One of the projects I’m working on here is a taenia solium surveillance project. Taenia solium is a parasite that can end up causing seizures in adults, so detecting and treating it, and more critically, researching it to find more effective medications, are important to countries where it is a serious health issue. (The US doesn’t have native T. solium.) I volunteered/was volunteered to help collect samples for this project, which means I went to a small, sierra village and helped process about a thousand stool samples.
To get from Lima to Joras, the town I worked in, is a bit of a journey. Joras is in northern Peru, not far from Ecaudor, so the first step is a 16 hour bus ride up the Pan American Highway from Lima to Piura, which is the capitol city of the department of Piura. From Piura city, I caught another bus 5 hours to Ayabaca, which is the mountain capitol of the province in which Joras is located. From Ayabaca to Joras is another 45 minutes to an hour in a pick up truck – there are two trucks that make the trip to Joras every day, so if you miss one, you’re out of luck.
I had a fabulous time in Joras with the other biologists and the Peace Corp Volunteer with whom we worked. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of stool samples, a bonfire, and gallons of sweetened herbal tea.
There were a lot of good moments. Riding in the back of a truck in the sunshine, having a fresh lemonade, a cat falling asleep on my lap, the mud being so sticky it nearly pulled my shoe off, pineapple juice, learning how to make a traditional Peruvian potato sauce, staring at the rain for hours on end, discussing knitting with an old Peruvian woman, seeing a Peruvian Paso. I enjoyed my short adventure out of Lima.