The day started of pretty nice again. Ok, the hotel didn’t serve breakfast, but one block away we found a bakery like shop that served us a decent empenada and had some very upbeat music just loud enough that it wouldn’t make sense to talk to each other. This, of course made for a very happy the start of the day. After breakfast we left Huaral with a minor detour, but this led us to the first surprise of the day. Urban wild tomatoes! A nice S. pimpinellifolium was growing next to a pile of rubbish well within the city and a second one could be found in a field, behind a pretty decent barbed-wire fence.
Today was supposed to be a shorter day. From Huaral to Lima are 90 km. When you take the Panamerican highway, this can be done in under 2 hours, even with dense traffic. We took the B-road, the 108. Google tells you that when you follow this road, it will take you three hours. However, Google is pretty much completely off when it comes to dirt tracks. We learned this the past few days so, we do our own calculations. On average, I can drive about 25 – 30 km/h on the track. This includes the occasional stop to look for the plants. So the we add a few hours of actual sampling and you can calculate that no more than 6 hours after leaving we’d be in Lima. Today’s road was slightly different. First of all it was very impressive, sometimes green and agriculture all around, then dry and pretty dusty, but above all it pot holed like no other. So badly, that I regularly had to use the lowest of the low gears to just get over the road. Below a picture of a good section.
After seeing this mixed landscape for a while and encountering the odd S. pimpinellifolium and S. pennellii the landscape change again. Everything became even dryer and dustier. A total moon landscape right ahead of us. So we feared, looking at the distance to go, that the next 5 hours would be tomato free. This turned out to be completely false. After a few km, we came closer to the dried up river beds and suddenly the S. pennellii popped up all over the place. I think that I am not exaggerating if I say that on some locations you could see plants every 20 meters for hundreds of meters. Truly amazing.
After 25 km, the road went up in the mountains again, but the tomato intensity did not decrease. The species changed to S. peruvianum and all along the road there were hundred of plants On the way down on the other side, the gradually made way to S. pennellii again, just like on the other side. Hundreds of plants, all in a place dry as the moon. Interestingly, if you put your hand in between the leaves of the plant to sample the lower parts, you can feel humitity on your skin. Between the leaves of the tomatoes is a true humid microenvironment!
Today is probably the day with the most spotted plants, which came to me totally unexpected. However, since it also came with as many pot holes, we finally arrived in Lima at a bit past 16:00. Both Philippe and I are not CIP employees, so we would have needed a special permit to work after 17:00. This left not much time to fully prepare the samples, so we decided quickly prep everything for overnight storage and tomorrow we will join the CIP technicians with the sample preps. I am really looking forward to this, because upon my arrival, they told me that they isolated some P infestans spores from the 1st sample, collected on the 1st day. Let’s see if we can get more!