Amritsar…Many treasures to behold…The Golden Temple…

The Golden Temple is seen through a decorative archway on the religious grounds of the historic Sikh location.

Yesterday morning, our highly competent Amritsar guide Amit met us at our hotel to begin a walking tour of the historic city focusing on the world-famous Golden Temple of the Sikh people.

India’s Sikh population is approximately 24 million, only 1.72% of the country’s total population. Out of the total Sikhs in India, 77% are concentrated in Punjab, where we are now located.

We didn’t go inside the Golden Temple when the queue could easily have resulted in waiting in the line for four hours. This photo is only a tiny portion of the queue.
Sikhism may be found predominantly in the Punjab state of India. Still, Sikh communities exist on every inhabited continent, with the largest emigrant population being in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom.
Please click here for a comprehensive view of the Sikh principles, too detailed for us to include. We were fascinated when Amit explained the Sikh ideology, so far removed from the perceptions many possess about this and other religions of the world.
Many rules surround the reading of the Holy Book, one of which includes, once the lesson begins, it cannot be stopped until completed. There is a 17-year waiting list to receive a copy of the sacred book. This and many other priests sit quietly day after day reading the sacred text written in a language few Sikhs can translate.

There are so many aspects to this faith. We could spend years attempting to explain. However, the purpose of our posts is to share our travel and daily life experiences, leaving little time or space to elaborate. The web provides millions of entries to explain details further and answer questions curious readers may possess.

In any case, Amit provided us with an overview that undoubtedly enhanced our experience of seeing the Golden Temple, its people, and its exquisite surroundings.
Shoes are not allowed in the temple area, and women must wear scarves, and men must wear some form of a turban.

Below, we’ve included the history of the Golden Temple, which may appeal to those fascinated with religious history.

From this site: “Sri Harmandir Sahib, also known as Sri Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, (on account of its scenic beauty and golden coating for English speaking world), is named after Hari (God), the temple of God. The Sikhs worldwide wish to pay a visit to Sri Amritsar and pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib in their Ardas.

Amit helped Tom fashion a turban. I thought he looked good with it!
Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Nanak, conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs, and he designed the architecture of Sri Harmandir Sahib. The planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar) was chalked out by Guru Amardas Sahib, the Third Nanak. Still, it was executed by Guru Ramdas Sahib under the supervision of Baba Budha ji. The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made. Therefore, the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects was completed in 1577 A.D.

The land for the site was bought by the Guru Ram Das Sahib on payment from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages.

This building is being renovated on the grounds of the Golden Temple.

Guru Arjan Sahib got its foundation laid by a Muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore on the 1st of Magh, 1645 Bikrmi Samvat (December 1588). The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib himself. He was assisted by prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha ji, Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Sahlo ji, and many other devoted Sikhs.

Unlike erecting the structure on the higher level (a tradition in Hindu Temple architecture), Guru Arjan Sahib got it built on the lower level. Unlike Hindu Temples having only one gate for the entrance and exit, Guru Sahib got it open from four sides. Thus he created a symbol of the new faith, Sikhism. Guru Sahib made it accessible to everyone without distinction of caste, creed, sex, and religion.

Two Sikh men were standing at the edge of the holy body of water. Men and women bathe separately in this man-made lake for its healing powers.

The building work was completed in 1601 A.D. on Bhadoon Sudi 1st, 1661 Bikrmi Samvat (August/September 1604). Guru Arjan Sahib installed the newly created Guru Granth Sahib in Sri Harmandir Sahib and appointed Baba Budha ji as its first Granthi, i.e., the reader of Guru Granth Sahib. After this event, it attained the status of ‘Ath Sath Tirath.’ Now the Sikh Nation had their own Tirath, a pilgrimage center.

Sri Harmandir Sahib is built on a 67ft. square platform in the centre of the Sarovar (tank). The temple itself is 40.5ft. square. It has a door each on the East, West, North, and South. The Darshani Deori (an arch) stands at the shore end of the causeway. The door frame of the arch is about 10ft in height and 8ft 6inches in breath. The door panes are decorated with artistic style. It opens onto the causeway or bridge that leads to the main building of Sri Harmandir Sahib. It is 202 feet in length and 21 feet in width.

During the year but especially during the heat of the summer months, metal glasses are used to serve tap water to visitors. The glasses are washed by these women using a trough of ash, not water.

The bridge is connected with the 13 feet wide ‘Pardakshna’ (circumambulatory path). It runs around the main shrine, leading to the ‘Har ki Paure’ (steps of God). On the first floor of “Har Ki Pauri,” there is continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib.

The main structure of Sri Harmandir Sahib, functionally as well as technically, is a three-storied one. The front, which faces the bridge, is decorated with repeated cusped arches, and the roof of the first floor is at the height of 26 feet and 9 inches.

As we walked down a road toward the temple.

At the top of the first floor, 4 feet high parapet rises on all the sides, which also has four ‘Mamtees’ on the four corners, and precisely on the top of the central hall of the main sanctuary rises the third story. It is a small square room and has three gates. A regular recitation of Guru Granth Sahib is also held there.

On the top of this room stands the low fluted ‘Gumbaz’ (dome) having lotus petal motif in relief at the base inverted lotus at the top which supports the “Kalash” having a beautiful “Chhatri” at the end.

We walked through the old part of the town of Amritsar on our return to the hotel.

Its architecture represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindu’s way of construction work, and this is considered the best architectural specimen of the world. It is often quoted that this architecture has created an independent Sikh school of architecture in the history of art in India.”

Of course, we’re excited to share photos we’d taken at the temple. Excessive photo taking is frowned upon, and thus we were discriminating in choosing what appealed to us most. 
Although not maintained, many of these old apartments are still occupied a few centuries after being built.
Our few hours at the palace were enhanced by the knowledge and expertise of our guide, who works extensively with visitors of the US Embassy. We were truly honored to have him to ourselves for the day.
After the Golden Temple, he walked us through back roads and narrow alleyways to further enhance the scope of our experiences. Seeing famous landmarks is undoubtedly a huge plus, but the ins and outs of “where the people live and interact” are equally important.
We were fascinated by the historic architecture.
In the early afternoon, we took a short break from the tour to allow us time to prepare and upload yesterday’s post. By 2:15, Prince, our driver, arrived. He and Amit took us to our next adventure, witnessing the closing ceremony of the equivalent of the “changing of the guard” and the nightly closing of the gates at the India and Pakistan border. Fascinating! We’ll be back with photos and stories in tomorrow’s post.
Tomorrow morning, we’re heading for the airport for a full travel day with two flights and a 2¼ hour layover in between. We don’t expect to arrive at our hotel, the Hotel Ganges Grand in Varanasi, until after 7:00 pm, where we’ll stay until February 20th when we’ll fly once again Khajuraho. More on that later.
Back on the busy street, we reveled in the strong cultural influences.
We had a fantastic day yesterday, and we’re enjoying a quiet day off today to work on our zillions of photos for today’s and tomorrow’s posts. 
Have a spectacular day, dear readers!

Part 4…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Remaining photos from Dan O’Hara’s home

This is the tiny house Dan O’Hara, his wife, and seven children lived in until they were forced to vacate when they couldn’t pay the rent during the potato famine.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Any person who is born on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is considered to be very lucky.”

The story of Dan O’Hara and his family is heartbreaking and yet so typical of other farms families in Ireland during the time of the potato famine. As we learned of him and his family living in a simple cottage with seven children, we’re reminded of how grateful people of his day were for what that had, not what they could have had.

Tom had to duck his head to enter the house.

But, the sorrow of the times due to famine and subsequent loss of life in the mid-1800s brought most people living in Connemara and other parts of Ireland to their knees. More than one million people died between 1846 and 1851 as a result of the Potato Famine. Many of these died from starvation. Many more died from diseases that preyed on people weakened by the loss of food.

There was a fire in the fireplace, which the staff must start each day, but it didn’t smell well ventilated.

They tried to escape Ireland by embarking on long and dangerous Atlantic Ocean crossings with little to no food, no money, often leaving most of their belongings behind to what they assumed was the land of plenty, the US.  

This twin-size daybed is located in the main living area, although a bedroom is shown in the photo below.

As was the case for some of Tom’s ancestors, many escaped to other countries such as England, Canada, and Australia. Irish descendants may be found all over the world, often in surprising locations.

The one-bedroom in the house was most likely where Dan and his wife slept.

Here is the story of Dan O’Hara and his wife and seven children from this site:

“‘Dan O’Hara’s homestead is built on the original site of the home of Dan from Connemara renowned in the popular ballad all over the world. Dan O Hara lived with his wife and seven children in a cottage shadowed by the Twelve Bens. The family was self-sufficient on 8 acres of land and lived a simple but happy lifestyle. The central part of the farm was given over to the potato crop, and they kept a variety of animals on the farm.

Spinning wheel in the corner of the bedroom.

The turf for the fire was cut in the local bog and kept the family warm and cozy through the winter months. Dan O’ Hara’s was a visiting house, and many a romance began in the flickering firelight of the hearth. Social gatherings such as storytelling and céilis kept the Irish language and traditions alive.

The Dutch door to the barn next to the house.

Most of Dan O’Hara’s land was given over to the potato crop. Its advantage was that it grew in the poorest conditions, and an acre and a half would sustain five or six people for six months. Some of the crops were used to feed a pig. Potatoes and buttermilk ensured that the population of Connemara was robust and healthy, although poor.

Note the small size of the barn.

Like most people in Connemara at the time, Dan O’Hara did not own the house he lived in or the land. He paid rent to the local landlord. His happy but straightforward lifestyle came abruptly when he was evicted for non-payment of his rent. He had decided to increase the size of the windows in his house, which led to increased rent payments. 

He was evicted from his home and forced to emigrate. He arrived in New York, a broken man. His wife and three of his children died on the harsh sea journey, and penniless and destitute, he had to put the remaining children into care. He ended his days selling matches on the street far from his beloved Connemara.”

Many wealthy individuals, companies, and organizations have donated trees for the grounds.

We were both in contemplative thought upon leaving Dan O’Hara’s homestead located on the Connemara Heritage and History Centre grounds and didn’t say a word until we made the steep walk back to the car and began our 40-minute drive back to our holiday home.

We were both touched and saddened by what we’d learned. No doubt, for Tom, this was particularly heartwrenching when he knew many of his ancestors suffered this same fate.

This breed of white horses is indigenous to Connemara.

But, most of us, were we become aware of the strife experienced by our ancestors, we’d often find that they too suffered greatly. It reminds us how grateful we should be for the times in which we live our lives in this modern-day and age.  

View of the landscape from Dan O’Hara homestead, located up a steep hill from the car park.

For most of us, we have a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator and cupboards, and the benefit of using machines and technology that has been a part of our lives since the day we were born.

However, like all things, everything is relative. We experience our daily struggles and challenges and rarely dismiss them to realize just how lucky we are to live in these times.

A shed is used to store peat moss which may often be used for heating, as well as: “Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. It has an acid pH, ideal for acid-loving plants, such as blueberries and camellias. For plants that with more alkaline soil, compost may be a better choice.”

From time to time and now, as we explore Ireland and other countries, we’ve become entrenched in the facts of the hardships our ancestors suffered in times past and hope we continue to learn from their experiences.

View of the creek running through the history center’s grounds.

Today, we’ll stay in on yet another rainy and cool day. We’ve begun to research where we’d like to go after we’re done in the US at the end of this year. We have some cruises booked in the next few years, but we have plenty of times in between to search for future adventures.

Have a fulfilling and meaningful day.

                          Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2018:

Each night I practice taking photos in the dark once the bushbabies arrive. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Finally, photos of us…

Tom has been wearing the flannel shirt he purchased in Penguin, Tasmania, in 2016/2017.  It comes in handy in cooler weather in Ireland.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
Poet Carl Sandburg‘s home of 22 years in Flat Rock, North Carolina, which is now a national monument, is named after the Connemara region.”

Today, we continue with photos from the Connemara Heritage and History Centre. Although this area is rich in history, customs, and culture, there are a few museums and historic facilities in the general area.

Far from the big cities of Dublin (1,173,179), Cork (208,669), Limerick (94,192), and Galway (79,934) are the four most populated cities in the country, the Republic of Ireland, all of which have numerous tourist venues. For more information on population numbers in the towns throughout Ireland, please click this link.

Tom stands in the doorway of an old building located on the grounds of the centre.

The tourist business in Connemara appears to result from travelers visiting Galway and driving to see the gorgeous scenery, including the ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, and variety of bogs, typical in the area. Based on our drive from Galway when we arrived on May 12th, it’s approximately a one-hour drive, not too far a drive for most tourists.

It’s easy to see how tiny this lamb is standing next to Tom.

There are roughly 30 hotels and bed and breakfasts in Connemara and several holiday homes such as this lovely house we’ve rented for 90 days. There certainly are sufficient accommodations to attract tourists to spend their holiday in this historic and charming area.  

Me, in the doorway of the old fieldstone building on the ground of the centre.

However, when we’re out and about, we don’t get a feeling of there being as many tourists as we’ve seen in many other areas throughout the world. While in Clifden to grocery shop, I stopped at a clothing store to buy a few white tee shirts. The prices on most items were outrageous.  

Pretty flowers were blooming on the shore of the lake in the garden.  Thanks to reader Laurie for identifying these flowers as rhododendron!

When I didn’t find what I was looking for, a kindly salesperson disappeared to a back room and returned with two white tee shirts that were perfect to wear under other shirts to add warmth.  

Since these two very stretchy tee shirts were large in children’s sizes, she assured me there would be no sales tax charged for the items. There’s no sales tax on children’s clothing in Ireland. Fortunately, they both fit, and the total was Euro 27.98, US $31.28. These two very basic tees would have been half this price in a GAP or Old Navy store in the US.  

There was one little lamb in the facility’s garden who seemed very interested in us.  Wish we’d had some pellets!

It’s expensive here, especially in South Africa, where everything is half as much as many other countries. I suppose we were spoiled in our 15 months in Marloth Park. We must continue to brace ourselves as we visit other countries soon.
Our next stop is Amsterdam for two days. No doubt prices could be even higher than they are here in Ireland. Prices may be a deterrent to many travelers when the costs of food, dining out, hotels, and rental cars are at the top end.

Note the little horns growing on this lamb. Too cute!

While dining out last Saturday, we didn’t see what appeared to be tourists, with only a few appearing to be residents. When we shopped in Clifden each week, the next closest town, there’s a presence of some gift and trinket shops that mainly appeal to tourists.  

Today’s visit to a clothing store reminded us of tourist pricing we’ve seen in bigger cities throughout the world – a captive audience. The store was packed with what most likely were tourists looking to purchase an Irish sweater, fleece jacket, an Irish-made woolen scarf, or some Irish trinkets, all of which appeared to be of high quality.

Pansies at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre appear to have little faces.

Perhaps, I’m a bit more of a “tightwad” than usual when we’re still having to pay incoming hospital and doctor’s bills as we struggle with our insurance company who’s refusing to pay, claiming I have a pre-existing condition which I did not.  

This has been an enormous emotional and financial frustration source, especially while focusing on a full recovery. Subsequently, we’re watching our budget more than ever with this upsetting imbalance and inequity. We’ll report back what transpires as we continue to fight this battle.

These two buildings were homes at one time.

Otherwise, we’re good, generally cheerful. I’m now at a point where I don’t have to ask Tom to help me so much. I am working hard at doing things for myself. The more I do, the stronger I get. 

I’ve even taken over the process of making my own protein smoothie each day which he’d done for months with no complaint. I cook most of each meal, make the bed, do most of the laundry, and tidy up around the house.  

Bridge across the lake to an old home.

He continues to do all the dishes, put everything away, help prepare dinner, does some laundry, and do all of the heavy lifting. When we grocery shopped this morning, I packed the bags we’d brought along while he loaded them into the car and later in the house, emptying all the bags. I put everything away since storage space is limited, and don’t get frustrated figuring it out.

The bottom line… We’re tourists. As much as we’d like to believe we’re unique and fit right in, the fact remains “we are visitors in a strange land.” If we don’t like the prices, don’t buy the quality of the products we enjoy and go the budget route instead. Don’t purchase a few bottles of red wine at twice the cost as in South Africa. Don’t go out to dinner. Don’t shop for items of clothing.
Anyone know the name of these flowers?   We’ve seen them often here in Ireland.

But, the fact remains, we choose this life we love, and we’ll take the good and bad with it. Many have asked us over these years the following question: “What will you do if the worst thing happens, short of passing away or being kidnapped?”

It happened. We had a major medical crisis, one of the worst we could imagine, and we made it through to the other side. We can whine all we want about tourist traffic, prices on products, budgetary concerns, and inconveniences. But the reality remains. We’re alive, recovering, and the journey continues on.

Be well. Be happy.
                        Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2018:

We moved the bird feeder further from the veranda, which has attracted birds at last without our looming presence. Our prize of the day was this hornbill who stopped by for some seeds who later became familiar with us to come very close on the veranda. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…Marconi and the first telegraph station…

From this site: “In 1896, Marconi, just 21, left Italy for England, where he hoped to drum up interest in a contraption he had invented: a box that could send Morse code signals across a room without any connecting wires. This was, quite simply, the first transmission of information by radio waves. Marconi called it “wireless telegraphy” — an improvement on the dominant technology of the day, the telegraph.”

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
weddings are elegant and large celebrations. Grooms dress in kilts that signify
their family’s clan, while brides dress in white to signify their purity.
Family members travel far and wide to attend weddings, and the receptions are
always massive celebrations involving beer and music.”

Today, we’ve included several photos of historical items we discovered at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre. The rich history of Ireland will continue during our remaining time on the island. Yes, Ireland is an island. At times we can imagine it is connected to other European countries: “Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic with Just under 4.8 million living in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.

The small theatre at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre where we watched a movie about Connemara.

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are two distinct countries: “Ireland or the Republic of Ireland as it is officially named is now a completely independent country and has no longer any formal bond to the UK. On the other hand, Northern Ireland is still a part of the UK (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), together with England, Scotland and Wales.”

Items used in distilling.

Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1801. The British government was forced to partition the six most northeastern counties of the new Irish state to form Northern Ireland in fear that Protestant civil unrest in Ulster would otherwise turn into a civil war against the new state.

These two glass cases contained a variety of items used in daily life in Ireland, many from centuries ago.

Ninety years ago, Ireland was split in two after people living there went to war against their British rulers. The south became a separate state, now called the Republic of Ireland. But the break-up led to decades of unrest and violence in Northern Ireland, which remained part of the UK.

Ireland Map and Satellite Image

I must admit I was ignorant of some of these facts. I had no Irish heritage; I paid little attention to its history, battles, and lifestyle. Now, living here I’ve taken an interest in learning as much as I can, as often is the case as we travel from country to country.
Ireland has quite a history of uprisings beginning in 1534 as listed at this link.
Tom, on the other hand, is a wealth of information based on his interests in history and Irish ancestry. After taking a DNA test a few years ago, it was determined he was nearly 100% Irish which is more than many who’ve lived their lives on the island.

Fortunately, I can readily ask him questions that arise in our day-to-day lives and gather more detailed information through online research. We both share our curiosity and desire to learn something new each day we are here.

A variety of pots, trunks, and utensils used in Irelands over the centuries.
With only 76 days remaining in our time here, we hope to get out more and more as I continue to heal. Several of our devoted readers, including loyal reader Adele, whom we met with her husband, Wally, in May 21013 at a hotel in Barcelona as we all waited for an upcoming cruise to the Middle East, wrote to me last night inquiring as to how I am doing.
Connemara marble is described as follows from this site: “Connemara is bounded on three sides by the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a wide variety of natural and semi-natural habitats, reflecting its great geomorphologic and geological complexity. It also has diverse economic resources. Among the more unusual are extensive deposits of soapstone and veins of green marble and vivid white quartz. In Neolithic times, the green marble was traded as far away as Lough Gur, County Limerick, and possibly to the Boyne Valley. ‘Connemara Marble’ is a serpentine-rich rock, popular since ancient times as a decorative facing stone. With its ‘forty shades of green’ and its wild patterns, it perfectly represents the Emerald Isle’s landscapes. Connemara Marble inspired artists, architects, and artisans throughout the world. Jewelry and other small objects such as key rings, coasters, and crosses are also made with this unique stone.”
I hadn’t mentioned anything for several days, assuming our readers were tired of reading about my health. I’m tired of my health as well! For an update…we continue to treat the remaining open wound on my left leg every two days. It is healing albeit slowly. As mentioned earlier, it could be a few months until it fully heals.
The first commercial telegraph station was in Ireland.
In the interim, I am feeling relatively well, continuing to walk daily but have yet to reach my goal of 10,000 steps in one day. A few days ago, I made it to 9500 degrees, but my legs felt heavy and weak the next day.
Various tools used in fishing and farming.
When we visited the Connemara Heritage and History Centre, we ended up walking up a few steep hills. I paid dearly for that, not with my heart racing which handled it fine but with my legs. After all, it was only 56 days ago. I had a second surgery on both of my legs.  

Generally, one is expected to be ambulatory after any surgery within eight weeks. I hope by continuing improving by walking which will aid in escalating the healing process.

An old sewing machine and statue of an Irish woman.
Many have commented I’m pushing it too hard this early on. But, forcing oneself to exercise regularly requires discipline and determination, and pushing ahead, works best for me. I’m not hurting anything in doing so, just occasionally having to step it back a little.
I am now able to cook and perform most household tasks. I no longer have to rely on Tom to do everything for me other than help with the continuing treatment on my left leg every other day.  
Note the date of this poster, June 15, 1728, offering a reward for capturing two “highwaymen,” robbers who stole from travelers.
Tom carries items upstairs to leave my hands free to maneuver the steep spiral staircase when going up and down.  Of course, he helps with meals, does all the dishes, and participates in various household tasks.
Hopefully, soon we’ll get out more often. For now, I am pacing myself as I continue to recover.
Thanks, Adele and all of our other readers who’ve inquired and continue to read my endless descriptions of this difficult and challenging healing process. We’ll stay in today.  The wind is blowing fiercely and its raining. 

Have a fantastic day and above all, be well. 

Photo from one year ago today, May 27, 2018:

Frank and Mrs. Frank had been busy working at building a nest in the bush in our yard. But, they never had a single chick while we were there.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

The entrance to the Connemara Heritage and History Centre is located near Clifden.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
When children are little, each birthday, it is traditional to pick up the child, turn
them over, and bump their head gently on their birthday cake. The child’s head
is bumped once for each year they have lived. It is believed that partaking in
this tradition brings good luck and good fortune to the child.”

Yesterday, upon arrival at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre, we took photos of the exterior. It was a rainy and misty day prompting up to visit an indoor venue, but we weren’t disappointed when we entered the gardens, which we had no idea were so lovely and worthy of photos, rain or shine.

Beautiful flowers lined the parking area.

A sunny day would have been ideal for many of the photos we’ll share here over the next few days. But, we decided we won’t keep the weather from preventing us from getting out and about unless it’s raining heavily.  The narrow winding roads are dangerous enough on sunny days.

A tractor pulling a trolley car is used for tours to the center.

Once we paid the senior discounted entrance fee of Euro 7.5, US $8.40, and walked through the shops, we were escorted to a small movie theatre where we watched a 20-minute video on the history of Connemara, including the sorrowful story of Dan O’Hara, a local man, and his family who’s life story is heartbreaking.

Numerous streams are running through the scenic grounds of the center.

Many farmers and families enjoyed a good life, although not easy, in Connemara up until the Great Famine, as described below from this site:

“The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. Wikipedia
Start date: September 13, 1845
End date1849
Impact on demographics: Population fell by 20–25% due to mortality and emigration
Did you know: Great Irish Famine is the second-deadliest disaster in Great Britain and Ireland by death toll (1,000,000 to 1,500,000).”
We were overlooking a stream.

In part, the video we watched focused on the Dan O’Hara family, the history of which must have been passed down over the generations. The Connemara Heritage and History Centre dedicated the facility to his and his family’s memory with grace and dignity.

The center is located within a 20-minute uphill walk on a rocky road to the remainder of the homestead and barn of Dan O’Hara.  Fortunately, we were able to drive to the historic home and grounds.

Once indoors, we paid the entrance fee of Euro 7.5, US $8.40, the senior rate.

Over the years, private and well-known public figures from around the world have dedicated the planting of a tree to the grounds, as stated here from the center’s website:

“Plant Your Roots in Ireland

Dan O’ Hara’s Homestead, the award-winning Connemara Heritage & History Centre, has been welcoming visitors from all over the world for many years. Situated in the Gaeltacht and dedicated to the memory of the immortalized Dan O’ Hara. They and his wife and seven children were evicted from this homestead by his landlord in 1845. Along with so many more people from Connemara and Ireland during this era, he was forced to immigrate on the coffin ships to the US.”
The restaurant was quiet at 10:30 am. Indeed during tours, this facility would have been busy.

“Unfortunately, his wife and 3 of his children did not survive the journey, and needless to say, he arrived in New York, a very broken man. Dan O’ Hara’s homestead offers a unique insight into the life and times of Connemara during the 19th Century along with the history of the region, not to mention a verse of the renowned Ballad Dan O’ Hara.

As part of our commitment to the continued and sensitive development of the Connemara Heritage & History Centre and Dan O’ Hara’s memory and those of the many Irish who were forced to leave their homesteads for America, we have developed “A Roots from Ireland Park.”

The Irish wear sweaters, flannel shirts, and fleece-lined jackets to stay warm in the cool summer months and snowy winters.  We have sufficient warm clothing with us and didn’t make a purchase.

“Here, we will plant indigenous Irish Trees, Ash, Alder, Hawthorn, and Sycamore Trees which can be dedicated to your ancestors, a family member, or a good friend. A personalized plaque at the foot of the tree will accompany each tree planted, and the person for whom it is chosen will receive a Certificate of Ownership for their home or office wall.”

Ironically, the song mentioned above, Dan O’Hara, was sung by Finbar Furey at the Minnesota Irish Fair on August 8th, 2015.  The link for the song may be found here at this link.

More in the gift shop, filled with Irish memorabilia and trinkets of high quality.

Both of us were touched by this sad story, and when we left the center’s main building and gardens to visit Dan O’Hara’s home and grounds, it all had a special meaning, especially to Tom.  

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Tom’s ancestors are from Ireland, many from nearby counties, and many who immigrated to the US from the 1830s to the 1850s as they escaped the devastating famine and sailed across the sea after considerable loss of loved ones and a life of hard work on the land.
These 30 breeds of sheep may be found in Ireland.  We’ve already encountered several.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with more photos and a history of the life of the people of Connemara. It is indeed remarkable to learn about the island of Ireland and its rich history and determined people.

For our loved ones and friends in the USA, have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day weekend. For our friends throughout the world, enjoy the weekend and holidays in your countries at this time.

Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2018:

A face of a cape buffalo only a mother could love spotted in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Settling in…Photos of this lush green island…A new feature to our site…

Finally, we got a good shot of this pair of cows, most likely a mom and baby, after waiting patiently.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“Ireland is a beautiful green country located in northwest Europe. It is
an island that is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea. The island is
considered the 20th largest island in the world and encompasses 84,421
kilometers squared of land. It is home to 6.4 million people, and the capital
city of Dublin has a population of 1.273 million people. The island has hilly
geography with numerous plains and rivers cutting through the land. Its
currency is the Euro. The country’s official language is both English and
Irish. Most people speak a dialect of English. However, many families who have
lived in Ireland for generations understand and speak Irish. Ireland does not
have an official religion, but the primary religion followed in the
country is Christianity. Its flag is a horizontal flag with green, white, and
orange vertical stripes.”
The pleasant drive from the house to Clifden, although long, presents some stunning views.

There will be plenty of photos of Ireland as we get out more and more each week.  Since we’ll no longer be posting “Sighting of the Day in the Bush,” we’ve changed the feature to be befitting for our time in Ireland to “Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland.”  We look forward to learning about this country as we share these facts with all of you.

Maumturk  Mountains in the background are often referred to as the “Twelve Bens.”  From this site:  
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish: Na Beanna Beola; the peaks of Beola)] is a mountain range of sharp-peaked quartzite summits and ridges located in the Connemara National Park[d] in County Galway, in the west of Ireland. Topographically, the content is partnered with the Maumturks range on the other side of the Glen Inagh valley (a Western Way route). The highest point is Benbaun at 729 meters (2,392 ft). The range is popular with hill walkersrock climbers,[2] and fell runners. The 15–kilometer “Glencoaghan Horseshoe” (Irish: Gleann Chóchan) is noted as providing some of the “most exhilarating mountaineering in Ireland” and “a true classic.” A more serious undertaking is the 28–kilometer “Twelve Bens Challenge,” climbing all bens in a single day. The Twelve Bens was known as “Slime Head” or “Slin Head” throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and possibly before — a corruption of the original Irish name (Irish: Ceann Léime).  It was one of the four “principal heads” or mountain peaks that mariners used as navigational landmarks on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.”

As I continue to recover, with the left leg still an issue, I find I am beginning to be able to move around much more. After all, I only began walking on my own and was able to sit up for a little over a week.  

From African wildlife to barnyard animals, we’ve found a degree of contentment, especially when they are as cute as these two cows, huddled together to stay warm on a chilly morning.

It takes time to regain muscle strength, stability, and mobility, but the daily progress is visible right now. Today, for the first time in three months, I am making dinner, chopping vegetables, standing on my feet, and made the bed this morning. I am very hopeful.

Cows are inquisitive. They often stopped grazing to check out who’s driving by.

As for Ireland, it’s not surprisingly beautiful when we both had been here in years passed. It’s Tom’s fourth time in the country (twice before I was on the scene) and once for both of us as a port of call while on a cruise in September 2014 when we visited the port city of Cobh, the last port of call for the Titanic.

The people of Ireland? Outrageously friendly. Yesterday, the “fish guy” John O’Flannery stopped by with his refrigerated truck to see if we were interested in buying some fresh fish. I couldn’t have been more excited to see a fish guy, but we didn’t have any cash to pay him.  

We’ve seen these three burros.  “The only real difference between a donkey and a burro is their domestication status. A donkey is domesticated, and a burro is wild. Other than that, there is no difference — burro is just the Spanish word for donkey. There is no physical or genetic difference between a burro or a donkey otherwise.”

The package from the US only arrived yesterday, containing our two new ATM cards.  When John stopped by around 1600 hours (4:00 pm), we’d yet to take the 45-minute drive to the next biggest town, Clifden, where we could finally go to an ATM for cash.

After purchasing the SIM cards at the post office, we walked along the boulevard in Clifden, enjoying the wide array of shops, pubs, and restaurants.

But, John, friendly and trusting, encouraged us to take our fish choice and pay him next week when he stops by. We purchased a container of fresh crabmeat and a kilo of haddock, fresh from the sea, for a total of Euro 14.00, US $15.66, a sufficient amount for three meals.  

Tom doesn’t eat fish unless it is battered and fried, so I’m on my own with everything we’ll purchase from John in the three months we’ll be here. Before too long, the “vegetable lady” will stop by with fresh organic produce from her nearby farm.  We love country living with these types of perks.

The strips of shops made it easy to get around the downtown area.

As mentioned above and in yesterday’s post, our package from the US finally arrived. The local DHL tried to deliver the previous day but had called our property owner Eileen to tell her we’d yet to pay the Euro 259, US $290 customs fee assessed on the package.  

Plants for sale at a local garden store. The owner came out to greet us.  The Irish are very friendly.

I spoke to the DHL driver and gave him the verification number, proving we’d paid when we received an email requesting payment several days ago. At this point, he was too far away to deliver the box and didn’t bring it out until yesterday after he received notice from the company that we had paid the customs fees.  

Contained in the box were our two new debit cards, which had expired at the end of March. We had virtually not a single Euro in our possession. We desperately needed some cash.  

The Clifden town square.

Plus, we’d tried to purchase SIM cards in Clifden on Monday for airtime, text, and data from the post office only to discover it couldn’t be accomplished without a debit card and cash, of which we had neither on Monday. All we had in our possession was our various credit cards, none of which could be used for this purpose. We returned to Clifden today with cash and debit cards, and now our phones have working calling, data, and text.

St. Joseph Catholic Church is located in downtown Clifden.

Whew!  We’ve certainly had our fair share of complications lately, but somehow, one by one, we’ve knocked them off. In the next few days, we’ll get to work on the waiver for the request to return to South Africa after we were banned as “undesirables” for the next five years when we overstayed our visas by 90 days as a result of the four surgeries in Nelspruit.

The island we encountered during the drive to Clifden.

For now, we’re settled in. For days (if not months), we’ve been reeling with handling many essential and, at times, frightening issues. We’ve always known we ran the risk of dealing with such matters, and as each of the situations, one by one, is resolved, we realize we can handle the most difficult of challenges.

Sheep are marked with paint as described here:  “Farmers “paint” their sheep for identification. Frequently, you’ll notice large pastures blanketed in green grass and dotted with sheep.  Typically, these pastures are enclosed by stone walls or wire fences and are shared by multiple farmers.  When it comes time to claim ownership of the animals roaming around hundreds of acres, a customized painted sheep is easy to identify. Also, during the mating season, the male ram will be fitted with a bag of dye around its neck and chest.  When mating, the ram mounts the ewe, and a bit of dye is deposited on the ewe’s upper back. This way, the farmer knows which ewes have been impregnated and moves them on to another field away from the ram.”

A most peculiar aspect to living in Ireland is the fact it doesn’t get fully dark until around 2300 hours, 11:00 pm, and it’s fully light around 5:00 am. So far, we’re succeeding at sleeping through the night and possibly getting six hours of sleep each night, more than either of us have had over the past months.

Awakening to the divinely cool mornings and spectacular views of the sea is therapeutic and enriching. We look forward to many more mornings, days, and nights in this majestic environment as we “lick our wounds” and strive for a full recovery in this peaceful place.

A ram with curved horns painted in red.

Have a fantastic evening, and thanks again to all of our worldwide readers for staying at our side during these difficult times.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2018:

None of the six of us or our guide Alfred could believe our eyes as we watched this male elephant build his mud pool in Chobe National Park.  We’ve seen a lot of elephants in Africa, but this was a rare sighting for us. For more photos of this elephant and others, please click here.

We’re back in Marloth Park…The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria…An important part of South African history…

The skyline of downtown Pretoria.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

On Sunday morning, we were surprised to see wildlife at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve we drove through in Pretoria with Don.
Wildebeest and their young lounging on the hill in the Groenkloof Nature Reserve.

The return drive from Pretoria to Marloth Park took us a little over four hours, with one pit stop along the way. In part, we traveled an alternate route that didn’t require more driving time but included stunning scenery along the way. We’d never driven this route in the past.

The Voortrekker Monument is an unusual-looking structure located in Pretoria, South Africa.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to stop for photos along the way due to traffic and lack of areas to safely pull over. Although, overall the traffic was lighter than we’d expected with the end of the holiday season approaching.

Upon returning to the house, within minutes we had visitors, six warthogs including Mike and Joe, and some unfamiliar females. We looked for Little but didn’t see him all evening.  

After walking up many flights of stairs, we entered the Voortrekker Museum with a wide array of historical fart forms, including sculptures.

When we set up the veranda for the evening, nine kudus and a male bushbuck stopped by, along with several unknown warthogs. Two noisy hornbills hooted from a tree in front of the veranda, asking for seeds. We complied. 

This morning the sightings have been sparse; mom and four baby warthogs who have grown since we saw them only days ago and a few others, none of whom we know. I’m confident that by this evening, more will appear.

In the interim, the power went out again this morning but only for an hour. We just weren’t in the mood for an outage but then again, when would anyone welcome an outage?

Similar sculptures lined the walls of the museum.

Supposedly, in the next several days, load shedding will begin again. Oh. Need I say how annoying this is, especially when it’s scorching and humid? If you don’t see a post, please know we’re experiencing power outages and can’t get online during these periods.

Collections of artifacts are displayed in glass cases.

When Kathy and Don asked us to stay an extra day, Don took us out for some sightseeing on Sunday morning.  As shown in the above photos, we drove through the Groenkloof Nature Reserve with fantastic views of the city of Pretoria from a high elevation in the park.

From there, we drove to the Voortrekker Monument. Don had been through the monument and its museum many times in the past and he decided to wander around the ground while we entered the unusual-looking structure.

Exquisite paintings and tapestries lined several walls at The Voortrekker Museum.

Exploring the museum required walking up more steps than we’d seen in a long time, even after entering the building when we ventured to other levels to see the various displays.

Here’s information from this site with details of the war is described as  follows:

“The Battle of Blood River (Afrikaans: Slag van Bloedrivier; Zulu: iMpi yaseNcome) is the name given for the battle fought between 470 Voortrekkers (“Pioneers”), led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated “10,000 to 15,000 Zulu on the bank of the Ncome River on 16 December 1838, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Casualties amounted to over 3,000 of King Dingane‘s soldiers dead, including two Zulu princes competing with Prince Mpande for the Zulu throne. Three Pioneer commando members were lightly wounded, including Pretorius.

“The year 1838 was the most difficult period for the Voortrekkers since they left the Cape Colony, till the end of the Great Trek. They were plagued by many disasters and much bloodshed before they found freedom and a safe homeland in their Republic of Natalia. This could only be achieved by crushing the power of the Zulu King, Dingane, at the greatest battle ever fought in South Africa, namely the Battle of Blood River, which took place on Sunday 16 December 1838.”

In the sequel to the Battle of Blood River in January 1840, Prince Mpande finally defeated King Dingane in the Battle of Maqongqe and was subsequently crowned as new king of the Zulu by his alliance partner Andries Pretorius. After these two battles, Dingane’s prime minister and commander in both the Battle of Maqongqe and the Battle of Blood River, General Ndlela, was strangled to death by Dingane for high treason. General Ndlela had been the personal protector of Prince Mpande, who after the Battles of Blood River and Maqongqe, became king and founder of the Zulu.

The attention to detail by the artists is astounding.
From this site, the following was established to commemorate the Zulu soldiers who died in the battle:

“Finally, in December 1998, a memorial for the 3,000 Zulu soldiers who died in the battle, was inaugurated by Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi across the river from the Afrikaner monument. The historic anniversary of the ‘Day of the Vow’ has been renamed ‘Reconciliation Day’ in New South Africa.”

As for the development of the Voortrekker Monument, see this section below from this site:

Voortrekker Monument

“The Voortrekker Monument is located just south of Pretoria in South Africa. This massive granite structure is prominently located on a hilltop and was raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854.
The idea to build a monument in honour of God was first discussed on 16 December 1888, when President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic attended the Day of the Covenant celebrations at Blood River in Natal. However, the movement to actually build such a monument only started in 1931 when the Sentrale Volksmonumentekomitee (SVK) (Central People’s Monuments Committee) was formed to bring this idea to fruition.
Construction started on 13 July 1937 with a sod-turning ceremony performed by the chairman of the SVK, Advocate Ernest George Jansen, on what later became known as Monument Hill. On 16 December 1938, the cornerstone was laid by three descendants of some of the Voortrekker leaders: Mrs. J.C. Muller (granddaughter of Andries Pretorius), Mrs. K.F. Ackerman (great-granddaughter of Hendrik Potgieter), and Mrs. J.C. Preller (great-granddaughter of Piet Retief).
The Monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949 by the then-prime minister D. F. Malan. The total construction cost of the Monument was about £ 360,000, most of which was contributed by the South African government.
A large amphitheater, which seats approximately 20,000 people, was erected to the northeast of the Monument in 1949.
A wide array of artifacts are available for viewing.

The Cenotaph, situated in the centre of the Cenotaph Hall, is the central focus of the monument. In addition to being viewable from the Hall of Heroes, it can also be seen from the dome at the top of the building, from where much of the interior of the monument can be viewed. Through an opening in this dome a ray of sunlight shines at twelve o’clock on 16 December annually, falling onto the centre of the Cenotaph, striking the words ‘Ons vir Jou, Suid-Afrika’ (Afrikaans for ‘Us for you, South Africa’). The ray of light is said to symbolise God’s blessing on the lives and endeavours of the Voortrekkers. 16 December 1838 was the date of the Battle of Blood River, commemorated in South Africa before 1994 as the Day of the Vow.

The Cenotaph Hall is decorated with the flags of the different Voortrekker Republics and contains wall tapestries depicting the Voortrekkers as well as several display cases with artifacts from the Great Trek. Against the northern wall of the hall is a niche with a lantern in which a flame has been kept burning ever since 1938. That year, the symbolic Ox Wagon Trek, which started in Cape Town and ended at Monument Hill, where the Monument’s foundation stone was laid, took place.

At the foot of the Monument stands Anton van Wouw’s bronze sculpture of a Voortrekker woman and her two children, paying homage to the strength and courage of the Voortrekker women. On both sides of this sculpture, black wildebeest are chiseled into the walls of the Monument. The wildebeest symbolically depicts the dangers of Africa and their symbolic flight implies that the woman, carrier of Western civilisation, is triumphant.

The flash of my camera appeared in the photo of this beautiful tapestry.

On each outside corner of the Monument, a statue represents Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter, and an “unknown” leader (representative of all the other Voortrekker leaders). Each statue weighs approximately 6 tons.

At the eastern corner of the monument, on the same level as its entrance, is the foundation stone.

Under the foundation stone is buried: A copy of the Trekker Vow on 16 December 1838. A copy of the anthem “Die Stem.” A copy of the land deal between the Trekkers under Piet Retief and the Zulus under King Dingane.

In the years following its construction, the monument complex was expanded several times and now includes:

An indigenous garden surrounds the monument.
The Wall of Remembrance is dedicated to those who lost their lives while serving in the South African Defence Force.
Fort Schanskop, a nearby fort built-in 1897 by the government of the South African Republic after the Jameson Raid and now a museum.
The Schanskop open-air amphitheater with seating for 357 people was officially opened on 30 January 2001.
A garden of remembrance.
A nature reserve was declared on 3.41 km² around the Monument in 1992. Game found on the reserve includes Zebras, Blesbok, Mountain Reedbuck, Springbok, and Impala.
A Wall of Remembrance was constructed near the Monument in 2009. It was built to commemorate the South African Defence Force members who died in service of their country between 1961 and 1994.
An Afrikaner heritage centre, was built to preserve the heritage of the Afrikaans-speaking portion of South Africa’s population and their contribution to the history of the country.”

Note: Many English words are spelled differently in South African text such as centre, civilisation, etc. As such, these are not misspelled. 

A miniature model of the wagons was used to make their way across the rugged terrain.

After our sightseeing tour, we drove back to the house, where a short time later we took off for further celebrations of Don’s birthday which we shared in yesterday’s post as indicated here.

Summing up the three days and nights we spent in Pretoria with Kathy and Don…it couldn’t have been better!  We look forward to seeing them one more time before we depart Marloth Park in a mere 37 days. Wow! The time is flying by!

With the power back on, the temperature warm but not unbearable, we’re having a good day. Today, I’ll be working on the menu and grocery list for Rita’s upcoming birthday party following Monday.  

Tomorrow, I have another dentist appointment at 9:00 am after which we’ll grocery shop; thus, the post won’t be available until later in the day.

May your day be filled with wonders!
                                             Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2018:

This dish may have looked messy but it was the best meal I’ve had since we arrived in Buenos Aires at the Rave Restaurant. It included white salmon, prawns, mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers, onions, garlic, all cooked in real butter. It was perfect for my way of eating and delicious.  For more photos, please click here.

Sightseeing at a most unusual place…Today is our 2000th post!…More on that in tomorrow’s post

This scene at La Recoleta Cemetery particularly caught our eye.

We decided it was time to go sightseeing again. With the days dwindling until we depart Buenos Aires (one week from today) and confusing packing ahead of us when we’re leaving the majority of our clothing and supplies behind at the Prodeo Hotel to pick up after the cruise,, we knew we wanted to get out one more time.

A few included a statue of the deceased, especially those of political or cultural significance.

We reviewed all of the possibilities deciding the La Recoleta Cemetery, one of the most interesting cemeteries globally, would be our top choice. If anywhere in Buenos Aires bespoke history and culture, this would be the place to visit.

The entrance to La Recoleta Cemetary is located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Taking a taxi to the Recoleta neighborhood made the most sense rather than figuring out bus schedules. At a distance of only 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from our hotel, it resulted in a 20-minute taxi ride through heavy midday traffic at the cost of US $14.34 (ARS 270) for the round trip, including tip

As soon as we began the walk through the cemetery, we knew it would be an unusual experience from other cemeteries we’ve visited in other countries.

The driver dropped us off at the entrance to the cemetery (no entrance fee is charged for this venue), and the moment we peered beyond the door, we knew we were in for a treat. We’ve often visited cemeteries in different parts of the world when it provides us with an interesting perspective on the culture of generations often going back hundreds of years.

La Recoleta Cemetery was no exception. Here’s is the link to some fascinating information about this proud heritage for the people of Argentina, which is also a popular tourist attraction.

The blue sky and fluffy clouds were an excellent backdrop for our photos.

Upon entering the massive facility, it wasn’t easy to decide which direction to take when it was laid out compared to a neighborhood/network of interlocking streets. Each monument consists of a unique historical story, design, and architecture, almost like “homes.”

Many of the mausoleums had simple lines and designs, while others were ornate.

In essence, there are “homes” for the dead where they’ll rest for hundreds of more years to come. From time to tie, we encountered the mausoleums/crypts that were crumbling from age and were in the process of repair. 

Others were aged and degenerating, with perhaps no family members remaining. If so, those would want to or could afford to bear the expense of rebuilding the ornate structures housing their ancestor/ancestors.

Each mausoleum has its own story to tell.

Many were family crypts with the surname emblazoned across the top or entrance to the massive structures.  What is particularly unique about La Recoleta Cemetery is the fact that all it contains are mausoleums.  

Here’s more information about the cemetery from this site:
“La Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio de la Recoleta) is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos AiresArgentina. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perónpresidents of ArgentinaNobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries,[ and in 2013, it was listed among the ten most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in this area, then the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar), built-in 1732. The order was disbanded in 1822, and the garden of the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires. Inaugurated on 17 November of the same year under Cementerio del Norte (Northern Cemetery),  those responsible for its creation were the then-Governor Martin Rodríguez, who would be eventually buried in the cemetery, and government minister Bernardino Rivadavia. The 1822 layout was done by French civil engineer Próspero Catelin, who also designed the current facade of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.[ The cemetery was last remodeled in 1881, while Torcuato de Alvear was mayor of the city, by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo

There are only a few mausoleums of this style with varying structures for various family members.

Set in 5.5 hectares (14 acres), the site contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in various architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Neo-Gothic, and most materials used between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs were imported from Paris and Milan.

Many of the mausolea appeared as small churches.

The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. These mausoleums are still being used by affluent families in Argentina with their own vault and keep their deceased there. While many of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained, others have fallen into disrepair. Several can be found with broken glass and littered with rubbish. Among many memorials are works by notable Argentine sculptors Lola Mora and Luis Perlotti, for instance. The tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, due to its unusual design, is of particular interest.”

Many of the streets appeared as a city block, neatly arranged.

While roaming through the network of “streets,” we met a lovely couple from Australia and chatted with them for a while.  They were equally in awe of the cemetery and also enthralled when we shared a little about our love of their people and their continent after spending over two years in and around Australia. 

With mausoleums added over varying centuries, the blocks were often of varying sizes and widths, as in this very narrow walkway.

Besides our English-speaking hotel staff, we’ve had little opportunity to converse with English-speaking people while out and about. And, in this particular area of Palermo, there are considerably fewer tourists than in other parts of Buenos Aires.

We gave them one of our business cards when they’d asked to read about our many experiences in Australia.  Then, last night while waiting in the queue for “40% off-happy-hour” at La Cabrera, we met another lovely young couple from Ireland who was on a four-month honeymoon after getting married close to Christmas. They were thrilled to hear we’d be spending three months in their country upcoming in spring/summer 2019.

There are statues atop most of the structures indicative of the deceased’s religious and spiritual beliefs.

Back at our hotel after dark, we grabbed my computer and headed to the hotel bar where we watched an episode of “Top of the Lake.” as it turned out, the four of us shared a table at the restaurant and had a lovely dinner together. It couldn’t have been more enjoyable. , There wasn’t another hotel guest to be seen.

A few were not the traditional grey stone exterior, as the case of this dark green structure.

After a very fitful night’s sleep warranting a 20-minute nap later this afternoon, we’re content to stay put today (until dinner) while continuing to research vacation/holiday home rentals for our upcoming lengthy itinerary.

It was equally interesting for us to see the older, more weathered mausoleums.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of Evita (Eva) Perrone’s mausoleum, which most visitors flock to when visiting La Recoleta Cemetery. It was a good day. Please check back tomorrow for more.

We want to mention a little more about today being our 2000th post in tomorrow’s post! We can’t believe it!  Can you?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2017:

The scenery in Hobart, Tasmania, was breathtaking. We returned to Hobart, a 40-minute drive from our vacation home in the Huon Valley, at a later day for more photos. For more photos, please click here.

Boating on the Mississippi River on Father’s Day…Minnesota historical sites….

Greg, Camille, Miles, Madighan, and Maisie on the Jonathan Padelford on the Mississippi River on Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day, Tom and I separately joined our respective families for the day’s activities. He went with Tammy and TJ to a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in Minneapolis while I joined Greg, Camille, and the three children for a paddle-wheel boat ride on the Mississippi River.

A solitary duck was standing on the dock while our boat took off from the pier.

With only one camera and Tom off to the Minnesota Twins game, I was the only one of us in possession of a camera. He took some photos at the game using his phone, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

We wished there was enough time in everyone’s schedule for us to be together with our families as events arise. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work well, and we find ourselves in different directions several times a week.

The closest bridge is the 10th Avenue Bridge.  The bridge behind it is the I-35W St. Anthony Falls bridge, the replacement for the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, which collapsed on August 1, 2007, killing 13, injuring 145.  See details below. From this website:
The I-35W Mississippi River bridge (officially known as Bridge 9340) was an eight-lane, steel truss arch bridge that carried Interstate 35W across the Saint Anthony Falls of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. On August 1, 2007, it suddenly collapsed during the evening rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring 145. The bridge was Minnesota’s third busiest, carrying 140,000 vehicles daily.[ The NTSB cited a design flaw as the likely cause of the collapse, noting that a too-thin gusset plate ripped along a line of rivets and asserted that additional weight on the bridge at the time of the spill contributed to the catastrophic failure.
Immediately after the collapse, help came from mutual aid in the seven-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area and emergency response personnel, charities, and volunteers.  Within a few days of the collapse, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) planned a replacement bridge, the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. Construction was completed rapidly, and it opened on September 18, 2008.”

It not that so much that we mind being apart for a portion of the day. It’s more about trying to experience both of us together with each other’s respective families when possible. Luckily, we’ve been able to have it work out on a few occasions, with hopefully more in our remaining 17 days in Minnesota.

As we entered the first lock on the river cruise. These locks are the most northerly locks on the Mississippi River.

When my two sons were young (now ages 47 and 50) and we were a one-parent family (I was divorced at a young age), on a few occasions, I took them on the Jonathan Padelford riverboat for cruises on the Mississippi River. I wish I could remember the last time we did this. 

The massive gates behind us closed after we entered the central area of the lock.  The water began to rise.

Most likely, it was before 1977 when I purchased our boat, which we kept docked at a marina on Lake Minnetonka during the short summer months. In the cold winter months, we stored the boat (we progressed in the size of the boats over the years) in an indoor storage facility in the country.

As the water was rising in the lock.

Once we had our boat, I doubt we went back on the river other than on a few group activities planned with friends, co-workers, or through school activities. With the cost and required upkeep of owning a boat, it was impractical to pay fees for other boating expeditions as a single parent.

Although I haven’t felt nostalgic since arriving in Minnesota (other than seeing and spending time with the people we love) and when driving over the Gray’s Bay Bridge last week when we visited friends Connie and Jeff, I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as we made our way along the Mississippi River on Father’s Day.

The Stone Arch bridge, from this site, was “built by railroad baron James J. Hill in 1883. The bridge allowed for increased movement of people and goods across the river. It served as a working railroad bridge until 1985 but is still seen as a symbol of the railroad age. Rehabilitation of this National Historic Engineering Landmark began in 1980. Traffic on the bridge is now characterized by a much slower pace. Mostly used by walkers and bicyclists, the bridge is one of the best ways to enjoy the view of St. Anthony Falls.”

The familiar buildings comingled with the new buildings reminded me of the love I’d felt for Minnesota for over 40 years.  For Tom, this was over a lifetime since he was born in Minneapolis many moons ago. Minnesota is the only home our children knew, with Tom’s two children, Tammy and TJ (now ages 46, 42), having been born here.

Minneapolis is a world-renowned cultural center.  The Guthrie Theatre is recognized for its quality productions and thought-provoking artistic displays and renditions. Click here for more details.

My eldest Richard was born in California, and my son Greg was born in Bay City, Michigan. But, I moved to Minnesota when Richard was a toddler and Greg was an infant. It was the only home they’ve known. 

As shown, Greg still lives in Minnesota as a family of five, and Richard has lived in Nevada since he was 21 years old. Soon, in 17 days, we’ll be staying with him in Henderson for a three-week visit.

The famous Gold Medal Flour building has been vacated, and the flour production has been moved to another location. The building was sold to a developer to be built as future condominiums.

The kids enjoyed the boat ride with that precious child-like wonder we all find adorable with eyes wide open.  This wasn’t their first time on a riverboat on the Mississippi, but it quickly could have been based on the smiles on their faces and their diligent observation of everything around them. 

Later in the day, Tom and I reconnected at the hotel, after which, once again, we headed out for dinner at Champ’s, a local favorite at the moment. We’ve only found a few restaurants befitting my eating habits that stay within our daily budget during this period. Fine dining is not on the agenda during this period.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from Tom’s Father’s Day, Minnesota Twin’s game with Tammy and TJ. The remaining river photos will be posted shortly.  See you soon!
Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2016:

In Bali, one of our two cooks went outside to greet the peanut vendor to make a purchase. For more photos, please click here.

Leaving Suva, Fiji today for the vast open sea… A peek at early cruise ship history…

Despite their increasing success, these early cruises, called “excursions,” were challenging to plan with existing ships. Constructed as ocean liners, they did not meet the requirements of the pleasure-seeking market. In addition, they offered few amenities aboard. 

Note:  Due to the poor signal, formatting has been challenging for today’s post, especially when copying information from another site. We apologize for the spacing and font differential throughout the post.

With the ship refueled and provisions in the final stages of the loading process, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas will be departing Fiji around 5 pm. However, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we have thousands of sea miles ahead of us.

We can only imagine what it must have been like generations ago for travelers to make their way a much longer and more hazardous journey across the season.

In perusing online, I stumbled across this site with the fascinating story of the world’s first cruise line. For those who prefer not to click on links, here are a few morsels directly from that article with photos.
SS Albert Ballin was an ocean liner of the Hamburg-America Line launched in 1923 and named after Albert Ballin, visionary director of the line who had killed himself in despair several years earlier after the Kaiser’s abdication and Germany’s defeat in WW 2.  In 1935 the new Nazi government ordered the ship renamed Hansa (Ballin having been Jewish).

The German shipping magnate Albert Ballin was responsible for turning Germany into a world leader in ocean travel before World War I. It was Ballin who also invented the pleasure cruise in 1891.

Born in Hamburg on 15 August 1857, Albert Ballin was destined to become a pioneer in making ocean travel a more pleasant, even luxurious experience. 

As a Jew, for most of his life, he would walk a fine line between social acceptance and scorn. But the “Kaiser’s Jew” long enjoyed financial and political prominence before falling out of favor and being branded a traitor to Germany as the First World War and his own life drew to their bitter end in 1918. Born in a poor section of Hamburg, Ballin (pronounced BALL-EEN) had achieved greatness and strongly influenced the passenger ship industry by taking his own life at age 61. A decade before Albert Ballin’s birth, the company he would later head, the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag), had been founded on 27 May 1847, to operate a faster, more reliable liner service between Hamburg and North America, using the finest sailing ships. At that time, a “fast” east-to-west Atlantic crossing took about 40 sailing days. The return voyage, with favorable west winds, required “only” 28 days.

Nevertheless, there was stiff competition for passengers on the North Atlantic route. Internationally, shipping lines in Britain and Prussia (after 1871) fought to attract passengers, but there was also competition within Germany between the port cities of Bremen (Bremerhaven) and Hamburg. In 1856 Hapag, under its first director, Adolph Godeffroy, put its first steamship, the Borussia, into service, becoming the first German shipping firm. As time went by, coal-powered steamships would cut the travel time between Hamburg and New York down to just six or seven days.”
For our “history buff” readers and the remainder of the story, please click here.  We found the story interesting causes us to appreciate further the quality of the experiences we’ve had during this period in our lives with advanced design, amenities, convenience, and technology.
During many conversations with passengers on this cruise and others, a common topic of discussion has been how modern conveniences and technology have greatly enhanced travelers’ desire to see the world in part by cruise ship.
For us, it’s added considerably to our ability to visit more countries in shorter periods.  Although ports of call stops are often for only one day, it allows the traveler to sample the flavor and persona of the city and a country.
However, our opportunities to stay in many countries for more extended periods have provided us with a perspective that often proves to be very different than one might experience in a single day or two (such as these two days in port in Fiji).  
If anything, our longer stays while immersing ourselves in the culture and lifestyle of the locals leave us appreciating and feeling more inspired than when we may spend a mere day in any location while on a cruise. 
Over these past two days, we’ve had an opportunity to share some of our Fiji lifestyle stories after spending four months on two islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, both very different while having similar friendly Fijian nature of its fine people.
Photos of the ship and her public rooms – as seen in Scientific American.
Fiji consist of 332 islands (of which 106 are inhabited) and 522 smaller islets. The two most important islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, which account for about three-quarters of the country’s total land area.”

So off we go, to the Pacific Ocean, finally after almost two years departing the South Pacific. We’ve had quite an adventure and yet look forward to the next leg of our journey.

Tomorrow, when we return here to post, we’ll be on our way, hoping to share the excitement as we head toward Hawaii for three days visiting three ports of call. But, funnily, it will feel like going home after spending eight months in the islands.

Back at you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2016:
One year ago, no photos were posted when the Wi-Fi signal on the ship, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas.