Saturday, April 28, 2007

Amazona vittata

Ese es el nombre científico de la cotorra puertorriqueña, unas de las aves en estado crítico de extinción, con menos de 50 individuos viviendo libres en su ambiente natural. Encontrada sólo en El Yunque, manejado por el gobierno federal y el Bosque de Rio Abajo, manejado por el gobierno estatal. Es mucho lo que se está haciendo para que ésta especie no desaparezca. Lamentablemente el problema mas grande que tienen son las actividades humanas que destruyen su habitat, y claro está sus enemigos naturales como el águila de cola roja o Guaraguao.

Gracias a una "casa-abierta" que organizó el Servicio Forestal tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar el nuevo aviario en El Yunque donde se albergarán las cotorras que están en cautiverio y que se utilizan para investigar su dieta, su manera de reproducirse y otros aspectos. Tenían una pareja de animales que utilizan para educación y que están acostumbradas a la presencia de personas. Las demás que estan siendo aclimatadas para liberarlas las tenían aisladas en otra parte del bosque.

Para mi fue muy emocionante porque era la primera vez en mi vida que iba a ver de cerca uno de estos animales que llevo estudiando desde muy joven. Para Eduardo y Claudia fue otro pasadia mas al campo con suficientes piedras y tierra pa' jugar un buen rato. Fue bien interesante ver como le prestaban mas atención a los insectos (ver fotos) que veían que a las especies en peligro de extinción que tenían al frente.

Luego el trolley que tenían para transportar a los visitantes nos llevó al centro de visitantes El Portal donde se aprende mas del los recursos que posee el bosque. Alli tuvimos la gran suerte de ver a una de nuestras otras especies endémicas, la boa puertorriquena, durmiendo su siesta en la fuente del edificio.

Pueden ver mas fotos aquí.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Trip to Colorado

This past Spring Break/Semana Santa we went to visit our cousins in Colorado. We went from the highest mountain to the deepest cave, from a poker table to a catholic church, from a Pink Floyd laser show to a kid's Easter party and from freezing temperatures more freezing weather. Matt and Sandra received the entire Toyos-Pérez family in their beautiful house. Their children, Marc and Victoria, were as excited as Eduardo and Claudia for the trip.

After several years without vacations, except motherhood and a surgery, Janice took some days from work and I used my break from school to plan this adventure. I call it an adventure because, like I said before, this was the first time the entire family would be traveling outside Puerto Rico together. Although Eduardo and Claudia both had experiences in planes, this was the first time they were traveling together and taking two planes for eight hours...we didn't know what to expect. But fortunately for us (and the other passengers!!!) they behaved like two young adults. The funniest thing was to hear Claudia before getting on the last plane back to PR saying - "¡no me quiero montar en otro avión!".

Once in Denver we were greeted by my third cousin Sandra, who was there for a training and was taking us home to Colorado Springs(CS). Once in the house it took the four fourth cousins about half an hour to connect and start playing and enjoying each other's company.

Matt and Sandra took some days off their work at the hospital of the Air Force Academy to show us some of the nicest places of the area. After a visit to the base, which by the way was very impressive, we spent a couple of days in the house eating, playing poker Friday night and most importantly seeing and playing with snow! It was the first experience for Claudia and myself with snow (yes, she's 3 and I am 34, go figure!). That night Matt and I went to a really cool laser show.

After that, the weather improved and we were able to travel away from the city to some of the places the tourists visit in CS. First we climbed Pikes Peak, the most visited mountain in North America. Well, saying that we climbed might sound like a phenomenal feat considering we were with four children. We actually took a Cog, which is a train that besides the two normal rails trains have, this one had a third one in the center with "teeth" that prevented the train from sliding back when climbing the 14,000 feet to the top, it was an hour ride. Needles to say the view was spectacular (see the pictures), the temperature was in the low 20s not considering the wind. The lack of oxygen made Janice and Matt feel a little sick (wimps!).

Later that day we went to the Garden of the Gods, which is considered a National Natural Landmark. It's a magical place with all type of rock formations and vegetation typical of the area.

The next day we went to a dinosaur museum , the kids had a lot of fun digging for (fake) bones and trying to jump as far as a T. rex . I got a chance to talk to a paleontologist which was really cool...are you aware that a Pterodactyl is not considered a dinosaur but a flying reptile?, I didn't know that! Later that day we went to the Cave of the Winds, which is the oldest landmark of CS. An impressive system of caves with many tunnels and halls. Unfortunately the place has been modified so much to allow access to visitors that no wildlife could be know bats and stuff.

But the fact that we hadn't seen any animals was not a problem because the next day we went to the Denver Zoo and saw plenty of them. To be honest this is one of the best zoos I have visited, and I have been to a few. The collection was very impressive from the arctic to the tropics from marine mammals to reptiles, fish and many primates among others. We were able to see part of the training sessions of the lions which was a very cool experience. Although it was really cold when we got there the kids had a lot of fun, especially while tio Matt was pulling the wagon carrying all of them. After that we were suppose to go to the aquarium but we were too tired and decided not to go...decision I regret now :-( instead we went to a really fancy mall...yep a mall.

Well, basically those were the highlights of the trip, but I want to add the fact that tio Matt cooked a great Easter meal and baked a cake to celebrate my belated b-day. And me, what was I doing?, leaving them a souvenir...passing a PAINFUL kidney stone!

We thought our trip was going to be extended for a few days due to the fact that a blizzard was approaching and was scheduled to arrive the day we were suppose to leave, but fortunately (or not?) our plane was able to take off and bring us back to our normal daily routine.

Muchas gracias a los Hummel's por habernos hecho pasar tan buenas vacaciones.

Pictures here.