Thursday Doors: A Nubian Lodge

Norm’s Thursday Doors is back! I haven’t been anywhere, like most of us. So I went into my archives and found photos of this charming place that we stayed one night at in Abu Simbel City, in southern Egypt. This region, which is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan, was traditionally the home of the Nubian people. Nubia (also known as “Kush” in ancient times) was often fought over, conquered and reconquered by the Egyptians while the Nubians rebelled for independence; in the end, Nubia became a part of Egyptian society while retaining some local cultural elements. Egypt even had a few Nubian pharaohs.

Traditional Nubian villages were colorful collections of domed houses. They used dome structures because clay bricks made from the mud produced by the Nile’s annual inundation were conducive to this architectural style.  Also the domes kept their houses cool in the hot weather. The men painted the house interiors white, while the women were in charge of painting the exteriors and they chose colorful pigments – blues, oranges, yellows, etc.

Here are some photos of Nubian-style buildings, taken from our tour bus as we drove through Abu Simbel City.

Many Nubian villages were displaced from their land with the building of the Aswan High Dam and had to be relocated, so in the years from 1960-1967, they were moved to a remote area in the desert north of Aswan.  The Egyptian government provided them with houses made of concrete, with flat roofs. This caused the interior of the homes to be very hot in the summer.  Furthermore, these houses were inadequate because of their size – while previously Nubian families enjoyed houses with nine rooms, they were now forced to live in 4-room houses shared by two families.  Crowding combined with the heat caused sanitary conditions to deteriorate.  Nubian children began to attend Egyptian schools in which the language of instruction was Arabic.  As fewer Nubians grew up reading and writing their native language, their culture threatened to die out.

In recent decades, the Nubian people have sought a revival of their culture and their written language.

The Eskaleh Lodge belongs to a musician and his wife who wanted to share their culture with the world, and is decorated with Nubian arts and crafts. The lodge is built in traditional Nubian style, characterized by domed roofs and archways. The domed ceilings keep the rooms cool. The lodge is a series of hallways and courtyards flanked by rooms.

An interior door admitting entrance for staff only.
This is one of the entrance gates to the lodge.

There is native artwork on display in hallways and public areas.

Traditional Nubian music is heard in the public areas of Eskaleh Lodge. A professor who came to give us a lecture about Nubian history and culture played for us on a mandolin-type instrument.

Most interesting was an instrument called a kisir. This 5-string harp-like instrument became katar (something like this) in Arabic, and in Spain it became “guitar.” The kisir is played by moving one’s fingers on and off the strings as the other hand strummed, much like how the guitar is played today.

Abu Simbel City is a colorful town in which the Nubians have begun to construct their buildings in the traditional way and return to some of their customs. Until recently, few tourists visited the area because it was so remote or took day trips from Aswan (about 2 hours each way) to see the Abu Simbel temples. That is why the Eskaleh Lodge is so important – there are still few lodgings in Abu Simbel and the lodge is a beautiful example of the revival of Nubian culture.

Journey to Egypt, Part 20: If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be…the Daraw Livestock Market

January 1, 2019 (Tuesday)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Today was a light day sightseeing-wise, which was a good thing. Dale and I were up late watching a movie about the Exodus (not the original movie; a newer version) and today we had time to just relax on our last day onboard the Aida.

In fact, Dale chose not to visit the Daraw Livestock Market, so he stayed behind and relaxed.

To get to the livestock market, we rode in the backs of trucks through the city of Daraw.
Street scenes along the way:

In the middle of town, bustling with people and vehicles of all description, we were stopped at a railroad crossing. In spite of the flashing lights and lowering of a bar in front of the track, no train came – at least not for a long time. Everyone waited patiently, however. While we were sitting and waiting for the train, which finally came and rumbled by slowly (it was a long train), I took the opportunity to people watch.


The man on the right, sitting with two others, has shoes that look like leopard skin!

Then we were on our way again!

We began to see trucks hauling animals as we approached the market.

We finally arrived and got out of the trucks into the dusty sea of humanity and various species of domesticated animals.
The market is often called the Daraw Camel Market, because this is the largest camel market in the Middle East.20190101_105704
Traditionally the camels have come up from Sudan on foot, but now they more often arrive via Toyota pickup trucks, like the animals we saw on our way here.
The camel drivers rent these trucks at Abu Simbel for the last part of their trip. Merchants from Cairo are the most likely customers. Camels are also sold to farmers or for slaughter.


One leg of each camel is tied up at the knee joint so they don’t escape. We were assured that this does not hurt the camel.

I posed for a photo with the camel handler that we talked to. While we were talking to him, another man with bad teeth and wrinkled skin approached and started speaking to the camel handler in rapid-fire Arabic. The camel handler replied something and they both laughed. Mohamed translated: the man with bad teeth had seen one of the women in our group, Lola, and had taken a fancy to her. He had come to ask her to marry him! Of course, Mohamed told him no and he went away. But for the rest of the trip, we teased Lola, a single, well-dressed New Yorker in her 70s, about her “fiancé!”
Donkey and a bovine calf tied up behind a truck
The market sells other things besides animals. Supposedly they sell produce (but we didn’t see it) as well as ropes, harnesses and other equipment for use with the animals.

The place smelled of dust, animal, and human sweat. But as we moved through the market, another smell became apparent: that of blood and freshly slaughtered animals. I looked beyond the crowd and saw a tent under which slaughtered beef was hanging. I did take a photo but have not included it here. Nor did I get any closer to that area!
Most of the adult cattle were very skinny, even the calves, but not as much.
Storefront across from the entrance to the market. I wish I knew what the signs say!
We were driven back over the bumpy dusty roads and when we arrived at the dock, I resolved to change my clothes the moment I was back on board the Aida!

Open House Chicago 2018-Part 1

Open House Chicago is an annual event – on a weekend in mid-October, about 250 buildings in the Chicago area are open to visitors. Each has a few volunteers who can tell you about the building. It is sometimes called the “architecture tour” because many of these buildings were built 100+ years ago and some were designed by well-known architects.

Chicago is known for its diverse architectural styles. It is impossible to visit all the buildings during the Open House weekend, and especially if you only dedicate a few hours to seeing them. I had wanted to go downtown, but Saturday was unseasonably cold, so we chose an area that we could easily drive to and find parking near the various sites. Another priority was to get into buildings that are rarely open to the public.

We saw three sites on the Far North Side of Chicago. The first of these was a rarely-open old mansion, called the Gunder House at the Berger Park Cultural Center, 6219 N. Sheridan Road, in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. This was a booming, affluent neighborhood in the early 1900s until after World War II.
20181013_124953This house was designed by Myron H. Church in the Classic Revival style and was completed in 1910. It was built for Samuel and Nettie Gunder, who paid $20,000 for it!

Like many of these historically significant buildings, there were many interesting details in the design as well as interesting doors and windows. I am going to blog about each of the sites, but this first post of OHC 2018 incorporates two photo challenges: Norm’s Thursday Doors and Nancy’s Photo a Week Through Glass.

We easily found street parking and headed for the front door, with the official OHC 2018 sign out front.
Same door, from the inside
Many of these big, old houses had several fireplaces, often beautifully decorated.
The Viatorian order of Catholic priests owned the Gunder House and neighboring mansion to house student priests for 30 years.  In 1945, the coach houses were converted to dormitories.
When they moved, the priests sold the mansions to the Chicago Park District in 1981 for half the price of offers from developers.


Internal door separating rooms, with beautiful stained glass ornamentation


The same door from the passageway behind it.

The ornamentation is based on the style of the Italian Renaissance.
Most of the rooms were nearly bare of furniture.


This group of arched mirrors shows the room behind me, with its curved alcove.


This is the same room from outside, in back of the house.

The design of the house reflects an early 20th century taste for historic-revival houses based on Classicism.


I climbed the stairway to take this photo of the windows on the stairwell. The 2nd floor was roped off.


Farther up the stairs is this little window.

The Park District had plans to demolish the house, but the community rallied to save it. It was restored, then used by a non-profit cultural center from 1987 to 2012.
Currently the mansion is in disrepair.  The Chicago Park District is renovating it with supplementary funds raised by Berger Park Advisory Council volunteers.
The Advisory Council hopes to generate public interest in the mansion’s use for community activities.

Having finished our tour of the first floor, we went out back to see the park’s children’s play area and view of Lake Michigan.



CFFC: N is for…

My grand-nephew Nicholas (picture taken several years ago; Nicholas is now 21.) Not only is he handsome but he’s a talented musician also!Nicholas Keriazakos.jpgNicholas-Xmas14

November nature display in my neighborhood20171108_121602

A Nissan in NicaraguaPanama Cruise C 441.JPG

Northern Lights on an Alaskan nightDSC_0780.JPG

Native American culture at the North Dakota Cultural Center (Bismarck, ND)

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Reproduction of the first house in North Dakota, made of wooden posts, covered in bark or hide


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KODAK Digital Still Camera

This winter count, created by High Dog, depicts 114 years of a Teton Dakota band’s history. Spiraling clockwise from the upper left hand corner, each pictograph represents an event in a given year. Modern winter counts continue to record significant events in tribal history.

(More about the North Dakota Cultural Center in a separate post.)

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: The Letter N (must start with N)




Cee’s SYW: on travel, tolerance, nature, and cheating

Cee’s questions this week in her Share Your World challenge were inspiring to me, so I am participating (and wish I did more often, because her questions are often thought-provoking and leading to revealing something of ourselves). If you haven’t Shared Your World, head over to the link above and write something about yourself!

If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?
In fact, I have done this – well, a long time ago. I was in junior high and had been taken out of school to take a trip to the eastern USA with my parents. I didn’t do much of my homework while I was away (except Spanish, because that was my favorite subject), so when I got back, I wasn’t prepared for the test on the book we were supposed to have finished for English class. cheating

Also in junior high, I cheated on a science test by looking at my neighbor’s paper, mainly because I simply didn’t understand the concepts.CHEATING-IN-SCHOOL

However, this is not something I would do nowadays and I never did it again from high school on!

What things in nature do you find most beautiful?
Nearly everything…brilliant sunsets, the colors of autumn, flowers, and watching nature unfold – there is nothing more exciting than in the spring seeing the plants push up from underground, and transform into snowdrop flowers, daffodils or tulips.

Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to….see as much as possible! Photograph everything – I love to be able to wander around freely to take pictures. I also love interacting with local people and learning about their culture and their lives.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
I read a short column in Time magazine by Dan Rather, in which he says it’s good to have tolerance, but that is not enough. Tolerance doesn’t require true interaction with others who are different from ourselves, we just have to accept them. tolerance means
Tolerance and segregation can live side by side. Tolerance doesn’t require any work on either side’s part to discuss those issues that separate us. From tolerance, we need to move toward inclusion. Inclusion requires interaction and dialogue with others, not just acceptance. Inclusion means we are not afraid to have a debate with people who think differently from ourselves.inclusion.png


Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

This is my travel journal for October 3, 2017, but also fits into Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week: The letter L with at least two syllables!

Today our ship docked at Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. We had signed up for an excursion to the fortress of Louisbourg, which my husband visited back in the ’80s, and likened it to Williamsburg, Virginia. The excursion was to leave at 11:00 but we were a little late getting started due to difficulty in placing the gangway. It caused a people jam on the stairways going down to Deck 3, but eventually we were all on our way.



The port of Sydney, Nova Scotia from the m/s Veendam


On the bus, our guide introduced herself as Almina, and the driver was Edmund. Almina told us a lot about Cape Breton Island, Sydney, and Louisbourg – which she pronounced “Louburg.”

She had put a map of the fortress on each seat so I followed along on the map as she told us what we were going to do as a tour and what were the highlights to see on our own.


Diorama of the Fortress of Louisbourg

In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht gave Newfoundland to the British. During the period between 1719-1744, it was populated by cod fishermen, merchants, and pirates (besides the native people, of course). At this time the fortress was built and expanded.
The period of 1745-1748 was the siege of New England Loyalists and France gained control of Louisbourg. In the second siege, during the French and Indian Wars, in 1758, the fortress was attacked again. The battle lasted seven weeks, France lost, and the fortress was destroyed.

SONY DSCUntil 1928, only ruins remained – foundations of houses and other buildings, including the house belonging to the Fizel family, above. After that, a team of archaeologists and historians began excavating the site and detailed documents about the fortress were found.


Fizel family effects



20171003_124246In 1960, a reconstruction project was begun, which hired mainly unemployed people for the meticulous rebuilding of the fortress. The reconstruction expanded and continued to add more structures up through the 1990s.





SONY DSCLouisbourg became part of the national parks system and uniformed guides reenacted life as it was in the 1700s.

Almina gave us 3 questions to find the answers to:
1. What is the difference between a fort and a fortress?
2. What vegetable did they NOT grow here and why?
3. Why do some of the buildings have a fleur-de-lis on them?


Some of the buildings are topped with a fleur-de-lis.

As a group, we first went to building #13, the engineer’s residence, where a servant – a woman dressed in period costume and acting completely in character – showed us how she made hot chocolate, while another servant passed out cups of cocoa to everyone.20171003_114045

The female servant said it was time consuming, so she had to get up early when the master wanted it. She told us she’d been up all night making ours! Assuming we were guests of her employer and having to serve us hot chocolate, she concluded we “must be rich.” But, she noted as she looked around, “I don’t see any lace.” She wondered about the women who didn’t have husbands, asking if these women worked. One of the women in the front said she had a pension.

“A pension? I don’t know what that is,” the servant said convincingly.20171003_114140
She herself was not married, she told us – she’d worked in this household since she was a teenager and if she’d fallen in love and wanted to marry, she would have lost her position. She said this matter-of-factly, but there may have been a tinge of bitterness behind her words. Now that she was older, she didn’t expect any of the young men or soldiers to take an interest in her anyway. But on the other hand, being single meant she didn’t have to share what she had with anyone. As for the family she grew up in, she left them behind in France to take this job and lost contact with them.


Furnishings in the engineer’s home:

She talked about an important part of her job, preparing food: lobster was a poor man’s food – it was so common and besides, rich people didn’t want to eat creatures that were “bottom feeders.”

Someone asked her about what vegetables she grew in the garden. She named some, like beans, but when someone inquired about potatoes and tomatoes, she said they didn’t grow them. Tomatoes, she said, are poisonous: “They’re a member of the nightshade family.” Although this is true, Almina said it’s not the real reason they didn’t eat tomatoes in 18th century Louisbourg. Although the people of that time didn’t know this, the real problem was that their dishes were pewter. Something in the tomato reacts to the pewter, rendering them unsafe to eat! (Lesson: Don’t serve tomato soup using a pewter ladle!)


Another fleur-de-lis

I was impressed with this “servant” – she totally stayed in character.


The soldier talks to our guide, Almina.

Outside, we met a soldier, dressed in a uniform with a white coat and layers of wool stockings. He told about life as a soldier in that remote outpost, and showed us how he primed and shot his musket – he could get off about 3 shots a minute, and that’s because he was very skilled at it.


Soldiers were issued uniforms upon arrival at the fortress, which they had to pay for, so right form the start they were indebted to their officers, since few of them had the money to pay for the uniform outright, and so they had to earn the money first. If they didn’t have a uniform, they would be cold and have trouble staying alive in this windy place.

Soldiers worked from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. They bunked in barracks full of fellow soldiers. The picture he painted of that life was bleak, but men enlisted in order to have steady employment and a certain amount of status compared to a common laborer or a man who couldn’t find steady work. They were dependent on the good will of their commanding officers, who “gave” them things (actually sold them, because it would be deducted from their pay) and looked out for them.SONY DSC
For a serious infraction, a soldier might be shackled to a wooden horse that stood in the yard. The offender would mount the horse and his feet would be shackled underneath. His hands would also be cuffed. He would have to remain there, enduring the vagaries of the harsh climate as well as the taunts of his fellow soldiers, until his commanding officer saw fit to unshackle him.


The sparse military chapel

From there, Almina took us to the military chapel, where she narrated more about the life and history of Louisbourg. We were given free time to explore the fortress, but we were to be back at the bus by 2:45 p.m.


Next to the chapel is a museum of found objects.

20171003_124143In the summer, there are lots of tourists here and the place is fully staffed with costumed employees demonstrating various aspects of life in 18th century Louisbourg. In October, things are winding down, but some of the staff remains. There is still lots to see.SONY DSC





Lackey’s room


We missed some of the demonstrations, though, such as the lace makers, because Dale and I went to the Hotel de la Marine to have lunch. It was 18th century food served by waitresses in period dress. We had pea soup, which contained sliced carrots and was served with bread. It was quite filling.SONY DSC

However, we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table and the service was a little slow. At the table where we were seated was a young German couple from Nuremburg in Bavaria, who were travelling on their own, although they did have an itinerary and booked places to stay. They had rented a car and were doing a lot of hiking. We enjoyed talking to them.SONY DSC





Answer to question #1: a fort houses only military, while a fortress has both military and civilians living there.
Answer to question #2: Tomatoes, because they thought they were poisonous.
Answer to question #3: The fleur-de-lis, the symbol of France, was placed atop buildings owned by the French government.



If we had more time, we would have been able to see everything there was to see in October. If you don’t mind crowds, however, you should visit Louisbourg in the summer when everything is in full swing.  It is definitely worth a visit if you travel to Cape Breton Island.

Todos Santos, Mexico: Home of the famous Hotel California

April 4, 2017

Since I had no interest in spending time in the tourist trap of Cabo San Lucas, we opted for an excursion to the small city of Todos Santos, about 50 miles up the coast from Cabo. Our guide, Memo, said that Todos Santos now is what Cabo was 30 years ago, and that in another few decades, Todos Santos will have become like Cabo San Lucas. I’m glad we’re seeing it now!

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Our first view of Cabo San Lucas


It’s already been “discovered” in that there are about 70 art galleries and shopping areas in this town of 14,000 people, it is the location of Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles, and that most of the people I saw in town (besides those from our ship) spoke English. It’s the one place that doesn’t usually trade in U.S. dollars, but some vendors carry a few small U.S. bills and credit cards are accepted everywhere.

The bus ride to Todos Santos took about an hour. Memo told us a lot of information about the town and the region. Because Dale and I were sitting in front (for once!), it was easier to ask him questions.

I noticed a very cactus very much like the saguaro dotting the desert landscape outside. I couldn’t decide whether they were or were not saguaros. I didn’t think saguaros grew this far south, even though technically Baja California Sur is part of the Sonoran Desert. Memo said these cacti were in fact NOT saguaros. They belong to one of six species of cardón cacti, which grow so many arms that they can weigh up to five tons! I could see birds’ nest holes in them and wonder if they occupy a similar role in the ecosystem as saguaros do. In appearance, they are slightly thinner than saguaros, have many more arms and some have little protrusions sticking out near their tops.

Doing an online search for the cardón cactus, I learned that its technical name is Pachycereus pringlei, also known as Mexican giant cardon or elephant cactus. It grows in northwestern Mexico in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, and Sonora. (Text and pictures source)

The cardón cactus can live up to 300 years and weigh up to 25 tons. It grows many more arms in its lifetime than the saguaro. The protrusions I saw at the top were apparently the beginning of its blooms.

I’d seen a lot of Mexico during my life, but had never been to Baja California before. So I asked Memo  whether it is feasible for Americans to retire here. Mexico has open borders and accepts anyone who wants to live here as long as they come in peace, he said. It used to be that foreigners could not own land outright in Mexico, but now they can. if you are looking for a nice 3-bedroom, 2 bath house away from the beach, in this area you can find one for $45-75,000. On the beach, however, you need to add another zero to that figure! The main problem here is that things cost more due to the peninsula’s relative isolation. That also goes for traveling – driving would require going all the way north to the border, then going south to see other parts of Mexico, or flying. (There may be car ferries over the Sea of Cortés; I just don’t know.) Cabo San Lucas has an international airport with direct flights to many cities in the U.S. and Canada, and of course, within Mexico. I think if we were truly going to retire in Mexico, we’d choose a more accessible area “on the mainland.” (Although I do love the desert!) Even so, Dale picked up a real estate brochure we found in Todos Santos.

Our bus’s first stop in Todos Santos was at a cultural center. KODAK Digital Still CameraIt used to be a school – first it was a normal (teacher training) school, then it became an elementary school. Today some specialty classes, like art or music, are taught here, mostly to children. The classrooms still being used are on the left as you enter. To the right are exhibits with old photographs and other artifacts (bones, adobe bricks, an old clock, etc.) that relate to the history of this area.

The exhibit of photographs included one of Mr. Wong, the architect of the Hotel California and another of “La Chacana.”  Mr. Wong, a Chinese immigrant, changed his name to Don Antonio Tabasco, but everyone in town knew him as “El Chino.” He designed and was the owner of the hotel, and hoped to pass it on to his children. He had no sons and his daughters had no interest in maintaining it, so it was sold. More interesting information can be read on this web site.

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Mural on a wall inside the entrance of the cultural center. Another similar one is on the other side.


The significance of “La Chacana” is also linked to the Hotel California, made famous by the Eagles’ song of that name. Although the Eagles vehemently deny that the legend is true, it’s an interesting story nevertheless.

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Inside the cultural center

The tale says that the Eagles, on a trip to Mexico, met a woman nicknamed “La Chacana”  (the trickster) because she was the only person to openly curse at the governor of the state of Oaxaca, where she lived. Anyway, this woman knew all about hallucinogenic mushrooms and she took the Eagles on a psychedelic trip with these mushrooms, which, combined with drinking a lot of mezcal (a much stronger version of tequila),  made them sick and badly hung over. They were due to fly back to the U.S. for a gig in Las Vegas, but they had headaches and were in bad shape after this “tripping.” One of their guides suggested they go a sleepy little town in Baja called Todos Santos, where there was a nice, comfortable hotel called the Hotel California where they could rest for a few days. So they flew to Cabo and got a ride to Todos Santos, where they checked into the hotel.
When they opened their luggage, however, one of the band members had a bottle of mezcal and another had a bag of “magic” mushrooms! So they went on another psychedelic trip enhanced by strong alcohol and soon were sick again! I don’t know if they made it to Las Vegas, but the story goes that while they were stoned, they began to compose the song that would become The Hotel California. Again, the Eagles have always denied this ever happened but Memo tried to lend credence to it by telling us we could ask any of the 80- to 90-year-olds who live here who remember this incident, and all will confirm it really happened. We may never know for sure, but the hotel and the town are happy to use the Eagles story to promote tourism to Todos Santos!

Memo also told us there was a “shrine” to Frida Kahlo in the back room of the exhibits. I looked but could only find two paintings, one a portrait of her that she clearly did not paint (on the left), and another which she might have painted (on the right) – it was done in her style, at least, one of her self-portraits.

A woman from our tour group who helped me find it didn’t know about her, asking how to pronounce her name and if she was from this area, so I explained that she was from the area around Mexico City and that she was in a bus accident as a teenager which kept her bedridden for months, covered in a torso cast. That was when she started to paint, I said – to amuse herself, she began drawing on her cast. From then on, she always had back pain and couldn’t walk well so she was highly focused on the physical aspects of her body, which was reflected in many of her self-portraits. I didn’t mention her marriage to Diego Rivera nor her “friendship” with Leon Trotsky, because Memo had already told the group these things. He said that the people of this town were somewhat obsessed with Frida Kahlo, which to me made sense. Todos Santos is an art colony with 70 art galleries, and Mexican artists were likely to exalt one of their most famous painters, and one who was highly unconventional as well.

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We walked from the cultural center to the church, a distance of three blocks. On the way, Memo showed us the gallery of a friend of his, who had made some beautiful pottery, on display outside. He said we could later go back and he’d show us how he makes the pots – which I’m sorry to say I forgot all about later. Memo said that the bus would pick us up at noon at the Hotel California, which was also where we were having “lunch” at 10:30 a.m.!


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KODAK Digital Still Camera

The church had a mission attached to it and there were signs giving information about it. Memo also gathered the group in the Zócalo in front of the church to explain about it, a speech of which I heard very little because I was wandering around looking for photo opps. I did take pictures of the signs to refer to later.

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This church was the foundation of an early Jesuit mission, Santa Rosa de Todos Santos.


We went into the church briefly before heading to the hotel for our lunch. I took one or two shots inside and also of the carved wooden doors opening up onto the plaza.

The hotel was very colorful and had interesting décor. I took several very nice views, by this time mostly with my cellphone camera because my regular camera was not cooperating.

We were able to use the bathrooms here, supposedly better than other public facilities. However, I found the toilet paper roll in my stall on the floor, and it had gotten wet with…??! I had to be strategic about using it, making sure to use the dry part! I left the roll on the back of the toilet.

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The food we were served was a sort of combo plate, including portions of various types of typical Mexican food. There was a rolled up flower tortilla with some meat inside – I added beans, rice and guacamole from my plate to it to make a tasty taco. There was a bean enchilada which was hard to cut with a fork, since we were not given knives. There was also a tamale, which I had to explain to the Canadians, who had never seen one. We were also served water or soda as requested, so I then had a cold bottle of water to use until we got back on the bus. The food was quite good – I always like excursions that include a meal, so you get a chance to taste the local cuisine instead of eating the usual food on the ship.

After eating, it was about 11:00 and Memo gave us an hour of free time to shop and explore galleries. It would have been better, I think, to cut that time in half and get back to Cabo earlier where we would have the option of doing whatever in town or returning immediately to the ship. However, this gave us plenty of time to look around this pretty little town and take more pictures!

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

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In the end, I was very glad we visited Todos Santos. I loved exploring this colorful, creative town in the desert of Baja California!

Later, my sister Mary and brother-in-law told us about their quest to buy guayaberas (typical Mexican men’s shirts) in Cabo San Lucas. While my two sisters strolled around the touristy shops in Cabo, where Mary bought a couple of medium-quality guayaberas at rip-off prices, her husband – who speaks fluent Spanish and is a good walker – took off into the more “native” part of town, climbing hills and talking to people, and returned with a beautiful, finely made guayabera for half the price Mary paid!



Picturesque rocks off shore from Cabo San Lucas


This was our last stop before our port of disembarkation, San Diego. The Mexican “ambassadors” who had educated us about Mexico and entertained us on the ship got off at Cabo San Lucas. Our final day on the cruise was at sea, during which we did a 5K walk around the promenade deck, called “On Deck for a Cause” – a fundraising tradition at Holland America which takes place on all their cruises.  For a $20 registration fee, you receive a t-shirt and plastic bracelet, and the knowledge that every donation goes to international organizations doing cancer research in pursuit of a cure.

In San Diego, we said good-bye to my sisters and brother-in-law, who went home, while we stayed two extra days in San Diego.  (I’d love for you to check out my first post about San Diego,  Fun and Flowers in Balboa Park!)

Photo Essay: Santo Domingo del Cerro Cultural Park, Antigua, Guatemala

After a walking tour of Antigua, our hungry tour group ascended a hill by bus to have lunch at The Golden Fork restaurant as well as explore the cultural park which promotes Guatemalan artists’ work.

Panama Cruise C 581

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Wood carving – Quetzal (Guatemalan national bird)


KODAK Digital Still Camera

Nature’s artwork!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Panama Cruise C 600

KODAK Digital Still Camera


KODAK Digital Still Camera