A visit to Guatemala

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Ah the joys of early morning flights. I got up at three thirty AM to get the taxi to the airport. Upon arriving at the airport I discover to my surprise that I have a Business Class ticket. This explains why my one way was more expensive than my canceled round trip. So this morning I am at last qualified for admission to the Merida Airport VIP lounge. I get to sit in a comfy seat and have a morning cerveza. All set for my new adventures.

Generally there is not much to see outside the window, but on this trip, there are some interesting clouds this morning and a view of a volcano sending out smoke in Guatemala. Whenever I see an active volcano, it is always a reminder to me as to how volatile is this seemingly stable planet we call Earth.

Volcano in the clouds

When landing at Guatemala one can not help but notice that the local Maya dress differently and have different facial features than the Maya of the Yucatán. Welcome to a new country. (I believe Guatemala is my country #41 for those of you who are keeping score.)I meet up with the rest of the eight members of our tour group from the Institute of Maya Studies.  On our first day in Guatemala City we visit the archaeology museum. There are some excellent pieces here and there is a scale model of Tikal that gives a wonderful overview. Our hotel is in the swanky part of town with green marble sidewalks and American chain restaurants. I go for local food and have some turkey soup.

Rio Lagartos

Location: Rio Lagartos, Yucatán, Mexico

Bird Spotting in the River of the Crocodiles

These is a place in the Yucatán called the River of Crocodiles, or Rio Lagartos in Spanish. We decided to visit some of the local wildlife. We start by introducing ourselves to the local reptiles at the neighborhood crocodile farm. Here we are shown an enclosed pond with five male and thirty breeding female crocodiles. The caretaker reassures us that they are well fed and unlikely to attack us. He then opens the gate and invites us to get up close and personal. My first reaction is, “Are you fricking kidding me?” But my curiosity wins out.  I must get a closer view of those wonderful scraggly teeth.

Scraggly Teeth

The youngsters are in a different pen and are a quite a bit smaller, but they make up for this with their enthusiasm. The mere tossing of a few chicken parts brings a dozen or more snapping little jaws into play.

Little Snappers

We then approach the harbor of Rio Lagartos where the boats seem to be manned by pelican crews.

Brown Pelican

They look as if they have just staged a mutiny and are getting ready to sail off on their own.

We hop into a pelican-free boat and are off to see the birds and animals.  As we travel among the mangrove trees, every little bend in the estuary seems to offer a different species. It almost looks as if they were posing for us.  I can imagine the bird director saying, “Okay, Great Blue,

Great Blue Heron

here comes the boat. Now I want you to pose for a minute then take off in flight to show them what your wings can do.

You there, Snowy Egret, get ready to pose in the next bend.

Snowy Egret

Black Hawk, profile please, show us your best side. 

Common Black Hawk

Hey, Parakeet, can you hold still for a few seconds.”

Aztec Parakeet

And yes, there were free range crocodiles, but climax of the trip was the viewing of the flamingos. 

American Flamingo

Just seeing them was amazing, but watching them take off in flight was a magnificent spectacle, well worth the journey.

Have your cake and wear it too

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

I am not sure of the origin of the birthday cake, but here in the Yucatan it is an important element of children’s birthday parties.

They have extra thick frosting on top, and the goal is to have the children plunge their face into it before eating it.

Not that this does not occur in the USA, but here it is part of a ritual

Jaguar Update

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

Updates on the Jaguar:

The jaguar is still in the forests around our farm Finca orgánica San Agustín

She alarms the chickens at night and they have found several (non-chicken) bird kills.

Some think that she is not a jaguar but a jaguarundi, but these are even rarer than jaguars in these parts.

In my opinion (and you know what that is worth) it is a small jaguar, but until I get an actual sighting, I will not know for sure.

It’s a jungle out there

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico

There is excitement at our ranch.

They have been hearing the roars and snuffling of a jaguar.
I have seen the paw prints. And last evening the people on our ranch saw a large black cat moving through the night.

There are hunters out looking for him. I hope he survives.

We humans need to be reminded that there is still wildness out there.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Location: Henderson, Nevada

Nevada is still the corporate headquarters for our US enterprises and operations.

We have been handling the major things through phones, faxes, texts, and e-mails, but it is indeed astounding how much paperwork and small maintenance decisions build up when I have been gone for a couple of months.

Finishing up my four state tour and will be heading back to Santa Elena tomorrow

The Oregon Trail

Location: Medford, Oregon

Visiting my daughter-in-law’s cattle ranch in Oregon.

We have no idea why the previous owners of the ranch bred the cattle so that the calves would be born in the middle of winter.

For me, it makes each morning a bit like an Easter Egg hunt, as we get up in the morning to see if there are any more calves than yesterday.

There are two more this morning.

They are quite wooly and wonderful.

There’s Always a Rainbow in Hawaii

Location: Lahaina, Hawaii

I am in Maui now to do some maintenance, logistics, and to simply unwind.

Maui has always been a recharging place for me.

There were some high winds when I first arrived. These were dry winds, but the rattling of the palm leaves makes it sound like you are in a downpour.

Then the next morning you see the windfall coconuts beneath the palms.

I left my Loft in San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, California

In San Francisco for two days to meet with lawyers, financial people, accountants, museum staff, and realtor. I also heard Janet Yellen speak at the Commonwealth Club.

I saw my loft in San Francisco for perhaps the last time.

I built this place twenty years ago.
It has been my student loft, my primary residence, a place to stay when visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, and a crash space for friends and family when they visit San Francisco.

But now it is time to let go and move on to other adventures.

The Flaming Bull

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

The religious celebrations continue as they set off fireworks to honor Jesus Amor by setting off fireworks and having a man in a bull outfit running around chasing the kids.

On the back of the bull are fireworks that shoot wildly into the plaza.