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Peru: In the ‘belly’ of the Amazon. Microbiomes Part 1.

Peru: In the ‘belly’ of the Amazon. Microbiomes Part 1.
Being raised as a prairie girl, I have a clear picture of a farm looks like. Acres and acres of undulating wheat on a breezy fall day.

And that is nothing like a farm I saw in the Amazon Rainforest. Of course, the plants themselves were completely different – mostly trees and shrubs. And the purpose of the farm was different.
 
Because the farms were isolated, they had a wide variety of plants to serve their family and  the community. If, when I mentioned plants, you were thinking of foods that would serve the community, you were mostly right. However, there were also plants for medical needs.
  Continue reading

Peru: The move and groove of it

Peru: The move and groove of it
I got to hear about, and occasionally see, how life was for traditional Peruvians. The number of differences of that life with our own is numerous but I’d like to focus on one aspect: movement and muscle engagement.
 
The bulk of their daylight hours involves/involved physical activity, whether it is/was working with livestock, hoeing, gathering, preparing and cooking food, or transporting items. Lots of muscle movement and activity.
 
So why should you care? Continue reading

Peru: No worries - venomous snake at your shoulder

Peru: No worries - venomous snake at your shoulder
On our first evening in the Amazon Rainforest, we went for a walk – a very short distance – yet it took us at least an hour because of all of the flora and fauna to notice.
 
One of the very first creatures pointed out to us was a green snake, hanging in a tree about a metre off the path.
 
The guide casually said, “That’s a two striped forest pitviper*. Highly venomous so respect the distance. And over here we have . . . ” He was so relaxed about it. The rest of us, not so much.
*At least that's what I think it was. It was green and it was venomous.
 
Over the next few days, we were introduced to many other creatures, both dangerous and not, as well as facts, folklore, and personal stories. By the end of the three days, we were all more comfortable with the Rainforest’s deadly creatures.
  Continue reading

Peru: Pisco Sours – the sweet/sour solution to a problem

Peru: Pisco Sours – the sweet/sour solution to a problem
Throughout Peru, you’ll see offerings of Pisco Sours, sometimes free with the purchase of a meal.
 
Pisco is a light-coloured brandy made from distilling grapes into a high-proof spirit. A pisco sour is made with the addition of Key lime juice, a sweetener, egg white, and sometimes Angostura bitters and ice cubes.

Our guide’s history lesson on the origin of pisco was that after the Spanish invaded Peru, they wanted the Peruvian people to drink Spanish wine and outlawed the making of wine in Peru. So, undaunted, the people created a spirit from the grapes and claimed it as their national drink. A very successful solution. By 1764, 90% of grapes in the Ica and Pisco area were made into pisco. Continue reading

Peru: Back to the basics: Premium fuel

Peru: Back to the basics: Premium fuel
Islas Ballestas, Peru, or ‘the poor man's Galapagos' as it is commonly called, is famous for the large number and variety of species of birds, especially the Humbolt Penguin (sooo cute to watch move up and down the rocks, and into the water), sea lions, and a bird byproduct, guano.
 
Because of its high nitrogen and high content of trace minerals, the Ballestas produce the best guano in the world. Even better than the more talked-about bat guano. Prior to mass produced fertilizer, the phrase “worth its weight in gold” was an insult to this guano as it was higher priced than gold.
 
It's still gathered today, but now in ways that are kind to the Islands and to the people who do the harvesting. Criminals and slaves used to harvest the guano in conditions so brutal, suicide was sometimes the preferred option. Continue reading

Peru: Beauty, bending, balance

Peru: Beauty, bending, balance
We spent about 36 hours in Ica, Peru, where there were lots of tall narrow homes and shops (often homes above and shops below).

Each morning, the caring, optimistic owners would clean their sidewalk of debris and dirt. 
 
Because we were there for only a short time, I don’t know the details but it appeared that there were small raised platforms where people could put their garbage, as well as designated spots on the street (not in bins but into a pile). At night, it would be picked up. Prior to pick up, it could be blown around/spread about. With that system, litter was inevitable.
  Continue reading

Peru: Smart triggers

Peru: Smart triggers

Versions of the sign pictured above were in almost every bathroom in Peru. They were posted to remind tourists to put their toilet paper into the garbage beside the toilet, and not in the toilet. Peruvian plumbing was/is not made to handle anything other than human waste. Small bits of fragile tissue could cause huge issues close to the source and farther down the line.
 
It was intriguing where these signs were posted: by the toilet paper, across from the toilet so you’d see it when sitting on the toilet, by the light switch and by the sink.

How helpful the latter two were, I’m not sure. Even when there was one by the holder, it frustrated me how often habit would kick in and in the few seconds between removing the paper from the roll and disposing of it, I’d forget, and not put it in the garbage that was always conveniently located right beside the toilet and served as a secondary reminder.

Continue reading

Peru: Questions are the answer.

Peru: Questions are the answer.
We were part of a tour when in Peru. About a dozen of us, more or less. I say more-or-less because there were people who flowed in and out of our group.

It was interesting to see how some people could smoothly enter and exit our core group, yet others seemed to stay on the periphery.

Perhaps they didn’t want to join us, or perhaps they didn’t know how.

Joining others in face to face conversation is, like so much in life, part art and part science.

Some of the ‘science’ we’ll discuss below. The art comes with practice. Continue reading

Peru: How feelings got me there.

Peru: How feelings got me there.
For over 15 years, I’ve wanted to go to Machu Picchu.

For several years, I’ve had a photo of Machu Picchu in my office.

I’ve talked about it and thought about it. But I didn’t do anything until I got angry one Sunday.

A friend of mine mentioned that she was thinking Machu Picchu would be her family’s next active trip (they had just completed the Grand Canyon’s Rim to Rim).

Instead of feeling happy for her, I was indignant. How could she do ‘my’ trip before me? Continue reading

Brekkie Bonus – Q & A from last week

Brekkie Bonus – Q & A from last week
First, let me clarify: I am not a coffee expert (far from it!) nor a Bulletproof coffee, Bulletproof tea, or tea expert.

However, if you are interested in one of the above topics, I might be able to save you some time.

This is what I’ve learned in my cursory search. Continue reading