On the Reef: September 2020 Five Words

© irene waters 2020

One of my favourite monthly challenges is back. Paula has returned from a long absence ( it seems that 2019 – 20 was a year for long absences) and with her has returned 5 words. This month the words are:

ESTIVAL (belonging to or appearing in summer)

CUISINE (cause we all have to eat)

RIFT (cause it lends itself to a number of possible interpretations)

INSTRUCTIVE (cause we are being given tons of instructions lately)


SPAN (cause I am reaching out to you again, trying to bridge time and obstacles)

You can use one photo or five, one word or five. Today I am opting for one photo although you may have to stretch the imagine just a litte. We have just spent some time in the far north of our state at Cairns and Port Douglas. The photo was taken from a boat trip we did off Green Island. I was photographing the birds. You can imagine my delight when I saw what else I captured.

In our far north it is always estival-like. Summer activities are always available and many of them are partaken out on the Great Barrier Reef. Fish food was thrown into the water from the boat in which we were travelling to attract the myriads of fish that inhabit the reef encouraging them to congregate so we could have a good look at them. This cuisine attracted the sea gulls but even better a fish itself caused a rift in the sea surface as it jumped up either trying to catch the food or trying to escape an even bigger fish who may have wanted to eat him. It was a most instructive day as we were taken through emergency procedures (should our boat sink and like the boat visible we had life jackets and rings on board – just in case. For me though the best instruction came from the guide who pointed out what was what on our ocean floor. The wing span of the sea gulls at close range was larger than I had expected and to capture them in various flight styles filled me with delight but not as much as I experienced later when I saw that fish.

Glad you are back Paula. If you want to join in Paula can be found here.

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A Sunny Crop: Silent Sunday

© irene waters 2020
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Field of Purple: Silent Sunday

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Giant Pandas at Beijing Zoo: China: Travel Thoughts 6

© irene waters 2020

Giant Pandas are no longer classified as an endangered species according to the WWF however there are only 1,864 left in the wild and 400 in captivity. That would make it seem to me that they are incredibly vulnerable. The only place they live in the wild is in remote mountainous regions of central China. Beijing zoo first exhibited Pandas at the zoo in 1955 and commenced a breeding program in 1975. There are only two Pandas in captivity that are not owned by China and they are found at a zoo in Mexico. Zoos will pay a fortune (around a million dollars) to rent one per year. If the Panda breeds whilst rented a huge tax is charged. There are no Pandas in Australia so I was keen to see the Pandas in Beijing Zoo.

© irene waters 2020

Along with thousands of other people. We had left our accomodation early and stopped on the way to the zoo to see a pearl factory. I can tell you no-one on our bus was happy with this arrangement. It was not a stop on the itinerary and as far as we were concerned this ate into our zoo time. Being a Saturday there were no restrictions on cars travelling to the city and the roads were jammed. By the time we arrived we had approximately one hour for our zoo visit.

© irene waters 2020

Initially, following the throng we came to the Panda exhibitions. It was depressing. It was like Taronga Park Zoo had been in the sixties and seventies.Cement floors, pretend bamboo – a totally unnatural environment. The Panda lay asleep in the back corner. Luckily an experience in Hong Kog trying to queue for a toilet had taught me how to push and shove with the rest of them and I managed to get next to the glass to get a photograph. This is all that most of our group saw. Roger and I luckily decided to escape the crowds and we came upon a brand new purpose built Panda house.

© irene waters 2020

Here they had made a big effort to get it right for the Pandas. No doubt their breeding program worked better with happy Pandas. The viewers had various platforms from which they could see and the Pandas had toys, places to hide and real vegetation.

© irene waters 2020

Giant Pandas are neither nocturnal or diurnal falling into a third category of animals that are crepuscular – only active twice a day – at dawn and dusk. You can see that our visit didn’t occur at either of these times and all the pandas we saw were out for the count.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

Above is another view of the new Panda house with yet another sleeping Panda. Pandas are classified as a poorly evolved creature as it was meant to be carnivorous but instead relies soley on bamboo for its poor source of nutrition and has to eat an awful lot of it in order to get the nutrients required.

© irene waters 2020

We left the Panda house and had a quick (and I mean quick) look around. What we saw was again housing that left us depressed for the animals and the birds.

© irene waters 2020

I’ve always loved baboons although this poor one looks like he has a pressure sore.

Some kind of bird of prey.

© irene waters 2020

This Royal Pheasant had the run of the grounds, obviously not a flight risk.

© irene waters 2020

Spring can be seen in the blossoms. The crowds were nowhere near as thick outside the Panda house. Time to go

© irene waters 2020

Outside as we left the zoo we saw the one and only shanty town slum that we were to see in China. There was no doubt with the trucks and eathworking equipment in the vicinity that these too would soon not be seen. We were off to the airport – to visit the Venice of China Suzhou.

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Old Buildings some occupied others not from round the world: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

© irene waters 2018

Two buildings in the Sunshine Coast hinterland – the top one lived in and the barn below unused. Neither would date back very far. Probably in the 1800s sometime or perhaps as late as 1930s. Our climate is harsh drying timbers, rusting roof metals and ageing even new timber to silver within a year or two.

© irene waters 2018
© irene waters 2020

These two buildings in Sweden are very much older. They are located in Skansen – a museum of how people lived a long time ago. I was fascinated by both the grass roofs giving needed protection from the cold and the size of the beds. Swedes (and probably all peoples of that time) were short back in the 15th century. The animals also lived in the house adding to the warmth that would have been needed.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

This house in Akaroa fascinated me. The staircase looked decrepit and the whole building ramshackle. The views from the house would have been fantastic as it looked over the harbour. The chairs everywhere indicated that the occupiers who couldn’t manage to buy curtains were rich as they certainly made use of the view.

© irene waters 2020

Caught as we whizzed by in the car in the middle of a field of sugar cane this structure stood. I have no idea what it was for or perhaps it is still in use as the two sheds below obviously are.

© irene waters 2020

Wooden structures decaying have a beauty about them and Cee has captured those in America beautifully. She has invited us to join in her Fun Foto Challenge which this week is Old buildings, barns and houses.

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Summer Ready Covid Empty: Wordless Wednesday

© irene waters 2020
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His first and only: 99 word flash fiction

Unaware of the steps his momentum sent him flying through the air, arms and legs akimbo. The letter he’d been reading floating gently in the breeze behind him. His thoughts were those of a drowning man. This is what it feels like to fly? First his childhood, then the small amount of adulthood he’d experienced. Should have told Alison I love her. Should have written a will. A bellyflop onto concrete that’ll hurt.

He landed hard. He momentarily felt like Humpty Dumpty before all thought left him.

Alison screamed. “Don’t die. Not when you’ve just inherited and can live.”

This week Charli asks:

August 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a first flight. It can be anything or anyone that flies. What is significant about the first? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 18, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

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Love in the Time of Cholera: A Book Review

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the story of three people. Florentino Ariza who as a teenager sees Fermina Daza, falls in love and decides he will marry her. He is a poet and spends hours writing to Fermina who eventually believes herself to be in love with him. Her Father does not approve and removes Fermina taking a trip to his home country. Unknown to him they maintain a correspondence and agree to be married. On her return Fermina takes one look at Ariza and decides that he is not the man for her and marries a doctor Juvenal Urbino. This leaves Ariza heartbroken but determined that one day she would be his as Urbino was eleven years older than Fermina. Although he keeps his heart for Fermina his body is shared around 655 women in all sorts of ways enabling an examination of different types of love from a mother’s love to perverted love in the extreme. We would classify him as a stalker as he watched Fermina from afar, and at closer quarters as she lived her life with her husband and children.

The characters are extremely well drawn although I didn’t find any of them likeable; Ariza I positively abhored. The story spanned three people’s lifespans in a culture that was quite foreign to me. It was set somewhere in the Carribean. Marquez himself is a Columbian. I found the names difficult to follow as to my eye they were unfamilair names and therefore similarly sounding to my ear – this meant that I had to concentrate and often backtrack in the early stages to remind myself of who was who.

The writing was lyrical. Beautiful. However this also made it difficult to read as the dense narrative with its intricate language made it necessary to concentrate. The chapters were long (at one point on my kindle it told me the chapter was going to take me 2 hours + to read) with no passage breaks to make a natural stopping point. It meant that every time I halted I had to reread the last few pages to get back into the story. Despite this I wanted to read it. It just took me more time than a normal novel would take and it is one of the few books that I would consider reading again as I believe there was much that I didn’t take in on the first reading.

There were definite themes. Ageing being a big one. We go from teenager to into their eighties and it examines the changes that are wrought in that time, the perceptions others have to love when older and the difficulties that arise.

Another theme is love in all its forms and how what is seen isn’t necessarily what is the reality. My guess is the name of the book comes from the symptoms of love being similar to those of cholera but that may be too simplistic as I believe there is a lot of symbolism in this book that isn’t necessarily apparent on a first reading. The river, for example, is in my opinion, a metaphor for Aziza’s life. If you read it let me know what you think.

Would I recommend this book: Yes I would. It is quite different to anything I have read before (Joseph Conrad is the closest and strangely he was mentioned in it) and so beautifully written.

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Early Morning : Silent Sunday

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Laguna Bay: Silent Sunday

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