Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Diary on fast forward – Notes of a natural-born traveler

Day by day, I am learning more about circumnavigation. Forgotten are my dusty books – this time, I am learning live. I am the Captain of my very own, imaginary boat.

So where have I been so long? Around the world, as usual, except this time, besides the camera and the Navigational Bridge view, I even have a porthole, to add a new vision to my solitary discoveries.
I cannot stop wondering about the times when all you needed was a compass and a brave heart. The Ocean was out there, laying blue, all for you to discover it. There are no more blank spots on the Charts, but I still play the game, discovering new territories even on the crossed paths…New for me, that is.

Seas, oceans, geographical boundaries – like an eternal scholar, I’m always preparing a new homework. I am trying to remember the good reasons for being here. To all the people back home: I do travel for a purpose - I document life. And if I press “click”, it’s really not for sending exotic pictures home, but more for a better understanding of life as such.
Some times, my interest is purely archeological, in places where we go. Sometimes, I am touched by breath taking landscapes or by people we meet – I would have been a great anthropologist, if only not so lazy…
Sometimes, it’s just vivid curiosity. But everywhere we go, there’s something beautiful and new. And while we keep the daily pace, I am forever grateful for all the things I learn.
(And I should beVERY grateful for having very flexible and understanding bosses:)

Where have I been, you say... a short recap:

December 25, 2006 – Onboard M/S Crystal Symphony

It’s Christmas and spleen. There is no snow, no Christmas tree, no Granny’s Honey Ginger Bread and there are definitely no places to go caroling. A wonder around the ship gives a somewhat idea of a festive celebration, but I want to be home, with the Others.

Instead, I learn to adjust and I learn to accept.
Accept that we are different and lead a special life: accept that we are sailors.

And when it comes to improvisations: you’d think I gave up so easily, not having a Christmas tree????

January 3, 2007 – San Diego Zoo

Not that it really matters on which side of the fence you are; the Zoo is the place to learn about adaptation. Also, about socializing.

Despite the thick, rough skin, rhinoceroses are sensitive beings.
They are very protective with their young and they have acute hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight over any distance. Most rhinoceroses live around 50 years or more.
The collective noun for a group of rhinoceros is "crash". Quite appropriate, I should say, considering that a powerful rhinoceros, though vegetarian, may be one of the deadliest encounters. In India and Nepal, rhinos cause the greatest number of wildlife-related human deaths each year, surpassing those caused by tigers and leopards. They have even been known to charge working elephants carrying tourists through the jungles. That does not make you want to stay behind them, though, especially when they pee… The jet flow goes vertically, not horizontally :)

Or so I heard. I don’t really have the guts to verify this…

Humans have been hunting rhinoceros for their horns, supposedly possessing magic/aphrodisiac powers. These horns make also great dagger handles.
Sadly, nowadays, only 5 species of rhinos are still living. Along the history line, the family was big:

Family Rhinocerotidae
Subfamily Rhinocerotinae

Tribe Aceratheriini
Aceratherium (extinct)
Acerorhinus (extinct)
Alicornops (extinct)
Aphelops (extinct)
Chilotheridium (extinct)
Chilotherium (extinct)
Dromoceratherium (extinct)
Floridaceras (extinct)
Hoploaceratherium (extinct)
Mesaceratherium (extinct)
Peraceras (extinct)
Plesiaceratherium (extinct)
Proaceratherium (extinct)
Sinorhinus (extinct)
Subchilotherium (extinct)
Tribe Teleoceratini
Aprotodon (extinct)
Brachydiceratherium (extinct)
Brachypodella (extinct)
Brachypotherium (extinct)
Diaceratherium (extinct)
Prosantorhinus (extinct)
Shennongtherium (extinct)
Teleoceras (extinct)
Tribe Rhinocerotini
Gaindatherium (extinct)
Rhinoceros - Indian & Javan Rhinoceros
Tribe Dicerorhinini
Coelodonta - Woolly Rhinoceros (extinct)
Dicerorhinus - Sumatran Rhinoceros
Dihoplus (extinct)
Lartetotherium (extinct)
Stephanorhinus (extinct)

Tribe Ceratotheriini
Ceratotherium - White Rhinoceros
Tribe Dicerotini
Diceros - Black Rhinoceros
Paradiceros (extinct)
Subfamily Elasmotheriinae
Gulfoceras (extinct)
Tribe Diceratheriini
Diceratherium (extinct)
Subhyracodon (extinct)
Trigodon (extinct)
Tribe Elasmotheriini
Bugtirhinus (extinct)
Caementodon (extinct)
Elasmotherium - Giant Unicorn (extinct)

Hispanotherium (extinct)

Huaqingtherium (extinct)
Iranotherium (extinct)
Kenyatherium (extinct)
Menoceras (extinct)
Ougandatherium (extinct)
Parelasmotherium (extinct)
Procoelodonta (extinct)
Sinotherium (extinct)
Subfamily Arsinotherinae
Tribe Arsinotheriini
Arsinotherium (extinct)

I learned that Pandas are extremely patient… The daily pilgrimage would drive anyone mad – all these crowds staring at you, takings thousands of photos and making funny faces… Bai Yun’s name means “white cloud” and besides bamboo, she loves apples. She’d do almost anything for one.

I wonder how the zoo is for this one. All these silly biped creatures, waving, jumping, running…anything to get his attention, really…

Yes, I know elephants are pachyderms. I know all about their feet, their ears and about their over 5 kg brain. But what I came to learn is that an elephant can use its trunk for many purposes; believe it or not, they actually wipe their eyes with it. And that, I did not know.

Pink flamingoes, suave like a dream. Until you get close to one, that is. I learned today that beautiful birds can easily chase you away with their smell…Other than that, they are still gracious.

January 10, 2007 – Caldera, Costa Rica

Consistency is good. I learn again that some things are perpetual. The shipwreck is still here in the port. It has been here for at least the past 3 years, but my colleagues say that based on how it looks, it has probably been there for the past 20 years…

January 17, 2007 – Tortola

Dolphins are the most amazing creatures. And most intelligent, I should think.
Their name comes from the ancient Greek term “delphis”, meaning “with a womb”.
A fish with a womb…and amazing ability of learning. I learned that dolphin-human interaction is boldly used nowadays in a curative purpose and that dolphins can work with autistic or disabled children. And as a new boundary of imagination, i read that military forces have employed dolphins for finding mines or to rescue lost or trapped humans.

In May 2005, researchers in Australia discovered an unsusual aspect of dolphin behavior: Some dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) teach their children to use tools. The most amazing example, dolphins break sponges off and then they cover their snouts with them for snouts protection while foraging. It is beleived that the knowledge of "how to" is mostly transferred from mother daulphins to daughters, which makes it unique. All other primates, pass the knowledge knowledge onto all the youngs, irrespective of sex.

2007: Year of the Dolphin
The year 2007 has been declared as (International) Year of the Dolphin by the United Nations and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
The United Nations, member Governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and the private sector (e.g. TUI) are building a strong alliance to achieve a common objective: to protect dolphins.
The designated Patron of the Year of the Dolphin is H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, who formally launched the year on 17 September 2006. The Prince released a statement reading, "The Year of the Dolphin gives me the opportunity to renew my firm commitment towards protecting marine biodiversity. With this strong initiative we can make a difference to save these fascinating marine mammals from the brink of extinction."

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