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They were in front of us from the airport and we didn’t even notice. Several days went by and we still didn’t notice but finally we realized they were there. And it continued even more times. Plus, no one anywhere informed us that they would be in front of us.  Finally a clue surfaced that made us suspect what was going on because it didn’t look normal.

We were following a plain car in front of us and when it turned right, we turned right. And when it turned left, we turned left. And this happened over and over and that’s when we started asking questions of our first guide SiDi. “Is that car leading us around Algiers,” we asked and he replied, “Yes. And then I asked, “Why?” And he replied “They want to make sure you are safe during this brief presidential situation and to get us through traffic jams.
So with that knowledge, we learned we would be escorted around Algiers, Algeria everywhere we went from daylight to dark. And we were. And we began to like it and to enjoy the good looking Algerian policemen who were protecting us for our visit as a tourist everywhere we went in Algeria. Each time they began to escort us, they came and told us “Hello.”
Plus they would start out each day discussing with Yazid, our driver, where we were going and what route we would take because the policemen sometimes had a different route than Yazid did because of traffic safety. So we followed them where they took us and we thanked every one of them for their service several times each day.
If we wanted to buy a souvenir of Algeria, Billel, our second guide, told the police. The next thing we knew, we were at a souvenir shop and the policemen even came in the shop and helped us find just the turbo head wrap and began to show us how to wrap it around the head until the shop keeper, Smati, finished the wrap on our guide’s head. It fit Billel just right so I bought it as my first souvenir.

If our tour called for a visit to the outstanding Mosaic Museum or Archeological Museum or ancient ruins from the Phoenicians, Romans, Turkey, Byzantine, Arab, Spain, French and Berber periods that have occupied Algeria since B.C. times, our police escort was there ready to lead us through the city. And then the police escort waited for us until we left the exhibit and then escorted us to the next place on our itinerary.

When we stopped for lunch, the police escort stopped for lunch in the same restaurant where we were eating. We ate at our own table with our guide, Billel. Sometimes, the police escort changed shifts at lunch time so we had different police escorts after lunch. And when we went from city to city, the escort policemen changed. Each Algerian state we were in or passed through provided us a police or military escort in their state.
A customer showed me the 18″ high wooded “V” shaped container from which they eat a traditional food called Zviti. It is called a Mehraz. The police are at the table behind us.

So we drove through several states, from Cherchell, Tipaza, Annaba, Constantine, Timgad, Lambaesis, to Batna, and Bou Saada and we pulled over to the side of the road and there was a policemen  or a military policeman waiting to take us on our journey through their state. We had policemen on motorcycle, in an SUV for police or a olive-colored pick-up that the military police used to guard us. Some vehicles were marked police and some were unmarked.

Several times in our escorted journey, the police escort encountered traffic jams and some vehicles traveling in convoy formation. So when the police escort saw there was no way to get us through the bottle neck, they put on the flashing lights and the siren to tell motorists we were coming through.

And the drivers moved to the side of the road, allowing our van to proceed. And every time, a policeman in the passenger side had his arm out the window to direct traffic as we passed through.  It told the drivers something else was following him.

This was our van the police escorted for the entire time we were in Algeria. This is our van that the police escorted for the 10 days we were in Algeria.

And several times, we had a police escort at the front and back of us when there was a lot of congestion. One time, a stretch of 2-lane highway was so clogged with traffic that we had 2 police cars leading us and one following. Watching them maneuver around the traffic was the work of artists and professionals. One police car was 5-6 cars ahead of us and our police escort. When it was time to do the pass maneuver and the way was clear, the lead car would pull out into the opposing lane with lights flashing and siren sounding. Then our police escort would follow with our van and the rear escort following. They performed this maneuver when there was room enough for vehicles to move to the side of the road.

And the policeman in the passenger seat had his right arm out the window directing traffic and signaling someone was following him. Vehicles moved to the shoulder and everything each time went perfect with no problems.  It was so artistic watching the maneuver like a well rehearsed dance, but watching it also was nerve racking and suspenseful for we had never seen or experienced anything like it.

Our guide SiDi told us that the policemen escorting us are educated and trained to be escorts and they certainly have learned their training well for their excellent performance for the 10 days we were in Algeria. So when we went back to the airport to catch our next flight to Mauritania, there was the police escort for our final ride and a salute to us. And we saluted them and the Algerian government in each state for all the great work they did for us. This time, we knew they were leading and following us.

Photo Copy © 2018 carolyntravels.com

As we went from Algerian city to city, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape and different colored and types of flowers.
We also saw the storks in their nests all along the northern part of Algeria. Every year the male and female meet in nests all over Africa and then fly to the northern countries in Europe to hatch their babies in their nests there. In all locations, places for the storks to nest are provided for them because it is believed that they bring good luck.
On our last day in Algeria, we saw this scenery and thought it was a peaceful and wonderful end to an awesome visit in Algeria, a country loaded with antiquities from BC time.

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The first indication we had of what was to come was driving down the highway and noticing sand being blown on the road in stripes and then a white out. And it continued and continued making us realize we couldn’t do anything outside or we would be bombarded by sand in a strong wind. And we were.

In one hotel, June just couldn’t stand the sand anymore because the floor and bathroom were covered in sand. So she requested a broom, mop and dustpan from the hotel and began to clean. But When Mohamed saw her cleaning, he took the broom from her hands and started sweeping the entire room. She asked him where he placed the pile of sand he got from the room and he replied “behind the toilet.” We both died laughing.

Mohamed showed we how to wrap the turban so sand won’t get into any holes or crevices.

We had sand in every crevice or crack or bend or hole in our body. Everywhere we walked, we walked on sand and sat on sand and ate sand and any other thing you could do with sand. It made us respect the camel more because it had eyes, a nose and ears that could be closed in a sand storm. Closing ours didn’t help. They still had sand in them.

We had sand everywhere. And it lasted for the 4 days June and I were in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania following a caravan route in a pickup truck.

In that truck was our guide and driver, Mohamed, our cook, Mounir (Moo-near) and June and I. We were following a caravan route in northern Mauritania because I could not walk for the 44 days that a normal walking caravan takes with camels. Instead of camels carrying supplies, our truck was packed with food, water and our luggage and any other thing we needed for 4 days for the mini caravan. Our custom designed mini-caravan had us staying in the best available hotels possible in the villages closest to the caravan route instead of staying with nomads and in tents.

These hotels did not serve food or provide anything except a plain room with toilet facilities. They were basic and they worked for us. But they didn’t provide any food so Mounir and Mohamed unloaded our food supplies from the truck and spread a fabric cover on the floor of our room and provided us a meal, picnic style. We had mixed vegetables from cans sometimes with tuna fish and olives and dates and a long loaf of uncovered bread from the market that he bought out of a wheelbarrow that probably was covered with sand.

So half way to our final destination, we stopped at a hotel of bungalows with a bed and natural toilet inside. And inside that room, Mounir fixed our first meal. Mounir wanted to cook meat inside our room but I told him I could not breathe smoke or any pollutants. She he cooked outside on a small portable cooker and bought a chicken for us at the local market. It was meaty and delicious and so were the mixed vegetables from cans.

On this day, we were going to see the Oasis in the desert. So, I figured it would be a short ride to get to it. I had seen one oasis city in the desert in United Arab Emirates so I was looking forward to seeing this one.

Mohamed found a little path and turned onto it from the paved highway into the Sahara Desert and headed toward the Oasis. We were following a caravan trail and the ride was smooth, bumpy, enjoyable and adventurous. We were amazed that trees and bushes and shrubs were in the desert and they were living. Mohamed and Mounir both agreed it was normal for a desert to have some greenery.

The caravan route was not straight, and we turned right and left many times. And every turn was a different and beautiful scene. One turn we made, we came upon the oasis. There was a pond of water in the middle of nowhere that was about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. And sitting beside it were 6 cows. I was shocked and amazed that a desert would have cows deep inside it. We also saw several camels as we progressed along the way.

But to my amazement, this was not the oasis we were going to see. So we continued on the trail and on and on. We saw huts and little villages as we proceeded deeper into the Sahara Desert. People actually lived in the desert and seem to be surviving just fine. I never dreamed people could live in the desert. But now I know they can.

We were into the Sahara Desert for almost an hour and a half now and finally we began to ask “Are we there yet?” And finally, Mohamed indicated we were near. But we kept driving and driving through villages and trees. Finally we parked after 2 hours of driving in the sand and we walked up to the oasis. And we walked and we climbed up the hill and the terrain was natural and not a smooth sidewalk. I was so tired from the day before that I could barely make the climb.

But with the help of Mohamed and Mounir, I finally made it to the oasis. It was a wall of different layers of dirt/rock/sand with water drops falling down into the stream below. It was a silent beauty. A large fabric cover was on the ground for us to rest on and to have a picnic. So Mohamed and Mounir brought up our food supplies from the truck and prepared our dish of mixed vegetables from various cans. It tasted good as we rested from the long bumpy ride through the Sahara Desert.

It was so relaxing to watch the drops of water quietly fall into the stream below and to wonder in amazement how this could exist in the middle of a dry desert. And it was refreshing to just see water and learn that this can and does exist in the Sahara Desert. But the enjoyment and rest soon ended.

We made it back down the hill to the truck and continued driving/riding further into the desert. I was getting real thirsty after another long drive so I took a bottle of water and began to drink it.  And just then, Mohamed stopped the truck that was bumping, and rocking and rolling along the desert path so I could drink without spilling the water or cutting my lip on the container. Oh, the water tasted so good and I finally finished so we could proceed further into the Sahara Desert.

But there was one problem.  The truck wouldn’t move because it was stuck in the sand. And we were in the middle of nowhere. And I didn’t know if anyone knew where we were. I quietly became worried if we would ever be found as Mohamed and Mounir tried to get us unstuck.  First, they tried digging out the sand from the front wheels. That didn’t work. Then they tried putting bark and limbs from nearby trees under the tires and that didn’t work. Then they tried letting air out of the tires and that didn’t work. Then they tried digging out more sand and rocking the vehicle back and forth. Nothing worked. Thirty minutes had passed as they tried endlessly to get the truck unstuck.

Then, they tried everything they tried before and added Mounir‘s pushing power and the truck slowly began to move and we slowly became unstuck and moving again. June and I thanked them and thanked them for successfully getting us unstuck. So then we headed straight to a car repair shop in a small village in the desert where we could get air to refill the tires. It was a glorious moment when we were back safe and sound and moving again.

 

Mounir went to local markets when they were available several times to buy meat for our meals. He wore his bou-bou (boo-boo) men’s traditional attire.

 

These 2 girls watched us the entire time we were having air put back in our tires at the auto repair shop in the desert.

And we were back on the paved highway on the way to our hotel nearby and the wind was blowing and streaks of sand blew again. And we were reliving the unbelievable experience we just had at an oasis and getting stuck in the Sahara Desert as we followed a caravan route. We never had food poisoning or any problems. And Mohamed and Mounir never spoke a word of our language and we never spoke a word of their language. We used the charade method until I remembered the Translate app on my iPhone. And when Mohamed heard our question in his language, he celebrated with joy. And we did also. Priceless.

For A Caravan in the Sahara Desert contact La Phare Du Desert, Mauritanie assistance, Mauritanie-Maroc-Senegal-Mali, +222 46 44 24 21 http://www.desertmauritanie.com  email info@desertmauritanie.com

Photo Copy © 2019 carolyntravels.com

     

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Sharon and I decided to try it but we had no idea what it was like.  We soon learned. We screamed all the way down the hill because it was so exciting and scary and exhilarating and unique all at the same time.

It was a ride like no other we had ever done. And we had never visited the island either. The sleigh/sledge/toboggan/sled/car ride we decided to get on was on Maderia Island and it was waiting for a customer so we climbed right in. The sledge was a handmade wicker sofa basket made especially to sit on top of the sledge’s 2 runners. So we climbed into the basket seat with the help of our 2 drivers who would keep the sleigh on track from the top of the hill down 1.24 miles or 2 KM.

We had no seat belts, no rules or regulations to follow, no warnings to follow like keep the feet and arms inside the basket, no wheels, no engine, no emergency rules, nothing. We just had 2 male drivers, dressed all in white and a bowler straw hat, who were masters in driving the sled.

Our guide told us it would take about 10 minutes to complete the ride but it seemed like it took an hour. We started off just fine sliding straight down the hill and thought it would be a simple ride, but we were screaming and laughing and going 30 mph/48 KM all the way down because it was so fast.

All was normal until we came to a curve. And that is when we started sliding through the curve sideways going 30 mph/48 KM. And the screams became louder and longer. As the sliding occurred at my side, I knew the sleigh was out of control and we were in danger. I even thought we would turn over or crash into the wall. It became a bare knuckles ride that was out of control.

We could see all the way down the steep hill to Funchal as we went through this beautiful neighborhood of homes.

But what I didn’t know was that the 2 drivers had control of the sleigh. It’s just that I thought they didn’t.  I began to learn that each driver had control of the sled with a rope and their feet. The 2 men wore special leather booths with tire tread soles made especially for them so they could control the sledge by traction. And the 2 ropes were attached to the front of the sled, one on each side, that helped them control the angle of the sled from all sides as it went down the road. When the sleigh was in control, the drivers rode behind us on the runners, using their feet to make us go right, left or straight.

We didn’t slide down a dedicated tract.  No. We slid down a public road that cars drive on. And the road was shiny smooth and slick from the many times a sled has gone down the hill. At one intersection in the road, a man holding a stop side, had several cars waiting behind him for us to pass.

One time, we had to stop and move to the side of the road so a car could pass us. And to get us going again, the 2 men moved from the back of the sled to the front to pull the ropes. Then, as we started going fast again, they quickly moved to the back so they could move the toboggan to the right, left or straight to keep us on the road. And we were screaming all the time.

We later learned the drivers oiled the soft eucalyptus wood runners so they would slide easier and faster when we were stopped to let the car pass by. Then we wondered how the drivers could get traction with oil all over the road from the oiled runners. And how could the cars driving on the slick road keep from sliding down also.

We slid sideways curve after curve and curve. I nearly fell out of the basket and then Sharon nearly fell out because we were going so fast. But we didn’t. We just thought we were going to fall because the speed around the curve seemed so fast. But the men had control of the sledge and we proceeded just fine every time. But, we screamed even louder.

The sleds were coming one at a time fast after we made it to the souvenir stand.

The ride was fairly smooth. When we did come to a bump, it wasn’t a jarring hard bump. We assumed it was because of the soft eucalyptus wood the runners were riding on and they had to be changed often as the street wore them up.

The ride ended when the drivers veered the sled off to the left by pulling on the ropes from the back and dragging their feet, landing right in front of the Toboggan Souvenir Shop and Refreshments area and the man holding the photos of us taken along the way. We just had to buy the $10 photo of us screaming with hair blowing as we went down the road and a t-shirt at the souvenir shop, for we didn’t want to ever forget that exhilarating ride in Maderia.

Writer Ernest Hemingway took the ride and described the experience as one of the most hilarious in his life. We agree with his analysis.

We wondered how this ride ever was invented so we asked Delores, our guide for the tour of Maderia. Mr. Gordon, she said, used to walk down the hill every day to work. He kept noticing the sled delivering supplies down the hill that was pulled by 2 oxen. So he reasoned, it he could make it like a sleigh, he would get to work real fast.

In 1850, he began to ride to work after having a wicker basket sofa designed and attached to the sleigh runners. And he rode from the village of Monte to the Maderia capital city of Funchal in record time. Others noticed his sleigh and the ride became popular with natives and tourists alike.

Where is Maderia Island you wonder? It is a Portuguese island located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the west coast of Africa, about 300 miles from Morocco. It has become a popular tourist destination with all seasons being a great time to visit. It is often referred to as “the island of eternal spring” since the climate is outstanding.

No other place in the world has this kind of ride and Maderia is known as one of the 7 most unique commuter rides in the world. And we screamed and laughed all the way down on the wildest ride of our lives.

  Photo Copy © 2019 carolyntravels.com                                                        

 

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We had just looked out the window and there they were, moving fast towards our ship and our balcony. “They don’t all look Polynesian like the other people we had seen,” Sharon and I said, as we had been to the Tahitian and Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific.IMG_4552 (1) Then, we saw them stopped next to our ship. And the next thing we knew, they were on our ship, all 33 of them. We knew who they were so we were not worried, but we had never seen or met them. IMG_4597These visitors were the Seventh generation of the 7 mutineers of the Bounty, plus wives and friends. The Bounty was a small armed British merchant ship of the Royal Navy that was on a botanical mission when the mutiny occurred. And that mission was to go to Tahiti and collect breadfruit plants and seeds and take them to the British islands in the West Indies for food for the islanders.

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There are no places to dock on this volcanic island except for small boat.

These visitors had left their island for a morning with us and to sell us their many handmade items and island products on the Crystal Symphony cruise ship. The waters were too treacherous for our ship to stop and it took several attempts and areas before we could successfully anchor hundreds of feet/meters away.

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We even received a stamp in our passport showing we had been admitted to Pitcairn Island and visited with its wonderful inhabitants.

And we couldn’t have docked on the island anyway because the island didn’t have a dock except for a tiny landing spot for a small boat. So, the islanders and the ship created a method by which each could meet and greet each other.
IMG_4557 (1)These visitors were from Pitcairn Island, an isolated British Overseas Territory in the eastern South Pacific, a bit larger than Monaco. It is located half way between Panama and New Zealand and the 7 mutineers and 41 others on the Bounty in January 1790 selected this 18 square mile (47 km) small volcanic mountain sitting alone in the ocean with treacherous and dangerous waters surrounding it.

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All the residents of Pitcairn Island posed for this photo

Thus, this was the reason the mutineers, under the leadership of Captain Fletcher Christian, chose this island on which to land and live.
It also, was in the wrong location on the British maps so Captain Christian knew they would never be discovered by the British. For when the British found them, they would be taken back to England and punished for the mutiny. The British finally found them in February 1808 and the mutineers had died by then.

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The Postmaster, Dennis Christian, the 7th generation of Fletcher Christian, Capitan of the Bounty and the mutineers. He has lived on Pitcairn Island all of his life.

And so, the 7th generation mutineers, along with Dennis Christian, descendant of Fletcher Christian, came to visit with us as we purchased their items in the small market they set up around the ship’s pool with Pitcairn Island visible from all angles. And while they were setting up the market, Melva Evans, Director of Tourism on Pitcairn Island, talked to us in the ship’s conference room about living on an isolated island in the South Pacific. Besides, selling Pitcairn to the outside world, she takes care of her 90-year-old Mother, a native of Pitcairn Island.
DSC_0303Evans began by telling us in 2016, Pitcairn was named a Marine Protective Ecosystem and the largest marine reserve in the world because it is pristine and almost untouched. And then she began to tick off item after item to explain what it is like to live on Pitcairn:
*●All residents of Pitcairn are Seventh Day Adventist
*●Whales come around the island May to November
●Residents have located the Bounty’s anchor and ballast and house them in the Bounty Museum
DSC_0257●The island has great fishing and every year on January 23 “Bounty Day”, the residents catch fish and have a fish fry in honor of the Bounty landing on Pitcairn. Plus, they build and watch a replica of the Bounty burn in Bounty Bay until it all disappears into the ocean just like they did when they came to Pitcairn. When the mutineers landed on Pitcairn, they unloaded everything from the Bounty and then set it on fire until it disappeared in the ocean so the British would not find them.
●All plants and animals on Pitcairn are endangered except Miss T, a Galapagos tortoise who loves everyone.
DSC_0150●When the mutineers arrived, they brought breadfruit plants and seeds with them for planting. Now they make everything with it. The mission of the Bounty was to collect breadfruit seeds and plants in Tahiti and take them to the West Indies for the people to plant.
DSC_0232●The names/areas of the villages are named after the mutineers
●Anyone who wants to live in Pitcairn is given land for a house and garden.
DSC_0130DSC_0123DSC_0132●When the mutineers arrived at Pitcairn, they immediately set up a village, complete with church, police, community center, school, medical center, post office and now internet office. The government treasurer is the bank
DSC_0162 - Copy●All residents of the island help with the sugar cane harvest and they work with the arrow root. They gather at the Community Center and make an assembly line.
DSC_0255●To celebrate Christmas, the villagers cut a tree and take it to the town square where each person decorates it with a can of food or food item, and then they have a meal using the different foods from the tree.
●Three generators provide electricity 6 am to 10 pm. and are looking into wind generators and solar panels.
●A monthly newsletter is published online or can be sent by snail mail 4 times a year for $40.
IMG_0078●Honey is produced on the island and is certified the purest in the world because there are not many pollutants there.
DSC_0137●Minor medical problems are handled on the island where residents only pay for some medications to the Doctor/Clinic. But major problems are handled in Mangareva Island, 355 miles away by boat.

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Sharon and I found several treasures from the islanders, from handmade jewelry, stamps, a handmade copy of the Bounty, wood carved items, to T-Shirts of all kinds, honey and honey soap.

●The economy is individual or family. Arts N Crafts, and government is the main source of income for the islanders.
●Islanders do not make much money so taxes are low.
●To get products, the residents order online to New Zealand and a boat arrives every 3 months with the products.
DSC_0262●Their source of water is rain and 4-5 tanks are at each house to catch that rain water.
●Around Pitcairn, there are very few sharks.

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As we shopped, we could see Pitcairn Island out the window.

●To get to Pitcairn, one must fly to Tahiti, then to Mangareva Island and then take a boat 355 miles to Pitcairn. The journey takes 30 hours and 2 nights and 1 day.
●Those wanting additional education go to New Zealand. Basic schooling is provided in a one-room school house on Pitcairn where 3 different levels of learning are offered.
DSC_0250●Meat is imported from New Zealand, but Pitcairn has goats which are pinned.
●The island does not suffer from typhoons.
●The Postmaster, Dennis Christian, does not collect taxes as income is so low
DSC_0294After the slide show and speech, it was shopping time and we all had fun getting something from Pitcairn Island.
Then it was time for them to say good bye and they did it in a grand way. DSC_0319DSC_0323All of them came to the ship’s lobby and sang their Good-Bye song for us and then returned to their awaiting long boat full of new items, less souvenirs and more cash. And then as they rode out of sight just like they came in, we waved good-bye and they waved good by and it was a win-win visit for all of us. DSC_0364And again, we looked out our window to watch them disappear to their most isolated island on Earth. And we were happy and they were happy.

Photo Copy © 2018 carolyntravels.com

 

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When we looked at them, they just stared at us with those big eyes. And the stare was constant and unrelenting like they were looking right through us. DSC_0397It was like they wanted to talk to us but they couldn’t because their lips were sealed. Some were tall and some were short and some had their hair piled on top of their head and some did not.DSC_0632
These famous UNESCO World Heritage humanlike moais statues were everywhere on Easter Island as we went on a private tour from the Crystal Symphony cruise of the South Pacific. DSC_0393Moais number more than 900 on the island and some stood alone and some were in groups of five or seven. Ahu Tongariki is the famous one with 15 standing in a row. The moais range from 33 inches tall to 40 feet tall and weigh up to hundreds of tons.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(This photo and the one below was taken by June Landrum)

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To get an idea of how massive and tall these Moai are, notice the group of people in the far right at the back of the moai.

And they were all hand carved from volcanic tuff and became the iconic Moai statues of Easter Island. Using hand chisels of basalt, the Rapa Nui people chipped the monolithic statues out of blackened cliffs of the Rano Raraku volcanic crater between 1250 and 1600. DSC_0479The moais were placed on rectangular stone platforms called ahu, which are tombs for the people that the statues represented. The moais were intentionally made with different characteristics since they were supposed to look like the person in the tomb.DSC_0525DSC_0529
As were toured the crater, we saw many Moais still standing on the crater slope and they stared at us as we stared at them. Once the moais were carved, they were rolled down the crater and lifted into a standing position so the back could be completed. When they were finished, they would be moved to an ahu platform of someone’s property.

 

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The red circle indicates where the moai were carved out of the mountain and where the famous 15-moai statue is located, called Ahu Tongariki. And the little black statues around the island indicate moais.

Before our tour began, we were told not to touch the statues, climb them or chip a stone or take any stones from them for a souvenir. But if was ok for the roaming horses and cattle to rub against them or use them to scratch on or lick. DSC_0391
After many of the moais were carved, they were placed on rectangular stone platforms called ahu, which are tombs for the people that the statues represented. The moais were intentionally made with different characteristics since they were supposed to look like the person in the tomb.DSC_0387
How the extremely heavy moais were moved from the volcano several miles to their ahu platform is a mystery with several theories. The most popular explanation seems to be that the statues “walked” to the ahu platform. Three ropes were used to move the moai: one on each side and one around the neck and pulled from the back. So, it was twisted from side to side and the rope from the back helped keep it standing. DSC_0627

The base of the moai was slightly rounded and so were the roads so it could be moved from side to side. Other theories are rolling the statue on tree trunks and moving it with a sled on round tree trunks as “wheels.”DSC_0448
All Moais we visited were placed looking inland so they could look over the ceremonial area, except Ahu Akivi. which are 7 moai facing the sea to help sailors find the island. It is also thought that they were waiting for their King. When the moai statue was placed on the ahu platform, the eyes were the last to be carved. White coral and black or red scoria stone made the pupils and the moai then begin that cold, hard stare. DSC_0414Many moais were left without the white coral eyes as it is believed the white eyes were reserved for -the prominent people.
And years later, the top knot made of red scoria stone would be added. Called pukao, the top knot added further status to the moai.DSC_0580

It is believed the Moai were traditions of religion and status and were built to honor the chieftain and ancestors. And it is believed the moais are symbols of authority and power, both political and religious and they have mana, which is charged by a magical spirit essence. And it is believed the moais were representative of ancient Polynesian ancestors. And another belief is the moais was considered one “up-man-ship” among the Rapa Nui people. With a moai, they were saying, “mine is bigger than yours.”DSC_0422DSC_0436
Then around 1550-1600, the Rapa Nui people stopped making the moais and Easter Island began declining. The Rapa Nui people began turning against each other. They fought among themselves for the fertile land that was left as their ancestors had destroyed most of it as crops failed one after the other. Some began to turn to their god Make Make or the Birdman cult. DSC_0449Competition began among them to become a member of the cult for if succeeded, food was the reward. To become a member of the birdman cult, a person had to find the first Sooty Turn egg. If a person did not succeed, the person killed himself. DSC_0649
The Birdman Cult then began rebuilding the population and sweet potatoes and other crops were now doing good. But, newcomers started coming and brought diseases, rats and cockroaches and by the turn of the century only 110 people were left.

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As the Crystal Symphony dropped anchor in the ocean, this was the view we had of Easter Island and those moais. We hurried to board a small boat to the shore so we could see those world famous UNESCO World Heritage statues up close and personal.

Then missionaries arrived and brought Christianity with them and the Rapa Nui people began ridding themselves of tattoos and many moais were toppled. And it wasn’t until recently that most were restored to their position atop ahu platforms all over Easter island.DSC_0632
The moais now stare with that unrelenting stare like they were looking right through us. It was like they wanted to talk to us but they couldn’t because their lips were sealed.IMG_2795 Some were tall and some were short and some had their hair piled on top of their head and some did not. And hopefully they will stand and stare at many people for many years to come and be enjoyed by all at this UNESCO World Heritage site.

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This moai was discovered to be really tall because most of it was below ground.

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Photo Copy © 2018 carolyntravels.com

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It was like watching a silent movie. We could see the action but there was no sound and the action was so fast we couldn’t comprehend what our eyes had just seen. The only noise we did hear came from the screaming people watching the action happening. And for these first timers, it registered as a dream to actually witness such an event.DSC_0139

Thus, was our feeling of experiencing the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, live and in person. It was dream-like viewing “The Run for the Roses” as we saw the famous horse race from our Jockey Club Suite overlooking the racetrack because we were on a Tauck Events tour to see the Derby and experience the beautiful horse country area of Kentucky.IMG_1573IMG_1669JPG

On the way to the Derby, I happen to sit beside a man who said he was from Louisville so I asked him what horse was ranked high for winning the Derby. And he told me several names. But when he mentioned Always Dreaming I said that’s the one I will bet on because I just loved the name. It was so appropriate for the horse to always be dreaming for a win.DSC_0714.jpg

IMG_1590June Landrum. my traveling companion, and I are not gamblers. But we were at the Kentucky Derby #143 and just had to gamble once. So, June came up with the idea of betting $2 on each horse so both would gamble $20 on 20 horses. Our bet would total $40. And we would pick the winner no matter who it was we reasoned. DSC_0091And yes, we picked the winner Always Dreaming and collected $11.50 for first place. We split the winnings and had a wonderful time with our scheme of betting and picking the winner.IMG_1635JPG

But I just had to bet on Always Dreaming as it was the horse I said I would bet on. So, with $10 in hand, I placed my first bet ever on a horse race. And yes. I won and after I won, I asked myself why I didn’t bet $100 or $1000 if I was so sure Always Dreaming would win. But it was fun gambling for the first time at the Kentucky Derby and picking the winner.DSC_0092

At the Kentucky Derby, it was “normal” for women and men to dress up and it was a fashion show like no other. IMG_1537Every color, size and shape of hat was worn by ladies of every color shape and size. But the most outstanding of the fashion show was the huge outstanding statement-making ladies hats. IMG_1648JPGThose hats set the southern mood of the Derby as it had been done for 147 years. And the men’s outfits completed the fun and theme of the classic Kentucky Derby.IMG_1538

But before we could go on this tour, we just had to make our hats to wear to the Derby although they were not required for the tour event. But attending the Derby without that world-famous tradition of a big hat would not complete the experience for us first timers. So, June Landrum and I designed and re-designed our hats until we were happy with our creations.

I wanted a black hat with a big brim, so my sister offered one of her sun hats that had a large brim. And from that, I took it around with me as I shopped for the perfect decorations. It was fun creating and making our hats and June and I had many fun conversations on how our designs were working for our Kentucky Derby event. June’s hat was a gift from her grandson and she never planned to use it for the Derby. DSC_0092.JPGBut after purchasing little roses, she decided to put them on the hat to wear to the Derby because it was “the Run for the Roses.”IMG_1637JPG

Our next creation was how to get the newly created hat to Kentucky. So, I used an old packing trick that worked for many other hats I had purchased on several of my foreign trips and it worked for this Derby hat. I put the hat flat in my luggage and stuffed the crown full of clothes I was taking that did not wrinkle. And I put clothes flat under the hat and on top of the brim. That kept the hat in its original shape and it made it to Louisville safely and intact. The decorations were in a rigid plastic container.IMG_1535

When we arrived, we glued all the silk flowers and feathers on the brim and the hat was ready to wear. June made her hat by gluing those silk roses on the hat and we had our personal creations to parade around at the Derby.IMG_1538

But we didn’t just parade around at the Kentucky Derby in them. We also wore them the day before the Derby at the Kentucky Oaks, the “pre-Derby” race and ‘The Run for the lilies”. IMG_1567 And we wore them for all the 10 races before the Kentucky Derby on Derby day. It was so much fun walking around in the rain in our decorated hats as we looked at others with their decorated hats. It was a first time to ever do such an event and it was just an awesome experience.IMG_1645DSC_0220DSC_0214.JPG

Now that our hats were designed and worn at a race, we had to participate in Bridles and Bourbon. So, we visited the time-honored art of distilling, aging, and bottling fine Kentucky Bourbon at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, the oldest continually operating distillery in America. DSC_0092And yes, we had to sample their award-winning product and then have a barbeque lunch in the Clubhouse at Buffalo Trace. It all was so delicious as was the welcome reception and dinner with a local bluegrass band and folk-dance troupe.DSC_0103

As we drove to Margaux Farms, we enjoyed the clean and gorgeous green-hill farms of Lexington, Kentucky. This visit was to see the horses in their stalls at the Brood Farm and how they are worked and managed for breeding. As we walked into one barn, all the horses bellowed at once their neigh-neigh sound as they looked at us. DSC_0112.JPGAnd I just loved our wonderful unique horse greeting we were given until the keepers told us the horses were calling for food, not us. And another keeper told us they were wanting to exercise. Anyway, each of our Tauck group greeted a horse and enjoyed learning the methods used to make sure each mare got pregnant. But we didn’t have any food or exercise for them.DSC_0041

But then, the next morning, we had to be at Kneeland Race Track at 6 a.m. to watch the jockeys exercise the horses at that race track. It was cool enough for a jacket and we could see the horse’s breath as they finished their race exercises.DSC_0031 Again, I was amazed how quiet it was as they ran. And it was so fast, we didn’t get a good look at them until they stopped and came up to us for photos and a visit. DSC_0040

Having dinner at Kneeland Race Track with Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron was another highlight of our Kentucky Derby experience. DSC_0240.JPGIn his speech, he gave a wonderful overview of his unbelievable racing wins from the beginning at 19 years to retirement 28 years later. And when he retired he was thoroughbred’s All-Time leader, and his purse earnings totaled more than $264 million in winnings and 7,141 races won.IMG_1514

It had been raining for 2 days but as soon as the thoroughbreds started running, it stopped and they stopped after 2 minutes and the race was over. And the rainy and muddy conditions didn’t hinder anyone at the Kentucky Derby. But the excitement before the race was so much fun and it kept building as 150,000 persons placed their bets on the winners. And we picked the winner, Always Dreaming. But If you blinked your eyes, you missed it because they were running 40 miles per hour for the roses.

Photo Copy © 2018 carolyntravels.com

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It all began June 9 as we headed to the Maasai boma village in southeast Kenya in the shadow of Mt. 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. 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 toilet 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 toilet, 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 toilet.

The biggest surprise I had besides falling was the toilet had no odor. Having been to many toilets 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 toilet 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 of Tanzania and Kenya was awesome. How could we leave those precious wild animals and the wonderful people, we said.

The next morning I looked down at my chest and the entire right side was black and the entire left 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 and those wild animals living their lives right before us.

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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 or anything. However, 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 withSharon riding in it.

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 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.

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Again, we agreed to stay on in wonderful Nairobi until it was time to return home.

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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 had been rescued from Ambroseli. Next, was the Kazuri bead making ladies and finally, the endangered Rothschild giraffes that live at the Giraffe Manor. (“Read Eating Breakfast with Giraffes” at in Nairobi elsewhere in 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 Making 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 learned 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 and learned my 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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