A view to the northwest from within Dun Aonghasa in springtime. The interior a karst formation (see my post, ” Galway Bay View from Dún Aonghasa”), the grikes filled with grass and a sprinkling of white and yellow flowers, a cloudscape rising over the walls. Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.
The exposed limestone of the Aran Islands here transitions to a fertile field of grass, husbanded by generations of islanders. Photograph was taken from the path on Inishmore leading up to Dun Aonghasa.
The Aran Islands are an extension of The Burren of Ireland’s Counties Claire and Galway. The word burren is from the Irish Boireann, meaning “great rock.” The glaciers that covered Ireland, retreating about 10,000 years ago, scraped down to the bedrock, exposing wide areas of limestone and dropping, here and there, large rocks. When people came along the foreign nature of the large rocks was recognized, all the more obvious for lying on the horizontally bedded, exposed limestone. We call the foreign rocks erratics. The underlying scoured rock is a pavement for a resemblance to a cobbled roadway.
The incised line, filled with grass and wildflowers, in the following photograph is called a gryke. The body of stone between the grykes are clints. Sometimes, the grykes are cross hatched and the clints resemble cobblestones or flat paving stones.
The view is northeast toward the 12 Bens of Connemara. Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland
Modern stonework borders the 1/2 mile path to the inner Dún Aonghasa walls, keeping tourists off delicate plants, maintaining the integrity of this ancient site.
The view north, northwest over the walled path to Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus) looking across karst landscape, walled fields, farms, the North Atlantic Ocean, coast of Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.
Upon disembarking from Queen of Aran, our ferry out of Doolin, onto the Kilronan quay we walked toward the bicycle rental and Pam refused to bicycle. Her objections were many, safety, impending rain, time. She did have a point about time, the ferry leaves at a set time leaving errant tourists to fend for themselves. We were unused to cycling, still Dun Aonghasa is just over 5 miles from Kilronan, less than an hour round trip. With our starting time of 11:30 am there was 3.5 hours slack for returning to the quay before the 4 pm departure. Plenty of time for wandering the ruins and stopping along the way.
We followed Pam’s advice. Still there were the many bicyclists. Perched on our horse drawn carriage, on the uphill runs, each bicyclist we passed was proof positive to Pam of the wisdom of our choice. I was silently envious of their freedom and overlooked the many mini-buses on the narrow road.
When the day comes to mind, not often, I am left with the guilty feeling of not stopping into the bicycle rental office to cancel the reservation. An email was waiting for me the next day, asking where we were. Thus, the title of this post, “Stiffed.”
Pam’s Response to this post.
Pam’s reasons for not wanting to ride a bicycle around Inishmore: “I hadn’t been on a bike for approximately 20 years. However, if it wasn’t going to rain (it did), if the narrow road was larger, if there weren’t any minibuses loaded to the gills or horse traps sharing the same single lane, I would have considered it. Sitting back and enjoying the beautiful view on our private horse trap and listening to our very knowledgeable tour guide/driver was the highlight of this adventure for me. I am sorry you felt like you didn’t have a choice.”
Pam’s correction of my statement about her being concerned about time: “Time wasn’t a factor in my decision making. I also didn’t have a problem with you biking but there was no way I was going to do that.”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Enjoying travel on a horse trap, a type of carriage, on Inishmore , the largest Aran Island in Galway bay, we headed up Cottage Road from Kilronan, the main island settlement. It was from Kilronan we disembarked from the ferry, hired the driver and trap. Our destination an Iron Age fort, Dun Aengus, and sights along the way.
Dry Stone walls abound throughout Ireland. Ancient walls, buried in peat, were discovered in County Mayo and dated to 3,800 BC. This is a field wall on Cottage Road with daisies growing at the wall base.
The wall is composed of stones, not rocks. I have read in places a stone is a rock put to use or shaped by human hands. Other usages have rock and stone used interchangeably. For example, an internet search on “Dry Rock Wall” will return hits on the same. “You pays your money and takes your choice.”
Sources for this post: search Wikipedia for “Dry Stone”.
This view is to the north, northwest from a ferry en route to Inishmaan through Galway Bay. In the distance is the Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.
There of stories of this buoy coming unmoored. October 27th 2012 it went adrift. An Aran fisherman, Micheál Seóighe (Ml Joyce) and his boat Naomh Beanán tracked it down, hauled it back to the harbor. The buoy was back in service shortly after.
Here is a photograph of me with the camera used. It is a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III with a Canon lens 200 mm f2.8/L. I am standing on the deck of the Queen of Aran ferry out of Doolin next to the Cliffs of Mohr.
Pam Wills took this photograph with her Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phone.
The planet we call Venus has ancient associations with fertility goddesses. The link has persisted at least from the 1600 century B.C. inscribed on Sumerian cuneiform tablets. Three thousand years later the Italian artist Botticelli created in tempura paint on canvas the image of Venus rising from the sea, as the planet Venus does today.
Here is Venus rising from the sea at dawn January 2022, at its brightest and most beautiful. Some mistake this new light in the east for airplane lights; the bright disk of Venus is 25 times brighter than Sirius, enough to cast shadows at night. As Venus proceeds in its orbit, the planet alternately sets after the sun and rises before it, seemingly appearing new each time.
This February I caught a newly risen Venus in this IPhone 7 video, reflected in the waves. It seemed to be a flashing headlight on the beach, the Venus reflection came and went with the passing waves. Venus is the upper, the reflection is beneath. Use the lower right control for the full view.
Looking from his window June 1889, Vincent VanGogh included Venus in his “Starry Night” painting, seen to the right of the Cypress tree.
Here is a closer view of Venus last January, the planet disk is apparent, unlike even the closest stars, Venus is seen as a whole object. Click on image for a full view.
Venus and Mars
Venus and Mars shared 2022’s pre-dawn winter sky. Click on the first image for a full-size view. Mars is seen above the palm tree stump, on the right. In this photograph, from early February, Venus and Mar apparently moved closer. The closeness is an illusion, the planets are millions of miles apart, on either side of Earth’s orbit. Click on the photograph for a full-size view, Mars can just be made out to the right and above Venus.
This crop clearly shows the brightness of Venus compared to Mars.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Thinking about the Aran Islands for my posts, “Killeany Bouy” and “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions” brought me back to Isla Mocha.
Herman Melville’s thoughts were in and around this island off the central Chilean coast when he penned “Moby Dick” in the mid-nineteenth century while sitting in the city of Boston. He was brought Moby Dick not only by his own experiences on a whaling ship, almost certainly Melville owned a copy of Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ “Mocha Dick: Or The White Whale of the Pacific: A Leaf from a Manuscript Journal,” an true-life account of adventures around Isla Mocha. Sometime around 1810 Reynolds personally experienced encounters with Mocha Dick after the crew of an Antarctic expedition mutinied, stranding him at Valparaíso, Chile where he remained for two years.
Located 38°21’45.62″S, 73°55’6.91″W, around 8 miles in size north to south, 3.5 miles east to west Isla Mocha is surprisingly simple to find. A ridge of mountains run the north south axis, just 20 miles off the coast, a ship following the coast will find it easily, as I did from the balcony of the Oceania Regatta during a “sea day” of travel between Valparaiso and Puerto Montt.
Since waking that day I was on the lookout for Isla Mocha. In preparation for our month-long cruise around South America every mile of our itinerary was scoured for interesting sights, experiences and information. When I first learned of Isla Mocha (Mocha Island in English) and the connection with Melville reading about it in Boston, just as I was in Ithaca, one of my goals for that day was to catch sight of Isla Mocha as it rose from the horizon.
My goal was made easier for the cloud formation from the island mountains. Here is my first photograph, taken from our balcony on the port side. I chose the port side just for the landward view as the ship progressed southward on the western coast of South America. The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III was tripod mounted with an EF 70-300 f4-5.6L variable lens set to 70 mm. We are northwest of the island with the coast just visible.
Another view with 188 mm focal length. The ship must have turned eastward, as the view progressed the island came closer. It was a fantastic thought to cruise above the subduction zone where the Nazca plate dives beneath the South American Plate. In the distance, on a clear day, the volcanic cones Villarrea and Quertrupillan are visible.
With the island due east, only a few miles away, the lens at 221 mm focal length. A fisherman is having an easier day in a calm sea. The indigenous people told stories of the souls of the dead travelling west to Isla Mocha. Pirates used the island as a resupply base. The fishing boat was the only sign of life.
That was February 14th Valentine’s Day. With Isla Mocha passing into the distance I changed for an evening with Pam. Here we are headed to dinner, somewhere off the coast of Chile’s Lakes (and volcano) region.
After reading my last post “Valparaiso Connections VII” why Captain Pratt was so honored by the nation?
On that morning, May 21, 1879 the two Chilean ships blockading Iquique port were surprised by two Peruvian warships from the port of Callao, the monitor Huáscar and armored frigate Independencia.
Arturo Prat commanded the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. Carlos Condell de la Haza was Covadonga’s commander.
The Chileans are outgunned by the Peruvians in armored ships. Condell fled in the Convadonga, pursued by the Independencia. This was the wiser course and most militarily effective because, following the Convadonga into shallow waters the deeper draft Independencia lost advantage when it ran aground and was lost.
Prat stood ground in the middle of the bay, any canon shots simply bounced off the heavily armored Huascar. The Esmeralda suffered shot after shot until the command of the Huascar, Captain Graf, decided to ram the Esmeralda to force a surrender and safe useless death.
At the first ram to the stern, as the ships were in contact, Prat ordered an attack, “Let’s board, boys.” In the confusion only two seamen joined Prat. One failed to board, Prat and Petty Officer Juan de Dios Aldea attacked. Dios Aldea was mortally wounded. Prat continued to advance alone, to the amazement of the Peruvians, awed at his courage. Prat was gunned down on the deck of the Huascar.
He crew watched in horror. When the Esmeralda was rammed again, this time in the bow, Sublieutenant Ignacio Serrano lead of 10 Chileans to board for an attack with machetes and rifles. They were massacred by the mounted Gatling gun, only Serrano survived.
The example of Prat and his crew is taught today. Arturo Pratt is the most common street name, as well as plazas, buildings. Four major warships were named after him. The current active ship is the frigate FFG 11, the Capitan Prat. The Chilean naval academy is named Escuela Naval Arturo Prat. His portrait is on the 10,000 peso Chilean note.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Ricaro’s name tag reads, “Oceania Cruises, your world, your way.” I began my two previous blogs with Ricardo, “Valparaiso Separation” and “Valparaiso Connections I.” There’s a lot to be said for the Oceania tours. Every one lead by a knowledgeable native of the host country, fluent in English, we became familiar, some more than others, with them personally, one non-representative example. As were progressed down the coast from Iquique to Cape Horn we met a cross section of Chileans. Unlike other countries, in Chile we met only unsmiling guards on the streets, no protest rallies.
As the tour bus is about to turn down Varparaiso’s Argentina Avenue, here is a flash forward to an elaborate demonstration tableau in the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada as a backdrop, rose as in the color of bull’s blood used as pigment. The protest was in support for veterans and causalities of the ill considered 1982 Falklands War. We zoomed by the Parque De La Memoria, dedicated to the 30,000 people “disappeared” by the same military dictatorship of the Falklands War debacle.
Our entry to both Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was a cruise over the secret graves of thousands dropped, alive, into the ocean from military aircraft.
What is most chilling is the silence about this throughout our travels in Chile. No memorials, no protests, silence, only stone faced military guards.
The following is from Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, beneath which are catacombs piled with disarticulated skeletons buried and cared for in the Catholic tradition .
In Lima’s Plaza de Armas we witnessed this peaceful demonstration by pensioners protesting low payments. To be honest, around this time, in Chile, there were huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Santiago, about the same issue.
The Lima crowd was peaceful.
Watched by a heavy contingent of armed police supported by large “paddy wagons” to cart people away. The vehicle marked “Prodegur” (i.e., prosecution) was one of them. Given the history of government disappearances in the region, how brave the demonstrators must be.
Our vehicle turns onto Argentina Avenue, passing under Spanish Avenue and these supports bruiting the “Patrimony of Humanity” status of Valparaiso.