Today is Labour Day, a Peruvian national holiday, and the students ask for the day off to chill out and wash clothes.
This gives many of us a chance to think through how we are going to codify and database this huge volume of data. Brad Boyle from the University of Arizona makes an exceptional contribution. He genuinely lives and breathes data structures, and it is a real insight listening to him and learning to design the data classification from the start. This is something we rarely do in projects, and then inevitably struggle link the different data streams together at the end. By the end of the discussion we have an elegant way of labelling the various data that makes logical sense and is well designed up from. The next step for me to find a database programmer to design a system for entering all these data.
The afternoon of the day off is a heap of fun. The manager of the Wayqecha field station, Robinson, is wonderfully gregarious and amenable, happy to chat with and serve the guests with a smile, a poncho and a Peruvian hat.
To make this day special he has organised a huge feast of potatoes, salads and sauces, the centrepiece of which is a huge roast pig in a bucket. The food and mood are wonderful.
Then, in the afternoon, we head off to a nearby small clearing for the Wayqecha football tournament, held at 3000 m above sea-level. I am in the team “world famous scientists” playing against “CHAMBASA students”, “frogs project” and “Wayqecha field staff”. The first few minutes running around in thin oxygen are hard, but to my surprise after a while it feels OK and we keep playing. The game is full of laughs, acrobatics and ineptitude. The students have prepared CHAMBASA T shirts with duct tape. Whenever the ball is kicked off field downslope we wonder if it will be next be seen in the Brazilian Amazon. In the end the international scientists come last, but the fact that we are not obliterated with our low altitude lungs must counts as some sort of moral victory. I get the personal pleasure of blasting home a particularly satisfying penalty kick.
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Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University