Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paramo by David Johnson. 2011-02-18

David Johnson gave a very interesting and lively talk on his recent expedition to document the flora and fauna of the The Sacred Paramo – Sacred High Andes Wetlands.  These wetlands are high in the Andes, a four hour horse ride from the nearest settlement, above the tree line, under the converging currents of moist warm air from the Amazon and the cold dry air coming off the Pacific. The result is nearly continuous rainfall in the wet season. In the dry season when Dave explored it, it only rains - pours - a third of each day. Under the near permanent cloud cover, pictured, this  is a cold wet wetland with many undocumented species. So dense was the cloud cover, that Dave often had to use a flash during midday to take photos. 
He was also privileged to document a ceremony at the one of the most sacred highland lakes, Luna Rae, changed but slightly over thousands of years, purifying body and soul in paying homage to the these deities.

 Shaman at Luna Rae.
 Dave also brought these objects, typical of the offerings thrown into these scared lakes during these ceremonies. So remote and sacred are these lakes, that looters have avoided desecrating them, so far.

 Barry and Richard examining a few of David's Andean artifacts.
 David's beautifully decorated jacket is from the Capachica Culture who live on the Cahachica peninsula in Lake Titicaca. The flowers on the jacket are representative of high alpine environments. Lake Titicaca is roughly 300 miles downrange from the Paramo.

Recent discoveries of valuable minerals and the threat of large scale mining now pose a serious risk to The Sacred Paramo!

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