Wednesday, January 5, 2011

La tierra verde: travelogue about Picso city, Paracas, Isla Ballestas (the Galapagos of Peru), Nazca Lines and Cahuachi Culture

La tierra verde - Ujol Sherchan and Tek Jung Mahat

- Date visited: 15-22 March 2010
- This article was published on the occasion of International Day of Biological Diversity (IBD), 22 May and International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), 2010
- the original article was released by the authors on their web at;

MAY 22 - As we raced through Lima, Peru, towards Miraflores—a happening place for tourists and Lima denizens alike—we passed many Eucalyptus trees along the streets. Although native to Australia, these trees seemed to be "naturalised citizens" of Peru. We’d read of the havoc wrought by the planting of the trees—considered by some to be "alien, invasive plants"—on an industrial scale in South Asian countries in the 80’s. However, we couldn’t dismiss all alien plants as being invariably "bad", for our previous visit to the International Potato Centre in La Molina convinced us that the potato—native to the Andean highlands—was now a staple in almost all countries of the world. True, the role of the potato in enhancing food security in Nepal, even triggering population growth in the Khumbu when it was first introduced there in the 18th century as recorded by Furer-Haimendorf, cannot be emphasised enough. Can we imagine dal bhat tarkari without the potato? Whoever introduced this alien, albeit non-invasive, Andean crop in Nepal surely did the country an enormous favour.

Sea creatures spotted in Isla Ballestas (the Galapagos of Peru)/Photo: Tek Jung Mahat
As we sat enjoying cappuccinos and tapas in a crowded restaurant overlooking the Pacific in Miraflores later that evening, our host, Director of Global Heritage Fund for Peru, told us about the growth of Lima in the last two decades. The Shining Path insurgency had forced rural folks to flee to the relative safety of the Capital, while many more came looking for economic opportunities. But what interested us more was when he said that the coastal area stretching from Miraflores to Barranca and beyond used to be a wide open space frequented by hundreds of thousands of seabirds when he was a kid. But over the years, development has transformed this ribbon of prime real estate into a vibrant commercial district. Seabirds are far and few in between around here: they have been "crowded out". The only species of birds doing well, even thriving, here are the love birds of the featherless kind, many of whom we’d seen smooching in Love Park as well as on green patches alongside the walkway that overlooked the Pacific!

Citation: Sherchan, U. and Mahat, T. J. (22 May 2010) ‘La Tierra Verde’ in the Kathmandu Post (TKP), Kantipur Publications Pvt. Ltd., Kathmandu, NEPAL. Featured article prepared on the occasion of the International Day of Biological Diversity (22 May). Available at

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