Another early start this morning but we did get to sleep in a little later than yesterday. I leapt out of bed when I saw the sun was just beginning to rise over the lake to grab my camera and get out to capture the moment from our balcony. Despite being a number of viewpoints around the city our balcony has the best view with the least obstructions. I am sure there are better vantage points elsewhere around the lake but in Suchitoto this is the place to be!
Robert picked us up shortly after the sun climbed into the sky and we set off in the direction of Cinquera. Along the way we stopped off at Cascadas Los Tercios, a waterfall over basalt columns with rather steep and treacherous access. It was a brief detour that was followed by coffee and pastries out of the back of Robert's truck after we crossed a recently rebuilt bridge. After our refreshments we walked on a private road that parallels the river we had just crossed to do a little bird watching. A partial list of the birds seen includes swainson's hawks, cooper's hawks, gray hawks, kingfishers, sandpipers, herons, egrets, orioles, hummingbirds, flycatchers, cormorants, doves, and vultures. The raptors we saw in the hundreds, mostly from a good distance, as we are on their migration route.
We then hopped back into the truck and continued further down the road towards Cinquera. Not more than a couple miles had passed when we took another detour, this time to a farm. There we met Tomas (pictured below), his wife whose name escapes me, and his granddaughter Estephanie. His wife and granddaughter proudly showed us their embroidery and jewelry respectively. Estephanie's jewelry was made from seeds and nuts on thread. They were pretty impressive and some were rather ornate.
Tomas took us on a hike down narrow trails clogged with heavy mud and cattle dung, through the jungle into the cultivated fields and off to a large stone in a rather remote area with Incan petroglyphs. It was interesting but perhaps not worth the grueling hike in the ninety degree heat ankle deep in mud and torn up by the thick brush. Still, it was an interesting site recently discovered and proudly displayed by one of the farmers.
When we got back to Tomas' house Estephanie showed us where we could rinse off the mud caked all over our legs and feet. Feeling slightly better we again returned to the truck only to stop five minutes later at a small women's cooperative where they make more jewelry with seeds and nuts. Most of it had heavy Catholic influences and I fear to touch any of it lest I burst into flame on the spot.
And again we pressed on towards Cinquera. It took a little while down bumpy unimproved roads to reach the small town where we stopped for lunch. Again I had beans and rice with tortillas; the lunch yesterday was better but only because it was exceptional, this was quite good too. We also found out why there are what looks like built-in baby gates, to keep the stray dogs from wandering in to beg. It is always tempting to offer them a few morsels but it only encourages them to beg and when more come and competition increases fights will follow to which the people will not respond patiently. So I resisted with difficulty.
Once we had eaten Robert introduced us to his friend Raphael. Raphael was a rebel fighter during the civil war and talked to us, with Robert's assistance, about his experiences. In fact the public square has the tail end of a downed helicopter on display as well as wrought iron fences decorated with old inoperable machine guns. Now Raphael works as the senior park ranger for one of the largest national parks in the country and he is a leader in the community projects.
One such project is an iguana farm which we went to see. They had large enclosures with corrugated steel walls that extended five feet underground topped with wire holding hundreds of young iguanas with a few large breeding females mixed in. I asked what they intended to do with all these lizards and the response was that they hadn't decided. Step one, breed lizards, step two, well, we will get to that once we achieve step one. So now they have to start thinking about the future. Do they make lizard hide products, do they sell them for food, do they work with the government to obtain permission to sell them as pets at home and abroad. They even have a few green iguanas that are actually blue in color. They are not the endangered blue iguanas but a mutation in the green iguana that causes turquoise blue coloring. If these are what people in the pet trade refer to as axanthic they could be worth hundreds of dollars each.
By this time Francene and I were pretty beaten up and ready for some relaxation so we headed back to the hotel. It took quite a while due to delays caused by road construction but we made it eventually. We stopped by our room briefly, rinsed more mud and dirt off, and went for a swim. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and we watched the storm clouds roll in. Eventually we had a nice fish dinner on the veranda while watching the colorful sunset. They we went back to our room to rest until Francene went out again with Robert to the old leftist bar in town. I stayed back because I don't drink and wanted to get some photos processed and blogging done. Now you're up to speed and I am going to bed!
Canon 1D X, Canon 100/f2.8L IS
100mm, f4, 1/250 sec @ 8000 ISO