Category Archives: Nature

The Life of Pi Argument

Dave outside a zoo in Portugal

My husband Dave likes to visit zoos when we travel.  It is not my favorite thing to do.  I feel so sorry for the animals especially in some zoos where the poor creatures seem to be trapped in such miserable living conditions.  So every time he wants to visit a zoo and I protest Dave cites the Life of Pi argument.  

In the very popular Yann Martel novel  the main character Pi delivers a reasoned argument about why we shouldn’t criticize zoos.

Camel Merida Zoo- photo by Rudy Nikkel

Pi says many people think zoos are cruel places run by wicked people who throw animals into tiny jails.  The trapped animals have their free spirits broken. 

Monkey Merida Zoo- photo by Rudy Nikkel

Pi says animals aren’t free in the wild either. They live in a dangerous environment with a deadly animal hierarchy and are in constant fear that they won’t find enough to eat.  They must constantly defend their territory.

Hippo Merida Zoo- photo by Rudy Nikkel

Pi says wild animals are very territorial and their enclosure at the zoo is just another kind of territory where they are safe and have easy access to food and water. 

Jaguar Merida Zoo- Photo by Rudy Nikkel

Pi claims zoos are no better or worse for animals than the conditions they experience in the wild. In fact he says animals probably prefer zoos because there aren’t so many bugs and enemies and there is lots of food. 

Zebra Merida Zoo- photo by Rudy Nikkel

I had to listen to Dave make this argument again when we visited the zoo in Merida Mexico on a brutally hot day where the close quarters of the animals and the almost overwhelming smell did little to convince me that Dave or Pi was right. Dave on the other hand spent a happy hour checking out all the wild life. 

I have yet to come up with a good enough counter argument to prevent further trips to zoos on holidays.  Do any of my readers have one? 

Thanks to my friend Rudy Nikkel for the photos of the animals in the Merida Zoo.

Other posts………….

Animal Wisdom

Can This Necklace Save the Elephants

Swimming With the Manatees





Filed under Mexico, Nature

Dave Driedger Nature Photographer in Mexico

dave with cameraA few years ago Dave, who isn’t always very enthusiastic about taking photos suddenly took an interest in using my old Canon to capture nature shots.  He’s taken some lovely pictures and so on our vacations now I do a post with his photos.  Here is the Mexico 2019 version. iguana yucatan

red bird merida

lily pad mexico

turtle le ceiba

bright yellow bird mexico

berries mexico

iguana head

blue birdmerida

ceiba tree mexico


a black bird in merida

bougenvalias mexico

flamingo mexico

kiskadee yucatan

Other posts………

Dave Driedger Nature Photographer in Costa Rica

Dave Driedger Butterfly Photographer


Filed under Mexico, Nature

The La Ceiba Tree

We are staying in a community called La Ceiba just a short drive from Merida the capital city of the Yucatan.  The ceiba is a kind of tree and the avenue leading into our community is named after it because it is lined with many ceiba trees.

Ceiba tree on the first hole of the La Ceiba Golf Course

The trunk of the ceiba is largely branchless.

Can you see Dave hiding behind the tall roots on this tree?

It has a huge spreading canopy and often its roots are quite tall and can be seen above ground.  

If you look closely on the trunk of this tree you can see the protective thorns

Young ceiba trees have thorny spines protruding from the trunk to discourage wild rodents from damaging the trunk.

Ceiba tree on a yard along the golf course

The ancient Mayans believed the ceiba tree was sacred and provided a route for communication between three worlds.  

Ceiba tree near our house

The roots reached down to the underworld,  the trunk represented the world where we humans live and the canopy of branches arched high to symbolize the upper world which included the thirteen levels of the Mayan heaven. On an art tour in Merida my sister drew my attention to this beautiful rendition of a ceiba by Alejandro Barrios and it inspired me to learn more about this unique tree .  

You can find ceiba trees as far north as Mexico and as far south as Argentina. 

Other posts……………..


Two Trees – Forty One Years

Tree Inspiration

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Filed under Mexico, Nature

Jaguars in the Bathroom

jaguar in a hotel lobby in merida

Jaguar vase and jaguar figurines in a hotel lobby in Merida

The jaguar is an important symbolic animal here in Mexico.  Archeologists have discovered stone and jade carvings of jaguars that are more than 3000 years old. Mayan rulers showed their power by wearing jaguar skins, claws and fangs.  Images of jaguars appear in ancient Mayan hieroglyphic texts and there is a Temple of the Jaguar at the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.

jaguar in a gift shop merida

Jaguar art piece for sale in a gift shop in Merida

In Mayan mythology the jaguar was the ruler of the underworld. Mayan sorcerers could transform into jaguars to face their fears or confront their enemies.

jaguar folk art museum merida

Jaguar by Gabriel Perez Rajon at the Folk Art Museum in Merida

After the Spanish take over of Mexico the local Mayan people used the jaguar as a symbol of their fight against colonization.  Because of all that history and symbolism I see jaguar images everywhere here in the Yucatan and I mean everywhere!  In the last few days I have even found jaguars in bathrooms in two different places.

Alberto Bautista Gómez jaguars in the bathroom merida folk museum

Jaguars by Alberto Bautista Gomez

The Folk Art Museum in Merida is located in an old home.  Each room of the house features artists from different provinces of Mexico.  There happens to be a bathroom in the section of the house featuring artists from Chiapas and so two jaguars created by artist Alberto Bautista Gomez are on display there posed just in front of the urinal and toilet. jaguar in the bathroom meridaOn Friday I was on an art gallery walk in Merida and asked to use the washroom at the Soho Art Gallery.  I was sitting on the toilet and looked up and lo and behold there was another jaguar looking right at me!jaguar mural bathroom merida
If you visit the Yucatan province in Mexico be prepared to see jaguars everywhere! Including in the bathroom!

Other posts…………..

The Most Beautiful Bathroom in Winnipeg

Pop Up Toilet

Gender Neutral Bathrooms



Filed under Art, History, Mexico, Nature

Finding Flamingos

flamingoI’d heard that one of the sights not to be missed on the Yucatan Peninsula, was the tens of thousands of flamingos that live here year round.  There is a special biosphere reserve in Celestun that the flamingos favour but it is a good ninety minute drive away from where we are staying so we opted to look for flamingos near the ocean side city of Progreso which is much closer.

We hired a driver named Daniel and the hunt was on.  We drove through the salt flats near Progresso looking for flamingos.  Daniel spotted some and we hurried out of the car but the flamingos were so far away even my husband Dave the Nature Photographer couldn’t get a good close up shot.

Daniel our driver was an expert flamingo spotter

Besides the dry mud- caked marshy ground we were walking on was starting to sink deeper and deeper beneath our feet for every step we took closer to the flamingos.

posing like flamingos with rudy

Pretending to be flamingos with our friend Rudy

So we opted for posing like flamingos ourselves before heading off to look for more. dave photographs flamingosAfter we’d made yet another stop where the flamingos were far and few between……….. we finally got lucky!

When they want to rest flamingos stand on one leg.

Daniel spotted a whole flock right near the road. Dave the Nature Photographer got to work immediately and took some darn good shots!

flamingos merida

Flamingos live in large groups called colonies that can number up to a million. 

flamingos salt flats

Flamingos spend nearly half their day cleaning their feathers. Oil produced in a special gland is spread over their feathers with the help of their beak.

a flamingo pair in mexico

Flamingos are monogamous and produce one egg each year. Both mother and father keep the egg warm and feed their chick with a milk-like substance.

Flamingos get their pink color from the organisms they eat

Flamingos are not pink when they are born. The pinkest flamingos are also the strongest in the colony since they find the most food.

I think we can safely say we have seen the flamingos of the Yucatan in the wild. It’s the first thing I can check off my list of things I really want to be sure to do on this holiday. 

Other posts………..

Finding the Elusive Quetzal in Costa Rica

The Storks of Portugal

Dave Driedger- Bird Detective

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Filed under Mexico, Nature


Tree in the Algarve area of Portugal

My husband Dave tree planting with a student in Borneo

Winter trees in Steve Juba Park Winnipeg

Tree Children by artist Leo Mol at the Richardson Building in Winnipeg

In a trillium forest with my sister-in-law Shirley in southern Ontario

Root Dress by Barb Hunt photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Family photo in front of a big tree on my sister’s yard in Winnipeg

My husband with a knight in shining armour and a Christmas tree in Bamberg Germany

Painting trees at a paint party at a bridal shower for my niece

In a sculpture called Edge of the Trees outside the City of Sydney Museum in Australia

Women knitting dresses for the trees at the Regina Folk Festival

A lava tree on the Big Island in Hawaii

Our church Christmas tree made of books.

Autumn tree in Quebec City

A glass mosaic called Ash Trees in the Late Afternoon by artist Sharon Loeppky

Arched tree in Sedona Arizona

My husband biking through a forest in Austria

Trees in Zion National Park in Utah

Trees in A.D. Penner Park Steinbach

Trees on Thomas Edison’s estate in Florida

Lone tree photographed on Lake Winnipeg

Hugging a redwood tree in Yalta Ukraine

In the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica

Other posts……..

Imitating Emily

Two Trees- Forty One Years

Edge of the Trees- An Aboriginal Perspective


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Waterfall in Cox’s Cove Newfoundland

Waterfall at the Chi Lin Nunnery in Hong Kong

At the Tad Se Waterfall in Laos

At a waterfall in Costa Rica with my brother

At the Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland with my sister

Waterfall artwork by Theresa Himmer on Winnipeg’s Millennium Library


Little waterfall discovered on a hike near Kenora Ontario

At a waterfall in Colorado with my friend Rebekah

Montmorency Falls near Quebec City

waterfall rotarua new zealand

Waterfall in Rotarua New Zealand

Other posts ………



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Filed under Nature