August 2009

Dear friends, guests and visitors to our page !

Finally I got some time to inform on the latest events and news from Casa Maria. I know that quite a lot of guests and friends regularly visit our site and search for news. Our site has its enthusiasts and now more than 30 000 visitors can be reported.

The year 2008 was marked by the turmoil in the world, and also for us is was not easy. The fluctuations between the major currencies and the sharp price rises in this country, often associated with shortages of essential goods, including certain foods associated with high inflation, made life difficult for us. So I would like sincerely thank all of you for the loyalty, or visiting us the first time despite of the crisis.

Meanwhile, everything has calmed down somewhat and it is getting better in the future.

Casa Maria in itself has embellished around Xiomara's a new home. The water collected on the roof fills a small waterfall which adds more life to our garden.


The entrance to Xios house.


The new waterfall.


The former Xios room under the insects-light, we have completely renovated (including the  access to the butterfly free spaces) and is now really comfortable. We call it the Cuevita (The little cave).




Access to the bath-room.


The bed.



The entry.


Access to the "Cuevita".


Our library grew up, mainly through the acquisition of books by Hans Köpke (a known Venezuelan Ichthiologue), who unfortunately died last year in Spain. Probably we now have the most complete collection of books regarding Venezuelan fishes. The sitting room has been redesigned and we added a high-resolution flat-screen television.



The expansion of the library.


A coincidence brought us an unplanned change which is increasingly become a favorite of our guests; a Unimog 404 S, built in 1952, but in  a technically amazing state. Until 1991, it was used as tank support vehicle for the French forces in Germany. After the fall of the wall it got unemployed. Two Germans bought 50 units and introduced them as farm vehicles (tractors) in Venezuela. Until last year our Unimog serviced at a finca in an inaccessible mountain region near Nirgua. In 2008 its owner returned to Germany and he was glad to know his beloved Unimog in good hands. The vehicle does not look like its 52 years of hard work. It is amazing history, that an old European military vehicle now carries tourists in Venezuela.




The Unimog on the crest.


In the last news, I reported about the 2 toppled trees destroying a roof. It has now been rebuilt and improved to protect the Unimog. Also the roof of the other car port had to be changed after 17 years of service.  The roof of our dining area also is new. It was a lot of work!


New roofs.


We had luck with the tropical storms of the last season. "Only" the crown of the tree next to the terrace broke, but the big mango tree dampened the crash and so prevented major damage. Previously a stroke of lightening hit a large coral tree 40m away from Casa Maria and killed it.
For security reasons, it had to be removed by the fire brigade. During the removal happened a small accident causing a minor damage to our wall.  It's just always something going on here at Casa Maria !


A treetop falls next to the terrace.


The tree finally plummeted.


Sadly last year suddenly died Pingo, our best dog we ever had. He was the favorite of all visitors, and friend of all children. He was only 6 years old ---- were all very sad.






He loved to travel by car.


However Pepe a green toucan has become a new housemate. His parents threw him out of the nest while his two siblings were able to successfully fly out. So we raised him by hand. It was the first time that a toucan-couple breeded at Casa Maria. Two cavities in the same tree, were occupied by two couples of Green-rumped Parrolets.


Pepe, a Groove-billed Toucanet.


Dwarf parrot (Green-rumped Parrotlet).


Entomologically, we always have news. I managed to bring a female Parides lysander brissonius from Amazonia to Casa Maria. I raised already 2 generations in a yet to be determined Aristolochia spec.

  Parides lysander brissonius.

As a contribution for a better future for the environment we organized again a number of lectures and courses for schools, communities and associations.

Students test the water of a storage reservoir.


Around Casa Maria a new community was founded. It is called Guarapo. Xiomara and I were elected into the council. Let's see what can be achieved. As first projects we are planning a new water supply and resolve the the problem of sewage and waste disposal.
A success was an open-air Christmas party in December. Casa Maria donated 45 Christmas packages for the children, supported food gift baskets for poor older members of the community, and organized a folklore concert with 2 well-known Finnish artists being in Venezuela. The good relations of Casa Maria to the Finnish ambassador, a passionate nature lover and birdwatcher, made it possible. The kids of Finns living in Venezuela presented gifts to the children of Guarapo, combined with a beautiful story and directly on behalf of St. Nicholas from Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. It was the highlight of the cultural community in 2008 and for the more than 100 visitors a memorable event.


Geschenke werden übergeben.




The Finnish Ambassador Mikko Pyhälä


The audience.


Recently, Casa Maria organized a garbage collection and cleaning action in the community. Amazingly we got many volunteers. Three fully loaded Unimogs were collected and disposed. This action will be repeated in the future. Guarapo has never been so clean. New donated place-name signs should contribute for cleanness in the future.


We are starting out garbage action in Guarapo.


Here the happy conclusion of our action.

The new place-name signs.


At Christmas there was a special celebration, exactly on  December 26, 2008.
Gaby celebrated her 60th Birthday and as surprise some of her old school friends from Germany arrived. You imagine all those old stories heard at this occasion!

  The participants of the birthday party.

Since already one year ago, Casa Maria has Freddy Pinto as a new employee.

He now is well incorporated, and is responsible for the nursery and also the maintenance of the garden. Otherwise, our crew has not changed!

Freddy, our friendly new staff! !.

Casa Maria has rented a new area. It is a paradise for bird watchers and other nature lovers, located on the edge of the cloud forest at an altitude of 1250 m. There also is a nice house to stay over the night. The site has a fantastic view and a  path into the jungle. This area is home to another flora and fauna as at Casa Maria, because of the altitude. I will report more later.

  A view into the valley.

Last May we also made a trip and went to Europe.
Gaby's father celebrated his 87th birthday, and from now on we plan to celebrate all of his birthdays to come !
Later we made a trip with our 1977-built camper, stationed in Germany, a trip to Greece. It was our first new car and is therefore still at first hand!
When we were in the middle of nowhere on the Peloponnese, we met casually two entomologists who were guests at Casa Maria before.
The world has truly become small.


The old "Bully" is also a good Offroader.


In the 2000 years old ruins of Olympia.


In the wilderness we met friends of Casa Maria.


In Monemvassa.


Olive grove.


The monasteries of Meteora.



Peloponnese at the Mediterranean Sea.

Shortly before the editorial deadline has yet to be an important signature. The orange plantation behind Casa Maria now belongs to us; 17 acres or 70 000 qm. I would like to return the forest to a refuge for insects and birds. This will take some years.
Each guest indirectly supports this project and I will be regularly informed. Guests of the project have been directly supported at this point once again thank you very much!


Our new project.


Now you have some new informations, what is going on here.

Warm greetings to all readers,


Here are older news.