FGCU political science major Maryssa Pallis, 20, has embarked on a 10-week journey through five countries to research global trade policies’ impact on regional economies and small family farms. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was made possible by the Naples Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club, with additional funding from the FGCU Foundation. Following is the first of several reports from the field she plans to write for FGCU360.
June 18: Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru, has greeted me with beautiful mountains, incredible people and friendly alpacas. My first event in Cusco was visiting the famous San Pedro Market, where I had the chance to talk to locals selling food products such as vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats and breads.
Many of the fruits reminded me of the Floridian food forest I planted at a shelter in Naples, and of course the abundance of the FGCU Food Forest. I even made some of the women laugh by singing the names of my favorite fruits in Spanish. “La cherimoya, la maracuya, y la granada…”— all local favorites. They let me try fresh breads and sample juices they say keep the body and mind healthy. I have found that most of the women selling produce buy it from local farmers and then sell the products in the market. It will be interesting to learn more about how this food system works while in different areas of Peru.
I stayed in the Millhouse Hostel in Cusco, which was very accommodating. They have a female dorm, which served me well as a solo traveler. They have free tours on Saturdays at 1pm, which impressed me. I jumped on the opportunity to explore the city with locals and fellow travelers. This gave me a chance to become oriented in a group, making exploring the city alone much easier. The tour was extensive, lasting over an hour. I was able to visit many parts of the city, try local foods for free, and ask the guide many questions about food networks in the area.
For those wanting to conduct research, this hostel is also very close to the Municipal Government building in Cusco (about a one-minute walk). While they did not have much research-oriented information in the building for scholars, I was able to speak with individuals working in rural development who pointed me in the right direction. My Spanish language courses came in handy, as many in the building did not speak English.
June is a wonderful time to be in Cusco, as there are many local celebrations. I was able to see the Corpus Christi celebration in the Plaza de Armas. Corpus Christi is celebrated in many places in Peru, but I have heard it is most extravagant in Cusco. Sixty days after Easter the religious celebration brings everyone together near the Cathedral of Cusco. Bright and beautiful colors covered the plaza, along with joyous music and dance. To my surprise, every ministry was represented in the celebration, including the Cusco Ministry of Agriculture. Traditional garments were worn during the dances, including intricate facemasks and beautiful handmade dresses.
Getting to and from interviews in Cusco, I primarily used Uber. Once you are set up with a driver, you have the ability to share your destinations and driver name with anyone. I found this to be helpful as a solo traveler, making sure someone knew where I would be as I was attending interviews alone. However, using Uber takes Wi-Fi, and sometimes it is not an option when there is no internet connection.
From much of my research so far, it seems that the Cusco region of Peru is much different from the Amazon in terms of agricultural production. I am eager to compare these two regions, and will update once I have traveled more around my next destination – Madre De Dios, Peru. According to the Alliance for Sustainable Amazon, “The Madre de Dios Department of southeastern Peru has been called the ‘Biodiversity Capital of the World’ – more species of plants and animals can be found here than almost any other place on the planet.
I am looking forward to updating you about the wonders of the jungle! As I head out onto my next adventure, keep in mind there will be little to no Wi-Fi in the Amazon.
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