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28 October 2014

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You are in: Cornwall > Features > Cornwall Abroad > Following the Miners

Peruvian Jungle

Following the Miners

James Mill enjoyed growing up in the north Cornwall town of Bude, but then decided to follow in the footsteps of Cornish miners of the past, and visit South America. James has written about his experiences for the BBC Cornwall website...

My name is James Mill and I am originally from Bude, North Cornwall. I was living in Oxford beforehand and the final day in this city was much like a blues car was towed away in the cold drizzle, the dog was handed over to my mate Jim at high noon and the house was rented out to tenants. Why, you may ask?

It was time to go back to South America...

James Mill

James Mill chills in a river

I had previously lived in Brazil and studied Latin American history, I even wrote a paper about Cornish engineers and miners who went to South America in the 19th Century, some whom Darwin stumbled across during his voyages.

The enigmatic Trevithick was here as well, making a dangerous land crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific as well as reaching the dizzying heights of Pasco, Peru where his steam engines sucked the mines of their unwanted water.

My girlfriend and I decided to embark on a five month South American adventure in deepest darkest Peru. We did not expect to be travelling so much, but within days of our arrival friends and family decided to make the most of our time here.

Peru is extremely varied and has to be one of the most exotic places to visit, since we have been here we have seen the cloud forests and ruins of the northern highlands (an Indiana Jones inspiration), and the sky splitting mountains of Huaraz in the high Andes.

We have also visited the far tropical north of the country, the arid desert coast, charming Cusco as well as the bustling colonial city of Arequipa and its gigantic volcano, El Misti, and nearby Colca Canyon with fly by condors.

Local school

Local school children

We are currently living in Huanchaco, a beachside Peruvian town, until the end of our current stay.

Our visit to Peru was two-fold, to travel as widely as possible as well as to help the organisation Inka Magik find more volunteering placements (including health and environmental projects) and alternative tourism.

The organisation places enthusiastic volunteers in schools to help out in lessons, they stay with local families and have the chance to learn Spanish. We visited one volunteer early on in our travels and he was enjoying living with a local family and contributing to the local community. He even ate the local speciality - guinea pig!

At the end of their volunteering placements volunteers can choose to visit Machu Picchu, going on an alternative route through the warm jungle on horseback and by foot, visiting thermal baths and, very interestingly, staying with a local family in a rustic adobe lodge overlooking the beautiful river. The family roast fresh coffee beans and pick papaya off the tree for morning breakfast. A very different route to the classic four day hiking the Inca trail.

Peruvian child

A child in Peru

Peru is friendly, much like Cornwall but there are major differences such as living standards, with 45% of people in poverty. However, Peruvian culture seems to revolve around the sheer number of local festivals and parties (there seems to be one every other day!) as well as the easy nature which people get up and dance.

The diversity of people, art, cultures and landscapes is breathtaking, from the coast to the highlands and the Amazonian Rainforest...these changes make the most impact on the visitor.

We have enjoyed our time here, but as time ticks away and we are due to come home, we miss our family, friends and little dog Fingal (not necessarily in that
order) as well as hot pasties on a cold mizzly Cornish beach!

last updated: 08/02/2008 at 13:08
created: 08/02/2008

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