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I caught this shot of a Peruvian woman on the street just before leaving Huaraz. Now I’m back in Lima, and I leave for North America this evening.

I found myself comparing Peru to Africa often during this trip, which is obviously flawed since Peru is one country and Africa contains many. Still, I was struck by many questions and comparisons: How do the local citizens react to foreigners? What technologies are being used? How are development projects executed here? What cultural differences are there, and how do these affect one’s approach to projects? What is the difference in need?

Three weeks in a place is certainly not enough time to make any conclusions. My first impressions tell me the need for appropriate technology here is simply not as great as it is in Africa. At one point, my friend (who has traveled to more places in South America than I have) commented, “I think South America is going to be okay.” We don’t talk about “fixing” South America like we do about “fixing” Africa. That says quite a bit about the Western view of the two continents.

I love the Peruvian wilderness. I love the friendliness of the people, and how communication is much easier with one common language. But I am still tied to my exploration in eastern Africa and my projects there. Maybe it’s the beauty I find Africa’s harsh environment, or the strength of its people. Maybe it’s the potential that projects can have when executed well. I feel pulled there.

One day I may try working in South America, but for now I will reserve it for my rock climbing adventures.