Friday, January 15, 2021
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|Abaco's Hole In The Wall|
ABACO PINE FOREST
You’ll love the Abacos! The calm, gin-colored waters, talcum-powder sand beaches, ocean breezes and laid-back atmosphere make this 120-mile–long chain of islands paradise. From the high-end, plush golf courses in Treasure Cay to the charming colonial towns on Green Turtle and Elbow Cays, it offers experiences that will make you want to return. It’s also where the PENUMBRA DATABASE spy thriller takes place. But first, here’s my story on this Bahamian out island that was given the odd name of Abaco, and why you should put it on your “To Visit” bucket list:
In 1988, I volunteered to help save the Bahama Parrot in the pine barrens south of Marsh Harbor, the capital. I worked with the New York Zoological Society, live-trapping feral cats that were decimating the parrot population. The Bahama Parrot actually nests underground in limestone fissures. There is now a 20,000 acre preserve for them south of Marsh Harbor that's designated a national forest, a beautiful forest for you to hike in and explore. Chances are, you will run into the endangered Bahama Parrot.
Whenever I return to Abaco, I rent a car in Marsh Harbor and journey south on the Great Abaco Highway and hike into the preserve with binoculars and camera. In Episode 1 of the PENUMBRA DATABASE, a young CIA agent is slain near the 20,000 acre parrot preserve in the Abaco National Park, in a most brutal manner.
If you want a real adventure on Abaco, here’s an idea for your next vacation. Fly to Abaco and tour the Abaco National Park, which is southeast of Marsh Harbor off the Great Abaco Highway. You’ll come upon an unpaved road to Abaco's other Lighthouse at "Hole in the Wall" (above photo). Unfortunately, hurricane Sandy devastated the lighthouse, but the journey there is still worth it. It is 15 miles off the Great Abaco Highway, in the middle of nowhere, and touring the Abaco National Park and journeying to "Hole in the Wall" would make for an adventure all in itself.
There are less than 3,000 Bahama Parrots left and they're protected by the Wild Bird (Protection) Act. Forget about harming or trying to capture them- the Fox Hill prison in Nassau is not a fun place to be! Because of their ground-nesting behavior, they are vulnerable to predation by feral cats, wild boars, crabs, and snakes. Heavy rains during the nesting period can flood parrot nest holes, killing young chicks.
I hope you enjoy your adventuresome journey to see Abaco Island, exploring the endangered Abaco Parrot sanctuary in the Abaco National Park, and making it to "Hole in the Wall"!
Here's a passage from the PENUMBRA DATABASE, where a kidnapped CIA operative faces a gruesome death in Abaco's Parrot Preserve:
The SUV passed the side road to Cherokee Sound, a small fishing village, and continued south for thirteen miles. They entered the secluded Bahamian Parrot Preserve, 20,000 acres of mature pine and palmetto palm forest in southern Abaco. Tougas braked and turned brusquely off the Grand Abaco Highway onto a hidden pathway which ran for several hundred feet before abruptly ending on the Sea of Abaco. An endangered Abaco Parrot was eating the fruits and seeds in a thick grove of Madeira and Caribbean pine trees. The colorful bird rarely saw or heard human activity in his remote forest sanctuary. It retreated further into the treetop canopy upon hearing the approaching SUV scrape through the palmetto palm, wild guava and poisonwood saplings lining the hidden trail.
Tougas and Cherestal jumped out of the SUV, pulled their prisoner out, and mounted a video cam atop a tripod to record the pending horror. They viciously punched and kicked him to the ground, tied a chain to his ankles and dragged him onto a wooden dock jutting out into the Sea of Abaco. Cherestal sat on the dock, his Beretta still stuck in the hostage’s gut.
Tougas dragged parts of a small mobile crane from the SUV and quickly assembled it. Then, he fetched a bucket of chicken parts and a jar of chicken blood from the vehicle and poured the contents slowly into the water.
“You 'bout to meet our friend, Dagger Mouth,” Tougas said with a grin. He checked to make sure the video cam was recording, for Virgilio Cesar Sandoval enjoyed watching and listening to the screams of his helpless victims.
~ ~ ~
Want to take an exciting vacation and hike through Abaco's pine forests? Here's a video of researchers hiking through the Abaco pine forests while studying the Bahama Parrot. Nice shots of the beautiful Caribbean pines and undergrowth.
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Saba is a small Caribbean island where tropical beauty abounds! It's governed by the Netherlands and consists essentially of the top of the dormant Mount Scenery volcano. Its surrounding Saba Marine Park is a renowned dive site, home to coral formations, dolphins, sharks and turtles. With the natural beauty comes a warning: It has been hit by more severe hurricanes in the last 150 years than any other Caribbean island in the region, including 15 category three storms and seven category fives. Head there during the winter!
Friday, January 8, 2021
UNCLE BUDDY’S BEACH BAR USVI
Uncle Buddy's Beach Bar on Coki Point Beach, St. Thomas, USVI is the place to go for great food and stiff drinks. They've been on the beach for 21 years mixing up dangerous frozen rum drinks. Many say the jerk chicken platter and the conch fritters platter is delicious and it’s delivered to you on the beach.
There is a wide range of food options. The shrimp wrap and Mahi wrap are great. Servers will come to you as you sit on Coki Beach and show you a menu. You can place the order and they will bring it to you when it is ready.
Robert Morton is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community AND journeying through the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida Keys and, yes, Key West. Why not combine both passions? Find out more about his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series.
Sunday, January 3, 2021
I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan and mention him off and on in the "PENUMBRADATABASE" and "MISSION OF VENGEANCE" spy thrillers. In fact, a lot of Parrotheads subscribe to my Author’s Site to get the FREE newsletters. At the end of this article, I included a novel snippet where I mention of Jimmy Buffett's past life, when he first started out singing in Key West. I wonder how many of you were down there at that time, in the 1970’s?
I spent a week in the Conch Republic, wondering why they didn’t make the rooster their national bird. They were everywhere, more numerous than the cats. Key West is a fun place- I booked a tour at the Historic Seaport District to snorkel at the Dry Tortugas National Park, then toured the Ernest Hemingway home and museum. I had to pay tribute to a fellow author… a novelist much greater than yours truly.
The next two days were spent walking amongst the colorful, exotic lepidoptera at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and sightseeing up and down Duval Street and Mallory Square.
Whenever I visit Key West, I’m always drawn back to the Historic Seaport District. The waterfront drinks and oysters served at the Turtle Kraals pub, plus the beautiful view, became the place for me to relax and unwind at. But my favorite pub was a few doors down, the funky, open-air Schooner Wharf Bar. It was here and at the Turtle Kraals pub where much of my spy thriller plots were thought out. I even dreamed of a CIA safe house blending in with the homes on nearby Eaton Street and Key West became the headquarters from the CBIF, a mysterious department operating clandestinely inside the CIA.
Here’s a snippet from the PENUMBRA DATABASE, where General Morrison walks from the safe house to the Turtle Kraals, his favorite eating place in Key West's Historic Seaport District. His counterintelligence (CI) teams protect him along the way:
As Morrison strolled further down Margaret Street toward Harpoon Harry’s, he felt regret for not telling Corey about the San Francisco CBIF safe house. Through the CSS business, he instructed BHH, the Black Hat Hacker, to attempt to breach Cheng’s MIT computer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and to devise new firewalls to patch up any cyber weaknesses in its defenses. After all, he had already perfected impenetrable firewalls around Jeannie.
Four men walked out of Harpoon Harry’s just ahead of him. One of two CI agents across the street walking toward Morrison took off her sunglasses. That was a signal for him to stop, which he did. The general never questioned his agent’s street savviness. He stopped and pretended to have received a call on his cell phone. The CI couple crossed the street, walked right up to the four men who lingered outside Harpoon Harry’s and asked them how the food was.
As Morrison stood there with the cell phone to his ear, he overheard the men tell the couple to definitely order “The Harpooner” and described the half-pound of ground chuck with cheese, bacon, grilled onions and mushrooms delicacy. While the woman agent discussed the menu, her male counterpart observed the loose-fitting Hawaiian shirts and camera cases the four toted.
The four guys bragged about how Jimmy Buffet used to do all-night recording sessions just around the corner, then go to Harpoon Harry’s for breakfast at sunrise. After several minutes, they parted. The four men walked down Caroline Street. The female agent put her sunglasses back on, signaling Morrison it was OK to proceed."
Lastly, check out this cool video of the Key West Historic Seaport District, where the idea for the Corey Pearson- CIA spymaster series was born:
Robert Morton is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and delights in experiencing the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas, and Caribbean. He’s combined both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA spymaster series.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Want a real thrilling Jamaican vacation? Experience Voodoo, also called Obeah! You can find it in various corners of the island, but you won't hear much about it because it is not something that is done out in the open.
It was a large, single room with tall ceilings protected by layers of thatch palm. The walls and floor were made of bamboo and wicker. A hammock suspended from a large beam and several stools were positioned by a workbench that lined one entire wall.
Damballah sat at a stool and beckoned Oppressor to join him. “Come, sit and watch. I am making a special powdered cocktail that I will give to Tougas for the offering. You will see its effects… maybe you can use it for your line of work. Dat Tougas, he sounds like one canaille type of guy.”
Oppressor took out a notepad and pen to take notes. “Thanks, I can’t wait to learn from ya. Always perfectin’ my trade. By the way, I dig your accent. I’m from Louisiana and you sound just like the Cajuns there. You don’t look totally Haitian, either.”
“Very observant you are. My great grandparents are from southern Louisiana and their parents were French settlers in Canada. Da English drove everybody out dat didn’t want to give up da Catholic religion during da ‘Great Expulsion,’ so dey fled Canada and settled in southern Louisiana. From dere, my parents left and came to Haiti, and heah I be.”
Damballah took three soup can tins out of a bamboo cupboard and sat them on the workbench next to a digital scale. “Watch carefully. Dese three cans full be full of powder from plant, land animals and ocean creatures.”
He picked up a blue measuring spoon and scooped out a grey-colored portion from the first can and put it on the scale. “Dis is ocean creatures, mostly fish…couvillion. Equal parts of powder from da pufferfish, porcupinefish and triggerfish. Dey all contain da potent neurotoxin the American doctors call tetrodotoxin.”
“What will that do to Bolan Tougas?”
“It stop da nerves from firing, make him immobile…ya know, paralyzed… but he will remain aware of everything.”
He took a scoop from the second can. “Dis is da land animals I learn about from my father. He taught me all I know about Voodoo. Before age six, I learned da chants and how to enter the trance. The vodun, the spirit came into my body from my father when da FRAPH squad killed him. Dat’s why we about to offer Tougas as a sacrifice…the Voodoo spirits inside me will want that.”
Damballah measured out exactly 4.87 ounces of the blue-green powder from the second can onto the digital scale. “Dis mixture contains newts, poison frogs, some human remains, a special breed of toad we have in our jungle, and land crabs. I raise da crabs in a pen outside and feed dem a special diet dat makes dem toxic, full of cardiac cardenolides, which are capable of stopping the heart from beating, but I put in just da right amount to slow it down.”
Oppressor took copious amounts of notes. Stuff like this turned him on. “What do you feed the crabs to do all that?”
“Dis is a best-kept secret dat nobody knows about…jimsonweed. It grow all ova the place. I collect the leaves and seeds. Dey contain an important alkaloid dat causes hallucinations. Bolan Tougas will grow delirious, pie-ahd as my Cajun ancestors used to say…drunk. He won’t know what planet he be on. He’ll see spiritual visions and have plenty of paranoid delusions.”~
Monday, December 28, 2020
|Should the NSA retaliate?|
Putin ordered the SolarWinds cyberattack on America, a risky bet on his part, for he knows the National Security Agency, NSA, can launch a cyberattack that can penetrate and cripple every major sector of the Russian state, society, and economy, with deniability and redundancy. Should the U.S. respond, in kind? Please take the poll at the end of this post and see how your view on this issue compares to others' (Comments are welcomed!).
It was a unique cyberattack, one in which separate entities like the U.S. Treasury Department and Iowa State University are forced to deal with the same security problem. The depth and breadth of the SolarWinds hack is still unknown. It is named for a Texas-based company that was used as a staging ground for this only-one-of-its-kind Russian espionage mission, one that is so pervasive that experts still are not sure who was affected and what was stolen.
Thousands, maybe tens of thousands… maybe hundreds of thousands of companies, schools, intelligence agencies, think tanks, government agencies… and individuals like you around the world have been affected by the suspected Russian hacking campaign. Please take the poll and see how your view compares to others' on this issue, and watch the video, which is quite instructive and eyebrow raising!: