Archive for August, 2013

Nicaragua canal ? What are your thoughts?

Posted: August 28, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Chinese entrepreneur reveals route for Nicaraguan canal

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For hundreds of years, men have dreamed of building a canal across Nicaragua, conquering this volatile land of volcanoes and rain forests and breaking Panama’s monopoly on global shipping.

Now that dream has moved a step closer to reality as a Chinese entrepreneur unveiled his route for a 170-mile, £26 billion waterway from the Pacific to the Caribbean.

If Wang  Jing, an intensely private 40-year-old businessman from Beijing, pulls off the feat, it will rank as one of the greatest engineering marvels in history.

But sitting in the offices of his telecommunications company in an industrial park north of Beijing, Mr Wang is clearly very serious and very determined to succeed.

“I am 100 percent certain the construction will begin in December 2014 and we will finish in five years in 2019,” he said.

He added that while a feasibility report is still ongoing, “the framework” of the project has been decided. “There will be small changes but no big changes”.

 

The revelation of the route is likely to dismay environmentalists, who have complained that Lake Nicaragua, already heavily polluted with sewage, could be further harmed by the passage of some of the world’s largest supertankers.

However, Mr Wang said he would put environmental protection at the heart of the project.

“It is very clear to us that Lake Nicaragua is the mother lake of the country, a symbol like the Yellow River is to China. So protecting this lake is the focus of our feasibility report,” he said.

“I take all responsibility for any environmental damage. I have told my employees that if we make a mistake on this front, we will be dishonoured in the history textbooks of Nicaragua,” he added.

The project has raised many eyebrows. Mr Wang has no history of huge infrastructure projects. The engineering challenge is immense, with tides on the two coasts differing in height by as much as 20ft. And Nicaragua is hardly an investment-grade country, making it difficult to raise the vast sums required.

 

Mr Wang said he would name his investors in the next two months, but added that all the funds necessary had already been secured from China, Europe and the United States. “Our investors are big banks and other large institutions,” he said. “They are first class investors”.

China Development Bank, which is mandated by the Chinese government to lend money to large infrastructure projects both at home and abroad, granted Mr Wang’s telecoms company, Xinwei, a 12 billion yuan (£1.3 billion) credit line in 2011 to expand its business overseas.

However, he declined to reveal if CDB would again be involved. “Whether it is China Development Bank or other banks there is no difference; they are financial institutions. There will be no hidden politics,” he said.

The walls of Mr Wang’s telecoms company are hung with pictures of China’s top leaders. His meeting room boasts an enormous mural of Chairman Mao, and his office contains dozens of scale models of Chinese army tanks, jets, rocket launchers and satellites. But he insisted that he has no government connections.

“There is no Chinese government involvement, no guidance, no one saying we should cooperate with this firm or do that. The money we have spent so far, several millions, has come from me personally,” he added.

While Mr Wang insists there is no political element to the project, the Panamanian government suggested the US – which built the Panama Canal and controlled it until 1999 – would hardly be “amenable” to the idea of a Chinese rival.

“I don’t think it’ll be funny for the Americans to have the Chinese with a canal through Central America,” Fernando Núñez Fábrega, the foreign minister, told The Daily Telegraph.

But he said Panama was skeptical that the canal could be built, let alone compete with the established route. “We have never taken it seriously,” he said.

“We have spent $5.2 billion (£3.4bn) in doubling our canal capacity, so for somebody to do a start-up is a difficult proposition at this point in time,”

Mr Wang, however hit back at suggestions he was unprepared for the colossal undertaking.

“You may not believe it, but I am 41 years old and I have never owned a mobile phone. I do not have one on me now. But I run a telecoms company. In fact, I had no experience of telecoms until I started here in 2009. I am the man who sets the direction,” he said.

He spoke in detail of his plans over the next year-and-a-half until ground is broken on the canal. It is, he acknowledged. “a huge project”, particularly as Nicaragua is not a developed country. “Even on Google Maps a lot of it is a blur.”

There are 5000 people working on the feasibility study alone, Mr Wang said. He has also employed a score of international law firms to safeguard his 100-year lease on the route against a change in Nicaragua’s political climate, and there are also reports that McKinsey, the consultancy, has been hired.

A canal across Nicaragua was first suggested in 1567, when King Felipe II of Spain ordered a survey. But with many of today’s supertankers too large for the Panama canal, and with rich shale gas deposits in the United States looking for an export route to Asia, the project has again been resuscitated.

Mr Wang stumbled across the history of the canal idea while preparing a telecoms bid for the Nicaraguan government. It caught his imagination, and he came up with a proposal.

“They had always had this dream for hundreds of years and suddenly a Chinese guy shows up and says he has a plan. So they were very surprised.”

Additional reporting by Adam Wu and Harriet Alexander

Happy Monday !

Posted: August 26, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

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It’s official ! Belize is Happy.

Posted: August 18, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

You read it here first, and we’re happy to tell you.

Belize Happy Travel Channel

The Travel Channel has just officially acknowledged something that we’ve always known – Belize is one of the Top Ten Happiest countries in the world.

A new Travel Channel article,” World’s Top 10 Happiest Countries”, uses the 2013 global Happy Planet Index to compile this year’s list of the top cheerful destinations, and we’re not surprised that Belize made the grade.

With the world’s second largest barrier reef (some say the world’s longest living  barrier reef), huge tracts of unspoiled rainforests surrounding ancient Maya cities and temples, pristine rivers, waterfalls, hundreds of lovely little islands and a stunning Caribbean coast, what’s not to be happy about?

Oh yes, then there’s the people. Nowhere on the planet will you find a more multicultural mix of happy souls who have long ago worked out how to live in harmony. Just about everyone who comes to Belize remarks on the natural, easy going friendliness and warmth of Belizeans. And it’s infectious – after a few days even the most harried travellers notice a spring in the step and a propensity towards smiling. It just grows on you…

But don’t take our word for it; here’s what the Travel Channel has to say:

“With the second biggest barrier reef in the world, a laid back Caribbean lifestyle and a favourable climate, there’s a lot to be happy about in Belize. But its cultural diversity is what is truly believed to make this country so content and welcoming: European, Creole, Hispanic and Mayan are some of the prevalent groups that form one harmonious culture here.”

Other happy countries include Costa Rica, Vietnam, and that home of happy reggae beats, Jamaica.

You can check them all out on www.travelchannel.com.

Better still, pack up your glad rags, leave your worries behind, and come on down to relax and surround yourself with smiles at Chaa Creek to see what everyone is beaming about.

 

Tags: 

http://belize-travel-blog.chaacreek.com/2013/06/its-official-belize-is-happy/

 

Thanks !

Posted: August 13, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

We would like to thank all of our past clients for their great reviews. And too you future clients you won’t be disappointed.

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What are your thoughts! Costa Rica to close the zoos and free animals?

Posted: August 6, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

We thought our readers would want to know what one beautiful Central American Country is planning on doing.  The news has been buzzing lately about Costa Rica’s plan to close their zoos and release all the animals into the wild. We’d love to hear your feedback. You can read more about this plan here:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/08/04/costa-rica-zoos.html

Costa Rica is also one of the first Latin American countries  to ban hunting as a sport. Bravo Costa Rica!

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Help Wanted! Mateo the Sea Turtle and family need you.

Posted: August 1, 2013 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

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This is Mateo, Tammy and I adopted this baby sea turtle hatchling down in San Pancho, Mexico that is being released tonight. We got to name him after we made a small donation to this wonderful facility called Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde http://project-tortuga.org/contribute.html. Our Daughter Kristen is currently there now on a two  month volunteer assignment ( http://foreigncoin.tumblr.com/ ). I volunteered some time there last year while on expedition throughout Mexico and Central America.  This is a cause near and dear to us. This year 2013 has been fraught with difficulties in raising funds and many unforeseen expenses from last season, including  damage from hurricane waves, termites within the box nursery and a vehicle fire and engine replacement all took it’s toll on what donated funds were available.  The damage has been repaired, but they need your help now.  If you would like to help,  Please click on the link above and make a donation, any amount would be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made by Paypal or snail mail.
Thank You
Bernard Barbour
Central America Overland Expeditions
For snail mail send to 
130253 Grupo Ecológico,
2163 Lime Loop
Laredo, TX 78045