Kassie from the TAP Crew here, one week into my Peruvian adventures and I am sitting on a long and winding bus ride from Peru’s adventure capital Huaraz to Peru’s sprawling capital city, Lima. Tomorrow I fly to Puerto Maldonado to explore a small southern portion of Peru’s treasured Amazonian rainforests. With sights I’ve never seen and sounds I’ve never dreamed of hearing, I’m sure the experience will be nothing but unforgettable.
Of course as a committed TAP pledger, I haven’t forgotten to practice my personally instated “no-disposable-plastic-bottle,” policy. I’ve kept my eyes peeled for lessons and stories that might make travelling more friendly for reusable bottle users such as myself; especially in a country where there remains a specific strain of bacteria in the water that is especially strong for foreigners.
Like all trips there have been some challenges even I wasn’t prepared for. Some of which I feel are important to share with you all, and some of which will simply be a friendly reminder.
1. When ordering at a restaurant in another language, make sure you know the proper terminology for “tap water”. Don’t be fooled by the bottled water options on the menu, most of which are plastic (not glass) and are usually with or without carbonation. Unlike the states, glasses of water are not usually served as you are seated. Water is simply one option amongst many other drink options. Of course I prefer a cold glass of beer at the end of the day, but whatever works for you.
2. If you are using technology that requires a certain type of battery or method of charging that is not universal, I recommend finding it in the states prior to your departure date. For example, one of my group members on this trip has had an extremely difficult time finding the proper lithium batteries for her SteriPen, meaning it was unusable for most of the trip.
3. From what I’ve seen in my short stint down south, people are itching to learn about more options to travel responsibly; especially when it comes to something as simple as relying on oneself for clean water. It may not sound that simple at first, but if you are experienced with these practices, don’t be afraid to share what you know with others.
4. Going trekking? See if you can’t pack out some other’s leftovers on your way down the trail. The Andes are full of epic peaks worthy of any mountain lover, but the stress trekkers from everywhere have placed on the mountain’s natural facilities is most obvious. You can see plastic bottles lining the paths and streams that flow to lower communities surrounding the base of the mountains. Any amount of effort to help clean these trails, and others around the world is much appreciated.
5. On the topic of sharing and trekking, I’d like to tell you a neat story that some adventure-bound Israeli students passed along to us in Huaraz. They are making a positive impact on the world through a very simple trekking tool. The tool can be described as follows: First they take a strong nylon strap. Then they punch holes in the tops of bottle caps and thread them onto said strap. At that point all they need to do is attach the strap to their trekking packs. As they come across bottles on the trail they can screw empty disposable plastic bottles onto the caps, and carry them out. After hearing about what these students were doing, an Israeli company jumped on board and started manufacturing and selling carabineers which support a full load of bottle cap nylon straps.
That is all I have for now! Stay tuned for more pictures and lessons learned from my Peruvian Adventures.
Kassie McKnight - TAP Crew Member