Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sian Ka'an Biosphere

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The Sian Ka'an Biosphere is located close to the city of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico. The road to Sian Ka'an is not well maintained and a local restaurateur told me that there is another way to get to Punta Allen by your own car and once there, we could just hire a boat to go watch dolphins in the wild. We had, however, already booked our tour with iTour and so we decided to stick with it.

The tour assembles at 8:00 am at the iTour hotel (located at the intersection of the Carr Cancun-Tulum and Avenida Coba Sur) and gets back at about 5:30pm. We were driven in a van up to the lagoon, where we boarded a boat to travel via the lagoon to Punta Allen.

The boat ride in the lagoon was good, the captain knew what he was up to and

we got to see several crocodiles and birds making their home in the abundant mangroves.

Crocodile nestled in the mangroves

Swimming away lazily

Flying Pelican

Pink Spoonbill

Fly High!

Unidentified Perching Objects

When we reached Punta Allen, we stopped at a restaurant, had some very light food, changed into swim suits and headed on another boat into the sea to see dolphins, manatees and tortugas (sea turtles). The first thing we went searching for was the dolphins.

We came across a pod of four dolphins that were just lazily, but gracefully ambling about in their backyard

At one point, the four of them were swimming in formation just ahead of the boat.

We watched them for about 20 minutes, then raced off to look for tortugas. Unexpectedly, we found a large manatee and hung out with him/her for a bit.

It was impossible to see the entire shape of the manatee under the water, but he/she did come up for air several times and I got the snout on camera.

The next to be sighted was the tortuga and boy did it take its time about getting up to surface level. By the time the tortuga stuck his/her head out I was done taking pictures, so I simply watched him/her go back down in a 45 degree dive. He/she resurfaced one more time, before completely disappearing from view.

Then the captains takes everyone to a spot where it is possible to snorkel and then a shallow area where everyone can swim before heading back to the restaurant for a meal (not good at all, especially for vegetarians) and then back via the lagoon to the van and the hotel.

Summary: I liked the biosphere itself, but the tour company left a lot to be desired. What I liked: the dolphins, the boat ride, the wildlife.

What I did not like: (1) the tour company should have communicated that they were not going to have water on board (especially when they said several times that there was going to be food on the tour); (2) the tour guide was communicating through a walkie talkie in the lagoon, but our boat had no walkie talkie on board so we really did not get to hear what she said; (3) vegetarians will get only rice and tomatoes -- but I was not really expecting much in that department anyway; (4) there were only two of us who spoke English, so at some point the guide decided that it was not really worth it to translate everything she was saying into English; (5) when booking the tour were assured that even though one of us could not swim, someone will help us during the snorkeling bit of the tour -- not really. There was not even a ladder to get into the ocean, until one Italian tourist managed to communicate the need for it. The seas were somewhat rough and I did not want to take the chance that the captain will actually keep track of me. Also I was completely dehydrated and light headed from the sun by the time we go to the snorkel site (remember no water-- and this was the only time during the entire Mexico trip when I did not carry my own bottle). Just to clarify, I think the captain was nice-- but there was no way I could have communicated what I wanted to him and the guide was not anywhere near my boat. This was not expected since we were told that this was a multi-lingual tour; (6) when we got back to the lagoon, the boat had no docking area and I had to jump about 7 feet from the prow of the boat as the captain was really in a hurry to get back -- not a good thing if you have spinal injuries (7) we then had to walk on junk that had washed ashore at that beach to get back to the restaurant.

Despite all this, I still recommend finding a way to go to the ocean to watch the dolphins in nature, because there is nothing as beautiful as wildlife doing their own thing. Hearing them breathe is the most soothing thing ever.
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Monday, 15 December 2014

The Cat Who Thought He was a Cow

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You know him as WaMu (click here) or the serious resident hydrologist (click here). But what I have hidden from you all these years, my dear reader (if there are any of you still out there!) is that he also thinks of himself as a cow. Or may be goat. Or sheep considering his size, but, that's just splitting hairs.

How do I know, you ask? Well, what other reason would there be for a cat with access to the best cat food in the universe, go seek out backyard grass? I mean, the dude would sit in the backyard, sunning himself, chewing on stray leaves of grass till, you know, the cows came home!

Sadly his stomach never did get the memo on Mr. WaMu's species reassignment plans for himself and so, every so often, his innards would rebel in the grossest possible way, by evicting the inappropriate non-food back the way it went in. (Clean up on Aisle 2, human!)

Things got really ugly recently when inappropriate elimination of inappropriate food happened for the second time in as many months, but was followed by Mr. WaMu going on a hunger strike. Was he pulling a Gandhi when his attempt at vegetarianism was not being recognized by his own body?

The vet ordered a full blood work to see if there was something a lot more sinister going on, involving things completely removed from the digestive tract. "If the blood work turns out normal, we will have to do an x-ray" she said. We waited while the blood work turned out normal and he was taken back in again for an x-ray. Another 40 minutes later the vet called us in and said, "well, the blood work turned out normal. But there is nothing in the x-rays either". Then, looking at us with barely concealed compassion (we had after all just lost both our dogs) she said, "there are only a few things that can be causing problems like this and not showing up on the blood work and all involve the GI tract. It could be pancreatitis, or an irritable bowel syndrome or", and here she hesitated, "intestinal cancer. Only an ultrasound will let us know for sure. It can catch subtle thickening of the intestinal walls". She offered us a choice of what we could do beyond that. Of course we opted for the ultrasound.

The emergency ultrasound meant that we had to leave Mr. WaMu in the hospital to wait his turn. Finally the call came, "his intestines are pretty badly inflamed. The best case would be a foreign object. Or he could have accidentally poisoned himself chewing on some plants he was not supposed to eat. Or he could have intestinal cancer". Great. The C-word again. And I am not even talking about the bovine one here. "He is already being rolled into surgery, we can't keep him waiting any longer. We will call you once we have finished up."

Did Mr. WaMu turn to suicide? Did he deliberately poison himself? Or was he poisoned by... Oh! Wait. Sorry. We are not doing the "Unsolved Mysteries" here.  Let's cut the theatrics and get back to the story, shall we?

We decided to go with the C-word. No, not that one. The bovine one. Our theory was that he had swallowed an all-too-long blade of grass that had twisted up in his intestine. We made stories up, one more ridiculous than the other, whiling away time, waiting for the phone call. "I am sure he ate that stupid poisonous plant." said one person. "I am going to throw all those plants into the freezing cold" said the other, glad to have something to vent his fury on. We talked about how he used to use both paws to pull the grass out of his mouth like a magician pulling out the endless knotted handkerchief-rope. We laughed. We fumed. We made plans to mass destruct anything green in the house.

The phone rang and the doctor said, "The surgery went well. He is waking up now. We pulled out a piece of styrofoam."

"Styrofoam?!!" I yelled.

Well, you see my dear reader, I have held back one more piece of information from you about Mr. WaMu. He is also the most environmentally friendly paper shredder.

Is WaMu the Cow-Cat, trying to become a donkey? We will have to ask him when he gets back! Until then, there are some plans underfoot to destroy all traces of paper and packaging material in the house.
Waiting for the Ultrasound: Chairs are Invisibility Cloaks!

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The tortured pumpkins -- Part 2

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You know how their story began. If you don't remember, here is how Mr. SpeakNot Evil began his journey:

... and the frozen Mr. SpeakNot Evil remained with thusly frozen.

After three years of extensive search, Mr. SpeakNot Evil and his Siblings were found in a strange way. The crime scene photos follow. Not for the faint of hear!

Mr. SeeNot Evil was found trapped right beside Mr. SpeakNot Evil

Mr. SeeNot Evil's profile

Mr. HearNot Evil was found nearby, with an arrow shot clean through his ear!
Mr. HearNot Evil

Mr. HearNot Evil

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Broken IKEA Mirror -- Part 1

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Remember Dufus? No? Click here. Well, he broke an IKEA KRABB mirror.
C(K)raap(bb) maan!
So, it sat in several closets for a really long time while I kept thinking about what to do with it. Finally I came across this amazing artist's work. Paul Bozzo makes awesome textured paintings and you can see his work here: His work inspired me to create this with one half of the broken mirror.

I glued the mirror onto a 1/2" thick piece of plywood.

I played with the positioning of the mirror until I was happy.

The textured painting part was created using the techniques used by Paul Bozzo.

Poli Saamiyaar, however, decided that he would have to sign this piece and claim it as his!!!

Sorry about the poor quality pictures!

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