Part 2, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

The Matsamo village consists of many huts such as these, made by the men using straw, wood, vines and cow’s dung.  They are very well constructed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom and Lois have particularly enjoyed the bushbabies nightly visit to the cup of yogurt on the little stand.

Whether or not the villagers of Matsamo actually live the primitive life they described as customary in these modern times, it was indeed interesting to learn about their history and culture.

There are various boma type structures to round up the cattle at night or in which to conduct meetings among the tribesmen.

The young man who provided us with a private tour of the village was enthusiastic and obviously dedicated to the customs of his heritage, many of which we assume continue today to some degree.

The chief, our tour guide’s father, was in a meeting with another tribesman.

It was evident by his detailed descriptions that the male members of the tribe supersede the females of the tribe in many ways with the exception of the grandmother who is held in the highest esteem, even above that of the chief.

The baskets hanging on the side of the boma fence is for nesting chickens.

Women are married at very young ages and many men take two wives.  The first wife will have children, cook, clean and care for the family and continues to do so until the man decides to take a second wife.

The largest hut was for the grandmother where all the teenage girls sleep once past the age of seven or eight years old.

At this point, the first wife is “promoted” and she moves to another hut without a cooking area.  The new wife is then responsible for all of the household tasks while the first wife languishes in an easier lifestyle.  Interesting, eh?

Note the quality construction of the huts.

There is no limit to the number of children the wives may bear regardless of their status in the family unit. Its a lifestyle difficult for most of us to imagine, so far removed from our own reality.  

The chief’s son, the youngest of his 25 children from two wives respectively with two wives, the first with 15 children, the second with 10 children.

After the tour ended, we made our way back to the car and proceeded to drive back to Marloth Park via the proper roads, avoiding the potholed roads.  By early afternoon we were back on the veranda waiting for visitors while Lois and I prepared a lovely dinner for the evening.

This low entrance to the huts is intended to keep invaders out and present a humble entrance for those who are welcomed.  A large stick us kept by the entrance in the event an unwelcomed visitors intrudes.

I guess some things never change especially in our generation of retired seniors, women doing most of the cooking and men taking on other household tasks.  For us, traveling the world over these past six years has led us each to fall into specific roles and tasks based on our skills and interest, less on gender identify roles of decades past.

Decorative items to be worn during festivities and when young women are presented to the chief as potential new wives for himself and others.

I prefer to cook. Tom prefers to do the cleanup and the dishes.  He does the heavy lifting of the 40 kg (88 pounds) pellets while I put away the groceries.  I wash the laundry and if helpers aren’t available he hangs it on the clothesline.

The husband and wife sleep separately on mats on the ground, the man on the right, the woman on the left.  As we entered the hut we had to comply with this left/right ritual, man always on the right.  Hummm…or did he mean “man is always right?”

In many cultures established roles and tasks are distributed by a couple, regardless of gender, in a similar manner, based on expertise, ability, and interest.  This method works well for us and never, do either of us feel we are locked into a specific gender obligation.

Various baskets used for collecting water by the young women from the local river.

Yesterday, Saturday, we embarked on the Crocodile River drive in Marloth Park and once again has some spectacular sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  

The village was designed to generate revenue for the villagers and many areas were modern and tourist-friendly.

As always, last night’s dinner at Jabula was fantastic along with the fun the four of us had sitting at the bar yakking with Leon, the owner.  Dawn, his wife, and co-owner was out of town visiting family and we kept him entertained as he did us!

For an additional sum, we could have stayed for lunch.  But when reviewing the online menu, we opted out on this when many of the items were wheat, corn, and starch-based and deep fried.

Soon, we’re off to another bush braai in Lionspruit, the game reserve within a game reserve where we’ll spend the better part of the day at Frikkie’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and friends.  It will be a pleasure to share this delightful event with Tom and Lois as their time here is quickly winding down.  In a mere four days, they’ll depart to return to the US.

Several areas were set up for dining and many tourists were dining as we walked through the dining area.

Have a fantastic day, yourselves!  We’ll be thinking of all of you as we take photos while embracing today’s fun event.


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Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2017:

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we stayed for two nights, to renew our Costa Rica visas. For more photos and details, please click here.

Part 1, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

We arrived at the Swaziland border where Matsamo Cultural Village is located just as the show began.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra climbing the steps of the veranda for more pellets.

When Lois expressed an interest in attending a traditional African tribal dance, we asked Louise and Danie what they’d recommend.  They didn’t hesitate when they suggested the Matsamo Cultural Village Tour located on the South Africa side of Swaziland a bordering country.

The Swazi performers are very talented in both singing and dancing.

Here’s a map showing how Swaziland, a separate country, and how it is situated next to South Africa and bordering Mozambique on the east:

Map of Swaziland.

Had this tour been located in Swaziland, we wouldn’t have been able to attend. While in the process of attempting to be granted a visa extension, we were warned not to leave the country resulting in any stamps in our passports.

Tree stumps were used as seats during the performance.

The website for Matsamo was a little unclear as to whether we’d need to be part of a tour group or if we could show up on our own.  We tried calling the contact number to no avail and finally decided to take a chance on the over one-hour drive from Marloth Park.

The men performed a traditional dance.

In looking at a map, Tom and Tom mapped out directions and by 10:00 am we were on the road hoping to arrive in time for the posted 11:30 am performance. As it turned out we barely made it on time when we mistakenly took a shortcut which proved to be the second worst pothole road we’ve experienced in our lives.

The women also performed a traditional dance and song.

Months ago, we’d made a similar mistake by taking a shortcut and ended up on what is described as the worst pothole road on the planet.  Yesterday’s road wasn’t as bad as our prior experience but none the less awful.  It was quite the adventure for Tom & Lois!

Performing for tourists provides the village with income.  The cost for the performance and tour is ZAR 200 (US $13.70) per person.

Finally, we arrived at the village and proceeded to make our way to the activities with the help of a member of the village who directed us down a path to the performance which was starting at any moment.

Their agility and ability are spectacular.

We found seats in the back row when all the best seats were taken by that arrived earlier than us but with a little maneuvering, we were able to get good enough seats to take photos and also enjoy the 45-minute show.

The colorful dress of the Matsamo people was bright and appealing.

Their voices and dancing skills were exceptional and the four of us were mesmerized during the entire performance.  After the performance ended, one of the main performers, a skilled and attractive young man and the youngest son of the chief, approached us and offered to provide a personalized tour of the village and their customs.


We were thrilled to have him show us around and explain the details of their fascinating culture, all of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

At one point audience members joined in the dance while we took photos.

Here’s an overview from the Matsamo Tribe’s website located here:


“Matsamo Customs and Traditional Centre Co-operative is a traditional village near Swaziland and a must for visitors looking to experience authentic Swazi culture, which is well preserved in this, it is named after Chief Matsamo, a prominent Shongwe chief and contemporary of King Mswati II. 


He was the first Swazi chief to reside permanently in the area, and as a reward for his loyalty in defending the territory against invaders from the north, Mswati II allowed Chief Matsamo to remain in charge of the region as an eminent member of Swazi royalty. Today the region is still under the control of the Matsamo Tribal Authority.

Our tour guide walked down this pretty trail with Lois as both Toms and I followed behind as we made our way toward the village for the tour.  Tomorrow we’ll continue with Part 2 and photos of how the Matsamo people live.

Matsamo Cultural Village offers age-old folk songs, rhythmic dance performances, including the famous Rain Dance, and music with authentic African instruments, as well as traditional Swazi cuisine. Visitors can also wander on a tour through the village with its many huts and spaces, interacting with the villagers as they go about their daily activities, cultivating their crops, preparing traditional food and fashioning beautiful craft works.


Matsamo Cultural Village is near Kruger National Park, it first opened its doors in 2014 and enjoys great support from the broader community.”


As soon as today’s post is uploaded we’ll be heading out on a drive through Marloth Park to see what’s happening today on the Crocodile River.  Tonight, we’re dining once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant which no doubt will be another excellent evening.


Have a pleasing and fruitful day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2017:

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stopped by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree in Costa Rica and proceeded to sing.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1, Vuadomo Waterfall…A walk through the rainforest…More photos tomorrow…

Typically in rainforests, we’ve observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima spotted this caterpillar we’d easily have missed.

With Internet limitations and the difficulty of uploading photos at times, it’s necessary to break up the sharing of photos into “parts,” as has been the case in many places we’ve traveled.

We’d considered sharing fewer photos, instead, sharing just the highlights. For two reasons, we decided against that concept, preferring to break up our photos and stories into “parts” sharing those we find most appealing as we work our way through hundreds of photos we may take in a single outing. 

We giggled over this saying advertising a “10-minute” walk to the waterfall which may have been the case for young athletic types but certainly not for us old-timers, walking gingerly to avoid falling!

Our first reason for sharing as many photos as we can over a “series” is the fact that our readers have requested more photos. Secondly, it’s for the ongoing documentation of our travels at an online location that we hope will be available for generations to come. 

Today’s waterfall photos and story will consist of two parts, today’s and tomorrow’s. The trek through the rainforest to the Vuadomo Waterfall was in itself, quite an experience, stopping along the way to take many photos and to revel in the beauty of the exquisite remote jungle.

A short wooden ramp of three logs led to the stone path.  When we ventured across those three logs, I expected a wobbly hike once we were on the rocks.  Tima and Rasnesh waited for us while we loaded an extra battery into the camera.

Throughout the world, we’ve trekked through rainforest after rainforest. In essence, they are all similar in the vast amount of vegetation creating a canopy that at times blocks the view of the sky.This is where the similarities begin and end.

Here’s a definition of a rainforest:

“rainforest

/ˈreɪnˌfɒrɪst/
noun

1.

dense forest found in tropical areas of heavy rainfall. The trees are broad-leaved and evergreen, and the vegetation tends to grow in three layers (undergrowth, intermediate trees and shrubs, and very tall trees, which form a canopy) Also called selva.”

rain forest in Science 

rainforest

(rān’fôr’ĭst)  

A dense evergreen forest with an annual rainfall of at least 406 cm (160 inches).

Our Living Language   : Most of the world’s rainforests lie near the equator and have tropical climates. However, cooler rainforests exist in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada. The world’s largest rainforest is located in the Amazon River basin. The Amazon rainforest has been described as the “lungs of our planet” because it continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, with a significant percentage of the world’s atmospheric oxygen being produced in this region. Besides helping to regulate the world’s climate, rainforests host an extraordinary diversity of life. Scientists believe that as many as half of the Earth’s different species of plants and animals are found only in the rainforests, which take up a mere 7 percent of the world’s landmass. By some estimates, more than half of the Earth’s original rainforests have already been burned or cut down for timber or grazing land, and more than 130 plant, animal, and insect species are thought to be going extinct daily as a result of the lost habitat. Currently 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from tropical rainforest ingredients, and 70 percent of the plants with anticancer properties are found only in this shrinking biome.

We often hear about rainforests in reference to the above described Amazon River basin and the fact that so much precious plant and animal life is dwindling daily having a profound effect on our planet; the loss of plant, animal, and insect species all vital to our existence in a myriad of ways.

Rasnesh pointing out a passion fruit tree, early in its blooming stages.

As we’ve seen and visited all over the world, there are many massive smaller rainforests in many countries, many we’ve visited in our travels, each with its own unique forms of life and vegetation, although each possessing a similar vital aspect to our world’s ecosystem.

I could spend days on this topic even in my limited knowledge, if only from personal experience over these past three years of world travel. And still, we’ve yet to visit the Amazon which is well on our radar, with our next visit to a new continent earmarked as South America, once we’ve completed our short visit to the US in the summer of 2017.   

A budding passion fruit.

Here is Savusavu, we need only to look out the window where we can easily feel a part of the ecosystem in this densely forested area overlooking the sea. Although our immediate surroundings may not be specifically referred to as a rainforest, living in this jungle-like area gives us a perception of doing so, especially when only across this expansive bay in front of us, we traveled by car to Vuadomo, entering a true rainforest on the trek to the waterfall on the privately-owned sacred grounds of the Vuadomo people.

To call the walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall a “trek” is by no means a misnomer. It’s indeed quite a trek. At certain points, I was reminded of the dangerous trek to the Queen’s Bath, (click here for the story and photos), one we foolishly insisted on doing, only grateful for the experience long after it safely ended.

A passion fruit flower.

The walk to the Vuadomo Waterfall was steep and unrelenting with a narrow rocky base at times interrupted by steep uneven steps to navigate to a higher elevation. After all, waterfalls are generally located at an elevation to some degree. At one point, our ears popped.

Rasnesh and Tima escorted us on the tour, steady on their feet in their familiarity with the trek. With Tima insisting on offering me a hand over the most difficult parts, I stopped periodically to wipe the sweat off my hand onto my pants. The heat and humidity were bordering on unbearable.

This time of year in the South Pacific, papaya is getting ripe and ready for consumption as it turns yellow.

As we walked in a single file, Tom and I spoke of the difficult long-ago trek to Petra, Jordan (click here for the story and photos) in the scorching heat of 40C, 104F. Although it was a dry heat, it literally dried the moisture in our mouths, making swallowing difficult. 

However, this trek through the Vuadomo rainforest with a temperature of 32C, 90F, and humidity at 100% (it rained on the drive), we were almost equally uncomfortable, sweat pouring off of our exposed skin.  Not one to sweat much, I was surprised by the droplets of sweat pouring off my face, dripping down my arms and off my hands. Tom was the same. 

These tony chilies are often for sale in the Farmer’s Market. 

At no point, did we consider turning back or complaining aloud. Over wet rocks and slippery vegetation, we continued on, anxious to see the waterfall we’d heard so much about from the locals. All we needed to do was get there and back without stumbling and falling.

We enjoyed the trek, stopping for photo ops that Tima and Rasnesh pointed out in their experience of many times over these rocks. Whether it was a tree with fruit, a caterpillar as shown, or a bird in flight, we stopped to observe, never feeling rushed, especially as Tima reminded us many times, of “No rush, this is Fiji. Nice and easy.”

These huge leaves which Tima referred to as elephant ears are different than the same-named common household plant in the US.

Her thoughtful assistance, insight, and educational comments made the journey all the more interesting and enriching. Finally, after about 20 minutes, we heard the waterfall shortly before it was visible. The sound of the rushing water sent a thrill through both of us.

Ah, Mother Nature, when did you create this treasure, by no means the biggest waterfall we’ve seen but, supremely beautiful even on the cloudy day? Through our research we haven’t been able to ascertain when this loveliness was first spotted by the human eye, nor was Tima aware of this fact.

The grass was wet here making it important to fit our feet onto the individual stone steps.

We could only assume that as long ago as the villagers first settled in Vuadomo they stumbled upon this exquisite gift from their God or higher power, lovingly nurtured by Mother Nature in her exquisite rainforest design, trees to the heavens of many varieties, many fruit-bearing, birds and small creatures each in their own way contributing to the ecosystem.

We were indeed in a rainforest and although it wasn’t the Amazon it was a place where we’ll always recall in the list of the many rainforests we’ve visited in our travels, each unique in its own way.

Still, at quite a distance, we gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall which is much larger than it appears in this photo.

The waterfall, although not huge, which we hadn’t expect, was as beautiful as rushing water can be.  With recent non-stop rains the water easily flowed with an intensity we found mesmerizing. 

At the final destination, Tima pointed out a wooden bench suggesting we stop to rest and partake in the magnificence of the waterfall while we recovered from the long trek. The cooling spray from the waterfall was more refreshing and soothing than sitting down, as we languished for a while, enjoying the view.

A creek flowed from the waterfall pool.

After photos, we were back on the trek to return to Rasnesh’s vehicle awaiting us at the entrance to the path.  We’d brought along only one bottled water which by then was almost hot when we each took a few much-needed sips.

Soon, we were back on the highway leaving the area located across the bay from our temporary home to return to Savusavu for our weekly shopping. We were hot, sweaty, and satisfied with the great experience, breezing through the shopping with relative ease, ending up in the air-conditioned supermarket, the only location in Fiji we’ve visited with AC.

Rushing waters in the creek below the waterfall.

Rasnesh had to pick up a traveler from the airport giving us more time in the market than we needed with its only three aisles. While shopping, we met a lovely couple our age, she was from Florida, USA and he was from Canada, who’d been sailing their catamaran in the world’s sea over the past eight years, soon to settle on the Big Island in Hawaii. A lively conversation ensued, making the wait for Rasnesh fly by.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a new story which will include our final photos of the Vuadomo Waterfall including photos of us (at long last) and our guides. With many more yet-to-be shared photos from this and other outings, we don’t expect to run out. Especially, when in three days, we’ll be out again and in five days, we’re off to celebrate our three year’s long travel anniversary with many new photos of our upcoming celebration and tour of Namale Resort.

Happy day!

                                         Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2014:

We drove to Lahaina, the most popular tourist town in Maui, surprised by how few tourists we spotted on the streets. The Hawaiian Islands are most busy during the winter season in the northern hemisphere, especially closer to the holiday season. For more details, please click here.

 

Part 2…Unbelievable day in Fiji…A cultural experience filled with wonders!

Upon arrival in Vuadomo, Tima,  standing on the right, came out to greet us warmly shaking our hands and leading us toward this structure where handmade crafts are offered for sale by the local women.

Nothing we do in our travels is more fulfilling than meeting the local people and having an opportunity to share the treasures found in their area, on their lands and in their villages, those which they hold in reverence and high esteem.

Most likely, these craftswomen of Vuadomo sit here all day waiting for tourists to arrive.  It isn’t necessary to call ahead to let make them aware of our pending arrival.  We didn’t see any other tourists while we visited, only one passing taxi on our way in.

Witnessing these treasures through their eyes and ours gives us a perspective, if only for a flash in time, of how they live among one another, cherishing the land and nature to provide them with everything they need.

As we entered the area of their marketplace, we were warmly welcomed and asked to sit and relax for a few minutes on the benches provided as shown on the right in this photo.

So is the case for the villagers of Vuadomo who have managed in their creativity, to utilize the beauty of their surroundings on the lands owned by their ancestors, to create a source of revenue to offset the costs for those aspects of life not provided by their gardens, their livestock and the seeming endless sources of food from the ocean adjoining their lands.

Rasnesh explained he may bring tourists to see the waterfall a few times each week.  He isn’t charged for entrance to the village on each occasion.  Only the tourists are charged the token entrance fee of FJD $10, USD $4.64 per person, plus the gift of kava for the chief.

Yes, we were  a little taken aback to see they had cellphones but, we saw no TV antennas, no satellite dishes, no cars and no other motorized means of transportation.  They do have electricity, septic systems and well water.

The women were friendly hoping to sell their handmade jewelry.  Instead of making a purchase, we left a tip.

Many of the 80 residents, living in a total of about 16 modest homes, had small garden plots with plenty of chickens and roosters.  We heard the sounds of goats but didn’t see them, although pigs and piglets were plentiful wandering freely throughout the property, most gathered by the water.  We saw no cows in the immediate area.

A worn but adequate house in the village.

Its a simple life with idle time spent in the evenings drinking kava in the same manner many others throughout the world gather for “happy hour” or enjoy alcoholic beverages with meals. 

Tom was equally fascinated as I was, as we wandered through the village with Tima.

Tima explained that drinking kava peaks the appetite. Often, there will be a variety of home baked sweets available for “snacking.”  Its all a part of the ritual, a part of their everyday lives.

These chickens and roosters were outside the chief’s house (Tima’s grandfather).

Most of the villagers we encountered were rotund as a result of this pastime pleasure.  Diabetes is rampant in Fiji, becoming worse each year.  Rasnesh explained that with free medical care with accompanying free medications, many Fijians accept this condition as a part of life.  Some Fijians have lost teeth due to years of drinking and chewing kava along with other health related conditions.

Some of the homes were in ill repair while others were more up to date.

Comparable to overuse of alcohol, overuse of kava and addiction is not uncommon, especially in the male population.  Apparently, women drink kava on social occasions and celebrations although not as regularly as men.  These old traditions live on through generations.

This structure is used for ceremonial rites and kava drinking.  We’d seen similar structures when we visited the Masaai village in Kenya.

As Tima took us through the village, we had the opportunity, if only for a short time, to imagine the lives of these gentle, kind people.  There’s never been a single moment since we arrived in this quiet island that we have felt unsafe. 

Bread fruit is abundant in Fiji.  Tima explained the sweet fruit is commonly used in meal preparation.

Their joy for life at a slow pace with little anxiety is evident in almost every Fijian we’ve met, whether they are native Fijians or Indo-Fijians who’s ancestors immigrated from India and who practice Hinduism.  Please see this link for more on the Indo-Fijians who encompass 43% of the population in Fiji.

Tima showed us (me, Tom and Rasnesh) the “lali,” a wooden drum in varying sizes from 2 to 3 feet which is used as a church service bell, alerting the villagers that its time for the service.  With “Fiji time” it may not be at the same time each week.

The Vuadomo tribe are practicing Christians with a church located on their property as shown in the photos below. The pastor, who doesn’t live in the village, visits weekly or as needed to conduct services.  We were both surprised by the size and beauty of the church as we gingerly stepped inside, careful not to tread too far into their sacred space.

This quaint small church is ideal based on the number of villagers in Vuadomo, named as a memorial to a former pastor.

We had no idea that the tour of the waterfall would include so much more.  We couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces as we wandered about the property, in awe of these people and the home they’ve provided for themselves with resourcefulness, simplicity and dignity.

There are no pews or chairs in the church.  Sitting on the ground is common for Fijians of all ages. 

How fortunate and humbled we are to have this inside peek into the lives of others so far away from whence we came, not only in distance but also in lifestyle.  They, too, like us, are eternally grateful for the treasures they’ve received through hard work and determination and ultimately, the gifts they’ve been given by the grace of their chosen higher power.

The houses vary in degrees of maintenance and care based on each owner’s preference.

In the realm of things, none of us are any different.  We find our place in the world doing our best to survive and thrive with the tools we have available.  We often feel sadness and angst over what appears to be poverty when in fact, many of those we perceive as poor look at our lives of over-abundance, thinking how rich they actually are.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos and stories of the resources in the Vuadomo village that provide sustenance for the villagers.  Please check back!

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Photo from one year ago, October 24, 2014:

We’re always happy to have a dining table and chairs as opposed to sitting at a counter top for meals.  The condo in Maui had everything we could possibly want or need. And yet, we’ve found we do well without a TV, dishwasher, AC or other modern conveniences.  Even now, in Fiji we managing with a less than comfortable bed and daily visits from armies of ants. For more details, please click here.

Part 3…Oxford…Home of 38 colleges in this famous village…

 

The front entrance to the Ashmolean Museum.

Commencing with our first stop on the 13 hour tour we stopped in Oxford, the world renowned university village for which we had the mistaken perception, as many do, that Oxford is a town of one expansive university. How wrong we were! 

Nude Egyptian statue we encountered upon entering the museum.

In fact, there are 38 colleges in the town of around 151,000 as of a 2011 census, although there is a high turnaround rate due to the comings and goings of a reported 20,000+ students from all over the world.

Ancient hand-beaded animal hide on display in the museum.

Our bus stopped across the road from yet another museum, the Ashmolean Museum, where we were scheduled to return two hours later to meet up with Paul, our guide, and board the bus to be on our way. 

Various coins from the ancient world.

We had the option to join Paul, our spunky guide, and the tour group or to wander about on our own. With Tom’s difficulty in hearing after 42 years on the railroad, it was pointless to join the group when he wouldn’t be able to hear what Paul saying.

This is the Martyr’s Memorial which we encountered on the walkthrough Oxford.

As a result, we walked the village of Oxfordshire keeping an eye out as to where the group was headed. That way, we could catch most of the highlights at our own pace which is always faster than in a large group.

There were a few streets where no cars were allowed, to make getting through the crowds easier.

We started at the Museum. After only a few minutes, we decided that perhaps we’ll have had our fill of museums by the time we get into the two closest to our hotel in Kensington. We wandered off to check out the colleges and historic buildings that contribute to Oxford’s enchanting appeal.

Tom purchased a slice of dark chocolate fudge in this fudge shop which he savored over a few days, taking tiny bites at a time.

The streets, restaurants, and shops were packed with tourists during the busy summer season drawing travelers from all over the world. The narrow roads, the locally mined limestone buildings, homes, and churches created an awe-inspiring scene that drew us in several directions.

The Museum of History and Science.

With a sense of certainty, we spotted college professors, female and male, scurrying about the village doing whatever they do as the new school year fast approaches.

This is the famous Radcliffe Camera building.  Camera is another word for “room.”

Our minds wandered to what it must have been like hundreds of years ago, so easy to envision in this step-back-in-time village.

Another museum or college building.

One could easily spend days exploring this village of vast worldwide influence dating back to the 9th century. Like many old buildings as we’ve seen in our travels, we experienced a renewed enthusiasm as we perused as much as we could in the allotted time. How quickly time flew!

The courtyard of the Bodleian Library.

In no time at all, we were on our way, a smile on our faces, happy to have seen something we’d never imagined would have been in reality, as has been so many of the places we’ve visited in our travels.

Exquisite entrance to the Bodleian Library.

Last night, as we returned to the hotel from yet another disappointing meal, we talked about how odd it is that we’ve been to Istanbul, Dubai, Marseilles, Cairo and so many cities around the world. As we examine the world map, we realize we’ve only just begun. There’s so much more to see.

Statue of William Hebert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor of Oxford University 1580-1630.

Note: We still have many excellent Oxford photos to share, which we’ll post tomorrow in Part 4, the final post in this series of our visit to Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) and the villages of Bampton and Oxford.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2013:
The Internet was still down in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, not to be back up until August 25, 2013. We were frustrated, to say the least, unable to post for several days.