Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bedinger Part 2

Hello again,
This is Pat with my second post about the trip south of Lima. We fortunately got a larger 15-person van for our road trips, to hold our luggage as well as ourselves. We got onto the Pan American Highway and headed to the town of Asia, where a sympatric pair had been reported previously. From Google Earth we suspected that the area had been heavily cultivated and indeed that was the case. We did find one wild tomato species, Solanum corneliomuelleri, next to a cotton field. After collecting, we headed to Rio Canete (with a brief stop at a Pisco brandy winery), a wild light green river known for rafting and kayaking and made our way to the touristic town of Lunahuana. We found a lovely little hotel there called Hotel Alta with an open dining area with many flowers and trees, including avocado trees, a swimming pool and a trail down to the river. After dropping off our luggage, we headed up the river valley and branched off up a rough road. We found a terraced garden including an apple orchard and lucked out with a three-species tomato area; S. corneliomuelleri, S. pimpinellifolium and S. pennellii. After a fairly hair-raising drive back to the hotel in the dark, we had a quick swim in the pool and dinner on the lovely terrace. Tamales here are different from Mexican ones, with coarser corn meal and containing olives, raisins and meat. The next morning we learned how coffee works in Peru. Café con leche is made with a high concentration of instant coffee poured into hot water, and leche con café is made with concentrated instant coffee poured into hot milk. We spent the day up the Rio Canete, starting with a very interesting gas fill up where gas was brought out of a hut in a bucket and poured into the tank with a funnel (we will attach a movie of this). Our goal on this visit was to collect “marginal” SC S. habrochaites for our studies of formation of new lineages. We found our first population near a waterfall near the Puente Auco. Again there were enough flowers to collect for proteomics, and we were able to catch our first pollinators here. We hope to identify these at CIP with the help of folks who have studied wild potato pollinators. We then headed up a very narrow road (needed the floppy hat shield) to the beautiful little town of Yauyos, where we spotted another S. habrochaites at the entrance to town and at the local cemetery. After a lunch of lomos saltado we collected at the cemetery and caught more pollinators including a very large bee (will post movie). We returned to our hotel again in the dark and were too tired for dinner, just had local bananas and mandarinas. Our young folks (Paul, Phillip, Gloria and Reynaldo) did pollinations (we middle agers could not deal with the delicate maneuvers for emasculations and pollinations) late into the night. The next day we took a day off and headed back to the coast to the town of Parracas. After finding a nice hotel (El Mirador) we turned in our dirty laundry for washing and went to the Parracas National Parque. We found a lovely little beach (La Mina), rock skipping contests and fossil discovery. After a mass emailing interval, dinner in town included local fish, corvino and lenguado, and Pisco Sours. The next morning we drove through Pisco which was devastated two years ago by an earthquake and is still trying to recover. We purchased picnic supplies (which worked much better than a restaurant for lunches), started up the Rio Pisco and then branched off on the Rio Chiris to go to the town of Ticrapo. We knew that sympatric species should be in the area but could not find them at first. Reynaldo and Phillip were the heroes of the day as they hiked up into the hills and found our populations. We had a nice group of S. habrochaites growing sympatrically with S. corneliomuelleri to collect from. Back down the river valley we decided to head a bit north to make the next day’s drive to Lima more palatable, so we ended up in the surfing town of Cerro Azul for the night, after a truly frightening drive of passing large trucks at high rates of speed in the dark. Our hotel was pretty marginal, and my camera was stolen from the van as we unloaded our luggage, but the worst thing was a LOUD concert next door that went on pretty much all night. Steve actually went over and mingled with the crowd, noting that he “fit right in”. Hmmm. We all woke bleary-eyed and walked into town for breakfast, afterwards enjoying watching the incredible surfing from the pier. We arrived back in Lima in the late afternoon and had an excursion to the local supermarket, which I always love to do in a foreign country. There were at least a dozen kinds of potato in the vegetable section, as well as the most extremely purple corn I have ever seen, which they use to make a purple sweet drink called Chicha Marada. We hade a great picnic at CIP and then took care of laundry and emailing and reserving the van for the north trip. At dinner the CIP folks prepared an extravaganza of potatoes (around 6 kinds) and roasted meat. They really are spoiling us. After dinner Bruce, Roger and I brainstormed for a possible future proposal with CIP and wrote an abstract to discuss with Merideth the next day. Finally, to bed!
Next blog post – the northern trip.

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