The driver took us back up to this greenhouse we had passed some time before and there we waited for the others. The man and woman we had gone up the mountain with were finished and were walking down along with the two men Marin had come to speak to in the first place. When they arrived, I translated while Marin asked questions about the park and about the work they were doing internationally. These guys are up to some amazing things!
As I mentioned in part 1 the purpose of the park is to preserve over 1400 varieties of potatoes and tubers indigenous to the area. They believe that the only way the crop is going to survive climate change is to retain the biodiversity that will allow some species to thrive while others fail. Their mission is to spread their message and their potato seeds around the world, working with organizations of other indigenous growers around the globe to share their techniques and their culture.
Both men, who were in their fifties, had been invited to multiple conferences across four continents to talk about their work. They hold the passionate belief that food is the most important thing in the world. It nourishes us, brings people and cultures together and its destruction will lead to the destruction of the human race.
After the interviews, we said goodbye to our new friends, headed back down the mountain with our original companions, ate some dinner, and headed back to our Air BNB apartment. We were sun burned, a little dehydrated, and sore, but we agreed that it was an amazing day and that there was no way we would have had that experience had we stayed on the tourist track.
Ironically, we saw no potatoes.