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Posts Tagged ‘Tauck World Discovery’

It all began June 9 as we headed to the Maasai boma village in southeast Kenya in the shadow of Mr. Kilimanjaro and Ambroseli National Park which has a swamp in it. I knew that baby elephants were often rescued there and didn’t know why. But I soon learned they were stuck in the swamp and couldn’t get out and their Mother couldn’t get them out either.

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Shopping with the Maasai and all their beautiful beads and items for sale. And yes, I always buy something from them.

 

The ride took 1 hour from the hotel and the entire area had 8-inch ancient volcanic rocks scattered all over the area from the eruption of Mt. Kilimanjaro many years ago. We finally arrived at the boma where 122 Maasai lived in their individual houses made of cow manure.

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The elder who spoke to us about their lives. It was very interesting to learn how another culture lives and makes it in this world even though they do it different than I do. And we both make it work for us.

Sitting under a shade tree and listening to the elder Maasai tell how and why they do things, each one of us asked a question at the end of the hour meeting and then we were invited to tour the boma to see where and how they live.

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These two beautiful Maasai ladies live in the boma village we visited.

But first, I had to visit the restroom which my Tauck World Discovery guide said was 1 block away.

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Sharon Davis danced with the Maasai ladies.

So Sharon Davis, my travel companion, and I headed to the restroom, also made of dried cow manure. We arrived at what we thought was the entrance but it was the back. Sharon said to me, “Stay here while I find the entrance.”

And when she returned to tell me where it was, she saw me fall from standing to flat on the ground and I didn’t hit one of those volcanic rocks that were also scattered around the out house. I had turned 90 degrees to my right to look and the next thing I knew I was one foot from the ground.

I landed on my right shoulder and right hip and my head hit the ground and bounced up like a ball. The ground was covered with 4 inches of dried cow manure which was all over the right side of my face, hair, leg and Nikon camera. But I still needed to go to the restroom.

The biggest surprise I had besides falling was the restroom had no odor. Having been to many restrooms in this world that smelled horribly, it was wonderful to find one that did not smell and it was made of cow manure. I wondered how the Maasai could keep the restroom so clean and odor free and many peoples of the world could not.

When I got up, my right shoulder hurt so we went to our guide and told him what happened, and proceeded to tour the boma and all the souvenirs they had for sale.

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The cow manure house we visited inside where this Massai and his child lived.

Then we enjoyed a tour of a home containing only a cooking pot, fire, little stool and bed made of sticks. This home had an 8×10 inch glass window which I had never seen in a Maasai house that are always made by the women of cow manure.

When we arrived back to the hotel, a nurse checked my painful shoulder and asked me to lift up my right arm to the sky and I did. She said “Take these pills and use this ointment for 4 days and your shoulder will be well.” So I did and added an ice pack to it every hour.

Neither Sharon nor I wanted to return home as there was nothing wrong with me, according to the nurse. So we continued on the tour. Plus, the Tauck tour was awesome.

The next morning I looked down at my chest and the entire right side was black and the entire right side was white. I thought my right shoulder had something break and now I knew it was a blood vessel. But it did not hurt and the black stain lasted for several weeks before my chest became white again.

Two days later, we were in a small town that had a medical center. There I saw a doctor dressed professionally in his suit and tie, who took an x-ray of my still painful shoulder. He called me in, lifted up the 5×7 x-ray to view my shoulder and said “You don’t have any breaks so you are good to go.”

So again we agreed to continue on the wonderful trip of Kenya.

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We saw this Momma rhinoceros and her cute baby in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

A few days later, the tour went to the Maasai Mara and I began having trouble walking on the right side so I used the hotel’s wheelchair while there and it worked well. I didn’t need to walk then and also didn’t use my right shoulder much either.

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Sharon is on this balloon ride over the Maasai Mara. Can you spot her?

I didn’t miss one safari but I did decline the hot air balloon ride because I had enjoyed 2 before there. But Sharon went on the hot air balloon and she was ecstatic about it. I could ride and see the awesome animals with no problem and photograph the balloon in the air.

Again, we decided to continue on with the awesome tour around Kenya and then to Nairobi, the only city in the world that has a national park in it full of wild animals.

The tour finally ended in Nairobi, one week after my fall. By now, my shoulder was still hurting and I couldn’t walk much on my right side. There we went to a hospital which had a CT scan machine and the professionally dressed doctor said my shoulder was broken in 2 places. Then he put a sling on my arm to wear for weeks until well. But because I am only right handed, I took it off and used the arm very little.

DSC_0630Still we agreed to stay on in wonderful Nairobi.

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The endangered Rothschild Giraffe at the Giraffe Manor Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

I had booked a 3-day extension tour of Nairobi to again visit the rescued darling baby elephants in the David Sheldrick Orphanage where several of the babies were rescued from Ambroseli. Next, was the Kazuri bead making ladies and finally, the endangered Rothschild giraffes that live at the Giraffe Manor. (See story with photos about them elsewhere on my blog)

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THE DANCE wall hanging I purchased in Nairobi. Notice the boy and girl dancing in the upper left.

We visited all places we had planned. And at Kazuri Beads, I purchased a priceless handmade piece of art made by the bead ladies at www.kazuri.com. I named it the The Dance with beads made every day by 360 women who roll every shape of bead from Kenya’s Mt. Kenya clay into necklaces and wall hangings and sell them worldwide using Fed Ex.

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Some of the 360 bead making ladies who serenated me with song and dance after I purchased their masterpiece wall hanging.

When I bought the wall hanging, the factory ladies stopped work, danced and sang for 15 minutes. They make $175 a month to support themselves and their many children as they had no husband or any help and each would get money from my purchase.

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Marie, the lady who actually put the wall hanging together while her assistant, Florence, helped with macramé and assembling beads.

Two of the ladies worked 6 weeks creating the wall hanging with the many beads then sewing them into a custom African pattern using macramé. (See my story called “The Bead Ladies of Nairobi” elsewhere on my blog.)

Our wonderful Tauck tour ended and upon arriving home, I went to a hospital for a CT scan and my painful right shoulder clavicle was broken at both ends and my painful pelvis was cracked.

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The red marks on this laughing skeleton show the bones that were broken in my body, all on the right side.

But I continued to hurt and went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and learned the pelvic bone was completely broken and so was the sacrum, which meant several of my world wide trips needed to be cancelled while I recuperated for 6 months.

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To focus on something besides my broken bones, I hosted a BBQ luncheon for these wonderful people of my International Travelers Century Club. It was so much fun and we all enjoyed it very much. Of course, all we talked about was travel because each one of us had visited over 100 countries to belong to the club. And several had been to 150 and 200 countries. I had been to 251 countries/territories.

But I needed another dimension to my recuperating “trip.” Since I could not go on a world-wide tour, I created one I could go on to replace the trips I had to cancel.

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And while I was healing, my doctor required I go to physical therapy.  Guiding me was Rachael Thompson of Select Physical Therapy who kept me going until I was in shape to travel again. Plus she gave me positive things to think about while recouping instead of negative thoughts.

Being able to get in a wheelchair and transferring to an electric shopping cart, Hester, my helper and I went shopping at stores with electric shopping carts. Plus, she helped me daily with food, cleaning, driving and all.

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Reverend Bernadine S. Davis was one person I surprised by purchasing all of her items she was carrying in her arms one day. She said I blessed her and I told her you sure have been and I love you because you are human. Bernadette and I both made a scene as we screamed in joy and hugged and thanked each other for the wonderful experience of meeting by chance. It was a win-win for both of us.

While shopping at Walmart, I would select a person in the check-out line and pay for the items in their cart. This opened the door to conversations with these folks and enabled me to hear their stories. It was a wonderful discovery experience that was a win-win for us both, and converted a very negative experience into a positive one for me. And I continue this wonderful “trip” every time I go to Walmart.

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Rachael Thompson made sure I performed each exercise correctly.

I was very grateful for the opportunity and I appreciated their kind responses more than they could know, changing a lemon event into lemonade for me so I can get back to thinking about my next world wide trip.

Photo Copy ©  2017 carolyntravels.com 

 

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As we entered the Harishchandra Ghat in Varanasi, India, we noticed the heat and we were 20-25 feet away. Then, we saw a group of people watching from a step high above the sacred Ganges River.dsc_0124 And all along the river for several Ghats, thousands and thousands people were everywhere. It was then that we learned everything that was happening.india-jan-2008-1-886-2

What were we’re seeing, Ajay Pandey with Bestway Tours and Safaris told us, were Hindu ceremonies at the most sacred place in India that take place 24/7 each and every day. “No other place on Earth, Ajay said, “holds daily cremations at Varanasi like this right by the sacred Ganges River for the devout Hindu.” Over 80 cremations are performed daily on bodies brought by family members from everywhere any way they can to reach the cremation site because this Ghat and the Manikarnika Ghat are the main places where Hindu can reach Moksha. Cremation must occur within 24 hours of death.

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Ladies observing  Chhath Puja.

In addition, on this particular day, several Ghats( concrete steps on the bank down to the Ganges River) were packed with people observing Chhath Puja, a yearly 4-day observation where the faithful Hindu pay obedience to the Sun God. And this event was separate from the daily cremations. It just so happened that the 2 events shared the same area of the Ganges River. Married men and women observing the 36-hour fast prayed for the well being and prosperity of their families.dsc_0248

This age-old observance on the Ghats by the Ganges River was one of the many sites in eastern India where the festival was observed. The puja starts with the ritual of ‘Nahai-Khai’, in which devotees prepare traditional food after bathing. The second day is ‘Kharna’, during which devotees observe a 36-hour-long fast which starts from the second day evening onwards and continues till the fourth day sunrise.The third day, the devotees stand in water and offer ‘Arghya’ to the setting sun God.dsc_0255

On the fourth and final day of puja, devotees and their friends and relatives assembled at the Ghats on the river bank before sunrise and offer ‘Arghya’ to the rising sun God.dsc_0240

These devotees and others all watched the cremations and final day of the Chhath Puja, a once a year happening at Varanasi and all of East India. Several of the 87 Ghats along the Ganges River in Varanasi were full of people, and the river close to the cremation ceremonies was full of boats full of people observing it all.india-jan-2008-1-984

As cremations were on going 24/7, we saw only males watching their loved one being cremated on a pyre. Hindu accepts death as a positive event on the way to Moksha and peace. Hindus believe the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives -samsara- and its next incarnation is always dependent on how the previous life was lived -karma. Hinduism is not only a religion, it is a cultural way of life.

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This Rangoli is an Indian art form on the floor using petals, rice, flour, colored sand, and other materials. It is thought to bring good luck and reflect traditional folklore and practices unique to an area. A Rangoli can be done in flower shapes, deity impressions, or flower or petal shapes.

Before each cremation began, the male survivors took the body wrapped in a gold or white cloth topped with ribbons,  marigolds and other flowers to the sacred river for washing to relieve the body of its sins.india-jan-2008-1-861

Then the body was placed on a wooden pyre and the #1 male survivor, dressed in white, set the wood on fire. Prayers are said to Yarma, the god of death. The body is now an offering to Agni, the god of fire. Cremation takes 3-4 hours. When the skull explodes, it signifies that the soul had been released to heaven. The Dom keeps the fire going during the entire cremation and cows strolled around some of the pyres eating the marigolds and other flowers on the ground.dsc_0123-2

Many of these family members saved money for years to be able to buy the wood for their cremation. The most expensive wood is sandalwood and teak. Mango is the cheapest. The untouchables of society, called Dom, oversee each cremation and charge a fee to do so. They also charge for wood and weigh each log. Many of these Dom make a lot of money from the cremations.dsc_0121

The Dom stacks the wood into a pyre. Then the body is unwrapped and placed on the pyre. To keep it flat during cremation, more wood is placed on top of the body. The attending Dom then gives the #1 male survivor the flame with which he sets the pyre afire. Dry wood ignites immediately with flames leaping into the air and covering the body.dsc_0118

Should a person not have enough money to buy all the needed wood, the body is partially cremated with the amount of wood they can afford. Then the ashes and remaining body parts are put into the Ganges River where the soul is transported to heaven to escape the cycle of rebirth. The holier the place the better the chance the soul will achieve “Moksha” or cycle of rebirth and avoid returning to earth as an animal or insect.

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The red line into a woman’s hair indicates she is married.

Women are not allowed at the cremation because it is believed that their cries will interrupt the cremation and cause the soul to not make it to moksha. The transfer must be pure, and not sad or painful. We were allowed to pass through Harishchandra Ghat by keeping a respectable distance. And photographs are allowed only from a respectable distance.dsc_0288

Because of pollution concern, some cremations are performed in other locations and then the ashes are put into the Ganges River. But most Hindu choose the traditional cremation that has been carried out for thousands of years. After cremation, the ashes are searched for gold, and if any is found, it is given to the poor for purchasing wood.dsc_0206-2

After observing cremations from afar, we reached the Ganges River where a small wooden boat was waiting to take us to observe the “Prayer of the Ganges” to make the Ganges River happy to receive bodies into Moksha. This was at the Dashashwamegh Ghat. My first tour of India with Tauck.com included this Prayer of the Ganges ceremony and I was so impressed I decided to visit again on my private Bestway tour.

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dsc_0241Lasting for 1 hour each night, the Prayers are watched by scores of boats full of observers floating on the Ganges River. And we were one of them. The 9 Hindu priests perform the worship arti of the river Ganges to fire where a dedication is made to the Ganges River, Lord Shiva, the Sun, Fire and the whole universe.india-jan-2008-1-888

Under powerful lights that illuminate the Ghat, rhythmic chants and offerings are made by the nine priests to the river to accept the soul of the deceased on their journey to Moksha. We floated oil lamp candles in the river meaning light, happiness and knowledge. It was a most reverend ceremony.india-jan-2008-1-862

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One of the neon umbrellas under which a guru will celebrate the Prayer of the Ganges, which makes the River happy to receive the body into Moksha.

dsc_0210-2This one particular evening once a year, 2 events occurred at the same time, the daily cremation ceremony and Chhath Puja, the last day of the 36-hour fast that pays obedience to the Sun God. Hundreds of Hindu devotees packed the Ghats with baskets of food and flowers and family and friends to break that fast.dsc_0259

Watching the deceased take the journey to Moksha and the Hindu break the Chhath Puja fast was a total experience like no other in the world. Being able to observe both ceremonies in Varanasi, India, the holiest city in India, at the same time was a total honor.

Photo Copy ©  2016 carolyntravels.com 

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The sacred Ganges River the morning after a night of cremations.

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Every morning the Hindu bath in the sacred Ganges River to wash away their sins.

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A man and his Cobra.

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At the ceremony was a Sadhus (Religious man) or Guru.

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This young man was selling marigolds and candles to put into the river to honor the dead.

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Cattle are everywhere all the time eating anything they can find, such as the flowers left over from the bodies while they were being cremated. All animals are sacred.

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  It followed us from the ancient temple city of Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks, as part of our multi-vehicle convoy. And it was ready for our every need on the multi-hour rides into Central India which everyone enjoyed and appreciated.

Our custom Luxury Loo followed our convoy everywhere we went.

Our custom Luxury Loo followed our convoy everywhere we went.

It was the Luxury Loo that was invented by Tauck World Discovery because the need arose for their tour members traveling to their tiger safaris.  There are no toilets available along the vast expanse of open land and small villages to the parks.  So Tauck solved the challenge by providing a toilet in their convoy for their tiger adventures to operate smoothly, comfortably and conveniently. Necessity is the Mother of invention and the Luxury Loo was the answer.

The line up to use the Happy Van.

The line up to use the Happy Van.

Every two hours, next to rice fields, pastures or farms in the northern Central India area, the convoy would stop for a Luxury Loo break. Alongside the road in an unknown location, tour members exited their white SUVs headed straight for the “Happy Van.”DSC_0488 Two mini-motor home vans were modified to fit Tauck’s need for complete clean restroom facilities plus a comfortable waiting area from the weather.DSC_0493 And the Luxury Loo would be everywhere the Tauck tour was going because it always joined the convoy full of tour members ready for the next potty break.DSC_0496 Inside the big white van was a 3×3-foot room with toilet, sink, and amenities, just perfect for all Tauck tour members to use.DSC_0478 Plus, two comfortable couches with table were available where tour members could wait for their turn with the single unisex toilet.               DSC_0546 As guests used the Luxury Loo facilities one at a time, refreshments of snacks, fruits and soft drinks were available, making the tour even more consumer-friendly.  DSC_0545Some exercised, practiced Yoga and Tai Chi positions or walked around the convoy of cars to stretch their legs and bodies during each “Shangra Loo” break.DSC_0623 When it was time for lunch, the convoy stopped on the side of the road under a huge tree, set up a buffet table with white table cloth and all the trimmings. Rocks served as seats as all enjoyed the delicious food, scenery and Indian rural people going about their daily duties.DSC_0604 Two vans had to be modified to create 2 Luxury Loos so Tauck would have one available for their Northern India and Nepal tour which includes 7 total tiger safaris in Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks. When one tour has a Luxury Loo in use, another tour begins and uses the second Luxury Loo, and this rotation continued throughout Tauck’s Northern India and Nepal tour season.DSC_0739 The Luxury Loo comes complete with attendants who help open the door for the tour members, help them into and out of the van and provide needed supplies from hand sanitizer to towelettes for each one. Then the attendants clean the Luxury Loo and drive it at the end of the Tiger safari convoy, ready for the next Luxury Loo stop along the way to the national parks. DSC_0542 Along the way, the tour members enjoyed the everyday lives for the rural people, seeing how they are making it, ladies collecting water every morning for their home, men working their animals to thrash rice grain from the stalk, a Tuk Tuk stuffed with people for a ride into a village, children happy to see us and smiling and waving, people on the road stopping to speak with us and welcoming us to India, learning that cattle are sacred and have the right-of-way on every road not vehicles,  cattle pulling wagons full of hay, and ladies walking in their beautiful colorful saris carrying different products on their head.   DSC_0861                               DSC_0803DSC_0771DSC_0764DSC_0766DSC_0714DSC_0636DSC_0712DSC_0801DSC_0284 DSC_0816DSC_0592DSC_0544

The rural people in Central India paint their houses blue because dust does not stick to blue paint.

The rural people in Central India paint their houses blue because dust does not stick to blue paint.

All Tauck tour members were back on the road for their third and final convoy ride with the Luxury Loo and were happy and appreciative for Tauck’s relieving invention, and even happier because they saw their first Royal Bengal Tiger in the wild in India. It truly was Incredible India!

A Kanha National Park Photo

A Kanha National Park Photo

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He entered the barn full of tobacco hanging and drying everywhere and the aroma there smelled like a tobacco shop.

Benito and his Cuban Cigar

Benito and his Cuban Cigar

Dressed in khaki work clothes and a straw cowboy hat, the black mustached rugged looking farmer smelled of a musky macho outdoorsman.

On his knee layed a bouquet of aged tobacco leaves and he offered each one of us a chance to savor the aroma up close. Then, selecting one large leaf from that bouquet, he rolled it up carefully from end to end into a tight cylinder and put it in his mouth.

Now ready to smoke his custom cigar, he cut off one end and lit it, followed by a long slow draw and released a huge puff of smoke up into his tobacco drying-curing barn. This was Benito, the Cuban tobacco farmer of Vinales, Cuba that resembled the Marlboro man.  And his smooth charismatic mannerism of smoking caused the women to swoon approvingly and the men to smile.

Benito, with the toabcco bouquet on his knee, preparing to roll out a famous Cuban Cigar.

Benito, with the tobacco bouquet on his knee, preparing to roll out a famous Cuban Cigar.

With his pocket full of his Cuban cigars, Benito offered us a chance to smoke one.

Benito showed us a trick of putting the burning end of the cigar into his mounth and blowing out the other end, causing a huge stream of smoke.

Benito showed us a trick of putting the burning end of the cigar into his mounth and blowing out the other end, causing a huge stream of smoke.

Man after man stepped up for a cigar and Benito personally snipped off the end and then lit it for them.  The joy of smoking a world-famous Cuban cigar soon revealed many happy smiles and pleasurable signs of approval.

Then it was my turn as the only woman who wanted to puff just once on a world famous Cuban Cigar in Cuba with a “Marlboro Man” Cuban tobacco farmer.

So Benito offered one to me, then cut off the end and held the lighter to it for several seconds without anything happening. “Are you puffing on it?  He asked.”  No, I said. “Well, you have to puff on it to get it going.” So with one slow long draw on that cigar, I got to experience why Cuban cigars are so celebrated and famous around the world.

Benito tells me I have to draw on the cigar to get it going. Photo by June.

Benito tells me I have to draw on the cigar to get it going. Photo by June.

Ah, the taste of a world famous Cuban cigar, another dream come true.

Ah, the taste of a world famous Cuban cigar, another dream come true.

We couldn’t leave his tobacco drying-curing barn until he showed us about a tablespoon of “5, 781 tiny black tobacco seeds” that were each about the size of a dot. From each one, Benito said, grows a single tobacco plant and he showed us his field of perfect green plants as we left the barn.

Benito showing the 5,781 tobacco seeds so we can see how tiny they are.

Benito showing the 5,781 tobacco seeds so we can see how tiny they are.

Explaining the tobacco growing season in Vinales, Cuba, the tobacco growing area of Cuba, we learned why Cuba’s tobacco is so good for cigars. The red fertile soil, the position, angle, and amount of sun and the right amount of rain makes top quality tobacco just like a fine wine. Benito said harvesting occurs around Feb.-March each year as he invited us all into his home for Cuban coffee and Cuban Rum.

Walking around carrying a big bottle of Cuban strong amber rum, he laced our coffee with it and the coffee instantly was much more delicious.

The Best Cuban rum with Cuban coffee, what a treat.

The Best Cuban rum with Cuban coffee, what a treat, as Jean-Roch looks on.

It was amazing that rum could enhance the flavor of coffee to such a degree. And even sipping the concoction fairly fast did not even produce a buzz.

By now, our Tauck World Discovery tour visit was over but before we left, we were invited to tour his old authentic Cuban house and see his photos and tobacco ads of his farm. He showed us his family photos and told us how they have grown tobacco for years.

As we left, we had to pass by that tobacco drying-curing barn one last time

Benito's tobacco drying barn with the tobacco field nearby.

Benito’s tobacco drying-curing barn with the tobacco field nearby.

and the aroma that flowed from it indicated it wasn’t long before selling the dried and cured tobacco to make those famous Cuban cigars for the world to enjoy.

Photo Copy ©  2015 carolyntravels.com 

Benito in his tobacco field.

Benito in his tobacco field.

Benito and his workers cutting the tobacco leaves to hang them in the tobacco barn for drying and curing.

Benito and his workers cutting the tobacco leaves to hang them in the tobacco barn for drying and curing.

Benito, on the right, in a tobacco ad.

Benito, on the right, in a tobacco ad.

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A boat full of 25 natives making loud music came to us in the Coral Sea as we approached their village in the Sepic River region of Papua New Guinea.

When we arrived, we walked in the Sea to get to their village.A clan lady dressed in ceremonial regalia, greeted us on shore with a wet, hot pink-fuchsia glob of goo on our cheek, made by the annatto seed for a sign of hospitality.

Moisture caused the seed to “bleed” a hot pink juice all over.

Even though the 400 villagers from 7 clans had been isolated from the rest of the world since the beginning of time, the Watam clans of Papua New Guinea greeted us in full bilas attire,all provided by nature. And they knew we were arriving because they had received a code message beaten on the 8-by 3-foot hollow log (garamut)  from nearby neighbors. Justin, our tour guide with Orion Expedition Cruises, told us the code said, “Justin is coming with his ship early Wednesday morning.” So all the villages started preparing for the Orion’s arrival.

Everything stopped as the school children pledged allegiance to their flag, followed by the big dragon of 10 men worming its way through the middle of the long village while stepping to the beat of their kundu drums.

Dressed as one huge dragon, the men were singing, dancing and swaying to the beat of their drums. Others were dressed in their native costumes.

Next came the alerted natives from all over with their handmade masks and carvings and other souvenirs from the famous Sepik River region. But the Watam Village leaders had to organize a governing system for the different sales people to be fair to all.

Handwritten signs of rules, written in a native language, were placed at the entrance for sellers.

Waiting for us to select our prized souvenirs were many sellers in the hot shade and native villagers were now in business with a visiting ship of 80 people.

But before we left, Robin Tauck, of Tauck World Discovery, presented many huge boxes of school supplies,clothes and backpacks to the children who needed them to travel to their Watam school and schools in other islands.

The children danced with joy wearing their new possessions from this Tauck World Discovery special custom tour of Papua New Guinea. And the 25 men in the boat watched with joy and approval of it all.

tour. Photo Copy ©  2015 carolyntravels.com 

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It really is Incredible India as the sign says when you enter customs. 

India is ancient temples;

sacred cattle in the streets;

new temples;

women in saris;

traffic jams everywhere yet every driver inviting others to pull in front of them;

caparisoned (decorated) elephants giving rides on the side of the road;

men wearing turbans, 

bodies wrapped in colorful paper and ribbon being brought on the top of 

vehicles  for their sacred cremation in the Ganges River in Varanasi;

 the magnificent Taj Mahal at 6 a.m. in the morning;

and the curry-spiced Indian food.

It’s the top hotel palaces in the world;

a houseboat ride on canals around Kerala;

 Kathakali dancers and Kalaripayattu ancient martial arts

 demonstration at Kumarakom;

Three huge caparisoned elephants in a Hindu temple ceremony in Kerala,

yoga lessons in spiritual Kerala/Cochin;

and climbing the 225 steps to Elephanta Island near Bombay/Mumbai to see the ancient carving.

 In Bombay/Mumbai, it’s the Dabbawallahs

on their daily deliveries of fresh-cooked food from each customer’s home delivered for lunch

in their Bombay offices in Tiffins without a mistake; 

the largest democracy in the world;

the Dhobi Ghats where residents have their laundry washed in many concrete vats outside

 and pounded and pounded until clean, then dried and delivered to the Bombay/Mumbai home;

where everyone has a job no matter his/her status;

where trains stuffed with people arrive continuously into Bombay/Mumbai;

where new modern buildings are built next door to a slum of tents.

It’s a special Maharajah dinner evening in Jaipur with

caparisoned elephants, camels, horses and people dancing to the beat of the music, and pashminas for warming shoulders.

India is a country that is not to be missed for a life-changing experience and a trip of a lifetime on Tauck World Discovery’s all inclusive tour because it is truly incredible India.

 

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Red, black and white was in every one of the 33 elegant sophisticated creations. So when I saw them, chills came over my body. They were so beautiful and so refreshing to see in today’s society. All were custom designed by Michele Miglionico, an Haute Couture Italian designer in Rome.

Being in attendance at my first High Fashion Show at the 85th Anniversary of Tauck World Discovery in Rome was a super high for this life-long seamstress. And I was on the front row in a prime seat location at the entrance to the runway so I could see them full view as they entered the room, as they walked the runway, and as they left the room.

The six beautiful models were very tall and very thin and in a very perfect pencil-like shape. Oh, to be thin again. And their hair styles were all the same, in 3-4 big knots or rolls on the top, sides and back of their heads. The hair style was fitting for the occasion and allowed emphasis on the fashions. The shoes were all very high heels.

The first model set the theme for the fashion show, black, white, and red for the colors and sophisticated tailored elegance for the style of garments made of silks, satins, brocades, linens and cottons.  And every kind of sewing technique, from tucks to gathers to pleats was used. The styles ranged from casual, formal to professional attire. And every model after that was a different variation of this theme.

Watching the models sashay while leaning backwards from the waist, swaying smoothly right then left down the runway with each foot landing right in front of the other one reminded me of the walk of a graceful elegant giraffe I had seen on a Tauck World Discovery tour in the Serengeti.

By now, my head was spinning with excitement and I could barely get air because the magnitude of the fabulous fashion show in Rome just overcame me. The elegant style of the clothes reminded me of the style of clothes I used to design and sew.

But, too soon, the show was over, and my dream had come to an end, and I didn’t want to leave. But then, Robin Tauck, of Tauck World Discovery, invited us to accompany her backstage to meet designer Michele Miglionico. I accepted immediately without hesitation and followed her to continue my fashion experience that hadn’t ended yet. Mr. Miglionico shook my hand and hugged me, offering a custom fitting for attending the show. And I could browse through the racks of clothes he had just shown us to find exactly the one I might want.

Then Robin Tauck offered to take our photo and she put a huge purse in my hand that was used in the style show to complete the “balance” of the photo. Of course, we were standing right in front of a rack of the gorgeous fashions in the show.

My private custom fashion show ended again and this time I had to leave. But as I left, I dreamed of days gone by when I also wore my beautiful custom-made and designed ensembles and was thin and pretty and could have been one of those on the runway.

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