We drove through the town of Chimbote this morning and went a bit north before turning east into the Santa River valley. Island Girl's roost cliff was about 25 miles upstream and so we drove there in hopes of checking out her site in detail.
We usually do a recon of the access route on Google Earth the night before to figure out how to get there. Then drive in. Usually never that easy however.
This time, we were all very taken with the beauty of this valley. It has a huge river, by Peru coastal standards, and it was flowing at a really high volume. Big CFM.
The water is gray, a sign of carrying soil and glacial flour down through the valley. With all of this water, the valley is rich in agriculture and well cared for by its inhabitants. Really a lovely, charming valley, one of my favorites so far in Peru.
We had driven up to what we thought was a bridge across the river as we needed to get to the north side to reach her cliff. Unfortunately, what I thought was really nice bridge turned out to be a dam built to divert water for irrigating the valley. Not driveable.
Next bridge was about 30 minutes upstream. We had to run for Chiclayo this afternoon to arrive before dark so we could not take the extra time for a close look. However, on the way back, we stopped to photograph the cliff once again and Luis spotted the coolest thing on this study so far.
Santa River Roost Site, Peru
He found an Inca ruin atop the shoulder of the cliff that Island Girl used for roosting. Looked like a wall and the foundation of some sort of building.
Note Flat Whitish Area in Center Left of Picture
Inca Ruins Strategically Placed Atop Hill Above Valley
We were all deeply impressed. Luis told us about the importance of falcons to the Incas. He mentioned that the Inca always liked to build high up like near this roost. He also mentioned that one of the main sites near Cuzco refers to a falcon. I had found peregrines nesting at Macchu Picchu in the 1980's with fledged young flying around all the tourists up there. I am sure the Incas must have known them from there.
There is a raptor skull outline carved into a stone there too. It is called a Condor head (popular with tourists) but to me it is a perfect peregrine skull. Clayton White corrects me to say it is a falcon skull. Ursula Valdez has seen Orange-breasted Falcons there too.
At any rate, there we were looking at Island Girls roosting cliff and some Inca ruins nearby. How exotic. How unique. And how fitting for such a sweet bird. A final high point for the study.
Rock Gable End Visible on Right End
FROM HIGH TO LOW
The low point came when we drove all afternoon and arrived in Chiclayo just after dark (when the vampires come out). Shirley and I parked our two vehicles outside one hotel while Luis "went shopping" for others. Doors locked, windows up of course. We had been warned more than once.
Fortunately for me, there was a small casino located at this hotel and some policemen were standing there to guard against robbery I suppose.
I suddenly felt my truck bouncing up and down. First thought was Luis had returned and was getting something out of the back. More bouncing. Not Luis. I got out of my truck (big mistake but who wouldn't?), walked back to see what was going on and a guy pointed to my right rear tire, I looked and no flat, Then I got it and started back to my door. I had left the window down for some air in the hot tropical night. Another simple but big mistake. Saw one of the policemen coming around my vehicle from the front and realized I had nearly been robbed with three policemen standing within 10 feet of my truck. Talk about nerve. I looked into my front seat to see what had been taken, if anything, and found my day pack now sitting in my front seat. It wasn't before. So someone (I did not see them as I had been successfully distracted for just a few seconds) had lunged all the way into the back seat of my truck, grabbed the pack and almost made off with it. If it wasn't for the policeman, I would never had known what had happened to my pack. And, of course, it had all of my money and my passport in it.
Clever thieves, Very professional. Very quick. Able to read people and strategize how to steal from them successfully.
I just wonder if, late at night before they go to sleep, they somehow realize how utterly futile and pathetic their lives are. How small in spirit and integrity.
And how cruel, harming strangers with no apparent remorse. Pathetic really.
I guess we will alway have these types of people living amongst us. How sad.
I tipped the policeman of course.
Well, that is it. The chase part of the study is now over. Unless Felipe crosses the US sometime soon. We might try to intercept him north of Mexico.
Tomorrow we are getting out of Peru for good and heading into Ecuador where we will begin the mini-nightmare process of shipping the two trucks back home.
I want to thank all of you that have supported this project over the last few years, all of you FRG members, plus Kathy Gunther, Don McCall, Mike McGrady, Becky Rosencrans, Christian Gonzalez and family and the pretty remarkable Shirley Vander Veen, a good travel buddy.
I sincerely hope that you have learned as much about these falcons as we have. What a wonderful thing.