animals

Maria Mulata

Colombia is home to about 20% of the world’s birds. The bird immortalized in painting and sculpture around Cartagena is the Maria Mulata. A medium-sized bird of iridescent black or brown, Maria Mulata is neither blackbird or raven. Maria Mulata’s official name is the great- tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus).

The story of Maria Mulata is a traditional tale shared with Two Who Trek by several local residents. Long ago, in the barrio of Getsemani, people and exotic animals co-existed. One of the animals was a vividly colored bird called Maria Mulata. When a raging fire overtook the neighborhood, Maria Mulatas carried the people to safety. The people were saved and forever grateful to their deliverers. Discolored by the fire and smoke, the bird’s colorful feathers remain blackened to this day but with proper sunlight, we can still see a hint of Maria Mulata’s former plumage. Continue reading

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“What knockers!” –Young Frankenstein

Just as in the movie quoted above, a notable sight on many entry doors of Cartagena  buildings was the Door Knocker or Aldabas de Puerta. Historically gracing the front doors of fine homes since ancient times in Greece and Rome, a door knocker traditionally denotes the association of the inhabitant. Door knockers in El Centro fall into four basic categories: Continue reading

Categories: animals, art, artistic, blog, Cartagena, Colombia, door, fish, knocker, lizard, photos, reptile, scenery, service club, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Galapagos images

In reviewing our Galápagos posts, we found one thing we left out – the scenery.  There has been a taste of the natural beauty in the background of some photos in previous posts.  For our last post about our archipelago adventure, we’re sharing images of one of the truly amazing places in the world.  We only visited a handful of the 61 islands and were not able to see all the different terrains that Galápagos offers.  What we did see was fascinating and will stay with us throughout our lives.

The end of this story isn’t so much about ending a vacation within a vacation, but learning more about the creatures who share our planet. This experience was truly up close and personal and totally amazing! Continue reading

Categories: animals, birds, blog, cactus, ecuador, galapagos, galapagos national park, landscapes, lava, nature, photos, plants, scenery, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pinnipeds, Porpoising, and People

Mammals, like reptiles, arrived in the Galápagos by sea.  On their own volition, earlier generations of sea lions, fur seals and dolphins swam here.  Their progeny now inhabit the area year-round.  We spent joyful hours watching marine mammals and learned many things about all the area inhabitants from our naturalist guide, Pedro.

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Categories: animals, background, blog, contamination, dolphin, ecuador, galapagos, galapagos national park, mammal, people, sea lion, turtle | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reptilian Residents

No blog about the Galápagos would be complete without a discussion of the archipelago’s reptiles.  After all, the most famous residents of the chain are the giant reptiles that bear the island’s name — the Galápagos Giant Tortoise, the world’s largest tortoise and the thirteenth heaviest reptile, weighing in at over 800 pounds.  So it is fitting we begin our review with Pepe.

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Categories: animals, background, blog, galapagos, galapagos national park, lizard, photos, reptile, tortoise, travel, turtle | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There are More Starfish in the Sea

Galápagos seas are amazing once you look below the surface.  Two Who Trek had opportunities to go snorkeling in the clear blue ocean. There are more starfish in the sea and we saw dozens of them.  We saw majestic schools of fish, a few white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and rays.  Joe even had a sea lion swim within two feet of him.

Ever watch a National Geographic or Discovery Channel special on the Galápagos Islands?   Remember how they would show a school of fish from top to bottom of the screen swimming, say, to the right.  Then suddenly the entire school turns to the left and flashes entirely different colors.  We had always thought that such images were unique; difficult for camera crews to capture.  Not so in real life.  Every time we snorkeled, we saw similar displays of beauty from fish schools and each time it took our breath away (which isn’t necessarily good when you are under water). Continue reading

Categories: animals, background, blog, crab, ecuador, fish, galapagos, galapagos national park, penguin, photos, plants | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

For the Birds or Time for Aves Class

To save time on the way to work recently, one of Two Who Trek took the dirt roads.  The Michigan morning was cold and frosty, about a half hour after sunrise.  Out in last year’s corn field, about three dozen turkeys were foraging.  Some were doing presentations while others focused on feeding. While watching the turkeys, birds of a different feather in a different place came to mind.

In Galápagos, we saw birds of many colors. Today we are going to revisit some of them.

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Categories: animals, birds, blog, boobie, ecuador, galapagos, galapagos national park, hawk, mockingbird, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Introduction to the Galapagos

Galápagos Islands (Archipiélago de Colón or Islas Galápagos)

Welcome to a world ranging from one and a half degrees north to a half degree south of the equator!

Galápagos means tortoise.  The life throughout the archipelago is as uniquely precious as the giant reptiles for which they are named.  We visited east, south and central islands on our five-day, four-night cruise.  How do we share our diverse adventures in a sensible fashion?  Tipping our paja de toquilla hats to scientists past and present, we will talk about specific zoological groups.

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Land of the Llama

Two Who Trek see their favorite animals

You’ve previously read in our posts that no ruin is complete without a llama.  Now that we’re back from the land of the llama and fully immersed in the day-to-day, it’s time to reflect and share some things we didn’t have time to write about during our last week in Cuenca.

Llamas are members of the Camelidae family along with camels.  Scientists tell us that camelids have been around for about 45 million years.  About 10,000 years ago, llamas and alpacas were domesticated for food, clothing and transportation.  Unlike cattle which are thought to have a common ancestor, llamas are believed to be domesticated from guanacos and alpacas from vicunas. Continue reading

Categories: andean, animals, archeological, blog, camelid, Cuenca, ecuador, inca, llama, mountain, photos, ruins, travel, wool | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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