Namibian Wonders (Part II)

 

Excellent Food, Animals, Scenery, and Incredibly Nice People

Beautiful aerial view of the Hoanib river, the river we camped next to.
Beautiful aerial view of the Hoanib river, the river we camped next to.
Flying along the coast to reach Sesfontein
Flying along the coast to reach Sesfontein

We flew to Sesfontein with a great pilot, Shannon, who previously flew long-hauls from Jo’burg to Washington D.C. and NYC. But we rarely got above 1000 feet! And what was amazing is that we saw tens, maybe even hundreds, of humpbacks and dolphins on that flight,  and I was thinking, ‘maybe we might have even more good luck in this new place’. It was a two-and-a-half hour flight in a Cessna 210 and a lot of it was over sand dunes and hills, so it was quite turbulent, and everybody felt quite sick except Nesi (who falls asleep within 10 minutes on these Cessnas), Dada and Shannon. I have a weak stomach in terms of motion sickness.

Outside the plane we took to Sesfontein
Outside the plane we took to Sesfontein
Nesi is asleep within ten minutes on these small planes
Nesi is asleep within ten minutes on these small planes

When we landed on the gravel-sand-grass runway, we met our guide, Tarry. He’s a wonderful guide and a wonderful person. Nesi went crazy for this period of time – she had so much fun and virtually talked from dawn to dusk. We got into Tarry’s 4×4 Specialised Land Cruiser and headed into the ‘huge metropolis’ of Sesfontein. We stopped under the shade of a huge tree for a nice ‘camping’ (more like glamping) lunch, complete with a table, chairs, excellent food, and wildlife. Unfortunately, I was still feeling a bit queasy, but after some sugar (lemonade), I felt fine. When we met him, he said he loves birds and was an avid birdwatcher. For some reason, from that point on I have also been an avid birdwatcher. After lunch we watched some Pearl-Spotted Owlets fly by (tiny things), and took the two-hour drive to the camp next to the Hoanib River. It was really amazing to see so many animals on the drive there – we saw our first wild giraffes, and what is staggering is that we saw a Honey Badger (an African equivalent to a Wolverine), and they are extremely hard to see.

Us having lunch just outside Sesfontein
Us having lunch just outside Sesfontein
Hoanib river - Biggest flash flood for years just came through
Hoanib river – Biggest flash flood for years just came through

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Our first giraffes
Our first giraffes

When we arrived we were greeted by a few other people at the camp. The main guides we met were Jason, a really nice guy who was the camp manager, and Jimmy, the excellent cook. We had a campfire every night after dinner and we helped make it with all the wood around the campsite. We used solar-powered lamps to  light the outside. And we had an actual toilet and shower. The toilet dropped down to a hole in the ground, and the shower was a large canvas bucket with a shower head protruding out of it. We showered brilliantly but in open air. We heated water up with a fire and mixed cold and hot water to get the right temperature. The first day at ‘Tarry’s camp’ as Nesi calls it, was brilliant.

Our tents
Our tents
Me going for a quick walk
Me going for a quick walk
Making bread rolls on the fire
Making bread rolls on the fire
Our tents - far left mummy's and daddy's, far right is the loo. The middle is ours
Our tents – far left mummy’s and daddy’s, far right is the loo. The middle is ours.
The mess where we had meals
The mess where we had meals

The next day we all woke up feeling very happy about the situation we were in. We jumped out of bed and used the ‘loo with the view’ (Jason’s name for the loo – it was an incredible sight to look at whilst sitting on the throne). We all had bacon and eggs for brekky and discussed what we were going to do today with Tarry (he ate with us). He took us for a normal game drive. We saw a lot of Oryx (Gemsbok), heaps of Chacma Baboons, lots of Springbok, and heaps of birds. Tarry was such a good guide, even the smallest bird he stopped for and told us about it. We stopped for tea and biscuits at an entrance to the Skeleton Coast National Park — but nobody is actually allowed in. After a typical ‘camp’ lunch, but much better, we had a talk with Tarry about past experiences. I really liked these conversations we had with  him. We talked about everything from planes to school. We kept talking and relaxing for most of that afternoon, because we had a hike later in the afternoon. The walk was brilliant. We left around 4:30, to try and avoid the midday heat. It was beautiful – look. And this is just the beginning of the walk, just in front of the ‘loo with the view’. We walked for a while, looking for anything interesting, but nothing in particular. We found an Ant Lion – an ant eating insect that makes a trap by making a hole gradually down to itself, like a crater. When an ant walks into the hole, it can’t get back up – the sand slips to make it fall back down. Once sand slips, the Ant Lion leaps out of the bottom of the hole and eats the ant. We finished the walk in high spirits. I hit the shower after that. Dinner was again, brilliant – we had roast chicken cooked in the coals of a fire. After another campfire, we went to bed. Tomorrow we would be moving the camp further north, and, not knowing it, we would be seeing our first lions as well.

Nesi having a sleep-in
Nesi having a sleep-in
Finally coming out around 9 am
Finally coming out around 9 am
Beautiful Hoanib river
Beautiful Hoanib river
Lone Springbok
Lone Springbok

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Sprinbok feeding
Sprinbok feeding

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Nesi making bread rolls with Jason
Nesi making bread rolls with Jason
On the afternoon walk
On the afternoon walk
Making sand sculptures
Making sand sculptures
This rarely happens
This rarely happens (Nesi not stuck on mummy or dada)
Our campfire
Our campfire
Dusk at the camp
Dusk at the camp

The next day we woke up, jumped out of bed, had a quick brekky, and started to help pack up camp. Nicky and I helped to take down the tents, while Nesi sat on the ground making sand sculptures (the sand was like a soft rock). We left before the rest of the gang, hoping to find the Five Musketeers, five male desert lions critical to the survival of the badly endangered subspecies.  We set of on the long drive to a camp near the village of Purros. We drove on and on, occasionally going up a hill to use as a look-out. We drove through this beautiful and desolate valley, occasionally seeing a baboon, and we also saw two Lappet-Faced Vultures, an absolutely huge vulture – most other birds get out of its way. They are like kings.

Packing up
Packing up
The car is Jason and the rest heading to set up camp while we go looking for lions
The car is Jason and the rest heading to set up camp while we go looking for lions
Me in the middle of nowhere on the drive to Purros
Me in the middle of nowhere on the drive to Purros

When we got out of the valley we got a stroke of luck – fresh lion footprints. We drove 16 km tracking them down – this is another reason why we loved this experience – no radio work, just pure skill. We had just lost the trail when the car jerked suddenly to a stop and reversed back. We had found the Five Musketeers. Tarry gave us a little speech on the facts of these guys. He told us to stay quiet, but we were so dumbstruck he probably didn’t need to tell us that. We stayed just there, in front of them about twenty metres away, for an hour and a half. They are beautiful creatures. The desert lions are collared by Dr. Flip – a brilliant-sounding man who is the godfather of Jason, our camp manager. There are roughly 120 of these desert lions left, but thanks to Dr. Flip, the population is very, very, very slowly rising. The main problem is that they kill the villagers’ livestock, making the villagers kill them. Even with Flip, the desert lions are still in trouble. It was amazing watching them not move a muscle while we were there. And because there are not many trees around,  there was one lion literally lying on top of another to get more shade from the small tree. They are males, and pretty much the only males left that can mate. After a really long time, we left in extremely high spirits. The drive after that was pretty quiet.

Beautiful animals
Beautiful animals

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When we did arrive, Jason and the others had already set up camp, and a snack was waiting for us. For some reason, we pretended to not have seen the Five Musketeers around Jason. I found it hilarious – Jason seriously believed us. And then finally, after stuffing our mouths with biltong (Southern Africa’s brilliant version of jerky) I told him, and he was super amazed. He actually hadn’t seen the 5 since last November, so six months, and his godfather is the amazing Flip! It really is an incredible sight to see lions. Especially desert lions for some reason. I guess just because you know that there are only very few left. I have dubbed that day ‘one of the seven best days of the trip’.

Our tents in Purros
Our tents in Purros

Unfortunately the next day was the last full day with Tarry. We went elephant tracking. We found footprints so fresh it was actually a bit scary. And then we found dung so fresh it was freaky. So we followed the dung and footprints to a small stream, and from there on we had absolutely no luck whatsoever. We didn’t find any more dung or footprints, and even when we went up on the highest hill there (not including the mountains) we couldn’t see or hear the elephant. We even got stuck in some mud. So in the end we just went back to camp without that experience of finding an elephant. What we didn’t know at that time is that we would be seeing quite literally hundreds of elephants in two days time. We got back for lunch, and Tarry discussed what we would do in the afternoon. We agreed on going to visit a nearby Himba tribe. In the time from lunch to 4-5 ish we did one thing we haven’t done for a really long time: relax, read, have a nap, whatever you want to do.

Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Trying to find the elephant from a hill
Trying to find the elephant from a hill
Trying to make a fire
Trying to make a fire
I made this fire
I made this fire

When it was time to go to the Himba village we jumped into the truck and started driving to the village. When we got to the perimeter of the village, Tarry told us to stay in the car till we have permission to enter. As expected, they said yes, and the 20+ children went wild. You see, the village rarely gets – or maybe has never gotten – children visitors. They seemed like wonderful children, and I played with them, even if they spoke an entirely different language (OtjiHimba), and I was two years older than the oldest one there. We had a lot of fun, we got a tour of the village by the villagers themselves. We bought a Himba headdress, and a Himba necklace.

The Himba village
The Himba village
Inside the Himba village
Inside the Himba village
Himba lady
Himba lady
Me with the kids at the village
Me with the kids at the village

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After that we went up a hill for a last-night sundowner. It was Mummy and Daddy’s 11th wedding  anniversary, and a surprise awaited us on the top of the hill. Instead of just a drink with Tarry, the whole party was up there as well! They were singing and one guy, Francois, was playing his guitar. It was so much fun, with the popcorn, the ‘special drinks’, and the home-made music. One of my favourite songs they sang was when they sang “I hope you enjoy your anniversary the lion sleeps tonight” to the tune of a song from ‘The Lion King’. Dinner that night after the sundowner was also brilliant. Especially dessert – banana boat (mint chocolate in a banana, roasted over the fire). Tarry said that that was the first time they had done anything like the sundowner party.

The party
The party

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Nicky and I with Tarry
Nicky and I with Tarry

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Nesi with Jason (she really likes Jason but was shy for this photo)
Nesi with Jason (she really likes Jason but was shy for this photo)
Sunset from the hill. Hoarosib river below
Sunset from the hill. Hoarosib river below

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Tarry, Nicky, and I organised a bird watching walk in the morning, before we left. It was a really wonderful time just watching the birds. Tarry has this app that has all the birds in southern Africa, along with a soundtrack for each that plays the sound that it makes. So Tarry made a Pearl-Spotted owlet sound, and you would expect that most birds would fly away at the sound of a predator, right? Well, turns out they will actually go to the sight of the predator and investigate, so we had hundreds of birds flying into the tree next to us, and I remember that moment well. It really was a spectacular way to finish off the time we had with Tarry and the others. After that we drove off to the airstrip, but then the plane wasn’t arriving, and I was thinking, YES!, but in the end a guy came and said to follow him, and he led us to another airstrip about 5 minutes away. There we met Andy, a really nice, young pilot who told us that there are 3 airstrips in Purros, which has a population of about 200. So, quite a lot of airstrips for such a small town.

Aerial view of mountains on the way to Etosha
Aerial view of mountains on the way to Etosha
A salt pan in Etosha
A salt pan in Etosha

We said our sad good-byes and then hopped into ‘Andy’s Aeroplane’  as Nesi calls it. It was a two hour flight to Etosha National Park, and very scenic. Andy told us that he would be staying at Mushara, a lodge just outside Etosha National Park, with us: it would be much easier to stay than to go and come back for us. We arrived and retired to the couches in the huge Family Villa. We then took a trip to the pool to get all the dust off us from camping. It had been a brilliant week.

We all preferred camping in tents!
We all preferred camping in tents!
In the pool
In the pool 

The next day we were up really early to go for a sunrise game drive in the park. We left, and on the road to the entrance to the park we saw a double rainbow, and we were thinking, hmm, an omen of good luck maybe? And good luck it was. As soon as we got into the park the guide got a radio call (now radios, not tracking) and she said there was a cat somewhere, so we started driving as fast as we can toward the clump of trucks (whenever you see a clump of trucks here you know there is something good there). It was a leopard. It really is good luck even if you see only one leopard and nothing else. They are just so elusive. Unfortunately leopards are really shy, so it was leaving by the time we got there. Next we saw 6 lions, which, apparently, are quite common in Etosha. And then we saw over 150 elephants, which is really rare in Etosha. After that, we actually saw two Black Rhino. So it was only about 9:30 and we had got the big 5. Oh, except buffalo, because there are no buffalo in Etosha. That was a great day, but not quite as good as the days we had in complete wilderness. Here there are tens of lodges, some tarmac roads, and heaps of cars. And again, in the afternoon we just jumped in the pool and relaxed. The next day was a pretty nothing day: all we saw were herbivores (excluding Hyenas), and no elephants, but 1 rhino.

Omen of good luck in Etosha
Omen of good luck in Etosha
The leopard
The leopard
Shy animals, they are
Shy animals, they are
Beautiful lion
Beautiful lion
Lazy lion
Lazy lion
Huge bull
Huge bull

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'Elephant crossing'
‘Elephant crossing’
Lone male Impala
Lone male Impala
Elephants having a drink
Elephants having a drink
"we've got major traffic in the middle of nowhere"
“we’ve got major traffic in the middle of nowhere”
Curious baby Warthog
Curious baby Warthog
Black-Backed Jackal
Black-Backed Jackal
Ugly Blue Wildebeest
Ugly Blue Wildebeest
Grandma elephant with two babies.
Grandma elephant with two babies.
Giraffe's favourite food is acacia leaves
Giraffe’s favourite food is acacia leaves
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk looking very proud
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk looking very proud
Damara dik-dik, quite a small animal indeed
Damara dik-dik, quite a small animal indeed

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damara dik-dik
damara dik-dik
Warthog family having a mud wallop.
Warthog family having a mud wallop.
Zebras with moon over head
Zebras with moon over head

The next day we left the wilderness back into civilization and pretty much ended our safari except for one thing, one thing that will stay with me along with all those other friends I look to when I feel like thinking happy thoughts. What I’m talking about is a wonderful sanctuary in Windhoek with various animals. We saw African Wild Dogs there, which are incredibly rare. We also saw 3 more lions, and baboons. But the best part about this place was the cheetahs. Did you know that cheetahs are the only big cat that you can domesticate? Our guide called their names and they came running. They were so cute, just like a cat, including the purring, but super loud purring. It was so wonderful playing with them. We all had so much fun, and I can tell my mates I have been scratched by a cheetah.

Lion jumping to get a horse's head at the sanctuary
Lion jumping to get a horse’s head at the sanctuary
Me with a cheetah
Me with a cheetah

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One of my favourite photos ever
One of my favourite photos ever
Cheetahs are the only cat without retractable claws
Cheetahs are the only cat without retractable claws

I adored Namibia, and Africa in general. It was a really wonderful experience, and hopefully we will go back soon. We all loved Namibia, and anyone wanting to go somewhere jaw-dropping, Namibia is one of those places. And now I come to my conclusion: If I were to pick my favourite 3 countries (not including anywhere I have lived) Namibia would be there.

 

Ashman

21st February, 2016. Amazon

Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, Amazon, Brazil

From Cartagena to Manaus on our way into the Amazon
From Cartagena to Manaus on our way into the Amazon

Three weeks into our journey today. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the longest period of time we have travelled away from home as a family of five, and the “firsts” will just keep coming. Ash and Nicky have always been incredible travellers, so we waited to see if Nesi would come into her own. She has travelled extensively and always with high drama since birth. It’s only been six flights into our Big Trip, but all within a short period of time. Already she seems to have cottoned on that there is no point to fussing on a travel day, now that traveling is part of “normal”. Getting from Cartagena to our lodge in the Amazon took 3 car transfers, 2 flights, a 1 night stay in an absolutely no frills hotel in Manaus, and involved 0 tantrums. A first for a traveling day, and gives us high hopes for the rest of 2016.

On one of our many boat rides through the Amazon. Just stunning.
On one of our many boat rides through the Amazon. Just stunning.

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First boat ride out on the Rio Negro
First boat ride out on the Rio Negro

Sunday at Anavilhanas Lodge. First rains since we arrived 3 days ago. Locals tell us that the water levels of the river have not risen as they usually do this year, which is highly unusual. In fact, they rose a little at the start of the rainy season, but then fell again. There are huge ecological impacts involved, but for our family at this point in time, it has meant navigating up many steps numerous times a day to get to the river for all our excursions as well as our daily bath in the Rio Negro. By the middle of the rainy season in 2015, there were just three steps from boat to land. This evening we walked over a hundred to get to our “holiday house”.

Etchings show the water level of the river in that particular year. This year the water levels have not risen, which is a real concern (and also meant a much longer climb for us).
Etchings show the water level of the river in that particular year. This year the water levels have not risen, which is a real concern (and also meant a much longer climb for us).

The kids refer to all our accommodations as holiday houses. Since we left Tres Picos in Mexico City, we have had six holiday houses. We try as much as possible to choose places where we are able to have private spaces (rental apartments or family rooms within a lodge work the best) and not have to remind our kids to keep a lid on it as we are pretty much living in public this year. This is something I never thought about before the trip – how not having enough private spaces can affect us. Kids being too noisy, wanting to come to breakfast in pjs (we generally let the kids, but sometimes adults need that too!), someone being sick in bed, someone else needing quiet time, bickering, a good old fashioned tantrum over nothing at all to release the stress of being on the go. A certain amount of adrenaline takes over when we go on holiday and this helps with the stress of traveling. In the past when we return home, adrenaline levels go down and thus the immune system also takes a hit. It was not unusual for someone in the family to be down with a cold or a tummy bug soon after a holiday. At this stage, three weeks into our travels, I remember waiting for the other shoe to drop – who is going to get sick? Thankfully we stayed healthy in the jungle.

Wild pink river dolphins who are on to a good thing
Wild pink river dolphins who are on to a good thing
Our "pool". The Rio Negro was about 32 degrees celsius and it was amazing to jump in for a bath! Kids got away with no showers after. The water is fresh and clean although it is black (something about the incomplete breakdown of vegetation falling into the water).
Our “pool”. The Rio Negro was about 32 degrees celsius and it was amazing to jump in for a bath! Kids got away with no showers after. The water is fresh and clean although it is black (something about the incomplete breakdown of vegetation falling into the water).
Swimming in the Rio Negro. 30 degrees celsius!
Swimming in the Rio Negro. 30 degrees celsius!
Paddle boarding on the still warm waters.
Paddle boarding on the still warm waters.
Walking in the jungle...
Walking through the jungle…
Ness riding in her "house". She couldn't walk as no boot gaiters would fit her and there are snakes about.
Ness riding in her “house”. She couldn’t walk as there were no boot gaiters that fit her and snakes were about…

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Kayaking along the Rio Negro
Kayaking along the Rio Negro
Meeting of the waters in Manaus. Cloudy day, but you can still see the white and black parts. They do not mix due to different temperatures, density and flow of the two different rivers, Rio Negro and Solimoes.
Meeting of the waters in Manaus. Cloudy day, but you can still see the white and black parts. They do not mix due to different temperatures, density and flow of the two different rivers, Rio Negro and Solimoes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Campi ya Kanzi, Chyulu Hills, Kenya

 

I cannot remember the number of times I have thought about picking up my computer to post a new blog. The last entry from either Sparx or myself was just after Cartagena, and I feel incredibly humbled, yet privileged, to consider the places that have left a mark on us since. I am almost resistant to write an account as it forces me to acknowledge that time is passing by. And really, there is no contest between getting out my laptop to check in, and getting out there to check it all out.

I am sitting in one of our “tents” (inverted commas being necessary as one cannot truly call it a tent – the accompanying image is rather far from our current experience!) in Campi ya Kanzi, Kenya, looking at Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance, with the Chyulu Hills behind me. We have just over a week left in Africa before heading off on the European leg of our Big Trip. Outside the birds and insects are chattering. At the moment, the watering hole in front of me is full of impalas, and every now and then I can hear a noisy male trying to assert his dominance within the group. I do not have words to describe the stillness beside the constant activity. I am not ready to leave Africa!

These past few months have been a contradiction in so many ways. How can one stand the constant excitement of discovery and experience? I’ve been thinking of how to explain this feeling – it’s almost like the night before Christmas or a birthday, so full of expectation, except you know what you are going to unwrap, and know it is going to be fabulous. In a way it is even better than the presents being a surprise. There is this short period of time just before we head off to a new place, where it almost feels hard to breathe – my heart is just so full of excitement. I feel like rushing into all the experiences on offer, yet am constantly reminding myself it is perhaps better to let the experiences happen to me.

More on Africa much later as I try to play catch up now. I write as I want to have a written account of our trip. Some family and friends are kept up to date through our iCloud Photo-sharing, but it would be wonderful to get all these pages printed and collated into our book of memories when real life comes back to bite…

Week 13

This week was a return back to “school”, and it is actually quite nice that we are settling down for a while, as we have been on the move a lot the past 6.5 weeks, around Amazon and Pantanal in Brazil as well as on safari in Namibia. I really liked Franschhoek (beautiful wine country 1.5 hours from Cape Town), and again, it was really nice to just relax and just stay put for a while. So we left Franschhoek at 11ish, drove for a while then stopped at a restaurant, where I had Scrumptious Lamb Chops with Roast Spuds. It was a really nice area, with lush green fields where we could play and run around. So after lunch we drove the 40 minutes back to Cape Town. The house we got is really nice, and literally on the rocks, about 5 metres away from the closest part of the ocean. 3 bedroom house, with a hot tub. So the next day we really just stayed home and did nothing. The rest of the week was a blur of schoolwork and Fun. We got back into school work the 2nd day in CT, and we have decided weekend is Monday and Tuesday, so museums and cinemas and shops etc. are not as crowded. We have a barbecue, so dada cooked a barbecue multiple times, including hamburgers on a cloudless day outside. We have been going to a place called Baked every single day so far, for coffee and snacks, and it is really good. It is really good and fun here, and just relaxing after 2 months of travel feels really good.

More talk next week,

Asher

I Am A Certified Diver!

 

I am so Happy I can dive! I am going to go Scuba diving not often, but every now and then. The last 2 dives we did on the 7, it was really choppy and there was quite a lot of swells. I enjoyed the dives we did on the last day, but the water was really rough and getting out two guys at the Riviera had to lift us out of the water,  with our equipment on. Diving was an incredible experience, and I loved it.

Asher

Grand Cayman

We have now left Grand Cayman, but I cannot say where we are yet as Ash has a mystery Skype into his class back in Mexico this week and I don’t want to give anything away. We flew here from Grand Cayman via Miami.

Grand Cayman – didn’t think too much of the place to be honest. Obviously amazing diving (I am told), the ocean was incredibly clear, but above water it was nothing too great. It lacked character, felt a bit like Surfers Paradise might have been 40 years ago, was really expensive, and seemed to sort of live for the massive cruise ships that pulled in each day. It was, however, a good place to start the trip – nice to sit on the beach and do nothing for a week after the mayhem of packing up in Mexico.

MRT with IPC

And I am super proud of Ash and Princess getting their open water diving certificates. There is a lot to study and be tested on before they let you dive and then 3 days of pool and ocean diving, The last dive they did was in particularly choppy conditions and not for the faint hearted. I wonder where their next dive will be.

Ashman at 6m
Ashman at 6m
ash and mama
Ash and Mama

 

Pedro

A few folks have asked about Pedro. With the short trigger for heading off, we couldn’t get him organised to comply with either Singapore or Australian quarantine regulations. So the lucky fella is enjoying an extended stay in Mexico. That is him below, thinking he is invisible on the rug.

Hiding on the rug
Hiding on the rug

He is staying with friends Jono and Claire. Jono is not a bad bloke, although a bit obsessed with buying new running shoes on his weekly trips to New York. He is also a kiwi, but then Pedro is all black after all…….(sorry I couldn’t resist).  Claire is lovely, not a kiwi, and grew up with labs, and we are super thrilled that Pedro is actually having a great time with them staying in Condesa. He will head to Sabrina’s folks in Singapore in a few months’ time. We miss him terribly and I am sure he misses Nesi’s full body “cuddles”. Photo below is him mountain biking today.

Mountain biking!
Mountain biking!

Day 35 – 37 by Asher

Scuba Diving

This week was full of excitements, just because of the SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving. I enjoyed diving at the Riviera, and I saw many, many cool things, including a barracuda the size of me and a moray eel! I also saw many beautiful angel fish and parrot fish. Swimming at the beach was also so exciting.

At the pool in our apartment place I made the most amazing catch, one handed, jumping, and leaning back a lot!

Asher

Setting up my equipment
Suiting up
Getting in the water
Getting my BCD (buoyancy control device) on
Ready for descent!

 

 

Out in the Sea – Annick

First I was scared to go out to sea. My brother encouraged me to so I did it and I loved it! My favourite part was when the waves came and we shouted “wasabi!” as it took us along with it.

Getting ready to make a splash!

I went to the turtle farm but the turtles there were big but the people said they were tiny. They were big to me because I saw some this small!!!

The size of a baby turtle
The size of a baby turtle

in Cuixmala, Mexico, that I helped to hatch!!!

My Blog – Annick

Welcome to 3 Bags Full. My name is Annick. I want to say that I am having a great time 🙂

I am missing my friends from school so much.

Life in the Cayman Islands is hot.

I love it here.

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How are you going, my friends? I was really sad when I was leaving so I had a sleepover at Cami and Amalia’s house and I felt better. 🙂

Day 1 – Day 35 by Asher

The Experiences 

I had lots of fun towards the end of the time at Mexico and some sad experiences as well. I enjoyed the farewell party I had at school with my friends. The cake of Mewtwo and Rayquaza was sick as well, and the sleepover I had with my friend Luigi really helped me to feel a bit better leaving Mexico

This first week of February is so far super awesome. We are in the Grand Cayman Islands, and I have nearly gotten my SCUBA certification for diving. I have found my experiences very fun, and quite funny. My instructor is quite hilarious too, and diving is so fun! My second dive was in open water, and I saw a barracuda the size of Fede! I also saw a moray eel!  SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The training involves what to do in an emergency, what to do if your mask gets flooded, and what to if you lose your Regulator. (The mouthpiece you breath from).

For anybody who plays Pokemon: I found M Gyarados EX Full Art – ON THE STREET.
ASHER

Last Day in Mexico

Today was our last day in Mexico … for now. I’ve had a bit of a lump in my throat for a few weeks now caused by concern about the journey we are about to head out on and upheaval to our very settled life here, and for leaving Mexico.

I will miss this place terribly. I said to Princess a week or so back that I have felt more at home here than pretty much anywhere else. It’s an incredibly misunderstood country. Most folks, and particularly Australians, find it hard to jump over the security reputation. Whilst there is obviously a serious national problem with the drug cartels, Mexico City itself – all 25m residents thereof – is considerably safer than many US cities. It’s a complicated place and I can’t hope to describe it in a first post but what I will miss is the absolute priority of family first always, the community second and doing things properly a very long way down the list. Oh – food might be up there with family. Happy, welcoming, colourful, noisy, generous people. The culture, history, travel places, food and so on. You don’t need to think of things to do here – there is always something going on. I was thrilled to see the WSJ put Mexico City, or DF to the locals, at the top of their 52 Must See places for 2016.

I did my final Sunday morning run down to the Zocalo and back this morning. A nice 16km round trip. Below is one of my favourite photos from here – sun rising over the Golden Angel whilst running down the main drag (Paseo De La Reforma) on my way to the main square in the centre of town. The second photo is about 7am this morning arriving onto the square with its magnificent cathedral and the Palacio Nacional.

Sparx

On a Sunday morning run
On a Sunday morning run

31 Jan - Zocalo

Where's the tequila?
Where’s the tequila?

T minus 72 hours

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Life in Boxes

Sparx once said to me an ideal present for him would come in a box – an inference to a toolbox or tech gadget rather than silly little watchamacalits that have irregular or soft edges. This is day four of watching over the packers put all our belongings into boxes. As I sit on one of these boxes ticking off the numbers leaving our apartment to go into a long term storage, I’m having a giggle to myself that he can jolly well unpack all his perfectly wrapped presents in boxes that so far number 325.

Where we’re at…

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It was somewhere in the middle of Wrangell St. Elias, Alaska, on our 10th anniversary treat, that we realised we both wanted the same thing and that it was time we did it. Perhaps it was being away for the first time from three constantly chattering monkeys, endless conference calls, the humdrum of daily life. Perhaps it was sitting on the beach with thousands of seals at Icy Bay and watching glaciers the size of cars crash into the waters beside us over lunch. Or flying over the most incredible landscapes in a tiny Super Cub single propeller plane. We saw beauty in new ways and experienced nature truly untouched. We were sold. Now what?

We have three kids and a wonderful life in Mexico City. Between Sparx and I, we have been away from our families in Sydney and Singapore for over 20 and four years respectively. Our youngest imp was born in Chile and we love living in Mexico. We decided that our next chapter will be to take a year’s sabbatical from work, and educate our kids while we travel around the world. At the end of the year, we will end up in either Sparx or my hometown. We will take the long way home. We are no strangers to change, but what we were proposing to do seemed almost absurd. Still, carpe diem, right? So on with it.

It is this attitude that got me stuck with 3 Bags Full. Sparx, being the strongest, gets saddled with the lion’s share of luggage handling. You will not believe the whinging that accompanies this task. One of the first arguments we had over our Big Trip (and there are plenty and counting) was the number of bags we would take. I started with the number six. I thought it was a great number – a bag for each and a spare. We are taking a year off after all. These bags will contain everything we need! What of the kids’ toys, and books and endless knickknacks that the girls seem to accumulate? Ash never goes anywhere without his backpack filled to the brim with his current obsession. Educating these kids will have to fit in somewhere along the way and that will surely take up half a bag?

I lost that fight and just got on with it. We seized the day and decided we will do it with 3 bags full.

Lesson learned: We can’t. We need 4. But the name stuck.