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The stars at Wayqecha

It is time for me to say goodbye to a wonderful country. When I left for Peru, I was overworked and stressed because I had to organize a 2 weeks course in a country I knew nothing of, with people I barely knew from a few emails and skype calls. And I did not have time to read anything about the country, the history and it’s people. I packed my bag, jumped on a plane and arrived in Cusco, without having slept much on the journey.

My first glance at Cusco and the surrounding mountains changed everything. I saw snowy peaks, greener than green fields and brown houses. The city was loud and the sun was shining. It warmed my heart. And everything after that has just been a dream. Everybody I met in Peru was extremely friendly and helpful. (Almost) Everything I needed, was organized without any difficulties. I learnt an important lesson, „In Peru, everything is possible“.

And finally, travelling in Peru has been super nice. I’m very relaxed, I’m sad to leave, but also ready to go home and to work again!

And I start to wonder, how many times can you leave your heart in a place, before nothing is left? I hope indefinitely…

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Uncover Titicaca Lake

I am not a big fan of travelling in large and organized groups. But sometimes it is easier to join a group to get to certain places. This is what we did at Titicaca Lake. And it was fun. I did a little research to find a company that offers tours other than the standard tourist trip and works with local people.

First, we took a boat to isla Taquile and visited the local knitters and weavers. Apparently, the best knitters in the world come from this island. Knitting is a mens business, the women weave.

The next stop was Santa Maria, on the Capachica Peninsula. There we tried a local dish called“Pachamanca“, which is fish, chicken, potatoes and vegetables cooked under a pile of stones and soil.

Finally, we visited the floating islands, isla Uros Ccapi. This island is more remote than others and less visited. About 25 people live on a 40m2 floating island made of dried totora reed. It takes about 1.5 years to make an island and only Uros people are allowed to make them. More and more young people leave the islands to live on the mainland and this is likely to be the last generation living on the floating islands.

 

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Crossing the Andes with the train

To travel from Cusco to Puno there is a train that goes through the Andes. It is a slow way of travelling but takes you through amazing landscapes. At the back of the train there is a bar and an open viewing area where you can take pictures of the surroundings.

The train is luxurious and not cheap. But I enjoyed to travel slowly and to have time to study the beautiful landscape.

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Cusco

After one month in Cusco I have learnt to love this place. Cusco is loud and a bit crowded, but very charming in it’s own way. You find extremely good Peruvian and foreign food. And people in Cusco are very friendly, despite all the tourist that visit the city every day.

I like especially the San Blas area located north of the centre on the hillside. The charming streets are steep and full of small artsy shops, restaurants and cafés. One of my favourites is L’atelier Café Concept, a lovely shop and café.

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The orchids from Wayqecha

Cloud forest are extremely moist, montane forest in the tropics and subtropics. Precipitation ranges from 500 – 10000 mm a year. This moisture allows a huge diversity of bryophytes, lichens, ferns and orchids to grow.

Walking through a cloud forest is like shopping in a garden center back home. Many plants that we have indoors in Europe originate from these forests. Sadly, we only get a very small selection of the large diversity of orchids that grows in these cloud forests.

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Field work in the Puna

I have spent the last 4 weeks between the cloud forest and puna vegetation. The puna is a high elevation grassland at around 4000 m a.s.l. It is located in the Peruvian Andes above the cloud forest. The climate is very wet, because several times a day the clouds from the Amazon move upwards and bring fog and rain. The Puna has an high diversity of grasses, forbs, bryophytes (mosses) and lichens.

The last weeks, I have been teaching on the plant functional trait course about ecology, traits, data collection, data management and reproducible coding.

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Shopping in Cusco

I’m in Cusco, Peru for our TraitTrain course were we teach students about functional leaf traits, climate change ecology and more. Today we were  shopping material for the course in Cusco, an adventure! And now you’ll think we bought colourful fabric, an Alpaca, some Inka souvenirs… No, we got pvc tubes, metal poles, 5000 envelopes, plastic bags, measuring tape, etc.

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Sunny ski weekend

On Saturday, I went on a ski tour in Bergsdalen to Hamlagrøhornet. To start with it was -12°C and I almost froze, before we got going. But as soon as we reached the sun, things were fine again. The snow was unfortunately not very good for skiing and only at the bottom there was some powder.

And today, I skied Vidden, something I have wanted to do for a long time. There were so many people on foot and skis enjoying the sun!