Next week, after two years and slightly more than three months absence, I'm returning to South America. On Thursday 21 May, I'll fly out of Auckland. The flight arrives in Santiago at the slightly spooky-feeling time of five hours before it leaves; then I have a few hours layover before catching a connecting flight to Lima and arriving around midnight.
I have the reasonable span of eight weeks, which should be enough time to recover from the jet lag and make the most of being there.
Fortune, weather, personal discipline and people's kindness permitting, I aim to do at least the following:
--make some enquiries and prepare the ground for possible research in 2010 towards my development studies thesis, which at this stage I'm keen to do in the Arequipa region
--collect a wider and more in-depth selection of 'ghost stories of the sierra', which I will in some way work into a report for my ethnographic research class
--visit my friend Hugo's 'lodge', which he is constructing near the town of Santa Teresa in the jungle of Cuzco, close to an alternative route to Machu Picchu (I put 'lodge' in inverted commas because, based on past experience, I really don't know what it will be like).
--do plenty of trekking and climbing, with the ultimate aim of scaling either of Nevado Ampato or Nevado Coropuna, both around 6,400 metres, and both a step up in terms of height, cold, snowiness and general drama from my previous ascents of Misti and Chachani.
--at some stage manage to visit a part of Peru (or even Bolivia) that I haven't been to before. At this stage I'm favouring the region of Ayacucho.
A lot of these things are going to require regular, discplined writing, variously of the jotting, recording and narrating varieties. That's good news for this blog: I hope it will become a lot more regular, dynamic and interesting than it has been for for some time.