Yesterday we had the privilege to wake up at 2:00 am to catch a flight to Cajamarca. Well, first we got a taxi ride the airport. The perks of getting up so early is that the ride took only 45 minutes. And after an efficient check in and pleasant flight we were out on the road in a brand new rental car by 6:30.
The programme was to sample S. habrochaites again. I’m curious to see if here the plants have as many symptoms as in Canta. Philippe has high hopes too, because habro has relatively juice stems and his bacteria like that. After not more than 10 minutes of driving we found the first plants. Unfortunately the road was too busy and we could not stop, but less than 500 m further the next site showed up. Good start! During the morning we drove higher and higher, and then back down again. I think we are pretty good at estimating elevation without GPS now. The landscape clearly changes and our tomatoes disappear. We stopped a few times and on one site with a lonely habrochaites, we found a pleasant surprise: Solanum arcanum. When we looked further we actually saw it more often and I think it’s safe to say that this species will by far be the hardest to spot. We rounded up the morning with a couple of single plants. Somehow habrochaiter doesn’t grow in big populations here. But we got plenty of material. Infections were way less obvious than in Canta though.
By 13:00 we were at the hotel and after a short break, we wanted to go for some lunch and then move onwards. Unfortunately some unknown person blocked the exit of the garage and we could leave. So we had a cold and not quite tasty lunch in the run down next door restaurant. When we finished the exit was free an we could leave. We first tried one other side of Cajamarca, but there was nothing there. Then we wanted to try yet another side. Now I know I’m not the best driver but I think it’s allowed to stall your car once on a 20% hill when you have to break suddenly. Unfortunately, after that, the car would not start. The ignition had been playing up earlier today, but like I said, being a bad driver it probably was me. After some very scary reversing to clear the road with a car that basically slipped through its own brakes, some passer-bys wanted to help. They also could not get the car started. So we called the rental agency. They came and of course, the car starts and I look stupid. But somehow they did believe me, because we headed to the Toyota garage for a check-up and a test drive. The mechanic probably just wanted to drive, because he went 110 kmh on country lanes and concluded there was nothing wrong. With help of an English speaking sales attendant, I could explain the problem. 30 starts and stops later, everything looked fine. The mechanic pressed all cables a bit tighter, but was still not satisfied. So we headed back. Whilst driving back, I realised that this afternoon we definitely choose the wrong road. There were quite some tomatoes on this road. At the garage they check everything again and concluded that nothing was wrong. Lets’h hope this is true.
Poor Philippe had been waiting all the time at the garage, so I guess he deserved his beer at Cajamarca’s most famous restaurant. This family owned restaurant serves dishes from all over Peru and does so since 1947. The interior looks like that as well (please not the painting of a rooster fight at the back) and the food is, well lets say interesting. My smoked pork with plantain looked like something from a 70s cookebook.