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Crystal River Manatees

Posted by Susanna On February - 17 - 2011

Have you ever snorkeled with Manatees? Mostly it is actually forbidden. When I visited Australia I had done a cruise at Monkey Mia and seen them from above. Then of course in the aquarium in Sarasota and in Blue Springs where you can watch them from the shore. But in Crystal River you can actually go and snorkel with them. There are hundred and hundreds of manatees in that area migrating over winter time and even in summer a few stay all year around. There big but gentle. Some recently hurt manatees carry a special sensor buoy with them so the park ranger can follow their healing progress and their migration. The water is nice but still chilly and one is officially not allowed to dive down. Behind a designate area the manatees can relax and snorkelers are not allowed to enter. But the manatees don’t leave their designate protected area when to many people are around and especially when they move around like hippos barely are able to hold themselves in a horizontal position on the water. I have to admit that this is difficult since the water is fresh water and the current is kind of strong. It was amazing to see these beautiful animals but so annoying to bump all the time in others which snorkel or kayak. I still can recommend that place if you wish to have a once in a lifetime experience. Who knows how long it will be possible to be that close to these gentle giants.People already discussing to stop the contact with the animals via snorkeling since there every now and then still people who abuse the manatees and separate calves from their mothers. Believe it or not, the place with the spring where the manatee migrate had belonged to a private person which wanted to fill the river and spring up with sand to build condos! Ridiculous it is such a magical place and thanks god the town and private investors bought it to save its beauty as one of the unique places on earth.

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The Ringling Park

Posted by Susanna On February - 15 - 2011

Meanwhile I left Orlando. Todd another friend of mine had picked me up and we went to visit his friends Lathrop and Andrew and their family in Sarasota in Florida. I never had heard of that city before and was surprised how nice it was. Even more – Sarasota and the surrounding area has so much to offer! Since Todd and I wanted to do photos of a lot of things. Turns out we really cannot decide what first. Yesterday I was just relaxing and doing some workout and Pilates with Lathrop but today I took first photos of the Ringling Park (This time we were too late for entering the museum.) and a Sandhill Crane and a Tricolored Heron. For bird watcher Florida has a lot to offer.

Ringling Mansion and Park

Rose Garden

Sandhill Crane and  Tricolored Heron


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The Anhinga

Posted by Susanna On February - 10 - 2011

While working mostly on my photos everyday I could observe this interesting bird (cormorant family) dry off at the pier. It is called Anhinga or better known as Snakebird. Why? Because it looks very amusing when it swims – and snakelike. The bird is not able to waterproof its feathers using oil produced by the uropygial gland like for example ducks. So it sinks easily and swims mostly only with the head sticking above water which as you can imagine looks like a snake. My first time I’ve seen that.

Anhinga

Anhinga

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The Butterfly Effect

Posted by Susanna On January - 30 - 2011

After a long exhausting day I arrived yesterday in San José the capital of Costa Rica. I just wanted to spend one day over here but since it is weekend many things were closed. On my search for an ATM machine I met two American men who had stayed here for longer. We started chatting and since I was on the way to the butterfly place (As you might guess – I love butterflies.) they joined me. The Spirogyra Butterfly Garden is worth a visit. All over you can see the most beautiful insects flying around… After the visit we all went to a very great dinner. Thanks Rick for the invitation!

Spirogyra Butterfly Garden

San José impressions

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Leaving paradise

Posted by Susanna On January - 17 - 2011

Is it possible to live after being in such an amazing place? I guess. But Isla Parida is probably one of the most beautiful islands… Just a few impressions before leaving around 7am. So far this was one of the best weekends of this trip!

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Amazoonico and Ayahuasca

Posted by Susanna On December - 10 - 2010

This day was supposed to be a very special day. I wanted to do the cleaning ceremony with Ayahuasca. Two friends I met in Galapagos had recommended me Petronio the shaman who lives in a small community near Mishualli in the rain forest of Ecuador. They had told me about the ceremony in the jungle at night leaning on the sacred rock. Petronio yesterday told me to come back around 6:30pm today and he had told me to eat only fruits and a very light breakfast – nothing else. And so I did. During the day I went to the Amazoonico Zoo in the jungle. I took buses and a boat since that was way cheaper than a expensive tour. The place itself was OK but nothing special. You are guided at all times of one of the volunteers. You can not observe the animals alone. I saw few cats, monkeys and birds mainly.
In the evening I met up with Petronio who brought me to the sacred place and gave me the Ayahuasca. He explained to me that he is going to stay with me for hours and offered me even that I could stay with him and his family after… I still preferred my place. He explained all steps of the ceremony: First I will see the clouds and the stars, then the animals like jaguar and tarantula. Then I will talk to people and then finally to the dead. I was excited since I wanted to see my grandparents and my friend who had died six years ago. Leaning on the sacred rock I waited, the shaman sitting next to me… It was pitch black. Nothing else then the voice of the jungle… Then I felt so many things and still I lost so much of my memory. I’ve seen the jaguar and baby turtles running into the ocean. I’ve talked to my grandparents and my best dead friend. I talked to my mother who cried and apologized for being so sick with cancer. That was heartbreaking. I felt so sorry and cried. Then she gave me a card saying she felt already a bit better now. Then I tried a few times to get up but it was not possible or the shaman pulled me down again. But at one point I stood and nobody hold me… I saw a cliff in front of my feet. I felt like jumping on the other side but at the same point to weak to make it with a super move like the characters in the computer games. But the I decided to jump with all my energy what was left. I jumped. And I smashed against the rock. There has been no cliff and I jumped against the rock! Slowly I felt the blood running down my leg and hand. I was not scared neither I felt pain. I just hold on to the rock until the shaman found me and pulled me down again… Where has he been… I don’t know if he had left for a minute or had simply fall asleep. Meanwhile it was already 3am next morning. Petronio helped me back to Misahualli where I still had visions for the next few days.

AmaZoonico

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Galapagos here I come…

Posted by Susanna On October - 5 - 2010

This day started with a short night. Sleeping in the Mercure Hotel in Quito was kind of unpleasant. The bathroom was dirty but I didn’t mind. I found hairs of previous guests. But I was angry after I had washed my hair and the hairdryer was not working properly. Calling the reception and asking for a new one seemed to be difficult. Even more they suggested me to bring one in the morning – but my hair was wet – NOW. Finally I got a hairdryer and also only three more hours of sleep. When I woke up some coins felt out of my pockets and while I was reaching for them I found something else – a used sock what was not mine! This actually never had happened to me before. Not even to mention that the organization of my trip was very unorganized! I didn’t even received the welcome letter with the trip itinerary. So I had missed the meeting with one guide what was the previous evening.
Well in the end we arrived at the airport and around noon in Galapagos.
Galapagos. Finally my dream become true of the islands known to be the Garden Eden and the island where Charles Darwin came up with his evolution theory.
I had done so much to fulfill that dream that it seemed surreal sitting in the plane to it. While checking in at customs I even felt sort of sentimental and had to swallow to not cry because of happiness. At the airport of Baltra our guide Fabian (Yes same name as the other Fabian in Quito.) picked the group up and brought us all to the little harbor where our boat San José was waiting for us. I got lucky and got the best cabin what was behind the bridge of the boat at the upper level – room 5. That day we had lunch on the boat and went with the little dingy boats for a cruise at Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) at the mangroves to spot the first animals…. We saw three species of mangrove, red, white and black and all can be found here. Galapagos was what I thought about it. You just need to be awake and look out and you will see so many animals. On the way to turtle bay the boat was surrounded by flying fregatte birds everywhere. We observed several birds like brown pelicans and noddies who simply wait until the pelican catches some fish and then steal it. Funny to watch these naughty birds! Then we watched mating turtles and white tip reef sharks. I still had to pinch myself to realize that I was there… But I am!

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“Guilt is regret for what we’ve done. Regret is guilt for what we didn’t do.”
 

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