New Zealand, South Island

Roadside river along road to Milford Sound

The North Island is separated from the South Island of New Zealand by a three hour ferry ride.  Commercial trucks, motorcycles, caravans and pedestrians all pile in for the ship.  Ferry rides are always exciting, but we have some trepidation as we know we still have a five hour drive once we arrive in Picton at 3:00pm. Continue reading

New Zealand by Caravan

The Greens of Summer

“The greens of summers.  Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day…”  Paul Simon

We will spend the next 21 days driving in a caravan, from Auckland, New Zealand in the far north to Christchurch on the South Island.  We had read renting a motor home is the best way to see this beautiful country, with a photograph waiting around every turn.  Our reality was a bit different. Continue reading

With Peru in our Rear View Mirror, Hello Fakarava

Island in the distance

“Island, I see you in the distance… I tried to book passage, but you have no ports…” Jimmy Buffet

With South America in our rearview mirror, the friendly, beautiful islands of French Polynesia were eagerly anticipated.  Contrasts between the two could hardly be greater.  The laid back, easy living lifestyle on Fakarava Island was a very welcome change.

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Pitcairn Island and Mutiny on the Bounty

Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn Island

Mutiny on the Bounty

Nope, it was not just a movie.  Crewman Fletcher Christian really did lead a mutiny against Captain Bligh in 1789.  Their hijacked ship, the Bounty, was sunk in a harbor at Pitcairn Island to hide from the British who would certainly hunt them down.  Around 50 descendants of these mutineers and a few Tahitians continue to live on this remote island.  Continue reading

More than Just Stone Faced Moai on Easter Island

Colorful fishing boats of the Rapa Nui, on Easter Island

The Rapa Nui are the original inhabitants of Easter Island.  On the boat above the red smiley face looking design is a drawing of a decorative chest ornament called a reimiro worn by the original Rapa Nui women. On each end of the red canoe design a face appears on the chest plate.  This is the basis of the Easter Island flag.  So now we know the owner of the boat is a proud, patriotic fisherman. Continue reading

Famous Residents of Easter Island

I don’t think he knows we are here. Let’s sneak up and scare him…

Easter Island was never on my bucket list of places to see.  However, I was very excited for this visit learning it was an overnight stop for our Oceania cruise.  After five days at sea, departing from Lima, Peru, we arrived in Rapa Nui or Easter Island.  It was discovered by Europeans on, you guessed it, Easter Sunday, 1722.  I was now going to meet their famous stone faced residents, the moai. Continue reading

The Importance of Peruvian Hats

The Montera

The flat red felt hat known as a montera

Some Peruvian hats appear to serve little function.  However, they often tell other locals where the hat wearer is from and their family heritage.  The red felt hat is called a montera and can be filled with flowers, fruit and other adornments.  These are worn by Quechua women throughout the Sacred Valley.  When worn at such an angle, it may also tell others she is a widow. Continue reading

Eating Cuy, or Guinea Pig in Peru

Guinea Pig in Peru

Looking like Three Blind Mice, I was anxious to try Guinea Pig

After a recent photography trip to Ecuador, I was disappointed to have missed out eating their national dish, guinea pig.  So given the chance to once again try this unique local cuisine in Peru, I jumped at the opportunity.  Better yet, our Peruvian cab driver let me know the Ecuadorians do not know how to properly prepare guinea pig like the Peruvians do … lucky me! Continue reading

Machu Picchu in the Rainy Season

Machu Picchu in the rainy season

Machu Picchu in January

Machu Picchu is a well known and all-too-well traveled Inca destination high above the Urubamba River Valley in Peru.  During the 90 minute train ride from our base in Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River was in view most of the time.  It is the most turbulent, violent river with non-stop rapids I ever have seen.  So this deep valley is still being carved out by nature at a steady pace. Continue reading

Along the Road to Machu Picchu, Peru

Traditional Peruvian lady in Chinchero, Peru

Traditional Peruvian lady in Chinchero, Peru

Many who travel to Machu Picchu are doing so as a bucket list item.  They rush to Machu Picchu and see little else along the way after landing in Cusco, Peru.  We were simply visiting to help fill the three-week void we had between one cruise terminating near Valparaiso, Chile and the next cruise departing from Lima, Peru.  It was the less desirable rainy season.  Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Louvre Museum, if you are in the area of world-renowned sites, they are must-see attractions.  Machu Picchu is one of them. Continue reading