Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #150 – Wild

Guest host this week, and our natural guide through the wilderness is Dianne Millard of Rambling ranger – ”I don’t want to see groomed gardens or animals in the zoo. No people or signs of people. I want to see and revel in the natural world in your posts. Where’s the wildest place you’ve ever been? Where do you go to let Mother Nature regenerate your spirit?”

Most of you know I am a great nature lover and I always do my best to protect her and … taking only photographs, leaving nothing but footprints.

But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had eyes to see.

Edward Abbey

Seeing how Dianne lives her life, I can only admire and love her for what she is doing. I share her love of the wilderness, but I guess I was not made for such a tough life that she is living in Alaska… Go see her amazing adventures and photography!

We can all find and love pieces of wilderness at home – but this time I went back to one of my wildest and most loved adventures. Ecuador, the Amazon and Galapagos. I will start like Dianne – with my morning view, of the Napo river.

Every morning after breakfast we went by canoe into the jungle – for a new adventure.

Most significant were the playful monkeys – jumping in the canopy above, curiously swinging down to watch us marvel.
The silence of the gliding canoe, and then all the sounds of the jungle. The diversity in tangled plants and the absolute love and gratefulness of being there… It’s really impossible to describe in words or images, and the feeling impossible to imagine if you haven’t been there yourself.
The light in the darkness under the trees – and us waiting for an anaconda to swim up beside the canoe…
(Luckily?) No anaconda appeared during these days, but every detail was a beautiful gem. Only occasionally it was possible to take decent photos. Low light, no open landscapes, only dense jungle.

Climbing to the top of the canopy, we could hear and see many birds – but from a distance only. We spent our last night high up in a Kapok tree, watching the sunset over the Amazon basin. And I was also enchanted by all the glorious wild orchids residing in the trees.


To really get close encounters with the wild life – we then went for almost a week on a sailing boat to the Galapagos islands.

Here a close-up with one of the most special animals connected to these islands – a giant!

Other special, endemic wildlife here are the Land iguanas –
– and the Marine iguanas. You never forget their faces once you have seen them…
Seals were everywhere of course. This male had a big harem, and he kept a close watch on all the females…

So many adventures we had together, mostly on the water, and incredible close contact with the animals! We met so many lovely faces, and if we only kept a two meter distance, everything was OK. My favourites here are the little yellow warbler and the Mocking bird…they used to come up to me and look me in the eye. The mocking birds tried to steal things from my bag. Paradise is not having to be afraid of one another ♥. We spoke softly together.

Late evening, and both the iguanas and the boobies seemed to love the last rays of sun – just as much as we did.

Every island has its special landscape. Grey, dead trees? Take a closer look…

And every island has its own endemic inhabitants – blending in perfectly. A survival kit we all need.

Thank you so much for sharing last week’s wonderful colours with Tina and the rest of us! And thank you Dianne, for letting me return to another wonderfully wild place on planet Earth. We are looking forward to seeing more wild things, from home or on travels, linked to Diannes original post.

Next week, Patti will be offering LAPC #151, so be sure to check out her site then!  Her theme is From Large to Small.  Pick a colour and take several photos that feature that colour.  Start with a photo of a big subject in that colour (for example, a wall) and move all the way down to a small subject in that same colour (for example, an earring).

Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

This week, we will look beyond the life-changing events and share some other special moments and what they mean to us, Tina says. I think we all have so many of them…It will be hard to choose, but I will try to pick some unforgettable ones …

A moment of solitude and contemplation on this small crater island of the Azores. Walking up the mountain, we did not know what to expect when turning around the bend… but the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – The feeling of floating free in this silent universe. Blue hydrangeas, blue sky and blue ocean – and us flying on a green, tiny spot in the middle of it all… Otherworldly.

The Pothala palace is representing the Dream-Come-True moments in my life. I have been so lucky as to have a few of those. So, I finally arrived in Tibet, after some 40 years since I read about Shangri-La in Lost Horizon, the 1933 novel by James Hilton, and saw the movie Lost Horizon from 1937. They represented the enigmatic and enchanting world out there…far away from my home and far away from any landscape I had ever been. I was lost for words – and breath – in the thin air.

April 2017, and I met Michael Lindnord and Arthur. The Swedish multi sport team were in Ecuador 2014, trying to win the world championships. Instead the team leader, Mikael Lindnord, found that in the middle of the jungle, his team of four had got a fifth member…Arthur. Mikael had never had a dog of his own and never thought of getting one – he was a tough athlete and a determined leader for his team. But, all it took was one meatball…

King Arthur. He owned the place from the first second he entered the room. I loved every minute of being close to him, touching him and listening to their story. Seeing the very special bond between Mikael and Arthur.

Mikael himself says that Arthur stands for Hope.  The Lindnord family have also started a fund for homeless dogs in Ecuador – There is hope for many ill treated and abused dogs with people like Mikael, who was prepared to even let go of his team’s victory to save this dog’s life. Mikael says he recognized himself in Arthur that very first day…they both stand tall, they never give up. So, how could he let Arthur down, when the dog put all his trust in him ?

December 9, 2020, Arthur passed away from an aggressive cancer, 13 years old. 2021 is the startup for shooting the Hollywood movie – ArthurThe King, with Mark Wahlberg starring together with a not yet chosen dog to play Arthur. I am looking forward to seeing it – hopefully cinemas will be open by then…

I can honestly say, that no other journey in my life gave me more special moments than the one to Arthur’s home country, Ecuador. Sailing along the Napo River in the Amazon and in the Galápagos Islands.

I could not stop watching them, all these little seabirds following our sailing boat in Ecuador. They could actually walk, run and stand still on the water! This is the smallest seabird in the world – an Elliot’s Storm-Petrel. Another enigmatic fact is that no nesting site for these birds has ever been found…

The stay at Sacha Lodge on a quiet lake – open to all the sounds of the jungle – still echoes in my mind today, 5 years later. Silent canoing through the tangled forest, watching swarms of monkeys foraging in the trees, jumping and playing. And the tiny Paradise Tanager – shooting veritable neon lightings in the trees – (I only managed to capture a couple of them in a photo) The first glimpse of the flock was very special – they moved faster than Chip ‘n’ Dale juggling around with the colourful Christmas baubles – and Pluto trying to handle the situation…

So, I will end with the late evening climb up in the Kapok tree, staying for the day’s last hours watching the sun set over the Amazon Basin. Imagine the sounds, the light, the soft warmth, the birds and the monkeys calling each other…I have never slept better in my entire life, than I did in the Amazon jungle.

Finally, a big Thank You for the inspirational set of Natural Lights, and hopefully you will join in for some special moments too! Please link to Tinas original post, and add the Lens-Artists tag.

Next week we’re excited to announce Beth of Wandering Dawgs as our Guest Host. Be sure to stop by and check out her always-interesting blog. Until then, stay safe and be kind.

CFFC: Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

I have enjoyed walking all of these –

Different views and landscapes,

but enchantingly lovely

each one in its own way.

 

 

 

 

Thursday Thoughts – Memories From A Year Ago

I thought I would share some memories posted in January 2017 – My dream trip to Quito, the Amazon Basin and Galapagos. Let us start in Quito – a city of festivities that week!

An unforgettable journey with lovely people – and a country I would more than love to return to.

 

Black & White Sunday: Music

A great, festive day in Quito, with music and dancing in the streets. This local band was really good, and people of all ages danced and had fun. Wish there could be a little bit more of that here, in Sweden!

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WPC: Dense

Ben, at WordPress, is asking us to show Dense in photos – and what could be more dense than the rainforest? Here, in Ecuador and the Amazon area, the forest was a dream for tree lovers like me.

Breathtaking views from the canopy

Thursday Thoughts – The Importance of Festivities

Travelling means learning new things every day. I guess that is one of the best parts of life – learning new things. In this 2 million people capital, Quito, Ecuador, I enjoyed every second. Almost 3000 metres up in the Andes – you had to take it a bit easy the first day.

20161202_141419_copyDo you, for instance, know which mountain is the world´s highest? I learned from the Ecuadorian businessman sitting next to me in the plane between Guayaquil and Baltra, that it is…..Chimborazo, a big volcano in Ecuador. It is higher than Mount Everest – if you count from the middle of our planet Earth.

amazonas-och-galapagos-081_copyColourful Old Town Quito, together with Krakow, Poland, 1978 became the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. And they keep it colourful, clean and tidy.

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There were grand festivities this week – December 6 was celebrated everywhere. So, what did they celebrate? Their freedom? No, they celebrated the Spaniards conquering them in the 16th century…I asked them how this could be something to celebrate – and they all answered that they had put all this behind them – this day was just a good day for festivities and having fun. That sounded just great to me!

Beautiful city and beautiful people – and wonderful food! We enjoyed Quito despite some rain. Old and young, everybody in a good mood.

A young man came up to me with a rose. You know, the thing they do everywhere down in Europe, expecting you to give some money…This young guy was in a group of students, and he was the only one to have a single rose in his hand. I shook my head and told him I had no money, but his eyes were shining when he smiled, saying that he did not want any money…just to give me the rose.

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Thursday Thoughts – The Winner Takes It All…

Islas Plazas and their beautiful land iguanas were spectacular. The yellowish males are highly territorial and engage in head-butting battles to get rid of intruders. We saw two fights and the winners…took it all.

amazonas-2-och-galapagos-1-857_copyLand iguanas eat cactus fruit and other parts of the cactus, but in general they cannot climb it …instead they choose a cactus plant as their own, lie down under it and wait for a fruit to fall into their mouths…

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This brave iguana had managed the impossible though…and its friends on the ground were eagerly waiting for it to drop something tasty to them…

After watching it for a while, we noticed something happening on the ground below…

…and the 100 cm long winner took it all – at least he took their place in waiting!

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