Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cruising the Amazon

Am up to date on my work trips and can finally give you a glimpse of one of my favourite trips since I've been  in Peru, a cruise on the Amazon river and tributaries thereof. Little did I know that I was trending when I booked this little adventure as 2011 has been declared the Year of Forests by the United Nations, to raise awareness of sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all kinds of forest http://www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/

Having decided on a low consumption, green Christmas, I opt for a small cruise (the ship only has 6 air conditioned cabins) departing from Iquitos in the tropical north of Peru. On December 22nd we set sail from the town of Nauta (about 90 kms from Iquitos by bus) on a 7day/6 night cruise on the Clavero ~ a 1876 restored riverboat ~  towards the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, famed for its reflective beauty and known as the "Espejo de la Selva" or Jungle of Mirrors.


And for good reason. The Amazon valley offers unforgettable moments. Ever winding curves in tributaries of the mighty rubber river and its dark history; beautiful still, reflective waters in which pink-bellied dolphins suddenly break to the surface, cavorting around the boat ~ often in pairs ~ and spouting a glistening cascade of spray; brown and black necked hawks, kingfishers  and flycatchers in a rainbow of colours perched totally still on a wood stump in the river; sloths, red monkeys and huge wasp nests clamped high up in trees; butterflies fluttering by; walks in the jungle embracing huge rubber trees and looking for giant waterlilies; side trips in a tinny to look at giant waterlilies, fish for deadly dangerous paranah and caimans (at night); catching zen moments sitting on deck reading as the Clavero cruises along this peaceful setting and, to top it all off, stunning sunsets.

The rest is best said in visuals, so a few photos via the cruise mob's blog, http://greentracks-news.blogspot.com/ and a glimpse of a dolphin I managed to record (please ignore the inane tourism babble) a few of my own pix, including a look around Belen, the part of Iquitos across the water, where houses and churches often flood and poverty reigns.  Many more to upload when I get bandwidth..

Sunday, 23 January 2011

San Marcos University

As soon as I arrive back in Lima it is time to prepare for a seminar I am giving at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, courtesy of my Ministry host who also lectures at the University.

I am honoured to be invited by the Faculty of Business Administration  and its Research Institute. San Marcos is the oldest public university in Latin America, established in 1551 by a decree of Prince Charles of Spain and possibly one of the oldest universities in the world. The University has 20 faculties and 60 schools, 30,000 undergraduate students and some 6000 postgrads. Due to its prestigious faculties and alumni ~ it has Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 Nobel Laureate for Literature among its alumni ~ entering San Marcos is a competitive process.

As it turns out, am not just giving a seminar ~ I am the keynote speaker at an international seminar on small business and ICT for innovation and competitiveness from a gender perspective. Tailored perfectly to my research work, I have no worries preparing for this. There are several other speakers and the seminar, scheduled to start at 9:30 AM, gets underway around 10:30ish ~ the Peruvian way! 

The auditorium is huge and not exactly filled, which makes it all a bit hollow but the event goes well.  After welcome words from the Dean, I speak ~ assisted by an interpreter ~ for about an hour, followed by three other speakers, who each speak for about 20 minutes. There are some questions and then there is lunch in the foyer. There seem to be a lot more people at lunch than were in the auditorium and the food is disappearing fast ...

A very different experience from the one at Khulna University in Bangladesh (see earlier blog) but both have been interesting in their own way.