On hold

I’m on hold.

I’m waiting for the registrar of motor vehicles to explain to me where my registration tags are.

This could take some time, I think.

In other news, two out of four visitors have now passed through without incident. Actually, the visitors themselves have been a lot of fun —

[Oh! Just spoke to RMV person who promised to send another copy!]

Anyhow, the visitors have been fun, but my life is kind of in shambles. Or, more specifically, finding time to exercise is just not happening.

I’m taking things in hand, though. I’ve ridden my bike 2 days in a row, and I’m going to go to exercise tonight. Really.

Also, I am dreaming of gardening, and going to look at wildflowers (look up Carizzo Plain), and going to look at birds.

I am reading Kenn Kaufman’s Kingbird Highway.

And, I don’t have to go back to the dentist until August. And that’s something.

News

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Well, a cat has come to visit us. Her name is Cora, and she belongs to Maddy who is also here for a month or two getting ready to move to Beijing.

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Apparently Cora is moving to Beijing, too, but she is welcome to stay here if she’d like.

I had a terrible cold. I’m still not over it — it turned into a vast untapped snot-reservoir in my head (sorry). I’m trying to resume normal life, but it feels like I’m floating out near Pluto. Unpleasant.

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What else. I’m taking a Master Birding course! I’m very excited about it. Last night we got to see finches captured in the Galapagos in the 1880s. Amazing.

I’ve been out birding despite my stupid cold. Maddy and I went up to Bodega Bay and saw a lot of loons. That was cool.

We’ve also been watching Midsommer Murders, which has to be the most wonderful show ever. It’s the combination of the cozy with the bizarre, I think. The theramin doesn’t hurt, either. K hates it — it’s too odd for him. He generally sits in the other room while we watch it and is disturbed. Ha.

I think it’s going to be a busy year. My mother is coming to visit next weekend. My best friend from college is coming a few weeks after that. Then M will leave for Beijing and I’m cooking up another trip for April. I’m hoping to go birding in the Sierras in June and maybe biking in Patagonia with N in December . . . That’s a lot!

I’m hoping that if I plan it all out now it will be doable. And also that I will be in reasonable shape. I’m feeling vaguely elderly and fragile lately — I think it’s this blasted cold.

In any case, that’s what I’ve been up to. What about you?

Mysteriousness

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It’s dark, these days!

In other news, I have had to be out of the house early, these past few days, and I can say that that last half hour or so, where I drink my coffee very slowly with no disturbances at all, is pretty important to my sense of well-being. And if I don’t get it, it takes me a while to recover.

On the positive side, though, my desk is getting a lot cleaner at the office.

January

View of the new bridge.

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So, I did something possibly crazy. I signed up for Master Birding classes at the Academy of Sciences. I think it’s a big time commitment, but according to people I went birding with last weekend, really worth it.

I’m excited.

!!!

Classes start next month.

Lima

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So, then we took the sumptuous night bus to Lima. We got in about 6 and took a cab to our apartment, where our landlord let us in and we took a nap.

N hates Lima — too big, to hard to get around. But we stayed in Barranco, which is a really sweet part of town with restaurants and laundries and a path down to the ocean, and I liked it. Close to the mass transit, which is just a street car with two non-intersecting lines, but which does go some places — like downtown.

Highlights:

The food tour. This was probably the best thing we did. A very knowledgeable, worldly Lima local picked us up in a van and took us to amazing spots we never would have picked out on our own — a cafe, another cafe, a market, a cevicheria, a restaurant. The spots were amazing, and our guide was great. It was like we knew someone there who was willing to pick us up and show us around for the day.

Shining Path exhibit at the Museo de la Nacion, which is otherwise closed and in the process of moving, which was too bad.

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The beautiful Museo Larco, which has the most gorgeous gardens and a lovely restaurant and an interesting collection of pots. I am sorry. I did not take a picture of the erotic pots. But I got lots of pictures of the gardens, and the pot storeroom.

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The Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Arqueologia e Historia del Peru, which we had to see because it had the important Raimondi Stela from Chavin. It is a museum in transition. It’s housed in a typical Peruvian building where the rooms are arranged around a courtyard, and all the connecting hallways are essentially outside. Some of the rooms have been redone, but many are still in ancient diorama style, which I confess I actually like. By the end, we were pretty much museumed out, but I loved the building.

This rather complicated picture shows a) a ridiculous diorama, probably of people crossing the Bering Strait, b) how the building was and c) a nativity scene (they were everywhere, and lovely.)

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The park of cats (and free wifi)!

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We ate out in many celebrated eateries (I still think the best places were on our tour). We walked on the beach at night and hear the surf roar through the cobble-stoned sized rocks that make up the beach. We went to some great markets (those were fun, actually). I really liked Barranco itself. And out apartment was great.

Here are my long-suffering children on the elevator. (I miss them, of course.)

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And then we flew home!

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Mid-section

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So, I have a fondness for museums of all kinds. I love the new modern ones with interactive displays, and I also love the dioramas of yesteryear. I believe this particular diorama is illustrating where the people who crossed the Bering Strait into the Americas slept when they first came to Peru. (I also have a fondness for the people who crossed the Bering Strait. What an idea! There’s something so great about it. Anyway.)

So, after Trujillo, we took a night bus to Huaraz, which is a city in the Andes. It’s in the Callejon de Huaylas Valley, between the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca (two mountain ranges). N lived in Huaraz for a time, so she knows it pretty well. We thought that even if it was raining (which in fact it was not), that would be a good place to hang out for a few days. And it was.

I’m trying to remember what we did. We went to visit the city of Yungay, where a huge avalanche came down following the earthquake of 1970. The city is moved, now, but there is a really beautiful memorial — just a field, really, with lots of flowerbeds, covering the place where the city was. (Lots of birds. Birding had to be slipped in somewhat surreptitiously.) We took a trip to Chavin de Huantar. That was an amazing trip. We had to cross the Cordillera Blanca (in a bus), which was amazing. Then we came to the city and wandered around for a while looking for the site. It’s a ceremonial site for the Chavin people and probably the most interesting thing about it is that it has a carved rock still located inside the temple — the Spanish never found it and moved it. You can see pictures of it, and it looks like another carved meso-American artifact, but when you actually encounter it in situ, at the end of a narrow tunnel, sort of underground, with the light falling on it from above, it’s actually incredibly moving. It really seems to possess some meaning.

(An aside here is that the tour guides at Peruvian ruins are almost more interesting than the ruins themselves. They all seem to have some crackpot theory about how these ruins came to be — Vikings, Egyptians, Thor Heyerdahl. The guide at Chavin felt strongly that the images themselves told you all you needed to know to understand the religion, especially if viewed under the influence of San Pedro cactus. Of course, he is probably right.)

Another day we stayed in town and visited the museum and the markets, and spent the afternoon drinking pitchers of beer with N’s friends. Another day we went for a horseback ride up the mountain, and another day we drove up to a lake and hiked around it. N has been on a three-day trek and is planning a much longer one for the spring. I am jealous, and happy that she’s taking advantage of the opportunity while she’s there. I think I would need some time to acclimatize, myself. Hiking at 3-4,000 meters is no picnic. We huffed and puffed around the lake and on our way back met some Andean families, out for a Christmas hike in their high heeled street shoes (which they no doubt farm in, too) and full skirts, carrying four year old children slung across their backs in their shawls, going a whole lot faster than we were.

Crossing the Cordillera Blanca

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At Chavin de Huantar (no picture of the sacred lanzon).

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But a replica in the museum

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and an attractive pot

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Amazing and interesting dancing on Christmas eve, which I think is explained by this, since N’s friend thought it had been brought to Huaraz by immigrants from Huanuco. (Sorry, it’s a terrible picture, since I felt weird about taking pictures. The dancers are wearing blackface masks, with one wearing a white mask, and then a couple, who seemed to be the kind and queen, with no masks, and some are wearing sheep costumes.)

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Christmas hike at Lake Paron

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The lake is really that color —

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No pictures from the market, which was completely overwhelming, nor the afternoon spent drinking beer at the gringo cafe, nor the rather amazing overnight bus that took us, on the 26th, from Huaraz back to Lima.

Just as an aside, I am having a really hard time gathering myself together after this vacation. I’m at work, but I’m kind of pretending that I’m not. Luckily it’s a week that kind of lends itself to that — nobody’s here yet, and most people seem to be going about the day like zombies. I’m just hoping no one comes and asks me anything hard. Next week — by next week I will be full of vim and energy, ready to start the new year. But please god not quite yet —