Journey to Paracas
On their second day in Peru, students enrolled in the Chesapeake Semester boarded a bus and headed south along the coast to Paracas and the Marine-protected Ballestas Islands. They saw the abundance of Peru’s guano birds for the first time. The concentration of guano spurred the Peruvian economic engine of guano (fertilizer) export to First World countries up until the turn of the 20th century. Today the guano harvest has dramatically decreased and is heavily regulated by the Peruvian government. Despite the decades that have elapsed since the guano glut, the method of harvest has made little advancement. Labor is still supplied from the same two remote Andean villages that have supplied labor for generations. Under the government’s supervision and scientific management these workers migrate seasonally up and down the coast selecting harvests sites based upon guano volume, bird migration, and nesting habits for less impactful mining.