July 13, 2018
Got into Lima at midnight last night, super stressed thinking that my bags would not be there with me (since they flew to Atlanta without me the previous day). Peru also has an import tax law where if you're carrying multiple sets of electronics (i.e. a ton of camera traps, GPS trackers, and cameras) you have to pay a tax in customs to bring it because they assume you're going to sell it. I didn't leave room in the budget for that. My bags were last to come off the plane, but they arrived. I threw it all on my back and nervously waddled towards customs, but nobody even had an X-ray machine running so I walked right through without so much as a second glance. Good thing, too; they would have made some money off of me. A fine gentleman was waiting for me with the best thing I had seen all day: a luggage cart. Did you know carts cost $5 in the US to rent? No thanks, I'll take the back problems. This guy was keen to take my bags off of me until he picked them up.
I crashed at 1am, and my alarm was going off four hours later. I rolled out of bed and ate probably half of all the scrambled eggs the hotel had made for the day. The lady at the buffet laughed and said good thing you came early; I think I take pride in that comment. Anyway, I had a meeting with the Fulbright Commission and the Embassy so I got an Uber (dope) over to the San Borja district. We did some paperwork for a few hours, and they took me to the bank to open a local account so they could pay me. A security team was taking the cash from the bank when we arrived, and you would have thought there was a SWAT mission going on - I have never seen so many large men with guns drawn in the same place. I tried to take a photograph and I got yelled at by what looked like the Peruvian Dwayne Johnson. If you're wondering, nothing went down. Anyway, the Fulbright people were great, and the director asked me to put a pin on her map where I'll be working in Peru. My pin is in the top right, out in the boonies.
My meetings ended with a security briefing on all the ways I could be robber, drugged, or killed in Peru. The most impressive way was thieves hiding in the trunk of cars and slowly moving through a hole in the backseat into the vehicle while you're in a taxi and taking all of your things. I thought she had made that one up, but she had a photograph. I like to think I would notice a little man-sized trunk portal in the backseat of a taxi, but it must have worked on someone at least.
The rest of my afternoon will consist of preparing for the work to come. I am starting to realize that environmental scientists should never actually have free time; there's always something to map. I feel like I make maps at least 3 hours a day every day, and today was no different. My hotel room looks like a research lab. The cleaning lady knocked on the door and politely asked if I wanted my room cleaned. I think she must think I am an odd hermit now, because I opened the door an inch (junk was blocking it) and said nope. Hopefully I get this done soon - 6am flight tomorrow to Iquitos!