”Neither forget nor forgive”
I stumbled across this powerful piece of street when I visited the La Boca area of Buenos Aires, in Argentina. The mural tells the story of “los desaparecidos,” the estimated 30,000 political dissidents and other civilians who “disappeared” during the period of military dictatorship between 1976-83. During Argentina’s Dirty War and Operation Condor, many alleged political dissidents were abducted or illegally detained and kept in clandestine detention centres, where they were questioned, tortured and sometimes killed. Many of the bodies were said to have been disposed in the river in La Boca.
Written in the mural are just a handful of names of the “disappeared.” I googled a few and got quite emotional at the time. Looking at it now still tugs my heartstrings. I’ve never seen a mural this big that was so clear of tags and vandalism. It’s clear that the memory of the desaparecidos is still very close to the heart of every Argentinian.
”Neither forget nor forgive”
As a child, my championsona heard the school-yard rumor that at the right time, and in the right conditions, the move “splash" had a 0.001% chance of being the most powerful water move imaginable.
While he hasn’t discovered the “secret" of splash, he has figured out how to turn the humble magikarp into a winner!
It’s been over a year since I visited Peru, yet I still often smile remembering the brilliant Incan stone-work in Cusco.
Photo taken and edited by St-Amant.
It’s highly likely that this bone is the phalange (fingertip) of a whale, though it could belong to a large species of dolphin such as an orca.
If you look at the shape of it, it’s a lot like a huge fingertip; but we’re not entirely sure which “finger” yet.
Just like other mammals, cetaceans (whales, porpoises, dolphins) have 4 limbs, though their back “legs” have become vestigial. Vestigial means that through evolution a part of the body no longer serves a function. While cetacean ancestors once used their legs to travel on land, as their descendants changed over time and became more adept at swimming the back legs were used less and less and eventually it became a vestigial part of their body.
Finding bones like these is important, as it reminds us of whales’ ancient land dwelling ancestors, and how evolution transformed creatures into the animals we see today.
This fossil was found by Ben, in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia.
I just started a new blog with my friend Ben who hunts fossils. He examines and identifies fossils from his collections, and I make illustrations of the creatures that the bones came from.
The aim is to post once a fortnight, and that hopefully others might send in photos of fossils they’ve found for us to write about/illustrate.
Fun Fact: Piranha swim together in gangs not because they’re ambitious thugs trying to take out huge prey, but because they’re timid fish. They’re actually really scared of being hunted by cormorants, dolphins, and caimans. Piranhas stick together for support because those bullies like to tease them about their under-bites.
Three is an important number popping up a lot in Incan culture. There’s 3 golden rules that the Incas lived by:
- Don’t be lazy
- Don’t lie
- Don’t steal
These ideas helped form the incan sun/cross known as the Chakana. Whenever there’s four of something in Incan culture, the four points represent North, South, East, & West; as well as Fire, Water, Earth, & Air; as well as the Incan empire that was divided into four. (With the circle, Cuzco the capital city, in the center)
You know what else has 4 points? The southern cross. It’s not just a symbol bogans of Australia revere so deeply. The Southern Cross was also used by Peruvians as a compass at night, just like indigenous Australians!
Back on the number 3, there’s a 3 sided plaza not far from the quarry at Machu Picchu, called “The Temple of the Three Windows.” It commands an impressive view of the plaza below through 3 trapezoid windows that give the building its name.
With the Temple of Three Windows behind you, the “principal” temple is to your right. Its name derives from the massive solidity & perfection of its construction. There’s a bit of damage to the rear right corner of the temple which was the result of the ground settling below its corner, rather than a weakness in its construction.
Located near the entrance to the Wayna Picchu trial is the “Sacred Rock.” Some say it’s carved to look like a guinea pig. Some say it imitates the mountains behind it. No one knows exactly of its purpose, but it makes for some great daggy tourist photos!
Where to begin?
Walking up from the bus stop I was beside myself with excitement. I was short of breath, but that might just have been the high altitude.
There’s some incredibly beautiful flowers on that path. After only 5 minutes it opened up to a grassy terrace. Fog was very thick, shrouding the view before me. As the fog rolled over the mountain a patch would clear giving you a tiny glimpse of the sight before you, only to quickly cover up again. Habir was busy talking for about 20 minutes, and after that the fog cleared, revealing the classic postcard shot!
There’s a magnificent stone archway in the wall surrounding Machu Picchu which I’m told once had a big wooden door in it. There’s these interesting bumps and holes which once held it in place.
I made my way up some steep steps to the sun dial. I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo at Machu Picchu, but I’ll say it anyway: the view from here was spectacular!
On the summer solstice the sun shoots through a hole in the opposite wall, passes over the tip of the sun dial & hits an unusual shaped brick paved into the ground. It’s meant to look like a puma, representing the living world. There’s a little symbol carved into where the eye would be.
The puma is an important symbol to the Peruvians. Like many religions there’s 3 plains of existence.
- The underworld represented by the snake, symbolizing knowledge (Which I found interesting because it reminded me of the symbol for medicine which also happens to be snakes, entwined around a staff!)
- There’s the living, as a said represented by the puma, symbolizing strength.
- The condor represents the heavens, as well as freedom.
You’ll learn that 3 is a magic number in Peruvian culture. It links to plains of existence, ideals, laws, hierarchy of society, jewelry, pottery, achitecture, and all sorts of things you wouldn’t expect.
Today has been one of the best days of my life. This is the stuff patronuses are made of!
My day started at 5:10am. I said goodbye to that wonderful hotel Sonesta Posadas del Inca, with its beautiful views, gorgeous lush gardens & charming rooms.
It was a half hour trip from the hotel to Ollantaytambo where the Vistadome train was ready to take me to Machu Picchu.
The train was just terrific. The dry grass-covered mountains slowly became more and more lush. The Urubamba beside gained more strength as more creeks joined the flow. Gum trees were replaced with jungle, cacti replaced with orchids. I’m told some 300 orchids grow in Peru. The train snaked its way through the Sacred Valley for an hour, over 43 kilometers.
I hadn’t even made it to Machu Picchu but I’d already been filled with awe at the beauty of the Urubamba & and Sacred Valley. I’d have been happy spending a whole day on that train, but we made it to the base of Machu Picchu mountain & it was time to hop aboard a bus to take me up zig-zagging through the jungle. This day just got better and better!
As the bus twisted through the valley it showed and hid different views of the hillsides, epiphites & orchids, climbing vines & moses decorating every tree. Chinchillas darted from rock to rock as humming birds attended the beautiful blue & red flowers.
Running straight up through the bus route you can find a beautiful lichen-covered stone stairway. The trip apparently takes 3 hours, but I reckon it’d be just marvelous. It connects to the 4 day Inca trail which I’d love to do some day.