Friday, 16 December 2011

Central America Tour 04 - Part II

With my civic duties completed it's time to return to normality, but not before completing the Central American tour of 2004. We cleared El Salvador (viva) via the Honduran border heading initially for the capital Tegucigalpa, then further north to visit the

Maya Ruins at Copan. Not as large a complex as either Chichen Itza or Tikal, but equally important historically.

Maya Stelae Stone, their true function has never been proven but could be the counterpart of our grave stones, alters or erected to celebrate major ceremonies?

A pity time and space do not allow as there are dozens of photographs given over to the amassing stone carvings here.

A bonus indeed, dozens of Scarlet Macaw that were totally confiding.

The flight to Islas de la Bahía ("Bay Islands" part of the second largest Barrier Reef in the World) Honduras was, to say the least a 'white knuckle' affair with the biggest laugh coming when we found all the seat belts were too short to go around any of us (yes! even a skinny kid like me).

A totally wild and rugged place with few people, the 2 memories were of being befriended by one of the local gangs, and finding a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher roost of an estimated 1,000 birds. Or hope had been to see Whale Shark here, but no such luck.

It an was equally nerve wracking flight back to Managua, Nicaragua

but great fun in the small villages along the way to our next destination including Tipitapa on the edge of 2 great lakes named after the country and capital. Another coach ride capital to capital saw us arrive at San Jose, Costa Rica where unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Jim, someone had to go back and keep the oil flowing.

Billy and I continued on to the small town of Arenal, a perfect stepping stone to view the Volcán Arenal. The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years and exhibited a single crater at its summit, with minor fumaroles activity, covered by dense vegetation. In 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacón. Due to the eruption three more craters were created on the western flanks but only one of them still exists today. From there we

continued to the Monteverde Cloud Forest and to what lay within.

Bare-shinned Screech-Owl was singularly the first time we tried 'digi-scoping', not a bad start eh?

Black-faced Solitaire, locally known as the Garden Gate Bird after a call just like a wrought iron one swinging on the breeze.

Three-wattled Bellbird, also named after its 'call', while the

Resplendent Quetzel needs no explanation as to the origin of that name.

Purple-throated Mountain Gem

Panama City and its surrounds was our final port of call, and what a way to end The Grand Tour!

The Panama Canal one of my top 5 man-made constructions in the world for me. In the end Billy got fed up waiting for me wondering at this epic feat of engineering.

Despite 48 years at sea I never got to traverse the Canal, but should things go to plan that will be rectified next year.

There is world wide controversy about the destruction of Rain Forest, but here there is no such problem. The Canal only operates on 'fresh water', so no rain forest - no rain, no rain - no fresh water, no fresh water - no Canal!

A favoured 'trick question' about the Canal is, "which direction does it run", the majority answer is east to west when in fact it is north to south.

A Mule used to tow ships into position within the lock, and named after their predecessors which were Donkeys.

Wildlife abounds in areas of rain forest such as Pipeline Road including

Three-toed Sloth we also saw Two-toed here as well.

This is Charlie (Red Dread) Anderson (Bass Player with 80's Two Tone/Ska band from Coventry, The_Selecter ) his wife Judy and their 2 sons. On our final day in Panama we had wandered a little further afield than intended and found ourselves many miles away from the city, in fact 'up a creek without a paddle'. After quite a wait, this was when the Anderson's picked us up and not only returned us from whence we came but also took us home, fed and watered us, took us to his studio (featured on biopic), filled us with beer & and his favourite 'white Jamaican Rum' then to a friend who took care of injured Harpy Eagles. You see, there is a HEAVEN!
Fancy trying some Ska?

Then take a listen to On My Radio probably The Selecter's best known hit #8 in UK Top Ten.

Plus a most interesting Charley Anderson Biopic

Goodbye Central America, goodbye Panama, goodbye Charley and Family.
Thanks for your hospitality!

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