Arequipa

Cement plant on outskirts of Arequipa

We took a bus from Puno to Arequipa. Initially the ride was beautiful and verdant but as we got close to Arequipa, it became dry and brown. Those of you who know me, know that I like “cool and green” places. Not hot, hot cold, not brown. (OK, I put up with the dry cold in Durango but I’d rather be in temperatures from 60-80 F.)

In spite of the dry conditions, we enjoyed Arequipa for the few days that we were there. We were the first guests at our Air B and B apartment and were greeted with a gift basket! They wanted to give us gifts when we left as well but we were already packed to the gills so we politely declined, explaining that there was just no room.

Remains of Juanita in climate controlled glass cube. Picture from Trip Advisor

We visited a number of places while we were in the area. The Museo Sanctuarios Andes is an interesting place (no pictures allowed) outlining the history of the Andean locals and displaying the remains of a young Incan girl who was sacrificed around 1450 and preserved in the icy area until a volcano erupted and caused her remains to be dislodged. More info on her here.

The Santa Catalina Monastery is a mix of an active monastery (now housed in a new building) and the well preserved original monastery. The walls are thick to keep a more constant temperature. Originally, the young women who joined the group brought their servant(s) with them so that they had a fairly comfortable room and the conveniences of home. At one point in time, the servants were no longer allowed and this made for quite a change for these women who had never cooked, washed, etc. on their own! The view from the roof of the building is wonderful.

We did a private tour of a local quarry and also a small canyon one day. The quarry had a “building” carved into one wall, beautiful work. In another section, we saw where two workers were dislodging large rocks for carving and another showed us how he makes the building stones. Dan gave it a try…hard work and slow for the inexperienced worker. The experienced worker could carve a stone in 10-20 minutes.

Next we went to Quebrada de Culebrillas or Ravine of Broken Shingles. This is a narrow, not very long ravine that starts shallow and quickly gets 20-30′ deep. In it, you can see some petroglyphs from long ago. This area has been declared a national Cultural Heritage.

The highlight of our time in Arequipa was Chivay and the Condor Cross. The trip from Arequipa to Chivay was a few hours and then we spent the night. We were with about 10 or so other people, all men and women in their twenties who worked together and were on a holiday (although they couldn’t tell me what the national holiday was!). We spent the night in Chivay, a small remote town with beautiful outdoor statues. The tour included meals and a dance show that night.

The next morning we met early and drove to the nearby Condor Cross area where you can watch condors soar on the currents. We did see several but they were quite high up so there isn’t a good picture of them. Still it was a lot of fun.

We left Arequipa by plane, one of our few flights during our travels. Even though the city of Arequipa is larger than Cusco, the Cusco airport is much bigger because so many people fly in to see Machu Picchu.

Vilcabamba

Very pretty exterior of church on the town square

We spent my birthday at a small town near Loja called Vilcabamba. We had heard it was a town with a lot of expats and that it was a quaint town. I found it pleasant but not that interesting a town.

River

We did take a nice (except for the mosquitos) long walk along the river.

Apparently there are a lot of people from South Korea in the town, thus the Korean looking characters on the restroom at the tourist information office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many people does it take to paint a stripe on the road? Apparently 4 lot when you do it by hand.

It is common in Ecuador to see dogs that are on roofs of houses. They bark at everyone but seem to know it isn’t a good idea to jump down.

Lovely ride by bus

Shiripuno Women

The Shiripuno women decided that while their men go off and do whatever they do during the day to work that they (the women) should be paid for what they do anyway. With this in mind, they developed a simple program where they show how they make some food with yucca and sweet potato, do a little native dance, look at an incredible rock, and then hopefully sell some trinkets. Sounds hokey and the young German tourists who were at the lodge and leaving that day made it sound pretty lame.

In reality we enjoyed it. Yes, it is touristy but it was still interesting. We learned some things about this culture listening to the Spanish speaking woman who ran the event and talking with our English speaking guide from the Lodge.

Indigenous woman and daughter and tourist who got into the act

Unmarried girls and women wear blue outfits like you see in the above picture. Married women wear blue and red outfits. The more traditional outfit is seen in this picture but we saw a woman in blue pants and a red top to indicate she was married as well. All unmarried women, of any age seemed to wear the outfit this little girl is wearing.

First they made a couple of things, one a fermented drink and the other something with sweet potatoes. Note how they shredded the sweet potato…you will see this is tool is from the root of a tree in the jungle walk post.

The little girls of the village participated in the making of yucca and sweet potato  dishes and the dancing. They were so cute in their outfits and helping their mom.

I loved watching them imitate their mom.

The rock! This is an incredibly interesting rock. In the lower right (as you look at it) of the rock is a little “door”. While it is solid, the tone is distinctly different when you hit this area with a rock than if you hit just a foot or so away. Empty sounding like it is an entrance.

A number of different animal shapes can be discerned on the rock: serpent, puma, bear, and others. What can you see? (Hint: Serpent, Alligator, Tortoise, Piranha, Toad, Cougar(Puma), Charapo (noidea what this is), Boa, Dolphin, Capybara, Monkey)

 

There is an area to the left of the rock (as you face it) that again has a hollow sound when you hit it with a rock. They call this the window. It isn’t really easy to scale the front of the rock but there are stairs built partway up the back. Dan went up the front and I stayed down and took his picture.

And there was a parrot in the rafters of the exhibit area that chimed in while they were singing and dancing. What fun!

What a handsome guy!

Our guide took a part of a flower that I would call part of the bird of paradise family but it really isn’t. He put it on our noses. Funny looking beak!

He also opened a seed pod from this plant and used a stem to break up the inside into a paint and painted our hands much like the indigenous women/children who spoke with us.

The handmade jewelry items for sale were pretty typical of what we have seen in other places although there were dried leaves for tea and spears/knives as well.

Trinkets, turtle heads bob up and down
Dried leaves for tea
Toy knives
Toy drums
Toy spears
Toy knives

This is a village of about 50 families, about 250 people. The kids do go to school from age 5-12. They are working to get more education but it is hard since that is usually in town and these very rural folks are very poor. Sometimes they have relatives with whom the youngsters can live for more education and the family sends money as they can for this.

While it is humid here, it isn’t as hot as I expected for being in the Amazons. The river we heard the night before is a tributary to the Amazon River but that is many miles away. There are fewer bugs here than I expected as well. I’m not getting eaten alive, here at least…hurray!

All in all, after much trepidation, I am enjoying myself in the jungle. It isn’t as hot, buggy, and filled with bugs as I expected.

OK, I wrote that above sentence and then almost immediately the mosquitoes and bugs found me! I should never have written it and tempted fate. I ended up with over 50 bites, mostly on my arms but even under my clothing and in my hair. UGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hikes in the Jungle

Overlook, river in distance on the left

We did a night hike and a day hike in the jungle. Couldn’t see much during the night hike but we did hear two owls that only sing when the moon is out (partial moon that night) and heard what we were told were a couple of poisonous tree snake which made a clicking sound. CREEEPY!

The day hike was supposed to be in primary growth jungle which we expected to have such thick growth as to be almost dark. While it was interesting, it wasn’t that dark and no thicker than the rain forests we have seen.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures because it was just a mass of trees, vines, and bushes. We did climb to an overlook and rested awhile. And had to walk through a creek (in rubberboots) part of the way.

We did taste “lemon ants” which taste lemony and didn’t bite when we ate it

It seemed to me much longer than the 2 1/2 hours we were promised. In reality, it was more like 3 hours so just a bit longer. We were all very happy to take showers before going to lunch almost an hour late.

Bioparque Ukumarí

Bioparque Ukumarí is basically a very nice zoo. I read reviews that said it wasn’t a zoo but in my book it is.  The habitats are some of the nicest we have seen. I could post my pictures but honestly, go to their website and you will see better pictures than we could take.

One fun thing at the park is that you can have your picture taken against a video of a lion and they post it on Facebook. At the time I couldn’t find ours online but amazingly, I found it today in less than 5 minutes!

Dan is a Softie

Dan and a horse tied up along our quiet neighborhood road so it can graze.

I don’t think Dan has ever met an animal he didn’t like and a flower he didn’t want to take a picture of. He goes right up to all kinds of animals and pets them. They seem to love him, I guess they know he is a kind soul.

Anyway, here are just a few of the pictures of the random animals and flowers we have seen in Panama. We’v seen a ton more plants and trees. It is obvious that Daddy was familiar with the flora from Central America when he planted various plants at the house he had built. Mimosa, hibiscus, oleanders, and much more are common around here.

Small unidentified snake found outside our apartment

 

Raquel’s Ark and Cat House

Raquel has a wicked sense of humor. The cats include a jaguar and house cats. She used to have a margay but it died.

This is a small rescue center in Vulcan, Panama. The animals currently include chickens (Raquel is vegetarian), a jaguar, an owl, two-toed sloths, baby howler monkeys, a tayra (member of the weasel family), raccoons, white-nosed coati, a weasel and some house cats. Continue reading “Raquel’s Ark and Cat House”

Mona The Marmoset, RIP

I’m really saddened to report that Mona the Marmoset died in less than a day after she appeared to be ill. On Saturday I spent much of the day keeping an eye on her as she spent a lot of time running around the sitting area in the den of the main house. It was not uncommon for her to come into the house and she would climb on the bookshelves and up the casing of the door or just run around the floor. In retrospect she might have been a little less active than normal but not much. I sat and used our laptop and watched her from time to time.

Sunday, unbeknownst to me, she took a quick turn downhill and died. I had missed her for a couple of days and found out this morning (Wednesday) that she had died and been buried at the farm.

Her age was estimated to be 12 years and if you remember my prior post, that is the life expectancy of this breed. In spite of the fact that there are still 13 horses, 5 dogs, 2-3 cats, untold number of chickens/roosters, and a 3 year old and a 4 year old, the farm is quieter without her shrill calls andit has lost a bit of its character as well. It was fun to watch her run around and do back flips in her cage or run across the rafters of the covered patio. I’m surprisingly saddened and touched by her passing.

The top picture is one Dan captured of her one day looking at the computer. Here are some of my other favorites. And here is a video of her running around in her cage. Listen closely for her shrill voice.

Mona the Mono

If you know any Spanish you know that nouns are feminine (ending in “a”) or masculine (ending in “o”). The Spanish word for “monkey” is “mono” so “Mona” is a great name for this female primate.

Mona is a Common Marmoset which is indigenous to Brazil. She is owned by the owners of Finca Soley who rent the property out to Isa and Milton. Marmots are small and weigh about 9 ounces. More general info here.

Mona lives in a mesh cage about 6 feet wide, 8 feet tall and 4 feet deep She is allowed to run free around the patio (she is not supposed to go into the house but has been known to do so), roof, gutters, etc. during the day.

Mona appears to be healthy and happy in her “old” age of 12. She frequently races around in the cage, jumping from perch to perch with ease, even doing back flips. Her agility and accuracy are really amazing to watch.

She eats fruit that the caretaker provides and bugs that she finds while she is out and about.

Very territorial, once when one of the dogs chased one of the cats up a post where Mona was sitting, Mona promptly chased the cat down! It happened so fast I didn’t see it but Dan told me about it.

Mona’s voice can be pleasant or extremely high pitched and shrill but fortunately she doesn’t have a lot to say. You can hear her voice in the first 3 seconds of this video.