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Archive for south america

Drawing the Line in Ecuador

By Linda Tancs

Located about 14 miles north of Quito, Ecuador, Mitad del Mundo commemorates the site where 18th-century French explorer Charles-Marie de La Condamine once calculated the globe’s equatorial line. Of course, that calculation was made without the benefit of modern technology, which sadly reveals that the actual line dividing the planet into a Northern Hemisphere and a Southern Hemisphere is actually 262 yards or so away in the vicinity of the Intiñan Solar Museum. Well, why not make a day out of it and visit both locations. Take an elevator to the top of the trapezoidal monument at Mitad del Mundo for great views of the surrounding countryside and indulge in equator-related science experiments at the museum, where you’ll find a painted red line purportedly indicating the real middle of the world.

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An Icon of Ecuador

By Linda Tancs

Ecuador has nearly twice as many bird species as the U.S., numbering around 1,600 or so. Perhaps no winged creature is as emblematic of the country as the black-breasted puffleg hummingbird, found virtually nowhere else in the world. Its habitat is the Yanacocha Reserve, a retreat in the Andes created primarily to protect this critically endangered bird. The reserve is located about 45 minutes from Quito.

Gateway to Galapagos

By Linda Tancs

Guayaquil is a port city in Ecuador, known as a gateway to the Galapagos Islands. More than a transit stop, this commercial city stretching along the Guayas River is enlivened by a riverfront promenade, Malecón 2000, featuring historic monuments (like La Rotonda, a statue depicting a famous meeting of South America’s two most prominent liberators), modern sculptures, museums, botanical gardens, fountains, bridges, children’s play areas, shopping outlets and restaurants. The northern end connects with Las Peñas, the oldest neighborhood in Guayaquil, boasting the largest concentration of colonial architecture and picturesque wooden houses. The founding of the city is celebrated with a festival tomorrow, preceded by today’s national celebration of the birthday of liberator Simón Bolívar.

Raising the Flag in Rosario

By Linda Tancs

The National Flag Memorial in Rosario, Argentina, is a monumental complex built near the shore of the Paraná River. The Tower commemorates the May Revolution of 1810, which started Argentina’s War of Independence. An eternal flame burns in honor of the war dead. Unlike other cities, the Argentine port supported the war, and it was there in 1812 that Gen. Manuel Belgrano hoisted the first Argentine flag. The memorial was inaugurated on June 20, 1957, the anniversary of Belgrano’s death.

A Kiss in Lima

By Linda Tancs

According to an old song, a kiss is just a kiss. Not so in Lima, Peru. The simple act is memorialized in a larger than life way with El Beso (The Kiss), a sculpture produced by native Peruvian Victor Delfin. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean at Parque del Amor (Love Park—what else?) in the touristy Miraflores district of Lima. The statue was unveiled on Valentine’s Day in 1993. Perhaps not surprisingly, the site plays host to an annual kissing contest.

Lilies of the Amazon

By Linda Tancs

Close to seven feet. That’s how large the water lily gets in the Amazon at Victoria Regia Nature Reserve. It’s just a 15-minute boat ride from Leticia, Colombia’s southernmost city located on the banks of the Amazon on the Colombia—Brazil border. Once you’ve ogled your fair share of flora, take in the tourist boardwalk in Leticia where you can enjoy the breeze from the Amazon and admire fiery sunsets amidst many stores and food courts.

Indigenous Art in Paraguay

By Linda Tancs

Seventeen indigenous ethnic groups call Paraguay home, resulting in an array of indigenous art.  Basketwork and feathered ornaments predominate, hallmarks of the Guaraní peoples.  Feathered cloaks are particularly striking, once reserved exclusively for shamans.  Other handiworks find expression in ceramics and wood carvings.  Three museums proudly showcase the indigenous art form:  Andrés  Barbero Ethnographic Museum, the Guido Boggiani Museum, and the Museum of Indigenous Art.

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