Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peruvian Independence Day

Feliz Día de la Independencia Perú - El 28 de Julio

Following an uprising led by José de San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela Peru proclaimed its independence from Spain in Lima on July 28, 1821. San Martín declared, "... From this moment on, Peru is free and independent, by the general will of the people and the justice of its cause that God defends. Long live the homeland! Long live freedom! Long live our independence!"

from the Amazon

to the Andes

Peru offers a diversity of cultures, geography and natural history.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Amazon Rainforest Inhabitants Loved Avatar


You think you loved Avatar? Well there's no way your ardor could have matched the near-obsession of the few movie watchers who live the film every day of their lives.

The Peruvian Amazon is about as close to Pandora as can possibly exist on this planet and in June, the 3-D phenomenon finally made it to the Amazon port city, Iquitos -- a metropolis of about 700,000 reachable only by plane and boat. This was long after the Academy Awards, but the film was an instant hit with the folks who live in the rainforest and were able to canoe upriver to see the blockbuster in Iquitos' only movie theater.

While most of the Amazon's residents couldn't make it , the ones who did opted to see the film again and again and are anxious for James Cameron to make a sequel that sheds more light on the plight of natural environments like the one that they live in.

Julio Parano Garcia, a rainforest guide with the Explorama lodge, from a small village on the Ucayali River, spends nearly everyday educating foreigners about the forest. He saw the movie reluctantly at the urging of his wife and daughter. It is now his favorite flick.

"I could identify with that spiritual world. It reminds me of how the rainforest is supposed to be owned by the indigenous people and how the intruders are trying to change their life and make it a different world," Garcia said.

For him, the jungle's signature ceiba tree (a structure strikingly similar to the Tree of Life in the movie) represents a Pandora unto itself. "For me the ceiba tree is Pandora. It is an ecosystem all it's own, you have birds nesting, monkeys hiding, wasps, bats, snakes, insects all in one place, living together, interconnected."

Garcia recalls a story he heard from a friend of his (a tale that has the underpinnings of a local urban legend more than village gossip), the message of which echoes Cameron's sentiments in the movie where the plot centers on greedy Corporate developers destroying the forest for it's natural resources.

"My friend was a man who cut firewood. One day he found a huge ceiba tree and he said he would make a fortune by cutting this tree down. He built a platform in the middle of the tree and when he laid down to take a break he had a dream. In the dream all the animals, the monkeys and the bats and the birds came and tried to strangulate him and they asked why are you taking our home? He then realized that the tree was the world and the tree was alive and he took down his platform and became a protector of the tree," Garcia said.

From glow in the dark fungus (mycena), to birds with claws on their wings and spiked plumes that make them look like flying dragons (the hoatzin), hot pink freshwater dolphins and gigantic blue butterflies the size of your head (the morpho), the Peruvian Amazon is indeed a little like Pandora without the necessity of 3-D glasses.

"The things you see in the movie, they are real here," said Amazon native and guide Cliver Riojas, who also saw the film in Iquitos last month. "Sometimes we take too much from nature without realizing how much we hurt nature. Nature is what provides us life, medicine and a place to survive. For many centuries many people survived without western world and the western world brings mostly good things, but for the jungle it brings some things that are bad. "Avatar" shows us how important it is to preserve the culture. The people of the Amazon have so much to share with the world about their medicine and life, peace and language and we need to preserve that. Another film will help to show people how important it is to preserve it."

Both Garcia and Rioja are hungry for more of Cameron's "Avatar" message, because it teaches people about the importance of conservation and could just save their livelihoods. "When we live down here we don't think our world is disappearing because we can't see it form the outside, but scientists who look at the rainforest through satellites tell us that they can see it is disappearing and someday our life and out history will be gone forever. If Mr. Cameron makes another movie and everyone goes to see it again, maybe the message will start to sink in," Garcia said.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The 5th Annual Belen Festival

Living in Peru
16 July, 2010
by John Glick, Director, Gesundheit Global Outreach

The 5th Annual Belen Festival in Iquitos, Peru will be celebrated Aug 4-14, 2010 as 100 clowns from around the world join the people of Belen and local organizations to promote health and happiness through art, play, health care, education and collaborative volunteer work.

Belen, population 60,000, is a low income district in the city of Iquitos, Peru in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. Pueblo Libre, the section of Belen closest to the Itaya River, is home for 14,000 people, whose houses either float or are built on stilts, an adaptation to seasonal flooding.

Dr. Patch Adams, founder and director of Gesundheit! Institute and Wendy Ramos, founder and director of Lima-based Bolaroja Clown Doctors, led a group of clowns visiting Iquitos hospitals in 2006. While clowning in the streets of Belen — against the advice of local tour leaders — they were moved by the poverty and the joyful welcome they received. Adams and Ramos pledged to return, and during a community meeting the following year with Belen citizens, Gesundheit and Bolaroja pledged to bring clowns back once a year to paint every house in Pueblo Libre. Thus the Belen Project was born.



Friday, July 16, 2010

Machu Picchu sunrise

click on photos to enlarge



GreenTracks Machu Picchu programs


Monday, July 12, 2010

Delfin Amazon cruises

Cruise the Amazon in upscale comfort aboard an elegantly appointed riverboat to visit the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, the largest protected natural area in Peru. Excursions to view wildlife, hike in the rainforest and visit a riverside village.

The best alternative for those wishing to explore the Amazon from a comfortable riverboat but who can not devote a week as with our 7 day program.Even though these are technically Amazon River Cruises, you won't be stuck on the cruise vessel. As the boat travels the Amazon River and its tributaries, you will enjoy frequent off-boat excursions, such as hikes through the rainforest and small-boat trips in search of wildlife. Expert naturalist guides will give explanations of the incredible plants and numerous species of captivating animals that you'll see. You will even visit several riverside villages and meet some of the true natives of the Amazon.

Click on map to enlarge

5 day/4 night and 4 day/3 night programs available.

GreenTracks Amazon Cruises


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tropical Biodiversity Is About the Neighbors

June 28, 2010

Home to jaguars, harpy eagles and red-eyed tree frogs, tropical forests support some of the rarest species on the planet and are the most biodiverse ecosystems on land. Understanding why some species are common while others are exceedingly rare has been a challenge in these mega-diverse forests. New results from a massive study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute show that interactions among community members play an important role in determining which organisms thrive.

"Based on information about the survival of more than 30,000 seedlings of 180 species of tropical trees, we found that seedlings of rare species are much more sensitive to the presence of neighbors of their own species than seedlings of common species are," said Liza Comita, the primary author on the study and now a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. "Not only does this tell us where to look for the mechanisms that explain why certain species are rare, but it also provides potential clues about how to conserve rare species that are most vulnerable to extinction."



Monday, July 5, 2010

'Sea monster' fossil found in Peru desert

Hilary Whiteman

Researchers scanning the Peruvian desert for whale fossils have stumbled upon the remains of a "sea monster" three times the size of a modern day killer whale.

The teeth of "Leviathan Melvillei" were so large it was initially assumed they were elephant tusks.

"There were no elephants in South America before 3 million years ago, and the specimens found have an age of 12 to 15 million years, so that was impossible," said Professor Jelle Reumer, one of the team of scientists who found the fossil in the Pisco-Ica desert in coastal Peru.

Strong winds had shifted sand to expose a three-meter long fossilized skull. The skull of today's blue whale, still the largest animal ever known to have existed, is around six meters long.

The fossilized remains found in Peru include a jaw bone and several teeth, each around 12 centimeters in diameter and up to 36 centimeters in length.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Aerial views of the Andes

When we fly from Lima to Cuzco we get some spectacular views of the Andes.
Click on photos to enlarge.