Christmas on the Amazon

Amazon Sunset – Russell Johnson

Talk about a holiday escape.

A few years ago I flew from the real Bethlehem, in the Middle East, to Brazil’s  Bethlehem, to a town called Belem at the mouth of the Amazon. On Christmas Eve, after checking out the anaconda skins and voodoo curses at the local market, I began a jungly yuletide cruise. Take a look at the video and some pictures.

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium


Jellyfish, Monterey Bay Aquarium ©2005 Russell Johnson

For a moment recently, I wished I were a jellyfish. Now, a jellyfish that has washed up on a beach looks disgusting…like a discarded Ziploc bag. But the Jellies at the Outer Bay exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California have reason to be envied.

Imagine spending your life tumbling languidly in liquid suspension while thousands of admirers ooh and awwh. Not bad for a gelatinous blob without heart or brain. Jellies can, however, see, smell (so scientists say) and taste even though they would make terribly inarticulate restaurant critics. And even though the sight of one is enough to make a diver convulse in terror, most species of jellyfish, unlike many objects of beauty, are not the least bit dangerous.

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An American in Paris: Thanksgiving

Photo (c)2004 Russell Johnson

Note: We first published this story in 2004, just after Thanksgiving and a few weeks after the re-election of George W. Bush. The US dollar wasn’t worth too much then and the French found our politics puzzling, to say the least.

Thanksgiving, of course, is completely off the map of the French. My wife Pat and I spent Turkey Day with expat friends shamelessly gulping red wine, slurping oysters and savoring all manner of fats, cheeses, chocolates and filet of boeuf. All of this is good for you…if you are in France.

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The Last Flea Circus

I went to Oktoberfest and did not have a beer. Nope, not one biermadchen’s tear of frothy brew, a sacrilege for which I will surely rot in some Faustian teetotler’s hell. But I saw something I never thought I would see, ever. Watch the video.
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The Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica – Video

I took a hike through Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud forest with Danilo Wallace, a park ranger born and raised in what is now one of the world’s foremost rainforest preserves. He said that when he was a child he shot Toucans with a slingshot, cut off their bills and made necklaces. For his parents, the forest was a servant, from which they extracted building materials and food. That has changed.

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