Developer Who Destroyed Pyramid in Peru Goes Free


Back in July we reported on a developer in Peru who bulldozed a 4,000 year old pyramid. Situated on the site of El Paraíso, a 4,000 year-old settlement pre-Inca near Lima, it’s one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. It’s also prime real estate.

That’s why developers decided to bulldoze one of the pyramids to make way for some new housing. The prehistoric monument was completely leveled, and they would have taken down three more pyramids if an archaeologist and some watchmen didn’t intervene.

Two private companies, Compañía y Promotora Provelanz E.I.R.L and Alisol S.A.C Ambas, claim to own the land, but the Ministry of Culture says it’s owned by the government. Both sides have put up signs at the site claiming ownership. After the bulldozing incident, the government doubled security.

Now Past Horizons reports that two months later, no charges have been brought against the companies or any individuals identified as being part of the work crew. It appears that the two companies have won this round.

This video shows what the pyramid used to look like, and the barren destruction that’s been left in the name of development.

Is This The Death Of The College Visit?

YouVisit.com

Would you enroll at a university without ever setting foot on campus? A new website, YouVisit.com, is making it easier to scope out colleges by offering virtual guides and professional photos for hundreds of campuses. Prospective students and their parents can scope out everything from the college green to the inside of dining halls — and they don’t have to pay a penny for the service (or, for that matter, travel expenses). It’s kind of like other armchair travel websites, except aimed at aspiring freshman.

Will the website completely replace college visits? Not likely. There’s just something missing from the tours that one can only get when actually on campus. But it might make the process of choosing a college a whole lot more affordable. The website can certainly make it easier for prospective students to narrow down their choices. Right now, 400 campuses in the United States, Europe, Africa and Latin America are online — so if you’ve been dreaming of getting a degree overseas, here’s your chance to take a look.

[via Los Angeles Times]

Learn Spanish With Lonely Planet’s Fluent Road

Learn Spanish Fluent Road
Courtesy of FluentRoad.com

Traveling to Spain or Latin America this summer and want to say more than “Donde esta el bano?” (though, that’s an important one to know)? Lonely Planet has just launched a new online foreign language program, Fluent Road, partnering with Spanish language program Fluenz. The focus is on Spanish for now, but you can choose from dialects from Argentina, “neutral” Latin America, Mexico, or Spain.

Fluent Road is designed for travelers to get the basics before a trip: Spanish for transportation, finding accommodation, ordering food, etc. It’s also a good stepping-stone to a more intensive learning program, and travelers could easily work up to a Fluenz course after completing Fluent Road. What differentiates this from other language learning like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur is a dissection of the language, showing you how Spanish works and providing explanations, not just rote immersion. Fluenz founder and avid traveler Sonia Gil guides you through obstacles, pronunciation, and practice speaking, writing and reading as a native speaker and “language geek.”

As with all online learning, you can go at your own pace; there are 30 video lessons that can be completed in one to six months. Other useful features include the ability to record yourself to compare pronunciation a native Speaker, and customizable digital flash cards to help practice. You can also contact the teacher and program designer via Twitter.

Take a free 12-hour trial now, subscriptions start from $9 for a month to $30 for six months of access, at www.fluentroad.com.

Paraguay Makes It Easier To Obtain Tourist Visas

paraguayPlanning a trip to Paraguay? Don’t know where Paraguay is? Haven’t heard of it? I feel you; it’s not the most well known destination (psst, it’s in South America). But I’m headed there in a few weeks for Gadling, and until yesterday, the biggest stressor in my life was obtaining my Paraguayan visa.

For the intrepid few who venture to Paraguay, the rewards are many– rich indigenous culture and cuisine; a sub- to tropical climate and virgin rainforest; amazing biodiversity; gorgeous campo (countryside; Paraguay has a strong ranching heritage); generous people; inexpensive everything; exquisite handicrafts; remote national parks; and Jesuit missions. Until last month, however, getting a visa (required for U.S. citizens, among others) was a bitch.

According to the Paraguayan Embassy & Consulates website, in order for me to enter the country, I had to cough up $100 (money order or cash, por favor), and two copies each of a utility bill with my current address, proof of “financial solvency (oh shit) or company letter, and round-trip tickets – this in addition to the usual passport/visa photos/pre-paid, SASE. Paraguay may be the poorest country in South America, but they sure don’t want you setting up shop there.

After several calls to my “local” consulate in Los Angeles, I was told that I could have my visa back within a week. This was all well and good, but my tickets were delayed due to a processing glitch until several days ago, and I leave on March 17. Experienced travelers know better than to expect their passports or visas to arrive in a timely fashion, especially when coming from a Latin American consulate (I’m not trying to be a jerk; it’s simply a cultural difference with regard to the concept of time). By yesterday morning, having returned the previous night from a three-day backcountry ski trip, I was seriously wondering if I was going to make it to Paraguay.

Since the L.A. Consulate had apparently decided to take a long siesta (no one ever picked up the phone, despite my calling them obsessively since late last week), I finally got ahold of someone who spoke fluent English in the New York office. And guess what I found out? You can now get a Paraguayan visa in-country, right at the Asuncion airport, for $160!

Weeks of anxiety melted away. I went to the bank, had them shred my money order, and tucked a crisp Benjamin into my passport holder. Stay tuned for my upcoming adventures in South America’s most under-rated country.

[Photo credit: Flickr user marissa_strinste]

American Airlines’ New Look Just One Part Of Master Plan

American AirlinesAmerican Airlines is still sorting out options for how it will operate, if a merger makes sense and other restructuring-related issues in a tentative financial future. But when it comes to what they do in the air, the course has been charted and is well underway.

American’s current fleet numbers almost 900 aircraft. As part of a 2011 order for an additional 550 new aircraft, 60 will go into service this year, positioning American Airlines to be one of the most modern fleets in the air.

“Since placing our landmark aircraft order in July of 2011, we’ve been building anticipation toward a moment in time when the outside of our aircraft reflects the progress we’ve made to modernize our airline on the inside,” said Tom Horton, American’s Chairman and CEO in a press release.

American Airlines unveiled a new logo and exterior for its planes recently, including the already delivered Flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft set to fly on Jan. 31.

“You’ve been hearing a lot about how the modern travel experience is going to feel, ” says American Airlines President and CEO Tom Horton in this new video, “and today we’re going to show you how it’s going to look.”




What else is new for American Airlines?

Expanded International Service to more destinations worldwide, including more international and domestic routes from Dallas/Fort Worth, more European and domestic service from Chicago O’Hare, new service to Europe from New York, and new service from Miami to Latin America and the Caribbean.

An Airport Technology Update for flight attendants, pilots and maintenance workers brings real-time tablet devices to increase efficiency. Next year, passengers too will see the result of increased technology that promises to make the travel experience more enjoyable.

On-board Enhancements in premium class cabins on international routes with new china, menu choices, and restaurant-style, personalized service. Increased availability of Samsung Galaxy tablets for entertainment use in the premium cabins is coming too.

[Photo Credit- American Airlines]