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Interview 5:25 - 13:04 Play 5:25 - More
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Carol Mitchell  

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Mining and its environmental impact  

Environmental Recording 13:53 - 16:49 Play 13:53 - More
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Steet ambi  

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Environmental Recording 16:54 - 27:06 Play 16:54 - More
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Market ambi  

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Interview 27:30 - 39:32 Play 27:30 - More
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Carol Mitchell  

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Puerto Maldonado; Gold mining  

Interview 42:23 - 46:05 Play 42:23 - More
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Carol Mitchell  

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Mining and its environmental impact  

Interview 51:08 - 53:31 Play 51:08 - More
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Market shop owner  

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in Spanish; Mining; Life after mining  

Sound Effects 54:34 - 59:47 Play 54:34 - More
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Motorcycle, Moped, Scooter  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
18 Oct 1999

    Geography
  • Peru
    Madre de Dios
    Locality
  • Puerto Maldonado; Mercado
    Latitude/Longitude
  • -12.6   -69.18333
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
  • SONY TCD-D7
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo; Sennheiser MKH40 Cardioid Mid Mic and MKH30 Bidirectional Side Mic through Sonosax Preamp into Sony TCD7

NPR/NGS
RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: Peru
Log of DAT #: 1
Date: 1999

ng = not good
ok = okay
g = good
vg = very good

NPR/NGS
Radio Expeditions
Show: Peru
Log of DAT 1

Absolute Time:

Interview with Carol Mitchell [referred to as Carol in log, so as not to confuse with Charlie Munn, CM]

0:27:32 - 0:30:13
JN: Tell me again where we are.
Carol: We are in the market in Puerto Maldonado.
JN: It¿s easy to get just about anything here, Pokemon, pokemon balls, leather goods, anything ¿ You were talking before about the music, and that is the music of the highland people?
Carol: Yes, there¿s, not this one in particular, but there is music called Chicha which is very representative of highland people who have come from the Andes and are now living in the jungle.
JN: How big is this market do you think, was this place much smaller a couple of years ago?
Carol: No, actually it¿s been about the same, it¿s the same size but I think they¿ve divided all the stalls in half so that they can just fit many more people in.
NJ: So there¿s twice as many shop owners¿
Carol: Probably, probably almost twice as many, yes.
NJ: Okay, well tell me again, it¿s a ¿ ¿ Walk just a little bit slowly ¿ tell me the, you can get anything here..
Carol: You can get anything here, you can get electronic appliances, you can get a parrot, we were just asked if we wanted to buy a parrot, yes,
NJ: And this is where everybody shops?
Carol: This is the main shopping center. This is like the mall. Yes.
NJ: It doesn¿t look like any mall I know,
Carol: And actually it¿s a combination mall and supermarket because on the other end of the market is the food area.
NJ: Just in the last two years, this is a town that has gone through a lot of booms and busts¿ Were there other booms after that?
Carol: I would say since the rubber boom it probably crashed after the rubber boom, but how do I want to say this, the extent to which the growth is occurring now I think is much greater than during the rubber boom, and this latest boom is due to gold mining activity outside the city itself.

0:30:13 - 0:32:46
NJ: Do people just hear about that,
Carol: Hear about the gold mining? Yes, people hear about it in the highlands, it gets passed word of mouth there is a lot of poverty in the highlands of Peru in the Andes, and people are looking for a way to make money, so it¿s quite attractive, the idea of making money off gold is quite attractive.
NJ: This town is booming and it¿s booming because of a lot of people in the hinterlands not too long ago. So try to, if you can, describe what a lot of the people who just got here were doing before the price of gold crashed.
Carol: Okay, um, they would be working in mining camps along the river banks. There¿re several ways that mining is done, most of it is some form of Plasser [?] mining. The most rustic way in which it¿s done is having many many people in some beaches up to a hundred people with wheelbarrows carting gravel and sand up to a sluice and they have a water pump and just wash the sand down and collect the gold in a special kind of rug, so a lot of these people were probably running the wheelbarrows. Then after that there¿s another sort of notch in the technology which is what they call a draga, a dredge. That is something placed in the river, where it scoops up the sediment in the river, it¿s a very big machine. But the same technique is used. And sort of the last level, which is sort of the absolutely most destructive ecologically, is the use of front-loading tractors to basically take down the forest and clear off the sediment underneath for this same process. And so the people were probably involved in one of those kinds of activities.
NJ: Do people use mercury around here in the process?
Carol: Yes, mercury is used to amalgamate the gold. And it is not used really with any kind of environmentally protective equipment so it goes into the rivers.
NJ: So that¿s the good news of the collapse in the price of gold.
Carol: Right, and actually some German biologists who were studying otters, German biologist Christof Schenk from the Frankfurt Zoological Society did a study of the fish in Manu, of the mercury levels of fish in Manu, and Manu has distinctly high levels of mercury in fish, and so that even the giant river otters in Manu are affected by the gold mining activity down in this area.

0:32:46 - 0:34:11
JN: All right, Thousands of them were out there mining two years ago, I don¿t know if this is true¿ the price of gold goes through the floor - what happens to those people?
Carol: Right, the price of gold went down and furthermore the technologies that are being used are no longer useful, they¿ve gotten out all that can be gotten with those kinds of technologies. I¿m sorry I missed the question.
JN: I¿m trying to tell the story of how the city got so big, so first we got the -
Carol: Oh, okay, basically the economy revolving around the gold mining has been collapsing lately. People have been saying they¿ve watched the front loading tractors go out up the mountains to Cuzco, which in some sense is great. But what happens is that you have all the people who were working that, those machines and working the wheel barrows and stuff, a lot of them did not make enough money to go back to Cuzco. So they come down here, and for many of them the plan is just to make enough money so that they can go back home, but you talk to a lot of people here and you say when did you get here and how long were you planning to stay, well I came in 1985 I was planning to stay 3 years, now I¿m here 14 years. That¿s a more common response than not.

0:34:11 - 0:35:05
JN: Is Puerto Maldonado sprawling like,
Carol: Yes, it¿s starting to sprawl, there¿re starting to be what they call asentamientos humanos, which are like settlements on the edges of town, yeah like barrios, slums, people come in, they form an association - one thing about the people from the highlands is that they¿re very comunal, they do things in, they do things in a comunal fasion very efficiently. So they get themselves together, they get a group of people and either purchase or in some cases invade a piece of land and set up a community on it.
JN: What¿s the name of you baby?
Carol: My baby¿s name is Melany.
JN: How old is she, one?
Carol: She¿s a month, she¿s one month old.
JN: Let¿s just say she¿s cute.

0:35:05 - 0:35:27
Market ambi, fade out

0:35:27 - 0:36:35
JN: talking to Carol about what he wants to hear. GOOD MARKET AMBI HERE

0:36:35 - 0:37:09
JN: This is not your basic market full of fruits and vegetables and woven products.
Carol: No, that¿s on the other side of ¿
JN: We¿re standing here in front of a bank of television sets¿ So to you this is sort of a symbol of the explosive growth of Puerto Maldonado, yeah?
Carol: yes.
JN: When a city gets bigger, when you look around the outskirts of the city do you see more logging, do you see more fires? You tell me what do you see?

0:37:09 - 0:38:20
Carol: Okay, yes, as Puerto Maldonado grows it needs to resupply itself in some sense with food and materials, so there is more agriculture being done along the road and along the rivers that extend out from Puerto Maldonado
JN: more -
Carol: agriculture.
JN: more forests being cleared and burned
Carol: yes, more forest being cleared and burned, that¿s the way that agriculture¿s done in the jungle. You take down the forest, burn it, and plant your corn. And also in terms of weed extraction, yes there is a very big push for wood extraction, especially the very fine species such as mahogony and Spanish cedar. And those are extending up into some of the rivers which coincide with the head waters of the Manu river.
JN: I had heard that mahogony was valuable so valuable that there are people who build roads, just to get to it.
Carol: Yes, it grows in patches also so that once you build a road - [music comes in loud]

0:38:20 - 0:39:30
Carol: Okay, yes mahogony grows in patches so once you build a road you aquire more than one tree.
JN: I mean somebody with a truck¿ that could make you a lot of money, one good mahogony tree.
Carol: Yes, one good mahogony tree can make you a lot of money, and actually the most frightening way that people go about getting it is with forestry tractors which are these gigantic machines that have what looks like a huge mouth at the front, and they create their own road, take down the trees as they¿re going in to the forest until they reach the trees that they are, until they reach the economically valuable trees.
JN: And the road is just the beginning, once a road is there,
Carol: Right, once the road is there there can be conelization along the road -
JN: What is conelization?!?
Carol: colonization!
JN: I can¿t work with her!

0:39:30 - 0:42:10
A little chatting, walking through the market. Good ambi.
Chicha music playing in the restaurant section of the market.

0:42:18 - 0:44:09
JN: Where were we? Mahogany - the trees get taken out ¿ Once the road is built what happens?
Carol: There can be a colonization which is the movement of people, colonists, along that road, and basically setting up homesteads.
JN: And that¿s how towns like this spread out basically
Carol: that¿s how they spread out.
JN: ¿ What are some of the ways that this kind of growth is potentially a threat to Manu? To the Biological reserve.
Carol: baby getting antsy¿Basically the two that I¿ve mentioned, there are two which I¿ve mentioned that are already having probably, well one definitely is having some effect on Manu, and that is the use of mercury in gold mining. A second one which is likely to be a problem in the near future is the logging. Logging is now taking place in the headwaters of some rivers which are quite close to the headwaters of Manu, and the very, the very fine species like the mahogany and cedar are not common, so they are quickly taken out and people will look for more. And once they¿re not available outside a national park, people will want to go in.
JN: sooner or later, people will cross the line.
Carol: right.
JN: Well how do you stop that from happening?

0:44:09 - 0:47:01
Carol: Oh dear. He he. One thing that you can try to do is get people involved in other activities. And one of the activities which is potential in this area is tourism. It¿s starting to grow, there¿s still a lot of room for that to grow. So for those of us involved in conservation are hoping that it will take off soon.
JN: you know, I¿m just curious, this is not really part of the environmental thing but, is the influx of the highland people here at Puerto Maldonado it must be in some ways a great thing to, because you have a cultural change. Some people talk to me about LA and they say oh, Mexicans¿ I really miss the culture - Has the culture of this place changed?
Carol: Well basically it just overwhelms the cultures that are here. This entire central part of Maldonado is really Sierran culture now. There are two outlying areas, one is Pueblo Viejo which is where Victor lives and the other is La Joya which is where I live where there are people who have who are basically what we call huarayos, who were born here or who have lived here for 30 or more years, but really when the highland culture comes down it swamps anything else that¿s down here.
JN: Just so that I don¿t become guilty of caring about the future of Manu at the extent of everything else, the growth of a city like this and the¿ slums, environmental problems in the city.
Carol: Yes, though a lot of them probably are in similar living conditions here than they were in the highlands - woops, I¿m loosing it here..

0:46:31 - 0:47:01
Leo¿s indications

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