Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the Land of Dr. No

As the day wore on the tide moved up the beach pushing us closer and closer to the dunes. Finally we were driving through the surf and I felt that we had accomplished our mission. We had counted 615 dead dolphins and had evidence of the tragedy and necropsy samples that might shed light on what had produced this catastrophe.

We found an opening in the dunes and headed east toward the Pan American Highway. Initially we passed through an area behind the dunes that was flooded when the sea was high enough to crest the dunes. But it was now dry and reasonably hard. We made good time.

Our little fellowship consisted of Carlos and me, a driver, a tall female Dutch student and two female Peruvian members of ORCA-Peru. It was pretty cramped. A dangerous lot if I’ve ever seen one.

We then entered an area of powdery sand blown up into ridges that shaped just like waves. We’d go over the top of a crest then plunge into the trough. Hints of previous traffic were everywhere but no clear road to the Pan Am.

Eventually we found ourselves perched over a vast open pit mine. Massive trucks and earthmovers gouged the earth for phosphate. We made our way down tracks in the desert, occasionally stopping to ask guards in variously colored hard hats for directions. They looked surprised but pointed east.

Eventually we reached a huge conveyer belt and then saw the exit gate, which was open. As we approached it men in various colors of overalls and hard hats came running toward us. The gate was closed in front of us. We were in the land of Dr. No.

They asked for our IDs. Strutted around. Wrote on their clipboards. Carlos laughed saying “They’re so screwed because they’ve allowed a breach in security.” I thought, “They’re nuts to write this down. They should just pass us through and hope no one knows we got through their lines.”

Finally they let us out and we ran back to Chiclayo.

What were they afraid of; that we’d steal their phosphate? Or was there something in the mining process that was running into the sea. There was that one huge pipe running through the desert. The words “something evil this way comes,” ran through my mind.

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