In Peru’s capital city I take an actually hot shower, drink a vanilla latte from Starbucks, and contemplate surf school.
Lara, Mike, and Astrid have come to Lima to facilitate getting the seismometers through customs—the second hurdle after getting the American shipping company to send them.
While Lara tackles her email, Mike and I spend some time exploring the waterfront. It bears a striking resemblance to Santa Monica, CA, though Laura points out that the expensive apartment buildings lining the beach are built on a crumbing cliff of sediments.
The park is full of street vendors who want to tell us about their visits to New Orleans, Portland, and LA. paragliders spin upwards from the cliffs—only 150 Soles for a fifteen-minute ride. Down on the rocky beach, men walk up and down advertising surf lessons. Even though it’s only early spring, surfers dot the waves.
After our first day, we get word that we won’t be able to see the seismometers until the day after they arrive, so we start to make plans to fill in the extra day. Lara wants to see the inquisition museum, and Mike convinces me I should go paragliding.
Luckily for both of our stomachs, we get a call the next morning that defies our expectations—not only have the seismometers landed, but we will be allowed to see them. What’s more, the shipping agents are willing to begin the process of checking over the shipment, a process that includes checking the serial numbers of all the instruments, solar panels, and cables at least twice.
For me, the call comes in the nick of time, since it’s my last day on the trip. After waiting all morning, the right piece of paperwork arrives just as the shipping agents are going out to lunch. We decide to go with them, and we eat delicious ceviche in a restaurant with a combined seating area/parking lot.
Back at work, they finally let us into the warehouse after stripping me of my camera. The seismometers are there, stacked in blue, gray, and black boxes, and at this point I half expect them to be emitting the mythic glow of lost treasure. Lara runs over and wraps her arms around the nearest box.
In the next five hours, we check off each of the hundreds of parts of the shipment, all the way down to itemized cables and bolts. Thanks to Mike and Lara’s knowledge of the equipment, we finish in hours what would have taken the shipping agents days. Now all that’s left is to get the instruments through customs, but with the list itemized and checked, we’re hoping it will go as quickly as possible.
We end the day at a cozy Italian restaurant in our neighborhood—the same restaurant Lara and Maureen frequented when the PULSE project was conceived. We toast the arrival of the seismometers, which hopefully will soon be in the ground, collecting the data that will give Maureen, Lara, and Susan a new glimpse into the inner workings of the earth’s mantle.
The next morning, I watch the beach get smaller and smaller as I take off for Newark. At last, the seismometers are on the ground, and, after a few hours, so am I.
It’s been an amazing trip—thank you to David Bercovici, Maureen Long, Lara Wagner, and Susan Beck for making it possible.