El perro encima de la mesa a las cinco de la mañana
Week 6 already. Time flies really fast here. That’s a good sign I guess. The last one and half weeks have been really tiring, but fortunately only in a physical way. Day after day, from dawn to dusk, we have been hiking and sampling through the Cordillera Blanca with a small hunnebed on our back. This all accompanied by blisters, aching knees and burned faces. Yet, these small physical inconveniences are more than fully compensated by the superb landscapes and flora and fauna of the Cordillera Blanca.
In these last weeks, we have learned already a great deal. For me, it became apparent that the design you make back home behind your computer does not always reflect reality. Also, as your research is ongoing you’ll run into things that you did not think about before. Both things means that you have to improvise, which off course is ok and can be very learning full. But even when you have taken everything into account, the success of a fieldwork expedition is dependent on things you cannot control: the weather for instance. Usually around this time of the year in Huaraz sun is shining all day and there is not even one single cloud to protect you from the blistering sun radiation (sorry Raúl for stealing again your wording). This year, however, clouds arise almost daily from both the Cordillera Blanca and the Pacific Ocean and treat people without any shelter (for instance a group of biologist working on their internship in Peru) now and then with rain, thunder and even hail. Again, these are only small inconveniences. Looking at the current colour of our skins (even Guido seem to get a tan) it seems that in these last weeks we have seen more sunlight than we would annually see in the Netherlands.
Peru, in general, has so far been good to us. The food is great (but why does Chinese in Peru taste like the Chinese in the Netherlands but taste both not like the Chinese in China), the people are friendly and the music is great (salsa is awesome, although I have to work on my still rather stiff hip-movements). My experiences with local cows, however, are so far less positives. Yesterday, while hiking through the innermost valleys of the Cordillera Blanca I ran into several rather intimidating cows. First, they stared at me with a look that said: “Who’s this gringo. You don’t belong here chico!” This I could accept. Yet, some cows apparently found this to be not enough and started charging at me. This I could not accept and with some stones and sticks I fought off these baka loco. The life of a biologist can be dangerous.
Today I experienced for the first time the Peruvean collectivo: a small taxi van. I had to take it to get to my fieldwork location. I don’t think gringos often use this kind of public transport given the looks and laughs I was getting from the beautifully dressed women. Although I couldn’t understand a word of what the women were saying (I think they were talking in Quechua with each other), the ride was really fun and the continues chatting and laughing of the women compensated the fact that I had to squeeze myself into a very tiny seat.
The coming three days will be our last fieldwork days unfortunately. Yet, we have still and epic part ahead of us: a two-day trekking up to a lagona at 4500 m height in the middle of the Cordillera Blanca. This all of course is necessary for the research but is even still amazing, although we have to miss the semi-final for this. Yet, I’m more than willing to give this up for a cup of coffee in the morning with view on a glacier lake in the heart of the Peruvian Andes.
We’ll keep you posted on our experiences and check out the blog for some awesome pictures that will be posted soon!