Of Burning Books and Whirled Peace

Peace on the Santa Fe R.

I’m off to Gainesville, FL this weekend for a long planned kayak trip with family and friends on the Santa Fe River. I’m thanking my stars I’ll be on the peaceful river on Saturday the ninth anniversary of the terrorist bombing in NYC, because if I was in town I’d be tempted to put myself in danger to attend the protest rallies against the Quran burning at the 50-member evangelical Dove World Outreach. Its Reverend (?) Terry Jones has created a tornado spinning round the world with his plan to burn the holy books of Islam as examples of terrorism and the devil. Already the news has taken the Muslim world by storm with counter burnings of the American flag and the effigies of Pres. Obama and Pastor Jones that fuel the possibility of inciting more terrorist attacks.

Even the pleadings of Gen. Petraeus and the denunciations of high US government officials, including Sec. of State Hillary Clinton have done nothing to deter Jones’ resolve. Okay, at least I can attend the counter protest, joining all the other religious and secular leaders, media, and the public together for a “Gathering for Peace” on Friday night, which has received little publicity in comparison to the Quran-burning spawned by Jones.

Here comes a news flash. Terry Jones must be getting intimidated. He’s had a meeting with the local Imam and makes an announcement cancelling the Quran bonfire after getting a promise that the planned mosque in NYC will be moved away from the “ground zero” neighborhood. What? This is hard to believe.

I keep the news on as I write. The twisting tornado of the media blitz continues. Another flash –  Jones gets a call from Robert Gates, the Sec. of Defense, asking him to back down in interest of stopping the violence already started in the Muslim world. Flash. Now Jones says the Imam lied to him, and he’s changing the cancellation to a suspension! I can’t keep up and go to bed. Dreams of war and pestilence infect my mind.

Friday morning. With coffee in hand I turn on the news before I leave for Gainesville. Lo and behold, twisted pastor Jones is on network TV announcing his planned meeting with the NYC Muslims. If they agree to move the mosque he will return his suspension of the Quran bonfire to a cancellation. What kind of messages is Jones’ God giving him? What kind of cat and mouse game is the world playing? I can’t wait to float down the quiet Santa Fe R. meditating on the image of world peace and tolerance. I hope that when I return the tornado of hatred and ignorance hasn’t grown into a monster of a new terrorism.p8100064-300x225-5073835

Life in the Treetops-Part 4

More Bird, Butterfly and Monkey Business


We could spend hours on our balcony watching the life in the canopy, one that most people will never experience. Thank you Meg Lowman, the pioneer in studying forest canopies all over the world. She was the first to construct platforms and zip-lines to sail her through one of the only unexplored parts of the world – the forest canopy. She lives and works in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida and is one of our celebrity professors from New College. She made me want to visit the upper levels of the earth. Thank you Erica and Matt Hogan of Finca Bellavista for making it happen, and thank my lucky stars for the opportunity.

The last day we descend to travel on some of the extensive trails in and around the mountain. The first, a steep heart-pounder, takes us up to the edge of the waterfall that has been the backdrop to our treetop aerie. Standing atop the massive surge of water is exhilarating yet frightening. “It’s sucking me over!” I yell over the deafening roar.


“It’s too exciting for me, let’s get out of here. Too bad we can’t fly back to our roost. Like SuperMatt, or the birds.” trumpets B. We follow the trail in sinewy curves down and along the crystal clear Rio Bellavista rippling over rocks. Eden calls. Stripping off our sweaty clothes, we frolic in the cool water.

But soon it’s time to return to the groundfloor of life. This time, while walking back to Base Camp, we get two reprieves. Tico employees continuing to extend the network of trails, greet us with a friendly “Que tal? Necesitan ayuda con su equipaje?”

“Por supuesto!” For sure. We’ll take help with our luggage. They carry it all the way back to camp while we meander back through the jungle, noticing that Erica, true to her word, has already added new signs directing us back. Now that’s service! Anyone interested in more information on this unique and wondrous Shangri-la just check into fincabellavista.net. for site plans, examples of already built tree houses, sample house plans, rentals, rules and regulations and more. Thank you for your comments and keep them coming. Keep posted for our new adventure.


At the end of February we’ll be setting out with World Water Corp, a branch of the non-profit Water for People (from my African adventure), to a remote area in Central America, El Sauce, Nicaragua. We will be monitoring water systems that have already been put in place to see how they’re functioning. Here we go again. More soon.