Several days ago I came across two primate specialists in the forest. One was wearing a loudspeaker on her head that was emitting monkey calls (calls of the saddle-backed tamarin, I believe). This got me to thinking about the ways we stretch to get our data, to study animal and plant behavior, to collect specimens, and to document the comings and goings of species. It's hard work that demands a staggering array of equipment from a butterfly net to a portable mass spectrometer. It also requires smart, fit, capable, adaptable people with highly specialized training and lots of imagination.
En route to our first stop (Museo de Sito Huallamarca) we passed several chifa, Chinese-Peruvian restaurants, reminders of the large wave of Chinese emigrants who came to Peru in the nineteenth-century to work in sugar plantations and guano mines. I asked our guide, Luis Villacorta (Universidad Católica Sedes Sapientiae), about the etymology of chifa and he suggested that it is a conflation of “rice” and “to eat.”