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MIT student blogger Elijah T. '11

North to Peru by Elijah T. '11

Not too far from Norway, just south of Mexico.

Being the first three-day weekend of the academic calendar, Columbus Day is a very popular weekend for retreats, brief trips back home, or sleeping marathons. Per tradition, I partook in the first of the three, as The Tech hosted its annual retreat in Maine.

Maine seems to have a lot of small towns with misleading names: Paris, Norway, Oxford, Poland, Mexico, Naples, Vienna, Belfast, and Lisbon are all names of towns in the state. Our retreat was in Peru, located in western Maine; The Tech rented a large vacation home located near a lake in the town. The owners of the home left us a handbook that had a lot of rules by which we were compelled to follow, including one that implored us to refrain from using unauthorized boats in the lake. “TOGETHER WE CAN WIN THE WAR AGAINST AQUATIC INVADERS!” they exclaimed.

The place was a bit too remote for me – its nearest major cities, Boston and Montreal, are each 260 kilometers away – but I suppose it’s passable for a just a few days. Thank God there was still Internet though.

We trickled in to Peru over the course of several hours late Friday night, but that didn’t stop Keith ’08 and Rob ’12 from busting out the chessboard; apparently Keith is very good at chess, having played against someone in the back seat holding on the car ride over in his head while the other person had a cellphone board — and Keith won.

Some of the two dozen folks who went to Peru for the weekend went hiking on Saturday, but I had to rest on account of (a) the fact I was feeling a bit sick and (b) having to drive to Portland and back, an hour and a half each way, at 7am, after only three hours of sleep. (The latter was due to an attendee, Austin ’08, who had to endure an eleven-hour bus ride from New York to Boston thanks to this). But, that afternoon, several of us who avoided going on the hike decided to simply walk around in the vicinity of the house. We stumbled upon some strange sights, including a semi-abandoned car (or maybe it was for sale?) and a series of what appeared to be snowmobile trails. (The first picture was taken by Sam Range ’13, a Tech staff photographer, as you can tell by the superior photo skills.)

We partially relied on Ethan’s (’12) phone GPS to get back to the house, but it didn’t help that Google’s location of the house is farther down the road than it’s actually located. So, we had to actually rely on memory, like it was the 1990s or something.

It may not be abundantly clear, but the fall foliage in Maine was quite stunning – they don’t call it Vacationland for nothing. I recall our jaunts around the creeks in nearby Mexico during retreat two years ago, which got us up close and personal with nature. There were no jaunts around creeks this year and the eerie backwoods we walked around by the house weren’t particularly endearing, but we still had the lake:

Still, MIT students will be MIT students, and some people couldn’t help but sit around doing p-sets or studying for exams the following week.

Some were worried that the presence of wi-fi for the first time meant people would spend too much time on their computers and not enough time getting to know their fellow Tech staffers. Some threatened to unplug the router if things got out of hand, but that never came about. Still, at one point more than half of the attendees were on their computer or doing some internet-related thing on their phones.

Keith, meanwhile, continued his chess campaign. This time, he took things to another level by using a deck stool to play chess in the hot tub outside. Sorry, no info on whether he still won.

(Also taken by Sam)

That evening, several of the guys (not me; I take no credit) cooked up a large pot of pasta and some chicken. Round two came around 11pm in the form of steak tips.

I can’t tell you everything else that happened – what happens in Peru is supposed to stay in Peru – but Darthur G, apparently an avid fire breather, showed off his fire-breathing skills.

Greg ’12 tried his hand as well and he did just fine, even though he had never done it before:

(Taken by Sam, of course)

Jeff ’11, The Tech Editor-in-Chief, also played the ukulele…

I won't tell you the songs they were singing

And, I’ll, uh, pretend that was all that happened Saturday night.

People began returning to Boston in waves on Sunday. I was in the first wave, and per the agreement with Ethan, we stopped at the same rest area we stopped at on the way up. Mimicking what we did on the way up to Peru, Rob bought a scratch ticket from a vending machine and one by one we scratched a number in vain hope we would win something. We also wasted a great deal of time at one of those Japanese game machines where you’re supposed to use a tiny pair of scissors to cut off a prize. After spending at least five dollars, we concluded the game was rigged.

Trust me, it was rigged.

3 responses to “North to Peru”

  1. oasis '11 says:

    we had mathcamp 2004 at colby college in maine. that year’s mystery hunt involved the crazy country/city names of maine towns as part the final metapuzzle. ever since then it’s been a random fact that’s always been at the back of my mind.

    the ihouse retreat was near poland raspberry

  2. Quinton says:

    Marvelous photos. When I grow up I hope that I can be as well travelled as you Elijah. I’m still working on it……

  3. RS says:

    a) Since when did you start blogging?
    b) I had no idea you traveled so much
    c) You have NO idea how much it made my day to see that my Ukulele is still part of The Tech smile