As an adult I look back on so many fond memories of my 1960’s and 70’s childhood, including Halloween. As soon as school began in September we began thinking about and planning for that big day. We always made our own costumes just from found things around the house…never sewing anything elaborate and NEVER purchasing anything from a store.
Halloween When I Was a Kid
Unfortunately my parents were not big photo takers so I have only one photo I know of, of me with my siblings on Halloween. That was the year my sister proclaimed she was going to be the Fairy Godmother and I was going to be Cinderella in rags. Okay fine. My brother was a “hippie” and my littlest brother was a cowboy. It was a time in life when it didn’t take a lot ot make us happy.
In high school and even college we celebrated the holiday with homemade costumes but the trick or treating gave way to parties. Here I’m sharing a few photos I pulled up from those days.
Halloween When My Kids Were Little
When my kids were little I made their costumes most years and we had a lot of fun with Halloween as a family. In the 1990’s when my kids were young, trick or treating was still safe and the school always had a special event with costumes.
Today fewer kids wander the neighborhoods, but with Covid it’s hard to imagine that communities and malls will be holding their annual gatherings.
The History of Holidays
I’ve always been fascinated with how our holidays evolved into what we accept today as normal, ever since I discovered that Santa Claus is a fairly new invention. So I have over the years gathered lots of fun information about holiday rituals and their evolution.
Halloween Began 2000 Years Ago
The origin of Halloween can be traced 2000 years years ago to the Celtic festival called Samhain. This festival was a celebration to ward off ghosts and included costumes and bon fires.
In the 8th Century Pope Gregory III declared that November 1st would be All Saints Day to remember all Catholic Saints and the Samhain festival the day before became known as All Hallows Eve.
November 1st was also considered the New Year to the Celts and was marked as the end of the harvest and bounty and the beginning of the dark days of winter, a time of hunger and death.
The Druids (Celtic Priests) gave the Celtic people guidance during this time, when all believed the ghosts were responsible for failed crops, poor health and bad weather. The Druids built bon fires and everyone dressed in costumes to scare away the ghosts. Crops and animals were sacrificed.
Rome, Of Course, Intervened
When the Romans conquered this region, the Samhain festival merged with Feralia, a Roman festival similar to Day of the Dead; and Pomona, a celebration of the apple harvest (assumed to be where bobbing for apples comes from).
By the 9th century the Celtic lands had become Christian and the November 2nd Christian holiday All Souls Day merged with All Hallows Even (Alholowmesse) and the costume tradition expanded.
Welcome to America
Colonial America celebrated this holiday, despite the New England Protestant objection due to the pagan origins. As immigrants from many nations came together, the American version of the holiday emerged.
Outdoor parties, bon fires, scary stories, fortune telling, pranks, games, music and dancing were all part of the early American celebration. By the early 1800’s most communities celebrated an Autumn festival but Halloween as we know it was still a ways away.
Irish Americans Bring the Tradition
As Irish immigrants flooded America in the late 19th century, with them came many of the traditions we today associate with Halloween in the USA. This included costumes, Trick-or-Treat for food or money, and the focus of the holiday became more about children.
But in the 1920’s and 30’s vandals hijacked the holiday with pranks and sometimes drunken violence and many gatherings stopped. By the 1950’s local towns redirected the holiday back to family-focused and encouraged family gatherings. Trick-or-Treating was revived.
Small homemade treats gave way to store bought candy in the 1960’s when parents feared for their children eating anything they didn’t know the source of. Today 6 billion dollars are spent annually on Halloween and it is the biggest candy buying time of the year in the USA.
Both children and adults dress up annually, with many adults wearing costumes to their jobs. Halloween parties for kids and adults happen in the weeks ahead of the actual Halloween night.
Halloween is the second biggest commercial holiday after Christmas in the USA.
This is my system for organizing digital photos. It might not work for everyone but it works for me. I use an iPhone and a MacBook so if you are not using Apple products your system will need to be different. For those of you who are not Mac users, I have included in this blog information about Google Drive photos (see below). So at the request of some of my friends, I have put together this blog that lays out my system for organizing digital photos. I hope it can be helpful to you.
What Kind Are You?
I read an interesting article once that placed digital photo people into three different categories; casual, moderate or enthusiastic. My photo library has 59,000 photos and nearly 400 videos. I’m pretty sure I fall into the “enthusiastic” category. Or crazy. I think my husband would label my photo taking as crazy.
I was a Mac user before I was an iPhone user and the day I realized my two devices were going to be talking to each other was the day my life changed. I mean really. It didn’t take me long to give up my SLR camera altogether and use my iPhone as my sole camera. I currently have an iPhone 11x and it takes beautiful images. Even though I have a few complaints about the iPhone 11, photos are not one of them. So I take lots of photos every day and I need a good system for organizing my digital photos.
Before I get into storage let me talk briefly about editing. On the iPhone you can adjust the light level before you take a photo by tapping lightly on the screen and adjusting the up and down toggle for brightness. But often I don’t have time to do that if I need to capture a fleeting moment. And so I do it in edit mode after. The iPhone editor has a wide variety of options for lightening, brightening and adding color to your images. Sometimes I will turn a color photo into a black and white photo for dramatic effect. You can warm up a photo or cool it down. It’s all very user friendly.
Sometimes I use the bounce or loop feature on the iPhone and I really enjoy the long exposure feature. When traveling I find I love it for any water image, storms or even traffic.
Another cool feature with the iPhone is the live camera. I keep live on all the time. If I capture an image where the subject may have moved unexpectedly or a car moved into the frame, often you can go back to the live edit and skip back a frame or two to easily make your photo perfect. Super easy without needing to be a techno whiz.
The only other edit program I use is a very rudimentary app called Snapseed. In Snapseed I can add lots of dramatic color to a stormy photo. Or I can make an old vintage truck look even more old and vintage. I can make my photos look like they were taken on a Polaroid camera 40 years ago – or a number of other very simple edit options. I use Snapseed often and don’t find I need any other complicated editing software for the purposes I use my photos for.
Types of Storage Options
Not so long ago all my photos were printed and put into photos albums. I still have all those photo albums and one long term project goal is to eventually transfer those to digital.
Not so long ago I was storing photos on CDRom and thumb drive. I hated this system because I didn’t seem to be able to keep these organized or find them easily, needing to pop the CD or thumb drive in and out of the computer.
Today there are a variety of photo storage options available and everyone has their favorites. My photos are in iCloud, while other people prefer options like DropBox, Shutterfly, or Picasso. Amazon Prime has a photo storage program, but I haven’t been able to find anyone who uses it. From my experience the two most popular are Apple iCloud and Google Drive. Since I don’t use Google Drive I asked a fellow blogger, Slavka, to share a little about Google Drive:
Do you have a Gmail email address? If you do, Google offers other convenient services that you can access via your Gmail email account. Google Drive is one of them and it’s great cloud storage for your photos and other files.
So how to use it? First of all, you need to have or open a new Gmail email account. With this email account, you have 15 GB of free space. You can use this free space for any of the connected services such as Google Drive, Google Docs, or Google Sheets. You can access these by clicking on the 9 dots icon that appears in the top right corner next to your login icon. Click on the triangle icon of Google Drive. This is a space where you can store photos, videos, audio files, documents files, etc. You can group then into separate files and share them with others via a sharable link.
Google Drive storage is convenient for the temporary storage of recent photos or the ones you want to share. Older images and files should be downloaded to an external storage drive for archiving. Or, if you want to keep them available online, you might need to pay for additional cloud storage after you run out of free space. Currently, Google charges approx. $28 per year for 100GB of cloud space.
Thanks Slavka. Be sure to check out Slavka’s wonderful travel blog on the link above.
So, the iCloud photo storage works basically the same way. It’s free for the first 5G and then you pay monthly for additional storage. For a long time I paid $4 a month for 200GB but now I pay $10 a month for 500GB. My photos are automatically uploaded regularly to the cloud.
No matter which storage system you chose, keeping your photos organized is the challenge. For me it’s a big committment given the number of photos I have and my constant need to access them. Here is how I do it.
Organizing my Images
When you open the iCloud photo library, you can go to File in the top left hand corner. Click on File and you will get an option to create an album. In my photo library I have dozens of albums. I have albums for family, friends, house and garden, genealogy, cycling, hiking and camping, and of course cats. (LOL). Then I have an album for every country we have visited. Sometimes I will combine a couple of countries to save a little space. Additionally I have separate albums where I store art work for my blog, birthday funny memes, or things I might want for holidays on social media. I have one whole albums for Seahawks and Cougar football memes.
Creating the albums is the easy part. The hard part is continually moving your new images into the files. Here is how I do that:
Every few weeks I sit down and delete images. Ideally you should be doing this daily or minute to minute on your phone, but that doesn’t seem to happen for me. So I go through and delete duplicate images, poor quality images or other images I don’t want in one go.
I check the date I last moved images to albums and after deleting I start with that date and begin moving the images (click and drag) into the albums. Sometimes an image might end up in multiple albums (for example family album and hiking album). This way I can find it easily for future use.
The Big Delete
Since I’ve had A LOT of free time on my hands these past few covid months, I began a new delete project. Going to the overarching file called Photos, where all images are from all albums, I started with the oldest images and slowly am going through and deleting. I have found there are photos I don’t even remember taking or where I took them. Some photos that seemed important at the time, no longer have meaning for me (the first time I saw a wild baboon it seemed impressive…now so many thousands of baboons later who cares). And so I delete. This is very time consuming but will eventually help my overall storage issue. I am committing a few hours a week to accomplish this task by the end of the summer – it’s about ten years worth of photos, but an important goal for organizing digital photos.
So What About External Hard Drives?
For a couple of years before I went all Mac I used to have an external hard drive I would plug in to my PC and back up my photos regularly. But I haven’t done that since I went to 500 GB in the cloud, as I feel confident in the system I am using. However, I recently purchased a new external hard drive called Photo Stick that stores 128GB of data. I haven’t started using it yet, but I decided it was worth it to have it since it is very small (like a thumb drive), has a huge amount of storage, works continually and will help me clean up duplicates. It also will offer me even more peace of mind. Hopefully it actually does all those things. I paid $79 for it.
So What is Best for You?
Remember in the beginning when I asked what kind of photo person you are? Determining the answer to that question is your first step in getting your images organized and safe. As an “enthusiastic” photographer, as well as a blogger, travel writer and very active social media user, my photos are incredibly important to me in my day-to-day life. I consider myself a good photographer, after years of practice and a small amount of training, and photography is an important hobby in my life. So I spend both time and money making sure my images are protected, accessible, and good quality.
No matter what kind of photographer you are, you can start organizing your digital photos with a little knowledge and commitment. Good luck!
I never ever imagined the word pandemic or quarantine becoming a part of my daily vocabulary. And yet it is. Wow. So many surprising things you learn from full-time travel.
A world pandemic is at the top of the list of surprising things you learn from full-time travel. I’ve said it many times, despite all the preparation and planning, reading and studying – there still are so many surprising things you see and learn and experience that you never ever imagined. Pandemic one of many.
So today I thought I would share some of these things, since we are still stuck indefinitely here on Cyprus (currently day four of a new three-week total lockdown), it’s a good time to write a blog about the things you don’t realize you will learn from full time travel. The lessons keep coming but here are a few that stand out for me;
How the World Views America
We try to be good ambassadors for our country, but it can be really hard. Because many people have a view of Americans as loud, selfish, gluttonous and most of all ignorant and misogynistic. The view also extends to American media as biased and unreliable.
Where are you from?
So we get this question a lot. Sometimes the question is phrased like this; “Where are you from? Australia? England?”
This always cracks me up because anyone who is a native English speaker is very in tuned to the nuances of those who speak English in the USA vs England, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland etc. But for those whose first language is not English the subtleties are often lost. It’s rare that we get asked if we are from the USA. I believe that is because the countries we are visiting for the most part aren’t often visited by Americans. We are often surprised by how surprised people are to meet someone from the United States.
But the other odd thing when we get asked this question is how the answer goes. We answer “From the United States”, and 95% of the time we get a blank uncomprehending stare. So we rephrase our answer and say “From America.” Ahhh light bulbs come on and faces light up, “Amerikah!”. Despite the fact there is no country called America…much of the world refers to the USA as America.
The USA is only one of three countries in the entire WORLD still not using the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the other two). I mean honestly people this needs to change. I have no choice but to learn the metric system as we travel and although I don’t have it down perfectly, yet it is an integral part of everyday life from cooking to driving to filling up the car with petrol. We think in Celsius and kilometers, meters and liters. You should give it a try.
Holy Days and Holidays
In the 110 countries we have now visited we have not visited anywhere that celebrates holy days and holidays by spending the amount of money Americans do on holidays. Most holidays are about family and church with minimal decorating and gift giving. One strange thing…they often leave the Christmas tree up (artificial) until spring.
Here is a win for the USA. I have been horrified by how some cultures behave on airplanes – ignoring and harassing flight attendants, barging up the aisle on landing and not letting other people get out into the aisle, as well as other rude behavior. We have found this particularly the case in Asian and African countries. In the USA this would be almost unheard of.
Dogs and Cats
It never occurred to me before beginning our travels that we would witness often horrifying conditions for dogs and cats around the world. I can’t and won’t describe some of the things we have seen…things I try to put out of my mind.
Before embarking on this full-time travel we had visited many countries in the nearly 40 years we have been married. Some of those countries we found communicating easy and others not so much. But in the past decade most countries have begun teaching English in schools and I can’t think of anywhere we have been in the past four years where we have not been able to speak in English to just about anyone we encounter. English is definitely becoming the world language.
Oh My God
This has become a travel joke for us. Everywhere we go, whether or not the place we are in speaks good English or not, the phrase “Oh my God” is used. It is sometimes the only English words some people know. It is used to express frustration and surprise. I’m not sure if most people even know what they are saying – it’s just a colloquial term used around the world similar to Uff Da or Oi Vey or Gesundheit. Oh my God.
Boy oh boy I sure don’t take clean drinking water for granted anymore. It is to me the biggest problem around the world, and it generates another gigantic problem – what to do with all that single use plastic?
There are some countries and cities making a huge effort. In Antigua Guatemala there are free filtered water stations. In Thailand you can refill giant water jugs for just pennies. Good on ya. I’d love to see this expand.
Germs and Hand Washing
We are all now washing our hands more than ever before. But one thing I have witnessed in most countries is very consistent hand washing already…way more than what I see in public places in the USA. Particularly in Muslim countries but in most other places too people wash not just after using the bathroom but frequently throughout the day, before and after meals and in both public and private places.
Hey guess what? Africa is really, really green. So many Hollywood movies and even NatGeo portray it as a barren brown place – and there are certainly some deserts and dry areas. But most of it is so beautiful and green and big and diverse. You really should go there. Any country…just choose one. They are all great.
I find myself in situations often while traveling that make me pause…what the heck am I doing? Things like being in a sinking boat in a hippopotamus infested lake, swimming next to the edge of Victoria Falls, hiking on a snowy mountain without clampons, standing 4 meters from a wild Silverback gorilla …crazy stuff. Stuff I wouldn’t be allowed to do in the USA because of much tighter laws and a litigation culture that keeps us away from danger. In most of the world, that is not the case.
You might think this is a funny category…and it is. But how did I never know how many kinds of mangos, bananas and so many other kinds of tropical fruit were waiting out there for me? There are 500 kinds of mangos for heavens sake! There are 1000 different kinds of bananas! Have you ever eaten a custard apple? How about a dragon fruit? What about a pomelo or jackfruit or langsat? I’ve been living a sheltered life.
Left or Right
Although most countries of the world drive on the right hand side of the road, it still is surprising how many countries drive on the left (including here in Cyprus, a former British colony). Even more surprising is a country like Myanmar, which switched from left-hand driving to right-hand driving in 2015 BUT 90% of the cars still have the steering wheel on the right side. Talk about disconcerting.
As toilet paper has become such a valuable commodity in the USA I’ve chuckled about how different Americans view the little white squares compared to the rest of the world. Many cultures don’t use paper…the sprayer attached to the toilet does the job. Many countries you must bring your own paper if you want it, and most countries you aren’t supposed to flush it. Including here on Cyprus where flushing is a no no. Systems are not designed to handle paper, and so it goes into the bin next to the toilet.
It may seem very strange if you haven’t lived somewhere like this but just like anything else you get used to it. I always have TP in my suitcase (and paper towels too) and always have some kind of tissue in my purse.
Have You Learned Anything
Have you learned anything crazy and surprising on your travels? Have you learned anything crazy and surprising from this blog? I could go on and on because there is so much more (cheap medical care, free universities, corrupt governments, government supported community days) that most Americans can’t comprehend.
For me it’s one of the absolutely best things about travel…an eyeopening experience to how the other 96.25% of the world lives. Because get over yourself…the USA is not the center of the universe and we should all try to be more neighborly and interested in our entire planet and the diverse peoples and cultures that make it such a wonderful place.
Don’t give up on travel…we will all hopefully be back traveling again in a few months. Just wash your hands.
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What a wonderful decision it was for us to spend three weeks on the tiny island of Antiparos in the south Aegean. We have truly loved our time here.
Using Antiparos as our home base for island hopping wasn’t really what we set out to do, but it worked out well for us to take short day trips to some of the other islands around the area. However, something to note – because of the unusual weather pattern (around the world) the ferry from Antiparos to Paros was shut down for two days due to wind while we were here. Something to think about if you plan to stay only a short time. We had lots of time so it did not affect our plans.
You can hop to Santorini from here, but the off-season ferry schedule makes that tough. During the summer more boats run. But we had already spent three days there so no need to go back. But if you visit and want to do a day trip to Santorini check out both the ferry schedule as well as the privately operated tour boats. The private boats run more frequently. When we took the ferry from Santorini to Paros it costs us 58 Euro for both of us (one way) and took three hours, stopping at Ios along the way. We used Minoan ferry line for this trip.
Mykonos and Delos
We used a private tour boat to visit Delos and Mykonos together on one day. We took the ferry from Antiparos to Paros and we got on a van that transported us to Naousa (the van transfer was included in the tour price). Here we hopped on a boat that could carry about 200 people. It wasn’t full, but perhaps 100 people. It was an hour ride to Delos where we spent three hours touring this amazing island and its significant ancient ruins. Guided tours were available but we did the tour on our own and really enjoyed it.
Back on the boat we motored 15 minutes to Mykonos. We had three hours to wander here. We had a fantastic lunch at Salparo, sitting on the rocks overlooking the harbor. We then enjoyed sauntering around the historic blue and white village, visited historic sites and looked at shops. Three hours was just enough, since we had been to Mykonos once before eleven years ago.
That trip to Delos and Mykonos was an all-day adventure and costs us 50 euro each. We booked this through Polo Tours in Paros.
We visited the island of Paros twice. The first visit we had a car and we headed to Naousa in the north part of the island. The weather wasn’t great but we still enjoyed exploring the tiny alleys and hidden shops and homes in the old chora (village). Naousa also has a charming and picturesque port. We drove up into the mountains to visit the teeny village of Lefkes. This ancient town, far from the water, is unusual in how green it is, unlike most of the brown island landscape, and is home to a small agricultural population. Lefkes is one of the few remaining chora that retains its authentic roots.
The next time we visited Paros we spent several hours discovering Paroikia, the port town where the large ferries come and go. The port area is bustling and noisy, but hidden back behind it is an incredible old chora that many people miss. It once again had some fascinating buildings, tunnels and passageways, a spectacular old castle and temple of Athena, many lovely shops and of course, cats.
We traveled on the lovely Blue Star Ferries to the island of Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades Islands, about a 45 minute ferry ride from Pariokia. We paid 42 Euro total for both of us round-trip. It was a very windy day and I worried about the boat ride, but the Blue Star line runs large, almost cruise-ship style boats, and I did fine with my motion sickness issue.
It was also very windy in Naxos, and this port town is very exposed, so we spent a lot of time wandering the old chora up to the ancient castle and trying to stay out of the wind. It’s another beautiful ancient town. We enjoyed having a drink at the rooftop of 1739, which was out of the wind and offered a spectacular panoramic view. We had a nice lunch of simple souvlaki at Yasouvlaki. We then braved the crashing waves to cross the pedestrian manmade causeway to walk out to the famous ancient portara (door), site of an unfinished temple from 530BC. We got wet. Like I said, it was very windy. But it was worth it. The Naxos Portara was worth it.
At the end of the day in Naxos I told my husband that I have really enjoyed visiting all five of the islands, but in the end, I am so glad we stayed three weeks on Antiparos. It has everything we want; quiet and peaceful, small village, beautiful secluded beaches, a handful of shops and is still close enough to visit the surrounding islands.
I do hope to return here someday.
Where to next?
But now its time to leave. Next stop – ten-day tour of Egypt and Jordan. A definite bucket list destination for me ever since I was a child. We hope you will continue to follow along on our Fab Fifties Adventures.
Once again I am astounded. Astounded by a place I knew so little about. I am so thankful we came to Namibia. Incredible
I know only three people who have been to this country. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was open to the adventure I thought it would provide. And I was not disappointed. Only lightly touched by tourism, Namibia is an astonishingly beautiful place and if you have the means you should see it now – because it will change. It always does.
This is an Oryx
There is so much to share about our ten days here, so I’ve decided two blogs are in order and I am starting with the most obvious and most well-known topic of Namibia – the Etosha National Park and the safari we did there.
Why did the giraffe cross the road?
I did a safari seven years ago in Tanzania with my son and sister, but this was a first for Arne and I really worried he might not get to see all the “big game” safaris are known for; elephants, zebras, lions, giraffes, rhinoceros. I needn’t have worried. Yes, we saw all of those and much, much more.
I booked our tour of Namibia with Wild Wind Safaris about six months ago. The tour was $4500 for the two of us for ten days. We could have seen Namibia on our own without a tour guide, the roads (although often gravel) are very good and easy to get around. But our guide “Seven” (a childhood nickname from his football number) provided us with what we learned to call “African eyes”, and the value of that can not be understated. He knew the answer to all of my endless questions and if he didn’t, he found the answer and got back to me within in minutes. He described
With our guide Seven
plants and geology, politics and population, and of course knew facts about animals and wildlife I would never possibly have known. I highly recommend both Seven and Wild Wind Safaris if you want a great experience in Namibia.
So this tour was an anniversary gift to ourselves and although definitely more than our usual $200 a day budget, it was worth every penny.
At the watering hole
The animals in Etosha National Park are varied and abundant. The park has supplemented the natural watering holes around Etosha with some manmade ones, providing constant water in this arid and hot environment. This way the animals stay within the park boundaries and are protected and visible to the guests.
There are still problems with poachers, who specifically target both the black and white rhinoceros in the park. They kill the animals and then cut off their
The beautiful and endangered black Rhinoceros
horns which are then smuggled and sold in the Chinese market. Although this is entirely illegal it is still a problem Namibia struggles with. In fact park officials regularly sedate and cut off the horns of the animals to keep the poachers from killing them. The horns grow back and are made of a material similar to fingernails so it doesn’t cause the animal pain.
Hunting is against the law throughout Namibia (except on some private game hunting reserves), which has changed the culture of many hunter-gatherer tribes and some of the people are extremely poor. But game is also farmed in Namibia and you will often find farmed
Springbok are abundant
game on the menu. Oryx is very popular and tastes just like beef.
With Seven’s guidance we spent our early morning searching for animals – a great time of day for successful sightings. We then would return to the lodge and relax, maybe take a nap or lay around the pool, before heading out again for a late afternoon game drive. You are not allowed to get out of the vehicle for any reason within the park, so having just Arne and I in the vehicle with Seven gave us lots of ability to view the wildlife and go everywhere in the park.
Zebra is the favorite meal for the lions
My photos tell the story of all the incredible creatures we encountered – but only to a point. It’s hard to describe the thrill of moment and how sudden and spontaneous and unplanned it all can be. So often it would just take your breath away. Let me tell you about a few of my favorite moments;
Our first early morning drive we set out with Seven feeling confident we would find lions. We had been out for about two hours and with his “African Eyes” he spotted the three “boys” he knew were often in the area. These lions cubs were about five months old, still young and cub-like but looking full-grown. We watched them from a distance of about 200 yards trot and gallop purposefully across a field,
ignoring all the animals they usually hunt in the area. They were intent on one thing. Mom. She lay about 30 yards ahead of us on the road. We positioned ourselves and watched in anticipation as the playful and loving reunion took place. The boys happy to be back from whatever adventure they had been on – back with mommy.
This same family we saw several times after that with the magnificent full-maned father (shown in the title photo) proudly watching over his pride. We watched the mating process (in fact got it on video) and these animals truly seemed like a family.
One of the five month old boys
We saw many lions during the rest of our visit but other “cats” were elusive, until one afternoon.
We were exploring several of the water holes in the car but hadn’t seen very many animals. But we noticed that at one water hole the giraffes seemed a bit on alert, staring off into the brush. We watched for a long time but nothing happened so just as we were rolling forward to turn around and leave I spotted a rhino coming out of the trees. So Seven parked the car at an angle where I could get some good photos and we watched. The rhino walked down to the water hole, but never drank – he turned and walked back to the woods. This seemed curious and just then I noticed a lion alone on the other side of the waterhole. “Seven there is a lion” I said. He looked and nearly jumped for
Hard to see from a distance but this is our leopard
joy! “That’s a leopard!” he nearly yelled. “Oh my god a leopard and we are the only ones here at the watering hole!” What a great moment that was. The leopard, though too far to get a really good photo of, was so well camouflaged I couldn’t believe it. He took his time drinking his fill and then quietly disappeared back into the brush. Only then did the rhino return to enjoy his own cool drink. A very rare sighting indeed.
Spotting the endangered Black Rhino was one of my goals as this animal had eluded me when I was in Tanzania. We actually saw many rhinos during our time in Etosha and they are huge, magnificent and very pre-historic looking creatures. But two special moments stand out.
As we were leaving the watering hole and chatting excitedly about our leopard encounter we came around a corner on the dusty gravel road and startled a lone
The beautiful black Rhino at the watering hole after dark
rhino very close to the road. He didn’t like being surprised and he charged our car. I’ll never forget the look on that gigantic creatures face as he lowered his head and charged, while Seven put the car in reverse and I fumbled to get my seatbelt on. He snorted and stared us down but never actually hit the car. Not an animal you want to mess with. Seven told us because he had his head down and was feeding as we came around the corner we had frightened him. Also, because of the poachers these intelligent animals have learned to be wary of vehicles and being snuck up on.
Later that night Arne and I went to the watering hole near our lodge. This hole is designed with night vision lighting that does not bother the animals, but allows people to view the animals from seats at a distance. Every night we went to see what was happening at the watering hole, and on this special night a mama rhino arrived with a teeny little baby.
Giraffe taking a sip
Watching the two of them, never more than a few inches from each other, was a special sight.
For as important as water is to all these animals, watching the effort it takes a giraffe to have a long cool drink is astonishing. Giraffes cannot hold their head down for very long because it cuts off their blood flow. It also puts them in a very vulnerable position to predators, so a giraffe takes a long time to consider its surrounding before finally spreading its long and skinny legs wide and dipping its camel-like face into the water. What a strange and beautiful beast.
Speaking of strange and beautiful, I have saved my favorite animal for last. We saw every animal from Impala to Zebra, Ostrich to Wildebeast, Jackal to Hyena, Warthog to
Tortoise and hundreds of birds. But my favorite always is the intelligent, magnificent, domestic and loving elephant. And we saw so many and have many memorable moments:
The elephant throws mud on itself in an effort to keep cool and keep off the insects. This creates what is known either as a white elephant or a black elephant depending on the mud. We watched as elephants sprayed the mud and played in the water. We saw elephants nearly pure white amongst the green leaves, we saw
My favorite photo of this bull at sunset
white elephants as the sun set looking just like a white concrete statue.
The younger male elephants (bachelors) roam together while the older males usually are associated with a matriarchal group, but don’t spend time together. The matriarchal group is made up of females and babies and “teenagers”. The male teens leave the group at about 15 years. The female elephants spend all their life together. Once again the watering hole provided us a spectacular venue to witness
these family ties.
One evening we arrived at the watering hole to find two males – one much older than the other. We watched as the younger male began vocalizing as the matriarchal group made its way out of the trees. The older male took this as his cue to exit right, while the younger male greeted both vocally and physically each female as she came near the water hole. The younger male, clearly part of this family, then left the females and youngsters to enjoy the water as he went on his way.
On another evening at the watering hole we watched a small fox running across the sand directly towards a giant elephant drinking. As the fox neared the feet of the elephant he reared up and sprayed water all over the fox – clearly showing who is the boss. The poor little fox scampered away.
The morning we were leaving the park, we had already checked out of our room and only gone about 100 yards down the road and Seven spotted elephants in the distance – with a brand
Our final sighting. Perfect.
new baby in tow. We turned immediately around and headed back to the lodge and the watering hole where we watched for twenty minutes as this new mother, another small male and this itsy bitsy newborn, no more that two or three days old, drank. The baby wanted to wallow around and the mama kept him near to her and out of the mud. Seven told us this was a young female, younger than usually reproduce, probably about ten years old. But she seemed to have a good maternal instinct and watching this
A front row seat
little group was a joyful and satisfying way to end our time in Etosha.
This blog was long, but we had such a great experience in Etosha and in Namibia. I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I’ll be writing more soon, about the people and places of this unique country, but in the meantime, the lion sleeps tonight.
One full year. On the move. Out of the USA. Living the Grand Adventure.
Yes it’s already been a year. So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled. And I am not the same.
Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism. These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.
What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American. This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.
My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.
To each his own. I know both kinds. But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to
move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image. In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time. This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.
We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”. It’s become a little joke. We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question. But we honestly don’t have a favorite. We have favorite things about every place we have been. We have things we disliked about many places. Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long
time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place. That by far is our favorite thing. I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in. Not the things I was expecting – but definitely
the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.
We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country. They are proud and patriotic. And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing. Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well. In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and
trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues. But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.
I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that. Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations. But in a global world things begin to
feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.
We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine. We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick. A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.
6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries
We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so
much of our travel details. I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on. I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.
Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur. Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places
we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration. In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.
19 holidays abroad
Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving. I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now. As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive. The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.
Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us. Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is. When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused. Am I above or below the equator? Is it winter or summer? What country am I in? What day is it? It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.
I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life
to feel satisfied. Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase. It’s enough. I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel. I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.
Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.
I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV. Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.
I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”. Water conservation in most
countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to. I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares. Really. One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).
3 hair cuts
Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my
house and garden – but it’s rare. Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself. Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away. Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.
Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment. When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to. And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor. But really none of
those places are home. Where is home? Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco. In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa. Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.
63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)
I read more than I ever have in my entire life. I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38. I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago. I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in
This is not a coincidence. It is entirely by design.
I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves. Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success. I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on. But it’s not about you is it? It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.
62 books read
20 pounds lost
2446 miles walked
And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne. People have asked if we get tired of each other? Nope. In fact the opposite. We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives. It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years. We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact. Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and
I hope forever is how long we will be together.
And now year two begins. Can I do this forever? I doubt it. Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating. Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer. So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit. Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa. We are already toying with ideas for year three. But it’s a bit too soon. Let’s not get
The family last Christmas in Thailand
ahead of ourselves. Take it just a few months at a time is best.
Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me. Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!
One year. One fabulous year! Year two here we come!
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