A Gringo Guide to Peru: Part 3 – Relativity.

Albert Einstein was a genius. You aren’t reading this to find that out. Perhaps his most well known work was that of special and general relativity, with the theory of general relativity focusing on the affect of gravity on the rest of the universe. This may seem like a meaningless segue, but allow me to elaborate.

After we had unloaded our luggage into the room, Raul asked if we would like to go to dinner with him and his family, an offer that we accepted. A time and a venue was decided, and we parted ways to spend some time unwinding after 27 hours of sitting at the back of aeroplanes.

It was 6.00pm. We arrived at the pizzeria to find that Raul had not yet arrived. But that was fine, the man had a family and was no doubt either busy with them, or tied up with other work related problems. We took our seat and ordered.

On a side note, it seems that the concept of a pizza has not yet been fully understood by much of Peru. Maybe it is my disgusting western privilege (in fact, most of the issues in this trip can be attributed to that) but the stale cheesy bread topped with mystery meat we were served means that no-one from Naples is losing any sleep tonight.

More importantly, it was 8.00pm by the time we had finished our food and been pressured out of our spare change by arrhythmic street performers and there was still no sign of Raul. Tired and unhappy, we gave up waiting and turned in for the night.

The following morning was the final day before we were due to be picked up by our volunteer company and head off into the jungle. At breakfast, we were contacted by Raul who wanted to meet up at the hostel for a Spanish lesson at 11am. So we sat and waited. And waited. And then it was 2pm. So we got bored and left.

Before coming to Peru, I was told about the concept of South American time, which boiled down to “however long you think it will take, add three hours and then prepare to be disappointed.” I chuckled along, dismissing it purely as elitist European snobbery. However, now I know the truth. It is elitist European snobbery, and also completely accurate. 

One of the revelations from Einstein’s work on general relativity was that the gravitational force of a black hole is so strong it can alter the flow of time. Light has a constant speed, it cannot go faster or slower. A black hole’s gravity is so strong, it can bend space. Therefore the only way to balance the equation of ‘speed equals distance over time’ is to slow down time. This is why 5 minutes near a black hole equates to a much longer period of time further away from it. 

Therefore, using this theory, it is safe to assume there is a collapsing neutron star somewhere near the centre of Lima, only Lima is so awful that no-one wants to go and look for it. 

Raul didn’t show up. Not wanting to waste a day, we joined two more volunteers as they went fishing, and watched on as they caught several catfish and the corpse of an explorer. Raul promised to meet us for dinner that evening, and did not show up to that either, so we retired to the rooftop for the evening. 

A mere 12 hours after he originally planned, Raul arrived at the hostel. This was finally our chance to ask a whole host of questions. Where were we going? What were we doing? When could we come back? Instead of answering them, Raul elected to drink the remaining beers and then go home, leaving us none the wiser in any respect. It was midnight, bed was imminent, the jungle was calling.

Taken from the shore of Alcatraz Island

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