Joys of Life

We are rather taught to look for happiness outside, to achieve a certain lifestyle. To judge, to compare and to earn more. We crave "the great lifestyle" — the very-well paid job, the huge house with 5 bedrooms, the latest mobile phone, the infinity pool on a remote island, so we can watch the sunset, the fancy car and so on. Don't take me wrong, they all can be great to some extent. And yet, if you stop, breath and relax, you might get a different perspective of what authentic and happy life really means. You may realize that the little joys of life are all around you!

Hemingway’s Love Affair with El Floridita’s Daiquiri & Writing

“My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.” These are the words left by Hemingway himself on a signed quote still hanging on the wall of La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. “Papa”, as he was often called, had a long-lasting love affair with Cuba and he made sure the world would know it. His love for Cuba outlives in his writings through the voice of his characters. Daiquiri and Mojito were just two of the many things he loved about Cuba.

Hemingway was a notorious boozer just as he was womaniser, fighter and hunter. The legend goes as far as saying that Hemingway outfished, outhunted and outdrank most of his contemporaries.

In order to write about life, you must live it first.

Hemingway preferred to be drunk—“not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless”. He drank, he wrote, he sobered up and edited, then drank again.

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

Papa embraced what he called “the fiesta concept of life”. He was always seeking excitement and adventure. Always looking to have a “hell of a good time”, he had the guts to live his life as he pleased. Hemingway’s close friend, A. E. Hotchner witnessed it all:

I suppose the most remarkable thing about Ernest is that he has found time to do the things most men only dream about. He has had the courage, the initiative, the time, the enjoyment to travel, to digest it all, to write, to create it, in a sense. — A. E. Hotchner

Hemingway’s affair with drinking & writing

Hemigway was one people would call an Olympian drinker and he never claimed anything else. He liked his Martinis dry, his Mojitos sweet and his Daiquiri sugarless. Yet, beer, champagne

Papa had a passion for drinking and no one did more to play up the heroic magnitude of the writer’s drinking than Hemingway himself. He was a firm believer that drinking in the local bars is the best way to know the people.

Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares, if you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.

Despite being a heavy boozer and loving hanging out late, Hemingway had an amazing capability to wake up early and write. When looking at the daily at artists’ alcohol drinking habits, Mason Currey found that while many artists did drink a great deal, very few mixed alcohols with their working hours.

Hemingway was similarly also adept at balancing late-night drinking with early-morning work. Currey quotes Hemingway’ son, Gregory, who recalled that the author seemed immune to hangovers:

“My father would always look great, as if he’d slept a baby’s sleep in a soundproof room with his eyes covered by black patches.”

It seems all artists need to depart from their own work for a few hours and for some of them, including Hemingway, alcohol was a reliable escape.

El Floridita’s Famous Guest List

When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky?”

Daiquiri - Floridita
Hemingway’s original autograph hanging on a wall in El Bodeguita del Medio

The big man has taken seriously his own advice and whenever someone made a trip to Havana to be introduced to him, Hemingway would meet him at La Florida bar, affectionately known as the “El Floridita.” It’s here also where he got his inspiration and got to know Cubans. This is the place where he celebrated his third marriage with Martha Ellis Gelhorn, the American journalist considered one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century.

It is Hemingway’s Daiquiri and written stories that turned El Floridita in one of the most well-known bars in the world. Referring to his preferred sugarless Papa Doble Daiquiri, Hemingway once said:

This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.

The Hemingways (1950) with friends at El Floridita with (from left to right) Gianfranco Ivancich, Roberto Herrera, unidentified man, Ernest Hemingway, unidentified woman, unidentified man, and Mary Hemingway. Two mariachi band members are sitting at table beside them. Credit Line: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

On a usual afternoon at Floridita, Hemingway had an average of 6 Papa Doble Daiquiri. He reportedly sometimes downed up to 12 Papa Dobles in one sitting. It was rumoured that later in his life Hemingway drank a quart of whiskey a day.

In 1953, Esquire magazine called Floridita one the world’s seven best bars, along with, the Pied Piper Bar in San Francisco, the Ritz in Paris and London, Raffles in Singapore, Club 21 in New York and the bar at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

From “La Piña de Plata” to “El Floridita”

Constante El Floridita
Ernest Hemingway at El Florida with Constante

Opened in 1817 under the name La Piña de Plata (The Silver Pineapple), this historic fish restaurant and cocktail bar situated bar in La Habana Vieja (The Old Havana), El Floridita lies at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street).

It’s not far away from Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana) and Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway maintained a room from 1932–1939.

Almost 100 years since its opening, the establishment changed its name to “El Florida”, but with time it became popularly known as “El Floridita”. This is the name under which it became one of the favourite hangouts of Ernest Hemingway in Havana.

In 1914, Constantino, nicknamed Constante, a Catalan immigrant Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, started working in the bar as cantinero (bartender). Four years later, Constante became the owner in 1918. According to cocktail historian and author Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Constante was known as “El Rey de los Coteleros” (The Cocktail King) and reportedly squeezed 80 million limes and poured 10 million daiquiris in his lifetime.

Constante was a major influence on Trader Vic and other tropical drink pioneers of the era, creating variations of the daiquiri, which is believed to have been invented in the early 1900s in Cuba. “By the 1930s, he had turned it into an art form.”

Constante’s El Floridita – “la cuna del daiquiri”

Daiquri @ El Floridita
Constante is credited for inventing the famous frozen Daiquiri which you can still taste in today while in Floridita. It goes perfectly with the fried bananas they bring along.

It took Constante few years and a lot of passion poured into his numerous creations (Presidente, Habana Special and many more) to turn El Floridita into Havana’s cathedral of cocktails.

Although the story goes that the Daiquiri was invented in Cuba in or around 1898, in the town of Daiquiri, by an American mine supervisor named Jennings Cox, it is Constante who is today credited for inventing the frozen daiquiri in the early 1930s.

There were several types of daiquiri Constante and his cantineros used to prepare for Floridita’s visitors, so it’s no surprise the establishment became known as “la cuna del daiquiri” (the cradle of the daiquiri).

Hemingway @ El Floridita
La Floridita, Havana, Cuba (1955?)- (from left to right) Roberto Herrera, Byra “Puck” Whittlesey, John “Bumby” Hemingway, Spencer Tracy, Ernest Hemingway, and Mary Hemingway. Source:

With Papa & Constante there, it’s no wonder writers like Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Graham Greene, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gabriel García Márquez or Tennessee Williams stopped at least one time at El Floridita to enjoy Hemingway’s daiquiri.

When walking today through the doors of Floridita, one cannot help notice the many pictures of famous people hanging on the walls, as well as the life-size bronze statue at the end of the bar, sculpted by the Cuban artist José Villa Soberón.

Daiquiri and live music @ Floridita

El Floridita
El Floridita, the cradle of Daiquiri, as you can see it today

Despite the passing years, Floridita miraculously preserved much of the 40’s and 50’s. I guess this does not have to do only the with the red coats of the bartenders matching the Regency style decoration that dates from the ‘50s. It has to do with the long original 10-meter long mahogany bar that still dominates the main room. It also has to do with the same Corinthian friezes the carpentry work, lamps and the paintings on the walls. In 1991 El Floridita was totally remodelled, respecting all the original elements.

Hemingway’s full-size bronze statue on his favourite barstool in El Floridita. 

Tourists and locals entering Floridita’s door today can also enjoy the delicious seafood served in the restaurant area. There are also many Mediterranean dishes you can try out! And, I do have to tell you that there’s also live music. You can listen to some great Latino songs!

This establishment was frequented by many generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and celebrities from all parts of the world. In the old days, you could spot Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Ava Gardner, Gary or Cooper zipping a daiquiri. Later on, to this least add Rocky Marciano, Harry Belafonte, Javier Sotomayor, Matt Dillion, Danny Glover, Jack Lemmon, Jack Nicholson or Jean Michel Jarre. And, of course, the fashion industry’s celebs such as Paco Rabanne, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Giorgio Armani,  and others. They all stopped at least one time at El Floridita to enjoy Hemingway’s daiquiri.  Hope you will enjoy yours, too!

Hemingway Daiquiri Recipe (aka Papa Doble)

It feels to me a little bit unfair to talk about Havana’s rum cocktails, as I did in Hemingway’s Love Affair with El Floridita’s Daiquiri & Writing, and not share with you Hemingway Daiquiri recipe. “Daiquiri like Papa” was the initial given name to this Cuban rum cocktail honoring Papa. Later on it got a second name, Papa Doble, yet today is known as Hemingway Daiquiri. This recipe is the exactly the Daiquiri the writer used to have at his beloved El Floridita Bar. He had his Papa Dobles along with some delicious slices of fried Cuban bananas.

Truth to be told, F. Scott Fitzgerald deserves the credit for being the first novelist to introduce the Daiquiri to the literary audience in This Side of Paradise. Yet, it was Ernest Hemingway who made it famous with the voice of his characters in his novels. In Hemingway’s posthumously published novel Islands in the Stream, Thomas Hudson is an artist who paints island scenes for a living. As long as he fills his days by doing what he loves most, namely painting, Thomas finds relative peace on the beautiful island of Bimini, the most western island in the Caribbean. Yet, just like Hemingway, Hudson is also known as a prodigious drinker. He loved his Daiquiris without sugar, as he could consume larger quantities without getting one sick.

Hemingway Daiquiri Recipe (aka Papa Doble)

So, as promised, here’s Papa Doble’s recipe. Below you can find all ingredients and steps you need to follow to enjoy a Hemingway Daiquiri in the comfort of your own home.

Hemingway Daiquiri
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
  • shaved or cubed ice
  • coupe glass
  • Martini glass
  • slice of lime
  • straw



Fill a blender/shaker with one-quarter full of ice, preferably shaved. Add rum, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur to the blender or shaker. Shake vigorously for about thirty seconds, or until the drink is foaming. Strain into a chilled fluted glass. Share your Daiquiri with your best friends. It will taste even better!

Daiquiri to enjoy

In case this isn’t enough, or you just simply want to see a properly prepare Hemingway Daiquiri, here’s your chance. Watch the award-winning bartender Jim Meehan do the work! Journalist and author of The PDT Cocktail Book and Bartender Manual, Meehan is famous for his world-renowned bar in the East Village. It’s the one place where bartenders routinely mix drinks with multiple obscure ingredients.

The Macaques of Monkey Forest in Ubud

The macaques rule over the 12.5 hectares of the The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali. It’s the kind of place where you can spend a full day without getting bored. And how can you get bored when there are hundreds of naughty macaque monkeys of all ages, jumping all around always looking for something to do?

The Temples of the Monkey Forest

As one can imagine, The Monkey Forest is one of Ubud’s main attractions. The local Balinese refer to the site as the Padangtegal Wenara Wana or the Padangtegal Monkey Forest.  The Balinese have been using this sacred site for over 700 years.

Located in the village of Padangtegal, the Monkey Forest is an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation center for the village. The Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary consists in three temples (referred to as Pura), the Pura Dalem Agung, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati which are surrounded by forests. Balinese people pray in the altars of these temples in the Monkey Forest and give offerings to the gods. The Monkey Forest is considered sacred among the Balinese people, as are the macaques that live at forest.

Around 700 monkeys and 186 species of trees

As currently estimated, there are around 700 monkeys living in The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  They are divided into 6 groups, each one of them consisting of 100 – 120 monkeys:

  • infants (0 – 1 year)
  • juvenile 1 (1 – 2 years)
  • juvenile 2 (2 – 4 years)
  • sub adult male (4 – 6 years)
  • adult female (> 4 years)
  • and adult male (> 6 years).

These macaques are also completely used to humans and interact with the staff and tourists who visit the forest. There are plenty of stories about how monkeys can be very aggressive, stealing things and even injuring visitors. My experience with them is different, yet I was careful about not having with me shiny objects, sunglasses, or other things that might get the macaques interested in.

The forest has 12.5 hectares and there are 186 species of trees growing all over the place. To this date, about 115 tree species have been identified.  The macaques at the site have been observed eating the flowers, fruits, leaves, nuts, and seeds of these trees.  The Balinese people also use some of these plants for their medicinal properties or for ceremonial purposes.

The Macaque Family

The type of monkeys that live in The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary are known as the Balinese long-tailed monkeys or simply Macaques. Their scientific name is Macaca Fascicularis. This type of primate is active during the day and rests at night. This is quite obvious once you take a long walk on the alleys of the Monkey Forest.

On a personal note, I must confess that I’ve witnessed some really touching moments with the macaque families. The pictures below are self-explanatory!

The Baby Macaque

You’ll see many baby macaques in the Monkey Forest and their games are great to watch! You’ll also see them hanging by older monkeys while being carried from one place to another.

The pregnancy takes about 6 months and generally 1 infant is born. Twins are a rarity. Macaque babies stay with their mothers for around 10 months and thereafter they will be weaned to live independently.

Female macaques are extremely careful about their babies. It is also known that even female monkeys who are not the parents are also involved in keeping the babies safe and sound.

The average weight of female monkey is 2.5 – 5.7 kg and male monkey is 3.5 – 8 kg. The lifespan of male monkey up to 15 years, while for the female monkey is up to 20 years.

The Macaque’s temptations – bananas and corn

The Macaques are omnivores and in the Monkey Forest of Ubud, their main food is sweet potato, given 3 times a day and combined with banana, papaya leaf, corn, cucumber, coconut and other local fruits and vegetables. Yet, as you’ll see, the macaques do love corn and bananas!

Macaques have fun

Here are some of my favorite macaques pics. I just hope you’ll like them! And if you do, just leave your comments below.

Note: This article was written for and published on Discovery’s Pets of Champions. Pictures have been taking during my trip to Bali and cannot be used in any way without prior written consent. 

Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts about Dolphins

Do you remember dolphin Flipper, Alpha & Beta, Hope and Winter, Snowflake, Orca Willy or Jones, the retired Navy dolphin-hacker from Johnny Mnemonic? If you do, it means two things: you’ve met some of the most loved dolphins of the planet that made it to the big screen; also, you already know how lovable they are, just like their relatives swimming in the deep waters of the oceans.

Dolphins – the sacred fish


The Ancient Greeks called dolphins “hieros ichthys” which means sacred fish. They went so far as considering the killing of a dolphin a sacrilegious act and therefore punishable by death.

The name of the dolphin is also linked to the Greeks, as it originally came δελφίς (delphís), “dolphin”, which was related to the Greek δελφύς (delphus), “womb”. The animal’s name can therefore be interpreted as meaning “a fish with a womb“. The name was transmitted via the Latin “delphinus”, which in Medieval Latin became “dolfinus” and in Old French “daulphin”, which reintroduced the ‘ph’ into the word.

In modern languages we now have it as “dolphin” in English, “dupin” in Croatian, “delfino” in Italian, “delfín” in Czech and Spanish, “delfin” in Romanian, “delfiini” in Finish, “dolfijn” in Dutch, or “dolffiniaid” in Welsh.

Dolphin’s quick facts list 

  • Order: Cetacea
  • Scientific name: Delphinadae (oceanic species) and Platanistoidea (river species)
  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Carnivore;  
  • Lifespan: 12-20 years
  • Size: 1.2-9.1m long
  • Weight: 40 kg to over 6 tonnes
  • Range: Global, typically found in shallow seawater of the continental shelves

Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts About Dolphins

Dolphins are extraordinarily intelligent, friendly, funny, playful and full of surprises. And with such treats, who can remain immune to their charm? It’s no wonder that Albert Einstein praised them by saying that “There’s no question dolphins are smarter than humans as they play more.”

Here are the top 10 most fascinating things about dolphins that we’ve dug out for you.

1. Nearly 40 species of dolphins

Well-known for their playful character, most dolphins swim in the in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans, yet there are some who enjoy living in the rivers. There are over 40 species of dolphins, the most common being the Bottlenose dolphin.

2. Dolphin’s amazing brain

Dolphins are not just lovely creatures, but they are also extremely intelligent. By comparing the ratio size of brain to body, scientists came to the conclusion that dolphins rank second, right after the humans! A dolphin’s brain is 4-5 times larger than those of other animals of similar size.

3. They sleep resting one side of the brain at a time


To prevent drowning while sleeping only half of the dolphin’s brain goes to sleep! The other half remains awake so they can continue to breathe! It is said that dolphins are as smart as apes, and that the evolution of their larger brains is surprisingly similar to humans.

4. Dolphins have 2 stomachs

One is used for storage of food and the other is used for digestion. By the way, dolphins never chew their food, they swallow it as a whole. Their teeth are used only to catch their prey; fish, squid and crustacean are their favourite. Also, a 260-pound dolphin eats about 33 pounds of fish a day.

5. The best sonar in the world

Dolphin sonar is the best in nature and superior to bats’ and man-made sonar. Just like bats, they use echolocation to navigate and hunt, bouncing high-pitched sounds off of objects, and listening for the echoes. Their teeth work as a kind of antenna to pick up the sounds bounced back by their prey during echolocation.

6. Babies protected by midwives

DolphinsDepending on the species, dolphin’s gestation takes 9 to 17 months and mothers breastfeed calves for two or three years. Dolphins have been observed nestling and cuddling with their young. It is in the nature of the dolphins to stick with their mothers between three and eight years before they leave their pod.

7. Dolphins attend the sick relatives

It is said that elephants caring for a crippled herd member is a sign of empathy. Well, we could say the same about the dolphins who are often seen tending to the sick, the ill, old and the injured in their group, which is known as “pod”. If needed, they can help others breathe by bringing them to the surface.

8. Dolphins know how to use tools

It would be an overstatement to call dolphins carpenter, but for sure they know how to use tools! They use broken off sea sponges to protect their noses while they forage! But, make no mistake, dolphins are not the only creatures using tools. Recent studies talk about chimps who use rocks to crack nuts, while others fish for termites with blades of grass. Gorillas gauge the depth of water with the equivalent of a dipstick.

9. Great at healing themselves

DolphinsDolphins have an extremely sensitive skin, so they can easily get injured at the slightest touch of a hard surface. Despite the sensitivity, they have a great healing capacity even from deep wounds like the shark bites. The experts do not have a clear explanation for this phenomenon, especially since they claim that similar mammals suffering from similar wounds would die from a hemorrhage instead.

10. Orca, the killer whale is a dolphin

Though called killer whales, orcas are not whales! Orcas, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators. With a lifespan in the wild ranging from 50 to 80 years, Orcas can reach up to 32 feet and 6 tons. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales. This is where they also got the nickname of “killer whales”. Orcas (Orcinus orca) are also known for grabbing seals right off the ice. They also eat fish, squid, and seabirds.

April 14, 2018 – Happy Dolphin Day!

Dolphins have a whole day dedicated to their existence for a good reason, as some species of dolphin are endangered, and the biggest threat to their future is man. Let’s raise awareness for the protection of these beautiful creatures.

World Wild Life Day 2018

World Wildlife Day 2018 is celebrated on March 3rd, under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat”. It’s an opportunity to celebrate Mother Nature’s creative power and generosity. Today is the day to remind ourselves “the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.” 

24,431 Endangered species of animals and organisms

Every two years World Wildlife organization issues the Living Planet Report that uses the Living Planet Index (LPI) as a measure of the state of the world’s biological diversity based on population trends of vertebrate species from terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. 2016 Living Planet Report revealed the extremely troubling and ugly truth humanity needs to face.

“For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife,” says Mike Barrett, director of science and policy at WWF-UK, in a statement. “We ignore the decline of other species at our peril — for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us.

The overall decline of all three LPIs  between 1970 and 2012 posses a real threat to Mother Nature and humans as well:

  • The terrestrial LPI — populations have declined by 38%;
  • The freshwater LPI — on average the abundance of populations monitored in the freshwater system has declined by 81%;
  • The marine LPI —  36%.

According to 2017 Red List of The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources,  counted a total of 24,431 threatened species of animals and organisms as of 2017. Also, a total number of 10,972 flowering plants were considered as threatened species in the same year.

Big cats, just as many other endangered species, are facing a variety of threats, yet human activities are mostly responsible for them. I’m only going to add that habitat loss and degradation, food systems, climate change and species over-exploitation are the top four major drivers for this decline. For more details, please read 2016 Living Planet Report.

Big Cats: Predators under Threat

The expanded definition of wild cats include lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar, but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. The big cats have a global distribution as they live in Asia, and North, Central and South America.

According to United Nations’ official statements, big cats population has declined in the past century at an alarming rate due to the loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years.

That’s why World Wildlife Day 2018 is regarded as “the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.” It takes less than 2 minutes to see the official outreach video for World Wildlife Day 2018 created with the support of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

World Wildlife Day 2018

If you wonder how can you help the Big Cats, here is what you can do. The easiest thing you can do for yourself and for your kids is to:

  • Get to know the big cats and learn about the challenges they are facing;
  • Spread the word, talk to your friends and family; some outreach materials are available here;
  • Post on Social Media — have a look at WWF ‘s Social Media Kit for inspiration; take a photo with the action cards and say something about the day. Remember to use the hashtags #WorldWildlifeDay, #BigCats, #PredatorsUnderThreat, #WWD2018, #DoOneThingToday, #iProtectBigCats

Protect the tigers & celebrate World Wildlife Day 2018

Today is about raising awareness about the big cats, but, as you’ve seen there’s much more that needs to be done. It’s not just endangered animals, plants or soil. It’s  about caring and doing more for our generous loving Mother Nature and all its children. CLICK HERE to join Project C.A.T. fight!

It is not just nature, it is Mother Nature, as she’s been here for over 4.5 billion years, 22.500 times longer than us. One cannot be but speechless when admiring the amazing and intelligent ecosystem she raised, nurtured and harmonized, all the nonliving elements and living species—air, water, sunlight, soil, plants, microorganisms, animals, birds, insects, mountains and hills or the coral reef of the deep blue ocean.

Call Her Mother Nature

Mother Nature does not need us. She never did, she never will. But, human beings, on the other hand, are totally dependent on the environment to exist. Ancient civilizations understood this better then we do today. Greeks named her Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life. The Romans named her Terra Mater. Peruvians still call her Pacha Mama, Earth-Mother. And that’s just to name a few! They all knew then better than we do today that when she thrived, they thrived.  They knew that nature is not just any place, it is Home. A home they needed to pass on to their sons and daughters with love and respect. I guess that’s why they called her Mother, as a sign of respect, honor and celebration of life. That is something we seem to have forgotten.

As Henry Miller once said,

The world is not to be put in order. The world is order, incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.”

The question is “can we do it?”.  I like to believe that the answer is YES! What about you?!

PS. Article written for Discovery’s project Pets of Champions.

The Monkey Thief Playing Harmonica in Uluwatu Temple

Visiting Uluwatu Temple in Bali is a must. Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level.

As I was hoping to enjoy that splendid sunset coming down over the temple and the Indian Ocean, a monkey caught my attention. That is when I discovered that I was dealing with a monkey thief… playing harmonica.

Meeting the monkey thief

I was told to be mindful of the monkeys as they can take you by surprise with their ability to steal anything shiny or colorful, and yet, I kind of said to myself “Oh, yes, sure!”. Until the unexpected happened!

As I was walking on the serpentine pathway fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side, looking to find a good spot to take some pictures, I saw the small forest nearby where hundreds of monkeys dwell. I was just about to sit down when suddenly a monkey jumped high from a tree branch and in the blink of an eye got what it wanted all along… a pair of shiny Burgundy glasses from a Japanese tourist. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to capture it on camera. And a few seconds later, as if nothing had happened, our monkey sat down and took a closer look at the capture.

The first cautious and delicate bite was followed by a second stronger bite. At first she didn’t seem to care about the crowd of people starring at her.  Yet, only a few seconds later, her face said something else!

monkey thief monkey thief monkey thief  monkey thief 

But the crowd kept staring at the monkey thief, while the Japanese lady desperately tried to get back her glasses back. Decisions had to be made!

Playing Harmonica

From that moment, all that happened was very much like a totally surprising scenario from a TV series where the villain, in our case the monkey thief, has a sudden change of personality. Shortly after, our monkey thief turned into a musician! A musician playing the harmonica! 🙂

monkey harmonica  monkey harmonica

And she tried, and she tried, hoping to see a sign of good will form the crowd, but nothing happened.

But, instead she saw the Japanese lady taking a few steps towards her, clearly determined to try to take back what was rightfully hers. And the musician turned again into the thief!

monkey harmonica monkey harmonica

And our monkey graciously moved with delicate steps a little bit further.

 monkey harmonica

Meanwhile, not very far from the crowd, two more relaxed and wiser monkeys… One seemed just simply tired at the entire scene happening in front of her yeas. By contrast, the second monkey looked both puzzled and frustrated.

monkey thief monkey thief

Note: Article also published on Pets of Champions

Conquering Uhuru Peak (5895m) at 12 Years Old

On July 16, at just twelve years old and one month, Dor Geta Popescu climbed Uhuru Peak (5895 meters) in the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim in Kilimanjaro Mountains. This success make her the youngest Romanian to ever climb this peak.

This is not the first time when Dor sets the age climbing record: Mount Ararat (5165 meters) in 2013 and Damavand (5671 meters) in 2014.

In less than 3 weeks, Dor Geta Popescu will attempt to set a new record age climbing record by climbing Mount Elbrus which is both the highest peak and highest volcano in Europe.