Monday, February 23, 2009

All Work and No Play...Yea, Right

So it took longer than expected...considering where I am in the world. However, after 3 weeks I finally got to see them:


They were so cute and I had a really great time. I went to Mundo Alpaca, (Alpaca World). For more information be sure to check out their website Mundo Alpaca is an eco-tourist facility designed to educate people and give the history of the Michell Company, The Finest Peruvian Alpaca. At the time, I wasn´t really interested in what they were selling, I was hanging out with these guys:

I got to go in the Alpaca pen and feed them Peruvian Alfalfa. Peruvians are very "snotty" when it comes to Alpaca fiber. Alpacas in South America eat Ichu and live at certain altitudes. They don´t have these resources in America or the rest of the world, therefore, South American Alpaca fleece is superior. Perhaps...perhaps they are just a tad possessive of their Andean Gold, and rightfully so.

I am feeding a Mom and her Baby Suri Alpaca. See...

They were so soft and really friendly. The Moms were a bit on the shy side because of the little ones. It was sorta funny too, just touching the Mom and then the Baby it was easy to feel the difference between Alpaca and Baby Alpaca. Baby doesn´t necessarily mean that the fiber came from a baby though. It is just the the classification used. For the South American Camelids here are the fibers from worst to best (if you can call that worst). Llama, Alpaca, Baby Alpaca, Royal Alpaca, Guanaco, and Vicuña. Vicuña is considered the softest fiber in the world. When I touch it it makes me think of what I thought a cloud felt like when I was a kid. (Don´t tell Peruvians about Musk Ox, they don´t wanna hear it).

They were really hungry.

Vicuñas and Guanacos do not live in captivity. They are not domesticated and do not live well except in the wild. For that reason Vicuñas nearly became extinct in the 1960´s. People hunted them for their fiber because they couldn´t be kept in captivity. Now, every few years the herds of Vicuña are penned for a small amount of time, sheared and relased. Their population is doing much better. There is only one kind of Vicuña as far as I know and one type of Guanaco. However, Guanacos will breed with Llamas and then you get Ccara. This type of Llama is more camel like, has short hair, and apparently loves the camera.

Llamas also have a long haired variety that is "normal." Chaku is the name of this "normal" Llama most people are used to seeing. There are also developments to breed Llamas with Suri Alpacas for very long-haired Llamas. I don´t know if these chimera of sorts have the ability to breed themselves. Up next we have the Alpacas. The Huacayo is the most common Alpaca. It has fluffy hair and a lot of color variety. This little guy is Huacayo.

The other Alpaca breed is the Suri. It has hair that looks like a mop or dreadlocks. It is less common and in my opinion softer. This Mom and Baby are both Suri.

There were a few new families at Mundo Alpaca. This is a Huacayo family. And the dark brown butt you can see is a Suri Llama. She wasn´t interested in me.

Not like my other friend.

Mundo has a lot to offer. Llamas and Alpacas to pet was my favorite part though. There was also an area with fiber sorting taking place. South American Camelid fiber is still sorted by hand. The techniques used are handed down from generation to generation and cannot be mechanized. Artisanal weaving is another area of Mundo Alpaca. I really liked this area too. Traditional costumes, ancient techniques, all natural dyes. It was cool stuff and I will have to go get more than just Alpaca pictures next time. I loved the Machinery Museum too. Old machines...same process. The textile industry has great innovations, but very few changes. The Sol Alpaca flagship store and Michell yarn store is located here too. Gorgeous clothing. Amazing yarns. I was in heaven. I cannot wait to meet some of the designers. I also paid $3 for 200 meters of Baby Alpaca. Are you kidding me? Until we meet again Alpacas.

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