Hello my friends,
This is the 4th edition of the Backyard Brains World Tour. Just a short reminder: my name is Etienne ‘ÉT’ Serbe and I’m currently travelling in South America to spread the word of Neuroscience. After nearly 20 presentations, workshops, or demonstrations of Neuroscience basics in Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, I found my way all the way up to Bucaramanga, Colombia. Since my last post, where I was summarizing my stay in Patagonia, I visited Tim in Santiago de Chile and, afterwards, experienced some adventurous weeks trying to find my way up North along the Pacific coast. It started pretty relaxing spending days crossing the Atacama desert where the BYB equipment served as great entertainment for the hitchhikers on the road.
Things started getting problematic when I arrived at the Peruvian border. I got the bad news that my vehicle wasn’t registered while leaving the country in 2013. After several days at customer services at different borders I was told that the police is allowed to take away ‘Brunhilde’ when entering Peru. Consequently I had either to leave behind my beloved Kombi or to turn around to the South. Having already planned my visits in Lima and Chiclayo, I decided to park my car in the Peruvian jungle and to return to the backpacker life.
In Lima I was invited by David Chaupis to give a workshop in Henri Chispe’s cultural center ‘El Paradero’. At the same time this was the inauguration of the El Paradero laboratory, an open access space that enables scientists to give classes, presentations, and workshops. With the open laboratory ‘El Paradero’ gives scientists a platform to share their passion the same way as musicians can give concerts or artists can hold exhibitions. This mixture of professions leads to an extremely creative atmosphere which makes it possible to see the world from different perspectives.
After a short introduction about action potentials, neuroprosthetics, brain waves and how the BYB equipment works, the participants could take their time to discover by their own the broad application spectrum of the DIY experimental devices. I would like to thank the whole ‘El Paradero’ team for their hospitality. Giving me insights to the Limean life and their function as a cultural center was very inspiring and we’ll see each other again.
My next stop was the city of friendship, Chiclayo, where I visited my friend Marlon Suarez with whom I studied Biology in Munich. With his help I was able to share my NeuroTour at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Ruiz Gallo (hosted by Prof. Pedro Chimoy) and the Universidad de Cajamarca. Once again, I was welcomed with open arms and experienced where Chiclayo got its nickname from. Sharing with the Peruvian costeños, I learned a lot about their culture, traditions and dances. Thanks a lot for everything.
Spending the days in the Peruvian far North I once again realized how advantageous it would be for remote areas to have access to low-cost experimental science devices. Not only for educational purposes but also their potential use for hospitals and doctors in the countryside.
Moving on to Ecuador my worst case scenario happened as my laptop broke down. I had to skip the planned NeuroTour stop Quito and travelled to Bogotá, where I unsuccessfully tried to get my laptop repaired. In Colombia a chain of lucky coincidences brought me to William Omar Contreras Lopez (Young Neurosurgeon of the year 2015). He invited me to Bucaramanga where I could present my NeuroTour at the Simposio Regional de Neurociencia that was held on the development of new technologies in Neuroscience. Thanks for the invitation, which made it possible to share my experiences with young motivated scientists (click here or here for video) and might be the start of future collaborations using the BYB equipment as Brain-Computer and/or Human-Machine Interfaces.
After nearly 15,000km travelling in South America I decided to slowly plan route to Europe. I will return to Lima for two weeks and then visit Machu Picchu with my mom. After that I will try to ship ‘Brunhilde’ down the Amazon and across the Atlantic Ocean. I am happy for any advice or help. Luckily my BYB equipment is still working, so don’t worry, this is not the end of the BYB World Tour.
Love and Kisses. ÉT