Walk Elusive Jaguars in the Bolivian Jungle

Volunteering to walk a jaguar through the jungle will be going on your to-do  list. Yes, it looks a bit dangerous, but no more so than driving the 405 through Los Angeles, in my opinion.  The Ambue Ari reserve, located on a remote stretch of road in Bolivia draws an international mix of Americans, Europeans, Israelis and Australians.  The adventurous travelers volunteer as caregivers and companions for some of the most exotic and savage beasts on Earth.  Those who dare to can hold, pat and play with the wild animals they are caring for.globallygorgeous,wow boyz,maienza wilson globally gorgeous,ambue Ari,animal sanctuary,volunteer,eco adventures eco resorts,eco travel,eco tourism,bolivia

Ambue Ari is run by the Bolivian animal-rescue organization called Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY).  CIWY rescues wild animals like monkeys, birds, pumas, and jaguars from Bolivia’s black market; the animals might come from abusive situations or from well-intentioned people who simply can’t care for them. One of CIWY’s goals is to rehabilitate the animals and, when possible, to release some of them within the park. They promote a practice called “direct contact.” For six to ten hours a day volunteers work directly with the animals.
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It’s not your average roadside petting zoo!  Volunteers here work hard in tough, isolated jungle conditions with no luxuries. There is no electricity, telephone or even medical facilities. But adventurers are drawn to the price — $10 a day for room and board — and there are no training requirements.
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Many animals at Ambue Ari were orphaned, abandoned or seized as illegal pets. These can’t  be returned to the wild, so they live in cages. But the idea behind Ambue Ari is to give them as much freedom as humanly possible. The big cats like Rupi get taken on walks four or five hours a day.

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The organization is supported by Jane Goodall.  Internationally renowned for her dedication and approach to improving the environment, she also has the unique ability to motivate and encourage others who in turn inspire her. In 2006 she chose Juan Carlos Antezana, founder and president of Comunidad Inti Wara Yassias, as  one of her heroes.

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Photo credit: ABC News/Matt Hosford.

Jaguarupi, or “Rupi”, (meaning Little Jaguar) is one of five jaguars on the reserve and,  ironically, the largest,  weighing in at nearly  300 pounds.  Rupi gets daily walks in the jungle wearing a collar attached to a rope with three volunteers in tow.  Read ABC news anchor,   Jeffery Kofman’s, exciting firsthand story of walking with this cat here.

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Photo Credit: peta-sucks.com

The organization operates  five reserves with 2,000 animals, including a few dozen big cats, tropical birds and more than 1,000 monkeys.  Juan Carlos says they operate on  an annual budget of $1 million. That is a staggering amount in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, where most people live on just a few dollars a day.

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This beer-drinking monkey provided the in-house entertainment at a local bar and was rescued by a group of kids and set free. Drunk, disoriented, and dying for a stiff drink, the monkey  stumbled back to civilization.  It had had  no other home, but is now safe and  living on the reserve.

Snowbound? Induce a fantasy.

I was text chatting with my dear friend Chris this morning and discovered that she and her 10-year old son, Matthew,  were snowbound in their home in a suburb of Chicago.  Yesterday, her son played outside all day but on this day it was too cold and they were stuck inside for the day.  Chris shared with me her great remedy for cabin fever: induce a fantasy.

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I recalled the great blizzard of 1967.  I was 8,  snowbound and out of school for weeks, and also had ADHD.  So, when I couldn’t build my  elaborate architectural snow forts and was stuck inside, my mother pointed me to the kitchen and said “Bake something, just clean up when you’re done.” She patiently answered all my questions all day and it was indeed, an all day affair. Consequently, I learned how to bake during that blizzard of ’67 and have carried the skills of timing and cooking proportions with me through life.

Chris said she had exactly the same idea except she bought one other ingredient, Campari!  I texted  “Campari!”, as in- I’m lying on my chaise poolside at La Scalinatella on Capri in August” she texted..”You know me so well!”.

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Photo Credit: Keystone Kidtopia

Ok, I admit that my forts were not exactly as elaborate as this fort at Kidtopia-Keystone Resort in Colorado,  but my baking became up to par with this recipe from Williams Sonoma.  Here’s a start for your kids to come in and get warmed up.

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You’ll need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough must be chilled for 1 hour.  These cookies are fun to decorate with your friends!
Ingredients:
For the cookie dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,  at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the decorating icing:
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons warm water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 or 3 drops food coloring (optional)
Colored sugars, sprinkles and/or candies
  for decorating
Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients
In a bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until blended. Turn off the mixer and add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. The dough will look lumpy, like moist pebbles.
Shape the dough
Dump the dough onto a work surface and press together into a solid mound. Divide in half. Press each pile into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Roll out the dough
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 3 baking sheets with butter.
Sprinkle a work surface with some flour. Unwrap 1 chilled disk of dough and place it on the floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more flour. Roll out the dough with the rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle more flour under and over the dough as needed so it doesnt stick.
Cut out shapes
Cut a shape out of the dough with a round cookie cutter. Set the cutout on a baking sheet. Repeat, cutting as close as possible to the previous shape and spacing the cutouts about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Set the scraps of dough aside and repeat with the second chilled disk of dough. Smash all the scraps together, roll the dough out and cut out more shapes.
Bake and cool the cookies
When 1 baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake the cookies until light brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Move the cookies onto the rack with a metal spatula and let cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
Make the icing
In a bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the confectioners sugar, warm water and corn syrup until smooth. Add the food coloring. You can divide the icing among 2 or 3 small bowls and make each one a different color by adding a few drops of food coloring to each bowl.
Decorate the cookies using colored sugars, sprinkles and/or candies (see related tip at right). Makes about 36 cookies.

Snowbound?  Induce your own Fantasy.

Luxury Cruise down the Amazon River with Aqua

What could be more serene and breathtaking than floating in luxurious comfort, deep into the Amazon rainforest and jungle.  It’s an amazing feast for the eye  as you explore remote places along the Amazon by water and by foot, spot unusual wildlife, and meet with local native people. 

Aqua Expeditions offers three, four and seven-night Amazon River luxury cruises in Peru. You will be transported into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve (Reserva Nacional Pacaya Samiria), located deep within the rainforest at the headwaters of the Amazon River basin. Pacaya Samiria is one of Peru’s most well preserved havens for Amazon wildlife, plants and birds.  Because Pacaya Samiria is only accessible by water, you will become one of only a handful of seasoned world travelers ever to have reached this remote destination on the Amazon River.
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Leave from bustling town of Iquitos, Peru; a bustling city in South America, a nation that encompasses a diverse treasure trove of rich history, indigenous cultures, wildlife, natural resources and overwhelming beauty.  Meet the local people and be led by National Park Rangers to see some of the conservation and sustainability projects that are part of this vast reserve within the Amazon rain forest.
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2011 Food and Wine Classic- Aspen Luxury Event

Eat, drink and mingle with celebs under the sun against a lush green mountain backdrop.  You will think you have died and gone to heaven at the Food & Wine Classic in the Colorado Rockies of Aspen.  Did I mention gourmet food and fine wine?  In previous years, visitors had to purchase a full-weekend pass that topped $1,100. Tickets for this year’s Classic events — held June 18-20 — will be sold à la carte,  making individual tickets more accessible for insider events like the Grand Tasting and the Food & Wine Best New Chef Dinner.
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For  Wine Lovers, don’t miss The Classic, as the insiders call it, because it offers a lot of opportunities to sneak a sip from wine cellars’ rarest bottles. If that sounds inviting, make your way to the seminar on France’s preeminent Châteauneuf du Pape and two decades of Dom Pérignon. Or you could tour local winery, Lewis Cellars to try its limited productions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
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The 5 Mile Wave Ride Amidst the Alaskan Wilderness

Imagine catching a wave at breakfast and riding it all the way until  lunch time.  A group of stand-up paddlers did just that when they rode a wave for nearly 5 miles surrounded by the pristine Alaskan wilderness.  This was made possible by a phenomenon called a tidal bore which causes the leading edge of an oncoming tide to push against an opposing current or the direction of the river, thus actually creating a tidal wave.
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The magical event played out on the Turnagain Arm in the Cook Inlet near Girdwood, Alaska.
Scott Dickerson, of SurfAlaska captured the image and shot video (both shown in this post) from a motorized paraglider and referred to this as “bore fever”. Continue Reading…

A Unique Luxury Hotel Experience in Waikiki

Edition Hotels marks the next chapter in the Lifestyle Hotel story. This new Brand was conceived by hip hotelier Ian Schrager in a partnership with Marriott International. Waikiki is the first of

five Edition hotels opened by this notable partnership and the new hotel occupies one wing of the historic Ilikai Hotel. On the outside it looks the same, minus the Ilikai’s signature aquamarine trim. The new facade will combine the personal, intimate, individualized and unique lodging experience that Ian Schrager is known for, with the global reach, operational expertise and scale of Marriott.

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photo credit: weheart.co.uk

The Waikiki Edition’s 353 generously scaled luxury hotel rooms and suites are decorated in natural tones and rich woods with distinctive design touches to create a soothing sense of organic luxury with the character of a home away from home.
The rooms have oversized windows overlooking the city, pools, yacht harbor, and ocean. Many have furnished terraces with sliding louvered doors offering shuttered shade, filtered sunshine or dramatic vistas across the city to the ocean beyond.
Custom beds with down comforters and pillows, 46” LCD TVs, a large work area, complimentary high-speed wireless internet, seamlessly integrated Terrazzo counter tops and sinks, large glass enclosed showers, daybeds, and 24-hour-in-room dining–all create a fully-serviced retreat in the comfort of your own private living space.

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photo credit: weheart.co.uk

Continue Reading…