Sunday, 23 January 2011

Last entry from Central America.

Way back in January or February I had managed to find as shipping company in Panama who would freight my bike to South Africa. Logistically this was obviously quite an important component to thedomwayround. If I couldn't find someone to ship to Africa I'd be a little stuck.


Most people, of course, ship or fly there bike and themselves from here to Colombia, but as I've spend 4 years in South America it wasn't really an option for me. I could have taken the Venezuela-Brazil route and would like to visit the three Guyanas, but I don't want to spend over a month travelling down through Brazil. And to be honest, shipping the bike to South Africa from here allows me to do other things. It should take about 50 days to get the bike to Cape Town. In that time I can fly back to the UK for a month and then head down to South Africa early. I plan on doing a couple of weeks voluntary teaching in Cape Town before the bike turns up. First thing first however, I need to get the bike shipped out of Panama.


I'd been in regular email contact with LMT-Corp shipping and the day after we arrived in Panama City they sent someone to our Hostal to take us to the packing company. I followed on my bike and rode my last 8 miles in Central America through the busy streets of the city. I knew I should have very little petrol left in my tank when shipping the bike and arrived at the packing company with my computer telling me I had 3 miles of petrol left. (I must remember that when I pick the bike up in Cape Town!) 






I took the wind shield and mirrors off to lower the height of the bike and disconnected the battery (even though the guy told me that wasn't necessary). I had my bike gear and a few other things stashed in my big grey bag which I left with the bike, to be tied down next to it in the crate. We then went to the office to start the paperwork. I thought this might take a while but within half an hour I was on my way. I would have to return after the weekend to sign a few things (and pay) but for now I had done all I was going to do. It all seemed too easy really.


I returned to the packing company the next day to see the bike all crated up. They'd done a good job with it and I was happy it was as secure as it needed to be. I just hope it turns up in Cape Town.



There was paperwork to be done but that had to wait until after the weekend so Tracy and I few off to Isla Contadora (part of the Pearl islands) to go diving for the (long) weekend. Isla Contadora is where the US series “Survivor” is filmed – might mean something to you, means nothing to me. Needless to say we had a great time. The weather was wonderful and when we weren't diving we were sunbathing on the deserted beaches. Whilst diving Tracy spotted a pair of Harlequin Shrimps. Impressive little critters who live off star fish. They eat a couple of legs and then let the starfish go. Our dive instructor had been here 10 years and never seen one. Good spot buddy!

Harlequin Shrimp eating a star fish.



Pearl Islands

Tracy in her element



Back in Panama City I phoned the freight company on the Thursday morning. They seem to have a very laid back attitude and I was starting to get worried. I got an email from them whilst on Isla Contadora saying the Police wanted to see the bike, even though it was already crated up. But I was not to worry. Last week they had suggested that we could do all the paperwork on Monday, perhaps Tuesday. It was now Thursday and we still weren't doing it. I have a stamp in my passport saying I imported a motorbike into the country. If I din't get customs to cancel that and say that the bike has gone I won't be able to fly which I had scheduled for Sunday (with Tracy). Bizarrely it was £50 cheaper for me to get a return ticket Panama-London-Panama than a single. It cost £850 which was a few hundred more than I had bargained for but there was nothing I could about it. At least I was on the same flight with Tracy which made it a lot easer at the other end to get home.


Back to the bike paperwork - We are now going to do it on Friday - I have a bad feeling about this!


Friday – well to keep it short I got the paperwork done but it took three hours waiting in a stuffy corridor for some jobs worth to stamp my passport. Very very frustrating. I've not been too pleased with Panamanian officialdom and the experiences I've had with their customs has left a bad taste in the mouth. It's funny how just one bad experience can taint ones whole opinion of a nation.


On that theme I'm going to go off on one about taxi's now. I haven't been very impressed with Panama City mainly because the taxi drivers are just so rude. At least half the taxi's we tried to use didn't know where it was that we wanted to go or just don't want to take us. They shake their heads and drive off. And when if they did you up you have to then negotiate a price. If they don't get the price they want they refused to take you. I've never come across this before anywhere in the world. We got into one taxi knowing that the price should have been $2 (at least they ARE cheap). I offered $3 and he wanted $5. He wouldn't budge and we got out. Really annoying and certainly not tourist friendly. This is something the Panamanian tourist board should look into!


Occasionally we had a few friendly taxi drivers. One went out of his way to help us. You may remember that Norman had forwarded a package to me in Panama City. He kindly emailed me the forwarding address. FedEx were forwarding my package to “Calle 40” That was it - that was the whole address. Our taxi driver found “Calle 40” but we couldn't find the company office. The taxi driver kept asking people on the street and eventually we found the office on Calle 34! So I finally got my AirHawk seat – the day after my bike had been crated up!


To be honest there's not a lot do in Panama City (except shop). The main touristy thing is to go and see the Panama Canal. So, we went to Miraflores locks to have a look. Obviously very impressive and rather shocking to find out that 20,000 people had died of Malaria and Yellow Fever building it. We watched a huge tanker pass through the lock. Panama Canal - box ticked. 


Miraflores locks - Panama Canal



So, having completed 6 months and 21,000 miles getting from Alaska to Panama what wise words of wisdom can I pass on...


Best country for riding a motorbike? It's hard to pass up on the good old US of A. Great roads and scenery and surprisingly civil drivers.


Route 36 in California back in September



Worst? Well, the topes (speed bumps) in Mexico are annoying and dangerous. Honduras (and Panama if you are not on the Pan-American highway) has the worst road signs. Non in fact. But overall I've been pleasantly surprised by the road conditions and traffic in general. Obviously the RVs in Alaska and British Columbia take the “Not giving a shit about the environment, or other road users and we're going take our whole house on holiday plus trail the 4 wheel drive car behind us because we can” Award. And I can honestly say I didn't come across a corrupt cop the whole way.


Best place to spend a holiday? A tricky one. I think anyone coming to central America must visit at least one Mayan Ruin. Of the three we went to I'd say Palenque was the most structurally impressive; Tikal the most atmospheric and Copan the quietest. Teotihuacan in Mexico City was very impressive as well.

If however you are looking for a relaxing holiday with a bit of wildlife thrown in then controversially I would plump for Panama over Costa Rica. Sure CR has all the wildlife and does live up to it's billing but it is significantly more expensive than it's neighbours. It also, in my opinion, suffers a little from it's own success. Your early morning bird watching trip can easily be ruined when a couple of dozen (at least) loud Americans appear from the nearest cruise ship. Panama is cheaper, quieter and just as green. They seem to be waking up to idea of tourism in the country and I wouldn't be surprised if we here more about Panama in the future.

My favourite place? Impossible to say. I loved the Oregon coast and could live there.  Honduras and Nicaragua were friendly, quiet places, less touristy than Costa Rica. I was also pleasantly surprised with the whole of the USA. perhaps I had low expectations, but I really enjoyed it. And Canada, whilst expensive was awesome.


Worst place? Honestly I can't think of one. It would have been nice to have seen San Cristobel (Chiapas, Mexico) in more sun and less rain, same with the west coast of Vancouver Island and Jasper (The Rockies); I was slightly disappointed with Glacier National Park and “The going to the sun”road in Montana; Nicaragua side of the Nic/Costa Rica border and the Panamanian side of Panama/Costa Rica border; McCarthy campsite in Alaska. $30 PLUS $5 for a shower
Oh, now I've thought of one. Las Vegas. Sad depressing and superficial. I'm glad I went and I'm happy with the tattoo I got done whilst I was there but that was it.


People. I've met so many friendly and helpful people. Some I don't even know there names, some have become good friends. ALL have contributed to making my trip that much more memorable. I'm obviously tempting fate by trying to name them all (as I'm bound to miss a few out) but here goes.
Brendan, Ariel and Phil; Biker couple in Anchorage who came to Nakusp; Patrick; Nevil (always in your debt mate); Steve and Stephanie; Seb. and Natasha; Tony and Lisa; Grant and Susan; David and Jill;Oregon couple who shared their campsite with me in Spokane; Trent; Andrea; Jim; Canadian biker on a Triumph who gave us his Tikal ticket; Norman; BMW BigSky Missoula, Montana; BMW Chico, California; BMW Motorhaus Mexico City; BMW Motorrad Costa Rica; Chris and Alan; Milady; the numerous people who have answered my questions in Horizons Unlimited and ADV; and everyone else who knows me. And of course Tracy. First and foremost for supporting me in doing this and then coming out to Canada and Central America to join me.


Now, people I didn't like! …..... The person whole stole my AirHawk seat; Panamanian customs.


Cost. Including all costs; flights (£1700), shipping (£1500) insurance (£500), and the smaller day to day costs then it's around £16,000. This includes Tracy being here for half the trip. Average day to day cost work out at about £1,500 a month. Canada being the most expensive and Panama the cheapest. I certainly could have done it more cheaply ( spending nearly £4000 on unexpected bike repairs didn't help) but that wasn't my aim. My aim was to have a good time and do what I wanted to do and I'm really glad I waited to do this trip until I had enough money so I could really enjoy it. I don't think I wasted money or overspent, I just did what I wanted to do.


I expect Southern Africa to be cheaper. Not only because it is a cheaper region of the world but also most of the overheads are already covered. We'll see.


Well that's it for now. I'm flying back to the UK for February and, at the moment, plan to fly out to South Africa at the beginning of March. My bike should arrive in Cape Town around the 24th March. I'll update my blog sometime in February with all the exciting things I'm doing whilst back in the UK and then when I get to Cape Town.
Thanks for reading.


Dom


Final stats. for this part of my trip:


Alaska: 11 days 2500 miles
Canada: 34 days 4500 miles
Lower 48: 48 days 8500 miles
Mexico: 43 days 3500 miles
Guatemala: 4 days 500 miles
Honduras: 5 days 400 miles
Nicaragua: 6 days 250 miles
Costa Rica: 25 days 550 miles
Panama: 15 days 450 miles


Days: 185
Miles covered: 21, 182 (34,000 kms)
Borders crossed: 8
Bribes paid: 0 (at least not knowingly)
Flat tyres: 1
Crashes: 0
Falls/ drops: 0
Break downs: 0
Front tyres: 3 (2 Avon Distanzia, 1 Conti Attack)
Rear tyres: 4 ( 2 Avon Distanzia, 2 Conti Attack)
Oil changes: 4
Break pads: 2 sets
Spark plugs: 2 sets
BMW dealerships visited: 6
Best moment: (Almost) every single minute
Worst moment: Finding out I needed a new final drive and drive shaft ( $3500)
Words written on blog: 38,000 – so if you've read all that, well done!


Part one - successfully completed





Thursday, 13 January 2011

Panama

Last sloth picture - honest. Twins Sebastian and Viola



The last two blogs have been very sloth orientated. Time for some more manly things.... I got a new battery for the bike and now it seems to be working fine. Milady (pronounced Me Lady = great name!) who works in the gift shop got her mechanic to come to the sanctuary. He diagnosed a flat battery and got a new one ordered overnight from somewhere. So now I'm mobile again.


Milady - is she small or is my bike big?


Two days before we left the sanctuary Milady took us out for a ride. Us on the 1200 and her on her 125. We were heading for her brother's house and her niece's first birthday party. She said it wasn't far which I took to mean less than half an hour. It took over an hour to get there. We rode through a massive banana plantation, over a very rickety bridge and finally made it to her brother's farm in the middle of the plantation. Her whole family was there and there were a lot of them. Milady has five sisters and two brother's and each sister has a handful of children. There must have been over 50 people partying in the cow shed and all of them were related. Except for us. We had a great evening watching a typical Costa Rican birthday party. It was a real honour to have been invited and I only wish I had taken my camera with me.


Two days later we were finally back on the road. It was great to be moving again. We left the sanctuary at 8 a.m. knowing that within an hour we would be at the border and hoping that at 9 a.m. on a sunday it might not be too busy. Our Kiwi friends who had visited us at the sloth sanctuary had crossed the border on Christmas day and had sent me an email telling me that it had taken them over 3 hours to cross, was a very frustrating experience and that the bridge that spanned the river was, well, interesting.


They were right on all three counts. Leaving Costa Rica was quite easy and took less than half an hour. I then had to ride across the bridge. From the photos you can see that I am not really riding as both my feet are on the ground. It was quite narrow and I just knew that if I slipped and fell to my right there was no way the fencing was going to take the weight of me and the bike. I'd read someone's blog a few weeks ago and they had slipped, in the rain, on the bridge, dropped the bike and then whilst trying to pick it up their foot had fallen through one of the the gaps. A little scary really.



I must have been doing at least 50 miles an hour on this bit

I'm sure Tracy was on the back - she's not down there is she?

mind the gap

Luckily there was no traffic coming the other way


The Panamanian side was chaotic. There were no signs telling you where to go and when I joined the back of the queue to get our passports stamped it didn't move an inch for 30 minutes. It was getting warm in the morning sun and although I was trying to keep my sense of humour about the whole thing as 30 minutes turned into an hour I was struggling. Finally I got the passports stamped and then went to the window labelled “Aduana” to start the process for importing the bike. They told me I first had to go and get insurance and when I asked where that was they lazily pointed down the road and said it was around the corner and up the hill. We got on the bike and rode off. In fact there was nothing stopping us from riding off all together. But sensibly I didn't do that. Instead I stopped at a police road check and found someone to ask. He didn't have a clue where the insurance place was and looked like he'd never been asked before. Finally he found a colleague who said it was back at the “Aduana” office. I suggested that this couldn't be the case as I'd just come from there. He then found another police officer who thought the insurance office might be behind the aduana office so off we went. I rode back the way we had come and up a side road behind the aduana office. As I stopped the bike a man came over and without me even asking told me that the insurance office was upstairs in the building I had stopped next too. I went up the stairs and found myself in the huge shop. Just as I was about to turn around to leave, obviously having got the instructions wrong the lady behind the counter gestured to me that I should walk through shop and out onto the balcony!
When I did this I saw a tiny office tucked into the corner of the balcony with the word “Seguro “ (Insurance) hand written on the door. Unbelievable. Here was the insurance office where EVERYONE who brings a vehicle into Panama must come to buy insurance. It consisted of a woman with a computer and a printer. Why oh why couldn't she be in the aduana office or at least right next to it.


I bought the compulsory $15 insurance a returned to the aduana office. I then waited for OVER AN HOUR as they laboured to fill in the correct forms in order to process my details. This involved, amongst other things, a long debate about where I was from. Even though they had my passport in front of them they kept asking me where I was from. And then we had the whole, where is the bike registered routine. Initially they thought Alaska was in Russia and it took some convincing to get them to put USA on the form. All of this, by with way, was conducted with the three of then sitting in an air conditioned office whilst I, in black motorbike gear, was standing out in the sun talking through a small hole on the window which was positioned 4 feet off the ground.

Panamanian side of the bridge


Oh yeah, and for a good half and hour they just sat there doing nothing. They said the internet was down but it suspiciously happened at midday and I'm convinced they just stopped for a half hour break at lunchtime. (I had heard rumours that the Panamanian side of the border shuts for an hour at lunchtime).


Then we got to the good part! They wanted to know how I was leaving the country and expected me to produce paperwork to prove I was leaving the country with my bike. I explained that the bike was being transported by ship to South Africa and I was flying (I didn't tell them where I was flying to as I didn't want to complicate things). For a while I was actually worried that they wouldn't let me in as they insisted that I show proof of this. Eventually they relented and handed me the one page typed form that had taken nearly two hours. I meticulously checked the details. Everything was right except they had put down that I would be flying the plane out of Panama. I told them this and they just said it wasn't important and I shouldn't worry. Fantastic, after having take all this time to fill in an official form I shouldn't worry that one of the details isn't right.


I wasn't finished yet however and I had to go next door into the final office to have everything checked. Another official checked the paperwork, stamped it and then charged my $3 per person to put a stamp in my passport. I have no idea why but at least that was it and I was free to go. I walked back to Tracy and the bike a broken man. It had taken over three frustrating, hot and pointless hours. By far the most annoying border I had crossed.


Norman and his Valkyrie



Next stop – Norman. A few weeks ago I got am email from someone who had visited my blog. Norman introduced himself as a a brit. who used to live in Kenilworth (where we live in the UK) and he used to farm Jersey cows. He now lives near David, Panama and invited us to stay. How could we refuse? We turned up at dusk on a Sunday to find the local motorbike gang all there drinking and singing. Norman introduced us to everyone (and his six monkeys) and plied us with alcohol. It was great talking with Norman if a little weird to be sat in the middle of Central America with a complete stranger but talking about pubs in Kenilworth. Norman has an open invitation to all bikers passing through Panama and I have read several other people's blogs and knew that lots of people had been there. Patrick, the Irish guy on the Africa Twin who I had ridden through British Columbia with had stopped with Norman – he was now all the way down in Chile.


Local Motorbike crew at Normans



We had a great evening but having just spent nearly three weeks getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at 9 p.m. this was a bit of a shock to the system. I buckled first and crawled to bed around 11 p.m. Tracy faired better (perhaps because she had dunk much more rum than me) and managed to stay up until the party ended at midnight.

Tracy with one of Normans monkeys





Next day we went with Norman into town to pick up a package. As some of you will know I had my AirHawk seat cushion stolen in Mexico, just before Tracy arrived. Norman had kindly offered to let me use his American postal address to order a new one so over a month ago I had bought a new one on Amazon USA and had it sent to Normans address in Miami. It was then forwarded to Panama and we were going to pick it up. Easy – well not quite. That Monday just happened to be a bank holiday and FedEx was shut. Arghhh this was so frustrating. We didn't really have time to wait around until Tuesday (I had to be in Panama City by Tuesday night so I could start processing he bike for freighting on Wednesday morning) so Norman promised to have it sent on to Panama City and we would pick it up sometime. With that we left Norman (thanks mate – mi casa tu casa) and headed down the final stretch for Panama City.


Last stop before Panama City


With 99% of my Alaska – Panama route complete I got stopped by my first traffic Cop. I'd heard that Panama is notorious for having cops with speed guns but having not seen one since the USA I guess I'd forgotten what to look out for. But as I crested a hill I spotted a sign telling me the speed limit was 60 km per hour and then saw a policeman standing in the road waving me over. The cop asked for my passport and license and then started entering some details into his phone. He told me I was doing 103 and showed me the speed gun. Now, I may well have been doing 103 (60 something miles per hour) but Norman had told me that sometimes they try to trick you by having the speed gun set on a high number. I asked to see the date and time stamp to prove that it had recorded me speeding. He continued typing away and then came over and said “No ticket this time” and gave me back my passport and license. I have no idea how genuine this all was but I kept the speed down for the last 200 miles into Panama City.


Panama City at last

Bridge of the Americas in the distance


Panama City. It has been in the back of my mind ever since I started out from Anchorage on July 25th, 2010. I remember stopping just north of the Arctic circle, turning the bike around to face south and thinking, well this is it, it's all south to Panama now. In Fairbanks, Alaska I stood at the signpost in the centre of the city which showed Panama as being 5000 miles away.

Me in Fairbanks last August


Actually it's taken me 21,000 miles (34, 000 KM) to get here. (The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,900 miles). I must admit to feeling a little emotional as I rode over the bridge of the Americas and the Panama canal and into Panama City. It's not as if the trip is over or anything. In fact it's only just begun in many ways, southern Africa is going to be much tougher and more challenging than America but for now, as my sat nav would say if I had one, “you have reached your final destination.”

Last Hotel


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sloth Sanctuary Costa Rica

As we are spending two weeks with the sloths there's not much to report really. We still get up at 5 a.m. every day and spend the day with the sloths. Which is just as well really as the weather hasn't been good for motorbike travel. The Pacific side of Costa Rica was lovely but as soon as we came over to the Caribbean it started to rain. It's the first rain we've seen since Mexico, so we can't complain too much but it has rained every day we've been here and we only had a few hours of sun on Christmas day and that's about it. Costa Rica and Panama have had horrific wet seasons this year and it just won't end. And evidently it is the wet season on the Caribbean coast now.

Volunteer house



We had a day off and planned to get on the bike and head down the coast exploring. There is supposed to be some good diving here so we thought we'd check it out. For once it wasn't raining and as we walked over to the Sanctuary where the bike had been parked up for the last week, the sun even came out. We'd chosen a good day to take off as over 300 cruise ship tourists were arriving at the sanctuary. We donned our gear and got on the bike. And then the dreaded happened. I'd been fearful that this would happen one day and got that horrible feeling you get when you press the ignition key and – nothing. Well not exactly nothing. It went Click Click Click. That was it. I thought back to the mechanic in San Jose who'd told me the battery was getting flat. I hadn't touched the bike for a week and it didn't take a genius to guess what had happened.


I got my Haynes manual out to see what I could do – assuming that the battery was flat. I took the seat off the bike to have a look at the battery to see if the rain had done any damage. It looked OK although there was a little mould growing on the battery case. Whilst I was doing this a German guy came over with a huge video camera. He was working on the cruise ship as a videographer (having just finished a stint on Big Brother Germany) and wanted me to take him on the back of my bike so he could film my trip . I guess anything is better than working on a cruise ship. I told him I would love him to come along but my German built motorbike had a different idea. Two or three German tourists came up and blatantly took photos of us and the bike but without saying a word. A little weird.



Baby Bradypus (Three fingered sloth)



In the end I decided that I wouldn't be able to do anything about the bike on my day off and probably not for a while as it was December 30th anyway. I posted a few questions about BMW batteries on two Adventure motorbike websites (Horizons and ADV) and we caught a bus to the nearest town to have a look around. The weather had deteriorated a little so coastal Costa Rica wasn't at it's best in the rain but we tried to make the most of it. We bought some food to supplement our rice and beans diet in the volunteer house and returned to the sanctuary.


I went online to find that I had already received several useful comments! Most people seemed to think that it was probably just a dead battery although it could be something more serious. The first thing to do, however, would be to test the battery to check that it was dead and then replace it. Luckily this had happened in Costa Rica and only 4 hours by bus from the BMW dealer I had used last week. (I hate to think how I would have dealt with this if it had happened in Honduras or Guatemala). I slept on it, thinking that I would have to take the battery out and take it to San Jose so I could get a new one. However in the morning I remembered that one of the ladies who works in the gift shop in the sanctuary had commented on how nice my bike was when we'd arrived. She had a small motorbike herself and I went to find her to ask if she knew a mechanic. She did, she gave him a call and he'd due to come tomorrow (Monday) to see if the battery is indeed flat. So, watch this space...


So, having spent two weeks with the sloths here's what I think. I am no fan of Zoos and do not think we should lock animals up just for our own benefit. However, some animals cannot be returned to the wild so what do you do? The sentiments of the Sloth Sanctuary are spot on. They are here to Rescue, Research and Educate. Rescue sloths in Costa Rica who have been run over, electrocuted on the pylons and attacked by people. Educate the local population but also the wider world (this is the ONLY Sloth santuary in the world) and to research these little known creatures. There is so much we still don't know about Sloth life and it was only four or five years ago that there anatomy was first mapped.







There are 89 two fingered and 9 three fingered sloths here plus about a dozen babies. Obviously they are well looked after but they are still in cages. It's depressing to see 100 animals in small cages and it's hard not to think they would be better off (or at least the ones who survived would be ) in the wild. But its easy to anthropomorphosise and if any wild animal was “suited” to living in a small cage it's got to be a sloth. In the wild they mainly live in one or two trees; the don't move around much; are fairly solitary and like hanging upside down. So a small wire cage is fine. 


video







So, volunteering has been good fun and very educational. I've learnt a lot about Sloths; challenged some of my preconceived ideas on conservation; had a rest from riding my bike; got a much better understanding of what Costa Rica has to offer; and ended up refreshed and renewed for the last leg of this journey.

Cruise ship tourists enjoying the rain

Too many carrots even for Tracy



What next? I'm planning on shipping the bike to South Africa. It all depends on when the next boat is but I hope to fly back to the UK for February and then head out to Cape Town in March, much as my original plan. The only change is that I've decided to do a circuit around southern Africa and ship back to the UK from Cape Town rather than head up to Kenya/Ethiopia. Why? I can see more of Southern Africa this way; I've been to Tanzania and Kenya (and lived in Ethiopia); shipping to UK from Cape Town will be much easier that flying to Europe from Ethiopia or Kenya. As I get more and more into this trip it becomes much more about what I want to do (go to places I haven't been to before) and I feel less and less inclined to have to do the classic routes (Cape Town to Cairo) Seems like I chose well when I called my blob the dom way round.

More sloth pictures I'm afraid.



We can borrow the canoes and go out onto the canal (if it's not raining)

Looking for snails in the morning feed (6 a.m.)




Us on New Years Eve. (alone as usual)



P.S. People were a little downcast at work this morning. Two of the baby sloths had died during the night. Then later I was clearing out one of the cages (Mocha and Hershey). Both sloths seemed very agitated as did the sloth next door. I took a closer look at Mocha to discover that she had a new born baby attached to her hind leg (in fact she had had twins and the other was attached to her other leg.) These are the first sloth twins ever born in captivity. In fact this is the first time anyone has ever witnessed sloth twins at all!

As I found them I get to name them. I've gone for Sebastian and Viola. I wonder who thought of that....


New Years day was actually sunny.