Barbados and Grenada – Part 2

Now let’s visit Grenada.

Good ol’ Chris Columbus first saw the island in 1498.  It was occupied by Caribs and Karina peoples.  The British tried to settle the island, but failed, so the French bought the island from the Caribs and Karinas in 1650, which caused a war to break out between other islands natives.  Britain again got the island in 1783.  It got its independence in 1974.  Then political troubles resulted in several coups d’etat, involving some who wanted a communistic country and those who didn’t.  One leader was executed.  Six days later, and some of you will recall this, U.S. forces along with those of six other Caribbean nations invaded Grenada, saying the safety of U.S. medical students was imperiled.

A worse event was the September 2004 direct hit by Hurricane Ivan, when 90 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed.  This hot and humid island is often the brunt of hurricanes, but none as bad as Ivan.  With tourism the main basis for the economy, this was a terrible double blow to the islanders.

Queen Elizabeth II is also the formal head of Grenada, again represented by a Governor General, but again the power rests with a prime minister.  Again, the lower House of Representatives is elected by the people, but the governor general appoints the senators.  Grenada is also divided into parishes…another French contribution?

The capital is St. George’s, one of the most colorful ports in the Caribbean.  It’s in a dead crater and has old forts surrounding it.  It reminds people of Portofino, Italy.  Buildings are Georgian style, with red tile roofs brought from England as ballast on ships.  Pastel walls brighten the town against the tropical green background.    In that tropical jungle one finds palms, oleander, bougainvillea, hibiscus, anthurium, bananas, and ferns.  About 80% of the English-speaking population is of African descent.  Half are Catholics; the rest mostly Anglican.

Grenada is called the Spice Island.  Tropical, very fertile and lush, the land is just the place for growing spices.  Grenada produces more spices than anywhere else in the world…cloves, cinnamon, mace, cocoa, tonka beans, ginger and one third of the world’s supply of nutmeg. Actually the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and cocoa.  If spice vendors “bug” you, just say you already have some.  But you need to know, the spices are fresh and better than at home.

If you get a chance, a visit to the National Museum gives a good picture of the File:Grenada National Museum C IMG 0488.JPGbackground of Grenada.  It’s set in an old French army barracks and prison built in 1704.  It has archaeological finds and other exhibits, including a marble tub used by Josephine Bonaparte (Napoleon’s wife) when she lived on Martinique. Another Caribbean island , Ft. George, is another possible visit site. In 1705, the French built it, and it has a 360-degree view of harbor.


Barbados and Grenada – Part 1

You know Columbus wanted to find a shorter route to the “Indies”—China and India and the Indonesian islands.  What did they have that sophisticated, Renaissance Europe wanted or needed?  Spices, silks, satins, and gunpowder and spaghetti (noodles).  Stories had trickled into Europe for decades (thanks primarily to Marco Polo) of a wonderful land to the west of Europe which was the “Indies.”  Of course, sailors had to get past sea monsters and terrible storms.  But the thought of something to make rancid meat and moldy vegetables taste better and with wives demanding pretty materials for dresses…the attempt was tempting.

It had to be.  So when he and his three tiny ships reached land, the people there must be Indians, since this must be the Indies.

Today these islands are known mostly for tourist-related events.  But between Columbus and sun-burned tourists are several hundred years of colonization—Spanish, French, British and Dutch primarily.  Bet you didn’t know that tiny Netherlands was a major player in commercial wars centuries ago!

What did these other countries want?  Coaling stations for the Brits, gold for Spanish, spices for French, trade for the Dutch.  Except for Spain, the others went in for plantation-building to raise sugar, tea, and spices, all requiring the use of slaves in order to be profitable.  Soon slavery became another source of income as well as the agricultural income.A map of Barbados from Richard Ligon's 'A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados' (1657). Bridgetown abutts Carlisle Bay at the bottom of the map.

Spain went further west to Mexico and Peru to find gold, silver and other wealth to ship home to Spain. That act gave rise to another occupation…piracy.  That gave rise to increased law enforcement attempts, and that gave rise…you get the point.

Those gorgeous plantations on these islands (like those in the U.S. south) disguised the brutality that decimated thousands of the Indian populations.  What brutality didn’t kill, European diseases, smallpox, measles, and venereal diseases killed.   (Much like our own American Indians suffered the same fate—another story.)

Let’s talk about two of the islands in this wonder archipelago of pearls in the blue Caribbean.  First, Barbados.

The name “Barbados” comes from a Portuguese explorer in 1536, who originally called the island “Os Barbados” ( The Bearded Ones) because he saw the island’s fig trees, whose long roots he thought resembled “beards.”

The island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627, although Amerindian tribes had lived on the island earlier.

No other island can compete with Barbados in the area of natural beauty, places to visit, and food!


Bathsheba in Barbados

But best of all, the pink and white sandy beaches, maybe the best in the Caribbean Basin, are found in Barbados.

Barbados, after over 300 years of British control, tight during earlier years and looser after it became a Commonwealth member, got its independence in l966.

Lots of evidences of those 300 years of occupation remain—left side driving, cricket and Queen Elizabeth II is officially head of state. She is represented by a Governor General, but the real power is with the prime minister elected by the Bajans, and his cabinet. There’s a House of Representatives elected by the people; the Senate is appointed by the governor general.  Interesting…and this is the same in several other islands.  It would be like our U.S. presidents appointing senators. (Until the second decade of the 20th century in the U.S., by the way, our U.S. Senators were picked by state legislatures because the “common man” wasn’t considered smart enough to elect senators…then women got the vote!!!!)

Politically, the island is divided into parishes, maybe an inheritance from some French influence, much like our Louisiana.

Revellers Parading Through the Streets at Crop Over Festival, Barbados Pocket Guide

Crop Over Festival

Locals are called Bajans. Thank goodness, English is the primarily language.  About 9 out of 10 Bajans are of African descent, with small groups of Europeans and Asians.  Most Bajans are Protestants.  I love the two major holiday festivals:  one is called Carnival and the other is Crop Over Festival, obviously celebrating harvest.

This most easterly of the Caribbean islands started as a plantation-based economy.  The land is mostly limestone. The rainy season is from June to October.   Constant trade winds, marshes and mangrove swamps are a major part of Barbados.  Large sugarcane plantations still dominate the central part of the island.  Rum, sugar, and molasses production was big during the 20th century, but today my guess is that tourist crops now dominate. Bridgetown is the capital, about a mile from the port.

As for shopping, don’t buy black coral items…illegal to bring into the U.S.  Rum cake is a specialty which if shrink-wrapped will last six months.  As for other Bajan arts and crafts, there’s a store in Bridgetown called Artifacts.  Pottery is also a good buy, but if you see me loitering me in front of any pottery, please save me!!

Barbados is a major site for spotting sea turtles.  A large rum distillery offers a tour.  Rainforest hikes and cave exploration, visits to Francia Plantation…and many other places to visit.

Barbados turtleCave In Barbados

Cartagena and its Country, Columbia – Part 2

“I have to get to Cartagena!”  (Who said that?)

“My sister’s in trouble in Cartagena!  She’s been kidnapped! I have to get there!”  (Who said that?)

If I use the words Romance and Stone…. does that help? Kathleen Turner? Michael Douglas? Danny DeVito?

Well, now YOU are going to Cartagena….so let’s learn a bit about that city, as well as the country in which it’s found.

This city of about a million people was founded in 1533, named after a seaport in Spain, and became a major center of early Spanish settlement in South America.  Today, it’s a popular tourist destination.  Which is why we’re here.

Its history is some fun.  It was wealthy because all the stuff from the New World on its way to Spain came through Cartagena into the Caribbean.  There roved those wonderful Pirates of the Caribbean. I’ll throw a few names out to whet your thirst…Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth of England’s favorite “legitimate pirate,”  and his own near-relative John Hawkins were two of the English privateers.  Drake, who landed at night to conquer the city at dawn, burned houses and destroyed part of the Cathedral.  Drake forced the authorities to pay him 107,000 ducats, took some jewelry and 80 artillery pieces.  In 1568, Hawkins besieged the city for seven days.  In 1697, a fleet of French soldiers and pirates tried to take Cartagena.

To fight off these repeated attacks, the Spanish Crown hired prominent European military engineers to carry out the construction of fortresses, which today mark one of Cartagena’s signs of identify.  The construction took 208 years. But, the port still attracted pirates.

In 1741, the city was attacked by English troops in a fleet of 186 ships and 23,600 men against 6 ships and 3600 men.  After weeks of intense fighting, the siege was repelled by the Spanish who inflicted heavy casualties on the English troops.  (Check out the War of Jenkins’ Ear or the Battle of Cartagena, but I like the first title better…and it’s the one I know about the battle.)

As if there wasn’t trouble enough, the Catholic King Phillip of Spain established the Inquisition Holy Office in Cartagena and ordered built the Inquisition Palace, which was finished in 1770 (when we were just starting our…  uh…dispute with England for our independence.) And it’s still there with original colonial features.  When Simon Bolivar invaded to free Colombia from Spain, the Inquisition disappeared again.  (In case you’re interested…during its two centuries of existence, some records show that the court carried out 12 autos-de-fe, 767 defendants were punished, six of them burned at the stake.

Finally, 250 years after the Spanish conquered it, Cartagena declared its independence in 1811.  It’s called the Heroic City.

With tropical location, the climate changes little…ranging from low of 76 F to high of 89 F.  About 40 inches of rain per year…rainy season is in October.

Let’s look at the town itself. The Rafael Nunez International Airport is about ten minutes from downtown.  In that area, downtown, there’s a Centro Historico, or Walled City, where you can find information on the history of the area. This is the real heart of the city, with a mixture of architectural design, mainly of colonial style, but there are some Italianate buildings, like the Cathedral’s bell tower.

Clock Tower Gate

The official entrance to downtown is through the Clock Gate, which leads you into the Plaza de los Coches (Square of the Carriages). Then the Aduana (customs house), then the mayor’s office. And the Museum of Modern Art.

Also nearby are the Plaza de Bolivar and the Palace of the Inquisition, then the government Palace, across from which is the Cathedral of Cartagena. (Remember how the Spanish designed towns:  a mid-place square (Zocolo in Mexico City, plaza in other cities, where one side there’s a church, one side has the government building, and often a type of lodging on another side.  A museum is often on the fourth side of the square.  Always the church and the government building.)  Stop to admire the restored Santo Domingo Church, decorated with a famous sculpture, Mujer Reclinada (Reclining Woman), by a famous Colombian artist Botero.

The Teatro Heredia (Heredia Theater) is an architectural jewel located in front of the Plaza de la Merced.  A little further on in the University of Cartagena. The Claustro de Santa Teresa (cloister) has been remodeled into an upscale hotel.   Several other convents also have been remodeled into beautiful hotels.

Inside the Old City, you can go to Las Bovedas ( The Vaults) from where you can see the Caribbean Sea.

The commercial and financial area of the city is the Matuna, where you can find nice hotels and good restaurants.  It’s one of the most representative areas in Cartagena where African people brought here as slaves used to live.   More churches and convents are here also.

Bocagrande (Big Mouth) is the most modern area of the city.  Shops, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries are here; a little farther on are the beaches and nightlife.

Today, Cartagena has focused on heavy urban development, particularly skyscrapers. Hollywood loves the atmosphere of Colombia, although Romancing the Stone was filmed in Mexico.  But, another movie, The Mission, was filmed in Cartagena and Brazil, as was the movie Love in the Time of Cholera.  Cartagena shows up in some novels as well.

But don’t you fail to get out and walk around the downtown. Maybe you’ll recognize some scenes you’ve seen or read about. Just know you’re seeing a town with a history that’s beyond colorful and exciting.  May you find some color and excitement here, as well.

A Potpourri of Venezuela, Colombia and Cartagena – Part 1

You’ve all heard of Irish Stew and of Hungarian Goulash:  today I’m telling you about a trio of places that makes up a potpourri—surely as hot and tasty as Goulash and Stew. I’ll touch on them in order of our passing by or stopping at.

So, I’ll begin with a country that is vital to the United States—and other countries around the world—Venezuela.  It comprises a mainland and many islands in the Caribbean, and borders (more or less) with Guyana, Brazil and Colombia, although there have been border disputes between all three countries and Venezuela.  The current fight is with tiny Guyana.

But, let’s back up a few centuries.  People have lived in this area at least 15,000 years. The modern world learned of the land when in 1499, a fellow whose name you’ll recognize sailed in along the coast of Venezuela.  Here, he saw villages that people had built over water, reminding him of Venice Italy, so he named it Venezuela, which means “little Venice.”  Others have said that the local natives were called Veneciuela … so you take your choice.  Spain colonized this area in 1522, killing the locals who were descendants of Carib Indians; an uprising for independence began in 1811, but in 1812, a terrible earthquake hit Caracas, so those attempts failed.

In 1821, Simon Bolivar (the Liberator), who is recognized as the liberator of several South American countries (Ecuador and, obviously, Bolivia), led a revolt against the Spanish, which resulted in a messy decade of fighting until 1830, when the country became somewhat settled—and free of Spain.

For the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was in continual turmoil and/or dictatorships. In 1958, the country began a series of somewhat democratically elected presidents.


Angel Falls – By Paulo Capiotti [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

The economy of the country began to reach heights with the discovery of huge oil deposits, reaching its best until the l980’s.  But huge public spending and internal and external debts of the government during the Petrodollar years of the 1970s and early 80s led to a collapse of oil prices during the l980s, all of which crippled Venezuelan economy.  When the money went south, so did the dream of democracy.  Major coup attempts, two in 1992 and one in 2002, have led to rising poverty and crime and increasing political instability in the country.

Venezuela is a beautiful country:  the Andes mountains in the west, has part of the Amazon Basin, and has Angel Falls, the world’s largest waterfall… a wide diversity of plant and animal life…maybe among the widest of any other country.  The Orinoco River drains a large land mass, one of the largest in Latin America…not just South America…Latin America.  Cloud forests and rain forest are particularly rich, for example, with 25,000 species of orchids.

File:Manatee.jpgNotable mammals include the giant anteater, jaguar, and the capybara, the world’s largest rodent.  There are also manatees, river dolphins, and Orinoco crocodiles—which can get as long as 26 ft., plus a host of bird species—ibises, ospreys, kingfishers, and the yellow-orange turpial, the national bird.  Mining, logging and shifting cultivation (known as slash/burn cultivation, I think) have endangered many of these animals and plants.

Venezuelans have been sports figures in the U.S., primarily in baseball. Several are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Soccer is also a popular sport.

Artists and writers have achieved worldwide recognition, as have architects…all heavily dominated by Latin American culture.  Ninety-six percent of Venezuelans are nominally Roman Catholic, but I doubt that includes regular church attendance.  It usually doesn’t in Latin America.

Income: petroleum sector accounts for about half of the GDP and for around 80% of their exports. Spanish is the national language

Since we really aren’t welcome there, let’s go on to the other two ingredients in our cultural “stew”…but I hope you know that Venezuela is a beautiful country; it just needs good people to lead it…. Next time, we go on to Colombia and one of its major cities, Cartagena, which we WILL visit.

Machu Picchu is truly a place to wander and wonder

What drove religious and political leaders of Cuzco, Peru to leave the relative comforts of that city and move their followers to an isolated inland fortress centuries ago? Fear of Spanish invaders? Fear of other aspects of the world?  Those were my questions when I boarded the train at Cuzco for a day trip to an important religious and political site in the varied history of Peru.

Machu Picchu is truly a place to wander and wonder. The massive rock that looms there was constructed to fight Spanish forces approaching from the west.  Perhaps obvious conflicts between Incan religious and political powers also spurred exploration and led to the challenging building in a “forbidden,” but honored, place.

The early settlers are easy to identify: religious Incan leaders fearing the Spanish habit of forcing their beliefs on people Spain conquered. Those leaders uprooted themselves and their followers to head for safety into an unknown and unsettled territory.  Exciting lore surrounds the journey: why this particular site and about the builders themselves?

Today, a very challenging walking trail leads to Machu Picchu; a comfortable train conveys tourists there; a modest number of hotels and restaurants meets most needs.  A day trip means one can return to Cuzco to known comforts. (But stay overnight; at sunrise the rock seems to glitter.)

The story of this site is a tale of intrigue, fear, betrayal, and ultimate success that defines the value of visiting the towering rock.  It honors bravery and imagination. The little restroom is now improved.  Walking around the area, peeking into the tiny window-less huts, and gazing with amazement at the nearby mountain that towers so protectively over the site, are some of the rewards for making the trip. (Little llamas cavorting beside one is also a special treat.)

Chloe Ryan Winston’s latest novel, Peru Paradox, has just been published; available at Barnes and Noble.

Another City for Whom Roses Bloom

It’s a given that Portland, Oregon is the “City of Roses,” but there’s another such city, much smaller and thousands of miles from Oregon. In what is called the Lake District of Chile, there is a delightful small town of about 41,000 fronted by the chilly Lake Llanquihue, with a backdrop of two snow-capped volcanoes.

Amanecer sobre el Lago LLanquihue y Volcán Osorno, vista desde la costanera de Puerto Varas.JPG
By MarcelodiazcolpoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The word “precious” is overused, but correctly applies to Puerto Varas, a popular tourist destination an hour’s drive from Puerto Montt.  To reach it, one must fly or sail into Puerto Montt, then take a bus to Varas.  There is a rail line, but the train cars purchased from Spain, are so uncomfortable and unsafe, that Chileans take the bus. It doesn’t look as though the train runs anyway.

The 450 ft. deep Lake Llanquihue, “deep place” or “lost place” (depending on your guide’s translation), is edged with dark volcanic sand. The lake, the third largest in South America, is used most often for sun-bathing and not for sailing, waterskiing, or swimming.  The water is too cold, the season too short, and even the nicest hotels in town find it too expensive to offer water sports.


By Marisa Garrido/marisadechile – Own work, Public Domain, Link

The two volcanoes, Calbuco and Osorno, resemble rounded smokestacks with big dabs of snow on top, even in the summertime in Chile.  December is the peak of summer in the southern hemisphere reversal from our winter. Calbuco blew its top, so it’s not as rounded as Osorno.

There’s a large casino here, responding to the bulge of tourism that makes Varas so popular.

But that isn’t what draws many to this City of Roses.  It’s the roses. Hundreds of modern varieties, including a favorite—Double Delight.  Bushes bloom along streets, in most yards, and surround the small park in the center of town.  That park, in December 2007, contained a dozen trees decorated with Christmas ornaments, ribbons, and garlands.  Evidently the city council sponsors a decorating contest for local organizations. North American tourists trotted from tree to tree, cameras at the ready, to capture the handsome trees.

Away from the park, casino, and small shopping area of stores and stalls, are hotels and homes, notable for the German architectural influences of the settlers tempted to this area by the Chilean government in the mid-l850s. Bavaria comes to mind as one travels the streets in Varas.

Those settlers established dairies, which today form the other important part of the area’s economy.  Siding on homes are shingles, often made from the Alcera tree so the water will slide off. That tree is now protected.

About half an hour away is another town, Frutillar, which means “strawberry,” although other varieties of berries are exported from here. No roses in this small town, but there is an unusual open-air museum spread along a hillside, consisting of several houses, each which focuses on a particular part of the city’s history.

The blacksmith will try to sell you horseshoes. There’s a small, but well-stocked, shop.  And restaurants across from the museum offer delicious pastries and chocolates with German traditional touches thrown in at no additional cost.

There’s a huge musical festival here in late January and early February as large red metal sculptures along the lake attest. January is also a good time to climb the volcanoes. Most towns here celebrate Oktoberfest in the German manner.

The road from Puerto Montt to these two towns is part of the Pan-American Highway; in fact, depending on which town is telling the story, the road ends in this part of Chile. Here the Andes Mountains begin their descent toward Cape Horn, to disappear into water, only to re-surface in Antarctica.

Three other nearby spots to visit: Petrohue at Esmeralda Lake, Tenglo Island, and Chiloe Island.

But it’s the City of Roses that brought me back for a second visit on a five-week cruise around South America. Despite the rain this second trip, it was still a magical place.

Peru’s Three Gifts to Travelers

Peru is a land of three wonders:  the gigantic Amazon River, the mysterious drawings in the sand called the Nazca Lines, and the most wondrous place of all, Machu Picchu.  The Amazon at Iquitos was my first stop.

Iquitos, Peru is proud of two things: its massive oil-producing reputation and its claim to be the uppermost port on the headwaters of the Amazon River. I soon decided that both claims perhaps were somewhat exaggerated.

Our tour group arrived in Iquitos late one winter afternoon to explore a bit before going on to another stop downriver for overnight.  Rather than joining them, I planned to explore Iquitos then meet them later that evening at one of the Amazon lodges, which looked like an inch away on the map. It was arranged and, when the time came, I went with a guide to the river to see two men in a canoe waiting for me.

Sunset on the Amazon (7613489930).jpg
By Pedro Szekely from Los Angeles, USA – Sunset on the Amazon, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

My blue Samsonite hard luggage marked me as a tourist, but I wasn’t yet concerned.  It was after I clambered into the canoe, my passport, travelers’ checks, and pills clutched to my chest, that I realized as the two men began to row away from the shore that I was the only other traveler on this journey. And it was getting dark. And I had no idea how long it would take us to travel that “inch” that had looked so easy.

We swung out into the dark river beneath a now-dark sky. The only advantage to being away from the oil-fueled flames marking the oil well sites was that the sky was filled with at least a zillion stars.  That kept me busy for about five minutes.

Then I understood my unease.  I was alone, in a canoe, with two men I didn’t know…not even their names, and no one really knew where I was. Or that I’d even successfully left Iquitos.  Now the idea of escaping took hold.  I looked away from the canoe, finally spotting a series of tiny lights in the distance.  A town. On an island, perhaps. If either man made a move toward my possessions—or me—I’d jump out of the canoe and swim toward the lights. That idea went nowhere; sanity prevailed.  If I swam carrying my heavy suitcase, it would pull me deep into the water, and I couldn’t leave it, nor the small carry-on that held all my papers, in order to go toward those tempting lights.

No, but that was not the only reason I scrubbed the idea of swimming. The Amazon is famous for having those body-chomping piranha fish which can skin your flesh off in mere seconds. Besides, I didn’t swim too well, although maybe fear would propel me some of the distance to safety, but not before the fish got me. Suddenly the warm night and the bright stars didn’t offer the consolations that they had minutes before.  My back stiffened until I could almost feel an iron rod in place of my spine.

Making matters worse, there was no conversation with the two men.  The little lights disappeared, and the true darkness of an Amazon night, without the interruption of city lights and their reflection against the clouds, made the world pitch black.  I might not even be able to notice if the men moved toward me.  They continued to talk softly, but my stay-out-of-jail Spanish wasn’t quick enough to translate.

What seemed a century passed before lights flickered ahead; the men’s voices got louder and seemed a bit more cheerful.  Maybe they’d been afraid of the river, too?  We pulled into a small dock, the men jumped out, lifted out my suitcase, and one of them held a hand for me to take.

It all seemed so normal.  When I looked at my wrist watch a little while later, I realized we’d been on the river only two hours.  But now I was safe, in a room where the walls came part way up its sides and the bathroom was many darkened steps away.  However, there was a light on in the restaurant, which was part of the lodge, so I quickly hurried over to get dinner.  I hadn’t eaten since noon and it was now past eleven.

Two French women were eating dinner in the restaurant, but neither acknowledged my presence.  They looked so very soignée and rich. I looked like I’d been drawn through that proverbial knothole backwards.  An imperfect end to an imperfect day.

The next day, after our tour group was together, the tour director promised us an exciting trip to visit an Indian village to watch “the natives in their local habitat.” Despite knowing those people needed the money that visiting tourists provided, I couldn’t bring myself to walk around peering at people as though they were manikins in a store, so I opted out of that trip, too.

Later, after the rest of the tour group left for their “natives” trip, a young man with the Lodge asked if I’d like to take a canoe ride down the Amazon and see the local flowers and butterflies.  I agreed.  This was the highlight of the trip so far.  We floated down a daytime Amazon, not nearly as frightening as a nighttime Amazon.  He was most informative, pointing out things to see, but the one thing I most recall was the flight of a few truly giant butterflies with wings of the deepest, clearest blue that I’d ever seen.

But Peru wasn’t finished with me.  Two days later we were in Nazca, staying overnight with plans to fly over the famous Nazca Lines the next morning.  When I awoke, I was so cheerful and eager that I decided to eat breakfast, usually not a good decision when I fly.  I happily climbed into the four-passenger plane and sat beside the pilot.  Two other people were already aboard, and when I turned to greet them, there were the two stylish French women.  They still didn’t speak to me, nor even nod an acknowledgment.

We took off, our pilot smiling and eager to show off his precious Lines.  In fact, he was so anxious, that he swooped and swooped and swooped, over the Monkey, the Tiger, and the Snake among others. Each time he asked me if I saw them.   Each time he turned the plane on its side, my stomach also went sideways.


Fortunately, there were small bags ready for the purpose for which I used them.   I was terribly embarrassed to be unattractively ill in front of the two svelte French women. However, the pilot, anxious I saw everything, kept asking, “Did señorita see that?” He’d point to another one of the animal symbols in the hard-packed dirt below us.  I‘d nod, then have to take recourse to the bag again.

When we landed, one of the other tour members came up and said, “That pilot scared us to death when he took us up.  Was he okay with you?”

I nodded.  The pilot was fine.  Only my stomach had objected. Besides, I still had that wonderful Peruvian treat to come—Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is featured in the fourth installment of the Briana Fraser series, Peru Paradox, soon to be released. You can purchase the first three books in the series from Barnes and Noble or from Amazon.