breakfast, Ecuador, Galapagos, Mail, Post Office, South America, Sudamerica, travel, Uncategorized, Winter

Message in a…barrel ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The Galapagos Post Office.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve just finished up my third winter in a row.  Pretty much twelve months spent in the winter seasons of Milwaukee, then Chile, then New York.

It’s natural that during this Ice Age, my mind would wander sometimes, and take a little vacation from the cold.

Leaving my frostbitten carcass behind, it would daydream of sun, gentle breezes, and warm beaches.

So when I got a break, and actually took a short trip to a sunny, warm beach, I stood in the warmth and sunshine, and naturally my mind strayed again, like that one pesky third-grader on a field trip, and left me with thoughts of…

Cream of Wheat?

 

 

By sheer good luck, in February I got the chance to tag along with a student group going to the Galapagos Islands, pretty close to the equator.  Walking around Floreana Island, under the most intense sunlight I’ve ever felt, suddenly my mind was thinking of my favorite hot breakfast cereal.

Sometimes I worry myself.

 

On the island, looking at a weathered barrel full of postcards, what came to mind, was a famous advertisement from the turn of the last century, which I’d seen for years, on a tin canister in our kitchen.

The ad ran in magazines over a hundred years ago, but a lot of folks would recognize it still.   “Rural Delivery”, painted by N.C. Wyeth in 1906, shows a cowpoke on horseback, six-shooter on his hip, dropping a letter into a wooden box on a post.   “Where The Mail Goes, Cream of Wheat Goes” says the caption.

 

 

The barrel post office I was standing by, on this remote island in the Galapagos, is even older than the ad.  The site (if not the current barrel) has been used  since the 1790’s.  Originally by sailors coming ashore for water or food – – whalers, seal-hunters, and sea-cooks looking to boil up a big pot of turtle soup – and now by tourists from all over the world.

Over two hundred years ago, a British sea captain set up the mail drop, with flags that signaled its existence to passing ships.  Outbound sailors would leave messages, and homeward bound sailors would retrieve letters left by others, to deliver when they got to port.

 

The legacy has continued – – each modern visitor leaves a postcard, and looks for one that they can deliver in person to the recipient.

I enjoyed looking through addresses in places as diverse as Mumbai and Moldova.  That last one, had languished here for twelve years.  One girl in the group, feeling sad for a letter marooned on the island for seventeen years, waiting to be carried to Turkey, said she would defy whatever curse came from violating tradition, and would mail it from the U.S., because she felt like matters had waited long enough.

On the day we were there, New Englanders seemed to have the most luck, and several kids found addresses close to their homes, that they could deliver at the end of the semester.  “This lady lives twenty minutes from my house!”

I am looking forward to hearing from myself, just a card, and it will be a nice surprise to learn what I was thinking, because I’ve already forgotten what I wrote.

The most poignant message, though, was very simple. I picked it up and in big letters it proclaimed:

“I will be back for this. If I die before then, my kids will. Leave me here, I’m coming back!”

 

 

 

Rural Delivery” painting is public domain, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (a gift from the National Biscuit Company!)

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I saw this handsome iguana and took an immediate liking to him ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ There he was just a-walkin’ down the street, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do” ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ He’s a rock ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Pebbly skin, head on a swivel, eyes like marbles, he cannot be curbed, and takes nothin’ for granite.

Ecuador, Galapagos, Iguana, photography, South America, Sudamerica

On the stony lonesome trail.

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I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by… (John Masefield “Salt-Water Poems and Ballads” )

Ecuador, Galapagos, Gecko, Not an iguana, photography, Ships, South America, Sudamerica

A Lizard Dreams of the Sea

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architecture, Colonial History, Ecuador, Quito, South America, Sudamerica, travel, Uncategorized

Things looking up ~ ~ ~ Spires, Domes & Rooftops of San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

dsc00809These are mostly pictures of the rooftops of the old city of Quito, the capitol of Ecuador.

They include shots of the oldest church, which dates back to the 1530’s, and many were taken from the balcony of the Presidential Palace.

Quito is a treasure trove of historic buildings, and home to some incredible rooftops. In this post, rather than my usual groundling-level photos of old buildings, try to visualize yourself as the rooster in the first photo below, standing up top, getting a great view and new perspectives.

(But perhaps not being quite as noisy in the morning.)

 

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A Bird’s-Eye View

 

 

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Poster for the local branch of “Cloud Watchers”

 

 

 

 

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At street level, there are down-to-earth shops, and churches, government buildings, and museums – imposing masses of stone, solemn and solid.  But up on the rooftops… the domes, spires, and cupolas compose an exotic village all its own, up among the clouds, populated by ivory-white and silvery figures.

 

 

 

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In the background is a hill called “El Panecillo” (Bread Loaf Hill) The statue in the distance, of the Virgin Mary, is a 134 foot aluminum version of a wooden original, created in 1734 by a local artist.  It is unusual in that Mary is shown with wings, based on a description in the Book of Revelations.

 

 

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Statue on top of the monument in Independence Plaza, brandishing a torch and fasces.  The latter, a Roman symbol of authority and strength-through-unity, was a popular symbol for democratic republics, including the U.S., before being tarnished by it’s later association with Mussolini and Hitler.  It was used on the so-called “Mercury” dime and you’ll see it on old buildings all over our Capitol.  Perhaps we’ll see more of it around Washington in the future.

 

 

 

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On The Sunny Side Of The Street, with Security Cam

 

 

 

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La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. The Jesuit church, begun in 1605 and completed 160 years later. A fantastically ornate combination of Baroque, Neoclassical, Moorish, and even some indigenous notes.

 

 

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I cannot look at this tower without thinking the saint on top is Jacques Cousteau entering a “diving bell”

 

 

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Ecuador, Quito, South America, Sudamerica, travel, Uncategorized

Street Scenes – Quito, Ecuador

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Walking around Quito, Ecuador. The Spanish conquistadors began building on top of Inca ruins in the 1500’s, and this is reckoned the best-preserved colonial site in all of Latin America.

 

Bolivar Theater

Bolivar Theater

By random good luck, recently I was able to spend several days in Quito. It is a fascinating city, and people there are pleasant and friendly.  And the Ecuadorians were very patient with a Norteamericano wandering around lost, somewhat dazed from sleep deprivation and the altitude, and speaking a kind of mélange of high school Castilian, Mexican, and Chilean Spanish, and many words I apparently invented or randomly inserted from other languages.  Wait, I meant mezcla, I think, not mélange, I don’t even speak French, see what I mean?    

This picture above is the sign for a spectacular 1933 movie palace, seating 2,200, and named for one of Ecuador’s national heroes.

I mostly photographed the wonderful colonial-era buildings, but thought I’d do a post with snapshots of street scenes and people from walking around town.  It’s a wonderful place to go wandering.

 

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Bolivar

 

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The city is at 9,000 feet and has a lovely, cool, even temperature in the summer, and very mild winters.

 

 

 

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The Merchant of Quito

 

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Presidential Gallery

 

 

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Green party

 

 

 

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Illegal smile

 

 

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El Palacio de Carondelet, the center of Ecuador’s government, is a handsome building, not quite as old as our White House, but the Spanish ruled from this site since the 16th c., and the native rulers were here before them. In this photo, a Presidential aide is operating the remote-control soldiers.

 

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Carondelet

 

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Stealth

 

 

Condorito

Condorito. Of course one of the ways to learn about another culture, is through literature. When people talk of Latin American authors, they usually think of Borges, Llosa, Isabel Allende, and of course, one of my all-time favorites, Pablo Naruda. But the comic strip “Condorito,” with its goofy, un-heroic, mishap-prone Condor-man, who really looks more like a cartoon chicken, has been popular since 1949. Kind of an odd role model – – he no longer smokes cigarettes, but now seems to have quite a few scantily-clad girls in the strip.

 

The Monsignor

The Monsignor

 

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Tres Amigos

 

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I don’t have a caption for this one ( “Found His Niche” ? “Holy Rollers” ? “The Jolly Churchman” ?)  On the extremely baroque exterior of the Church of the Society of Jesus, begun in 1605 and finished about a century-and-a-half later.

 

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Guarding the Nutcracker Suite  (Not meaning any disrespect – – I’ve just never seen such bright, chocolate-box-soldier uniforms outside a play or operetta)

 

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