'Round the World with David and Ron
The Boys are Abroad!
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12/23/07
Ron in Istanbul or Constantinople or perhaps Byzantium
Filed under: Turkey
Posted by: @ 8:07 pm

Merry Christmas!!!


So I’m a month late with this entry. I guess that’s only two weeks later than usual, but this time I’m home. Oh what a joy it is to be home: My dogs and cats, my job and routine. The routine maybe the thing I missed the most. This might be a function of age. When I traveled in my 20’s (I spent 14 weeks traveling around the Mediterranean) I didn’t have to plan much or call home to see how things were. It all seemed so carefree. Not now…

Istanbul was our brick wall. We had been traveling for so long and seen and done so much that we couldn’t absorb much more. It was cold and rainy and I can hear you saying, “They should have felt right at home…” If we went in the spring or summer and saw more of the country our experience would be much different. Despite all that, we had a good time and saw some sites.


Tom Hitt joined us in Turkey, a face from home greeted us on our arrival.


We stayed in a comfortable hotel near the college where the conference was held. It was right on the Golden Horn, a large river that feeds into the Bosporus.


Our room was the middle balcony. They didn’t speak much English, but were mostly accommodating and it was a safe place to come home to after a long day.
It was about 1/2 mile walk to the conference. Here are some of the things we saw:


The road has been built up over the years and this building has managed to remain despite slowing disappearing.


These women were just there one day, the one in black is praying and the older women is taking a break.


This wise face was too good to pass up.
The Bacilica Cistern is located across from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.


It was my favorite cool thing that I saw while there. Over 2 acres large with 336 columns.


This Medusa head is at the bottom of one of the columns.


Many of the capital, columns and stonework were scavenged from prior centuries temples and architechture.

We took a ferry from the Golden Horn to the Black Sea.


This is as we left. It takes about two hours one way with a three hour layover. This is the Black Sea.


This was one of the first forts built by the Ottoman’s before they defeated the Romans.


The Bosporus was filled with jellyfish. More than I’ve ever seen. I think they are an indicator of increasing pollution.

We got a chance to attend on opening at the Archaeological Museum of Turkey.


This is the Alexander Sarcophagus. It’s from for 4th century BC. It is suprisingly intact for how old and detailed it is…


This is one of the minarets at Hagia Sophia. I took this on the way to the museum.

This is a crowd scene in Taksim: The heart of modern Istanbul.


This was taken in the Topkapi Palace. The home of the Sultan’s prior to the 1800’s


And finally the spice market. We loved the spice market. It was an easy walk from the hotel and had endless things to see and buy.

comments (0)
Turkey
Filed under: Turkey
Posted by: @ 7:15 pm

Dear Turkey,

I hate to tell you this but you smoke too much. Now I have been known to enjoy a fag now and then myself, but this is crazy. You smoke everywhere and it’s not just cigarettes. There are those venders roasting chestnuts and corn on the cob on the street corners… I have to tell you that I decided to see what corn roasted over an open flame tasted like and I think it is a mean thing to do to a piece of corn. It tasted something like leather mixed with those old maids at the bottom of a bowl of popcorn. I think you could just let that bit of cuisine go… there I have helped already, but back to the tobacco products. Do you really need to smoke in the grocery stores? I know that I come from a whiney neck of the woods with a government that is always trying to save us from ourselves. Yes, we go too far sometimes but you smoke in Starbucks! I’m just saying that you might consider creating a few safe zones for those who don’t wish to be part of the smoke-in. The smokers grumble in other parts of the world that have adopted no-smoke-zones but it seems like we get used to it and then come here and can’t believe that we used to smoke in peoples homes who did not smoke themselves. With all that America has to be embarrassed about right now, perhaps I should hold my tongue but Turkey you stink…

Istanbul has been an interesting place, very old and located on a lovely piece of water-riddled real estate.

I have had work to do here so I taught a class and gave a lecture and now that is done and I am glad. We did have a few opportunities to see some of the major sites and there are some worth looking at.


(Spice Market-better of the two large markets)


(Blue Mosque as seen from Hagia Sofia.)

Istanbul is an ancient city that has had a tumultuous history that it seems to be somewhat indifferent towards. I love to see the history of a place and try to imagine how it was when old was new. I want to look at the old but my impression is that current Istanbul is more interested in showing the new. There are a lot of old pieces of this place that are in need of a good fix up and some neighborhoods that have great potential and a high quaint quotient but I guess no one really likes to be quaint, so much of what I was interested in is about to fall over. It seems like this place has not yet reached consensus as to what it wants to be but it has enormous potential and I hope to keep an eye on it.

David

comments (0)
12/04/07
Kenya - Ron cleans up
Filed under: Africa
Posted by: @ 12:17 am

Hey there,

I’m in the Schiphol Airport in Holland waiting to fly home…I’m flying business class (Yippee! so I get to use the special lounge and have little sandwiches and free drinks, I had a bloody Mary, yummy.)

Like David said, too many countries in too little time. I’m not sure I’d change anything though. Next time I think we’ll try just one locale (or at the least one country) and then day trips. It’s been a bit of a grind, packing up and moving everyday. Especially when changing languages, cultures, and driving etiquette.

Kenya was astonishing. The time that we spent with Kakuta and his family will be by far the most memorable portion of this trip. The Maasai are a people whose way of life (except for everyone having cell phones) has changed little in generations(okay, it’s probably changing faster than they’d like.) Staying with them was a little unbelievable. Then add the trip to Amboseli National Park and all the wildlife…over the top. You can see why we were on overload once we hit Istanbul. It’s like our life just went “tilt.” (for you who haven’t a clue to that cultural reference, it’s as if someone hit the pinball machine too hard and the whole system comes to a halt…at least temporarily.)

So here are the pics. (I need to thank Rob, my roommate for turning me onto this camera. It’s a Canon 710A IS. It’s been great. I’ve dropped it a few times and it has a dent on the top. We stopped at a camera shop in South Africa to borrow a small screw driver set to put the case back together after a particularly spectacular fall…off the tips of the fingers quarter back fumble fall…)

We arrived in Nairobi a bit weary after South Africa. We had been on the move everyday; we were thinking maybe we can just relax in Nairobi. Well this is a city with a similar reputation to Johannesburg: In your face with crime, poverty, and all the harsh realities of a major metropolitan African city. Its other name, according to the travel book, is Nairobbery. We didn’t have any problems with crime while we were there, but we had been forewarned so were cautious. Needless to say, we didn’t get to relax much in Nairobi.

Given all the pics I’ve taken (about 2300,) I don’t have that many from here.

The Maasai market was jam packed with everyone wanting once again to be our best friend, “we are like brothers!”


This woman caught my eye and I had to get a picture: she sounded british, inappropriately dressed for an outdoor market, in fake Zebra print and fake designer bag. (the Maasai woman in the foreground was not happy about my taking her picture, she wanted me to pay, but I didn’t even know she was in the pic…I walked away when she didn’t understand I wasn’t taking her picture…I guess I was.)

These shady characters

found us in the local fish market

and convinced us to follow them across town to a place they were selling older beaded, carved, and traditional work. We almost turned around a number of times because they looked somewhat nefarious. But in the end we saw some really good and unique work. It all was too much to take in and the process to purchase just a few items was convoluted as well. You don’t want to be carrying hundreds of dollars worth of Kenyan Shillings on you. It took multiple trips to the ATM and half the time the ATMs would refuse our card…again the things we normally take for granted.

The last image we have from Nairobi (I took this as we were leaving for Maasai land, he was seated outside a grocery store.)

David has already described our trip to Simba Camp. I’ve never been on roads quite like that before. I was amazed that the van stayed together. A few pics from Simba Camp

(We are standing on a mound of decaying mud and cow dung bricks that were never fired.)


We took a walk with the warriors to a slight rise that got us above all the surrounding area and gave us the vista to really appreciate the sunset. On this trip we encountered the thorns of the Acacia: it has an evolutionary edge over all the other plants. Those thorns are sharp and some varieties don’t let go.

The next day was our trip to Amboseli.
This park is known for it’s large African Elephants. And there are lots of them.


(notice the unique way the mother carries the infant elephant?)


Yellow Baboon.


Malibu Stork: Ugly Bird and not afraid of me! Look at that beak.


These are unattached bachelor water buffalo. They reminded me of Tom, David and myself: Getting older and cantankerous. Water Buffalo kill more tourists every year than any other animal in Africa.

One of the things I really wanted to see on this trip was Mount Kilimanjaro “rising like an empress above the Serengeti….”

Okay

Does anyone get that reference? (Send me a response if you do. Miwako knew the reference and I’ve had the lyric wrong for 20 years…it rises like Olympus not an empress…she’ll always be the empress for me…)

When we arrived on the first day to Simba Camp, the empress was covered in clouds and the weather forecast didn’t look very good. Next day we got up at 5am to be on the road and have a better chance of seeing some of the larger carnivore that hide out during the middle of the day. Again the mountain was shrouded. So we kept teasing Kakuta to make the mountain appear. And as if by magic or by our teasing, it happened. She revealed herself in all her majesty.

This was one highlight, among so many.
This is the Vervet Monkey…


This little guy was a pest.

The monkey’s in Maasailand are not revered or thought highly of as in Ubud, Bali. While David was beading at the midday rest, this Vervet decided to abscond with his beading wax and climb up on the roof to eat it…Apparently it didn’t taste so go, so he threw it back. Later he tried to take David’s beads but David was ready and scared the little mischief-maker off. They have been fed by tourist so now think it’s their right to demand the sugar or left over orange juice. Apparently they aren’t nice about it…they usually bite first and ask questions later


(This is Joseph, not his given name, who took us on a bird walk. I think we saw more than a hundred different species in two hours. This is he and I with an elephant femur.)

This was one of the last images from our safari.

A lone Flat Top Acacia Tree towering over the savannah expanse. Having seen it on TV and in books doesn’t do it justice. It was just one more image to cap off our experience. After awhile the adjectives just go lacking. It was all overwhelming and somehow unbelievable.

Next day we had until about noon to visit with Kakuta’s family and give David a chance to meet with the Maasai women/beaders.


David and the women


Cattle give the Maasai their wealth and identity.


Kakuta with his mother in her home.


Kakuta’s second mother.


Lastly a child from the village.

We had an quite a visit with Kakuta and his family. I think that both David and I would like to go back and help out. We have many more stories of our very short time there but I’ve gone on and on and on about such a short time.

The trip back to Nairobi was much like the trip out except with less dust and more mud. We went from the van to the airport and on to Zurich and Istanbul…

more to come.

ron

2 comments
12/01/07
Kenya - Maasai Village Stay
Filed under: Africa
Posted by: @ 4:07 am

Oh my have we had an experience…Here is a brief version.

Flew into Nairobi, stayed for four days, three hotels, went to markets and bought lots of stuff.

Got picked up by a Van and was transported south-ish 150-km in a mini van with 14 other people… this is public transportation. The road was “under construction” which meant that this three hour journey was something akin to hitching a ride on a paint shaker or driving your car around with square tires (made out of stone).

Transferred in a small village (called Emali) to a van owned by the Maasai… had another hour journey under slightly less favorable conditions. Arrived at the Maasai village looking like I had stage make-up on (DUST). Got out of the van and stepped into a copy of National Geographic.

Very traditional village which started a visiting program in the past year or two and has been rated by National Geographic as one of the 50 best places on earth to visit. There have only been about thirty visitors so far. Hung out with Maasai warriors, and villagers who were bedecked with beads from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet and even into there extended earlobes.

They were kind, funny, generous and good to us.

Next day went on a safari; saw more animals than I can begin to tell you. Not animals in a cage but cheetahs hunting in the savanna

and a pride of eight lions

and hyenas

and giraffes

and hippos

and then we saw more animals and then we saw them again. I probably saw 100 different varieties of birds in every imaginable color. Got home, had tea, bat landed in Ron’s tea, he screamed like a sissy and threw tea (did not hit any of the warriors).

Next day had to move on so we headed out on the paint shaker roads again except now it was raining so we took a team of Maasai warriors with us. It was still like a paint shaker experience except this time it was like we were inside a can of reddish brown paint.

We got stuck from time to time but our new friends would kind of hoop and jump out of the van and move us out of whatever sludge pit we had gotten ourselves into. I was a bit worried but they all seemed to think it was funny so it was hard not to get caught up in the camaraderie… I love those guys. Wouldn’t it be grand to have a team of Warriors always at your side just in case you got in a jam?

Today finds me in the Zurich airport waiting for Istanbul…

David

3 comments
Kenyan Haircut - Nairobi
Filed under: Africa
Posted by: @ 3:21 am

Ok, so I was in Nairobi Kenya the other day and I need a haircut so I am out and about and I see this place that seems to specialize in that so I go in there. Once I was in there I felt obliged to follow through but I may have been the only pink face to have darkened that door ever and I don’t thing they had ever seen hair like mine on there floor. They ended up doing a good job and couldn’t have been nicer but I think the poor guy guy was kind of nervous about it and I think he cut it about three times trying to get it short enough to cover a miscalculation. I have never had a haircut that did not involve scissors… all clippers.


(David with his clipper cut at the Maasai market in Nairobi)

comments (0)
11/29/07
…I’m coming home…
Filed under: Home again Home again riga jig jig...
Posted by: @ 2:20 am

Ok, it has all been grand, really grand. I have learned and grown and been enlightened and have treated myself to a feast of visual treats, but folks, I am ready to come home. I am tired of my jaw dropping and my eyes popping. I have repeatedly had my breath taken away and I want it back.

Here are some of the things I miss.

-My dogs.
-My people.
-Coffee as I know it.
-Drinking my morning beverage out of a mug that you can put both hands on.
-Newspapers.
-Dogs that have people, food dishes, collars and shots and cats that have heaters to curl up next to.
-Routine.
-Traffic laws that are not ornamental.
-My studio.
-Smoking etiquette
-Choices like small, medium, large, or biggie!
-Asian or Italian tonight.
-Driving on the right side.
-Being able to read labels and street signs.
-A full compliment of outfits and accessories.
-Conversations that don’t involve pantomime.
-My dogs.
-Consistency in things like which side is hot and which is cold and does the pepper come out of the one with smaller holes of is that the salt this time?
-Sensibilities that acknowledge that products like Tang and Nescafe are not the same as Orange juice and Coffee.
-Icy beverages.
-Potable water.
-Knowing what kind of toilet is going to be in the public facility.
-Predictability, as in, I am going to the store and I am going to buy milk and I am going to know how the money works and I am going to be able to speak with the people at the store. I will enjoy being able to accomplish this kind of thing without being transported into an unintended adventure or inadvertently inviting a lesson in “its not such a small world after all”.
-And finally, my Dogs.

I will be stateside soon, very soon.

David

4 comments
11/26/07
South Africa: ron speaks
Filed under: Africa
Posted by: @ 3:50 pm

South Africa, part 2

We experienced so much in South Africa. It is so much bigger than I thought. When I planned this trip and then suggested we drive from Jberg to Cape Town by way of Durbin, I was thinking about a three-day journey with lots of time to explore. It took us five days, a car accident, and a good many miles on the odometer. To do it again…who can say. So like I’ve done in other blogs, I picked the images that are cool and let that narrate the rest of the blog.


Johannesburg has a reputation that doesn’t lend itself to tourists strolling the streets of downtown. There was the recent car jacking death of reggae legend Lucky Dube, it is the home of a good portion of Africa’s mercenary activity, and the razor wire/ten foot wall/electric fence aesthetic all working to give the place a really bad name.

We left Joberg without really seeing it. David’s tummy and recovery from India to blame. We contemplated going to Krueger Nat’l Park and then to Cape Town but decided instead on seeing the Drakensburg region and the south coast.


(I’m not sure I’d be able to get my animals to hold still while I tied them up. But if you look closely, you’ll see there is no room in the back for them…)


It was easy to drive there even if it’s on the wrong side of the road. By that time I has been driven on the right in Australia, Singapore, Bali and India and rented a car to drive all over New Zealand. We got pretty good at the wrong side driving, if not for the roads…
Here’s what happened:
We were on this stretch of Highway in the middle of nowhere. All you see is Acacia scrub with these wicked long thorns, sky and sun.

The roads are in mediocre condition but this stretch pictured above had a nasty shoulder with a six-inch drop in places. Across from where we landed where three crosses where someone else wasn’t as fortunate. The roadsides were littered with auto parts from lots of prior accidents. Not a nice part of the highway. So David is driving and veers off the road (as ya do), we think the tires blew trying to get back onto the road, he lost control of the steering and ended up driving on the embankment for a while thru said acacia and then we hit a ditch barely missing the huge rock! Neither the front nor the side airbags went off, despite the fact that the car ended up on it’s side with David crumpled up on his door which is now the floor…

Thankfully we were both okay, shook but alright. The police were there within 10 minutes and then stayed with us in the blazing African Sun until the rental car company finally showed up three hours after they said they would. We stood out in that sun for 3 1/2 hours; we were cooked lobsters by the time they showed. Thankfully we had a bottle of water that survived the crash. But it only gets better, the rental car place that brought us this new car towed it the wrong direction and screwed up the transmission. So we had a nice new car that didn’t move. At least we were able to get out of the sun and into air-conditioning. We spent a 6 hours waiting to be back on the road. oh well, at least we were in one piece.

As it turns out, we were only ten minutes from a great little diner, where we got some great “Mom” energy. Thea Swart (pictured with her husband Hendrik) gave us some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten and then told us all the cool places we needed to see between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Thanks for all the TLC!


Here are some of the Highlights from our trip to Cape Town:


Kidd’s Beach in the early morning before breakfast. One of our great beach walks.


This is the Stormriver Gorge. Vertigo and way cool. We spent the night at Stormriver and got up early the next morning and when for a 7Km hike on boulders to a falls at the Tsitsikamma Nat’l Park.


hiking on the boulders. We were sore the next day. Notice the orange on orange?


This is a rock dassie or Hyrax. The dassie is the African elephant’s closest living relative, in spite of the size difference. This close evolutionary relationship is deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth.


Big grasshopper huh?


This is at the end of Africa. Cape Agulhas is the southern most point in Africa. There’s a sign that says one side Indian Ocean and the other side Atlantic Ocean…both look the same…


again we miscalculated to vastness of the country. Many hours diving through country like this.

Finally we got to Cape Town: a great city and we had the best tour guides while there.


Christel and her girlfriend Corne were great to us, taking us all over and entertaining and feeding us. They even let us get our dog fix.


This is choppie. He’s great and we fell in love.

Cape Town is an amazing city that I’m sure we’ll visit again. Table Mountain is a treasure and eye popping experience not to be missed!


We also saw some amazing coastline and natural sites while in Cape Town:


The African Penguin


A basking whale


We were sad to say goodbye to Cape Town but Kenya was calling us…

2 comments
11/20/07
South Africa: Joberg to Port Elizabeth
Filed under: Africa
Posted by: @ 9:46 am

South Africa, part 1
As we learned in my last entry, Johannesburg was a great comfort to me but I can’t tell you as much about the city as I can tell you about the plumbing in the place we stayed. One of the most enduring images I have is of neighborhoods of nice homes surrounded by big fences which were topped with razor wire . It looks like a fine place to live as long as you don’t mind living behind a gate. Our gate opener wouldn’t work one day and so we couldn’t leave. It was a little strange and it makes me wonder if this is the direction our world is going in. The further away you get from the city the less you see of people living in compound arrangements but high fences with razor wire is an aesthetic that South Africa seems to have grown accustomed to. I hope they get it all worked out, but the “apart” portion of “apartheid” still seems to have a place here.

Once we left Jberg, we were treated to some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen, and I have seen my portion.

It is always hard to imagine the largeness of a place until you go there and see great distances.

We were full of awe as we traveled through the Drakensberg Region.

Mountains and valleys surrounded by more mountains and valleys.

There are not that many places where one can see so much at once.

The closer we got to the shore the more population increased. We saw some communities that I had no reference for. They were kind of shantytowns but not really (OK, so some were “really”).

I know there are problems here with AIDS, and violence and poverty but everywhere I look I see proud people working. It bodes well for the future. This seems like such a rich country, I hope there comes a day when the dreams of men like Nelson Mandela can blossom into reality. SA, I am rooting for you!

If I had to summarize my impression of this continent in one word, I think it would be, vast. It is vast in terms of space; it has large expanses of landscapes that would rival anything you might find in Montana or Wyoming. It is also vast in terms of the many different ways that people experience life here. I tried to talk with our friends Christel, who lives in Cape Town part time (and Madagascar the other) and Corne about what kind of political climate has created this place. I know only what I have heard from the American Press and they only talk about it when they don’t have a good Anna Nicole Smith scandal to cover. It is terribly complex and though there has been progress, there are problems that make American politics seem like Romper Room. It is too big for me to get my head around but I hope for a day when everyone is able to partake in the abundance that seems to exist here and that people don’t feel like they have to live behind razor wire.

The south coast of Africa was another visual treat and again I was interested to see how people live. I saw rural communities made up of tiny but loved homes painted in a broad palet of crayon box colors. A lot of the homes were round with thatch roofs.

I remember seeing a house like that on the cover of a book that my father had and thinking how strange and foreign it looked.

We underestimated the amount of time it would take us to get were we needed to go so saw a lot, but much of it was from our car window. Oh, and there was a day spent standing by the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and a new rental car…

yeah, I tipped a rental car but Ron is more interested in talking about that than I am. He got it all documented and I am sure will have plenty to say in his entry. You will all be happy to know that my teeth are fine.

I may write more about it once I figure out why it was really Ron’s fault (though I was the one driving). Ok, I will say one more thing… I got out of my newly tipped car, and looked at the gravel under my feet and what did I find, but an orange bread bag closure device (bread tab). If you don’t already know it, orange is important to me and bread tabs remind me of Mom. She saved them to the point of irrationality and I teased her about it but when she died, I couldn’t throw her collection away and now I can’t pass one on the street without picking it up and thinking of her… orange bread tabs are very rare so, thanks Mom for being there and looking out for us.

3 comments
11/18/07
India, the last for now…
Filed under: India
Posted by: @ 2:52 am

We wanted you all to get a picture of the cows interacting with all the traffic… I’ve created a GIF movieloop. It’s about 1Mb and that’s large, especially for a dial up connection, so you might have to wait while it downloads.
until later,
ron

1 comment
11/14/07
India, part 3(ron’s mumblings)
Filed under: India
Posted by: @ 10:22 pm

Here I am in Africa still thinking about India…what an amazing country, India. We didn’t see but a fraction but what we saw was overwhelming to our senses. We are very grateful for all the help we received from Vijay, Sanjib and the rest.

Our first day we were taken around to see the major “sites” in Delhi.

This is the India Gate…remind you of something? Think Paris, France…I think the English were trying to out do the French in Arches…

this is the parliament and government buildings.

We visited the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi: An oasis in the middle of Delhi.


We made arrangements for Manik to take us on an overnight outing to Agra and see the Taj Mahal. We got up early and the mist over Delhi at sunrise was awesome.

All the sights, sounds and smells are like no place else. What we were told was that Bali is all about what’s not said and everything on the surface is nice. But India doesn’t hide anything, it’s all out there for you to see. All of it.

Here are some of the things we saw:


Can any of you figure out what kind of animal this is???Alien living in cognito?


Agra was dusty and dirty and filled with people who REALLY wanted to be our best friends as long as we would just come inside and see what beautiful things that they had to sell us. Overwhelming at times.

The Taj was amazing. In the morning…

at sunset…

and at midday…
You can understand why it is one of the Wonders of the World.

We visited the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Check out this link for more about the Taj and Agra sites.
Fatehpur Sikri was built in 1564 as the capital city of some ruler back then. It’s amazingly intact.



This was a gravestone erected in memory of some rulers favorite elephant after it’s demise…I’m thinking about one for Peggy or maybe Margaret…

On the way back to Delhi, we were side-tracked by a protest of about 30,000 landless farmers/peasants marching for a piece of the Indian pie. We ended up four-wheeling through fields and tiny villages because they closed the main highway back to Delhi. The people had been marching for about a month over 200 miles. Their story is amazing.

Just one more thing to see in this place of overwhelming experiences. I’m writing this from Nairobi and have already been to South Africa. Again I’m behind in my duties…alas. But I’m alive and healthy and seeing the world. Doesn’t get much better than this.

as always,

ron

ps. Okay, true confessions. I know this was a stupid thing for me to do, but I forgot my camera when we went to the Taj Mahal. Can you believe that? So I became someone’s best friend and bought their postcards and took pictures of the pictures. Pretty good, huh? ron

3 comments
11/07/07
India, Part 2
Filed under: India
Posted by: @ 2:34 pm

So, I felt compelled to say a few words more about India before we move on.

After we finished up my dental work, we hopped on a plane and spent about 30 hours in Mumbai…formerly Bombay. Mumbai is not immune to some of the problems we witnessed in Delhi but it is a grand old city with much more of it’s History still hanging around for tourists like us to snap pictures of.

There was architecture that rivaled any I have seen, and yes poverty and traffic to rival Delhi’s. They do seem to have a plan to keep garbage off the street though and The Crawford Market…Wooooweeeee.

If only we could have gotten my dad there before he became too infirmed. Orville loved a market and he would have gotten that “great sale fever” that would overtake him when he hit a good one. It seemed to breath youth into his whole body. He would have willed himself to hold together just so he could finish seeing every last retail opportunity. To accomplish this he would have needed another decade at least.

It’s hard to imagine, but it is a whole neighborhood of little windy streets that didn’t seem to care much about grid systems. These lanes are lined by ancient crumbling buildings and dotted with road construction projects. When I say “road construction” its not like what you are thinking. It’s more like an ancient man and his two slightly less ancient sons decided to improve their lot, so grabbed spoons and a hammer and went out and dug up the sewer line in front of the storefront leaving a trench and a big pile of old Bombay in the middle of the road. I think at least half of the population of India must shop these streets every night. Orange cones and caution tape seem to be a western phenomenon, so people walk down this obstacle course over the bumps through the trenches and around the heaps of rubble…nonplussed. Ron and I attracted the attention of a man who was about as big as an American seven year old with an eating disorder, who volunteered, or more accurately, insisted on being our guide and to show us where all the beads were sold. He moved fast and demanded that we keep up. Difficult as it was we were able to lean into the mass of humanity and be carried along. It was just possible. What seemed impossible was to hear one of those incessant horns blowing and look back to see some motorized vehicle making its way through the crowd. Somehow it all works and when there are treasures to be found one must buck-up. There were treasures, unfathomable treasures. Sadly we discovered Ali Babas cave just an hour before we had to start making our way to the airport so we got to have an experience but didn’t even try to shop. Well, we did get a few of those smart Indian cotton shirts I mentioned in my last entry but that hardly counts. Mostly we gawked and vowed to come back.

Mumbai was fascinating and I think there are many places in India that are more akin to Mumbai than Delhi. India is difficult and eye-popping. We have enjoyed museums, art, architecture, great food and the people. I would love to return though I would not necessarily recommend it for the first time traveler unless you have a good guide and fair warning.

We did have one last farewell experience on our way to the airport a miracle happened, traffic lightened up. You don’t know how unusual that was. We have spent the past days smashed between every manner of man, beast and vehicle rarely driving for more than and inch or two at a time and everyone sits in their car blowing the horn to pass the time. I spent a lot of energy and good humor searching for my Zen place in those moments. On an aside, in credit to the Indian people, nobody gives an inch in traffic and everyone is blasting that horn at every opportunity (did I already mention that?), but no one seems angry about it. The predicaments I witnessed in my own country would have evoked bad language, red faced screaming, fist shaking at the least and quite possibly windshield bashing or gun waving. Not so here. It is part of life in the street and you go along and get where you can as fast as you can and expect the other guy is going to do the same…all the while blowing that damned horn. Anyway, back to our final adventure.

We had negotiated with a young man from the travel and tours desk at our hotel to drive us around for a day tour of Mumbai and on to the airport where we were told to arrive three hours before our scheduled flight at 2:30 AM… BLEH. It all worked out OK, but I would have traded his ready smile and impossibly long eyelashes for a few more words of English. We spent the day nodding and smiling a lot and not ending up at the places where we thought we were going but, oh well, we had a great day and at last headed to the airport. But wait, behold… a break in the traffic and it seems like we were going to arrive an hour early, so our driver, in his halting English, suggests that he drop us off at a restaurant/bar where we can relax a bit before going to the airport. I didn’t feel right about it. I was thinking that we could find someplace at the airport to hang…I mean this is the international airport in a very large city so, there must be someplace we can make ourselves comfortable…but at his insistence, we are dropped in front of this dicey looking place and told that he will meet us back there in 40 minutes. I don’t know that I have ever felt so white and so tall as we walked up and entered this establishment. One of the things about the Indian service industry is that there is nothing surly about it. They want you there, and they want to meet your every need so someone opens the door and a team of men dressed in black and white awaits us. These men seem to be assigned only to us. Our boys bring us into this room where a woman is singing and it is LOUD! I mean loud like this may be the last music I ever hear kind of loud. Now I do not have the most sophisticated ear, and I am sure that there are subtleties missed due to my ignorance, but this singing, to me, sounded like cat-wallering. We are escorted to a sofa as there seems to be no proper tables. As we take our seats, we notice that there are girls of varying ethnicities all dressed in full sari’s leaning up against mirrored posts holding big stacks of cash and smiling a lot. Our team is bustling about attending to us, bringing us little bowls of crackers and peanuts and when they asked if I wanted a drink, I, without hesitation, answered in the affirmative. Ron ordered a beer and I ordered a gin and tonic and then another hoping it would numb my discomfort. The team brings Ron’s beer and a tray with a glass with gin in it and then asks if I want ice and how much, now tonic, then they stir it all up and then stand there and watch us have a sip of our drinks so they can ask if they can top them off or if we need something re-filled. So, we are here in this noisy, hot, den of iniquity being watched by a team of incredibly eager waiters and smiled at by a team of equally eager Indian hoochie girls and I can just remember thinking that this experience will be much more fun in the telling than the living and telling the waiter, “yes please, more ice please”…

Oh, damned, we had been so careful. We had been brushing our teeth in bottled water and avoiding any contact with liquid that didn’t come with a seal… I forgot. So, we make our escape and find our driver who I think has probably been having a good laugh with his friends telling them that he dropped those two queers off at the hoochie bar… Ha Ha Ha!

The Airport is this big overly lit series of lines and security checks with an over used PA system that gets that shrill feedback whine whenever they use it. It was the coldest hot place I have ever been. There is nothing beautiful or comforting about this place. It is a people processing plant. So we get there and make our way through the endless lines and finally go and find something to eat at the one restaurant in this country that is in direct contrast to India’s eager-to-please mentality. We sit down and I feel a lurch then a churn and a need to find some fresh air (futile). What ensued was a contest between both ends of me to see which could purge my system the fastest and a self-guided tour of the Mumbai airport toilets. This was spurred on by the thought that, surely, there must be a better one (the horrors!). The contest of my ends followed me to the plane where I went from a wild sweaty fever to a bone rattling chill and finally to South Africa where I found a down comforter, a hot water bottle and a clean bathroom. I am grateful to the innkeeper. He and Ron saved me. Ok so he tried to grope Ron (he said it was a “lakka one!”). I don’t care, I forgive him, I am better now and hallelujah.

I am feeling good, and we are off to see what we can of this place called Africa.

I’ll be in touch.

David

1 comment
11/05/07
India, Part 1
Filed under: India
Posted by: @ 1:12 pm

Hello All,

Well, I am back. Eden kicked me out, so now India. New Delhi is about as far from bucolic Bali as one could imagine.

We have been very well cared for here. Sanjeeb, Vijay, Mausami and Manik, have seen to it that we are safe, looked after and have gotten to see everything. Also, Dr. Upender and his staff have tended to my teeth and oh boy wait till you see em! Thank you all.
(Ed. Note: this is Manik, our driver for the week…his skill behind the wheel is unparalleled unless, of course, you are from Delhi)

Here are some things I have seen this week: Monkeys, Elephants, Camels and Cows on freeways, and this is without even leaving the city.


I have also seen the most beautiful people…more than any other place I have been. Folks, they know how to do it here. There are eyes here that look like there is nothing they haven’t seen.

I have had a hard time not staring but they have stared at us a bit so I don’t feel too bad. Back to those eyes, imagine a Labrador in love, or a Labrador looking at you when you are about to eat the last scrap of chicken. Longing, loving, gentle and searing all at the same time. There are other qualities worth mentioningas well. People here have been good to us, I can’t say it enough, India is a place that wants you to visit and wants to take care of you. Nowhere on our journey have we found people more eager.

Now, back to the beautiful part, I have been quite impressed by the fabrics. Indian women are most often seen draped head to toe in the most amazing Saris.

It makes your breath stop for an instant to see the brilliant colors: Hot pink, lemon yellow brilliant green or blue…as bright as you can imagine. The men’s shirts are from a similar pallet…no one is afraid of color.

Here is something that puzzles me. It is not uncommon to see three or four passengers on a motorbike. This is particularly thrilling to witness when the person sitting side saddle on the back is bedecked in one of those aforementioned Saris which dances around in the breeze and, magically, never seems to go anyplace it shouldn’t (like in the spokes for instance). And, I have repeatedly seen cars transporting more than double the recommended capacity.

My impression has been that the people of Delhi have taken public transportation into their own hands…or cars as it were. It is not an exaggeration to think of those contests we have seen, you know the “how many people can you fit in VW” ones. I saw the tiniest little car the other day and counted five men in the back seat. They looked like they were all headed off for a day at the office and were chatting away amongst themselves and the three people who shared the two front seats. It seemed as if there were nothing in the world unusual about the situation and I suspect, there wasn’t.

So, back to my puzzlement…on my best day, I can often be seen with a dribble down the front of me.

I usually start spilling on myself first thing in the morning and save specimens from my intake for the rest of the day…and I am a sweaty thing, so even if I didn’t spill, and started out with a perfectly pressed shirt, it gets kind of wilted looking almost immediately. As you read on, you will understand that the Indian people have every reason to appear bedraggled…life is not easy here…but (Back to the puzzle), I have never seen so many people dressed in crisp, clean, fresh from the laundry garments. End of the day…beginning of the day, same-same. The men’s shirts never seem to get smudged or wrinkled…how do they do that? and the women’s Sari’s always look like they smell like flowers and weigh absolutely nothing. Hmmmmmm.

But, sadly that is only part of the population.

There is another side to this city. The population here is seventeen million. Just for reference, the entire state of Washington has about 6 million, so, nearly three times the population of Washington State living in one city and they are not all dressed in clothes that smell like flowers. I have no idea how they would begin to count noses because there are a very large number of residents of this city who have never had an address. India was described to me before I came as a city that hides nothing and it didn’t take long to see what that means. When you stop at a street corner people come up to your window…desperate, bone thin, wretched, sad people holding infants that look like they are sleeping but who’s eyes are open. It feels like I am in a submarine, all safe and sound, privileged and clean with our driver and our nice air-conditioned van. Outside we see all these people who are drowning and desperate for a sip of the air they see us enjoying. You see everything but you can’t even begin to roll down that window or…This is one of those places that is fascinating but heart breaking.

The saddest place I have ever seen. It makes me realize how privileged I am to live in a world where I can be annoyed by bad architecture, weight gain and Republicans. Here is an eye opener…what I see here is closer to what most of the world experiences than what we all see everyday at home. When they call the U.S. the richest country in the world it is hard to understand what they are talking about if you are having trouble coming up with the money to fix a broken car or buy the newer computer. These needs seem real if that is all you have ever known and you only have your neighbors to compare yourself to. But I am here to tell you we are fat and over-privileged.

It is also not hard to understand why so many people resent us…so this is an aside to that person that threw the squished up dirty lime at my head at the market the other day. I forgive you. I did not appreciate it, but I can imagine that if you are struggling the way I suspect you may be, and you see a big fleshy overfed American having a holiday and looking around for stuff so that he can take it home and show all his fat friends and family that he has been to this ever-so-exotic and fabulous place where you can get the coolest stuff for hardly any money and blablablablablablah…Yea, I might want to pick up a used fruit and hurl it. We hear about the needy people in far away places but to see them is quite another thing. So folks if you have got it, give a bit…ok, so off of my soapbox.

The other night our van got a flat tire in the middle of one of the major thoroughfares. Ron and I watched the press of traffic as Manik (our driver, and hero) changed the tire. I tried to count how many lanes of traffic the street was designed for but it was impossible. No one pays any attention to lanes anyway; often they don’t even bother to paint lines. We in the U.S. would have probably allowed three vehicles to travel abreast on this particular road and had a space on the left and right to safely pull over in case of emergency…this piece of pavement was about the width of three U.S. of A standard lanes with no safety shoulders. There we were, semi-permanent residents in one of the three lanes watching the most unbelievable dance of all manner of moving objects. There were never less than five vehicles between us and the other side and remember that there are now only two remaining lanes. They drive here like they are all about to miss the final episode of The Soprano’s.. FAST, they allow about 2 centimeters in any given direction for grace and they move into the smallest of spaces at alarming speeds. Driving in Delhi is a constant game of chicken. And let us not forget the pedestrians that are in abundance, running up and down the sides of the road and (no kidding) across the lanes of traffic. It’s Madness! I don’t think we could learn to drive here anymore than we are going to learn to like Lutefisk or Blood Pudding. You have to grow up with it. I am surprised that the traffic situation has not been more effective at population control. While we were sitting there, we saw cars, motor rickshaws, pedal rickshaws, bicycles, busses, trucks large and small, a backhoe, and a horse.

We did not see a cow, pig, goat or mangy dog this time but they are often part of this mix. It is not unusual to see a great big cow or even a whole gaggle of cows meandering across any street in the downtown core or lazing about with their buds on the traffic island just watching it all happen. They are sacred and protected and so get beads and bells around there necks and free run of the place.

Finally, you can ‘t really understand what its like here without some sensory aids. So here’s what lets do. Go into the smallest bathroom in your house with several people who you don’t know (enough so that you wont be able to move without touching someone). Now bring in some animals, cows, chickens, pigs or any poor wretched near death critter will work. In order to really get the feeling, you will need to crank the heat up and everyone will need three props, a loud horn, and a bag of vacuum cleaner sweepings, and an onion. Now, close the doors and windows and empty the sweepings on to the floor. Begin blowing your horn… no really blow it and don’t stop… keep honking and now, dance around a bit, really get your dust up. Now we need to engage the nose so grab a wad of hair out of that dirt on the floor and set it on fire. Or better yet light one of your attendees’ hair on fire it will add to the general feeling of wretchedness. Now cut up the onions and everyone take turns using the laundry hamper as a toilet. Now if you can emerge from this looking perfectly pressed, Welcome to Delhi!

As ever,

David

5 comments
10/28/07
Bali aka a little slice a paradise
Filed under: Singapore & Bali
Posted by: @ 10:33 am

Hello All, I am not good enough to be here! Bali is indescribable. I am pretty sure this place was designed by god for a couple of friends of his. Adam and Eve, you may have heard of them. It is our last day here and I am sad to leave. Such good people, good food, good art and good vibe.

I don’t ever want to leave. If I relax anymore my cells will separate and I will have to be taken to the plane in a bucket. Every morning around the place we are staying they go and make little offerings to the gods.

They put two offerings on top of each other. Little palm leaf baskets made fresh every day.

They fill them with flower pedals and a bit of rice or a cracker and some incense and then sprinkle them with holy water. It is beautiful to watch the woman in her colorful batik Sari performing this ritual with such care. The top offering is to the gods of goodness and the one underneath is to the evil spirits, to keep them at bay and from what I can see it is working. Each morning the air is filled with the smell of incense and the path is littered with these gifts.

I am staying in the art neighborhood where wood carvers, beaders, silversmiths,weavers and dyers sell there wares from there store fronts…and again in front of each store on the side walk, these lovely little arrangements. So beautiful and soooooo peaceful…

until I step on them or trip over them. I just cant seem to stop doing it and it makes me crazy.. I feel like such a damned oaf, and fat american. Oh why can’t I just once be one of the cool kids! Yesterday I went to a chinese healer who washed me with leaves and some green stuff and then gave me this to drink and that to snort and finished with a massage that sent me to another place. But there again, as we are about to get started I start to worry that I didn’t bring enough money so I am trying to ask how much its going to cost and if she takes Visa… she rather curtly replies NOT NOW… I am sitting in a little reception area and she is doing something behind me and I can’t exactly see what… language can be an issue so I am thinking that perhaps we aren’t understanding each other and wondering if “NOT NOW” means I don’t have to pay until the services are rendered or if her credit card machine is broken or if the internet is down, so I persist. “When its time, can I use a credit card?… you know VISA?”… I say it nice and loud so she understands better. I can hear her rummaging around with something and again she says “NOT NOW!!! ” So I get myself turned around where I can see her and there she is standing in front of her alter trying to be serene with incense in her hands… PRAYING. Oh god why do I have to be such a bafoon! I did finally get her to laugh with me about it later but I love it so much here and I want to come back but I am not sure they will be glad to have me.

The other thing is they all weigh about as much as my leg… if you stop at the knee. Oh well. Tomorrow is India and dental work… I hope I don’t turn up on the evening news.

Much love

David

So David got the first words and I get the last. Bali is indeed an amazing place. Janet DeBoer you are sooooo right about this place. We got recommendations from Janet out our lodging at Alam Indah. This was the view from the breakfast table every morning.

We stayed in a little arts community village called Ubud.

Our resort was a quick walk down to the Monkey Forest. The Balinese believe that the macaque monkeys are the spiritual protectors of the temple located in the forest and so are protected.

I’ve not spent time around monkeys before. Quite amazing creatures. I understand many other cultures consider them pests. I can see why but was fascinated nonetheless.

We met some amazing and warm, welcoming people in Bali.
Andrea is a Canadian who is teaching at an international school in Singapore and will be taking a sabbatical to volunteer in Africa working with inner-city kids and elephants. Sounds way too cool. So was Andrea. We hope she reads this and sends us her email.(you’re welcome at Ron and David B&B anytime!)


This is a local celebrity who we got a chance to meet. Mr Ketut Liyer was colorful, warm, and reassured us that we were “good men.”

We both realized the first morning that we would be coming back and for a much longer period of time. 6 days wasn’t enough to scratch the surface. oh well that part of what this trip is all about. To see snippets of the world.off to India for teeth and more snippets.

2 comments
10/24/07
Singapore Sling-Shot
Filed under: Singapore & Bali
Posted by: @ 9:52 am

So I’m still running a country or two behind with the blog. I gave you a teaser by posting the pics first. I got a couple of comments, one in particular asking why I’m showing a naked picture of Mickey Mouse with a partially naked man in the foreground???

As it turns out, we got to Singapore after our fast and furious trip through New Zealand. We arrived after a Ten hour flight from Aukland. Bleary-eyed and looking forward to a good nights sleep…we were told we could stay at the Changi Airport Hotel. So I didn’t book us a room, I mean it was only going to be less than 24hours, right? Alas, no room at the inn… So, bleary-eyed we stumble over to the booking counter and she gets us a room for $120/night which turns out to be the WORST room of the trip so far located in the Red Light District. The hall noise was amazing, finally quieting down after midnight. The pillowcases were made out of tissue paper. Ick! We lasted about 6 hours and had to vacate. Which means we woke up bleary-eyed and went exploring Singapore before s/afternoon. Singapore is a City state located at the tip of Malaysia and just north of Indonesia.

This is the place where they will give you a ticket for chewing gum or cain you for spray painting graffitti on cars. Mandatory Death Sentence for Drug Trafficing. I was a little nervous about my injectible arthritis medications, but no problems. It turns out Singapore is beautiful, filled with trees, hot, and interesting. Before we actually got to Bali, we considered coming back a day early to explore some more…but Bali was awaiting us. They dry their clothes in a most unique way. David thought I was having a petit mal seizure when I saw these close racks(I’m alway looking for innovative ways to dry my clothes…hate the electric dryer)

We ended up walking around until the shops started to open up around 10am. We went down this Alley and found a section of the city with all the religious houses all on a street. This was the Hindu temple.

next to it was the Buddist temple, and next to it was a christian and then moslem house of worship. All very civilized all living next to each other.
Imagine.
We ended up at a coffee house(no starbucks in site)and loved the decor. Ultra modern, hip and cool. Cute waiter as well.


As for that first pic, It was just a fluke. I thought the poster was a interesting commentary on US mass media/mass marketing and as I took the pic this guy walked in the picture. I didn’t even realize he was there until after I downloaded the image onto the computer…really was too funny. I don’t know if he knew I took his pic, if he was imitating Mickey or what. But it’s also an interesting commentary on our trip to Singapore. later, ron

3 comments
Christchurch and parts north
Filed under: Australia & New Zealand
Posted by: @ 2:07 am

Next we headed for Christchurch.

(we saw this on the way…any idea what they are? I thought maybe aliens…)

Unfortunately the Rain never stopped and now when I think of Christchurch I think of Driving Rain. We didn’t spend much time there but headed up to rejoin some of the crew who were at the conference on the North Island from the previous week. We met them at a sleepy little coastal town called Kaikoura.


Beautiful place where we had a wonderful time and great meal. We all got a little happy and really enjoyed eachother’s company. Glenys Mann was a delight to hang with and hopefully we will be seeing her again in the not toooo distant future.

I got to go on a little nature walk not too far from our hotel and ran into the little fella who was just singing his heart out. Pretty too!

The next day we were off for the North Island again and finally for some wonderful blue skies and warmer weather. Napier was a beautiful town with lovely Art Deco Building everywhere. We found the monument to David’s saying: “Titties to the Wind.”

We continued to drive north into volcano country. Spent the night in Rotorua and saw the Geothermal activies firsthand.

The smell was enought to knock you off your feet. Our friend Mike Gerred told us we had to ckeck out the luge track in Rotorua. It was alot of fun!

These little guys were a suprise as well. We happened upon them by accident. During out last trip downunder, we saw the black swans in Tasmania and thought they were just the coolest thing ever.

The next day was a mad dash to Aukland and Goodbye to New Zealand. This was the view from our Balcony.


Aukland was way too short and lots of fun. See you later. Ron

comments (0)
10/18/07
North on the South Island - Abel Tasman
Filed under: Australia & New Zealand
Posted by: @ 2:07 am

So after our week of teaching in Paraparaumu, we got up really early and got on the 8am ferry to Picton on the South Island.


The weather was really blustry but we were still able to go out onto the decks. It reminded me of when I was a kid playing “North Seas” adventure games. The wind it was a blowin’ and the boat it was a rockin’. Despite this we arrived without problems and then got to spend a few days traveling around the north shore.

We stayed in Monteka and Tapawera. We decided to spend a day hiking Abel Tasman National Park.

We walked about 5 hours at a distance of 17km.

The weather was fantastic and the scenery was amazing.
Big Tonga Beach was just idealic.

We were able to take off our shoes and walk in the surf. We spotted this Echidna (Spiny Anteater) on the road the first night

and then saw this living one on the road as well. Cute!!!

After we left the north end of the island, life became wet again. Really wet and really cold.

We didn’t let the rain stop us from crossing the longest suspension bridge in New Zealand and then take the zip line trip back across.

For those of you who know David’s extreme dislike of heights, this was an amazing feat for him to accomplish. We got wet but had a great time.

I know that these blog reports aren’t coming as quick as I’d like but it seems ya’ll are enjoying following along at what ever pace. my love to all, ron

Dear New Zuzilund- Thank you for not raining on us today, I loved Abel Tasman park and I love the sheep. So glad to be here for the baby ones.

I worry about one thing though, I have noticed that you have a popular drink here that is Tequila based and comes in a can perhaps you know the one, well, far be it from me to judge, but is “Crazy Mexican” really what we should be calling such a thing… I’m just saying, I mean I know Australia wants to make Dwarf Tossing an Olympic sport and thats probably not what we need to be doing, and Singapore does cane people for chewing gum, and, the U.S. did elect George Bush… twice… OK, I am sorry, never mind.

David

7 comments
10/13/07
South on the North Island - Kapiti Pennisula
Filed under: Australia & New Zealand
Posted by: @ 4:13 am

Our second teaching gig was for the wonderful and interesting Glenys Mann (you will get to meet her shortly…next blog.) It was located about an hours drive up the west coast of the North Island in New Zealand.

The flight into Wellington was a little hair raising. The runway for the Wellington Airport is SHORT and the wind between the two islands can just whip. They closed the airport for a time the next day because they had gale force winds. The Kapiti coast is beatiful.

Glenys put us up in a great little motel next to the school where the forum was held the view outside our unit was great: green, mountain, and sheep.

But that really describes ALL of New Zealand. David’s class was good, a mix of beginner and expert beaders.

Everyone seemed to come away feeling like they had accomplised something, even if that was only a small handful of samples! Thanks for a good time! We also met some wonderful people from the other classes. Kathryn taught the lamp working bead class and Jenny was one of her students.

Joan is an amazing fiber artist from San Francisco who we had a really great time getting to know…hoping for an invite to SF soon.

Lastly, this was something David found walking to class one morning. They tell us it’s an eel.

What I’d like to know is what was it doing in the middle of the sidewalk and how did it get there? Are they able to climb on land and can it get into my bed? Eewh!

6 comments
10/08/07
Geelong Grammar School aka Hogwarts
Filed under: Australia & New Zealand
Posted by: @ 3:36 am

After our great visit to Sydney and all the fun we had with Pauline and her family, we headed south via Jetstar Airlines to Victoria,

one of the southern states in Australia. Geelong (or Corio is really the name of the town we were in but the name of the school comes from the nearby larger city,) is situated on a beautiful bay.

There is a walking path next to the school that goes around most if not all the bay. We saw blackswans, ducks, geese, sandpiper and Heron. Beautiful setting…and if you can believe it, David got me up and we were able to see the sunrise the first morning.

Geelong Grammar School is an affluent boarding school for overprivledged children, much the way Hogwarts was for the wizarding children…I mean how many muggles do you see at Hogwarts??? The grounds are amazing and the Dining Hall was directly out of one of the Harry Potter Books.


We had 11 students in the class and they were all GREAT. They all got it and were able to head off in different directions and push themselves exactly as they should. Thanks for a great and fun filled week at Tafta Forum. The last night at the Forum, there is a party which included a swingband in the dining hall. The theme was feista. Do you think we knew that or even planned for a Feista themed party? NO, but we were able to come up with some eye-catching outfits. Flo and Don Hoppe were there as well (Flo is writing THE BOOK with David which will come out next year and Don her husband is an AMAZING carpenter and all around good guy.)


As you can see from the pics, a good time was had by all! Next we headed for New Zealand. Not too much time in Australia this year, maybe more touring with the next visit.

David’s Contribution:
Dear Gelong, especially the folks in the kitchen at Gelong Grammer School. I know how hard you worked as I spent the first half of my adult life working in kitchens but heres the thing. Food can be art but you mustn’t be afraid of spice. I know you have a certain amount of dullards who gather round your tables and complain loudly if there is so much as a spec of pepper on there plate which is why I am going to break my own rule of never complaining about food that is prepared by someone elses hands. I do love to be cooked for and I appreciate the effort but let me offer a proposal. Make boiled oats every night for dinner along with something glorious and aromatic and beautiful and delicious. Soon the oat eaters will certainly want to know what they are missing. I for one am tired of the whining complaining dullards taking over. It is time to take back our tables. Thank you for listening to me I hope this will be constructive.

G’day Mates

David

P.S.
Your doing bacon all wrong.

4 comments
10/02/07
Australia
Filed under: Australia & New Zealand
Posted by: @ 3:11 am

David and I arrived in Sydney after a lovely flight from San Francisco. We were able to upgrade our tickets at the last minute to business class on United. Oh my Gawd there is nothing like business class for those transoceanic flights. We were greeted by Pauline and pampered during our entire stay in Sydney.

Dirk and Maxine,

who are to be married on the 6th of October, took us out for a wonderful dinner and then Dirk took us up in a 4 seater plane the next morning to see Syndey from 1500ft up…



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We got to hang out at the Opera House


and see Pauline’s family the next day after a trip to one of our favorite Sydney sites, the Fish Market.


Addendum From David:
Dear Sydney-
Thanks for the great food and the great company. I loved looking at the Harbor from the air and you hold some of my favorite people.
Thanks for looking after them so well and please continue to be good to them.
David

9 comments
09/16/07
Two days to go…
Filed under: before we go - USA
Posted by: @ 12:49 am

Liz Plam and Carol Perrenoud are staying with us and working the Northwest Bead Bazaar.  Tonight we went to Judy Fus Snappy Dragon for a fabulous dinner and afterwards we came back to Pumpkin Spice cake and Ice Cream. (thanks for dinner Carol!)  This is the fortune I got tonite:

Notice the “to do” board and how few items there are left?  Only two days to go before we leave for OZ.  Around the world in 79 days…here we come.

ron

3 comments