We are now with everyone else for the class which is Sonya, Conner, Leon, Sarath, and Seri. We have been spending our days at the National Agrarian University in the Molina district of Lima, Peru. Their campus was beautiful with a lot of live stock like cows, alpacas, guinea pigs, and more. The university sells a lot of produce, dairy, plants, and other things that are created there. Unfortunately, their well has been out of water for two months, so none of the toilets could flush. I know that it's important to stay hydrated, but I really didn't want to go into the bathrooms. It was such a struggle every time we had to go, because then we had to go find someone with a key! It really wasn't that bad though.
Everyone at the university was so kind and very welcoming. We did get labeled as the stinky Americans, though. Sarath told us there were some odor complaints about our group, so we had to make sure we were clean! Being smelly is very rude in the Peruvian culture.
Another big thing in the Peruvian culture is food! They have won the best food out of all countries two years in a row, so I knew this was the place for me! They eat a lot of meat and potatoes, but it has never tasted better. I ate the hind legs of one of the guinea pigs we ordered, but I'm not sure if it compared to their special roasted chicken. I typically don't like cheese sauces, but they have created a magical spicy cheese sauce that goes perfectly on everything. It has been two out of three nights now that wherever we end up going to dinner we are the only ones in the whike entire restaurant. It could be our smell..
Peruvians are very laid back and flexible with schedules, so I was never really sure what exactly I was going to do once I reached the field station. I will primarily be focusing on searching, mapping., and others for new fungi. So far in the classroom we have learned how to take slides on three different planes of wood and identify them by their microscopic characteristics. Keep in mind that this is a graduate level class, so it can be pretty difficult. Today was spent IDing wood using a hand lens, and about tropical hardwoods. The tropical hardwoods are much different than our temperate coniferous forests. For example, most species have adapted to having more parenchyma inside to be used for defense. I am very grateful that the university and all of the students we met with there we so friendly and helpful.
I should probably get to bed considering it is almost 2 AM and we have to leave our hotel before 6 AM to fly to Puerto Maldonado. After we arrive in Puerto, then we have an hour long boat ride (the size of a canoe) to the field station. We will have to walk 1k to get there, but it seems difficult when carrying all of our luggage through the forest with us! That is when our rainforest adventure begins! I should have waited till tomorrow to write this, but I can't. There internet access at the NGO Inkaterra Research field station will have very limited internet access, if none at all. This will likely be my last blog post for quite some time now.
Don't worry, I am keeping a personal journal for my short term memory and family! There are already many hilarious stories to tell later, I mustn't forget!
I wish you all a warm and happy summer. You will hear from me again, so be on the lookout! Please excuse any bad grammar, spelling, and structure because I am literally falling asleep as I type this. I will be back to Lima after we finish up this trip, so that is exciting! "til my next post, good night.