The Dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night.

dark outside(It wasn’t, really.  I’ve just always wanted to write that.) It was a fine, clear, fall night, much like tonight, as a matter of fact. I was apparently the only one up, and so I decided to take the opportunity to go in the living room and look at the arpillera.arpilleraWhat’s an arpillera, you might ask? Well, I can tell you it’s something I am not supposed to touch. Every time I get anywhere near it, Mom immediately redirects my attention elsewhere. That’s why I’m always so interested in getting a good look at it.arpillera 3I do know this much: It’s a South American applique piece, and Mom got it at a thrift store for about $5.95. She didn’t know what it was when she bought it, but she knew it was handmade and she knew she liked it.  She did some research, and found out that the arpillera is an art form that began in Chile in the 1970s. From there it spread to Peru, Ecuador, and other South American countries. The history behind arpilleras is fascinating. If you would like to learn more, you can read about arpilleras by clicking here.sprialing into arpillera smallI was so busy looking at the animals and people in the arpillera, wondering what it would be like to meet a llama or see the Andes mountains, that I didn’t realize I was spiraling right into the picture! It was kind of like spiraling through outer space but quicker. Before I knew it, I landed with a “thump” in an alleyway lined with colorful baskets.panda in basket smallImagine my surprise when Panda popped up from inside one of the baskets! “Panda!” I exclaimed. “What are you doing here?” “Dude!” Panda replied. “I’ve been here since yesterday! Didn’t you even miss me?” I pondered for a moment. “Well…I figured I had just left you under the bed or something. How did you get here, anyway?”panda in Peru small“The same way you did, I guess,” came the reply. “I must have gotten too close to the arpillera. Fortunately a nice lady found me and brought me to meet her friends and their llamas.”panda with ladies small“Wow!” I said, impressed. “You got to ride on a llama?”  “Yes,” Panda replied. “It was really fun! Want to go meet my friends?”  I replied in the affirmative, and followed Panda down the road. “By the way,” I asked. “Where are we?”going down the street small“Peru,” Panda called back to me. “Come on, we’re almost there!” Foster on llama small2Panda’s new friends were really nice, and they took us up to the top of a hill so we could see the beautiful scenery below. riding a llama smallThey even lent us a llama so we could go sightseeing on our own. The view of Machu Picchu was breathtaking!panda on llama smallAfter awhile, though, I started to feel a little apprehensive. I remembered Mom saying one time that there are a lot of condors in Peru, and that they can pick up small animals and fly off with them. I had just about decided to tell Panda we’d better get back to town when the unthinkable happened!panda flying with condor small(Well, to be honest, in light of our other adventures, maybe it wasn’t so unthinkable after all.) Before I knew it, a giant condor had swooped down and grabbed Panda in its beak! “Help!” I could barely hear Panda’s voice as they soared higher and higher.flying over city small“Don’t worry, Panda!” I called. “I’ll save you!” I ran as fast as I could, trying not to let them out of my sight. over waterfall smallThe scenery was incredible, but I was so worried about Panda that I couldn’t really enjoy it. panda and condor nest smallI followed them to the top of a rock, where, to my horror, the condor was putting Panda into its nest! It was then that I wished he had worn his fatigues, so it would be harder for the condor to pull out his stuffing for nest material.foster approaching nest smallFinally I made it up to the nest.  “Psst!” I whispered. “I’m over here!” At that moment, Panda managed to wriggle free from the condor’s grasp, and was able to crawl toward me.panda crawling smallerFortunately he had excelled in the obstacle course at Basic Training, so this proved relatively easy for him. Once he reached me we began our descent. After a minute we lost our footing and Panda tumbled all the way down the hill into a giant cactus!panda in cactus bigger small“Hey!” Panda called to me. “This is just like the cactus in Carlos and Kate’s back yard!” I decided not to ask how he would even know that. “Jump down, Panda!” I directed. “It can’t be any harder than when you escaped from that whimsical spider web in Mom’s drawing book!”at bottom of cactus small“Well I don’t know about that,” Panda responded as he jumped down. When he landed, I checked him out and he was fine. We decided it was time to head back to town.cookies smallWe walked for what seemed like forever, and eventually we ran into two adorable little kids. They shared their cookies with us, and said their parents could take us to the train station so we could get back home. So we followed them to their house, and sure enough, their parents were glad to give us a ride into town.

at the market smallWe had some extra time before our train left, so we went to the marketplace to go shopping for Mom. There were so many bright, colorful handcrafted items that we wanted to buy them all! Unbeknownst to us, there was a “no cats or pandas allowed” sign that we had missed on the way in.

hiding in basket smallWhen we saw the shopkeeper coming we tried our best to hide. “Sit still, Bro,” Panda admonished. “Maybe you can blend in with that gray and brown striped basket!” His plan worked, and the shopkeeper walked right past us. “That was a close one!” we said as we breathed a sigh of relief. We decided it was time to get in line for the train.peru train small“Wow!” I exclaimed when we reached the train station. “This reminds me of the Shan-e-Punjab!” (Shan-e-Punjab was the train we took to Amritsar when we were in India.) “Just don’t ask for a seat in second class this time, okay?” Panda requested. Before I could reply to this smart remark, the conductor came and told us it was our turn to board.sprialing out of arpillera smallAs we reminisced on the train about our adventures in South America, we suddenly became aware that we were spiraling…not through space, but out of Mom’s arpillera! We were home!panda lying on backIt was still nighttime, and apparently Mom hadn’t heard us come in. We tried to stay as quiet as possible, and it was then that we heard the thunder. We immediately jumped up to look out the sliding door.

Who would have thought ?

dark and stormyIt was a dark and stormy night!

The background photos for this South American adventure are from (I know they aren’t all of Peru, but Foster and Panda don’t, so let’s not tell them, OK?)