03 Apr 2019

Malaga, Spain 2019

We woke up this morning heading right into the beautiful sunrise with Africa just to the right (south) and the Rock of Gibraltar to our left (north). Less than 8 miles separates the African and European continent at its narrowest point here.
120,000 ships a year pass through here. 
It has been so important to shipping that hundreds of years ago in the local town, Tarifa, the concept of tariff was invented. They learned it was easier and more profitable to charge a fee to pass through than to be pirates. This way they kept their customers.
Malaga is surprisingly one of the cleanest cities I have ever visited. It is amazing how many people came back on board tonight and said they must come back. 
The entire city center area is brimming with cafes, shops, old lovely buildings, pedestrian malls, and beautiful squares.
The highlight was learning about and focusing on Picasso.
Picasso was born in Malaga and spent his first 10 years here and later returned for three more. The Malaga Picasso museum is quite unique in that it covers all eight decades of Picasso’s work and includes some of his final 1970s pieces. Many of his paintings here are unsigned as he produced them for himself and his family loans many of them to the museum for five years at a time.
Sorry; no photos allowed in the museum.

01 Apr 2019

Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands 2019

Santa Cruz de La Palma is the capital city of the island of La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands. 
We love the Canaries, spent time there last summer and will return this summer, However, that is a different season, different island, different experience and a different blog.
Geographically these islands are off the coast of Morocco in Africa, but politically and culturally are Spanish and have been for 500 years.
This city is known for its centuries-old architecture, cobbled streets and busy port. We took a trolley and walking tour to take it in.
Not too many of the city facts will stay with me but the quaint loveliness will for sure. In fact often I just hung around while Allyn got educated.
Some factoids:

*Canary Islands are not named after the bird. They are named after the Latin word for dog – canaria.

*It is the highest point in Spain and has the world’s largest telescope on top.

*The Spanish Civil War started here.

*Tex-Mex cuisine started here. Because of wind patterns, Spanish conquistadors came through the Canary Islands on their way to the New World. They brought with them and used peppers and chilies originally from African Berbers (Northwest African people) and infused the food with their flavors. Additionally, Canary sauces, such as mojo sauce, later became the basis of the Tex-Mex sauces. 

29 Mar 2019

Santo Antão, Cape Verde 2019

350 miles off the west coast of Africa about a third of the way down lies an island country called Cape Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde. It was a Portuguese colony from 1463 to 1975, when it gained its independence. We visited its island of Santo Antão.

Its volcanic landscape makes for considerable beauty. We opted to do an island drive today to take in that natural beauty.

We were high; the clouds were low, and we were in them.
Miles and miles of roads were manmade with rock done piecemeal.
In the mountains were small farm communities. It is a very tough business. Terracing is required and difficult. Water for irrigation is nonexistent meaning only dryland farming is possible. A couple crops such as potatoes and corn are possible though. Unfortunately the soil is getting farmed out losing nutrients every season.
You can imagine our surprise when we came across a former synagogue, especially since we we had already learned there were no Jewish people living here. Over the centuries, Cape Verde became a harbor of Jews fleeing European persecution or in search of economic opportunities. 
By the late 20th century what remained of the Jewish community had either left Cape Verde for Israel or assimilated into the predominately Catholic nation. 
On a beautiful day the ocean is always pretty. That is where tourists tend to congregate.
 We said howdy to a cow at our final stop.

21 Mar 2019

St. Helena 2019

St. Helena Island is one of those bucket list places for people who have been to many places already.

We are at one of the most remote inhabited places on earth. It is 1,200 miles west of Angola (the closest land mass) and 1,800 miles easy of Brazil.
They have had an airport for less than three years and even that is dicey due to extremely high winds.
Once every few weeks a ship arrives after a five day journey from Cape Town.
The town is immaculate and the people are super friendly.

 It is most famous for being the final home of Napoleon Bonaparte 200 years ago. Although he was buried on St. Helena, his remains were later returned to Paris. 
The highlight for fitness folks is Jacob's Ladder. There are 700 uneven steep steps that climb 600 feet (equivalent to a 60 story building). Of course Allyn took the climb. Apparently her foot operation in November was a success.
St Helena is the oldest  British Overseas Territory in the world other than Bermuda.
It is home to at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world. 
Speaking of old, its most famous citizen is Jonathan, a giant 400 pound 200 year old tortoise - the world's oldest land animal. He is a permanent resident at the governor's house.

17 Mar 2019

Walvis Bay, Namibia 2019

Most African countries gained their independence by the 1960. Not so Namibia. 
South African apartheid laws were extended to Namibia and prevented black Namibians from having any political rights and most freedoms. South Africa’s plan was to exploit the mineral resources of Namibia by white South Africa.
It took 24 years of revolt and warfare with South Africa (1966- 1990) and almost 25,000 people dying before they achieved independence.
It has a population of about 2 million in a country that is twice the size of California.  Only Mongolia is less populous.
We enjoyed our day driving for miles and miles in a 4X4 to visit two lagoons. Along the way we saw miles of beautiful ocean.
 Seals are always cute.
 There are so many bird types out today. Here are some pelicans taking a swim.
Little egrets are actually a type of heron.
We even saw a grey heron.
Stopping for a picnic type snack in the middle of nowhere is always fun.
We drove and walked up and down gigantic sand dunes.
We even saw a real human skeleton in the sand.

The most beautiful birds today had to be the flamingos.