A Stone's Throw

practice your aim. you never know when you'll spy 2 birds at once.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Floating Islands of the Uros

Between Peru & Bolivia...

The boat listed as it glided through the green surface of Lilliputian lilli-pads towards the deeper blue waters in the distance. Sitting in the boat looking out over the waters, knowing what lay in the distance, a sense of magic fills you. The land of green that ripples gently beneath the boat makes you feel as if you could walk on water. And in fact, that is what you have come to see.

Soon the waters change, become more clear and take on a hue that is unseen anywhere else in the world because you are so high in the sky, so close to the atmosphere, some 2.5 miles above sea-level. But just as you watch the green fade away, you see a new sight on the horizon, a sight legendary the world over.

The first thing I noticed was a stork 20 feet high walking in the reeds. This understandably secured my attention. Then as the boat closed the distance, I saw the rest, conical homes, dozens of them all built on absolutely massive piles of reeds, all drifting in the wind. The gap ended and the boat nudged up against the reeds, and I stepped out. As my foot sank a foot towards the water beneath me, a Lake nearly 1,000 feet deep at points, I realized the enormity of the task to create such a place. And create they had - for not only huts resided there, but schools, towers, giant afformentioned birds, various dragon-headed boats. All made of the same reeds.

It was truly like stepping out of the past, and in a way I felt like an invader. Sure, the Uros, the people who had inhabited the islands since time forgotten, sold woven trinkets and crafts to visitors, it still felt uncalled for. Yet, when you are living on a floating island of reeds, you are bound to garner some notice. I explored, smiled with some of the children on the island who were just as curious about the pale blue-eyed man from strange places, saw the small reed houses they had built for the ducks, checked out the weird vegitation they dried in the sun for consumption later. Imagine the days of Social Studies and falling asleep and waking up inside the book, alive and real. That was that day.

Mystical is a word that only begins to describe the wonders of the Uros...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The White City


Set in the shadow of the trio of massive volcanos, El Misti, Chaichani, and Pichu Pichu, the white city of Arequipa bustles with activity. Snow-capped and enormous, the volcanos look down on the city as if giant guardians over the ancient city. Indeed with the presense of the active volcanos, it is no surprise that they had human sacrafices atop them. Yet now it is more a city that feeds off its own regionalism, even ocasionally bringing up the idea of creating their own country.

One of the highlights of the city is the Monestario de Santa Catalina, an absolutely huge structure taking up an entire city block. Founded in the 1500´s, it was a private monestary and sealed to the public until the 1970´s when financial pressure finally forced them open thier collasal gates.

Another structure that often carries the face of Arequipa is the sillar Cathedral. Huge in a way that only Rome can understand, it dominates the Plaza de Armes with its huge towers, ornate bas-relief, and a great pair of arches. Built with the volcanic sillar stone, it literally glows in the light of the sun. Though taking its toll of damage in several great fires and earthquakes, it has been fixed and reinforced to its awesome original structure.

And then there is the exotic and ever-surprising Mercado, a great market where you can buy everything from Papaya the size of watermelons to live frogs that they make a very disturbing smoothie out of called Extracto de Rana. But hey, they do add a bit of honey to it.

The White City is definately a wonder to behold.

- a c-note

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A New Day

Miercoles, Mayo 3

Done. Fin. Ended.

It is with great relief that I lift the yoke off my back and am able to anounce that as of yesterday, I have finished my new novel, The Wish Thief. The creation of the book was something of a surprise for me, as it was not what I had planned on working on while here in South America, but the muse often shapes us in ways we don't expect.

I will not, of course, let any amount of glee keep me from my next project and so today I face another blank page whose words have yet to be decided. But that is the pain and joy of the process. Discovering how the palabras will fall.

Gracias, por todo la ayuda que cada uno me ha dado..

- Caleb