Saturday Surprise — Let’s Travel!~~

Good morning and Happy Weekend!  Today I considered writing a piece on St. Patrick’s Day, but somehow I just couldn’t get into it.  And, because of the religious connections, I thought perhaps it was best I leave it alone. I will, however, end with a few funny St. Patrick’s cartoons. And anyway, given that I am getting a bit fed up with my own nation of residence this week, I thought it would be fun to do some traveling, and thus I went in search of new and interesting places.  Sit back and take a few minutes, if you will, to travel with me before starting your weekend activities.

Today let us begin our journey in Villa De Leyva, Colombia, where I have found the most unique house to show you!  Remember when you were a kid and on a snowy or rainy day, stuck indoors you played with such things as Matchbox cars, plastic horses, and that all-time favourite, modelling clay?  Remember how you used to build little clay houses … what?  You didn’t?  Seriously?  Well, anyway, some of us did that.  Here in Villa De Leyva, there is a real, life-size clay house!  Atlas Obscura says …

“Casa Terracota is a fully habitable two-story cottage made entirely from clay. It’s a blend of both architecture and art; a gorgeous creation that lets visitors imagine what it would be like to live inside a giant piece of artisanal pottery—though this house goes far beyond what anyone could ever dream of making in a typical high school art class.”

The architect, Octavio Mendosa, has called the house the “world’s largest piece of pottery”.  Mendoza sculpted the entire abode from clay, using no other materials to support the two-story structure. He then let it bake and harden in the sun, which transformed the pliable clay into solid, sturdy ceramic.

Its walls slope and curve, much like the way the surrounding hills roll toward the horizon. The inside is airy and welcoming, with functioning bedrooms, sitting areas, and even bathrooms all made from clay. The furniture, too, was born from soil and water. Colorful tile mosaics add vibrant pops of color to the baked, earthy inside.I would absolutely adore living in this little house … well, not so little, really, at 5,400 square feet … about 4 times bigger  than what I have now!

I landed … phlumph … in Texas, hot on the trail of a different story, but then I happened upon this and I liked it better.  You’ve all heard about the ‘killer bees’, right?

In the 1950s, South American scientists were attempting to cross European honey bees with African stock to bolster local honey production and engineer a bee subspecies that would thrive in the subtropical climate. Problems arose when a few African queen bees escaped from the Brazilian apiary and began mating with the locals, resulting in a volatile hybrid subspecies.

The individual bees themselves aren’t deadly—the venom in their sting is actually slightly less powerful than that of a European honey bee. However, they’re far more aggressive when provoked. When the Africanized bees sense a disturbance to their hive, they swarm and sting in droves. Even the noise from a passing vehicle or the rumble of a lawnmower can trigger a defensive attack that can be fatal.

The escaped bees and their progeny spread northward throughout the Americas, killing hundreds of people and animals along the way. When a swarm of about 3,000 of the “killer bees” was found in a monitoring trap on the outskirts of Hidalgo, Texas, it proved the unwelcome immigrants had finally crossed the Mexican border. (Should have been a wall to keep them out, yes?)While most places greeted this news with angst, Hidalgo’s mayor decided to erect a monument, and the city became known as the “killer bee capital of the world”!

And while we’re here in Texas … y’know how they always say “everything is BIG in Texas”?  Well, the bee was certainly big, but here’s another … a {meep meep} roadrunner named Paisano Pete!In 1980, Fort Stockton mayor, Gene Cummings, purchased this fiberglass roadrunner to be the town’s mascot, and had it placed in the center of town at the corner of Main Street and Dickinson Boulevard. The city then held a “Name the Roadrunner” contest offering $50 to the best suggestion, and after fielding a number of suggestions, Paisano Pete was the winner.For 13 years, Pete was the world’s largest roadrunner, at 11 feet tall and 22 feet long.  But then he lost his title to a larger statue in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

I must admit that I chose this one for its virtually unpronounceable name:  Fjaðrárgljúfur.   However, even beyond the name, the scenery is unique and worthy of a look.Fjaðrárgljúfur is a canyon a bit off the path off Iceland’s famous Ring Road. At just over a mile long, it certainly doesn’t boast the enormous expanses of the world’s other mighty canyons. But what it may lack in size, it absolutely makes up for in beauty.The river was formed from melting glaciers some two million years ago (now just how do they know that???) and it whittled out strange geologic patterns. The walls jut in and out, swerving back and forth so the water takes the shape of a blue snake slithering across the terrain.  There is a walking trail across the tops of the crags, where it is said one feels as if he is standing atop a kingdom.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our brief tour of some places we don’t get to see every day.  And now, as promised, a few St. Paddy ‘toons to start your weekend with a smile!  Have a terrific weekend, my friends!

St. Pat toon

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