Showing posts from May, 2013

Washington, DC: Memorial Day Images

Memorial Day Parade
Memorial Day Parade
Lincoln Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Smithsonian Museum of American History
Smithsonian Museum of American History

Annapolis, Maryland

I'm a proud aunt of a 2013 Naval Academy graduate and privileged to attend the Commencement ceremony here in Annapolis and to see and hear President Obama addressed the graduates.  My impression of a very rigid and 'military' place changed after seeing the beautiful buildings inside the campus and hearing President Obama's speech;
"Now, I know that some think of this as just a small engineering school on the Severn.  You’ve not only met its rigorous standards, you’ve helped this Academy earn a new distinction -- the number-one public liberal arts school in America." What a fitting occasion to spend the Memorial Day weekend here as well. Our hotel is inside the campus, so I get to visit the USNA museum, Bancroft Memorial Hall, a beautiful Chapel and the biggest dormitory. 

You don't have to be a student or relative of a student to visit the campus.  The academy offers walking tours. 

The old town center and the Chesapeake Bay Harbor are a few steps …

The Amazon, Part 5: Perspective on Perspective

Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” – The Book of Moses in GenesisDay 5 - The Mighty River
I embarked on this trip with no expectations of what ‘the Amazon’ would be like. Well, I did know that the Amazon was the largest river in the world if not the longest and the river flow from the Peruvian Andes to Brazil and to the Atlantic Ocean. It was not until hopping into that small boat for our first excursion and hearing Mark from San Diego say that he was living his life-long dream to cruise the Amazon River that gave me a heightened sense of expectation.

The Amazon River proved to be quite literally mighty. As our small expedition boat slipped along the confluence of the Ucayali and the Maranon Rivers – the head of the Amazon River, a magnificent double rainbow greeted us. The sky above changed its color from dark gray to light blue to azure blue with vagabond white clouds…

The Amazon, Part 4: The Luminescent Blue Macaws and Jefferson's Village

DAY 4:  Gone Fishing
We were up early today for our fishing excursion and loaded up into the small boat with a plan on having our breakfast at the boat, picnic style.  Our small boat entered a river that narrowed to a marshy river.  

We passed what seemed to be the only house in the middle of nowhere.  A house made of palm-frond roof, built on stilts above the water, the water almost reaching the floor.  The house had no walls.  We could see everything inside --  a woman appeared to be cooking, and a man standing with two girls watching the passerby as if guarding their territory.  I thought I saw a cell tower, but according to Vics, it was actually a solar panel.

Not long after, the river narrowed, and we were peering into the dense foliage.  We saw many blackbirds flying overhead. Vics who was sitting at the back of the boat with the boat driver was eying the dense foliage with his binocular.    Vics called out in excited voice, "Oh look at that blackbirds guys!"  Suddenly…

The Amazon, Part 3: The Tree Killer Tree

"There are 121 ecosystems in the world and 80 of those can be found in the Amazon, and it is in the Peruvian Amazon that you will find the green biome, more than two-thirds of the world's plant species,” said Vics, our naturalist-guide.  

Through our small boat excursions, we were able to see the most bio-diverse part of the Amazon, the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, the largest wetlands in the world.  We went through its narrow rivers, tributaries and black waters and lakes to hike the “Amazon Jungle”.

Day-3: Jungle Trek
From the Turmalina, we hopped into a small boat.  The boat hardly moved, we just used it to get offshore.  We walked a tiny bridge and short pathway to get to the lake.  We then crossed the lake using a catamaran to get to the edge of the lake where we found the entrance to the trail.  Within minutes of leaving the larger river, we entered a narrow trail into the canopy of trees, killer vines, kapok and cedar trees.

As if the wet ground, mossy trees and f…

The Amazon, Part 2: Black Water & the Pink River Dolphins

DAY 2-Morning:

Rocked to sleep by the gentle river, and cacophony of sounds from the Nauta Caño jungle, the morning came quickly. I did not notice or feel the impending storm that the captain warned us about the day before.  It must have passed overnight in my sleep. I got up and went to the observation deck to see the sunrise and do my tai chi.  I missed the sunrise.  The sky was gray with a subtle streak of blue to let the morning light.I had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery after tai chi, and before the bell ring for breakfast (The bell rings to signal that the dining room is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner). There was nobody around. I sat on deck alone staring at the swirling water when suddenly a large fish broke the water surface leaving large ripples. “Oh my God, it's true - a pink dolphin.” I thought with excitement like a kid on Christmas morning.

We're supposed to have two excursions a day.  Our itinerary showed hiking the surrounding jungle in the morning and f…

The Amazon, Part 1: The Riverboat and the Hoatzin Birds

Overwhelmed by thousands of images and impressions, I could not find enough words to describe the five days I spent in the Amazon.Words could not paint the picture of the vastness of the Amazon River, the changing color of the sky, the thousand trees and plants, and the sounds from secret places I had never known.This trip made me understand the true meaning of the Asian proverb I read in the frontispiece of Patricia Schultz’s book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” –Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.
Day 1 It was raining when our plane touched down at CF Secada Vignetta Airport in Iquitos, the heart of the Amazon jungle.The rusting plane sitting off the runway caught my eye. The rain and the rusting plane were a subtle reminder we were in the Amazon jungle indeed – a rugged place.Our naturalist-guide, named Vics, was waiting for us at the airport.He did not give us a formal introduction and welcome until we got on the bus for another two-hour ride …