Thursday, 8 September 2011

Information Treasure Hunt

I am currently trying to do some background research for a potential project involving young people and the environment. After some internet research, I was excited yesterday to discover that the Peruvian government have a department dedicated to the environment, and there is a local office in Cusco around 10 mins walk from the house - my first clue! Praying for a good reception, I decided to try turning up to get a meeting. Amazingly, I was instantly seen by a lady who managed to not only understand my Spanish, but gave me the names of a couple of people who are running projects for young people and children in association with the municipilidad.

And so I had my second clue, and I headed up to the main library in the centre of town to track down my contact. Sadly, things took a turn for a worse as the library was firnly closed, apparently for the next 20 or 30 days. The security guard seemed suitably vague, so goodness knows when it will actually re-open. He had never heard of my contact and looked at me like I was slightly mad. Undetermined, I thought I would try the Ministry of Education, which is just around the corner. Having no real idea what I am doing, I queued up at the nearest desk. The lady didn't know any info, but left her desk to take me to someone who might know more, She in turn left her desk to take me to find her colleague. Can you imagine turning up at a government office in the UK without an appointment, or a name and people going out of their way to help you?

I was eventually led to another courtyard, where there were more offices. However, it looked bizarre, as most of the buildings were no longer standing, with just the doorways and front walls remaining. We found their (still standing) office on the second floor and it crossed my mind that environmental education may not be a priority. Sadly, the people were not in the office, but I was sent elsewhere where I discovered their names and numbers. The clues were mounting up and i now had names and numbers although no actual information. After randomly walking into an office as it had the word environment in the title above the door, I decided that there were no more clues to be found here.

After a brief lunch, I got a taxi to Ausangate School. Daniel attends the nursery, but there are lots of environmental projects at the main school. I had a great chat with a teacher in English - hurrah. SHe was very helpful and showed me some of the projects that the school are running. A firm lead at last. Now, all I had to do was get home. I walked towards the bus stop, only to be faced with an angry, growling dog that was not keen to let me past. By this point , I really felt like Anneka Rice (note to younger readers - cult figure from the 1980s) and looked expectantly up at the sky for my helicopter to rescue me. Sadly, it didn't come, so I scrambled up onto a pile of dirt and walked across, keeping a safe distance from the dog. I was getting increasingly strange looks from a man on a motorbike, clearly trying to work out what the strange gringa was doing, and not offering any assistance.

No further adventures were forthcoming and I arrived safely back home with names, numbers and a few ideas, although little actual information! I continue to wait for the treasure.

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