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  • Bahia Blanca, Argentina Water Alert

    The Argentine city of Bahia Blanca has warned its 420 000 residents to avoid using tap water because it says it is laced with toxic bacteria that cause skin irritation and possibly neurological damage. “I’ve worked here for 25 years and I’d say this is the worst water crisis I’ve ever seen here,” city public health chief Ana Maria Reimers said on Tuesday. Reimers said several cases of skin rashes had been linked to the water.

    She quoted medical literature as saying the bacteria caused skin irritation in the short term and if consumed in large enough quantities could cause neurological damage.

    Bahia Blanca, 420 miles (685 km) southwest of Buenos Aires, is Argentina’s main petrochemical production base and a leading agricultural center. Residents first noticed a bad smell in their tap water on 10 Apr 2000. Municipal official are waiting for test results they requested a week ago from the city’s water supply company.

    ASK THE Bahia Blanca DOCTOR


    Q: When I was in South America, I saw some children in a remote village that had worms in their stools. What is this and is it dangerous?

    A: What are you describing sounds like an infection with roundworms. There are a number of species of nematodes (the scientific word for roundworms) that could be the culprit here. One likely candidate is Ascaris lumbricoides, the common roundworm, which is distributed worldwide and thought to infect more than one billion people – the most common parasitic infection in the world.

    Q: What happens if I get infected with these worms? What symptoms will I have?

    A: Most travelers have no symptoms, or merely vague abdominal complaints, in part because they may have only mild infections. Some with heavier infections will have epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting, and lung inflammation from new worms maturing by passing through the lungs or passage of a mature pencil-sized worm. There can be more serious symptoms such as intestinal blockage.

    Q: How do I find out if I have them?

    A: A diagnosis is made by looking at a stool sample under a microscope for the eggs of the worms. A mature female living in your small intestine can produce close to a quarter million eggs a day! Each type of worm has its own characteristic ova or eggs. It can also be diagnosed by identifying a mature worm that passed out your rectum. If this happens please save it in a jar. Blood tests are not useful for determining if you have Ascaris worms, though a type of white blood cell called eosinophils is often elevated with these infections.

    Q: How do I get treated if I do get these worms?

    Also Read : Europe of South America – Argentina

    A: Albendazole, mebendazole, or pyrantel pamoate will treat ascariasis. The choice of appropriate medication depends on which other worms are also present Bahia Blanca. If you have multiple types of worms and need more than one medicine to get rid of them, always make sure the first medicine you take is effective against Ascaris worms. This is because mature Ascaris worms that are irritated but not killed by drugs (or fever or starvation) have a tendency to migrate to unusual places rather than staying in your small intestine. This can result in appendicitis, pancreatitis biliary obstruction, an intestinal perforation or obstruction.

    Q: How can I prevent getting worms?

    A: You want to prevent the eggs that are in Bahia Blanca contaminated soil from getting into your mouth. Avoid contaminated food – raw or uncooked vegetables are common culprits. Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food. Prevent children from pica (eating dirt).

    Q: Does this infection occur in the US?

    A: Yes, it continues to be a minor problem in the southeastern part of the US.


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  • South American Explorer articles on Judi Online Argentina 2018

    • Issue 54, Winter 2018 Aconcagua: Life at 22,000 Feet to Judi Online Terpercaya
    • Issue 52, Summer 2018 Motorcycle South
    • Issue 49, Autumn 2018 Evita Perón, Argentine Obsession
    • Issue 43, Spring 2018 Kayaking Rio Cotahuasi Canyon
    • Issue 41, August 2018 Hitchhiking in Patagonia
    • Issue 38, September 2018 Gran Bajo de San Julian
    • Issue 37, June 2018 Wild-West Shows & Rodeos in the Early 1900’s
    • Issue 20, January 2018 Skiing,   Penguins of the Valdez
    • Issue 15, October 2018 Mountain Passes Through the Andes
    • Issue 13, July 2018 Lost El Meson Meteorite
    • Issue 2, March 2018 Jewish Gauchos

    Explore Judi Online Guides

    Does anyone know the price of a bus ticket from Buenos Aires to Curatiba (Brazil)??
    April 23, 2001
    AR027 Just got back from a non-commercial, un-guided climbing trip of Aconcagua, via the normal route, if anyone is planning or thinking about a trip like this & needs current info. feel free to contact me.
    Also, my wife spent 2 or 3 days in the following cities: San Luis, Cordoba, Tucuman, Salta, & La Rioja. We also spent 6-days in Mendoza, & 5-days in Santaigo, Chile. We are more than willing to share our travel information. Here’s my name, Address,
    Ken Abeldt
    624 Dettmar Ave.
    Baden, PA. 15005
    (724) 869-7046
    April 22, 2001
    AR026 Argentne products
    Where can I find products from Argentine? ie shampoo, foods, soap. Things of this sort.
    Jay Tillery
    AR025 Travel to NW Argentina
    Hi, I am planning a trip to Salta/Jujuy in Argentina this November. Would appreciate info on sights to see-nature/forest oriented. Also, ideas on whether to rent a car or use public trans. Other tips.
    Mark Willhite
    AR024 Welcome to ARGENTINA
    ARGENTINA –> meet people in Buenos Aires
    We are a team of Argentinians and foreign residents who hold social gatherings every tuesday in a beautiful cafe in Recoleta Area. We welcome you to join us during our meetings! Find a more natural setting to learn about the people, culture and customs of ARGENTINA. We offer long or short term visitors and argentinians also a friendly setting in which to talk with locals and foreigners, in addition we participate in cultural activities at no cost. Don´t miss this chance! Our activity is totally free and serious. Visit our site and email us now to: bafreetime@yahoo.com
    BA Freetime
    Hi, I’m a 23 year old Sydney girl who is travelling to South America between March and September this year. Looking for anyoone who is interested in nature, trekking, rafting, taking it easy, eating and also hoping to improve their Spanish (although if you can already speak it that is an added bonus). Had planned to start in Chile then fly to Ecuador and head down thru Peru to Bolivia and northwest Argentina. I’d like to go a little bit of the beaten track, well as far as you can go while avoiding day long bus trips anyway. And I don’t mind hooking up with local tours to go hiking and that sort of thing. But apart from that I would prefer to get around using local transport so I actually get a chance to meet the locals. I’ve got a few must sees but apart from that I’m pretty flexible. I would love to hear from anyoone with similar interests who is planning on being in South America at the same time.Also, does anyoone know what is the cheapest way to phone Australia from the above countries? Buy a phonecard over there or use an Australian phone home card? Or some other method I haven’t even thought of?Bye for now, Jenai (jenaidavies@yahoo.com)
    AR022 Recent travel information: Argentina
    WWW.HUPJE.NET Yes an excellent site. Even if it is my own. I’m currently uploading my travelogue of my current trip around the world. It has a detailed travelogue on how I sailed the Chilean waters on a ferry, surprised a large cat (puma) in Los Glaciers National Park and how I ventured into unknown trekking country to find myself catching fish with local settlers and in the end reach my goal by boat and not on foot. Other travelers will be interested in the country specific information section and trekking route descriptions. Anyone will enjoy the 100+ pictures which load in a few seconds. Be my guest and sign the guestbook. Suggest other items to include.
    P.S. Anyone going to Ecuador or Northern Peru over the few month?
    Hans Hupje
    AR021 WANTED ! Looking for Insects dealers!
    I am looking for Insects dealers (Beetles). This is FUKINUKI(Mr) a Japanese entomologist. I am Taxa of world Lucanidae. Also, I like all beetles. Please give me contact.
    Kiyotami FUKINUKI
    Rainforest Laboratory 6-18-22 Kasuga, Fukuyama-city, Hiroshima 721-0907 Japan
    Fax: 81-849-41-7692
    AR019 The Argentina Connection
    Hi: My name is Andres, I love backpacking and I’d traveled some through Argentina.I just wanted to tell you that if you ever need some help from a “native”, just mail me. I live in Buenos Aires so maybe I can be helpfull. Just mail back.
    Bye, Andres
    AR014 Russian-speaking Buenos Aires
    Has anyone ever been interested in visiting or actually visited the Russian-speaking or (Ukrainian-speaking) area of Buenos Aires? If such area exists it should be around “Barrionce”. Has Judi Online been there? Also, a very old travel guide recommended a Russian restaurant called “Rosalka”. Does anyone know anything about this establishment?
    AR005 Visit Buenos Aires?
    Argentina (my country) offer magnificent landscapes, friendly people, the best steaks in the world, incredible, inexpensive wines, and it’s Capital –Buenos Aires– a lot of cultural events, cafes everywhere, salsa and tango bars, etc.If any of you are thinking to come to south-america, your trip will be not complete if you don’t visit Buenos Aires and, from there, the diff. interesting turistic places in Argentina.Also it’s a good place to learn Spanish, because there are many institutes and private teachers, and it’s not so expensive as people says, when you live with a local.

    I will be glad to help travelers with some first hand turistic info, and with a cheap lodging –homestay– in BA.

    • South American Explorer magazine
    • More information about Argentina

  • Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    I want to tell you a story.

    It’s probably the closest thing to a real-life fairytale I’ve ever encountered, and it takes place in the middle of the rainforest in Far North Queensland, Australia.

    Our starting point is an unexpected location, though. We pull into a tarmac car park beside the highway where white cars shimmer in the heat and walk beneath a row of metal letters, their edges slightly crumbling with rust.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    We keep on going down a small dirt track, letting the tree branches knit themselves closer and closer together as we step deeper inside the forest. The sounds of the outside world fade away: car engines and human chatter replaced by bird calls and the breeze moving through the leaves.

    And then we see it.

    At the edge of a clearing is a giant waterfall cascading over soft rock and splashing to a lake below. We’ve found the centrepiece of Paronella Park – the ruins of a castle built almost a hundred years ago, which have lain abandoned for half that time.

    But now the castle is coming back to life.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    The century-long history of Paronella Park

    In 1925, a young Spaniard named Jose Paronella arrived in Australia. It was his second visit to the continent, and he’d decided to start a new life in Queensland along with his new bride, Margarita. Back in his Spanish homeland Jose had originally trained as a pastry chef, but during three years spent working in Australia he’d become a wealthy man.

    Now Jose was planning to recreate a dream he’d had since childhood. Thanks to countless stories his grandmother told him about Spanish history, Jose had decided to build a replica of Spain in Queensland: his own recreation of a Spanish castle for other people to enjoy.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest
    And that’s what he did.

    Despite having little experience in construction, Jose Paronella bought five hectares of virgin land at Mena Creek Falls – much of it covered in a tangle of trees and vines – and began to build.

    The resulting structures which sprang up were not just his dream castle, but also botanical gardens and tennis courts, a cafe and a grand staircase, and even a ballroom which doubled up as a theatre and cinema.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    Because the famous Mena Creek waterfall provided ample opportunity for swimming, Jose built picnic tables on the ground beside it along with diving platforms, a toilet block and a set of changing cubicles nearby (which guests could pay to use!).

    If you haven’t already realised, this man was one hell of an entrepreneur.

    Before long the park had attracted curious visitors. Paronella became known as the Pleasure Gardens of Cairns, and each week there were groups of people eager to ride boats around the lake, swim beneath the water falls, and dress up on weekend evenings for dances, movies and music concerts under the stars.

    Paronella Park, north Queensland - 1930s

    [Photo courtesy of Aussie Mobs]

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    A lost taste of Europe in the rainforest

    Jump forward almost a hundred years though, and today’s lost world of Paronella looks quite different to Jose’s initial dream.

    Now the sloping pathways lead past thundering falls and toward a steep flight of narrow stairs, their bannisters covered with ivy and twisting vines.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    At their base are heavy stone tables, some of them cracked and most covered with layers of spongy moss. It’s almost too easy to imagine plates and picnic baskets laid out on top; and if I squint at the falls beyond I can half-see a rowing boat filled with excited guests.

    It’s as if the ghostly guests of Paronella Park’s past are still just around the corner.

    An old mossy bench at PParonella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    As we wander further through Paronella Park, I begin to see this place as more than just a set of abandoned ruins.

    Of course there’s something undeniably magical about discovering a lost jungle world– particularly when it looks like a modern-day Angkor Wat – but the human touch here is undeniable too.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    Our guide tells us that the Grand Staircase was actually used as the main thoroughfare to carry countless bags of sand and cement around the site. I skim my fingers over the rough surfaces of the bannisters and balustrades, all of which are covered in fingermarks from Jose’s own hands.

    I start imagining Jose Paronella himself, valiantly striding through tree-lined pathways as he planned out his legacy.

    An extremely ambitious man, Jose seemingly always had a new invention in mind: everything from creating a hydro-electric plant to power the park to attempting an underground aquarium by slotting fishtanks into earth walls he carved out of a tunnel – and when that failed, he used the humid earth to grow mushrooms instead.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    When word spread about the crazy Spaniard building a castle in Queensland, a local municipal department even gifted Paronella Park with thousands of exotic and native plants, including hundreds of Kauri trees which can live for two thousand years.

    Although he must have planted them with the knowledge that he’d never actually see them grow, Jose seemed certain that his park would live on despite him – and he was absolutely right.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    The rediscovery of Paronella Park

    Jose sadly died from cancer in 1948, and after the park changed hands a few times it eventually fell into disrepair. The jungle began to reclaim it.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    For almost thirty years Paronella was forgotten, until a Perth-based couple named Mark and Judy Evans came looking to buy a caravan park.

    The estate agent suggested a small piece of land which included some castle ruins hidden in the tangled undergrowth – and just like that, Mark and Judy found themselves the new owners of a lost civilisation.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    When they realised how incredible this place was, the couple came up with a plan to restore the park to its former glory in whatever way they could. The paths have been cleared and the gardens reconstructed; the family’s cottage has become a museum filled with artefacts and memorabilia; and the park is becoming a popular wedding venue.

    The arrival of a long-lost Paronella relative

    The only thing missing from the restoration was history, as the Evans’ didn’t know what stories the park could still be hiding from them. Everyone they asked said that the park’s original owners had all disappeared – until one day, when an old lady arrived at the gates.

    As Mark welcomed her to the park and asked if she’d like to visit, the woman replied,

    “Actually, this was my father’s park. I’m Teresa, his daughter. I haven’t been back here for forty years.”

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    Thanks to Teresa filling in the gaps, Mark and Judy were able to begin constructing a mental picture of the people who built Paronella Park.

    A vulnerable, nature-powered park

    Despite the restorations, Paronella is sadly still extremely vulnerable. The landscape which Jose chose is built on a cliff, and the propensity for cyclones and flooding in Far North Queensland means there’s always a danger of nature wreaking havoc on the park.

    In 1946, it was flooded by thirty feet of water and was precipitous in the park’s eventual closing by Jose Paronella; and since Mark and Judy resurrected Paronella in 1993 there have already been three separate cyclones which have knocked down walls, taken off roofs and threatened them with extreme flooding yet again.

    The entire park is powered by nature, and despite the resulting beauty it’s also extremely likely that everything could vanish tomorrow.

    What’s fascinating though is how different generations view and experience this place. Jose had initially envisaged Paronella Park as a well-kept set of gardens complete with outdoor entertainment, yet by the start of the 1960s people had TVs and their own local cinemas which meant the park’s visitor numbers started to drop.

    Strangely enough, allowing the forest to take over the park for a few decades has meant a resurgence in tourism. Nowadays this part of Far North Queensland is attracting visitors precisely because it’s a lost, forgotten place to be explored.

    Australia’s very own Angkor Wat.

    Paronella Park: an Abandoned Spanish Castle in the Australian Rainforest

    If you’ve got a dream, hard work does pay off

    Jose might not have expected his park to end up exactly like this, but his dream to create a place of magic in the rainforest has stood the test of time.

    I’m still amazed that more people don’t know about Paronella Park. Then again, there’s something rather special about it remaining a secret.

  • Suplemen Fitness Q&A : Altitude Sickness Tips

    Q: My husband and I will be traveling for 18 days in Ecuador. We are both seniors (over 62) and in generally good health also Jual Suplmen Fitness. Do you know of any altitude medication or have suggestions for problems with altitude?

    A: Altitude sickness is due to a reduction in oxygen. Symptoms include rapid breathing and heartbeat, headache, dehydration, loss of appetite, vomiting, stumbling, and unusual fatigue when walking.

    Tips to avoid altitude sickness Jual Suplmen Fitness Tips:

    · Avoid rapid ascents to high altitudes by airplane. Give yourself time to acclimate at gradually increasing altitudes. Spend about two days getting 10,000 ft (3050m) and avoid overexertion during these initial days.

    · Don’t take narcotics or sedatives above 8000 ft (2450m). Drink lots of fluids and eat a low salt diet with Jual Suplemen Murah suplemenmurah.net Suplemen Fitness.

    · Wear appropriately warm clothing to avoid hypothermia.

    · If you have symptoms of altitude illness descend.

    Taking acetazolamide (Diamox) 125mg twice a day can speed acclimatization for those going to 10,000 ft (3050m) rapidly and for those with past altitude problems. Start taking it a day before ascending and continue taking it for 3 to 5 days. If you choose not to use acetazolamide for prevention, carry some with you to use if you do develop altitude illness. Don’t take it if you are allergic to sulfa drugs. Ask your doctor for prescription, and consider trying it out at home first to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction to it.

    Q: Will I get side effects from altitude pills?

    A: When you take acetazolamide, you may urinate more frequently and have sensations of numbness. Nausea and impotence are less common. It can also affect the taste of carbonated beverages.

    Q: Can altitude illness be dangerous?

    A: Progressively more serious forms of altitude sickness include:

    · Acute mountain sickness. This can occur at 6,500 ft (2000m).

    · High altitude pulmonary edema Jual Suplemen Fitness(HAPE). With this stage of altitude sickness, water builds up in the lungs. One to two percent of travelers to 12,000 ft (3050m) develop HAPE; the morality rate is high.

    Also Read : Alexander von Humboldt on Geography

    · High altitude cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain. This is rare below 10,000 ft (3050 m) but can be fatal in 24 hours. At high altitude, if you or your companion suddenly develops mental confusion, acts irrationally, has trouble with balance, or has significant difficulty breathing, descend immediately.

    Q: I have a friend that is 2 months pregnant who wants to visit Cusco and La Paz, 3300m and 3600m elevations respectively. Will a 5-day trip to this altitude damage the fetus?

    A: There haven’t been any studies on pregnant women traveling to higher altitudes. However, it is known that pregnant women who reside at high altitudes have more problems with irregular blood pressure and have fetuses that haven’t grown as well as expected. Some experts recommend limiting 1st trimester travel to 8000ft (2450m), which means your friend should avoid Cusco and La Paz.

    Q: Any problems with taking birth control pills at higher altitudes?

    A: Yes. At any altitude, the estrogen in birth control pills slightly increases the risk of blood clots. Theoretically, if you take the pill at high altitudes, there’s an increased risk of blood clots, including fatal clots that enter your lungs. Some experts suggest that you should use alternative forms of birth control above 10,000 ft (3050 m). Please discuss these issues with your doctor before you leave.

    Q: Is altitude dangerous for my kids?

    A: Young children may be more susceptible to altitude illness. To be on the safe side, descend if you your children show even vague symptoms of altitude sickness. Nevertheless, young children have been taken to over 15,000 ft (4570 m) without problems. Drugs for altitude illness prevention or treatment haven’t been tested for kids, so they’re generally not used.

    Q: Where can I get more information?

    A: An internet site with good information is www.princeton.edu/~oa/altitude.html. Additionally, The Travel & Tropical Medical Manual by Drs. Elaine D. Jong &Russell McMullen has a chapter on altitude illness. Always consult your doctor to apply information to your individual case and to get the necessary prescriptions.

  • Alexander von Humboldt on Geography

    From Issue 55, Spring 1999, of the South American Explorer:

    Source: Humboldt, A., and A. Bonpland. 1821. Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, During the Years 1799-1804. AMS Press, Inc., New York, 1966.

    The great German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was fascinated by the practice of some native American tribes populating the torrid zone to eat earth, mostly from want, but sometimes by choice or custom. What follows is an account by Humboldt himself of the geophagy of the Otomacs, a tribe inhabiting the banks of the Orinoco River. The setting is in what is now Venezuela, c. 1800.


    Alexander von Humboldt on Geography

    The situation of the mission of Uruana is extremely picturesque. The little Indian village is placed at the foot of a lofty granitic mountain. Rocks everywhere appear in the form of pillars above the forest, rising higher than the tops of the higher trees. The Orinoco nowhere displays a more majestic aspect here, than when contemplated from the house of the missionary, Fray Ramon Bueno. It is more than five thousand meters wide, and runs without any winding, like a vast canal, straight toward the east. Two long and narrow islands (Isla de Uruana and Isla Vieja de la Manteca) contribute to give extent to the bed of the river; the two banks are parallel, and we cannot call it divided into different branches. The mission is inhabited by the Otomacs, a tribe in the rudest state, and presenting one of the most extraordinary physiological phenomena. The Otomacs eat earth; that is, they swallow every day, during several months, very considerable quantities, to appease hunger, without injuring their health. I also found traces of this vitiated appetite among the Guamoes; and between the confluence of the Meta and the Apure, where everybody speaks of geophagy as of a thing anciently known. I shall here confine myself to an account of what we ourselves saw, or heard from the missionary, whom an unhappy fatality had doomed to live for twelve years among the savage and turbulent tribe of the Otomacs.

    Alexander von Humboldt History

    The inhabitants of Uruana belong to those nations of the savannas, who, more difficult to civilize than the nations of the forest, have a decided aversion to cultivate the land, and live almost exclusively on hunting and fishing. They are omnivorous animals of the highest degree; and therefore, the other Indians, who consider them as barbarians, have a common saying: “Nothing is so disgusting that an Otomac will not eat it.” While the waters of the Orinoco and its tributaries are low, the Otomac subsist on fish and turtles. The former they kill with surprising dexterity, by shooting them with an arrow when they appear at the surface of the water. When the rivers swell, which occurs periodically in every part of the torrid zone, fishing ceases almost entirely. It is then as difficult to procure fish in the rivers which have become deeper, as when you are sailing on the open sea. At the period of these inundations, which last two or three months, the Otomacs swallow a prodigious quantity of earth. We found heaps of balls in their huts, piled up in pyramids three or four feet high. These balls were five or six inches in diameter. The earth, which the Otomacs eat, is a very fine and unctuous clay, of a yellowish gray color; and, being slightly baked in the fire, the hardened crust has a tint inclining to red, owing to the iron oxides which are mingled with it. The Otomacs do not eat every kind of clay indifferently; they choose the alluvial beds or strata that contain the most unctuous earth, and the smoothest to the feel. We examined the balls of earth and found no trace of any organic substance, whether oily or farinaceous. The savages regard everything that appeases hunger as nourishing; therefore, when you inquire of an Otomac on what he subsists during the two months when the river is highest, he shows you his balls of clayey earth. This he calls his principal food; for at this period he can seldom procure a lizard, a root of fern, or a dead fish swimming at the surface of the water. If the Indian eats earth from want during two months, he does not less regale himself with it during the rest of the year. Every day in the season of drought, when fishing is most abundant, he scrapes his balls of poya, and mingles a little clay with his other aliment. What is most surprising is that the Otomacs do not become lean by swallowing such quantities of earth; they are, on the contrary, extremely robust, and far from having the belly tense and puffed up. The missionary Fray Ramon Bueno asserts that he never observed any alteration in the health of the natives at the period of the great risings of the Orinoco.


    The following are the facts in all their simplicity, which we were able to ascertain. The Otomacs during some months eat daily three quarter of a pound of clay slightly hardened by fire, without their health being sensibly affected by it. They moisten the earth afresh, when they are going to swallow it. It has not been possible to verify hitherto with precision how much nutritious vegetable or animal matter the Indians take in a week at the same time; but it is certain that they attribute the sensation of satiety, which they feel, to the clay, and not to the wretched aliments which they take with it occasionally.

    I observed everywhere within the torrid zone, in a great number of individuals, children, women, and sometimes even full grown men, an inordinate and almost irresistible desire of swallowing earth; not an alkaline or calcareous earth, to neutralize (as it is vulgarly said) acid juices, but a fat clay, unctuous, and exhaling a strong smell. It is often found necessary to tie the children’s hands, or to confine them, to prevent their eating earth, when the rain ceases to fall. At the village of Banco, on the bank of the river Magdalena, I saw the Indian women who make pottery continually swallowing great pieces of clay.

    6 Best Destinations for Backpacker to Visit in South America

    These women were not in a state of pregnancy; and they affirmed that “earth is an aliment, which they do not find hurtful.” In other American tribes people soon fall sick, and waste away, when they yield too much to this mania of eating earth. We found at the Mission of San Borja an Indian child of the Guahiba nation, who was as thin as a skeleton. The mother informed us that the little girl was reduced to this lamentable state of atrophy in consequence of a disorderly appetite, having refused during four months to take almost any food other than clay. Yet San Borja is only twenty-five leagues from Uruana, inhabited by the Otomacs, who, from the effect no doubt of a habit progressively acquired, swallow the poya without exhibiting any pernicious effects. Father Gumilla asserts that the Otomacs purge themselves with oil, or rather with the melted fat of the crocodile, when they feel any gastric obstructions; but the missionary whom we found among them was little disposed to confirm this assertion. It may be asked why the mania of eating earth is much more rare in the frigid and temperate zones than in the torrid; and why in Europe it is found only among women in a state of pregancy, and sickly children.

      In the Indian archipelago, at the island of Java, Mr. Labillardière saw, between Surabaya and Samarang, little square and reddish cakes exposed to sale. These cakes, called taanampo, were cakes of clay, slightly baked, which the natives eat with appetite. The attention of physiologists, since my return from the Orinoco, having been powerfully fixed on this phenomena of geophagy, Mr. Leschenault (one of the naturalists of the expedition to the Southern Lands under Captain Baudin) has published some curious details on the taanampo, or ampo, of the Javanese. “The reddish and somewhat ferruginous clay,” he says, “which the inhabitants of Java are fond of eating occasionally, is spread on a plate of iron, and baked, after having been rolled into little cylinders in the form of the bark of cinnamon. In this state, it takes the name of ampo, and it is sold in the public markets. In general, it is only the Javanese women who eat the ampo, either in the time of their pregnancy, or in order to grow thin; the want of plumpness being a kind of beauty in this country. The use of this earth is fatal to health; the women lose their appetite imperceptibly, and no longer take without disgust a small quantity of food; but the desire of becoming lean, and of preserving a slender shape, can brave these dangers and maintain the credit of the ampo.”

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    When we reflect on the whole of these facts, we perceive that this disorderly appetite for clayey, magnesian, and calcareous earth, is most common among the people of the torrid zone; that it is not always a cause of disease; and that some tribes eat earth from choice, while others like the Otomacs eat it from want, and to appease hunger. A great number of physiological phenomena prove that a temporary cessation of hunger may be produced, without the substances that are submitted to the organs of digestion being, properly speaking, nutritive.The earth of the Otomacs, composed of alumina and silica, furnished probably nothing, or almost nothing to the composition of the organs of man. These organs contain lime and magnesia in the bones, in the lymph of the thoraxic duct, in the coloring matter of blood, and in white hairs; they afford very smallquantities of silica in black hair; and but a few atoms of alumina in the bones, though this is contained abundantly in the greater part of vegetable matters, which form part of our nourishment. It is not the same with man as with animated beings placed lower in the scale of organization. In man, assimilation is exerted only on those substances that enter essentially into the composition of the bones, the muscles, and the medullary matter of the nerves and brain. Plants, on the contrary, draw from the soil the salts that are found accidentally mixed in it; and their fibrous texture varies according to the nature of the earths that predominate in the spots which they inhabit. An object well worthy of research, and which has longed fixed my attention, is the small number of simple subtances that enter into the composition of animated beings, and which alone appear fitted to maintain what we call the chemical movement of vitality.

    When the missions of the Orinoco shall become more frequented by enlightened travelers, the number of days will be determined with precision, during which the Otomacs can subsist without adding to the clay they swallow any other aliment from the vegetable or animal kingdom. A considerable portion of gastric and pancreatic juice must be employed to digest, or rather, to envelope and expel with the fecal matter so great a quantity of clay. We may conceive that the secretion of these juices is augmented by the presence of earths in the stomach and intestines; but how does it happen that such abundant secretions do not cause at length a feeling of exhaustion?

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    The state of perfect health enjoyed by the Otomacs during the time when they use little muscular exercise and are subject to so extraordinary a regimen is a phenomenon difficult to explain. It can be attributed only to a habit, prolonged from generation to generation. Man can accustom himself to an extraordinary abstinence, and find it but little painful, if he employs tonic or stimulating substances, or if he supplies his stomach from time to time with earthy, insipid substances, that are not in themselves fit for nutrition. Like man in a savage state, some animals also, when pressed by hunger in winter, swallow clay or other friable steatites. Mr. Bonpland and I observed in a crocodile, eleven feet long, which we dissected at Batalley, on the banks of the Rio Magdalena, that the stomach of this reptile contained fish half digested, and rounded fragments of granite three of four inches in diameter. It is difficult to admit that the crocodiles swallow these stony masses accidentally, for they do not catch fish with their lower jaw resting on the ground at the bottom of the river. The Indians have framed the absurd hypothesis, that these indolent animals like to augment their weight, that they may have less trouble in diving. I rather think that they load their stomach with large pebbles to excite an abundant secretion of gastric juice. The experiments of Mr. Magendie render this explanation extremely probable. With respect to the habit of the granivorous birds, particularly the gallinaceæ and ostriches, of swallowing sand and small pebbles, it has been hitherto attributed to an instinctive desire to accelerating the trituration of the aliments in a muscular and thick stomach.

  • Air Travel in Peru

    AEROCONTINENTE and LAN PERU are the only domestic airline flying to most major destinations in Peru:

    Strike: Train to Machu Picchu

    There are some much smaller airlines with only a few aircraft. TANS flies to Cusco, Tarapoto, Iquitos, Yurimaguas, Rioja, Juanjui and Pucallpa. AEROCONDOR flies to Cajamarca, Chimbote, Huanuco, Trujillo and Anta (Huaraz). LAN PERU flies to Arequipa and Cuzco (International flights to Miami and New York). T DOBLE A flies to Chachapoyas. TACA PERU is to start operations soon with flights to Cusco and Iquitos.

    ENAFER, the Peruvian train company, is on strike to protest the upcoming privatization of trains in Peru. The train tracks broken by protesters may be repaired by August 20, 1999.

    No trains are available from Cusco to Machu Picchu or Puno. It is unknown when train service will be up and running.

    If you’d like to hike the Inca Trail, take a tour bus to Km 82, then enter the trail at Km 88. Be aware that there may be no trains back, however, and that you may have to spend a few days at Aguas Calientes. If you don’t have time to hike the Inca Trail, you can get a bus to Km 82, and then hike along the train tracks to Machu Picchu, which takes about 10 hours.

    The South American Explorers Club is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-sectarian, scientific and educational organization that was founded in 1977 for the following purposes:

      • to advance and support all forms of scientific field exploration and research in South and Central America in such areas as biology, geography, anthropology, and archaeology, as well as to collect information on field sports such as whitewater running, mountaineering, caving, and others


      • to collect and distribute contributions donated for specific educational and scientific research projects that fall within the Club’s aims and purposes.


      • to further the exchange of information among scientists, explorers, and travelers of all nationalities with the purpose of advancing knowledge of South and Central America.


      • to collect and make available reliable information on all institutions, research centers, and organizations in South and Central America that benefit scientists, explorers, and travelers pursuing scientific and educational goals.


      • to promote greater interest in and appreciation for endangered peoples, wilderness conservation and wildlife protection.

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    HomeReturn to South American Explorers Club Home Page

    The contact information below is for offices in Lima:

    Av. Pardo 651, Miraflores
    Sales 242-4242 or 433-1667
    Main Office 242-4260
    Fax 241-8098

    Av. Arequipa 5200, Miraflores
    Sales 575-3842 & 575-3843
    Main Office 445-7327
    Fax 445-7107
    E-mail: tans@blockbuster.com.pe

    Juan de Arona 781, San Isidro
    Sales 442-5663
    Main Office 422-4214
    Fax 221-5783

    Paz Soldan 225, San Isidro
    Sales 446-6995
    Main Office 215-1800
    Fax 215-1818

    Main Office 241-7077 or 446-0033

    Av. Pardo 640, Miraflores, Lima 18
    Sales 242-1980
    Fax 446-2120

    Outside of Peru contact your own travel agent. As far as we are aware LANPERU is the only airline that can be booked through on-line reservation systems such as Amadeus and Sabre. Currently, their prices for a one-way ticket from Lima to Cuzco start at $49. The SAE Cusco Clubhouse recommends LanPeru for safety, comfort and reliability over AeroContinente and Tans.