Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

Today is a special day, a day of remembrance; one’s whose genesis; meaning and importance are at times unfortunately forgotten.

Some of us spent the day at work, others enjoyed the holiday to sleep in or run errands. Others were lucky enough to spend time with their kids and or with their spouse. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s a holiday after all; however, many of us do not realize what this holiday actually means. It’s the recognition of the sacrifices of what it entails to serve one’s country.

Some were drafted, while others more recently volunteered, all are equally deserving of our respect, admiration, and thanks for serving in foreign lands fraught with danger.

Nearly a century ago a great war was fought, with formal hostilities ending on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (of 1918) when the armistice with Germany went into effect. President Woodrow Wilson’s words ring true to this day:

“A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half. – With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we re modeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought. Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men. To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with – solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

Today be thankful of all veterans, they merit it.


Old 1941-42 Chevy Woodie Found in Lima

Diplomonkey utilizing his super-duper street smarts while driving through the bedlam, fondly known as regular Monday morning Lima traffic, turns right and then left to find quick and unobstructed passage.  In the process, on a neighborhood backstreet he discovers a hidden rare gem.

So Diplomonkey dashes out of his aging, and less than trusty jeep, and into the mad traffic with nothing in his hand but his iPhone; wifie gasps, you are nuts – the risk is not worth the picture, get back in the jeep…its just another old truck.  No, it looks like a 1941/42 half ton Chevrolet Campbell Woodie, blares out Diplomonkey.

Chevrolet Campbell Woodie

Chevrolet Campbell Woodie

Okay, it was not all that dramatic after all since Diplomonkey safely pulled over to the side, parked the jeep, turn the hazards on, and applied the hand brake and then looked three times before crossing the street.  If anything should happen to Diplomoneky, RSO would be so very, very sad – too much paperwork and cables galore.

But what a great surprise nonetheless on a Labor Day morning, what a cool story and find.  Icing on the cake, or in this case the Alfajor, was the maroon Pontiac Le Mans 326 parked in front of the old Chevy.  

Pontiac LeMans 326

Pontiac Le Mans 326

Ah the unexpected joys and wonders of life in the foreign service life.  Who would have thought that you can even have fun while driving in Lima.

Enjoy the pictures; they are of relics from a time when vroom, vroom actually meant something….

Cheers from Lima!

Okay, So I’m a Slacker

Diplomonkey has been slacker; no doubt about it.  No new posts about assignment Lima/Quito in far too long.  Have a slew of photos, but have been far too lazy/tired to write about my adventures.

So to make up for being such a slacker, old Diplomonkey will share some real cool photos taken today towards sunset today in Quito.

Cotopaxi volcano spewing ash

Cotopaxi Volcano #1 – Spewing Ash

Ecuador, and Quito in particular is one of Diplomonkey’s favorite haunts.  It is a crazy, funky place where anything is possible.

Cotopaxi 2

Cotopaxi Volcano #2 – Ash Plume

Enjoy the photos, Diplomonkey  certainly had fun taking these from the hotel.  Enjoying the Nikon D2x.

Cotopaxi Volcano #3

Cotopaxi Volcano #3 – Snow Cap Is Melting

These are for Sam the Hamster.

Cheers from Quito!

Postcards from Peru – A Visit with the Yaguas

The Diplomonkeys while exploring the Amazon, albeit from the comfort of their jungle lodge base camp, receive an invitation to spend the afternoon with the Yaguas.  It’s only a quick 30-minute boat ride down the river to the village, but it is a world away in terms of differences.

Yagua Chief armed with Punaka (blowgun).

Yagua chief armed with a punaca (blowgun).

Yaguas 3

Yagua man armed with a punaca (blowgun).


Yagua girl and boy.

Diplomonkey looks forward to his meeting with one of the thirty or so Yagua communities scattered across Peru’s Amazon basin.  Despite the encounter being a programmed activity, it is nonetheless an opportunity for the Diplomonkeys to interact with a people who for millennia have lived off the river and the forest.


Yaguas preparing a punaca (blowgun) demonstration.


Yagua chief.

An indigenous people, the origin of whose name today appears to come from the Spanish deformation of the Quechua yawar ruba or the “blood-red people,” they are sincere in their welcoming.  The blood-red people moniker apparently comes from the Yaguas’ habit of painting their faces with achiote (seeds of the annatto plant).


Yagua man pulling darts from a punaca (blowgun) target.



How different and special is this Amazon jungle. When compared to the concrete jungle in which we live, Diplomonkey thinks that green jungle is the better of the two.


Yagua girl with pet sloth.


Yagua woman.

For the little ones, as well as for the parents the Amazon represents spectacular sights, sounds, and even smells.  It is a place of torrential downpours followed by gorgeous sunsets along the river.  It is a place where the air resonates with the squeaks, squeals, and howls of untold insects, birds, and monkeys.  Here the river is stocked with exotic fish and cavorting river dolphins.  It is also a place of fresh, clean air characterized that by the welcoming odor of damp earth.  Here even a tapir makes its way deftly through our camp in the evening.


Sunset on the Amazon river.

If you can, go and visit the Amazon.  The dollars you spend are well spent. We discovered that they offer people an alternative to logging.  If not, then try to spend some time in some other jungle of the non-concrete variety.  You might be surprised by what is out there.


Logging  barge running along the Amazon River heading to Iquitos.

Enjoy the pictures.


Postcard from Peru – Iquitos Street Scenes

Okay little Dorothy, so Diplomonkey this time around is cheating with his latest chimping excursion.  Diplomonkey took this batch of pictures of Peru’s Iquitos while on leave.  Diplomonkey taking time off?  Oh how scandalous, I do say little Dorothy – what is this world coming to!

Iquitos' lively neighborhood of Belen - also known as the Amazon Venice.

Iquitos’ lively neighborhood of Belen – also known as the Amazon Venice.

Rushhour in downtown Iquitos (along Iron House supposedly designed by Gustave Eiffel).

Rushhour in downtown Iquitos (along the Iron House supposedly designed by Gustave Eiffel).

Iquitos is a really cool place to visit.  Its hot and humid much like Miami, so Diplomonkey feels right at home.  The people are however even nicer; always with a smile on their faces and not in too much of a rush.  It seems that the pace of life, much like the Amazon river’s current, runs at 4-6 kilometers per hour.

Iquitos Street Scene #1

Iquitos Street Scene #1

What Diplomonkey find really great about this island city in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon are the street scenes of people engaged in their daily activities.

Iquitos Street Scene #2

Iquitos Street Scene #2

Yes, little Dorothy, Iquitos (capital of Peru’s Amazon) connects to the rest of the country only by air and the river; so if it is not manufactured or grown locally, it has to come in by plane or by boat (Pucallpa is a 4-7 days sail away).  There are no roadways in or out of the city linking it with the rest of the country, giving Iquitos a surreal frontier town feel.

Iquitos Street Scene #3

Iquitos Street Scene #3

Hope the pictures entices others to pay a visit.  Nothing can beat the smell of oxygen rich air that permeates the city, nor a tropical downpour.

Cheers and more to follow from Peru!

Postcards from Ecuador – Quito’s El Ejido Park

A sunny Sunday morning is a great time for exploring Quito. It is a treat for this wandering foreign service officer to be savored before heading off to the airport for the now all too routine four-hour hurry up-and-wait flight back to Lima.

Quito's El Ejido Park's Arco del Triunfo.

Quito’s El Ejido Park’s Arco del Triunfo.

With the aging but still reliable Nikon D70 in hand Diplomonkey squeezes in one more exploratory outing into the city.  Quito’s El Ejido Park, with its native crafts fair, not so young former backpackers selling handmade jewelry, and local artists with their paintings make for colorful backdrop.

Detail of Frieze of Quito's El Ejido Arco del Triunfo.

Detail of Frieze of Quito’s El Ejido Arco del Triunfo.

But wait, there is more. Diplomonkey hears music in the background – need to go and check it out.  Hey, it’s a duo of musicians playing Andean melodies by the Arco del Triunfo. Not too sure about the origin of the costumes, but the music is authentic enough and the quite good.

Quito Quena and Pan Flute Players.

Quito Quena (alternatively Kena) and Pan Flute Players #1

Quito Quena and Pan Flute Players #2.

Quito Quena (alternatively Kena) and Pan Flute Players #2.

Enjoy the sights, Diplomonkey sure did.


Postcards from Ecuador – Old Glories in Guayaquil’s Old Town

Another day, another crack of dawn departure this time for a flight down to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s commercial capital.

Guayaquil Old Town Street.

Guayaquil Old Town Street.

Diplomonkey on this trip is treated to not just to the usual slew of meetings and negotiations, oh what fun it is, but also gets the added treat of spending the Fourth of July celebration at one of oldest U.S. diplomatic posts in Latin America.

Diplomonkey understands that the United States and Gran Colombia (of which Ecuador was at that time a part) first established formal ties in 1824 through the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Navigation and Commerce, which allowed each country to appoint Consuls and Vice Consuls in the other’s ports.  Our first Consul General was William Wheelwright, a shipwrecked sailor who had settled in Guayaquil and had later become a successful merchant.  As the Consulate General’s website clarifies in the subsequent years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations, there have been no less than 59 Consuls General assigned to the Consulate in Guayaquil.

Quilted Old Glories.

Quilted Old Glories.

At sunset it’s off to the Guayas’ riverfront for the event.  But before heading into the venue, there is just enough time for a stroll through the remains of the old town waterfront and an opportunity to snap a couple of photos.  It does make Diplomonkey however wonder if he is possibly walking in CONGEN’s Wheelwright’s footsteps, experiencing a modern version of some of the same sights.

Guayaquil Riverfront Battlement #1.

Guayaquil’s Riverfront Battlement View #1.

Guayaquil's Battlement #2.

Guayaquil’s Riverfront Battlement View #2.