Tag Archives: Peru

Why I love being Angie’s charango…

13 Oct

Everyone these days has a blog…even dogs can write blogs but Angie has to translate for them as they are not as smart as me!

So, I decided it was time for a charango to have a blog so here we go..now this is the first time I have done a blog so excuse me if it’s a bit rough..

It’s been a really busy time being Angie’s charango the last few weeks…it all started from Huaraz on. Now I didn’t get invited to the mountains of Huaraz (these are in the North of Peru and it’s where Touching the Void was filmed).

I’m not really sure why as Angie kept saying that the benefit of a musical instrument was being able to play at a campfire. But anyway I got left behind at the boring hostel in Huaraz to play by myself for a few days. I tuned myself up. Then, when Angie came back, I untuned myself again. Hee hee hee!!!! Well she’s got to learn to tune me. If she can’t tune me up then how can she ever play me? And I am super easy to tune. I even have little notches on my side to show you which flet is the next string…is she stupid or what?

After Huaraz I was loaded onto the first of many night buses..of course I didn’t know this at the time. She never discusses her travel plans with little old me. I’m just whipped out when she wants to play a few notes and drone on about me being a beautiful instrument. Yeah I look good but I am meant to be played with super fast hands..and she suddenly started to speak French…this is new I thought…should she not master French before starting something else….too many plans not enough completion I say!

We headed up to Trujillo. Now I must say, in Angie’s favour, that she is really nice to me on the night buses. She holds me the entire night. This means that she doesn’t sleep a wink and then is in a super bad mood (she is only mean when she is tired or hungry..pretty fair really) the next morning but at least I am safe!

Trujillo was pretty cool and I got taken to lots of cool ruins. I love it when she is travelling fast. She won’t leave me in bus stations..she says I am too precious so she carries me everywhere and I get to see cool stuff too. Neat!!!

We went to see the Chan Chan complex. This place is ancient. Chan Chan was the capital city of the Chimu Empire, an urban civilisation which appeared on the Peruvian coast around 1100 AD. This place was totally amazing and huge. Then later we went to even more ruins, this time the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna which were the centres of the Moche culture which had its heyday in 400 to 600AD. The engravings here were totally amazing..I loved all the little lines of people.

After that I got taken to the seaside..Huanchaco where I saw the little fishing boats made out of straw and ate brochette de corvina, a local fish..

Then I was off again on another night bus to Cajamarca…here I got left at the hostel while Angie went to see some funeral holes (sounded a bit boring to me anyway) and she drank beer with some locals (now this sounded a bit more interesting).

After that she took me on another night bus to Chiclayo and then I got taken to some cool, huge Pyramids. Again there were really amazing engravings there. And they all had cool symbolism.

Angie went to see some cool little people – the Sacrofagas de Karajia. I just chilled at the hostel this day as I was a bit tired.

Then we went to Kuelap..now this was cool!!! I got taken as she wanted to try to find some musicians to help her tune me up. There was a fiesta on with music and dance. These ruins were totally spectacular!!! And we stayed with a local family just a few minutes from the ruins. They were lovely! They lead such a simple life. They have no electricity at all. This means no light at night. Only candles. Atmospheric. They also only cook with llena (fire wood). I like this! The lady killed a chicken and then plucked it and made soup. We tried this soup at the fiesta. It was lovely. So fresh!!!

The fiesta couldn’t happen on the first night as there was no electricity so I got to stay another night in this lovely place! I felt like a truly lucky and loved charango..though she didn’t find a musician to tune me up..too bad..

After that I got to even more ruins!!! I went to Revash to see the little houses in the hills. It was a tough walk up and the ruins were ok but a bit far away for me to see.

Now Angie doesn’t seem to know that much about the world. She went to see the Catca Gorca waterfalls but didn’t even know that these are the third highest waterfalls in the world. Man is she thick!

After the falls we went to Tarapoto…the jungle or selva as they call it here. Now all these changes of temperature..well you can’t expect me to stay tuned under these conditions!!! Poor Ange spent hours trying to tune me. She even used a little electronic tuning device, does she have cloth ears or what?

We went from there to Yurimaguas where we boarded a boat (Ange had a hammock to sleep in) to sail along to the Amazon River. The boat was cool but she didn’t play me on it as she was too busy chatting to people. Make time for me I say!!! She gave me to someone on the boat to tune me up. I didn’t like this. I only like it when Angie plays me after all I am her charango and she needs to learn to talk to me! So I made sure that I didn’t tune up properly. hee hee hee..all out of tune.. that’s what she gets silly girl!

I got left behind when she went into the jungle..she made some stupid excuse about the humidity or something. I mean does she not understand that I am a South American instrument (I´m Bolivian and even have a Bolivian stomach so I can survive anything!)…it is her who has super pale skin and is constantly applying like factor 200 sun lotion! I give up sometimes!

It’s funny but she has changed so much since we’ve been travelling together…at first she was so scared of animals…now she lets monkeys picks insects out of her hair and feeds baby manitis (this was in Iquitos in the “Selva” which means jungle)..this is progress..though I felt slightly strange when she ate a guinea pig which came to the plate complete with claws…yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I’m writing this in Bogota (but by the time she edits it for me she’ll probably be taking me to a new continent!)…and she obviously feels bad about having left me behind so much..she bought me a lovely new case. It is super hard meaning I will be much more comfortable when I travel! And in reward I’m not going to untune myself so much..as while it’s a good challenge for Ange, it’s actually a little bit mean…..

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Toda es posible….nada es imposible…in Parque Pacaya Samiria

1 Oct

“You get these tourists, they have a list of what they want to see in the jungle. So on day one of the tour they tell you..

Quiero mire un puma, una anaconda y unos caimanas…(I’d like to see a puma, an anaconda and some caimans)”.

These were the words of one of our guides on my tour through the rainforest at Parque Nacional Pacaya Samiria, 2 million hectares of virgin rainforest (about 1.5% of the landmass of Peru) in the selva (jungle) of Northern Peru.

And his reply “toda es posible, nada es imposible” – everything is possible, nothing is impossible.

The tourists ask again….”But will I see a puma?” He replies “es posible”, it’s possible. The tourists probe further “But will I see an anaconda?”. He replies “es posible”. And will I see caimans. He replies “es posible”.

That’s the thing about the jungle. Everything is possible and there are no guarantees about what you will see. It is not, and the guides emphasise this, a zoo and these are wild animals who do not appear on demand, even for tourists!

Even if I didn’t see a puma or an anaconda and this was of course possible, the parque is still a wonderful place to visit.

There are no motorised canoes so transport is by dug out canoe in a canoe made from the wood of an indigenous tree called Kachawi. The resin of this tree is highly poisonous. They make the canoes in the jungle (it takes about a week) and then they transport them from there to the river. The canoes last about 3 years and then they use the wood as llena (fire wood) and go build another one!

I saw brown capuchin monkeys, black monkeys, squirrel monkeys, pink dolphins (boy these guys are cool!), countless birds with wonderful colours (they move too fast to photograph them!), even otters who played a game with us by following the canoes and then disappearing at the last minute. I walked over a caiman on the way to the outside toilet..it eyes shone orange and it looked like someone had dropped a cigarette butt on the ground.

I went night fishing…the guides like night fishing as the fish are asleep (do fish sleep?) so it is easier to catch them with the harpoon. Day fishing produced a delicious fish (called fasaco) for lunch.

I saw baby turtles. Man these little guys are cute. They hatch the eggs in special areas so the turtles shells have a chance to harden up and the tiny, little turtles are not eaten by the fish. They then put them in the water when they can survive. I held one in my hand. This was amazing!

On a walk through the jungle our guide made a rubber bouncing ball from the resin of a rubber tree. He also made a remedy from a tree for one of the others on the tour who was feeling a bit sick..he boiled the bark of the tree…then Claudio had to put his head in cold water so that the remedy did not go to his head but to his stomach..he then drank the remedy..a few minutes later he was violently sick..the guide said that this was because he had taken a little water in the morning and it’s mixed with the remedy! The guides strongly believe in the powers of the jungle plants..there is a remedy for everything in the jungle they say.

Sleeping outside (in a little cream mosquito cover) was wonderful. Just after dusk the jungle comes alive. It is like a concert out there with each animal playing his instrument at different times. You have the sounds of the frogs, the birds , one of the birds called Wancawi uses her song to send the snakes to sleep before she kills them! Another bird sounds like a flute..our guides told us that there is a tale that this bird had 7 children but could only look after 5 so let 2 go. The song is a lament for the lost children.

In the middle of the night at the outside camps people just arrive and cook up. Some of them canoe through the night to get to places in the park to work. At one point I asked my guide how far we were from the next camp. He said “a good six hours by canoe”. This is really a different world!

I didn’t have a list of what I wanted to see in the jungle. But that doesn’t really matter. After all, toda es posible in the jungle!

(I went into the jungle with Estypel, a small family run company based in Lagunas. Their contact details www. estypel.com, telephone number (065) 401080, Padre Lucero No 1345, Lagunas).

Mossies v Sandflies…war of the insects

1 Oct

There’s a war going on.

It is between Mossies and Sandflies.

One side will win.

The reward will be the exclusive right to bite humans in the future.

I have to pick one side to support.

And I’m going for the mossies.

But why…aren’t mossies cruel biting insects who show no mercy to their victims? No that’s the sandflies..mossies are actually really nice and here’s why:-

1. Mossies are really fair.  They make this delightful little humming sound when they are around giving you advance notice that they are about to attack and allowing you a chance to get on some repellent or to get your weapons ready to attack them…

Sandflies take you by ambush…no noise, no notice…no chance to get your weapons out..who could call this a fair fight?

2.  Mossies are kind enough (and big enough) to let you see them..they are a moving target but you have a chance to take them out..

Sandflies are tiny. They are called “no see ums”.  You have no chance to take them out as you can’t see them.

3. Mossies tend to strike at night.  This gives you the day free to enjoy the scenery before the fight begins.. you can even work up to covering your body with that ill smelling repellent.

Sandflies don’t let you enjoy the scenery…they strike at any time…

4. With a mossie you only need to put the repellent on uncovered areas…

Sandflies get you everywhere…they even attack through clothes..no defences can stop these beasts.

5.  Mossies don’t have access to your travel schedule. 

Sandflies have access to your travel schedule. They have a central database of travellers´itineraries updated around the clock.  They knew that I was going on many night buses…they used this weakness against me to target the areas most difficult to scratch on a night bus, that is, bum, and top of thighs at back..mean, mean, mean…

6. Mossie bites are nice and soft and mushy.

Sandfly bites are like having a marble under your skin…a huge marble.

7. Mossies have the decency to only trigger one of your senses at a time when they bite you – the itch sense.

Sandflies trigger not only the itch sense but also the pain sense..these bites really hurt.

8. Mossie bites will trouble you for maybe a few days and don’t usually leave a lasting memory of their contact with your skin.

Sandfly bites are like gobstopper size marbles for weeks …thereafter they leave nice scars on your skin reminding you of the attack (as if you could forget it!).

9.  Now if you’re going to be bitten it might as well be by a good-looking specimen.  Mossies are at least attractive when seen close up with their pretty long legs and little bodies…

Sandflies are both ugly and mean looking..the worst of combinations.

10. Mossies have been kind enough to allow an industry to be built up with products to repel them…this industry includes creams, potions, coils, even nets…yes every now and again they eat so much of the repellents that they become immune to its powers but that’s just to keep us all on our toes..

Sandflies have prevented the development of anti-sandfly weapons. How they have done this I am not sure but they have been very effective at it.

11. Mossies publish their combat areas so you know where they’re going to be. This then allows you to use an anti-mossie product.

Sandflies keep their combat areas secret. And they go to areas you would never expect like Huaraz in the North of Peru. I mean who would have thought that they would make their way, with their crampons and ice axes, to peaks of almost 5,000 metres? This is just plain ambush. And anyway even if you knew where they were there are no anti-sandfly measures you can use.

And that’s why in the war of the Mossies v Sandflies, I am supporting the Mossies.

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