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1967 was the year the World Wildlife Fund Canada was founded, Toronto ON. It became a member of the worldwide global network of the WWF, which came into being April 1961, in Morges, Switzerland. 2017 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the WWF. In recognition of this and the tremendous effort and work of this organization, its members and contributors and supporters were asked to write a personal story about the year 1967. “Where were you in 1967 ?”

In my case, the year 1967 was very special. In January 1967 I got married to a Dutchman. Living in Holland and working for the European Space Technology Centre (ESA) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. In June that same year we took a vacation of two weeks to Varna, Bulgaria, the Black Sea. Just shortly prior to that, the six day war had broken out in Israel, the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries.

[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War ] Our plan had been to take a boat voyage across the Black Sea to Odessa, at that time still the USSR (Soviet Union). But because of the war, European nationals were not allowed into the USSR, because Russia was pro-Arab, whereas Europe was pro-Israel. Particularly the Netherlands.

Therefore, instead, we took the boat from Varna to Istanbul, Turkey. That crossing was not easy, it was rough. Istanbul in contrast was a wonderful and exciting cultural experience. That same year 1967, late in September my son was born. Making him next year also fifty years old, the same age as the World Wildlife Fund of Canada.

Of course during those years and living in Europe there was no such thing as wildlife. The best we came up with had been house pets. My caring for wildlife and the environment started in North America, when completing my graduate studies at Syracuse University, New York State. My major projects were on environmental information systems, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme. It was also during that period that I became aware of the problems our oceans are facing. The period was 1974. And today ? we hear the same. Nothing much has been accomplished as of yet. Keep up the good work for endangered wildlife species. It may be hard work, but it is worthwhile to never give up the fight.

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To get a decent flight from Victoria, Vancouver Island south – even if it’s the same coast line – to Mexico, Puerto Vallarta (or anywhere thereabouts) is not so easy. Most flights take two days. But, good news: it can be done in one day. I went November/December 2012 to spend six weeks in Sayulita [ http://www.sayulita.com/ ], north of Puerto Vallarta, Mex. Taking West Jet Airlines. From Victoria International Airport (YYC). Meaning, get up early in the morning, catch the Victoria Airporter Bus from the nearest Hotel in Victoria (cost is only C$19) to Vic Airport. Flight leaves at 7:00 AM, arriving Calgary AB 9:20 AM (this is only a one-hour flight; Alberta is a different time zone already). At Calgary (which is the hub for all flights going to Pto. Vallarta) there is a good 4 hours layover at the airport. Met my old friend there at Tim Horton’s Cafe. From Calgary at 2:00 PM to Pto. Vallarta non-stop to arrive there at around 7:00 PM, when it’s dark in Mexico. Sayulita is a smaller fishing village and tourist hub for surfers just north of Puerto Vallarta [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Vallarta ].

When arriving at Pto. Vallarta airport, it is not necessary to catch a taxi cab (to go north) by traversing the highway and walk over the overpass to the other side. Taxis are just outside waiting once one gets through the airport security and bypass all the other commercial facilities (trying to sell you time-shares or other). There are also inside the airport taxi booths where you can rent a taxi. Not necessary, though. All taxis are controlled at the airport exit, so no over-charging can occur. There are standard fares for Sayulita US$50. Takes a couple hours by cab through the jungle and in the dark. I was lucky and used to always travel alone. Plus had informed myself beforehand via which villages we should travel. The young taxi driver was very friendly (as all Mexicans are), amused that I was nervous. When he stopped at one of those large grocery chain stores OXO on the way, asking if I want to buy some groceries for the next morning, I declined (“no way do I get out of this cab.”) Arriving Sayulita around 9 PM. In the dark we finally found the building, a big mansion uphill, where I had reserved my suite. Of course, the main gate was closed. Lucky, my taxi driver had a cell phone and could call inside. Lucky also, the US owners were still in the building that night. So, we could get the gate code to enter. The young man even carried my two small suit cases upstairs to my suite. Return from Sayulita to Pto. Vallarta Aeropuerto take the bus, it is cheap, about 40 minutes or less.

Martin Luther King Jr, Civil Rights Leader and Baptist Priest. Born in Atlanta, GA. Why was Birmingham, AL, significant for the entire civil rights movement. From http://www.birmingham.org : The year was 1963, and as the world watched, events in Birmingham sparked an unstoppable surge toward equal rights for people of all races.  As Birmingham enters 2013, the city will mark the 50th anniversary of pivotal events of 1963 in America’s Civil Rights Move

[ http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/birmingham_1963.htm ]

Birmingham, AL, summer 1997. My travel to Birmingham. To visit my son who just completed his MSc.AerospaceEng at University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa., AL. [ http://www.ua.edu/ ] . I then spent a week in Birmingham, with a short visit of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. As a former Jazz aficionado. And visit the wonderful Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Before taking off on a week-long trip to the Gulf Coast – Mississippi, Louisiana, Gulf Coast. Stopping New Orleans, the Bayous, and Biloxi, MS. Then visiting the USS Alabama, Battle Ship (BB-60), commissioned in 1942 and now resting at Battleship Park on Mobile Bay, Mobile AL.

Birmingham is significant for the start of the civil rights movement, also because of Dr. Martin Luther Jr’s time in the Birmingham Jail and his famous letter:

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html.

Birmingham AL is also known as the city of steel. And its huge statue of the MAN OF STEEL – the Vulcan Statue. [ WIKIPEDIA: …Vulcan statue is the largest cast iron statue in the world, and is the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama, reflecting its roots in the iron and steel industry. The 56-foot (17 m) tall statue depicts the Roman god Vulcan, god of the fire and forge. It was created as Birmingham’s entry for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World’s Fair) in St. Louis, Missouri. It is the seventh-tallest free-standing statue in the United States. ]

But more significant for the Civil Rights Movement was the march to Washington DC and Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech 28 August 1963.: “I have a dream. That one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal’”. (include women)

NOTE. The FBI – to target King specifically as a major enemy of the United States.[34] Two days after King delivered “I Have a Dream”, Agent William C. Sullivan, the head of COINTELPRO, wrote a memo about King’s

{Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin.} You know that one ? {Berlin ist eine Reise wert.} I left my suitcase in Berlin. Berlin is worth a voyage. 

I was several times in Berlin, even when it was still divided up into four Sectors. Long ago. That had been 1961. When my good friend and I traveled from my hometown Braunschweig, NW Germany, to visit her family in Berlin. Train travel is only one hour and a half, thereabouts. No stops, because of the VoPo’s, the notorious police squads responsible for security in the Communist Sector. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkspolizei ], the DDR – Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Stop at the border check (between the West and the East). At that time I was employed as IT specialist by the European Space Technology Centre, Netherlands. I had left all my ID’s pertaining to my work at home. I traveled as a simple office assistant. Main thing then was, not to make eye contact. That was serious scary stuff. Special trains also, which had grates underneath each wagon to prevent East Germans to flee the DDR.

Back in Berlin much later, the year 2005 and then 2007. All had changed. Still the atmosphere lingers. Friedrich Strasse goes through the West and former East Sector, you can feel the difference as soon as you walk along that Street. Our time again traveling back 2007 and spending days with my son (from Holland). We stayed in one Hotel near the old Anhalter Bahnhof (now a ruin). Near the Center and Brandenburger Gate. So interesting.   With Europe, the unbelievable thing always is: the moment I am back (and it took me 31 years) it feels like I never left. Language ? I can speak “berlinisch”, can fit in, nobody knows I come from (the moon ?). But crossing borders is different. I lost my citizenship and over there are now a foreigner. To be in Berlin itself is always a good thing, because that is where the main government is. You can get a lot more done here. Huge city – made many trips to outlying areas, parks, lakes, Potsdam – DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). Potsdam famous for its history prior to the big wars and during and 1945. [ http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potsdamer_Konferenz ] Potsdam is pretty. Nice old streets, the castle. There is still some stores selling special DDR paraphernalia. Berlin in summer turns into a hotspot of actions bringing in large numbers of Roma/Romani, which hang out around the Alex (Alexanderplatz). Accosting tourists. They usually carry slips of paper (in english) asking for money or other. Following tourists into stores. Ignore them! I love the Ku-Damm – Kurfürstendamm, where we always stop at Cafe Kranzler. [ http://www.cafekranzler.de/ ] Top floor restaurant. Do not miss! Unter den Linden – I love it. Promenading, a large boulevard in mid-Berlin. And of course Humboldt University (founded 1810) with its many little sidewalk book sellers, always bought myself (or re-sold) some books. Also found many little (cellar) used book stores even in Kreuzberg. Best of all I like the old quarter – the Nikolai Viertel. I could live there, but is now all tourists and seems to be getting smaller and smaller in size. More images of Berlin.

Peruvian_Caballo0003

The Peruvian Paso or Peruvian Horse is a breed of light pleasure saddle horse known for its smooth ride. It is distinguished by a natural, four-beat, lateral gait called the paso llano. This breed is protected by the Peruvian government through Decree number 25919 of Peru enacted on November 28, 1992, and has been declared a Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the National Institute of Culture (INC).[1] Due to the isolation suffered for about 400 years and the selection made by their breeders, this breed is very particular in their body proportions and a side walk or “paso llano” that is characteristic. It is typical of the northern Peruvian regions of the country from which he originated [Wikipedia].

In 1998 I had acquired a registered Peruvian Paso mare called SIRENITA. Señorita Sirenita was a lovely little dark bay mare, small even for her breed who are smaller horses, very elegant with a nice smooth Paso Llano gait (a distinct inherited, andcompletely natural four beat lateral gait ), eager to please and with Brio (qualities of boldness, exuberance and astute focus in service to the rider). One says, “riding a Peruvian Paso with a glass of Champaign in one’s hand should not spill a drop of it.”

Sirenita when I bought her had been 4 years young only. Trained by a professional Peruvian trainer at the Ranch where she was foaled. I brought her to my Ranch in Alberta NW of Calgary in the Foothills of the Rockies, together with a companion mare, to keep her company. I rode Sirenita her in the forests (my 80-acre Ranch was surrounded by miles of Crown Land, lots of space) and the trails. She was easy to get along. 1999 we had her bred by one of the class stallions at her home Ranch, RDLF DON RODOLFO, also a dark bay stallion, bred as so many Peruvian Pasos in California Rancho de la Florecita.

It is difficult to trace Peruvian Paso’s bloodlines as there have been in the past little recordings. Good sources for more information are http://www.napha.net/DatabaseAppCode/NaphaWebSite/NAPHA.aspx?&height=800 , and http://www.peruvian-pasos.com/horses.html .

Before Sirenita was due with a foal, I had brought the two mares to her home Ranch because with their hundred or so Peruvian Pasos they had the better foaling facilities. My beautiful little SIRENITA had a tiny little foal exactly on Mother’s Day, May 14, in the year 2000. And the other little miracle was that the foal – who was a colt – turned out to be sorrel in color, a beautiful golden bronze color, unlike his parents, who had both been dark in color.

That’s where the real story starts, with training a horse baby. After the night the baby was born I drove down to their ranch, sat in their stall – it was quite an emotional experience for me. I had horses for so many years, but never a foal. He was so little (her first) that he disappeared under her belly. Of course horses are very shy of humans, and when unknown they take flight of anything and anybody. However, it is important to start contact immediately with a tiny foal after they are born. It is part of the process of getting to know each other. In horse parlance this process is known as IMPRINTING. A learning process occurring soon after birth of a foal, the best and only opportunity to establish future behavior patterns in a horse towards people. 

I spent each day inside the stall with the little guy and aided by his mom’s cooperation, to get acquainted, to touch eventually without frightening him. You need a lot of patience for accomplishing this. In four days I could touch him, then within one week put very carefully a tiny baby horse halter on – it was pink, for a little girl, but who cares. And within couple of weeks I was able to pick up his hind legs for some light hoof care. What a guy!

I include two videos of the colt’s progression, one an audio video, made by my son Marc at Sirenita’s home Ranch – me riding the little mare and Buzzy ‘buzzing’ around her. – = Created with Firefox 19 Apr 13/13 –