Blue Crackers

29 07 2013

I’ve previously written about grey crackers and included video of the sound they make, but recently, we had a colorful blue cracker visit in addition ot the grey crackers.  The blue cracker is a mottled blue with a white stripe on each wing when the wings are open, and is orange and black on the underside (which I think is an unusual combination of different bright colors)  Here is a shot of the underside:

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And here it is from the top:

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(not to be confused with the Mexican blue wing I showed you in a previous post about the butterfly farm)

And this blurry picture (sorry for the quality – clear fence, fuzzy subject – duh) is to prove that both are the same butterfly:

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I sing the almighty power of God,

that made the mountains rise,

that spread the flowing seas abroad,

and built the lofty skies.

I sing the wisdom that ordained

the sun to rule the day;

the moon shines full at God’s command,

and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord,

who filled the earth with food,

who formed the creatures thru the Word,

and then pronounced them good.

Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,

where’er I turn my eye,

if I survey the ground I tread,

or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below,

but makes thy glories known,

and clouds arise, and tempests blow,

by order from thy throne;

while all that borrows life from thee

is ever in thy care;

and everywhere that we can be,

thou, God, art present there.

by Isaac Watts





Xunantunich

5 07 2013

Xunantunich (pronounced shoo-NAHN-too-nich) Difficult to remember?  Just say “tuna sandwich” to help with recall. 🙂

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Xunantunich ceremonial center (which means “Stone Lady” or “Maiden of the Rock”) is a Mayan archeological site built during the classical period around 650 AD to 1000 AD. When Belize was British Honduras, Xunantunich was explored by Brits Thomas Gann in 1894 -5, Sir Eric Thompson in 1938, and Linton Satterthwaite in 1949, amongst others.  Xunantunich may have been abandoned by the Mayans who resided there after an earthquake.  It is composed of 6 major plazas and more than 25 temples and palaces, the largest of which is “El Castillo” (the Castle)

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which ascends 130’ over the plaza, making it the second tallest building in Belize (behind Caana the temple at Caracol).  El Castillo is the only pyramid I’ve visited that I’ve been allowed to climb

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(no safety rails anywhere – Belize is not a litigious/overly safety conscious place yet – all the lawyers go into politics where they can make more money). At the top,

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you can enjoy terrific views of the jungle and villages of both Belize

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and Guatemala while sitting on a platform made entirely from one slab of stone (how’d they get this up here?).

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El Castillo was a large multi-complex building that served as a dwelling, shrine, and administrative hub for the elite rulers of the center. There are friezes

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remaining on the East and West sides.  The mask with the big ears

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represents the “sun god” and is flanked by symbols representing the moon and Venus (something about the night wooing the dawn?). Also depicted in the friezes are the Mayan days of the week, a jaguar and a headless person (not sure who he was supposed to be and why he was deliberately “beheaded” by the Maya – see upper right of frieze in first photo – you can double click on it to make it larger).

Xunantunich is reached from Western Highway at the town of San Jose Succotz (close to the border with Guatemala) by taking your vehicle across the Mopan River on a hand cranked ferry

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(passengers must get outside of the vehicle and ride the ferry standing).  The ferry does not run if it has been raining and the river is swollen.  The ferry is free, but it is always appreciated if you tip the cranky (just kidding – he is a pleasant person) cranking guy.

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Finally! Saw Howler Monkeys in the Wild!

3 07 2013

We enjoyed seeing these howler monkeys in the wild at Xunantunich!  We’ve heard them plenty (see this video to hear what they sound like), but hadn’t seen them other than in the zoo. These ones let us get pretty close to them as they happily (OK…. some look like they’re frowning) ate leaves.

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Future bass player

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This picture isn’t the best, but it shows one with a mouthful of leaves:

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We also saw spider monkeys nearby:

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Cool!