Friday, May 30, 2014

Red-Bill Tropicbird Rehabilitation…

Recently a guest, John Erickson, found a juvenile tropicbird seemingly abandoned on the beach. Initially we decided to leave the young bird in the hand of nature, hoping that a parent would be caring for it. However, after a few days it was apparent that the bird was getting weaker and alone and thus vulnerable to stray dogs, carrion or starvation.  I decided to bring the young bird to the hotel and give it a more secure space to mature. Upon examination the bird seemed healthy and readily ate raw fish cut into strips. I am currently feeding him 4 to 6 ounces per day.

Here is his picture. A friend of mine, Kathy, named him, "Larry-bird:"

John also suggested a few things: give the bird an area to bathe, and exercise its wings by gently tossing him  in the air but not letting him fall.  Flapping his wings would help build strength and balance.

Red Billed Tropicbird- (Wikipedia entry)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leatherback Turtles

Leatherback Turtles

(note: hatchlings should not be handled without special gloves)

Female Leatherback Laying Eggs

These magnificent creatures are the largest species of any turtle on Earth and they can grow to a remarkable size of over 2 meters (up to 8 feet) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (over 900 KG), they migrate further than any other turtle (6,000km) and dive to an incredible depth of almost ⅔rds of a mile (4,200 feet) while hunting their favorite food, the jellyfish. The Leatherback Sea Turtle is found throughout the tropics and some temperate regions and have been seen as far north as Canada. Even though they enjoy the largest distribution area of any vertebrate, their numbers are dwindling and have disappeared in many parts of the world.

The reasons for their decline are mostly due to human activity. In many cultures their eggs are are used for subsistence and, in some they are considered potent aphrodisiacs. Thousands die that are caught in fishing nets every year, and while international law require their release, there is a lucrative black market for Turtle meat and very few countries police these laws. Perhaps the most common cause of death however is due to the ingestion of plastics. Our oceans have become a vast repository for plastics that flow in through our waterways. To the Leatherback many plastics appear to be their favorite food, jellyfish. Because they cannot digest plastic, any plastic ingested stays in their digestive tract and will disrupt their entire system. Dead Leatherbacks have been found to have consumed as much as 11 pounds of undigested plastic.

Zone de Protection

In 2010 Arthur J. Lenius had a meeting with the Ministerio de Ambiente and discussed the importance of the Playa as a nesting area for these creatures. As Arthur stated, “The biggest problem on our beach was that vehicles would (inadvertently) drive over the nests, crushing the eggs.” Because our beach is in the “protected zone” signs were placed on the beach and berms were constructed on the roads preventing motorized vehicle access to the beach. Currently the Ministerio de Ambiente sends in teams to monitor and protect the nests.
Ambiente Turtle Protection Program

 ¡ MIGRATION - Averaging 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) each way!

 ¡ NESTING - Females spend their whole lives at sea and only leave the ocean to lay their eggs.

They always come at high tide at night and lay between 70 to 80 eggs.
BTW - Males spend their entire lives at sea, never leaving the water

 ¡ SEX - Did you know, the average temperature determines the gender of the turtles?

- Females are born if a nest temperature is above 85.1°F (29.5°c)
- Males are born if it is cooler.
 ¡WEIGHT- Up to 2000 pounds (900kg)
 ¡SIZE- 6 to 8 feet in length (2 to 2.25 meters)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Paragliding in Crucita

Today Gringo on the Beach traveled to the coastal town of Crucita.  The purpose of the trip was to Paraglide and talk to the owners of the company.  Luis and Raul Tobar are two brothers who have given lessons in paragliding for more than 15 years.  They pride themselves on safety, and have not had an accident while in tandem in all of their years.  We went paragliding, and it was a beautiful day.  Aside from the paragliding there were Ultralights (small flying machines) that also competed for airspace.  There is also a long stretch of beach that is very popular for tourists and offers tubing, whale watches, and other attractions. We talked to both brothers and discussed possibilities of having Paragliding in San Lorenzo, and working with them to cater to tourists' desires.  We will link to them on our website, and direct clients to them.
Here are the links for both websites, for anyone interested :

Hoy en día en la playa Gringo viajó a la ciudad costera de Crucita. El propósito del viaje fue de practicar parapente y hablar con los propietarios de la empresa. Luis y Raúl Tobar son dos hermanos que han dado lecciones en parapente desde hace más de 15 años. Se enorgullecen de seguridad, y no han tenido un accidente, mientras que a la par en todos sus años. Fuimos parapente, y fue un día hermoso. Aparte del parapente había Ultraligeros (pequeñas máquinas voladoras), que también competían por el espacio aéreo. También hay un largo tramo de playa que es muy popular para los turistas y ofrece los relojes de los tubos, las ballenas, y otras atracciones. Hablamos con los dos hermanos y discutieron las posibilidades de tener Parapente en San Lorenzo, y trabajar con ellos para atender a los deseos de los turistas. Pondremos un enlace en nuestra página web, y los clientes directos a ellos.
Aquí están los enlaces de ambos sitios web, para cualquier persona interesada:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Processing the First Chocolate Harvest

Chocolate, Food of the gods 
Chocolate has been revered for many centuries, and not just in the United States or Europe where we may think of when we think of today.  Chocolate has a rich history in South America where chocolate ruled.  If someone poor was caught stealing chocolate, they would be killed.  Chocolate was only for royalty, and it was the self proclaimed food of the gods.  After all, the Latin name Theobroma Cacao means food of the gods.  Therefore it had great religious significance and value.  It was even used as a currency at times where the beans would serve as a type of coin.  This was one of the first ideas of having a currency with an item that held its value, and would always be worth a fairly stable amount.  Here today we are going through the process of making chocolate.

                    The fruit comes from leafy trees shown in the video. The cacao pods grow directly on the wood, unlike many other fruits.   One must harvest the pods when they reach a certain size and softness.  They then split them open and scoop out the seeds that are covered in soft white pulp.  This pulp is pure sugar, and is edible. The seeds inside are what the chocolate is made of.  One must dry the seeds under the sun for 5 days allowing it to ferment in order to develop flavonoids and flavors of the beans.  They are then cooked in a shallow pan for twenty minutes in order to develop flavor as well as shrink the bean and make liberating it from the shell easier.  The beans are then peeled.   There is a thin peel layer that is not good to eat, this is peeled off.  Then the beans are put through a basic corn mill.  They are usually processed three times in order to make the chocolate smooth.    

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guayusa, a Nutritional Wonder Tea

Fresh Guayusa Leaves


         Esta semana, el "Gringo en la playa" viajó a un pequeño pueblo cerca de Tena, donde nos encontramos con puestos de venta con las guirnaldas de hojas secas que adornan pequeñas chozas en las carreteras. Nos enteramos de que se trataba de un tipo de té llamado guayusa (Pronunciado Por why-you-Suh). Es en el acebo (Ilex) género y tiene una estructura similar a la hoja del acebo, pero no incluye las espinas afiladas. Se cultiva principalmente en las regiones de Napo y Pastaza de Ecuador, pero también existe en zonas limitadas en Colombia. El pueblo (indígena) Kitchwa del Amazonas consumen las hojas como una bebida cargada y disfrutar de los efectos calmantes y estimulantes del té tiene para ofrecer. Ellos pueden quedarse despierto toda la noche, y el té se cree que tiene más cafeína que una taza de café negro. Algunas tribus creen que al beber la guayusa, los sueños se inducirá que prever si la misión de caza próximo será un éxito. Esta notable planta también contiene muchos antioxidantes, aminoácidos importantes, teobromina (la droga en el chocolate que produce euforia). La L-teanina, un ácido glutámico se encuentra en el té verde está presente, y se cree que hay una mayor concentración en la guayusa que en el té verde. Este ácido es el responsable del efecto calmante que sienten los bebedores de esta bebida fabulosa.


Dried Guayusa Wreaths

         This week, “Gringo on the Beach” traveled to a small town near Tena (in the Napo Region in central Ecuador)  where we encountered roadside stands with wreaths of brown leaves adorning little roadside huts.  We learned that it was a type of tea called guayusa (Pronounced Why-You-Suh).  It is in the Holly (Ilex) genus and has a leaf structure similar to that of the holly but does not include the sharp spines.   It is mainly grown in the Napo and Pastaza regions of Ecuador, but also exists in limited areas in Colombia.  The (indigenous) Kitchwa people of the Amazon consume the leaves as a steeped beverage and enjoy the calming and stimulating effects the tea has to offer.  They can stay awake all night, and the tea is thought to have more caffeine than a cup of black coffee.  Some tribes believe that by drinking the guayusa, dreams will be induced that foresee whether the upcoming hunting mission will be a success.  This remarkable plant also contains many antioxidants, important amino acids, theobromine (the drug in chocolate that induces euphoria).  L-theanine, a glutamic acid found in Green Tea is present, and it is thought that there is a higher concentration in guayusa than in the Green Tea.  This acid is responsible for the calming effect felt by drinkers of this fabulous beverage.   
       Michael Harner, the founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies described how “the Jivaro say guayusa is so habituating that before it is offered to a visitor, he is warned that once he drinks it, he will ever always after return to the Ecuadorian Jungle
We tried our guayusa and it was excellent, giving coffee a run for its money.  We would like to grow Guayusa on our property and seek any help on where to locate it, and the most efficient propagation methods. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Every year from June- September humpback whales migrate from Antarctica in order to breed in the warm Ecuadorian waters. They need to do so because the young are born with a very thin protective layer and could not withstand the cold of Antarctica. "Gringo on the Beach" is working toward offering tours to see these beautiful whales in action right off the coast.

 This week, Gringo on the Beach traveled to Puerto Lopez, a small town known for it's tourism, specifically whale watching.  We zipped along the water in the direction of the small island called Isla de la Plata (Island of Silver).  The island gained this name when one of the Spanish conquistadors saw the glimmering island in the distance and thought it was made of silver.  We arrived at the island and saw "blue footed boobies" for which the island is famous.  We also saw many whales on the way, and on the way back.  Already stated, Gringo on the Beach hopes to soon offer whale watches directly off the coast of our property, and is working on the permits now.  This would be fantastic, because if offered, individuals would not have to go all the way to Puerto Lopez, the only place where whale watching is offered, to see the whales in breeding season.