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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.”