New Friends in Ecuador

Dear Nicalai,

Do you know the difference between these four South American animals:  llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos?  Me neither.  Who cares, really?  Well, I didn’t, not until I met my first alpaca.  That was here in Cuenca at the Pumapungo park.

Llama or alpaca? I can’t tell.  Others at the park said that this is an alpaca.  So, until I find other expert advice, I’ll say it is an alpaca, but Papa says I have to prepare myself to be corrected, just in case my ‘first source” was wrong.

Llama or alpaca? I can’t tell.  Others at the park said that this is an alpaca.  So, until I find other expert advice, I’ll say it is an alpaca, but Papa says I have to prepare myself to be corrected, just in case my ‘first source” was wrong.

Well, sure thing or not, I’m going to say that I met my first alpaca in Cuenca. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  You’ve probably seen camels, right?  In books or in a zoo or in the movies.  Well, don’t you think the alpaca looks a little like a camel?  That’s because alpacas belong to a family of animals, the camelids. Llamas, vicuñas, and guanacos belong to that family too and look a lot alike, at least to me they do.

Nona says that we’ll probably see llamas while we’re here in South America too, but, if we do, it won’t be a first for me. Do you remember, we saw llamas at our friend Henriette’s place.  Oh, that reminds me, the big llama, the one named Mochamba, spit in Papa’s face!  Nona says we probably won’t see vicuñas or the guanacos, because they are wild and live way up high in the mountains.  That’s ok, I can look them up on the internet to see them.  I just won’t be able to pet them, and, they won’t be able to spit in my face.

Also, I met a bronze-winged parrot in the Pumapungo park.  He was a prisoner inside a cage and was planning a jail break, from a big cage that held a lot of birds. People come to the cage to stare at the birds in there.  He wanted my help.

The bronzed-winged parrot, said, “Psst. Hey, my little iguanodon friend, what’s your name, again? Ah, Solbit.  That’s right.  So, Solbit, please go see if you can steal the keys from the guard, and let me out of this jail.  I want to fly back to my home in western Ecuador.”

The bronzed-winged parrot, said, “Psst. Hey, my little iguanodon friend, what’s your name, again? Ah, Solbit.  That’s right.  So, Solbit, please go see if you can steal the keys from the guard, and let me out of this jail.  I want to fly back to my home in western Ecuador.”

Unfortunately, even if I could steal the key, it would be bigger and heavier than I am. “Sorry, I’m too little to help you with that,” I told him, but I felt bad, because I’m sure he’s homesick.  I know I would be.

I told Papa about this, and he said, “Solbit, that’s good that you could feel badly about not being able to help your parrot friend, because that means that you can ‘empathize’ with other living beings.  Also, we should feel badly about wild animals being kept in cages, except maybe when that’s the only way to rescue an injured animal and keep it safe from predators.”

My parrot friend was an adult. Perhaps he had been free in the wild, then injured, then put in this cage or refuge.  Oh, you are wondering how could I tell that he was an adult, when I can’t tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca?  Well, that’s easy, the sign said that juveniles have white eye rings, and adults have brownish eye rings.  So, I’m pretty sure I’m right, look at his eye ring. It’s brownish, right?

Nona, Papa, and I heard a lot of clicking type sounds in the bushes.  “What’s that?” I asked Papa.  Papa said, “Nona told me that it’s a kind of hummingbird, a big hummingbird, called a sparkling violetear.” You can depend on Nona’s identification of birds, because she always takes a photo of the bird. Then she looks at books and on websites to learn what the experts say the bird is. She’s very thorough.

I keep looking for the ‘ears’ on this bird, but I don’t see them. Do you?  She has a deep purple-blue spot on her chest and chin.  Even though she isn’t orange like me, I think her colors are beautiful.

I keep looking for the ‘ears’ on this bird, but I don’t see them. Do you?  She has a deep purple-blue spot on her chest and chin.  Even though she isn’t orange like me, I think her colors are beautiful.

Well, my girl-bias is showing, isn’t it?  I just jumped to the conclusion that this hummingbird is a girl because she is so beautiful, so colorful, and, obviously, such a hard worker.  You’re right though, this bird might have been a guy.  Still, I doubt it.

Did you know that, when you are a bird, you have to always be on the lookout for predators?  Also, sometimes predators can look like the most friendly and cuddly creatures, for example, a house cat, but they aren’t, if you are a bird.  I met one of these predators in this park.

She told us that she’s been living here for ten years and loves it. She can go anywhere she wants, and no one bothers her.  This picture is proof of that.

She told us that she’s been living here for ten years and loves it. She can go anywhere she wants, and no one bothers her.  This picture is proof of that; she’s on the roof of the bird cage.

“You know, I’d really like to tuck into one of those bronze-winged parrots for lunch, but I can’t get into its cage.  Believe me, I’ve tried every possible way in, but somebody has me blocked,” she confessed to me.  “It’s ok, though, because the Belgian waffle guy, in the little shop over there, brings me excellent cat food, and some of the park rangers give me leftover milk.  You know milk is called ‘leche’ here, don’t you?”  I guess my bronze-winged parrot friend would be in trouble if he broke out of jail and then couldn’t fly home.

Our daily walks to places like this always surprise me, because we meet the most interesting and different residents of the area where we live.  Also, even though we’re strangers here, everyone welcomes us and tells us about themselves.  Traveling to strange places might seem scary, but, really, it’s fun … and educational too.  I think I’ve been learning a lot.  Maybe better even than being in school!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

May 2016

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

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