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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Relaxing at the Botanical Gardens (In the Oldest University in the Americas!)

Man this week has flown by!  I swear I have been busy everyday, and so tired!  On Monday, Colleen and I joined by Edwin from Haku Tours, headed out to downtown Lima in search of some peace and quiet and beautiful surroundings.   We ended up at the Universidad de San Marcos, or the San Marcos University.  This is the oldest continuously operating university in the Americas, having opened in May 12th 1551.  Can you imagine?  It is 463 years old this year.  Also, I have been to a lot of really old places in the last couple weeks!
We were greeted by Mr. Bravo (yes that is his name, I found it hard not to call him Johnny, but I don't think Johnny Bravo is a thing in Peru) who is the head botanist and caretaker of the Botanical Gardens. He is a cute little guy, and didn't waste anytime getting our tour started.  He is probably one of the most knowledgable people I have ever met, when it comes to plants, and nature in general.  He answered every question and taught us tons about native Peruvian plants, trees, herbs and medicinal plants, as well as many that are not native to the country.
It was so relaxing to just wander around in nature, and play with some of the many kitty cats that call the gardens home.  It was hard for me to keep track of all the plants we learned about, but as always I have lots of pretty pictures, and will give info when I remember what I learned!

This palm tree actually has sap that is full of carcinogens, and when the caretakers have to go near it they wear full suits as it is known to cause cancer!

The mamey tree, which produces a delicious tropical fruit that tastes a bit like a cross between a raspberry and apricot.

The Caucho tree, which to us would be the rubber tree, or elastic tree, used to make rubber and elastic.

Ayahuasca plant.  One of the most popular "drugs in Peru.  Used all over the country as a hallucinogenic drug that takes you on a trip to cleanse yourself of stress and things that have happened in the past.

Colleen playing with one of the cats.

Some bees enjoying one of the lilypad flowers.

 A huge koi and a bunch of guppies in the pond.

Edwin giving us a lesson.

The Sauco Tree.  One of my favorite Peruvian fruits, and very similar to Saskatoon berries at home.

There were snails all over the garden.  They are actually picked and sent to France to eat!

Another hallucinogenic Peruvian Plant, fatal if you take too much and spiky for a reason!

A relative of the Mexican Agave, called the American Agave.

These small fruits on this cactus have been used for centuries by the Incans as a die for textiles and pottery.

I jsut thought this was hilarious.  Looks like a little alien.

One of my favorites, the Pico de Loro.

We also made a stop on the way back to the Alianza Lima Football Stadium.  Awesome Peruvian team!

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