I enjoyed so much my time on the Isle of Wight last year (see my post – A Trip to the Isle of Wight) that I decided to return this summer as well. Alongside penguins and pandas, llamas and alpacas are my favourite animals, so I visited the West Wight Alpacas and Llamas farm situated near the quiet village of Wellow on the Isle of Wight. This is a large farm that was started in 2010 by a husband and wife team, and now provides a great day out for all the family. They offer a variety of farm activities, from feeding various farm animals to short walks and long treks with llamas and alpacas.
Llamas and alpacas originate in South America, and at least the former has been domesticated for thousands of years, primarily in the central Andes. In their book Llamas of South America, Conklin and Bjorklund say that “the llamas were domesticated over two thousand years before the coming of the Incas”, and since the Incas of Peru had no writing system to speak of, or iron, it was probably due to the llama that they were able to build such a great empire since the llama provided them with food, wool and means to transport bulky items.
Since Halloween is the time to celebrate the unknown and mysterious, I thought I would talk about one of the greatest mysteries in South America. The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs or large land designs made by pre-Inca settlers (the Nazca people) in the Peruvian desert. The designs, made between 400 BC and 10th century AD, stretch around 200 square miles, and include straight lines and geometrical figures. The most astounding of the designs are around 70 giant (up to 370 meters in size) designs of animals and plants (as well as some unrecognisable figures). Some of the well-known depictions are that of a hummingbird (hermit), a monkey, a spider, a heron, a dog, a tree and a flower, but there are also designs of human hands and a “giant”.
The Adventures of Tintin:Prisoners of the Sun ]1949]
I will begin by saying that I love The Adventuresof Tintin comic albums. They are exciting and entertaining stories. I lived in Brussels for some time, and that is the place to be if you want to be converted into a fan of Franco-Belgian comics (for example, there is a Tintin shop in Brussels and murals depicting Tintin adventures). Even though I realise that the comics are products of their time, and are supposed to be fun, light-hearted stories not to be taken seriously, I still find Herge’s Prisoners of the Sun a problematic one, especially in what it ultimately suggests and implies, as well as in the main message it sends out in the end (for other articles hinting at the comics’ problematic nature, including allegations of racism, see hereand here). Continue reading “Opinion: Hergé’s “Prisoners of the Sun (Le Temple du Soleil)” ”→
“You’re not off to find the Northwest Passage on a thousand-mile plain of ice populated by six Esquimaux and an owl. It’s only Peru” [Pulley, 2017: 46].
When I found out that there is a book set in Peru, takes place in the 19th century, and concerns itself with Incan mythology, I knew immediately I had to read it because all these things appeal to me immensely. In the book by Pulley, we meet an explorer Merrick Tremayne, previously of the East India Company, who now resides in Cornwall with his brother. He has an injured leg and no prospects in England since his family fortunes are in decline. When his friend Clem visits him and suggest that he goes to Peru to fetch cinchona cuttings (which yields quinine), which can then help to cure malaria in India (on the orders of the East India Company), it seems like an impossible task. This is not least because there is a local monopoly regarding the trees in the region, and the journey can prove to be very dangerous. Merrick goes to Peru, with the aim to reach the village of Bethlehem or Bedlam, and soon finds that he needs to rethink his understanding of indigenous traditions, history and beliefs, and do it quickly if he wants to survive. The Bedlam Stacks is steeped in Incan folklore and has an eerie atmosphere, providing for a curious read. However, this book was definitely not a page-turner for me. It has a messy and confusing overall theme, caricature presentations, some unclear and dull descriptions, and – what I believe – a very unsympathetic character in the centre, all making the reading experience less enjoyable. Continue reading “Review: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley”→