The sink and tub hack

Hotel sink hack

After many many hours on aircraft, we had to skip landing at Montevideo because of fog at 1 AM.

So on to Buenos Aires, where we sat on the tarmac until 5:30 AM or so. Hours of chaos later we settled into an airline-paid hotel room, with a bathtub! (Exclamation because I hadn’t had a bath in at least 10 years, and it seemed like a splendid idea.)

Of course the hotel does not want to encourage baths, and provides no stoppers. But surprise surprise, the complimentary shampoo bottles fit perfectly!

I did not document the tub, but here’s my bathroom sink water filtering operation. Worked like a charm!


Good work if you can get it

Ordering a (very) few things for delivery in the Untied Snakes, I was thrilled — of course — to see that Amazon offers Expert installation of AAA batteries, because I’ve never really mastered that. And the price certainly seems reasonable.

Amazon battery installation price

Caribbean signs

Syd sent me photos he took recently of signs in the Caribbean. Nothing to do with Uruguay, but too good not to pass on.

Sign in Granadines

Nailed to a tree in front of a rather simple house in Bequia, Grenadines. Don’t trouble with trying to parse it.

pharmacy sign in Grenada

All’s ill that ends L?

sign, Grenada

That awkward moment when you realize your drink’s been drinking. In the morning, no less.

Beach, street, hand, dog, roof

I was talking with an Uruguayan today about our arrival in Uruguay, how people always asked why we’d want to live here when we could live in the Untied Snakes (OK, they didn’t say it exactly like that). This picture I took yesterday reminds me of the answer (especially after almost three years in Mexico): tranquilidad.

Dusk on beach, Atlántida, Uruguay

Then this, a “garbage” photo that I don’t think I took but I like. Shades of Henri Cartier-Bresson, perhaps. Or maybe it’s the weirdness of the street reflector looking like a sixth finger? Whatever.

street/hand, Cuzco, Peru Cuzco, Perú, July 2016

And then, this, from a week and a half ago. Dog barking from a tile roof. Of course.


The Nazca arrays

Just a few days before leaving for Peru in early July, I ran across a fascinating hypothesis and paper by James McCanney. What makes it more interesting is that I wasn’t looking for information about the Nazca lines, but instead checking in on his web site, which I haven’t visited in years.

Here are a couple of photos I took from the air. You can find better on the web.

Nazca lines Nazca lines

As with all the later Nazca designs, they are made with a single line. And no one has an even remotely reasonable explanation for them. Well, of course, except for National Geographic, which dismisses them as ritual footpaths. They stop — just barely — short of calling them temples.

However, McCanney has a different idea, and, like his original explanation of the electric universe, it makes more sense than any official story, and as with the ancient “Inca” stonework, involves technologies far in advance of ours. Start this video at 50 minutes for a his background, then the fascinating next hour.

(With the little lower-right YouTube “settings” gear, you can play it at 1.5X or2X speed.)


Hint: this is a modern cell phone antenna.


Here is a rundown of various theories about the Nazca lines if you’re interested.


Isals Ballestas, Paracas, Peru

After the drab weather in Lima, we were promised, as we headed south, that 15 minutes outside of Paracas, we’d be drenched in sunlight. Alas, didn’t happen. Blame El Niño.

Besides the skulls, when in Paracas a boat trip to the Ballestas Islands is a must. On the way, you pass the Paracas Candelabra, a rather remarkable carving on the Paracas Peninsula that barely shows up when there’s no sun, despite intense photo manipulation.

Candelabra, Paracas, Peru

Then on to the islands. And birds.

Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

Penguins, Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

Not all of them fly.

Pelicans, Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

But most do.

Ballestas Islands, Paracas Peru

And they just keep coming, as far as the eye can see.

On the peninsula on the other side of the Candelabra, the scenery is quite spectacular.

Paracus Peninsula, Peru

Paracas Peninsula, Peru

And potentially dangerous.


And — lo and behold — the promised sun makes a return!

Lima, Peru — early July

Lima — at least the part worth seeing — is built on a high bluff. If you go between May and October, this is pretty much what it looks like every day. No sun.

Lima, Peru, early July
Lima, Peru, early July

But you can imagine how exploring on foot gives a good workout. Of course I had to go check out that pavilion on the jetty.

Lima, Peru

Proof! Lots of crabs. And happy seagulls, no doubt. You’ll also see lots of wannabe surfers. I thought I had a picture of them, but the light was so drab I found it difficult to get enthusiastic about taking pictures.

Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Miraflores, where we stayed, is upscale (and has the kitteh park). If you stayed and ate there, and avoided the rest of the city of 10 million, you might be convinced Lima is an OK place.

Huaca Pucllana, Miraflores, Lima, Peru

In the middle of Miraflores, you’ll find the Huaca Pucllana, a massive construction of mud bricks. We took many photos, and most are about as drab as you’d expect when photographing piles of mud bricks in dull light. This particular construction technique, with spaces between the bricks, makes it resistant to earthquake damage.

Huaca Pucllana, Miraflores, Lima Peru

And in places it does indeed look like it’s been shaken around a bit.

Sunset in July, Lima, Peru

Did I say there was no sun in Lima? I lied. This must have lasted a full five minutes.

Lima, Peru: July evening

And then, finally, some interesting light in Lima. Sort of.

Pumapunku, Bolivia

Part of the Tiwanaku complex, Pumapunku doesn’t jump out at you. It’s just scattered rocks, until you look more closely.

Pumapunku, Bolivia

The stones that form the platform are immense, and — as seems to be the theme — quarried and transported from a site improbably far away. Evidence of elaborate and precise machining of the stone is everywhere. This platform is called the temple, which is archeologist-speak for we have no idea what the hell this thing was.


Here Yousef Awyan points out intricate and precise stonework similar to what he sees in Egypt.


Evidence of machining includes perfectly circular drilled holes. in the background, Pumapunku’s distinct “H” blocks.

Pumapunku, Bolivia

An interesting feature of these blocks came to light last January. Brien Foerster (pictured) had along a British engineer in his 80s (amazing guy who had stopped flying his own helicopter just a couple years before) who had brought a Tesla meter (magnetometer). Lo and behold, new mysteries! Knowing this, many on this tour had brought compasses. in this case, moving the compass inside the “H” recess causes it to point south instead of north!


One person brought dowsing rods, which reacted wildly. One would hold steady while the other spun like crazy. Changing position would cause the spinning one to reverse direction, or stop while the other started spinning.


Throughout the site, excavated stones are piled up more or less randomly, further demonstrating that the archeologists remain clueless about their positioning or function.

Pumapunu, Bolivia

And there is much more of the Tiwanaku complex to be discovered. Here Antonio Portugal shows the results of ground-penetrating radar, which reveals promising excavation possibilities that may never happen for political reasons.

In closing, a couple more images from Tiwanaku:

Tiwanaku, Bolivia


Amazing stonework — function unknown — from many thousand years ago.

The aliens of Tiwanaku (Bolivia)

Tiwanaku lies close to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, divided between Perú and Bolivia (the joke goes that Perú got the Titi and Bolivia the caca — OK: hey, I just work here). I found the site  underwhelming. The “reconstruction” and archeology feels contrived and inaccurate.


From this courtyard, the very large “Bennett” monolith was excavated, displayed in La Paz for 70 years, then “returned” to a museum hall nearby where it would be safe from pollution and pigeon crap. When I descended the metal stairs with Antonio Portugal, there were very few people present (unlike this picture I took a few minutes later).

Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

Jutting out from all sides are facial representations, each is carved on a piece of rock a meter or so long, he told me, based on other excavations. Caraclavos, I think he called them: face nails.


They supposedly represent every different race. In some cases, clearly, better than others.


When I spotted the one below, I turned to Antonio and gestured toward it. He simply pointed upwards. Yes, aliens.


And I thought of the “Starchild” skull we had seen in Paracas.


Then there’s another that seems just a little out of place.


This made me think of the Andayhuaylillas Museum and its enigmatic Huayqui skeleton, which some (and clearly the people who created the display) believe to be a hybrid human.


This was typical of the experiences on this trip: walk into a place with absolutely no prior knowledge, notice something with no prodding, ask a question without speaking, to be answered by an expert* with a single silent gesture.

* he has been researching Tiwanaku for decades. He showed us the site map done with ground-penetrating radar, which reveals large subterranean chambers. Alas, permission for excavation unlikely any time soon, he says, because the locals (and current political leadership) don’t want to know that the builders weren’t their ancestors. Who knows?