1. First time experiencing fabulous new fruits. We have been lucky enough to visit local chacras and sometimes the farmers hack into a fruit with a machete and let us try it!
We didn’t eat this little pineapple, but it was adorable
The Annona was a little bit sweet and tart
Liz with the Macambo, which is made into white chocolate!
2. First time to be joined in class by a surprise Trumpeter friend. In Sucusari National Reserve, we were sitting down to have a lecture, when a Trumpeter saunters into our discussion, very interested in everything that was going on. When we left, he followed us out to the boat, saying his goodbyes.
3. First time to ride in a moto-taxi (tuktuk). In Peru they have moto-taxis similar to Thailands’ tuktuks. In the Amazon they are the easiest way to travel short distances.
4. First time planting yucca (and snacking on sugarcane!). We visited a chacra at the Maijuna community of Sucusari. One of the farmers taught us how to plant yucca, which was fascinating – you dig a hole and put part of the stem of the yucca back in the ground and more will grow! I think that was the hottest day we had experienced in Peru and we were all feeling a bit woozy, so his wife chopped down some fresh sugarcane for us to chew on and it lifted our energy level immediately!
5. First time seeing the largest moths we have EVER seen and probably ever will see – it’s true, everything in the Amazon is bigger!
6. First time observing someone holding 7 cane toads at once. This happened one night when we were all very focused on a project that was due that night and there was an air of stress taking over the room. All of a sudden, Sam ran in holding 7 toads and everybody started screaming. It was a much-needed laughter break.
7. First time seeing 59 varieties of potatoes in one room. During our visit to the Potato Park in Cusco, we went into a special room that showcased dozens of different kinds of potatoes. That day, we also had potatoes for lunch, dinner and snack.
8. First time peering deeply into a bat’s eyes. On our UCP trip, we helped collect and measure several species of bats. I have never been that close to a bat’s face before, but let me tell you, their noses are out of this world.
9. First time experiencing a ceremony preformed by a shaman. While we were in Sucusari, we visited a shaman and a medicinal plant garden. He preformed a ceremony on us, which included shaking leaves with smoke, chanting and touching our heads.
10. First time ascending 15,390 feet. During the mid-semester break, my dad and I went on a 4 day trek over the Condor Pass, higher than any mountain in the continental UC. It was FREEZING, but a nice break from the heat and humidity.