Solbit Sees Tricky Art

Dear Nicalai,

We saw some tricky art yesterday. We went for a walk in our neighborhood in Quito.  What could be more boring, right?  Wrong.

Only a few blocks from our hostal, we found a little neighborhood park surrounded by colorful buildings.  Some painters went wild, but just with color, not playing tricks on us.

When we go for walks, we expect to be surprised, and, rarely, are we disappointed.

When we go for walks, we expect to be surprised, and, rarely, are we disappointed.

“Wow, I wonder who lives here?” Papa wondered aloud. I replied, “I don’t know, but they sure love colors.”

All around the little public square the buildings are painted bright colors, some with intricate patterns.

All around the little public square the buildings are painted bright colors, some with intricate patterns.

Then, after a walk around the square, I learned a new word “trompe l’oeil,” when Papa tried to sit down at this table.

Papa walked over to that chair on the left, backed into it to sit down, and -- surprise -- hit his butt into the wall.

Papa walked over to that chair on the left, backed into it to sit down, and — surprise — hit his butt into the wall.

That’s when Nona told me about the painters’ trick. “Trompe l’oeil” refers to a way of painting to “trick the eye,” and Papa’s eyes were definitely tricked by that painting on the wall.  Even Nona — a painter herself — has made these trick paintings.  She painted a floor canvas and made it look like a carpet was crooked.  People who walk on that painting try to straighten the rug!

Oh, hey, this is really cool news.  It’s not just human beings who trick the eye with art.  Nature does it too.  Nona took this photo of a creature with a big eye that got on Papa’s shirt.

On first glance, you might think that's an animal with a big eye, but look again. It's a pattern on a butterfly's wing!

On first glance, you might think that’s an animal with a big eye, but look again. It’s a pattern on a butterfly’s wing!

I wonder if that butterfly knows the word “trompe l’ceil” or speaks French? It sure knows how to make a tricky picture on itself.  Papa says the artist for that butterfly’s wing is “Natural Selection.”  That’s a weird name.  Who wants to be named “Natural Selection?” Maybe some artists would like the name.

I discovered that butterflies and I have something in common. We both like bananas.

I discovered that butterflies and I have something in common. We both like bananas.

Butterflies, Nona, and I — we girls — like bananas, and Papa hates bananas.  I wonder if that’s just Papa or if its all guys who don’t like bananas?  Guys would be missing out on a good thing if they all hated bananas the way Papa hates them.

Now you can see how our ordinary walks get me to thinking about all kinds of interesting questions that I didn’t have when I started my walks.  I have come to the conclusion just now that bananas and walks are good for me and, probably, for you too.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

June 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.”

Solbit Does Quito

Dear Nicalai,

We’re in Quito!  Sorry I missed writing you last week — too busy and also no internet or electricity.  Quito has both!

Papa told me that he went to Quito night after night when he was a boy in Blanchester, Ohio. Yeah, by short wave radio, but now he’s here for real.  Me too!

Papa may have visited Quito by radio, but he couldn't have seen Quito as we can see it in person. 

Papa may have visited Quito by radio, but he couldn’t have seen Quito as we can see it in person.

Look at this would you? You can’t see something like this on a radio. At first I thought they must grow giants in Ecuador. After taking a closer look, I figured out that a regular sized person was inside that huge dress and someone behind “her” was moving the arms. Someone here in Quito has a good sense of humor! They like to amuse us tourists.

They also like their history and their authors here.

An artist painted a mural of a famous author. I have to ask Nona who the author was.

An artist painted a mural of a famous author. I have to ask Nona who the author was.

We’ve been enjoying the street art as we walk around town. We especially liked this one. What do you think about it?

I've seen hummingbirds here, and I've seen old men here, but never this big ... or this flat!

I’ve seen hummingbirds here, and I’ve seen old men here, but never this big … or this flat!

I guess Quito is famous for this statue of an angel overlooking the city. I don’t know whether I believe in angels or not. Do you?

Whether angels exist or not, I can say for sure that this statue of an angel is real, and it is really big.

Whether angels exist or not, I can say for sure that this statue of an angel is real, and it is really big.

We’re all going out to supper tonight to an Indian restaurant, Sher E Punjab, a South Asian restaurant. Our friend Jo picked it out. She spent a lot of time in India, so she knows about the South Asian food. I thought that in Ecuador we would only have Ecuadorian food. Wrong. They have European, African, Japanese, Mexican, and other kinds of food. We’ve even seen hamburgers with French fries. Gotta go. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

Solbit

June 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.”

Solbit Sees More of Ecuador … by bus, by foot, and by taxi

Dear Nicalai,

Girl, our travel day took us to an interesting place. Our always helpful Hostal Zentrum host, Frank, got us a taxi in Quito. The nice taxi driver, Christian, got us to the North Bus Terminal in Quito on time.  We walked right from his taxi onto a bus, and just two minutes later, we seven — our group is growing: Missy, Jo, Nona, Papa, “Dino,” “Katy,” and me — were on our way to Otavalo!

Why go to Otavalo? Well, it’s the biggest indigenous peoples’ market in South America; that’s why!

Why go to Otavalo? Well, it’s the biggest indigenous peoples’ market in South America; that’s why!

We had a lot of fun roaming around the Otavalan market.  We did that more than once. What’s the market like?  I’ll tell you: everybody is selling just about everything, and a lot of what is being sold is hand-made by very talented people, the Otavalans.

Those are hand made wooden spoons — “cucharas de madera” — and hiding behind those spoons is our friend, Jo.

Those are hand made wooden spoons — “cucharas de madera” — and hiding behind those spoons is our friend, Jo.

In Otavalo, we stayed at a really nice place with a long name, La Posada del Quinde Hotel & Pachamama Cafe. They had an outdoor garden where Jo, Nona, Papa, and Missy watched birds while they sipped drinks.

I’m not too interested in birdwatching, so Dino, Katy, and I played with the dolls who stay at the hotel all the time on the shelf.

I’m not too interested in birdwatching, so Dino, Katy, and I played with the dolls who stay at the hotel all the time on the shelf.

Even though we were different from each other, we really enjoyed each other’s company. Diversity makes us all better. That’s what Papa says. In my experience, he’s right.

A taxi took all seven of us up into the hills above Otavalo. Our little friends, the dolls, wanted to go too, but we didn’t have room for them. We went to a little — you might say “tiny” — village of Agato.  Why did we go there?  Look at this.

That’s Señor Andrango showing Missy one of his weavings that is not yet finished.  That’s Papa on the other side looking at the fine detail of the weaving.

That’s Señor Andrango showing Missy one of his weavings that is not yet finished.  That’s Papa on the other side looking at the fine detail of the weaving.

Señor Miguel Andrango, is a master weaver.  He uses something called a backstrap loom.  He showed us how he makes yarn by hand. Amazing! He showed us how he weaves with that yarn. Nona and Missy agreed that he is an artist as well as a craftsman.  I noticed also that he is a really nice man. He reminds me of that saying, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.”

After visiting Señor Andrango’s weaving studio, we walked home down the mountain. We saw a waterfall. We ate at an Ecuadorian restaurant. As Nona said, “We had a great day.”

Oh, we’re going to walk to the market place again. Missy wants to buy something. I’ve gotta go.  Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

June 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.”

Solbit’s Big News Comes in Blue…and Red

Dear Nicalai,

Big news! We have a new travel companion!  Remember our friend Sol?

Our Spanish teacher, Sol, at Yanapuma Spanish School. She’s a great teacher, but Nona and Papa think she has a future in television.

Our Spanish teacher, Sol, at Yanapuma Spanish School. She’s a great teacher, but Nona and Papa think she has a future in television.

Well, no, Sol is not our new travel companion, although I’m sure she would be great company on any trip. The problem is that Sol has a husband, Dennis, and no way he’s waving goodbye to her.  Of course, he really isn’t a problem.  He’s a nice guy, from Chicago, but I’m getting away from my news.

Back to my news.  In our Spanish classes, Sol could tell that I was sort of feeling lonely.  She’s good a sensing things like that.  So, one day, she said to us, “I have a surprise for you, and I think you’re going to like him.”  I thought, “Him? I don’t see a ‘him’ anywhere.”  Then I could see that she pulled something small and blue our of her purse.

When what to my wandering eyes did appear but a smaller than me blue, plastic Jurassic!

When what to my wandering eyes did appear but a smaller than me blue, plastic Jurassic!

“If Nona and Papa approve, I’ve given my little friend Dino Romeo permission to accompany you on the rest of your trip through South America,” she explained and added, “Dino speaks fluent Spanish and pretty good English — although in a high squeaky voice — and, although you’ve studied Spanish hard and progressed well, I think you could use his interpretative skills in Peru and Argentina.”

Wow, that sold me, but Nona and Papa did not say yes right away. Instead, Papa asked Dino, “Dino, how would you feel about being our traveling companion and translator?  You know that you would have to leave Cuenca, you might miss being with Sol and Dennis, and you’d have to share a space in Nona’s purse with Solbit.”  After a long pause, Dino replied, “This is my chance to travel, to see the world, and I’m looking forward to an adventure with you.”  Geez, he has really good English for a Spanish speaking plastic Jurassic.

No sooner had we gotten home than we got another huge surprise, but in a very tiny package.  Unknown to us, someone else was feeling a bit lonely for company. Someone from Washington, DC.  Remember our friend Jo, the friend we stay with in DC? Well, she wasn’t feeling lonely, and she didn’t come to see us here, but a friend of hers, a little red bird, did. She stays at Jo’s place in Washington, too, and we had met her there.

That little bird, a plastic cardinal, flew or was dragged by winds to Ecuador in search of us.  She knew we were in Cuenca, but she didn’t know where.  She stopped to rest at Pumapungo Park.  When she got a drink at the pond, she asked the resident ducks there if they knew where Nona and Papa were staying in Cuenca.

The Mandarin duck couple recognized her description of Nona and Papa, “Oh, yeah, the two old people — gringos — in Panama hats.  The woman is always taking pictures of us; they come here almost every day.”

The Mandarin duck couple recognized her description of Nona and Papa, “Oh, yeah, the two old people — gringos — in Panama hats.  The woman is always taking pictures of us; they come here almost every day.”

Amazingly, they had actually noticed Nona and Papa! The Mandarin ducks told her, “We heard those two old people telling Jan, the Belgian waffle guy over there, that they have a place in Plaza San Franciso, above the Otavalan market.”  They told her to just fly up to the plaza and ask someone at the market where the two old gringos in Panama hats were staying.

“Si, Señorita, viven alli.” (English: Yes, young lady, they live there.), and the nice woman pointed to the apartment above the dentists’ office.

“Si, Señorita, viven alli.” (English: Yes, young lady, they live there.), and the nice woman pointed to the apartment above the dentists’ office.

When Papa heard chirping outside the apartment door, he went out to the hall to look.  He came back in with a little, red bird in his hand, “Hey, look who I found outside! It’s Katy, our friend Jo’s cardinal!”

Now, I had two travel companions Dino, the blue plastic Jurassic, and Katy, the plastic cardinal.  We’re going to have so much fun on this trip.

Red, blue, and orange.  We’re all different colors. We’re different shapes. We’re different sizes. We got here in different ways. Yet, we are the same — plastic — and best friends, now.  I feel so much better having travel companions like these on this trip.

Red, blue, and orange.  We’re all different colors. We’re different shapes. We’re different sizes. We got here in different ways. Yet, we are the same — plastic — and best friends, now.  I feel so much better having travel companions like these on this trip.

Papa — who always edits my blog posts — said, “Solbit, I wish you could tell Donald Trump what you just wrote for that photo caption.  He needs to hear your message.”  I asked, “Papa, so who is Donald Trump, and why would he need advice from a little plastic Jurassic like me?”  Papa answered me, “Solbit, Donald Trump is a poor soul who has lost his way and who is sowing meanness back home. He needs a big dose of truth and wisdom, and that can come from the least likely sources, even from a little, plastic Jurassic like you.” Who knew, huh?

Hey, after 2 wonderful months here in Cuenca, we fly tomorrow to Quito. That’s the big capital city of Ecuador. I have to go help Nona pack, and I have to orient Dino and Katy to how we travel. Fortunately, Nona’s purse pocket has plenty of room for all three of us. Dino had never flown before, so Katy and I — being experienced fliers — will hold his “hands,” really his front feet. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

Solbit

June 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.”

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,

signature

 

 

 

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.”

Solbit Muses on the Ups and Downs of Pumapungo

Dear Nicalai,

“If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that we are in Ireland,” Papa said to Nona. “Why Ireland, Papa?” I asked.  “Because this place has emerald-like color-tones, and brooks (really 4 rivers) trickling by with fish in the streams,” he explained.

“Well, I’ve never been to Ireland, as you know, but, if this is what Ireland is like, then take me there one day, too!” I replied.

I stood here and tried to imagine one of these style houses on each of the empty foundations in front of me. What a quaint village I would be standing in.

I stood here and tried to imagine one of these style houses on each of the empty foundations in front of me. What a quaint village I would be standing in.

Of course, we were in Cuenca, Ecuador, and we were standing up on the top of the Pumapungo ruins, just behind the Pumapunga Museum that I told you about.

The Cañari people created this lovely place and lived here. The Cañari people sure knew how to pick a spot to settle, didn’t they? Beautiful. They called it Guapondeieg. That was an up time. Later, the Inca people took over this place from the Cañari and changed its name from Guapondeieg to Pumapungo. That was a down time for the Cañari, but I can see why the Inca people would want it.

The Incas built a grand city here and changed the name again to Tomebamba. Unfortunately, two Inca brothers got into a hissy-fit with each other over something, and they had to go and have a civil war.  The winner destroyed this whole lovely place because it was his brother’s. That was a down time at the Pumapungo site. Papa said, “Solbit, let that be a lesson to us all that war is not the answer to human disputes.”

Speaking of wars. Then the Spanish came. They and the Inca had another war.  There goes the neighborhood, again.  Yep, war is not the answer.

If we had lived here, every morning, I could have gotten up at dawn and looked down to our village's agricultural plot, where we grew our own food. What a pleasant view!

If we had lived here, every morning, I could have gotten up at dawn and looked down to our village’s agricultural plot, where we grew our own food. What a pleasant view!

Eventually, Ecuador became independent of Spain, way back in the 1820 and became a sovereign state in 1830. Now, all these years later — centuries later, really — Ecuadorians have done a partial restoration of these ruins to give visitors and idea what it might have looked like hundreds of years ago.  The idea appeals to me. How about you?

I imagined Nona, Papa, and me taking a break from hoeing and weeding our garden, and we would be sweating and taking in the view of our community's terraces and up to the top where our quaint white house with thatched roof would have been.

I imagined Nona, Papa, and me taking a break from hoeing and weeding our garden, and we would be sweating and taking in the view of our community’s terraces and up to the top where our quaint white house with thatched roof would have been.

I think Uncle Josh and Aunt Tanya, the farmers in our family, would have liked living in this village and working the land, but, alas (as they say in literature), they were born about 700 years too late.  I can hear you now saying, “Yeah, but his sisters, Aunt Kir and Aunt Anna, would have hated it.”

I was standing there lost in my thoughts, thinking all that, when I heard,  “Solbit, wake up, let’s go see what’s up there on that terrace.” Nona pulled me out of my day dream and up the hill. We had our ups and downs too. By the time we got up to the terrace, she was out of breath — Papa too — because of the high altitude.  Being a plastic Jurassic altitude doesn’t bother me one bit. Also, being carried up by Nona helps.

As we ascended the terraces, we came to an iron gate with a pad lock on it. I stopped and gasped, “Maybe I would have hated it here too! Looks like they locked people up and kept them deep underground.  Yikes!

Whoa! What's this? A jail?” I asked. Nona said, no, that it was the entrance to the village’s underground tombs where they would have placed their dead, and where they could go to visit their dear departed ancestors — any time they wanted.

Whoa! What’s this? A jail?” I asked. Nona said, no, that it was the entrance to the village’s underground tombs where they would have placed their dead, and where they could go to visit their dear departed ancestors — any time they wanted.

Well, underground tombs and visiting dead ancestors does sound better than underground jail cells and visiting prisoners, but I’m not sure I would want to wander deep underground to see dead people all shriveled up and bony, not even to visit dear departed Nona.  No, Nona isn’t departed, I’m just speaking hypothetically to make my point that I prefer the open spaces to the confinement of underground accommodations, if you know what I mean. Above-ground cemeteries are ever so much nicer, don’t you think?

Still, this Pumapungo site helps me to try to imagine how people lived eons ago, and it helps me to appreciate the nice places where we live today.  Fortunately, we haven’t gotten caught up in any wars yet in all the different places we’ve been living. We’ve been all over the world, and, you know, we haven’t bumped into anyone, yet, who says, “Gee, I’d really like to live in the rumble of a war.”  Fortunately, as Papa says, peace is possible through peaceful means. We don’t have to have wars. I’m glad that’s true, but I wish it were true for everyone.

I’m your friend.

Love,

signature

 

 

 

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.”

Solbit: Is It Safe Outside the Museum?

Dear Nicalai,

WARNING: Better ask your mother if it is ok to read this email from me.  It has a possibly disturbing image and information. So, please go ask her first.  She may want you to skip this one, or you may want to skip it.

Here goes! Remember how I didn’t want to go to the Andes and how, just like Papa predicted, I liked it once I got here?  Well, I’m finding all kinds of fascinating things here in Cuenca, a UN World Heritage Site, in the Andes mountains of Ecuador!

We took a walk to the Pumapungo Museum.  You’ll notice that they have interesting names of things here.  I think maybe the name “Pumapungo” goes back to before the Inca Empire to the Cañari people. I think they were among the indigenous tribes that sided with the Europeans to depose the Inca.  That was a long, long time ago.  Anyway, back to my story, we were in the museum …

We had just seen this shrunken head in the museum.  That head used to belong to some poor soul, and it had been regular size and attached to a living body. They have about five of these tiny heads on display.

We had just seen this shrunken head in the museum.  That head used to belong to some poor soul, and it had been regular size and attached to a living body. They have about five of these tiny heads on display.

“Do you think I’ll be safe going back outside?” I asked Nona as we were getting ready to leave the museum.  “Of course, you’ll be safe out there.  Why wouldn’t you be, Solbit?”  I explained that I already have a very small head and that I don’t want it to get any smaller, and, also, I like my head attached to my neck, and I don’t want it removed.

“Oh, I see.” Nona replied.  “Solbit, that stopped years ago. Trust me, we’re all safe from headhunters today.”

The Shuar, a rainforest people in the northwest Amazon, used to remove the head of an enemy and shrink it! They called the practice “tsanta.” When I first saw this, I checked to make sure my head was still on my neck.  It was … and still is.  Fortunately, the Pumapungo Museum is big and has a lot of other exhibits without shrunken heads.

If  you like masks and bright colors, then this museum is the place for you.

We saw this mask, and, immediately, I had a great idea that would have saved the heads of enemies of the Shura and would’ve saved the Shuar a lot of time and trouble.

We saw this mask, and, immediately, I had a great idea that would have saved the heads of enemies of the Shura and would’ve saved the Shuar a lot of time and trouble.

Actually, this mask gave me two ideas, one after the other.  That happens to me a lot. I get an idea, and then that idea gives me another idea, and, the best part is that usually my second or third or fourth idea is even better than the first!  Ooops, there I go again.  I’m off on a “tangent;” Papa often says, “Solbit, you’re off on a tangent.  What is your point?” I need to get back to what I was telling you.  Hmm, I forget. What was I telling you?  Oh, the idea that this mask gave me.

So immediately I said to myself, “That’s it!  The Shura capture me.  They get ready to chop off my head.  I give them ‘that look’ with my winsome eyes.  I say, ‘Let’s make a deal.  I can save you a lot of mess and bother, and you can let me go home.  Is it a deal?  OK?’”

Then the Shura warrior would ask, “How are you going to do that, you little squirming iguanodon?” That’s when I give her or him my idea.  “I know all about your head shrinking — tsanta — so, just in case I had a bad day today, I brought along an extra head, a mask!  It is orange and looks just like me, and, better yet, I asked my mask maker to make it really small so that it looks shrunken. You don’t even have to shrink it! I’ll give it to you, if you let me go!”

I would pause to let that sink it a bit, and then I’d say, “And, if you accept my offer, then you won’t have to do all that cleaning up after chopping off my head, boning it, and cooking it to make it shrink.” I think that might work, don’t you?

Then I had my second idea, which might be even better.  I could say, “Hey, I made a mistake invading your territory.  I am sorry.  I won’t do it again.  Let’s be friends.  I can come visit you, and you can come visit me, and we can play games and share a meal together! Just regular food; no ‘meat,’ if you know what I mean, my friend.”  You know, they didn’t shrink the heads of their “friends.”

I asked Papa about my ideas.  He said, “Solbit, you’re on the right track. Just keep letting one idea lead to another, and one day you are going to get there.”  Then he wandered off to see another exhibit.

When I saw this little fellow, my first thought was, “This fellow has a big mouth.” I meant “big mouth” in a good way. Then I thought, “…and he looks really happy.” The next thing I knew, I was smiling.  I guess smiles are catching.

When I saw this little fellow, my first thought was, “This fellow has a big mouth.” I meant “big mouth” in a good way. Then I thought, “…and he looks really happy.” The next thing I knew, I was smiling.  I guess smiles are catching.

I wish, oh, I wish!, that ways of dressing were catching, too.  I really like the traditional Ecuadoran clothing that we saw, and Nona and Papa ought to try it.  Let me show you what I mean.

If you live in a sometimes cool climate, like up here in the Andes mountains, wouldn’t this outfit be both comfortable and attractive to wear?  I think so.

If you live in a sometimes cool climate, like up here in the Andes mountains, wouldn’t this outfit be both comfortable and attractive to wear?  I think so.

I hope you come down here to Cuenca sometime, and, if you do, be sure to stop at the Pumapungo Museum.  You can’t miss it. Here’s what it looks like.

This is the front of the museum, where you enter.  Also, in back of the museum are Inca ruins that you can wander around.

This is the front of the museum, where you enter.  Also, in back of the museum are Inca ruins that you can wander around.

Nona, Papa, and I like to wander around the Inca ruins of the Pumapungo park, and, if we get hungry or if we have to duck in from a rainstorm, we like to stop for a Belgian Waffle at the little stand in the park.  Nona and Papa like to chat with the owner; he is actually from Belgium, and he makes the waffles!  Who thought we’d get Belgian Waffles in Ecuador?  Cuenca has all sorts of pleasant surprises, as well as a gnarly shrunken head or two. But it is safe for you to visit, trust me.

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

April 2016

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  • 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.”