Solbit remembers making friends in Peru

Dear Nicalai,

I know I should be writing you about our next big adventure, and we are having fun now, but you know how sometimes your mind just keeps going back to some pleasant times, rather than getting with the current program.  That’s me now.  We had a slow but very pleasant time in Cuzco, and I think I have to write you about it, just so I can put it behind me and move on.

I guess I’m sort of missing my canine (that means dog) friend, Sandy. Did I already tell you about her?  We saw her every day when we walked to the Plaza de Armas.

My Cuzco friend, Sandy, liked to use her tail as a pointer.  She'd point out things she wanted me to see.

My Cuzco friend, Sandy, liked to use her tail as a pointer.  She’d point out things she wanted me to see.

Of course, Cousin Susie was still with us when we were in Cuzco, and I can’t get it out of my mind how she talked about our seeing the Inca ruin that’s named “Sexy Woman.” Except, of course, it isn’t.  It has a Quechua name that sounds something like that, but it’s really “Sachsaywaman,” that means “falcon” or “variable hawk.”

Nona introduced me to an alpaca (or was it a llama?) at “Sachsaywaman.” Still, thanks to cousin Susie, I’ll always think of it as “Sexy Woman.”

Nona introduced me to an alpaca (or was it a llama?) at “Sachsaywaman.” Still, thanks to cousin Susie, I’ll always think of it as “Sexy Woman.”

Sachsaywaman is where you can see AMAZING stone work of the Incas.  Everyone has their photo taken in front of a spot in the wall like this.

Where else can you see fine stone work like this except in Peru?

Where else can you see fine stone work like this except in Peru?

Papa talked about the “ingenuity” of the Inca people, and he asked me, “Solbit, do you think we people could do something this beautiful with stone today?”  I just shrugged, and then he said, “I think it is a lost art.”  So, I asked him, “Well, why don’t you help look for it? It must be around here somewhere.  How far could it have gone, anyway?”  He patted me on my head and smiled.  I think that means he didn’t want to take the time to go looking for it.

Cousin Tom has also been coming to mind.  I think he’s a bit like me.  He likes the llamas and the alpacas, but he has a hard time telling the difference, too.

Cousin Tom took photos of my new friends, but he kept his distance.  I don't know why.  These alpacas were very friendly.

Cousin Tom took photos of my new friends, but he kept his distance.  I don’t know why.  These alpacas were very friendly.

I wonder if Cousin Tom could keep some llamas and alpacas on his and Cousin Susie’s wildlife refuge in New Jersey?  If he did then, eventually, we’d get pretty good at knowing the difference between a llama and an alpaca, wouldn’t we?  Do you think I should send him a suggestion like that?  Another benefit would be that their herding dog, Luna — she’s a puli — would have friends that she could herd! Oh, say, have you seen Luna, she has amazing fur, Papa says she is covered in dreadlocks, and she is! Just look at her …

Did you know that not just dogs like luna have dreadlocks.  Some people have them too.  I know I’ve seen them.

Did you know that not just dogs like luna have dreadlocks.  Some people have them too.  I know I’ve seen them.

Well, next time I write, I’ll tell you about our new place. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

August 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.”

Close Encounter of a different kind, or, OK, this is going to be gross!

Dear Nicalai,

[Warning: you may not want to look at my second and third photos.]

You know how sometimes you feel very comfortable being close to another animal, for example with llamas or alpacas, like these.

Every time we encounter these animals -- even a close encounter -- I can't tell whether its an alpaca or a llama. Can you?

Every time we encounter these animals — even a close encounter — I can’t tell whether its an alpaca or a llama. Can you?

Other times, though, you really want to see another animal — let’s say a very deadly snake — but you don’t want a close encounter with it, right?

What is good is when you get to make the choice for yourself.  You chose what kind of encounter to have, right?  Close or distant, depending on how you feel about the animal beside you or that you want to observe. You could say that I’m a pro-choice kind of plastic Jurassic.  I like to make my own choices about these encounters with others in the animal world.

Maybe you’re like me, so pity poor Papa.  Why? Well, when we were here in Peru, he had a very close encounter with an animal.  That animal didn’t even give him a choice of how close the encounter would be. In fact, he didn’t even know about his close encounter at the time … not until a few weeks later. That’s when, as a result of the unknown encounter, well, you’ll see what I mean … just look at this photo that Nona and I took of Papa’s ankle:

Papa called me,

Papa called me, “Solbit, come look at my ankle, please. Tell me what is that coming out of the skin?”

I didn’t want to get too close, but I had to get close to see that little thing wiggling out of Papa’s skin.

From Nona's and my close encounter with this little beast, we agreed on what we had seen, and I replied to Papa,

From Nona’s and my close encounter with this little beast, we agreed on what we had seen, and I replied to Papa, “OOO! Yuck! That looks like a maggot!” And Nona said, “It is a maggot!”

Guess what? That little wiggly thing was alive, and it wasn’t Papa’s skin that was wiggling either. No, we found out that, because this thing was coming out of Papa’s ankle now, that meant that some weeks ago an insect, called a “bot fly,”  had bitten Papa and laid eggs inside Papa’s skin.  That would have happened a few weeks ago when we were in the jungle of the Amazon Basin area of Peru, a region called ManuRemember, I wrote you before about that trip?

Oh, yuck, those eggs were in there all that time! Yes, not just “egg” but “eggs,” plural (that means “more than one.”) So, a few more maggots came out later.  Poor Papa. Fortunately, the eggs weren’t heavy and the maggots are so very tiny that they didn’t eat much of him, and, “best” of all, they came out of his ankle. They didn’t decide to stay there.

So Papa’s ok now, although he does spend a lot of time checking his ankles for bot flies now. Nona keeps saying, “For Pete’s sake, Papa, stop swatting at your ankles. We’re not in the jungle anymore.”

Of course, not all close encounters are bad.  Some can be very good, if you have them by choice. For example, I’m looking forward to a close encounter with you this December. Bye!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

August 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,

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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.”

Solbit Is Making Friends on the California Coast

Dear Nicalai,

It happened suddenly. Without warning. Whoosh! Papa lurched backward in Nona’s and my direction. “What was that!” Nona cried out. Our friend Henriette stifled a laugh. I think she knew what would happen. Papa caught his balance and turned to face us.

DSC03828

Mochambo the Llama is a champion spitter, for sure.

“That was the Llama spitting in my face.  Wow, Mochambo (name of Llama) must have a powerful diaphragm,” Papa said, with respect, admiration, and perhaps a tinge of fear.

DSC03867

Scooby jumped a little and barked, as if saying, “Do it again Mochambo!”

Right away, I knew I liked both Mochambo and Scooby, and we became instant friends. “Yeah, Mochambo,” I said, “please spit in Papa’s face again. That was so funny!  You really surprised him!”  Mochambo declined though, “I have to wait until another time when he’s not expecting it.  Bring him around tomorrow, and maybe we can surprise him again.”  Alright!

Well, I’ve been making one friend after another as we travel up the coast of California.  I’m surprised where I find them.  For instance, the other day, I was looking at a hole in the ground, and just before I could ask Nona what’s that hole for, this guy popped out.

Digger the gopher makes his home by, you guessed it, digging a tunnel in the ground, and he makes rooms underground for his nest.

Digger the gopher makes his home by, you guessed it, digging a tunnel in the ground, and he makes rooms underground for his nest.

“Hey, I’m Solbit, what’s your name?” I asked.  “Digger’s my name. Mucho gusto!  You know that’s Spanish for “pleased to meet you”, and I am.”  I guess California gophers are bilingual.  I wish I was.

Everywhere we go, we meet strangers, and, then, when we part, we’re friends.  The thing is that you have to go out to meet strangers face to face, and, then, you can make new friends.  Sometimes, though, it’s hard to meet strangers.

DSC03840

I was pretty sure someone was out there in those flowers, but we needed to get closer.

For example, I have the hardest time making friends with strange birds, don’t you?  By the time I get close enough to say hello, zoom, they’re flying away.

This California towhee let me get a good look, but flew away before I could greet her (or was it a him?).

This California towhee let me get a good look, but flew away before I could greet her (or was it a him?).

Even though the birds usually fly away before we meet, I think that we could be good friends.  You know, maybe they just need their space.  I think I can be their friend by just admiring them and giving them their space.  Right?

One more thing: I am so glad that you are my friend and that I can write you about what I’m doing, feeling, and thinking.  You’re the best.  Thanks!

I’m your friend.

Love,

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Solbit

March 2015

*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.”