Kickin’ back in Cadíz

After two incredible weeks of exploring the countryside and cities of Castille La Mancha, and a bit of Andalusia, Santha (my Kiwi friend who lives in London) needed to depart from Jerez airport, so we spent the last two nights in Puerto de Santa Maria, a seaside town just across the bay from Cadíz.

The perfect escape from the hustle and Santa Semana insanity in Seville and Córdoba, this southcoast historic seaside town again demonstrated the hospitality of the Spanish people, their incredible gastronomic heritage, and their intelligent conservation efforts.

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Santha gives a “Shaka” on the ferry to Cadiz

Excellent and well-marked bike and walking paths followed the beach walkway and provided opportunities to enjoy wooded areas and parks to escape the sunny afternoon.

Highlights included taking the ferry to Cadíz, a city that boasts the longest, continual human inhabitance in the Western world, where Phonecians, Carthahinigans, Romans, Greeks, Muslims and Jews traded and set sail to all parts of the world. We caught a smaller version of the Santa Semana procession, and spent a glorious day at a wide white sand beach where windsurfers and catamarans played in the windswept, diamond-studded sea.

Colombus set sail on his second New World voyage from Puerto Santa Maria, Hannibal was born in Cadíz, and Julius Cesar gave one of his first public addresses from these local streets.

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While eating dinner at a nice Seafood restaurant in Cádiz, a man walks into the restaurant with this monster. Fishermen friends, help me out with the type of fish it is?

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Madrid!

When exploring a new city for the first time, I make sure to go around the block once or twice, then slowly branch out from there….making note of the parallel and perpendicular streets and landmarks. It saves time later and keeps me from getting lost.

Madrid is glorious! Modern, sophisticated and spotlessly clean, this Spanish capital is     beautiful, with spectacular buildings from historic architectural periods, including Baroque, Gothic and Neo-classical; an abundance of large, safe public parks and tree-lined avenues; heaps of trendy shopping spots with prices ranging from rock bottom department stores (Primark) to expensive designer boutiques, specializing in everything from shoes, handbags and stockings to styles hot off the runways.

Madrid has a gentle, quiet and well planned system of public transport with the Metro underground rail being the star attraction. (I say “gentle” in comparison to NYC’s screeching, graffiti-riddled subway trains, and well planned in the sense that it is easy to understand, even for someone who is new to the city and doesn’t speak the language).

The people are friendly and helpful, the city is crammed with world class art museums and a plethora of massive cathedrals, the tap water is delicious and safe to drink, and, as far as I can tell, crime is not an issue.

While Madrid’s street plan is archaic and confusing, the grand plazas, roundabouts, spectacular fountains and statues create an aura of spaciousness, even on crowded streets near packed tourist attractions. Outdoor cafes abound; the coffee is excellent; and prices are reasonable, and don’t vary much between residential and business or tourist areas.

Of course Madrid is a Mecca for tourists, students and international business people. With several lavish Royal palaces, including Palacio Real (former home of  King Phillipe V, the grandson of French King Louis XIV), the Palacio de Liria, the Santa Cruz Palacio, and Palacio de Cibeles Centro Centro, one can get a glimpse of what being in the top 2% of wealth was like during centuries past.

Madrid is also home to the Prado (Museo Nacional de Prado), the Real Academia de Belles Artes, the Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sophia, the Thyssen-Bornemizma Museum, a naval museum, the Sorolla Museum, and the Museo Arquelogico. Where else can you see Carravagio, Rembrandt, Reuben’s, Goya, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, Velazquez, Raphael, Titian and Heironymous Bosch in the same day?

Home to the notorious Spanish Inquisition of Queen Isabella and King Fernando in the Middle Ages, Madrid’s cathedrals and monestaries are some of the most spectacular in Christendom. The Basilica de San Francisco el Grande, the Catedral de las Almudena, the Royal Chapel of St. Anthony de La Florida, and the Monestario de las Descalzas Reales boast items such as holy relics, like pieces of the True Cross, some of the bones of St. Sebastian, the burial place of Goya, the site on which St. Francis of Assissi built a chapel in 1217, and marble sculptures, and artwork by Titian, Reubens, Breughel the Elder, Goya and Pacheco (Velazquez’s teacher and father-in-law). There is even an Egyptian temple, called the Templo de Debod, that dates back to the 2nd Century B.C., that was dismantled and rebuilt in Madrid.

This world class city has something for everyone and every taste, so be sure to include it on your Bucket List!

 

 

Journey to Iberia: The Flight

“I am walking away from anything that gives me bad vibes. There is no need to explain or make sense of it. It’s my life and I’m doing what makes me happy.” — Anonymous 

March 28, 2017 — At last I’m on the road again, after a year-long hiatus, rife with medical dogma, like iron chains, that kept me lashed to Kauai and Honolulu. Toward the end of this dilemma I made a life-changing decision to forego the radical surgery and concentrate on naturopathy, homeopathy, positivity and resonant light/energy therapy, thereby freeing me to get on with my life — SOONER than later.

The journey began before I left Kauai, by finding the perfect pet-sitter to spoil my beautiful hen and three pampered pussy cats. With dear Dawn in charge of my hacienda and menagerie, I embarked on a two-month journey to Spain to explore alternative cancer treatments and to see all of the wonders that I’d never seen before in Europe or other parts of the world.

In addition to enhancing my appreciation and cultural knowledge of my birth country — Colombia — I also wanted to explore the ancient history of the Iberian Peninsula, where prehistoric remains of Phonecian seafarers and ancient necropolises are as common as shark’s teeth are in Hawaii.

My journey was preceded by watching many informative You Tube videos about what to see and do in Spain, as well as my arm chair discovery of the region’s ancient invaders, including Muslims from North Africa, Greeks, Romans, and the Germanic Visogoths, as well as numerous ancient settlements by Celtic tribes.

I embarked on my adventure by boarding several airplanes to Madrid. Who so ever can sleep on a plane is either drugged out of their mind or lying…. Being of the first category, I dozed on the Kauai to Phoenix and Phoenix to Philadelphia legs of the trip, contorted into a semi-fetal position, unable to read, and too crowded to comfortably plug into a headset to watch the movie on aisle-ceiling tvs.

But on the Philadelphia to Madrid leg I was BLESSED with an empty seat next to me, a tv on the back of the seat in front of me, and TWO meals, The first of which — dinner — was particularly enticing because it was served with free Spanish wine! I watched the suspenseful movie, Deepwater Horizon, about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After getting this rare, royal treatment from an airline (American), I stretched out to half my height on my seat and the empty one, and was embraced in the arms of Morpheus, Greek god of sleep! I know I slept because I had dreams, and I was pleasantly awakened to the aromas of breakfast and coffee as we made our descent into Madrid.

Being a ver high-tech, organized member of the European Union, Spanish baggage claim and customs were a breeze, and I was quickly able to catch a taxi to my Air BnB lodging at 52 Calle de García del Paredes in the university area of Madrid, only  1 block from the Museo Sorolla and a short hike to the historic Old section.

Since My flight arrived at 8 am on March 30, after having spent two full nights, and an entire day in transit, much more sleeping was necessary. I finally woke up refreshed early on Friday morning, March 31, ready to explore the first in a string of famous, historic cities, Madrid.

To be continued in the next entry “Madrid — Modern and Majestic”

Caring for Colombia’s Abandoned Animals — The Asociacion de Defensora de Animales Ambiente

Here are some photos of my afternoon at the Asociación Defensora de Animales y del Ambiente ADA. After cleaning cages, washing walls, changing litter, topping off water and food dishes, we received the post-ops and some new arrivals. One of the new arrivals — a black kitten — bolted out of his carrier and disappeared into one of the rooms that connect to the cattery. It took us about 20 minutes to figure out which room the little devil dissappeared into. He had chosen the kitchen, where there are two big wooden pallets with 30 or so giant bags of dry cat and dog food. It took us another 30 minutes to move all the food bags and isolate the kitten. I caught him — hissing and yowling — but all was well and he was returned to his cage. Whew! Great ending of the day!
Please, if you can donate ANYTHING it would be appreciated. Please go to the website http://www.adacolombia.org/donaciones and put your donation where your mouth is! This is a no-kill shelter that needs YOUR help.
Gracias!
Cattree Climbers Hangin Tawny Trouble 12039424_10206573387045599_4217783959394540720_n

Tigrillo Lanudo – Wooly Tiger-cat, almost extinct, found in hills above Bogota

TigcolorTigrillo Lanudo – Wooly Tiger-cat, almost extinct, found in hills above Bogota.

Fantastic news!

The Tigrillo Lanudo (wooly tiger-cat) has been found in the hills in the north eastern part of Bogota, according to an article in El Espectador on August 3, 2015.

I have a special attachment to a certain Tigrillo, named “Tica”, that was my very first pet. Born in Bogota to a flight attendant mother and geologist father, exotic pets wouldn’t have surprised any of our family members back in the EEUU. Therefore, this is my interpretation and translation of a story and an issue that is close to my heart.

Photo above: Flickr/MarcioMotta

The discovery of the Tigrillo lanudo in the hills above Bogota is especially important to me because my father and his work group, who were geologists for Integrol petroleum, Colombia, in the early 1950s, had a tigrillo for a pet. I always felt sad that the kitten had been taken from it’s mother and hoped that they had enough sense to return it to the jungle to live a normal life. I have since been interested in volunteering for an organization that monitors and helps to save these beautiful wildcats. And now, I have found it: ProCAT Colombia.

(Article website: http://elespectador.com/noticias/bogota/asi-encontraron-al-tigrillo-lanudo-bogota-articulo-576403)

My translation of the article:

Some type of nocturnal hunting animal was discovered by a neighbor in the residential área of Bosques de Torca, a Northern suburb of Bogota, when some chickens and other corral birds disappeared near the farm house. The man reporting the story knew something about the local fauna, and made note that is seemed there were some Tigrillos in the area and contacted investigators at ProCAT Colombia, an entity dedicated to investigation and conservation of ecosystems and species.

Photos from El Espectador article by Flickr/Marcio Motta, and ProCAT ColombiaPhoto above courtesy of ProCAT Colombia.

The story was told to Mauricio Vela Vargas, one of the investigators of the ProCAT organization. He knew that this neighborhood was a forest zone, partially in the Andean forest, where wild species could possibly exist.

ProCAT staff presented a proposal to the local inhabitants who were encouraged to invite neighbors, and other groups, like La Floresta de Sabana to join in the effort to track and monitor possible Tigrillo sightings. ProCAT got support from two universities – Mississippi and Arizona – and kicked off the search as part of the project Bogota Biodiversia. Over two months they installed camera traps at the base of trees where there were footprints and other signs of small animals passing through.

At the end of 6 months, they removed the cameras, and after reviewing thousands of photographs, they found what they were hoping for: records of a mamal called the “Tigrillo Lanudo” , or wooly small tiger, Colombia’s smallest feline. Previously,  there had been no data collected or reported of its presence in the hills of Bogota.

While extemely elusive and shy, this particular species of “tiger cat”  has been traced from Costa Rica to the Amazon jungle of Brazil. After this shocking discovery, ProCAT focused intensive interest in this particular mamal because it appears that the ones sighted near Bogota may be of a different species than those in other locations, including Brazil. In order to know for sure, however, they will need to to do a genetic analysis.

Tigrillo                     IMG_1155

Photos from my family album: My dad holding the Integrol petroleum company’s camp mascot — a Tigrillo — in 1952, somewhere in the Colombian outback.

Another challenge for scientists is to obtain the best quality of data on the animal. This species of feline is classified by scientists as a species with deficient data.

“So we are generating this information in order to know what it eats, how it moves, what are their patterns of activity both day and night for publication,” said one of the investigators.

The projectBogota Biodiversiahas achieved identification of other species like the common fox, squirrels, rabbits and serpents.

ProCat members say that their idea is to leave a constant documentary of what is happening with wild fauna in Bogota. And for this they hope to implement strategies similar to which have been initiated in urban zones like Central Park. These interventions take place over a weekend or a couple of days, in which technologists and investigators invite the community to learn to monitor the flora and fauna of their area.

The goal is “Acercar” – To move closer or approach local residents to scientific work.

“In order to have a certain quality of life, we have to conserve the hills,” said Vela. “They serve as the production of oxygen and as the frontier of water. There are many species that the people believe don’t exist but within a kilometer, we have Tigrillos and species we never would have imagined.”

“This type of knowledge, other than to generate scientific data, also permits citizens interested in conservation and biodiversity to approach these scientific fields that are sometimes distant and unobtinable. The monitoring project is also to show the people that biology topics are not strange or unusual to pursue: they won’t make you want to live in the forest tied to a tree, but that this type of collaboration can summon the whole population and supply them with concrete actions that can lead to preservation of our natural resources and prevention of species extinction. It is a subject, that we — as a big part of the food chain — should be concerned about.”