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Key West

Posted by Susanna On February - 4 - 2011

After a few days in Miami mostly fixing my laptop and external hard disc problems we went to Key West. It is the most southern tip of Florida and the US.  It has been a long drive yesterday and we arrived today early in the morning. It was crazy almost every hotel is booked out. Key West seems to be a hot spot in the states and I have to admit – I love this place. It has so many lovely restored historical houses and nice little shops and galleries. Hemingway had lived here for years with his second wife (her uncle bought them a house over here) and he had breed Six-toed cats which descendants you can still see relaxing at the house. I love the Audubon gallery where I got an original print as a gift. Audubon was probably the most famous bird drawer in the late 18th / early 19th century. I got even a book of him at home since the drawings / prints are so amazing. Basically they are as good as photographs since they had no cameras back then. Jon and I had met two crazy guys from around Boston and we went to a cruise around the keys in the evening.

Key West

Hemingway House

Sunset Cruise

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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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More Macaws…

Posted by Susanna On January - 16 - 2011

Parida is such an amazing place – I do not even know what to do first! First Michelle introduced all the parrots and macaws. All are individuals with their own personality. On Parida living five different types of  macaws: The Green -Winged Macaw (biggest of all macaws) , the Scarlett Macaw, the Blue and Gold Macaws, Buffon Macaws and the Hyacinth Macaw. The native macaws like the Scarlett Macaw and the Buffon Macaw will be released at the island. Michelle she told me that they chose their mate and two couples of Scarlett macaws swap partner and are happily ever since.
Only the real rare Hyacinth macaw mates for life and if he loses its partner it will stay alone until death. Hyacinth macaws having the hardest beak of all macaws. They are even able to crack the hard shells of coconuts and macadamia nuts!
One of the macaw couple is even mixed a green and a red one – but they love each other.  Michelle got beautiful parrots and macaws on her own. Her favorite is the pretty Hyacinth ‘Precious’. Later I explored the island, slept for about 1h at the beach.

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Sensory overload at Isla Parida

Posted by Susanna On January - 15 - 2011

As Daniel had said yesterday we were picked up in the morning. Unfortunately my alarm went off but he was very kind and waited. I did not know what to expect but I had the feeling it would be wonderful, maybe like my so far favorite island Nananu in Fiji. From the mainland it took about 30-40min by boat to reach Isla Parida. The weather was great and the sun shining. The water glinted. I was so exited! And then there was the private island. Beautiful! Marvelous. Like a jewel in the ocean. From the side we arrived at to the other side Daniel used a golf cart as transportation vehicle. That was so fun! Especially cruising along the over 1km beach…

After inspecting the wonderful property I got to see the first time in my life pygmy marmoset. These are probably the tiniest monkeys of the world around the same seize of a tarsier maybe. They had three – two males and one female. And they had even a story: They all including another male belonged to a private zoo in Panama what needed to close. So the owner was looking for a place for the four. Finally they found one and all four pygmy marmoset were divided in two each between two new owners. Isla Parida got two males. And the female with another male came to somebody else… But the female behaved strange. People said every morning she was looking out for someone or something calling… Nobody understood what was going on. After six months her companion the other male died of a scorpion sting and the new owner suggest to reunited the remaining female with the two other males of Isla Parida who she already knew from times back in the zoo. And can you imagine what happened? As soon as the female met the two others she got exited and so happy. And it became obvious why she was looking for someone everyday – she had missed her choses partner! He was one of the two males of Isla Parida. When the four had been divided people did that just randomly without thinking that even a tiny monkey could have chosen a partner for life! So a big happy end for the pygmy marmoset couple!

Then I saw the macaws. The owner of the private island own over 20 macaws and lots of other parrots. They breed them and goal is to release the to Panama native macaws on the island. At the moment of my visit there were already a few couples flying around wild. Michelle a lady from the states takes care of them and brought her own parrots as well. It was an amazing experience to see these magnificent and intelligent birds that close. So wonderful. And each of them has their own personalities, habits, likes and dislikes.

Furthermore the owner had Panama deer, two females and one male. There were so tame that I could go close and pet them. I felt like in paradise sine I love animals so much. Close to the deer was the monkey tree! On that tree live five female spider monkeys. As soon as I entered the place one of them got very excited. Her name was Bella. She loved the attention and the cuddles. She was one very communicative monkey and all time she did a sound what was similar to the twitter of a bird. Another monkey was Lucy. She was curious and shy at the same time. Even while looking at her photos you realize the two different personalities of the monkeys. The other monkeys stayed on the tree. Outside the monkey tree was a kind of angry whitefaced capuchin. He was supposed to be caught and brought of the island because he was alone and aggressive. Supposedly he had killed a few tamarind monkeys. But he is just a very smart monkey and since he was escaped a trap he is now difficult to catch.

And if you think that is enough of overstimulation for one day – you are wrong!
With Daniel and his family I visited later the other side of the island or maybe just another island? I am not sure. Anyway at that place his mum and dad lived. It was beautiful! The mum had few wild caymans as pets who she fed everyday. Wow! What an experience! I had never seen that before but it was real! The place was wonderful as well and I really don’t know what was the best on that day. I have seen so many miracles… If there is a paradise it will look like Parida!

I am very thankful that I had met Daniel and for his great invitation to Parida. It was really one of the best things I ever have experienced traveling. For everything I had witnessed today one day was not enough….

Isla Parida

Pygmy marmoset

Panama deer

Spider monkeys

Whitefaced capuchin

The other side and feeding the caymans

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Isla Coiba

Posted by Susanna On January - 3 - 2011

Yesterday I left Panama City in direction of Santa Catalina a little dreamy surfer beach town. It is so tiny that it has no ATM machines and you have to bring enough cash. Famous became Santa Catalina for hosting once the Surf World Championship. Every person in that little town had thought that this will bring lots of business and so they had invested in building more accommodation or buying more food to serve the expected thousands and thousands of guests. But the weather at the championship became bad and rainy and so very few visitors arrived to watch their surf stars. That brought many of the villagers financial problems since they had invested. Meanwhile the place recovers and starts to come back slowly. I stayed at Rollo’s Guesthouse in a two bedroom what I shared with a girl from Serbia which did not talk to me the first days… So today I went diving because the dive shops over here brag that they see the whale shark everyday. Funny when I went I didn’t see it… Also the owner of the dive shop was very grumpy and unfriendly and I ask myself how he ever could make business… He had a creditcard reader and when he had cash you could get it and he would book it plus 10% interest from your credit card. And since there is no ATM it was the only way to get cash over there… Still very unfriendly. The dives itself where not that amazing – I saw few sharks and a big school of rays. Lunch break was at Isla Coiba which is a national park.

Isla Coiba

Santa Catalina

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Isla Bartolome and the lava fields

Posted by Susanna On October - 7 - 2010

Probably the most famous picture while thinking of Galapagos is a panorama of the view point of Bartolome island a small island on the on the east coast of Santiago island (James island). In the morning we did a “wet landing” and could see few rare penguins and some sea lions. Then I was climbing up the hill and to be honest the view is magnificent. On the agenda for the afternoon was walking across the lava tubes and ashes. The landscape looked like the moon and the lava rocks were very sharp. There grew nothing except some lava cactus every now and then. It is hot at the lava fields. The eruption what formed these fields is not that long away at the 19th century. I didn’t find much animals here except a few finches, lava lizzards and grasshoppers. We left the same afternoon to Santa Cruz and arrived after 5 hours around 6:00pm.

Isla Bartolome

Lava fields

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Isla Santiago and Isla Rabida

Posted by Susanna On October - 6 - 2010

Overnight we arrived at Santiago or James island. The islands mostly have two or more names over here. Charles Darwin himself spent about 9 days on the island to observe animals. Later in the 1920’s and 1960’s it was used for salt mining. Early around 6:00am we left the boat for the first “wet-landing” on the island. We arrived at Puerto Egas and walked along the trail observing seal lions and marine iguanas. On the way we arrived at the tidal pools where you can see the rare fur seals. These animals were hunted until almost extinction because of there fur but meanwhile they about to recover. It is unbelievable how friendly Galapagos animals are. They don’t know the fear for humans. You can go very closely and sit in between them to observe. Amazing! It is better than I ever expected it could be! After a quick break for breakfast on the boat we went for a snorkel and saw beautiful turtles. From the boat I watched actually a shark hunting tuna… In the afternoon we visited another site of that island with sea lions hanging out on the beach everywhere. We did a hike up through an area with lots of cactus while observing several birds like the finches, mockingbirds, frigate birds, boobies and pelicans. Everywhere you look there is abundant wildlife!

Puerto Egas at Isla Santiago

Snorkel  near Isla Santiago

Isla Rabida

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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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