I started my Andean journey in the huge city of Lima, Peru at dawn on Monday, Feb. 1.
Lima sits on a long, narrow strip of coastal desert that is bursting with archaeological remains and modern energy. I immediately felt the thrill of being surrounded by the Spanish language and the hustle of limeños on their way to work in the morning.
Enjoyed conversing with the taxi driver from the airport – he told me that he doesn’t speak Quechua but that its most beautiful variety is spoken in his hometown of Ayacucho. I told him I’d love to go there someday since I’ve heard their beautiful music for years.
My purpose in making this trip is to spend three months working with Andean partners on the documentation and revitalization of the Quechua language. I plan to work in three places: Cochabamba, Cusco and Chuquisaca.
Before undertaking fieldwork you have to ask permission from various authorities and making sure that your plans maximize benefit and minimize risk for the vulnerable communities you plan to visit.
That’s why I spent my first afternoon in Lima meeting with Gisela Fernandez at the Pontificia Universidad Católica of Peru. She’s the head of the new ethics committee, and they must review and approve all of their own faculty’s research projects. My connection to the PUCP is through one of my work partners, a graduate of PUCP and former faculty member there. To take a quick virtual tour of this cool campus, click here.
It was an honor to spend the afternoon with Gisela and meet some of her co-workers. She’s really sharp – a lawyer who spent the first part of her career specializing in advocating for victims of sexual violence during the 1980s. In the course of walking around campus, she took me to see the remains of the Inca Road which was recently uncovered. I was also really impressed with the architecture students’ structures which are on display right outside her office. The perfect combination of old and new that characterizes this place.