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Global Quest For Local LETS
Copyright � James Taris

12. Ardeche Llamas

Patting the camera-shy llamas at Ardeche.

Two thousand euros will buy you a llama, though I don't know what you'd do with one. Even the benefits from farming them seem to elude me, much like they do with the farming of ostriches.

But in Ardeche, home of great tourist attractions such as the Gorges De L'Ardeche (Ardeche Gorge) and the Ardeche Caves, there are the Ardeche Llamas.

Ardeche is a 90 minute drive from Montelimar, and the Ardeche Gorge provides an amazing view for the last 30 kilometres of the trip. The Ardeche Llamas is a very clever tourist attraction which seems to survive more from the tourist dollar than the farming dollar (or should I say euro?). We'd come prepared with a bag of bread to feed the llamas, but the tourist guide told us that it wasn't good to hand feed the llamas. It affects them mentally! This immediately caught my attention, as I listened with interest to some very specialised llama psychology.

Apparently, when you feed a llama by hand, they accept you as an equal (like another llama) and therefore a competitor. And it is common for them to attack the person feeding them. The attack takes place in the usual llama fashion � by spitting at you!

Llamas spit! A disgusting habit, but obviously very effective. Would you continue to feed something that spat at you? I think not. Then I noticed the children hand feeding the llamas!

"Maybe you should've told us this story in French," I told the guide, as I brought his attention to the children's activities.

"Don't worry," he assured me. "These are all females, and it's only the males that are affected."

So with a sigh of relief, I went back to observing the llamas.

Llamas are very large, about the size of a small horse, while their smaller cousins, the alpacas, are more like large sheep. In fact, llamas are the original species, whereas the Alpacas are a crossbreed (twice removed) from the llama and something else.

Llamas are so used to being handled by tourists that you can handle them quite safely and not be concerned about being bitten because you were grabbing its head and pushing it up towards the camera. Not that you wanted to be that close to them for too long, because the flies were unbearable. They weren't big like the Australian blow flies, and they didn't bite like the Australian sand flies. The annoying thing about them was that they were so small and kept flying into your eyes and up your nose. I think I inhaled about a dozen of them before I headed for the safety of the trees (far from the feeding llamas).

But rather than get into boring details, let me tell you about the poodle �

An elderly tourist couple came into the llama enclosure with their small grey poodle (the French take their dogs EVERYWHERE! And you can always tell where they've been because of all the doggy-doo everywhere). Within seconds a large female llama came over to them, fascinated by this little creature at the end of a leash. The curious llama didn't seem to bother the poodle until all of a sudden it snorted at him, just like horses tend to do. Well, the dog jumped a mile, and so did a number of people nearby. But that poor little poodle had to put up with this targeted attention from the llamas for over an hour! First one llama would come and sniff at him, then another, and on it went. In the end, I think the tiny little poodle was scared out of its wits! Not that its owners minded all that much. They thought the llamas were so cute!

This article is taken from the ebook,
Global Quest for Local LETS

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