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.


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.


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.


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


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.