Its never easy…Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is…One year ago, a precious photo from a friend…

Last night’s waning moon with clouds.

Every morning as I prepare for my day, I begin the process of thinking of the post I’ll soon sit down to write.  I have no angst around these thoughts.  They’re just thoughts.


Clouds obscuring a pie slice of last night’s moon.

I check the camera for the previous day’s photos looking for inspiration often finding an answer on the viewfinder.  After downloading the photos, inspiration comes, however small, however simple and I’m at peace that the words will come.


Now, the opposite side is blocked by clouds.

Honestly, its particularly challenging as we near the end of a stay in each location after writing many posts, day after day.  I never tire of sitting down with my cup of coffee or tea (either will do), placing a pillow under my right elbow to support the bad shoulder, as the words flow from the tips of my fingers as they type, more in a physical than mental manner. 


Every morning this view takes our breath away.

Sure, we have stats to indicate how many readers we have which we’ll share here in the next several days as we reach a milestone. But even so, I often wonder if some of our readers simply check out the photos as opposed to the words.

If they do, it still makes me happy.  Knowing that even one person finds a moment of pleasure in our posts, makes it all worthwhile.  Besides, with our six grandchildren here over the holidays, it reminded us of the legacy we leave for our grandchildren, their grandchildren and generations to come when they can look back at year’s of posts of their kooky ancestors who traveled the world in their old age. 


After looking through hundreds of photos, I’ve yet to find the name of this tree in our neighborhood.  Its leaves appear to be velvet.  Any ideas?

Oh, would that we’d have loved to be able to reference the travels, the thoughts, the photos and the experiences of our ancestors on such a medium as the worldwide web.  My grandmother Ethyl, lived an amazing life.  What I’d give to read her story, page by page, photo by photo, over a period of years of her life.

As the numbers of our readership grows day by day, year by year, we find great comfort in the driving force writing here provide

The name of this street in our neighborhood makes us chuckle.  Many Hawaiian names and words are difficult to pronounced but this one seems relatedly easy.

More than anything, it makes us take notice of our surroundings more than either of us had ever done in the past; a sunrise, a sunset, a rising moon, a breaching whale, a blooming flower or the simplicity of water running gently along a creek.  We notice it all.  For this, we are grateful. 

And…for our readers, we are grateful.  Without your readership, comments, questions and support, it would be hard to continue each day.


The Tsunami and hurricane warning horns, and various signs at the local park.

Some time ago we heard from Jody, a reader in Minnesota, explaining how she rides the metro to work in downtown Minneapolis each day.  On the way, she reads our story of the day on her tablet, lessening the boring long ride.


The local park without signs hindering the view.

If, on a rare occasion, I feel like “taking a day off” for lack of adequate fodder, I think of her and her disappointment to find the same post from the prior day with nary an inkling of any new material.  With that thought, my laptop lid flies open and I begin again, determined to nudge my fingers into action once more.
__________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2013:



I wasn’t the only person in Marloth Park that was in love with warthogs.  Ken (wife, Linda) shared this photo with us to post one year ago today.  Thanks, Ken!  For details from that day’s post, please click here.
Day #160 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The frightening reality…

Total expenses for 15 nights in London…Leaving tomorrow morning for long drive to cruise pier in Harwich….Cheerio, London…Hello world…

Its a beautiful area with most of the buildings well maintained in black and white.

Tomorrow morning at 10 am, the private shuttle we’d arranged long ago, picks us up from the hotel for the two and a half hour drive to Harwich, the cruise ship pier in England.  


Yesterday, we walked down this road toward Bobo’s Bubbles to do our final two loads of laundry. 

It’ll be wonderful to see the ocean once again after leaving Madeira a month ago.  While in both Paris and London we came to the decision that no matter how appealing big cities may be to many travelers, they are not for us.  We’re love the country, the bush, the ocean and anywhere far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

There are numerous old hotels in the Kensington area.

This gave us a new perspective in our travels, that we won’t want to spend a week or two in Sydney or any other big city in Australia or any other parts of the world.  We’re certain they are filled with much to see and do.  But, that life is not for us.  Plain and simple.


Many street lamps and building fronts are decorated with colorful flowers.
 

Occasionally, we spotted a brick building mixed among the white buildings.

We have three big cities ahead of us soon, one in Boston on September 14th for three nights; two in Vancouver, British Columbia on September 17th for six nights; and lastly, in Waikiki/Honolulu on October 5th, Hawaii for 11 nights.  Boston will be a breeze when we’re busy with family, Vancouver is a relatively short stay until we board the ship to Hawaii and Waikiki…well, it is Hawaii after all.


This was the shortest (height) car either of us has ever seen.  I can only imagine that getting out of it would require rolling out the door onto the street and then standing up. 

South Kensington consists of one pretty street after another, parking always at a premium.

Today, as I write here, I’ll be flipping back and forth to our comprehensive Excel workbook to finalize our expenses for the 15 nights in London.  As we share these expenses, one may assume these totals are realistic for any traveler to London, on a budget.


Tom’s haircut was only US $16.60, 10 pounds including the tip.  Not bad.

When we stopped at the market for a few items Tom decided on a haircut before the cruise.

We must admit that our total expenses may be misleading for the following reasons especially when dining out for all meals.  Here’s why:
1.  We only eat once a day due to our commitment to intermittent fasting for our health (two meals per day while on cruises).  A typical tourist dines in restaurants two to three meals each day, as we would have in years past.  Please take that into consideration when reviewing the totals. Also, we don’t order starters or desserts which I can’t have, and Tom doesn’t want, never liking the available options.
2.  Another factor in regard to restaurant dining:  Tom ordered one beer on four separate occasions.  Since I don’t drink alcohol I usually have tap water (when its safe to drink) such as in London and Paris.  By not adding cocktails and other beverages to our restaurant bill, we’re usually saving as much, if not more, than 40% on the bill. Tom rarely drinks alcohol when we’re dining in making this no sacrifice to him.  On the cruises, he’ll enjoy cocktails at the table during dinners (at an additional cost).
3.  No extra charges were added to  the hotel bill:  In the case at the Regency Hotel, Queen’s Gate, they’ve waived our entire WiFi bill upon my request this morning based on the daily issues getting online.  We don’t order room service, have spa treatments, order cocktails, coffee or tea.  We use the complimentary coffee and tea in the room. 
4.  We save money by walking as opposed to taking taxis when the distances are manageable, using public transportation when possible.
5.  Keeping the cost of sightseeing and tours expenses to the budgeted amount.
6.  We’re willing  to pay a little more for better hotels with at least a four star rating which are in good neighborhoods, such as in South Kensington.  The hotel becomes our “home” for a period of time with comfort and convenience most important to us.


The street corner where last night’s restaurant is located.

Here are our expenses for the 15 nights in London:

Hotel:              US $3,312.26, 1,995.40 pounds
Transportation:          455.29,    274.28
Tours:                       451.81,    272.18
Groceries:                 240.34,    144.79
Restaurants:              850.46,    512.34

Grand Total:     US $5,310.16, 3,198.99 pounds
Daily Rate:         US $354.01, 213.27 pounds


In London, there are no large trash bins for residents in which to place their garbage.  Instead, they put the bags on the sidewalk or street where they’re picked up a few times a week from what we’ve seen. 

In this particular case, we’re under budget by 7%.  Having a budget helps us to curtail spending.  Although, we frequently commented as to how expensive dining out is in London, the only reason our daily average was this low was due to the facts above; no beverages, no starters and no desserts.  


Last night, we tried a new restaurant, Wildwood several blocks from our hotel.

Wildwood had a comfortable ambiance but, the food and service was mediocre.

Without a doubt, once we’re on the two upcoming cruises, we’ll be having breakfast and Tom will order starters and desserts (few starters will work for me). After all, our meals with multiple courses are included in the cost of the cruises (the actual costs hidden from our view).  We’re free to dine as we so choose, (cocktails are extra), although we’ll only do so twice a day, breakfast and dinner. 


Tom order Beef Bolognaise which he said was good.

I ordered this chicken Caesar salad, minus crouton adding avocado.  The chicken was fatty, poorly trimmed and hard to cut.  Had it contained boneless, skinless chicken breasts this would have been a great salad.

Now that our laundry is done at US $33, 20 pounds, to wash and dry two loads, we’ll be packing our bags as soon as we’re done posting.  We’ve reconfirmed with our driver for tomorrow’s 10 am pickup.  Our hotel bill is completed.  Tonight we’ll dine at Byron, one last time (included tonight’s dinner in totals above).



This was the lowest dinner bill we had in London at US $32, 19.30 pounds, plus tip for a total US $35.36, 21.20 pounds

Sunday’s post with new and exciting photos will be available late in the day after we’re checked in and we’re situated on the cruise. 

And tomorrow, we’ll be on our way.  Once again.
__________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2013:



This pile contained all the clothing I owned one year ago.  Now, the pile is one half this size.
This photo was on the last few days we were in Italy preparing to depart on September 1, 2013 for Kenya.  For details from that date, please click here.

The cost of booking rental cars in Hawaii for almost 7 months…Two days until we “sail away”…

 
This is a Pangolin, one of the most elusive animals on the planet, seen by very few.  Perhaps, someday when we return to Africa, we’ll have a chance to see one.  These animals are poached for their scales believed by certain cultures in Asia to have medicinal properties which, after intense scientific research, do not provide any benefit to health.  And yet poachers kill these interesting animals in the anteater family for profits, comparable to the senseless slaughter of rhinos and elephants for their tusks.  Its heartbreaking.  Soon, they too, will become extinct.

When we first began planning our worldwide travels, we flinched over the cost of rental cars with all of the pumped up fees, charges and taxes.  At the time, we anticipated it would feel weird not owning a car.   Now, its second nature. 


The Dodo bird, extinct for over 350 years.  Sadly, what’s next?

The points we consider for each specific location, each time we book a rental car are simple:
1. Is taxi fare reasonably priced and is it readily available making renting a car unneccesary?
2.  Will we feel trapped in a remote location without a car?
3.  Are there many places we’d like to visit in a specific area making a rental car worthwhile?
4.  Is the car large enough to fit our four suitcases, one duffel bag, one rolling cart, one laptop bag and handbag?
5.  How safe is driving (in regard to crime, not road conditions) in a specific country?


This is the largest seed in the world from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

For example, in Kenya, is was safer to travel in affordable taxis than it was to drive on our own with the high rate of carjacking and theft than in many other parts of the world. 


We saw live insects of this size while in Africa. 

In Belize, we used taxis.  On an occasion, we rented a golf cart for week, taking taxis the remainder of the time.  The cost of a rental car for 30 days was more than US $3000,, 1809 pounds per month.  The cost of a taxi to a grocery store or restaurant was US $5, 3 pounds each way.  It was a no brainer for the two and a half months we spent in Placencia.


Over 100 scientists work full time at London’s Natural History Museum. 

In Morocco, we could walk to most locations.  The grocery shopping and cooking were done by Madame Zahra (I think of her often) and the few times we dined outside of the Medina and the souks, the cab fare was fairlyreasonable.  Plus, there was no available parking where we lived in the souk.


A scientist at work in the research area of the museum.  What a fascinating field.

In the remote Tuscan location of Boveglio, Italy we had no choice but to rent a car for the two and a half months we spent in the mountains.


In the Charles Darwin wing of the Natural History Museum, there were many interesting displays of insects, butterflies and small creatures.

Of course, in South Africa, we had  a rental car for a month and then Okee Dokee driving us everywhere for the remaining two months. No rental car could possibility replace the pleasure and laughter of riding with her day after day.


Photos through the glass are less vivid.

In that particular case, we chose to forgo the rental car simply due to the fact that we loved being with Okee Dokee, constantly laughing as we bounced around on the bumpy roads in Marloth Park. It was an emotional decision when none of the above points fell into play.

After many car rental experiences, we’d yet to book rental cars for three of the four islands on which we’ll be living in Hawaii over a total period of seven months. 


This is an actual bee and its size as shown.

Excluding the necessity of a car in Waikiki (Honolulu) for the first 11 days when everything is within walking distance, we knew we’d need cars in Maui for six weeks, the Big Island for six plus weeks and Kauai for four months.


Insect displays in the Charles Darwin research area of the museum.

Having budgeted for each of the three islands where we’ll need a rental car, both of us were worried that the actual cost would far exceed the amounts we budgeted.  Yesterday, we finalized the bookings for each of the three islands, expecting the cost to average at approximately US $2000, 1206 pounds a month. 

Hawaii is often considered one of the most expensive places to visit in the world when everything other than the fruits and nuts grown in the islands, must be imported as is the case on other islands throughout the world.


Flying insects.

After reviewing many online sites for the best rates in Hawaii (which we’d browsed many times over he past few years), we were able to confirm rates for each of the islands as follows:

6 weeks  Maui          US $1,124, 678 pounds (economy car)
6 weeks  Big Island  US $1,526, 920 pounds (full sized car)
17 weeks Kauai        US $2,886, 1741 pounds (economy car)
Grand total –          US $5,536, 3339 pounds
(over a period of120 days at US $46, 28 pounds, per day). 



There were numerous paintings of animals from artists throughout the world.

We’re thrilled with these prices, expecting to spend thousands more and relieved to have this piece out of the way at long last.  Our flights between the four islands are the only items we’ve yet to book for Hawaii.  With frequent flights between islands each day, we can easily wait to book the flights a month before departure in each case.


Had it been 10 months from now, when we’ll be in Australia, we’d already have seen kangaroos!  We can hardly wait!

As soon as we upload today’s post, we’ll be heading out for our final trip to Bobo’s Bubbles to do the laundry. It will be a full two weeks until we can do our laundry again in Boston.  In Madeira, I purchased what appears to be a bar of soap which in fact is a bar of laundry soap, used for hand washing.  Surely, that will come in handy on the two cruises in September.


Here again, in 10 months when we’ll be in Australia, we hope to see koala bears.

Last night, we returned to Byron, a burger restaurant we’ve  found to be good with reasonable portions.  Although, its was over US $50, 30 pounds for a burger and fries for Tom and a salad for me, the salad portion is ample leaving me feeling as if I’ve actually had a meal. 


This is a Genet which we saw in South Africa in the bush.

When we see the price for a burger and fries is US $25, 15 pound, and a Cobb salad is also at US $25, 15 pounds, one can easily understand why we’re “chomping at the bit” to get on board the cruise and dine at our leisure without the added expense of having eaten out every meal for a month.


The fossils from prehistoric times were interesting.  But, we expected these as shown above were also manmade.

Its hard to believe we’re only two days from sail day.  In many ways, it seems as if those past eight cruises were so long ago when the last cruise ended on June 16, 2013.  Here we go, another transatlantic crossing.  How exciting!


In a way, it left us cold, seeing the manmade animals when we’d seen so many in the wild.

Have a lovely weekend as summer winds down in the northern hemisphere and winter winds cranks up in the southern hemisphere. 

The museum itself was worthy of note in its exquisite design.

________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2013:

As we busied ourselves getting ready to depart for Kenya and with ongoing WiFi issues in Boveglio Italy, we didn’t post on this date.  However, we did post of the following date.  Please check back tomorrow.

Exciting news! Living on an Alpaca Farm in New Zealand! Kiwi lfestyle…Here we come!

Pinch me! These are the alpacas that live on the farm we’ll be renting in New Zealand.  We’ll be arriving at the time of the year when the babies are born. Could this be more fun?  The owner explained that they are very friendly and will hang out with us as they freely roam about the farm.

After an exhausting search over a period of weeks, we’re delighted to have finally found a home for 83 days in New Zealand.  Our original plan was  to stay for 89 days which has since changed to accommodate an upcoming cruise.

There were many factors that made the search painstaking with price and location topping the list.  Partway through, we decided to reconsider our desire for an ocean view.  That in itself was pricey and limiting.

The farm house is a saltbox style unassuming but perfect for our needs especially when these friendly occupants hover in the yard.

Renting a house in a subdivision or a condo in the center of a town is definitely not our cup of tea. In reality, it all boils down to having a photo worthy experience for us and for our readers.  We weren’t having much luck finding anything that appealed to us.

As we finally changed directions, we searched through the filters offered in Homeaway.com as to the “type” of property.  The options were many, such as: villa, castle, barn style, townhouse, condo, apartment, etc.


The living room is ideal for our needs with a fireplace, flat screen TV and what appears to be comfy furniture.

Something caught my eye…”farm.”  What if we lived on a farm in New Zealand? How exciting that could be!  There were only two possibilities; both expensive and, over our budget.  Perhaps a compromise would work.  Both had a lot of appeal to us but for me, one in particular.  We appealed to both owners.

One came back at a proposal that was higher than we’d like to pay at US $4500 a month, EU $3296.  We always strive to keep our monthly rent under US $3000, EU $2197.  Here in Portugal in this gorgeous home, the rent was well under US $5000, EU $3662 total for the full 75 days!  This type of reasonable pricing has been the norm for us as we’ve traveled the world.

The second farm came back at a more reasonable price, here again based on our long term stay, from a kind and generous owner who may have predicted through our email communication, that we’d be decent renters who’d take care of their lovely farm house. 


Wonderful kitchen with cozy breakfast bar, modern stainless appliances and all the kitchen items we’ll need.  There’s a dining room table and chairs as shown to the left.

This farm has a magical quality that particularly grabs my heart…it’s an alpaca farm.  And, when I saw the photo, although somewhat blurry, of the alpacas staring into a camera, my heart melted, my pulse quickened and I was in love.

Yes, I know dear readers, I’ll try not to bore you with endless photos of every possible pose an alpaca can make.  I attempted to control myself with the rather homely warthogs in Marloth Park.  Although early on in our arrival, I had a difficult time refraining when I literally fell in love with their adorable personalities.

If the warthog’s homeliness may have tempered my photo taking enthusiasm how will I manage to contain myself with these adorable alpacas?  Luckily, the area in which the farm is conveniently located, is close to many attractions allowing us many photo opportunities of a variety of subjects beside the alpacas.


This the master bedroom with an en suite bathroom.  There’s a second bedroom which I’ll use for my clothing and dressing room.

Views of Mount Tatanaki provide an excellent backdrop to our upcoming farm living as mentioned on the Homeaway site, as “Just 10 km, 6.2 miles, from New Plymouth, the many attractions Taranaki has to offer are close by such as such as beaches, mountains, gardens, golf courses, parks, museums, art galleries and more.”  There are 100 restaurants rated for New Plymouth in TripAdvisor making dining out close and convenient.

We are grateful to have found this setting for the upcoming 83 days from January 19, 2016 to April 11, 2016, when we’ll fly back to Sydney, Australia on a less than four hour flight to board another cruise that sails on April 12th. Once booked over the next several days, we’ll share the details.

Today, we’re posting photos from the Homeaway listing of the alpaca farm which are a bit blurry.  I can only imagine how fun it will be to post our own photos in the future.

We realize that this booking seems so far away at this point in order to garner this level of enthusiasm but, it’s actually we’ll be there in only 18½ months. We left the US 18 months ago today.  How quickly that time has passed.  Of course, we’re not wishing time to fly by.  We have the moment, Paris, London, cruises, Hawaii, family visiting, Australia, Fiji and now New Zealand ahead of us, all eliciting enthusiasm and excitement.

Even today, as we venture out once again to further explore this magical island posting new photos tomorrow and in days to come, we feel the same sense of excitement we’ve experienced in most places we’ve lived, as we continue to revel in the wonder and beauty in the world around us. 

Back tomorrow with more! 
_____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2013:

We walked through the narrow alleys of Boveglio on our way to Bar Ferrari, where the locals gathered weekly for a party.  For details of that story, please click here.
 

A special photo…A memorable couple long ago…An inspiration to continue on…A year ago, a little village in Toscana…

Need I say, I went nuts when we saw these huge hanging Angel’s Trumpets, while on a drive a few days ago?  As Tom maneuvered through a narrow winding road, I squealed when I saw these, hollering, “Stop!  Back up!”  The road was too narrow for me to get out of the car so I took this photo with the window down.  Wow!

It was the halfway mark of our time in Madeira as we mentioned in our yesterday’s heading.  It’s hard for us to believe that we’re on the downhill now of living in this wonderful home in Campanario on this exquisite island.


At a distance, we saw a boat.  Could it be local fisherman?

We’ve determined that it usually takes about a month for us to decide if we’d ever consider returning to a location.  As for ever having the time to return to a location, that in itself is a question for us to consider.  There’s so much world left to see.


The shoreline is exquisite around the island.  We wondered how the residents of the homes on this cliff could possibly get to their houses.  That would be a fun outing to tackle.

We’ve contemplated that, down the road, perhaps we’ll choose four favorite locations and revisit them throughout the year at the same “perfect weather” times of the year, for example; South Africa during their winter months of June, July and August.  We were there during December, January and February when it was a scorcher. 


Another creek under a bridge.

In years to come, in a perfect world, I could easily spend half of the year in Marloth Park, South Africa and the other half here in Madeira.  But, speaking of “half’s,” my “other half” would have to be on board.  At this point, he can’t contemplate such a plan and I totally agree with him when so much excitement awaits us.


Yesterday, on our way to the supermarket, a cloud cover created this amazing view.

It’s not that I’m thinking of slowing down.  By no means!  As the perpetual dreamer and romantic, my mind tends to get ahead of me and I love to plan “way ahead.”  Let’s face it, I’m 66 years old.  Tom is 61.  At some point, we’ll run out of steam.

However, when we were on our first and favorite cruise on the Celebrity Century on our way through the Panama Canal, one night an older couple sitting next to us, joyfully told us their stories of traveling the world, living in Africa, going on safari and seeing much of the world.


As it began to rain, little puffs of clouds dotted the hills. 

We were both in awe as they excitedly told one exciting story after another. They were in their 90’s and still traveling!  At this point, we were on our first foray outside the US at the beginning of our journey together, although both of us had traveled internationally before we met.

We had only a few stories to share with the delightful elderly couple and we encouraged them to go on and on.  With a captive audience, they enjoyed retelling their tales easily recalling details with their each of them with a sharp memory, still intact after all their years.


It’s always interesting to see the homes nestled in the hills as shown here.

They inspired us and continue to do so as our journey continues.  It’s hard to believe that we spoke to that couple in January 2013, a mere 18 months ago.  How we’ve changed!  We’ve learned so much. 



Another view of the valley on our way to the supermarket.

Our learning curve is literally at the “tip of the iceberg” based on the parts of the world we’ve already visited.  There’s so much more to learn.  However, as experienced as we think we are now, it’s nothing compared to where we’ll be in a few years.


Mud running in a creek in Ribeira Brava.

I must admit that this traveling business has been a huge boon for our memory as has the strict diet which, BTW, Tom is finally following with me.  He gave up the sweets, gluten and starch a few days ago on his own, without prodding from me. 

His motivation is more inclined toward his frugal nature…he wants to fit into the clothes he already has and not have to replace everything in larger sizes.


It was cloudy yesterday, but a ray of sunlight reflected in the area to the left center of this photo creating a pretty scene.  Utility lines often obstruct our photos.  With modern conveniences in Madeira, they are impossible to avoid.

Whatever his motivation, I’m happy.  It means we’ll have more time together, he won’t have trouble hauling our bags and the quality of his life will be greatly improved.  I can’t guarantee he’ll do this forever but for now, I’m thrilled.  All I want is for him to be healthy so we can continue this life together for as long as possible.

Maybe we’ll be fortunate with good health to be able to continue our journey well into our 90’s like the couple on the Celebrity Century.  In any case, if we cannot, we’ll strive to find a joyful alternative of staying in one place for longer periods, like six months in Marloth Park???  With Ms. Warthog at our door each morning or Mr. Kudu stopping by the veranda for some pellets?  Heaven on earth.
_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago, June 24, 2013:

This restaurant was located in the town of Benabbio, Tuscany, Italy and was the closest to us, a 30 minute drive on the treacherous roads from our home in Boveglio.  Although, the food was wonderful and the prices fair, neither of us felt safe driving back at night in the dark, especially if Tom had a beer or two with the crazy drivers whipping around the road.  As a result, we seldom dined out while living in the remote mountain village of Boveglio.  We learned a valuable lesson after we left Boveglio…that we shouldn’t live in such remote locations, especially where no spoke English was spoken, adding to our sense of isolation.  Although, once we got into a routine, we ended up enjoying the 75 day stay.  For details of that date, please click here.

Local shopping…only one tunnel…A year ago in Dubai….

This is the gorgeous rose that Gina picked for me from her Mother’s garden.  Her thoughtfulness warmed my heart.

Yesterday morning, anxious to get out for a few minutes, we made our way through a local tunnel to a quaint local grocer.  Saturday morning, a flurry of activity surrounded the store with locals and tourists sipping coffee and eating at the outdoor café.


The local bakery and market are next door to one another, a short distance from our home.

The bakery next door to the grocer was packed with tourists who’d arrived on a small bus, most of which were drooling over one of the most delicious looking bakery displays I’ve ever seen.  Wanting to ogle the myriad forbidden-to-me delights, we opted to hit the grocery store first to avoid the crowd swarming the bakery.


Would that I could. Oh, how we find comfort and pleasure in such treats!  It’s funny that eggs are also sold in this case.

Upon entering the small market, we didn’t expect much.  At first it reminded us of the tiny markets we frequented in Belize with limited options meeting our needs.  The further we entered the store, we realized it was “L” shaped with a reasonably complete produce area and fresh meat counter. 


The smells in the bakery were heavenly as well as the sights!

Always preferring to support local businesses we quickly realized we could easily get many of the items we use in this little market with an occasional trip to the larger supermarket in Ribeira Brava.  Other than bottled water, paper and cleaning supplies (which we provide) prices at the little store were comparable to the supermarket.

All we needed were tomatoes, lettuce and cabbage.   The ripe red tomatoes proved to be the most flavorful we’ve ever had, all locally grown.  The tomatoes we’d purchased in the US were mostly imported from Mexico, pale and flavorless.  These were a rare treat.


The chocolate muffins and those below looked particularly appealing.

Tom grabbed some not-so-healthy snacks for himself (I kept my mouth shut)and shortly we were on our way to check out the bakery, now cleared of the tourists. 

After our “no photos” rules in Morocco, I hesitated when approached the bakery counter tentatively asking if I could take a few photos of the gorgeous confections.  The baker spoke English.  Smiling warmly he inviting me to take all the photos I wanted.  I explained that I was “gluten and sugar free” but, if I hadn’t had these restrictions, I’d have been a good regular customer.



Looks as if the tourists arriving before us partook of these delights.

Over and again, much to my surprise Tom prefers “junk” processed and packaged treats to a chemical free freshly baked confection. He says, “It’s what I’m used to.”

I don’t get that.  I didn’t buy that “junk” in our old lives.  I’d baked all the treats that I packed into his lunch each day or served on his days off.  In later years, he confessed to stopping at the SuperAmerica (food and fuel) to purchase donuts and bismarcks when I wasn’t around, eating them in the car on the way to work. 


Close up of one of the muffins in the above photo.  Yes, I do miss this stuff although my health is a greater priority than my taste buds.

Our family members always called me “the food police.”  Why did I do this?  I only wanted them to life long and healthy lives free of the ravages of a poor diet.  In time, I did lighten up.  But, as our children well know, from time to time, I toss out a stern but loving warning about eating “junk.” 

Gina stopped to visit after picking spinach from the garden located on our property.  She reminded us to take what we’d like.  Her father tends to it, requiring no time from us at all.  We won’t take advantage of this, leaving the bulk of it for his family and of course, offering to pay for anything we take.  In any case, its enjoyable to watch the produce grow over these next months.


Look at the cream filled items on the left.  I couldn’t believe Tom didn’t want any of these as opposed to processed packaged “junk.”

Later in the day, Gina appeared at the door with this beautiful rose she’d plucked from her Mother’s garden.  Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have found yet another kind and generous landlord, overseeing our comfort and pleasure for our entire stay in their properties.

As we sit here now, writing for today, we can hear the Sunday morning mass which is broadcast through loud speakers through the entire village. Perhaps by next weekend, we’ll be able to attend the mass.


Tom got a kick of the names of some of the alcohol offered for sale in the well stocked market.

Later in the day, we’ll hear the loud music blaring from the speakers on the little white vans that drive through the area selling produce and fresh fish caught early in the morning.  Gina suggested we stand in the road when we hear the sound and the driver will stop when he sees us. 

The spinach that Gina plucked out of the garden in our yard.

I can hardly wait to purchase freshly caught fish!  She explained that negotiating was not typical in Madeira and that prices are reasonable avoiding the necessity of haggling, which neither of us enjoys.


This was everything we purchased after a visit to the local market.  I purchase vanilla and baking soda to make a coconut flour flan for me.  Coconut, almond flour and other nut flours are acceptable for my way of eating, only in moderation.

Still recovering we’ll spend another day at home, jumping up every hour or so to enjoy the views, the sights and the sounds of this exquisite island. 
_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago, May 25, 2013:

This photo was from the prior date due to lack of photos on that date.

The tan building toward the right was the building in which we’d rented a unit for the 13 days
we spent in Dubai.  It was beautiful, the unit was located on the 47th floor of a 91 story building and was modern with all possible amenities including a pool.  Dubai was interesting to see but, we’re not city people.   On a few occasions, we put on our swimsuits heading to the pool, only to last a short time due to the extreme heat.  For details of the story we posted on May 25, 2013, please click here.

Part 2…Sightseeing in Marrakech outside the Medina..A baby…

This camel calf is one month old.  Mom looked proud of her offspring, not seeming to mind when we moved around her to take photos.

As we drove through the beautiful Palmeraie area, it was obvious we were in an upscale area, although all the residences had high walls preventing us from seeing anything but the second floors and rooftops.

Tom and I, near the baby and her mom with the herd owner in blue in the background.

The herd owner couldn’t have been more pleased to share his camels with us.  He suggested this photo for which we’d had no intention of asking. Most followers of the Muslim faith refuse to be photographed.

As I’d mentioned yesterday, there were areas along the side of the side of the road, with several herds of camel, every few blocks.  With herd owners were in attendance patiently waiting for customers seeking a camel ride or an opportunity to take photos.

These appear to be of a different breed as opposed to those we’d seen in Kenya. These single humped camels are referred to as Dromedary Camels,  For more information, please click here.

In a way, it was sad to see, the diligent camel owners waiting day after day for customers in a relatively quiet area while having the responsibility of feeding, caring for and housing their camels at night.  Surely, there is a considerable expense in caring for the camels, leaving these owners at the mercy of the inconsistent tourist trade.

The camels are used to being near humans and are known to be gentle and non aggressive.

As we drove through the area, I kept pointing to the camels along the road, desperately wanting to stop and see them.  Samir reminded me to be patient. Shortly down the road, he’d arranged for an owner friend to accommodate us who was awaiting our arrival.

Much to our delight, we got more than we’d expected…a one month old calf that warmed our hearts bringing memories back to all the babies in Marloth Park.


We noticed the “pads” camels are born with to protect their knees and body when laying or kneeling.  We’d noticed this same amazing feature in zebras with the dark spots on the inside of each leg, to protect the body when lying down.

I felt that same calm wash over me that I’d left behind when we said our goodbyes to Marloth Park, that same calming effect that a love of animals can bring when in their presence.  Even Tom, less visibly enthusiastic than I, became engaged in the baby camel, as well as the mature camels as we wandered around their designated area.


They all seemed content as they lounged in the warm sun.  Camels of this variety rarely live in the wild in Morocco, as they tend to live well in herds owned by humans.

The kindly herd owner guided us to the best vantage points for our photos as shown here today.  It was evident that he took great pride in his herd. We let him know how much it meant to us that he willingly shared them with us.  The token tip we gave him was nothing compared to the obvious pleasure he derived from our appreciation of his herd.

A short time later, we were back on the road for our final stop in our sightseeing day concluding at the Menara Gardens and Pavilion.

Tom called me to come see the baby nursing when I was busily taking photos of the other camels.  It was delightful to see this.

For those seeking a quiet long stroll around a manmade pool and a walk through the orchards (not in bloom at this time), this site would be ideal.  The quiet contemplative location held little interest for us during the hour and a half period we had until we were to meet up with Mohamed and Samir.


Even the one month old baby had a rope around him/her to keep from wandering off. With the attention paid by the mother it appeared unlikely the baby would take off.

Many tourists seeking a quiet spot to walk, unwind, meditate and reflect would find this site somewhat appealing.  With both of us as Type A personalities, it fell short of our expectations and we took no photos during this period.


Nursing, up close. 

With one more stop at the pharmacy before heading to the restaurant, we paid Mohamed for driving and they dropped us off at our chosen restaurant for dinner. By 5:00 pm, we entered the quaint restaurant, Amaia, a cozy, highly rated French restaurant in Marrakech, a #8 in TripAdvisor.com where we search for reviews of restaurants, hotels and attractions.


The baby was nuzzling another adult  female.   As we’ve often seen in nature, the dads have little to no presence in the upbringing of the offspring, although this baby’s dad was in this herd.  This may have been an aunt, a grown cousin or a grandmother.

The reviews wouldn’t have been more on target.  We enjoyed a leisurely quiet delicious meal, easily adapted to my dietary restrictions and befitting Tom’s picky taste buds.  The service was impeccable with a lovely French woman speaking perfect English. 

The mom was to the right of the baby while the playful kissing occurred.

To be safe, we didn’t order ice for our drinks or eat any raw vegetables. We’ll definitely put Amaia on our favorites list as we work our way around Marrakech in search of French or other international restaurants.  We grabbed a taxi after dinner, getting a ride back to the entrance to the Medina, to begin the long trek back home through the Big Square and the souks.


Mom is on the right, as the baby plays with the other female adult.

Reading online at TripAdvisor.com we saw that many tourists also, after a few weeks in Morocco, had difficulty continuing to eat the spicy, although tasty, Moroccan food, especially when they originated from a culture of less seasoned foods, such as us.


The baby, a Dromedary Camel, was stretching after playing.  The single hump seems to be growing more quickly than the remainder of the body.

Overall, we had a very good day.  The sun was shining, the temperature was moderate, we took many photos and we had an opportunity to experience Marrakech outside the wall.  It is an amazing city; modern, progressive, clean and filled with culture.  The locals take much pride in their city, its diversity and its history.  And, so far, this has been the best smelling place in the world!

Camel teeth appear to be more pronounced on the lower jaw.

Last night, Madame Zahra made us another spice-free meal that makes my mouth water mentioning it.  Today, we’ll dine out mid-day and tomorrow we’ll dine in, as we seem to have adopted an every other day, eating out and eating in pattern.  In either case, we look forward to another great meal, now that we’ve worked out the kinks.

Tom’s dinner on Monday night at Amaia, a pork chop (first pork we’ve seen in Marrakesh, other than on a bacon cheeseburger Tom ordered a few weeks ago) and a serving of “chips” as French fries are called in Africa.

Fresh flowers at our table at Amaia.

My dinner at Amaia, a chicken and vegetable stir fry, without soy sauce which contains wheat, unless its the special gluten free variety.  The meal was wonderful.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our story of the “trials and tribulations” of taking prescription medication while traveling the world. 

The first beer Tom drank since arriving in Morocco almost four weeks ago.  He said the brand, Casablanca, was good enough to order a second. Cocktails and beer are expensive in Morocco.  This local beer was priced at US $5.55, MAD $45. 

I don’t drink alcohol due to my way of eating. Instead, I savored these pretty flowers.

Thanks to all of our readers worldwide for sharing our ongoing tales and photos of two seniors traveling the world, doing it “our way,” learning as we go.
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2013:

There’s my guy, on the beach outside of our previous home n Belize, one year ago to the date.  We had a glorious time in Belize once we moved out of the less than desirable  first house after one week to this fabulous location.  For the post from that date, please click here.

No Super Bowl Sunday here…”Home is where the heart is”…Pricing for Khaya Umdani…The Safari Room…New wildlife photos…

Louise suggested we put out some yogurt at night for the nocturnal bush babies. We placed a small bowl in a hanging wood birdhouse close to a tree. Unfortunately, we were distracted yesterday morning and forgot to remove the little plastic bowl of yogurt. Going inside to get beverages, we returned to find these Vervet Monkeys with the little bowl in hand, lapping up the yogurt. Tom scared them off (they can be destructive) and they dropped the bowl, running off.

Never much of a football fan myself and Tom being a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan with no interest in other teams, other than the unlikely prospect of the Vikings beating a team in a game, missing another Super Bowl didn’t have much effect on us.

It’s tricky taking photos of Vervet Monkeys.  They never sit still for a second. After Tom chased them the veranda, the hung around the braai area, without a concern.

However, we did discuss the time difference as to when the game would begin (it was 1:30 am this morning here in South Africa) and we wondered who won until Tom discovered the winner by opening Facebook first thing this morning and seeing the score this morning in an email from his brother Jerome.

This Vervet Monkey was trying to figure out how to lap up a few drops of the yogurt on the stones that the other had spilled carrying the bowl.

Although, we did think of our friends and family gathering together for the game, as we had done at times in the past with me making a football-shaped and decorated cake, along with a smaller football-shaped cheese ball with all the other nasty snacks we used to enjoy. How times have changed for us!

The moms are exceedingly protective of their babies making it difficult to get close enough for a clearer shot.

Nostalgic?  Perhaps, a bit, mostly over missing the “people” not the game or the food. But, this morning, when we threw open the entire glass wall of doors to the veranda at Khaya Umdani, we knew we were “home.” You know, “the place where the heart is.” 

And that place is the “home” that Tom and I had made for ourselves wherever we may be at any given moment. Isn’t that what “home” is, the place you gravitate back to at the end of the day, or after an outing to find the familiar comforts that embrace you the moment that you walk in the door?

For now, it is luxurious Khaya Umdani. In a few days, it will be back at Hornbill, the smaller house, where perhaps our warthog families are awaiting us, standing in the driveway at full attention with ears flicking back and forth when I speak in my high pitched voice in greeting. Even here, only four short days later, several moms already respond when I say, “Good morning, Ms. Warthog. Good morning baby warthogs.”

An outdoor adventure can be had in the Safari room on the second level of Khaya Umdani.

As for the rates on Khaya Umdani,* which we’d mentioned yesterday, that we’d post today, here they are:

December/January (per night)
(01 Dec ’14 – 31 Jan ’15)
ZAR 5000  US $469.58  EU$344.14
All other periods ZAR  4000    US $376.66    EU $275.31

*Rates are subject to change and may vary based on the size of the group. Imagine how reasonable this would be for two families sharing this fabulous house as compared to each family tightly packed into two small rooms in a resort hotel? 

The Safari room is completely screened for an open-air experience, enjoyed by young and old alike.The sounds of the night are enchanting in this “sleeping outdoors” experience.

Restaurant prices are usually no more than US $25, ZAR $266.20 per couple, including cocktails, at the finest of establishments in the area. Groceries are usually 40% less than we’ve seen in other large cities. The most tender delicious filet mignon is usually no more than US $3.91, ZAR $41.67 per serving. 

Can you imagine how exciting this room would be for kids, especially, preteens and teenagers?

Although airfare from some countries is high and the time to travel is long, the experience is priceless; friendly people, wildlife in the yard, Kruger National Park a short distance for some of the most amazing safari experiences in the world and the unreal experience of the Bush Braai and Game Drive, hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we’ll always treasure.

Yes, the posts of the past few days may have been a huge ad for this house and this area. And yes, we share these details on behalf of our wonderful hosts, Louise and Danie. But, folks, we’re experiencing the most unbelievable adventure of our lives. For nature lovers, nothing compares. 

The moms often look at me intently when I talk in my high pitched voice. They’re asking for pellets. I comply. No longer will I toss pellets near this small fence after yesterday’s incident when the baby crawled inside the fence and the mom went after it, almost knocking it over. Tom scared them off before the fence broke. (See yesterday’s post with photo).

When we’ll be in Hawaii beginning in eight months, we’ll spend most of our days whale watching and hopefully, we’ll swim with the dolphins. Maybe, sometime in the future, we’ll watch for moose in Alaska, crocodiles, and anacondas on the Amazon River or tigers in India. With continued good health, we hope to continue on and on.

Impalas, in this case, a male with the antlers, are rather shy. Their gentle nature and gracefulness make them a joy to watch, especially when they leap through the air.

But, being here, living in Africa and now in Marloth Park, which is at times hard and challenging, has been the best experience of our lives, one that has changed us forever and that we will carry into our hearts wherever we may be.

We often hear “people,” ask, that on one’s deathbed, what will they wish they had done differently? The answer will never be, “I wished I had worked harder,” nor “I wish I’d had more “stuff.” It will always be about “love” and “experience” of which, if it were all to end now, we can emphatically state, “We’ve had it all.”

For this, we are humbled. For this, we are grateful. We carry on…

 

OMG!…I dropped my laptop and broke it!!…What now?…Plus, a funny video!…Photos from the river at dusk…

Sunset at dinner on the Crocodile River. Notice the Crocodile swimming across the river in the lower left. We watched for a considerable time, hoping he’d exit the river. Instead, he languished in the water, eyes revealed while waiting for his dinner.

Wednesday afternoon, while carrying my laptop from the first floor to the second-floor loft which we use as a living room on hot days, (it has AC), for no reason at all, the laptop fell from my hands dropping onto the stone floor.

This lower-right corner of my laptop broke when I dropped it, disabling the touchscreen feature. There are numerous hairline cracks throughout the remainder of the screen.

Horrified, I bent down to pick it up, as shards of glass skittered about the floor. Oh, oh. I felt sick to my stomach as it set it down to see how severe the damage and if it would still work.

The sky over the Crocodile River manages to be more beautiful than many other areas.

Immediately turning it on, I was amazed to find it working. The damage was to the touchscreen which no longer works and there are cracks across the screen affecting the viewing of the screen. It was clear that I’d need a replacement.

As the night fell, with the distance across the crocodile, it was tough to get clear shots. This was the first time we’d seen more than one waterbuck at a time.

Tom and I have each had our own computers since 1992, when we decided that sharing was not an option when we both enjoyed being online simultaneously, frequently talking, laughing, and sharing tidbits of information we gleaned in the process. 

Sorry for the blur. These photos were taken from a vast distance near dark.

Now, 22 years later, we are online at about the same time, ensuring neither of us is ever annoyed when the other is spending extended periods online. Currently spending a half a day, each day, writing here and posting photos, and, later working on photos for the next day, there’s absolutely no way we would or could share.

Luckily, this funny video intended to offset some of my angst over dropping my laptop on the stone floor, breaking the touchscreen monitor. 
Wednesday, when my 14-month-old Acer Windows 8, 15.6″ Touchscreen laptop hit the floor, the thought of having to share with Tom in order to continue writing our story, was the first thought in my mind. 

If it was completely destroyed, all of my files were backed up to the free cloud, Dropbox, leaving me with no worries about losing the 1000’s of photos and documents relative to our travels and financial matters.

View from the veranda of the Serene Oasis Restaurant as we watched the Crocodile cross the river from the Marloth Park side to the Kruger National Park side.

For Tom, as a part-time researcher and proofreader for our site, having to share his computer would result in our world becoming upside down until we could figure out a replacement. Looking online I panicked when a comparable replacement with fast international shipping would be well over US $1000, ZAR $10,921. 

A waterbuck and white bird hanging out on the river bank.

Our laptops serve as not only a source of writing about our world travels, but also as a means of staying in touch with family and friends, banking, financial matters, tracking our expenses, and current and future planning.  Plus, without watching TV, it’s a significant source of entertainment when we’re not out and about.

When one only cooks dinner four times per week, has the house cleaned by others twice a week, has all the laundry washed, dried, and folded by others twice a week, one must have a source of distraction for several hours each day rather than staring into space. These services were all included in our rental.

A pair of waterbucks, posing from afar.

Our primary source of entertainment each day since arriving in Marloth Park on December 1st has been the glorious experience of sitting outside on the veranda, waiting for wildlife to visit. Although much of our time is spent scanning the bush, we still have ample hours to peruse online while we wait.

Yes, we do go out no less than three or four days/nights each week, loving every moment. We all have some downtime to fill. Perhaps for us, with no household chores to tackle, no lawn to mow, no garden to weed, no snow to shovel, we have more free time than most. I’m not complaining. We love it!

Five waterbucks walked across this shallow area of the Crocodile River to visit this island.

We discovered that purchasing a comparable laptop online, presented its own share of issues: international shipping and customs fees, add as much as 25% to the price. Also, a mailed computer could easily get stuck in customs upon entering South Africa, never arriving before we leave in five weeks.

If anything were to go wrong with the replacement, dealing with it from afar would be cumbersome when Skype is our only means of making phone calls. 

After all this time, I still haven’t had the broken screen on my smartphone repaired after I dropped it on the cement by the pool in Belize last March. With the inconvenience of arranging for service from outside the US, it wasn’t worth the trouble. Yeah, I know. I’m clumsy, breaking both a phone and a laptop in one 12 month period.  Tom says I’m “a bull in a China shop.”

Finally, darkness fell and we went indoors for dinner.

Bless his heart, Tom didn’t say a negative word.He knew I was torturing myself enough for both of us.He offered to swap laptops with me, but I refused. Why should he have to deal with this? 

We contacted Louise, our lovely property manager, asking if there was a nearby computer store. Alas, we were in luck. She told us that there was a quality store in Komatipoort and to ask for her friend Jorge. We were heading there for groceries anyway, so this was perfect. 

Off we went at noon with Okee Dokee. She knew exactly where the computer store was located, tucked away down a long alley in the back of other stores. If we’d still had a rental car, we’d have had a heck of a time finding it.

Meeting with Jorge, I explained all the specs I wanted, basically a newer model replacement of my touchscreen computer which sells online in the US for around US $700, ZAR $7705.39. Jorge, a very kind man, said he’d call or text later in the day when he got a quote for the replacement.

A few hours later, Jorge sent a text with the price for the replacement, which proved to be twice our original cost, twice the current price online in the US. His price was US $1350, ZAR $14,860, all-inclusive. I flinched.  Yes, this would avoid shipping and some customs fees. And, we may have considered it, if it had been any other brand name than offered, not worthy of a bashing mention here.

Later, back at home, I decided to make a serious assessment to determine if I could live with the damaged computer. Last night, we watched a movie after returning home from dinner. After a while, we got used to the cracks in the center of the screen.

I can still use the computer using keystrokes to maneuver, as opposed to the ease of using the former touchscreen. I can get past the cracks and the continuous dropping of small shards of glass. I can make it work until we get to Boston in less than eight months where we’ll make a new purchase if it holds up until then.

At least it wasn’t a snake bite. Or, a centipede sting! In the realm of things, having to pay for a replacement laptop is merely an annoyance and unexpected expense. By the time we get to Boston, our laptops will be two years old anyway and we both may be due for a replacement. 

We’ve been very blessed in our travels these past 15 months. Who’s to complain? Not I!

 

A first boat ride in South Africa…A natural wonder in this lush country…A winning combination…

 

The day was cloudy, the air thick was thick with a mist and low clouds obstructed our views of the mountain tops at times. However, we found the Blyde River Canyon breathtaking for the two full hours we spent on a pontoon with 20 other tourists.

Upon arriving at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge, one of the most beautiful resorts we’ve yet to see, we asked our hostess Portia what activities she’d suggest.  Once we decided, she made all the arrangements for us.

Tom was thrilled to once again be back on the water after over seven months since our last cruise.

 

I was hoping the sun would peek out to improve the quality of our photos.  But, we still had a great time exploring the Blyde River Canyon.

On Thursday morning we decided on a boat tour on the Blyde River although it was a very cool, cloudy, and hazy day. We’d hoped that we’d have a sunny day in order to see God’s Window, scenery that definitely requires a clear day.

The lush greenery coupled with the sandstone walls created a beautiful backdrop in the canyon.

The cost of the boat trip was surprisingly low at ZAR $240, US $22.54 for both of us for the two-hour excursion.  Did we get our money’s worth on this outing? A definite, YES!

The colors were a feast for the eyes, not clearly depicted in our photos on this hazy day.

A short distance from the lodge we entered the Blyde River Reserve easily finding our way to the boat, a pontoon in good repair with plastic molded chairs with seating for 20. The boat tour lasted two hours.

Not a recreational boating area, the only docks we saw were the few allocated for the tours.

Our guide and boat driver’s knowledge of the area was a result of eight years experience, resulting in never a dull moment.

We could only imagine how it would look on a bright sunny day.  The eerie appearance of the low clouds presented it own unique beauty.

The Blyde River Canyon is best described here in this excellent quote from Wikipedia:

“The Blyde River Canyon is a significant natural feature of South Africa, located in Mpumalanga, and forming the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 25 kilometers (16 mi) in length and is, on average, around 750 meters (2,461 ft) deep. The Blyderivierpoort Dam, when full, is at an altitude of 665 meters (2,182 ft).

Human and animal remains were found in this deep cave when explored years ago.

The Canyon consists mostly of red sandstone. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1,944 meters (6,378 ft) above sea level, whilst it’s lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 meters (1,841 ft) above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is 1,383 meters (4,537 ft) deep.

A series of waterfalls lined the walls in certain areas. This dead tree caught my eye.

While it is difficult to compare canyons worldwide, Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons on Earth, and it may be the largest ‘green canyon’ due to its lush subtropical foliage. It has some of the deepest precipitous cliffs of any canyon on the planet. It is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, and is known as one of the great wonders of nature on the continent.

The beauty of Blyde River Canyon continues on and on regardless of how far we traveled.
Possibly the best view in the whole of the Blyde River Canyon is of the “Three Rondavels“, huge, round rocks, thought to be reminiscent of the houses or huts of the indigenous people, known as rondavels. This canyon is part of the Panorama route. This route starts at the town Graskop and includes God’s Window, the Pinnacle, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.”

 

More colorful canyon walls.

On Friday, we took the entire day to tour the above-mentioned Panorama Route which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post with photos that may be in our file of “favorite photos” since beginning our worldwide travels.

Although we saw little wildlife along the canyon, occasionally we spotted interesting birds. A couple we met in Marloth Park shortly after we arrived, Lynne and Mick, have kindly informed us that this is an African Finfoot, a relatively rare bird.  As extremely knowledgeable bird enthusiasts they were excited for us in seeing this bird.

At the end of the boat tour, while waiting to use to “outhouse” near the dock, we ran into an American couple, only the second Americans we’ve met since arriving in South Africa. 

As our boat tour came to an end, we were grateful for the experience, clouds and all.

Not that meeting other Americans is a priority to us. It’s just curious to us how few American we’ve encountered since arriving in Africa over four and a half months ago. 

On the return drive to the lodge, we got a peek of the Blyde River dam when we were unable to find a viewing area.

With the people of South Africa speaking both Afrikaans and English (and many speaking Zulu), it’s been easy to make friends and communicate our needs and wants when out and about. In Kenya, the languages spoken were Swahili and English, an easy process for us single language speaking people. How we wish we’d learned other languages as children! 

Once we returned to the Blyde River Canyon Lodge, we took this photo from the stunning grounds.  Soon we’ll share photos of the lodge.

At the end of the boat ride, we made our way back to the lodge until our next activity a few hours later, which we shared in yesterday’s post, the tour of the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. (Please scroll down to see the details of that rewarding experience).

Please stop back tomorrow for some of our favorite photos, taken Friday while on the scenic Panorama Route which includes many of the above-mentioned sights.