An Adventure to Sian Ka’an

Want a truly unique travel experience? Try an adventure to the protected biosphere of Sian Ka’an just west of Tulum in Mexico! This tropical paradise encompasses both ocean and jungle for a wonderful journey through nature that is a must-see for travelers.

Walk along the wooden walkways through the forests, surrounded by trees and bamboos and climb up into the trees for a fantastic view of the ocean!

Adventures in Sri Lanka

Ever wanted to travel to Sri Lanka? This lush paradise is filled with activities and wonderful sights for any and all ages. See the tea plantations in the highlands, learn to surf on the beach, or help some sea turtles make it to the water! Enjoy fresh and fruity drinks as well as homemade bread and treats sold almost anywhere. Ride a local train or hop in a buggy for a bumpy ride through the streets with a smile on your face.

Baglama Music in Turkey

Enjoy your Turkish coffee with some local entertainment by indulging in Baglama music! This unique style of music is completely popular in the region and a truly one of a kind experience!

Listen closely and enjoy the unusual instrument as well as the harmony it creates. Dine on delicious coffees and pastries with fresh, local ingredients for a fun entertainment-filled night in your Turkish travels.

Next in Our Imagine Series: Morocco

Imagine…

you hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, you can almost smell the ginger.  You are lured down the sloping Tala’a Kbiraf  into the crumbling medina, deep in the heart of Fez.

The mayhem of this Moroccan souk quickly swallows you.  It’s a teeming and twisting warren where tables of goat heads and homemade soap are crammed alongside crates of chickens whose squawks compete with the clang of artisan tools from the ceramic studio.   Mules laden with gas tanks plow through the narrowing pathways, as shouting schoolboys careen between them, their backpacks swinging. You melt into a stream of humanity between djellaba-clad mothers and shopkeepers, and, alongside your Berber guide, you begin to market.

Today you are on a journey to learn the art of tagine cooking.  The market’s scents of rosewater and white artichokes fresh from the earth envelope you as you sort through quince and test aubergines for ripeness.  You select a chicken from the feathered flurry of the pen, then gratefully accept the vendor’s offer to deftly slice the neck and de-feather it for you in the nearby boiling pot.

Wafting scents of fiery cumin and warm cinnamon draw you to the neighboring stall where you weigh out grams of spices to create your own Ras el Hanout, a blend translated as Top of the Shelf that will be the secret to your delectable tagine.   Back at your guide’s Ottoman-style home, called a riad, you chop and sauté all your new ingredients and the kitchen fills with an exotic aroma.  You know that this dish will be unlike any beef stew you have ever made.

And then there’s the khobz, or flat bread.   You knead the dough, but in an ancient neighborhood where homes rarely had their own ovens, you take your tray out into the bustling medina, to the nearby community oven.  For a few dirhams, the baker shoves your bread into the wood-fired oven, to bake next to your neighbors’ cookies.

During your week in Fez, you mingle with bidders at the rug auction and meet with a seamstress to have a caftan custom made.  You sip steaming mint tea as your foot taps to the alluring beat of a drum circle, and you treat yourself to a steam bath in the communal hammam.

You have practically become a local!

That was a trip of a lifetime!”, you say.   “Let’s do it again next year!”

If Morocco is not your dream destination, then join me next month for a sail through the Galapagos Islands.

Til then,

Rare Finds Travel Design

…sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique!

 

Balloon Adventures in Turkey!

Want to explore the wonderful country of Turkey in a whole new way? Then take to the skies and see the beautiful cityscape from a hot air balloon! Experience the adventure of watching these majestic balloons go up and then slowly rise into the sky for a once in a lifetime view of the city!

Also, get an inside look of a real family vacation to this exotic destination and see the great times and places you yourself and your family can visit as well!

The Famous Azulejos of Portugal

One of the wonderful adventures of Europe is being immersed in the history and architecture that surrounds you. One of the great ways to learn about this history is by exploring the famous azulejos (tiles) in the city of Porto in Portugal.

This city is famous for its tile work, including across the facades of buildings and train stations. These colorful tiles are also manufactured here and exploring those factories is an experience like no other! Learn all about the wonderful textile history of the area and see some amazing colors!

Next in Our Imagine Series: Morocco

Imagine…

Morocco!

You hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, you can almost smell the ginger.  You are lured down the sloping Tala’a Kbiraf  into the crumbling medina, deep in the heart of Fez.

The mayhem of this Moroccan souk quickly swallows you.  It’s a teeming and twisting warren where tables of goat heads and homemade soap are crammed alongside crates of chickens whose squawks compete with the clang of artisan tools from the ceramic studio.   Mules laden with gas tanks plow through the narrowing pathways, as shouting schoolboys careen between them, their backpacks swinging. You melt into a stream of humanity between djellaba-clad mothers and shopkeepers, and, alongside your Berber guide, you begin to market.

Today you are on a journey to learn the art of tagine cooking.  The market’s scents of rosewater and white artichokes fresh from the earth envelope you as you sort through quince and test aubergines for ripeness.  You select a chicken from the feathered flurry of the pen, then gratefully accept the vendor’s offer to deftly slice the neck and de-feather it for you in the nearby boiling pot.

Wafting scents of fiery cumin and warm cinnamon draw you to the neighboring stall where you weigh out grams of spices to create your own Ras el Hanout, a blend translated as Top of the Shelf that will be the secret to your delectable tagine.   Back at your guide’s Ottoman-style home, called a riad, you chop and sauté all your new ingredients and the kitchen fills with an exotic aroma.  You know that this dish will be unlike any beef stew you have ever made.

And then there’s the khobz, or flat bread.   You knead the dough, but in an ancient neighborhood where homes rarely had their own ovens, you take your tray out into the bustling medina, to the nearby community oven.  For a few dirhams, the baker shoves your bread into the wood-fired oven, to bake next to your neighbors’ cookies.

During your week in Fez, you mingle with bidders at the rug auction and meet with a seamstress to have a caftan custom made.  You sip steaming mint tea as your foot taps to the alluring beat of a drum circle, and you treat yourself to a steam bath in the communal hammam.

You have practically become a local!

That was a trip of a lifetime!”, you say.   “Let’s do it again next year!”

If Morocco is not your dream destination, then join me next month for a sail through the Galapagos Islands.

Til then,

Rare Finds Travel Design

…sometimes rustic, often luxurious, but always unique!

 

Next in Our Imagine Series: South Pacific

Imagine…. you are on a minute volcanic island in the South Pacific.  It’s the most remote, continuously inhabited island in the entire world and its storied occupants are the Moai.  It is they you have come to meet.

 

Ramon will introduce you.   He and his wife Josie are hosting you at their guesthouse at the edge of Easter Island’s lone village, Hanga (translated as “bay”) Roa.  Avocado trees, laden with dark fruit, and pink fluffy Chinaberry trees edge their flowered garden where you sit at breakfast, enjoying homemade guava jam and their tales.  Josie’s grandfather was the archeologist who headed up the restoration of the Moai in the 1960’s, and Ramon’s grandmother was the last baby born in a native settlement on Ovahe Beach before the British converted much of the island into sheep pastures in the 1920’s.

 

Ramon will show you this beach, as well as the lava tubes where early Rapa Nuians grew bananas and tobacco and grapes with protection from the ceaseless trade winds.  He will 4-wheel drive you to the various ahu, or platforms, where the Moai stand proudly. You wander amongst them, their faces towering 40’ over your head and their impassive gaze staring inland, right past you.  You squint up at their proud noses silhouetted against the day’s clouds, and marvel at their oversized topknots, looking heavy and precarious. You sense the generations that have stood on this very ground, their sweat and hopes and despair all brought to the feet of these rigid yet spiritual giants.

 

Later on, Ramon walks you into the quarry, Rano Raraku. This is where, for 400 years or more, these carved likenesses of the islanders’ forebears were etched out of the tuff of the mountain.    They were rolled into sandpits and stood upright to be tattoo-ed and detailed with earrings and elongated fingers. The completed Moai were then rolled onto wood sleds, and dragged to ahus on the coast.  The islanders ran out of trees for their sleds before they ran out of stone for their Moai. This deforestation is just one of the ways that the Rapa Nuian society, as their tribes grew ever larger tribes and ahu ever more plentiful, exhausted their natural resources to near extinction.

 

As you walk through Rano Raraku, the abrupt dissolution of the civilization is apparent. Some Moai stand abandoned on the quarry’s hillside, the largest, Te Tokanga, or “El Gigante”, still lies attached to the mountainside – all 65’ and 270 tons of him.

 

On another day, a caballero rides with you along the remote north shore through a stark, stone-strewn landscape that once was woodland. You ride atop cliffs against which the cerulean waves crashed, through herds of wild horses, and past archeological remains from the 1500’s.

 

At dusk, you pause at Ahu Tahi,  Sitting on the soft grass, you watch the sun set behind these Moai.  They are still, timeless, serene, stoic, yet not blank. Their expressions are inscrutable yet moving, and you are anchored to this grassy spot long after the orange eddies of the sky turn to violet and the stars fill the heavens like powdered sugar.

Dinner awaits.  Down by the single harbor where scarlet and blue and mustard colored fishing dories rock, side by side, the Taverne de Pecheur has a table for you. On a batik-covered candlelit table, you savor Easter Island’s tangy specialty: ceviche

 

The last morning, Ramon takes you to the small airstrip and places a necklace of shells around your neck.  “Iorana”, he says. Goodbye, from Easter Island.

 

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year!”

 

Sharing the love of travel!

 

Next in Our Imagine Series: Belize

Imagine…

the equatorial sun of Belize toasts your shoulders as Roberto drops anchor on the north side of Ambergris and hands you a hooked 6′ pole!  It is time to lobster dive.

Once overboard, outfitted with snorkel and mask, you scan the limpid shallows for lobster “carports”, 12’x20’ wooden flats that look a bit like flattened parking carports on the sea floor.  You are on the lookout for a protruding antenna or a flurry of sand from the Caribbean crayfish known locally as Spiny Lobsters.

It turns out that hooking the crafty crustaceans is not so easy!  You hyperventilate in the waves, but dive down, again and again, as your lungs scream and you laugh underwater at your poor prowess.  You slap the water and curse the reef gods, but you finally get the hang of it and snag one!

Lunch is not in doubt however as Roberto is a master lobster-diver.  Before you know it, the cockpit teems with your catch. He ties off the mooring ball and putters over to a secluded cove where, with pelicans as your only company, he whips up a BBQ lunch unlike any other.

You have been curious all day about the bulging sack of dried coconut husks in the cockpit, which Roberto handily converts into a beach bonfire!   And as the coals smolder in a shallow pit beneath some palmetto, he cleans and foils your catch, spices it up with onions and spritz of lemon, and slathers on his secret ingredient …mayonnaise!

As enticing scents and sizzles rise off the fire, you get an icy Belikin out of the cooler and float on the aquarium-clear water.

When Roberto announces lunchtime, you let the waves coax you gently up onto the soft beach and with your toes wriggled into the lapping water, you lounge on the warm sand and pull lobster chunks out of the charred shells, juice running down your wrists.

Later, you motor out to Shark Ray alley where you chum triggerfish to attract dozens of nurse sharks.  The idea is to jump in and barrel-hug them for, as Roberto reassures you, nurse sharks fall into a trance when you turn them over and rub their bellies.   The trick, it seems, is to get them turned over!

On your boat ride home from the Hol Chan (“little channel”) Marine Preserve, you feel quiet, reflective, and above all, sated.  

Ambergris Caye’s manicured resorts spread out before you.  

Did you really spend the afternoon like Robinson Crusoe?

 

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year!”

Sharing the love of travel.