My job throughout most of this was to count plants of a certain species within a certain quadrant, and to help the Limeños carry their stuff up and down the mountains. It was a little funny and ironic that the foreigner was the one carrying the equipment, and the Peruvians were the ones having problems with the altitude, but I guess that’s what happens after five and a half months of acclimation in the mountains. The counting plants isn’t too fun, but it was fun to look for different species of plants and to see many new parts of the Reserve within which I live. Also I tasted and learned about many medicinal plants, and I even hiked to about 5,000 meters above sea level. Overall, a fun experience that took me to many places no gringo has gone before!
In other Yauyos news, one of my new activities is helping to coach the high school soccer team. In July there is a tournament in which every high school of the area participates to take home a trophy, and especially bragging rights. It may seem funny that a gringo is the one coaching soccer in a Latin country, but it turns out there are a lot of basic skills that I can help with as the “Técnico Americano”.
My main role as coach is to improve the fitness aspect of the team. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday we are up and running at 5:30 a.m (a time I did NOT choose). It is still dark at this hour, but the boys get up and running almost right on time. We run for about 45 minutes and then my “expertise” comes into play. We stretch. Stretching is something that many Tomasinos are unaware of. We are learning the importance and correct techniques, as a team, and the kids enjoy it. Then we do push-ups and sit-ups. It is hilarious to listen to the boys yell and complain about the workout, although afterward they tell me how fun it was. I hope that our fitness and strength training will give Tomas the edge in the July tourney, because it would be fun to take home the championship.
Life continues to move quickly (and sometimes productively) here in Tomas. I’ve been in Perú more than 8 months now, and I don’t know where the time is going…
And now, a few pictures for your viewing pleasure!
Flowers of a Colle tree, an endangered species that is native to this part of the Andes.
My Park Guard friend Marisol. Being a Park Guard is a full time job, so you take advantage and sleep anytime you can, including in the back of a VERY bumpy pickup ride.
Measuring Colle trees. These trees are endangered and are tough to grow. These giants must be 200 years old (seriously, these are old)
The gelatin like substance of the Potaka plant. It is medicinal, and supposedly helps the liver. Not much flavor, so I recommend that next time you're eating Potaka you add sugar.
A grove of Potaka, with the biologists. As is custom, everyone is sporting their vests.