Postcards from Ecuador – Climbing Wawa Pichincha Volcano

Diplomonkey did not have anything better to do on his day off on his latest trip up to Quito than to go and climb a mountain, or in this case a volcano.  That is, the Wawa (i.e., child in the Kichwa language) Pichincha volcano towering over the city.

Which BTW lasted erupted in October 1999, covering Quito in three inches of volcanic ash.

Cable Car to the 4,100 meter mark.

View of Quito – Cable Car drop off point at the 4,100 meter mark.

Chapel on the trail up to Ruku Pichincha

Chapel on the trail up to Ruku Pichincha.

The volcano is easy to reach from Quito via a cable car that will drop you off at the 4,100 meter mark.  From there, you start climbing toward the Ruku Pichincha (i.e., old person in Kichwa) peak.  The air is thin!

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Riding down from Ruku Pichincha.

Next time Diplomonkey is up in Quito, and if time permits, he will get a horse and ride up to the caldera is style.  Cool, warm ponchos are provided.

Pichincha Horse and corral at about 4,300 meters.

Pichincha Horse and corral at about 4,300 meters – will hire this one next time.

Dude running the trail down from Ruku Pichincha.

Dude running the trail down from Ruku Pichincha.

Enjoy the sights.

Cheers!

Postcards from Ecuador – Quito’s Church of San Francisco

Diplomonkey has been on the move once again throughout the Andes.  One of his latest sojourns has been through Quito in Republic of Ecuador; and just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July at U.S. Embassy Quito and even run into the Holy Father (i.e., the Pope) at the airport.

Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Quito’s Church and Convent of San Francisco.

View of the Jesuit Church of the Company as seen from San Francisco Church and Convent.

View of the Jesuit Church of the Company as seen from Quito’s San Francisco Church and Convent.

Interior dome and main altar of Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Interior dome and main altar of Quito’s baroque Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Quito is one of Diplomonkey’s favorite towns.  Rich in very well preserved Spanish colonial architecture, Quito offers incredible sights and sounds.  Nice people, good food, and a relaxed pace make Quito an excellent place to visit, and in Diplomonkey’s case also work.

Pulpit in Quito's Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Carved wooden pulpit in Quito’s Church and Convent of San Francisco.

Woman with Hats.

Woman with Hats.

Older Woman looking at Belts

Old Woman with Hat.

Enjoy the sights.

Cheers!

Postcards from Peru, Lurin: Have muddy boots, will travel

On the road again, Diplomonkey drops by this really cool dairy farm in Lurin, a fair-sized town some 45 kilometers south of Lima.  The place is also known for the massive pre-Colombian Pachacamac ruins on its outskirts – note to self, I need to go their with the little dudes before our tour is up next year.

Lurin Dairy Cow 1

Lurin Dairy Cow #1

Tail End of the Business - Lurin Dairy Cow #2

Tail End of the Business – Lurin Dairy Cow #2

Anyhow, there is nothing like a quick farm visit to cheer up Diplomonkey’s spirits.  The smell of hundreds of animals, feed, and damp earth are a welcome, reinvigorating shock to the system, as much as an escape from the confines of the office and its unceasing pile of reports and briefing memoranda.

Fresh Milk - Lurin Dairy Cow #3

Fresh Milk  Straight from the Cow – Lurin Dairy Cow #3

One of the great aspects of foreign service life, I think is getting away from the desk work to actually do field work.  I guess that the bonus here is the possibility to see new things, as well as to interact with people.  Most people I meet are more than willing to tell you something about themselves,  what they do, what they think, and how things could better.

Milk Me, I dare You - Lurin Dairy Cow #5

Milk Me, I dare You – Lurin Dairy Cow #4

In any case, enjoy the pictures and consider a farm visit sooner than later to learn where our food actually comes from.

Hello There - Lurin Dairy Cow

Hi There – Lurin Dairy Cow

Cheers!

Postcard from Peru: Quilmana, Canete 140 Kilometers and a World Away from Lima

Okay so the fog season has started, albeit with a slight delay.  Time to get out of Lima even if for a day.  Hop into the office car to seek sunshine afar. LOL

Quilmana, Canete Donkey Powered Cart

Quilmana, Canete Donkey Powered Cart

The cool thing about being posted to U.S. Embassy Lima, inspite of the opportunity to engage in some really poor rhyme making, is the possibility to go out and experience the countryside.  So last week, with the interns in tow, Diplomonkey headed out to Quilmana, Canete about 140 kilometers from Lima on the Pan American South highway (i.e., the Panamericana Sur).

Quilmana Moto Taxi

Quilmana Moto Taxi

Canete Corn Field

Canete Corn Field

Weather clears up a bit, but the fog does linger; which makes for some moody pictures.  Sorry no rhyme there.

Canete, Peru #2

Canete, Peru #2

Garbage Collectors in Canete

Garbage Collectors in Canete

Anyhow enjoy this new series of postcards from Peru.  Get out of Lima and see something different.

Cheers!

Post Cards from Peru: Kitesurfing in Paracas

The sun is unseasonably warm; the sky is bluish.  Life is good four hours south of Lima in Paracas thanks to this year’s fickle El Niño.  Enjoying some ceviche, washed down with some sweet dark beer followed by a Chilcano along with some Afro-Peruvian cajon music in the background; ah life is good in Peru.

Paracas Kitesurfer.

Kitesurfing in Paracas Bay.

The little dudes, known as the dynamic duo of Zos and Bo (the Bozos) ask Diplomonkey to stay another day in Paracas.  Why not?  Gives us another day of ceviche, clean air, and a beautifully stark desert landscape by the South Pacific.  These sort of days make foreign service life all the better.

Gearing up for a sail.

Gearing up for a sail.

Kitesurfing

Kitesurfers in Paracas Bay.

Kitesurfer

Paracas Bay Kitesurfer.

Sunset in Paracas Bay.

Sunset in Paracas Bay.

Hope you enjoy the views from Paracas. Come down for a visit, take your shoes off, and have a Chilcano and some ceviche.

Cheers!

Peru and Paprika: About Sixty Kilometers South of Paracas and Just Outside of Ica

It has been far too long since I have thrown something out there about Peru; bad, bad Diplomonkey for focusing so, so much on Ecuador of late  Okay, so here goes what I think I will start to call postcards from Peru.  These are the snippets of the life experiences that I am enjoying during my Lima assignment.

Woman sorting paprika by color and size.

Woman Sorting Paprika by Color and Size.

Life in the Foreign Service has its ups and downs of course, but one of the greatest benefit of this career and the lifestyle that we choose, is the possibility to go out and see new and wonderful things. We also get to meet  people around the world that we would likely never have any interaction with otherwise.

Women sorting paprika in the desert.

Women Sorting Paprika in the Desert #1.

Culture shock: yes little Dorothy, it abounds when we go overseas on a new assignment.  We also get to face it, ironically enough, when we also return home to the States.  But still it is worthwhile to do this gig, the pictures speak for themselves.

Woman Sorting Paprika #2

Woman Sorting Paprika Outside of Ica.

Enjoy the photos; and next time you pick up some paprika, you will have hopefully a better notion from where it comes.

Producing Paprika in the Desert.

Women Sorting Paprika in the Desert #2.

Cheers from Lima!

4,208 Kilometers from Lima

As Diplomonkey prepares for his next Ecuador trip, he has a flashback to the fun filled afternoon spent earlier this year with the little dudes (AKA as Zos and Bo, which together make up the dynamic duo of the BoZos) at Florida’s Gold Coast Railroad Museum. Although nearly half a year and 4,208 kilometers separate us from that sunny January afternoon, the memories are as fresh today as though the visit occurred only yesterday.

Florida Gold Coast Railroad Museum 1

Florida Gold Coast Railroad Museum – Ghost Train 1594

Foreign Service life with kids is about getting the most fun with the little guys in new settings, collecting memories along the way that hopefully last a lifetime. Despite the hardships we often confront, and occasional (real) dangers, we are incredibly fortunate to get the chance to live and work in different places around the world in the service of our country.

Sam being Sam

Sam being Sam

Fortunately since most of our assignments are accompanied, we get to experience new places with our kids.  Sometimes these places, as incredibly as it might seem, are back home in faraway and exotic Florida.

Gold Coast Railroad Museum - Ghost Train

Florida Gold Coast Railroad Museum – Ghost Train 4033

Our kids growing up overseas are blessed with being able to experience unique life experiences. Our hopes and desires, as parents, are all to often tied to giving our children every material thing that they might possibly need to succeed. I guess that the Foreign Service life style, with its shipment weight allowances limitations and the ever present possibility of an evacuation, forces many of us to focus on what truly is important for the kids – experiences, memories, and the ability years later to say “I did this” or “saw that when I was a kid in the land of Erehwon (i.e., Nowhere spelled backwards, taken from an old foreign service exam).”

Zos and Bo, The Dynamic  Duo of the BoZos

Zos and Bo, The Dynamic Duo of the BoZos

Nasa Railroad Switch

Nasa Railroad SW 1500 Switcher Locomotive #2 – Because We Are Future Astronauts!

Enjoy the pictures!

Sign Post - Need One for US Embassy Lima 4208 KM

Sign Post – Missing a Sign for U.S. Embassy Lima 4,208 KM

Cheers from Lima, the land 4,208 kilometers away!