised in a environment such as this? Such a cynical thought went through my head… How many deaths were there from people accidentally falling off the side of the mountain? Surprising myself, I quickly opened my eyes and looked around. The sun was bright. I needed to think of something else. Upon closing my eyes again, I still pondered how a civilization could live on top of this mountain and how exactly they built this city. Today, it’s so easy, especially in the United States to build houses. Yet, on top of Macchu Picchu, these stone structures are an amazing site to see. How did these people build these structures that still stand today?