Antarctica with Quark Expeditions

So June asked me how I ended up guiding in what might be the coldest place on earth–even colder than the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg in case you’re curious.  There’s a rumour that since I spend a great deal of my spare time in Central America and South East Asia and India that I dislike the cold….. NOT TRUE!

I’m on my way south–pretty much as far as you can go– with Quark Expeditions and will be there until mid February.  Penguins and albatrosses and leopard seals and whales and Scott and Amundsen and Ross and the rest….  Come along if you like.  Here’s the link:

https://www.quarkexpeditions.com/en/antarctic

Canadian Marshmallow Farms

 

                                         

This is not an uncommon site in the spring and the fall of the year if you’re driving down Canada’s byways.  But the question of what it is does require some thought.  What you’re looking at is the result of a bumper crop at one of our marshmallow farms.  Anyone who has  stopped on the side of the road for a stretch,  or to see if you have phone signal or to change a flat tire might also comment that they’re huge.  Well spotted!

There’s a reason for that.  In the summer lots of Canadian kids end up in summer camp.  They learn the arts of short–sheeting a counselor’s bed, sneaking out to the bar in town and attempting to lower your voice an octave to get in or simply skinny dipping off the dock into a freezing cold lake.  All great fun.  One of the actual scheduled activities for the ones left behind is roasting marshmallows on a campfire. It’s not practical for camps to buy the commercially available small ones so we’ve created a hybrid. Roasted on a spit like a pig, it can take care of the whole camp at once (with the exception of those short sheeting a bed, sneaking into the bar or dossing clothes down by the lake)

Further to the field notes above, this is a prime example of a young Marshmallow Tree.  Note this is the smaller variety commercially available in most Canadian supermarkets.  This also appears to be one of the new hybrids and has been crossed with a gooseberry bush ( have a close look at the leaves)  Photo courtesy of Elias and Shirley Katsourakis and Betty Wakka–all Australian.

What’s on the books for the next year

So there are a few exciting things in the pipeline.  In October I’m looking at another “Splendours of India” with Goway Travel. I’ve just finished watching Tracey Bragg’s video.  Tracey was a guest on the India trip in October last year.  Turns out she’s a pretty good photographer.  It was just like being there again.

“An Evening at Varanasi” is a blog post I wrote for Goway’s Globetrotting online magazine that will give you a feel for it. “Spendours of India” is a link to the itinerary.

Splendours of India          

An Evening at Varanasi

As well in April 2018 I’m leading a brand new tour to Peru for Kudu Travel.  It’s currently featured on the main page or you can access it here:

Peru: Exploring the Incas’ Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

There are lots of other things going on and as they unfold, I’ll post.

cheers!

Kit

 

Peru–Now there’s a place for you Kit!

                                          

Many years ago I got some advice from a good friend of mine.  We were plowing through old National Geographics in the basement. As I recall you bought them by the pound from the second-hand shop.  The planet hadn’t changed much in my small lifetime so it didn’t matter one bit that they were out of date by a few years. They were by far my favorite reading.

“Peru–now there’s a place for you Kit.  You should be in Peru”  mused Bill

It took me another 20 years or so but I made it to Peru on a bet.  I paid off a ship in Valparaiso  Chile and bet some engineer friends I’d beat them to Manaus in Brazil.  They were going round the horn and I was heading overland.  They bet they would never see me again……

One day I’ll tell you the story of 5 days up the Ucayali River by banana boat….. but for now, let’s fast forward to April 2018, a company called Kudu Travel based in the UK (“walking cultural tours” they call them) and a new adventure.   This is my latest trip,  the company asked me to help design it and you’re all invited! I can’t tell you how excited I am>

Just so you know, this won’t be your ordinary run-of-the-mill trip to Machu Picchu……

  • Arequipa and the Colca Canyon in search of Condors
  • Puno, Lake Titicaca and the reed islands
  • That fabulous rail journey overnight to Cusco
  • And yes of course we’ll go to Machu Picchu!

See the page above PERU ANYONE? for details or visit KUDU TRAVEL directly. Feel free to email me if you have itinerary questions.  Booking is done with:

                                   

Earthdate February 3 2015, Antigua Guatemala

Ms Mexico 4 resizedOne of the things I remember clearly about Antigua Guatemala are the ancient gnarled cobblestone streets.  They make for great photos–at night just after it rains and you can see the window lights dancing across them like diamonds.

In the glaring light of day, they’re a bit precarious for walking and like any artistic impression, they are what they are in reality.  You watch where you walk, avoid the rough bits and steer clear of the dog poop.platform-shoes1

So there I am walking up from the Parque Central and loping towards me are the cast of what looks to be Miss Universe–or maybe Miss America,

Most are 5’7″ or 5’8″ tall to begin with, coiffed to the nines obviously dressed for a date with a television camera with sashes across them per country (yes Miss Canada is there) And they’re wearing these!  Or some version of these–stilletto, at least an extra 4 ” taller and tottering precariously across those unforgiving cobblestones while dodging doog poop.  Who comes up with these ideas???

Miss Mexico–pictured above–seems a bit put out–she’d been left behind at the Cathedral to do a photo shoot.  She has no idea how big a bullet she dodged by not having to join the rest on the walk through town!

Earthdate January 24th 2015 Rio Dulce Guatemala

 

Imagine this road after a torrential downpour of 18 hours.  Now imagine that it could be the next best thing to a running river of mud.  It might in fact have ruts and20111203_guatemala-road-1 divets.  It might have a hole at the bottom of a small hill big enough to swallow a small car.  Okay maybe not quite that big.

But it is a hole and there is a pile of truck and collectivo traffic passing through here for a Sunday.  Still not sure about the trucks–mining up the road maybe?

Two  guys who look like they spend the rest of the week tending maise in the fields or picking avocados are going at it–fairly successfully with a pick and a shovel and a small pile of rocks.  It’s absolutely passable now.

I see the helper in the dumptruck ahead of me hand something out the window to one of the guys.  The driver of my collectivo shouts back to his helper and a note is passed forward.  As we pass, I see 5Q (less than a dollar) pass out the window to the other worker.  The conversation is in the local Maya language.

I THINK I’m seeing free enterprise at work.  No chance the local roads department is driving around rural Guatemala after a bit of rain seeing what they can fix.  So a couple of farmers gather up some stones they likely had to pull off their land anyway, fill in the hole and the grateful commercial drivers hand them a tip for doing so.  Road gets fixed well enough to pass and for a couple of hours work on a slow day, the farmers get some much appreciated paper money.Finca de Perdido reduced

And then we get here.  Finca de Perdido–the lost farm.  Steam rising off the waterfall as it cascades from its hot spring on top into the cool waters of the stream passing underneath.  Climb by way of the vines on the side and you’ll find the mud–charged with minerals–to cake yourself in.  After the tepid showers that are Guatemala, it’s an extraordinary thing to feel the hot water kneading the muscles in your neck and shoulders and washing away the mud treatment.  For 25Q (15 for the collectivo and 10 for the entrance))–about $3.50, you have just received a $200 spa treatment–in a much nicer location!