Today started with a slightly different speed than yesterday. We had to drop yesterdays samples off at the lab to be cleaned up and we wanted to get some paperwork sorted to avoid issues with the police like yesterday. When we dropped our samples off, we ran into Tiina Sarkinen and Jean Ristaino who were about to leave for sampling themselves. Luckily we had a few minutes to exchange ideas. After this, we were meeting with Albert Salas, the CIP expert in wild tomatoes. He went trough our itinerary and made a few suggestions. Turns out that the plan that I made before, was quite OK. After the meeting we had to wait for the paperwork to be finished and we could be on our way.

The differences between driving in Lima at 6 in the morning or just after 10:15 are tremendous. There was so much traffic all around us, that at some moments I feared we would never leave the city. Luckily then some moments later, parts of the road appeared completely empty, which the Limenas took as a clue to see how fast their cars could go, until they realised they wanted to go elsewhere to swirl and turn without notice. We’ve found ourselves stuck between traffic with different route preferences more often than not and in the end it took us almost 3 hours to leave Lima. On the way we were stopped again by the police. I will spare you the details, but it took a lot more than some nodding and smiling this time to be able to drive on again…

Then at just past 13:00 we reached our first site and it was a beauty! We stopped because I spotted a lonely Solanum peruvianum plant and it turned out that he was surrounded by tiny S. pimpinellifolium plants and a third wild tomato that I could not determine. So, at one site we got three species. It would be very interesting to sample all plants and see how the pathogens on all of them compare, but in this particular project there is no time for that. In order to reach other sites and other species, we have to limit the number of samples we take per site. So, after collecting wilted plant parts and a selection of brown lesions from about 5 plants, we drove on and just after 14:00 we had a nice lunch in the nearest village.

The afternoon we drove further into the mountains. On our way we saw a lot of nice and not so nice S. peruvianum plants. Many of them growing high on very steep slopes. I nearly sprained my ankle when the piece of rock that I trusted to hold me on my way down broke off and I slipped down a dew meters. Maybe rock climbing and wild tomatoes should be limited to areas with good solid rock. We drove for a good 2 hours with quite a lot of stops to collect S. peruvianum specimens until we realised that we would also have to go back to Lima. So then, we turned around.

The way back started of nicely. We found a good spot to prepare the samples and were done doing that rather quickly. Also the first hour of the drive back went way smoother than we planned. But then Lima traffic hell broke upon us again. I can’t really find the words to describe what it is to drive in Lima, but i like to think that reversing the Middle ring in Munich while blindfolded is a similar experience. You’re barely moving and have no clue what goes on around you. After four near hits, one truck hit the side of our car.  Luckily nothing major, but both Philipe (who had been swearing and yelling of amazement by the drivers surrounding us) and me (who had been swearing and yelling of anger at the drivers surrounding us) decided that this was another good reason to change our plan. Tomorrow we are not going to do a round trip. We drive out further a field, to spend the night there and come back via a different route the day after. So, tomorrow we’ll sleep in a village of 2000 inhabitants at 2837 m altitude. I’m sure the traffic will be lighter.