Forests of bull kelp, with thick floating masses of brownish-green fronds, have been swaying in ocean waves along the Pacific coasts of the Americas for eons. This marine ecosystem, rich in fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and seaweed, made it feasible for the earliest people to migrate by boat southward from Eurasia to South America. We know their route as the Kelp Highway.
The Andes Mountains influence the modern world in many ways, and recognizing these is a fascinating aspect of my journey in writing about this region. One connection that might be a surprise: St Patrick’s Day celebrations–and potatoes. Potatoes have had profound effects on human societies that are matched by few other plants.