Land of Butterflies

a 199I confess we’ve planted gardens to attract butterflies, but every noontime when I see hundreds of butterflies flying around the house, frequently ones I’ve never seen before, I’m grateful to live in Panama . One of the theories about the name “Panama” is that in the Indigenous language it meant “land of many butterflies.”

Hundreds of butterflies are just one of the things that make this property so special. In a world sometimes seeming to have gone mad, there is something very special about a spot that is incredibly beautiful, private, peaceful and where one is surrounded by fluttering butterflies.

Click here for more information on this incredible property for sale in Boquete, Panama.

WE had a fantastic trip, but these guys …


DSC_0079Having just completed a wonderful 11 day voyage with Pearl Seas Cruises on PEARL MIST, cruising the Great Lakes & Georgian Bay , I stumbled on this video of an accident that happened back in 2001 in the Welland Canal.  We transited the Welland Canal by night without incident, but I thought you would find this fascinating.

The St Lawrence Seaway is a joint US/Canada project inaugurated in by US President Dwight D Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth in 1959 with the Queen sailing the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA all the way to Chicago.

The St Lawrence Seaway enables ships to pass all the way from the Atlantic to the far end of Lake Superior.  The locks of the Saint Lawrence Seaway taken together make up the world’s most spectacular lift system raising ships going all the way from sea level to Lake Superior more than 590 feet or 180 meters above sea level, as high as a 60-story building. To reach DSC_0241Lake Superior ships must pass through 16 locks, some operated by the US and some by Canada.  The most interesting is the Welland Canal, a series of  eight locks that lift ships 326 feet, the height of a 30 story building,  from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, allowing the ships to get around the Niagara escarpment and … Niagara falls.

There are a number of bridges across the Welland Canal which must be lifted for the ship to pass through.  And if someone forgets to lift the bridge or isn’t paying attention … here’s what happens.  [Warning: scary video!]

Here’s what happened …

In August 2001 the Bulk Carrier WINDOC was lined up on the Welland Canal’s Bridge 11 in Ontario Canada. After receiving the flashing amber approach light indicating that the bridge operator was aware of the vessel, the captain lined up on the centerline and maintained a speed of 5 knots. Minutes later while the vessel was half way through the bridge started descending.

The Bridge Team’s Story … When the vessel was approximately halfway under the bridge, the third officer observed that the bridge signal lights were solid red and the lift span was descending. At 2053, the master sounded a few blasts on the ship’s whistle. The master, without identifying himself or the bridge in question, called the TCC on VHF channel 14 about the lowering of the bridge. The master quickly stopped the engines and ordered an evacuation of the wheelhouse. The master and third officer left the wheelhouse by the starboard navigation bridge wing. As they proceeded down the external bridge access ladder, the span of the bridge struck the vessel in way of the wheelhouse front windows, subsequently destroying the vessel’s wheelhouse and funnel. The helmsman remained at his station in the wheelhouse and lay down on the deck as the bridge span passed overhead. He freed himself from the debris and descended by the deckhouse stairwell alive.

Miraculously no one was killed in the event. [GCAPTAIN]

Strictly Hype: DAILY BEAST on The Dutch Girls

The DAILY BEAST in it’s much-hyped third installment of “The Lost Dutch Girls” added nothing new to the story but just milked what was already known about the disappearance believed to be accidental but ripe with opportunity to continue to pound the “mystery.”  The DAILY BEAST hyped the best-selling author … “whose next novel, The Bone Collection, will be out November 1, 2016” … Dr. Kathy Reichs—world-famous forensic anthropologist, best-selling author and creator of the popular TV show “Bones”—also agreed to weigh-in on the case.

Like the other forensics experts consulted, Reichs also considers foul play unlikely:

“In my opinion accidental death is the most probable considering all the factors and findings,” says Reichs, in an email to The Daily Beast. She goes on to clear up several other formerly puzzling questions related to the case.
For example, critics of the official “accident scenario” have pointed to inconsistencies in the rate of decay reported for the found remains, such as a fragment of Kris’s rib showing signs of “bleaching”—while a flap of Lisanne’s skin survived intact.

Reichs does not find this extraordinary.

“A rainforest habitat means many micro-environments,” she explains. “Decomposition can occur quite rapidly in some [micro-environments],” but due to factors like variance in river current, flora growing on the banks, and transport by scavengers, “preservation or decomposition of various body parts can occur at a different rates.”

Exposed regions on sandbars or along the banks also receive more sunlight, which could account for the observed bone bleaching after the soft tissue is sloughed off.”

The extreme fragmentation of the remains doesn’t surprise Reichs either.

“With bodies decomposing in water, dismemberment follows typical patterns with the head and limbs detaching first,” says Reichs.  “Further damage from animal scavenging can be very diverse due to multiple transport modes: avian, fish, turtle, crab, small and large carnivores, etcetera,” she says.

Despite confidence in her conclusions, Dr. Reichs says some forensic mysteries surrounding the case do still warrant further investigation—such as the fact that Panama’s national coroner reported that he failed to detect any abrasions or trauma during a microscopic examination of the remains.
“I would expect to see damage due to animal scavenging,” says Reichs, but she also raises a powerful point that might trump such minor anomalies:

“Why would any criminal or criminals “leave cash, a passport, and electronics in the back pack?”

The biggest contribution of THE DAILY BEAST to the “mystery” seems to be their astute observation, with which they lead the article, that “Posted high in the cloud forests that surround the still-active Baru volcano, the [warning] marker is hard to miss. But the sign also lists sharply to one side—as if this remote warning had been slapped together in a rush.”


Can we please let these poor kids rest in peace?