Sunday, August 23, 2015

So where am I going? Here are your clues.

Today's posting is specifically written for my colleagues at work. As I'm sure you've figured out by now, I have not revealed where I am going on my trip though a handful of you do know. Usually when asked the question "Where are you going?", I would just blurt out the answer but this time around, I thought I would have some fun (and hopefully, you will too) by turning this into a guessing game.

This will be a test of your knowledge of world geography, biology and ancient history or perhaps, more accurately,

...... your ability to surf the web using Google
...... or your skills at bribing the very smart kids you have at home in to giving you the answers :-)

Your challenge is to come up with the answer to each of 5 clues. The first person to email me the correct answers to all 5 clues will receive a souvenir that I will pick up on my trip. Given where I will be, don't count on anything "fancy" for your prize!

Here are your clues. Good luck!

Clue #1. On days 1 and 2 of my journey, I will be in this city which was founded by a famous conquistador on January 18, 1535. Though this is a coastal city that is shrouded in fog and clouds for most of the year, rainfall is extremely rare, averaging less than 1 inch per year. This meteorological anomaly can be attributed to the geographic location of the city.... "sandwiched" between the cold Humboldt current on its west side and a mountain range on its east that blocks moisture laden air flowing from the east. Name this city.

Clue #2. On days 3 and 4, I will be in a region that encompasses 1.2 billion acres with parts located within nine nations. It is considered by many people to be one is one of the world's greatest natural resources. Because its vegetation continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, it has been described as the "Lungs of our Planet". About 20% of the earth's oxygen is produced in this area.

In contrast to the city that I will visit in Clue #1, this region receives about 9 feet of rain every year, 50% of which is returned to the atmosphere through the foliage of trees. Most of the water comes from the annual snowmelt high in mountain range that lies to its west.

The region is home to about 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants, and some 2000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fish, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 427 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region. One in five of all the birds in the world live in this region including this well known species of prehistoric looking, supposedly ill-smelling, crested bird whose young have claws on the first and second digits of their wings. This is one ugggggly bird with a face only a mother bird could love - see the picture below. Name this bird.

Clue #3. On days 5 and 6, I will be in this city whose name, when translated from Quechua, means "Navel" which seems appropriate since this city was once the capital of an ancient civilization.

Driven by a greed for gold, the same conqueror that founded the city in Clue #1 led his army into this city in 1533 and conquered it for his motherland. In the years that followed, the invaders undertook the construction of a new city, atop the old, replacing temples with churches and palaces with mansions for the conquerors.

During this time period, the city prospered as a result to agriculture, cattle raising, mining and trade with other nations.

Today, the city thrives primarily on tourism and was inscribed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

Geographically, it is the 3rd highest (elevation wise) city in the world, surpassed only by La Paz, Bolivia and Lhasa, Tibet and owns the distinction of being THE spot on earth with the highest UV level. Hopefully, SPF 55 will be enough to protect me :-).

The city is laid out in the shape of a sacred crouching Puma with an ancient megalithic stone fortress at the head and an ancient plaza marking the center of the body. Name the megalithic stone fortress that represents the head of the sacred crouching Puma. Betcha thought I was going to ask you to name the city but that would make it way too easy for you :-)

Clue #4. yolsbohltimantasa. Hidden in this jumble of letters is the name of the town that I'll be in on day 7. Here's a bit of history and archeology to help you out.

After a failed attempt to overthrow the conquistadors who conquered the city in Clue #2, the last ruler of an ancient empire retreated to this town to amass his army and to launch his second and final campaign against the conquistadors. His second attempt was also a failure.

This town is thought to be the only remaining example of pre-Columbian urban planning. The buildings and courtyards, as well as the narrow lanes, have their original form. The straight, narrow streets form fifteen square blocks, or canchas, which contain one entrance to a central quadrangle that is surrounded by houses. A number of fine colonial houses are constructed on finely-worked a walls of dark pink rock. The original settlement constituted an administrative, religious, agricultural and military complex.

On a hillside overlooking the town is a monumental stone complex that shares the same name as the town. Commonly referred to fortress due to its extraordinary walls (see the picture below), this complex is in fact an inn and was strategically located to dominate the scenic valley below.

Name this town and its namesake stone complex.

Clue #5. Laid out on a high plains desert, that is comprised of stones and not sand, are hundreds of effigies whose purpose is still being debated today. It is generally believed that these effigies were created more than 2000 years ago by an ancient civilization that did not have a written language and yet it is not believed that these effigies were used to communicate either current events of the day or record historical events. Name this collection of effigies.