Lyda here. A is for Alpaca… Heh. There’s a book in this.
We have been getting a lot of hits on “alpaca” lately. I started this post yesterday – yes, I didn’t have any better ideas, shut up – and last night I stumbled across some PBS shows about South America. It just all came together. Like a horrible train wreck. But I digress… Ya’ll want to see these guys:
The alpaca is a South American relative of the camel, the llama, the guanaco, and the vicuna. Here’s the family tree. The alpaca is prized for its soft fiber, and has been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no alpacas in the wild. Heh. Wild alpacas. Throwing noisy parties and shearing each other. Alpaca farming is becoming more popular in the U.S. If you want to know more about the animal, look here. If you’re thinking of owning one, look here. If you want to register your alpaca (if you have an alpaca, you just made a whole bunch of new best friends!), look here.
And so do we.
Coincidentally, last night there was a show on the Moche. I had never heard of them before yesterday’s alpaca search turned up that pot. Then I turn on the TV and there they are. Cue the Twilight Zone music. The program called them the Greeks of South America – 2,000 years ago, their culture was quite advanced and they built buildings that equal the Egyptian pyramids in scale. They lived in a very harsh desert, and apparently practiced human sacrifice to the gods of weather. It didn’t help. There was a period of thirty years of torential rains. Then there was a thirty year drought. Then there was civil war. And that was the end of them. Except that the people of the area continue the artwork that the Moche started. And of course the alpaca are still there.
But on to the next sensation…
The Incas used cloth spun from alpaca fiber as currency – wages were paid in cloth. A fiber-holic’s dream come true. When the Spanish came to South America, they took the gold, but ignored the cloth. Barbarians!
I wrote that last paragraph yesterday. And then last night there was a PBS show about how the Incan Empire fell. It said the Incas were the Romans of South America, what with their taking over huge… tracts of land. And conquering the other tribes. And taking all the alpaca fiber, no doubt.
Ya’ll, it was really weird. First a show about the Moche, then one about the Incas. Like PBS was inside my head!
The show was exploring the forensic evidence at a big burial site, and they determined that one of the people buried there had been shot with a Spanish gun (the earliest victim of gunshot found in the New World), but most of them were killed by other natives. The Spanish chronicles never mention that they relied heavily on the conquered tribes to overthrow the Incas. Who were no doubt annoyed at the Incas for stealing their stashes. Ya’ll know. It was a fascinating show, an archeological “Bones”.
Oh, yeah, we were talking about alpaca…
Which is spun into yarn:
And made into all kinds of lovely things, like this:
Of course, we don’t knit the yarn right away.
First we hold it and pet it and call it George.
So, you can picture me on the couch, watching the Moche show, watching the archeological “Bones”, and then thinking, I need to move the cat and the knitting and go to bed.
And then a science show came on PBS.
A show about zombies. Real live zombies. In Haiti. Wait, real dead zombies.
I kid you not.
How could I not watch?
To turn it off would have insulted the Goddess of Television.
And we can’t be having with that.