The food in Brazil has been great, as diverse and abundant as the biological richness of this huge country, and I’ve had an adventurous diet so far, trying everything that was recommended to me (and a few things that weren’t). This includes bits of animal I’ve never eaten before (chicken stomach, chicken blood stew, and cow hump) and five new plant families to add to my life list. So what gave me food poisoning a few days ago in Botucatu? A f**king pizza! I plan to stick to the exotic stuff in future, though a few people have told me that the pizzas in Sao Paulo are the best in the world. We’ll see.
The food poisoning didn’t prevent me spending a morning in the field collecting more data on the proportion of wind pollinated plants in cerrado vegetation, but in the afternoon I went to bed, sick and exhausted. The title of this Brazil Diary post is an homage to the classic live album by Motörhead because at times this trip has felt like a relentless tour of different venues, with André as my trusty road manager, sorting out accommodation and places to eat as we go along. I owe him a big thank you at the end of the month! I estimate that we’ve travelled over 2,500 km so far and, including the pollination biology course at Unicamp, I’ve presented 10 lectures in 20 days.
The lecture at the university campus in Botucatu was attended by staff and students, plus a lot of people from the local council environmental department. They have an issue with honey bee colonies setting up in peoples’ houses, which they remove if possible and take out to an agricultural area. So they were interested in finding out more about pollination as an ecosystem service. It was great to have that kind of outreach, but none of them spoke English. André translated each of my slides as we went along, turning a 50 minute lecture into a two and a half hour session, including some interesting discussion at the end.
Yesterday was a morning pollination mini-symposium at the Federal University of Sao Carlos, at which I spoke along with Felipe Amorim and Daniel Carstensen, both passionate and creative early career scientists with lots to say and some great studies published and in progress. It’s been a real pleasure to discuss biodiversity with these guys, with André, and with all the students and professors I’ve met along the way. There’s now less than 10 days to go before I return, and the tour rolls on. In about 20 minutes we leave for a six hour drive down to Santa Virginia in the Atlantic Rainforest of Serro do Mar, where we will do more field work in a vegetation type that’s a huge contrast to the cerrado we’ve been looking at so far. When I get a chance I’ll report back, though internet may be sporadic there, and might have to wait until we reach our final destination of Ubatuba.