IT is time to start the trip home.
Peru is a fantastic place to visit but it's a bit of a milk-run to get here.
My trip home will involve five flights, four countries and 13 movies.
Not wanting to waste a final morning in Cusco, I do an extended walk and a quick whip around a nearby market.
- The Spud Diaries – Entry 18 – Defending the Reef
- The Spud Diaries – Entry 19 – A Cooee for Cuy
- The Spud Diaries – Entry 20 – The Potato Park
- The Spud Diaries – Entry 21 – One Last Gutful
Everything is on sale; fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, various cheeses, bakery items, and lots and lots of souvenirs.
It's a sensory merry-go-round with your body being jerked between your ears pulling you one way, your ears another and your nose yet another.
Some chullos (Peruvian beanies with flaps) are selected for the crew at home and before I know it, I've left my run a bit later than expected to check out of the motel and get the taxi.
It all works out fine though so it's off to stand in line at the airport.
What happens from this point is a blur of getting on planes, getting off planes, waiting in airports, connecting to free WIFI, intermittent sleeping and repeating that process.
It's all good fun though and gives plenty of time to solidify the memories from the past two weeks.
Here are some more of the abstract observations which didn't make it into these notes:
- You can't get cream buns or custard tarts in Peru. At least, I didn't see any;
- A Scottish bloke who chaired a session at the World Potato Congress suggested the audience put their phones to silent or "jiggle". From this moment herewith, I shall refer to "putting my phone into jiggle mode";
- It seemed natural to see a baby alpaca wandering around the courtyard of a fancy hotel when walking through it;
- Milk is not a given when coffee is served. In fact, it often isn't an option at all;
- The entrance to my motel smelled like a Peter Alexander store;
- Agriculture conferences are the same wherever in the world you go it seems. Delegates still like free stuff from the trade show (caps, pens, etc), presenters still have problems with "clickers" and too many PowerPoint slides are never enough;
- You can get an internet speed of 80mbs in a suburban unit in Lima. The fastest residential NBN speed in Australia I've heard of is 20mbs. My ASDL2+ at home is about 8mbps. If you're an online gamer, move to Peru.
In regards to my potato consumption, it has been a culinary adventure. In total, I've eaten potatoes in about 21 different formats, and many different varieties, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed, or in my technical summation: "Yeah, real good, eh?"
There is a lot of nasty stuff going on in the world; stuff that should make humans ashamed.
Yet there are large pools of light, like the World Potato Congress, where positive endeavours from many nations converge to seek a better world, one where hunger is a thing of the past and nutrition is delivered to all.
It has been inspiring to hear of the research by many who have devoted their lives to bettering the potato.
That may have a comical tone to it somewhat but it is clear the world speaks a common language when it comes to the spud.
It is a unifying topic, a thread of commonality, a foundation for so many communities, and therefore needs to be respected, treasured and upheld for its potential.
For this writer at least, potatoes have risen to a new height of respect.
A special thanks goes to Cathy Reade from the Crawford Fund for pulling the whole thing together, and the Crawford Fund itself for opportunity.
Thanks to all who have read the Spud Diaries - it's been potatoriffic writing for you all.
Now if you'll excuse me, tea is on the kitchen table at home.
I believe potatoes could be involved.
Viva Peru! Mucho gracias.
- Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.