Where and why to buy a machete in the Amazon

Every Amazon man needs a machete for every day life.  Most of the women and several of the older children also have their own too.  Whenever a hunter leaves for the jungle, he will carry but one thing, his trusty machete.  It will help blaze trails and  cut the heads of snakes.  It will be used to cut through bark for sap that might be used for medicinal purposes or for thirst.  The machete is in the hands of nearly every local who leaves the village.

machete store on the amazon river
machete store on the amazon river

While walking, there is a likely chance that medicinal and cooking herbs will be spotted and collected.  A poisonous critter may need to be moved from the path and a large animal, such as a jaguar, is also a very real threat.

While fishing, the machete is used for cutting fishing nets from debris or branches as well as for opening coconuts for a cool drink.  It might be used to help manage that spear caught in a fish or to take a splinter out of a finger.

In the village, the machete is a constant companion, used for preparing meals, collecting palm leaves that are used as the dinner table on the floor, or for cleaning the cooking fire area.

A machete can be purchased in one of the major towns along the Amazon River.  These larger towns are generally found every two to three days away from each other by small boat .  It is likely that someone from the village will need to go into town about once per week for supplies of some sort, including machetes and newspapers.  The picture below was taken in Nauta, where the Ucayali and Maranon Rivers meet.  This was our last stop on our Amazon River cruise.  As tempting as it was to have a machete for my wall, I wasn’t sure TSA would have a sense of humor when I returned to the states with it.

Call to learn more about river cruising. 603-434-8100

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Camel ride at beach in Mexico

group camel riding
group riding camels

For a unique excursion in Mexico, consider taking a camel ride.  You’d expect to have an opportunity to ride a camel when visiting Egypt or Morocco, but now, visitors to Mexico have the same opportunity.  While your ride will take you over sand, it won’t be through a desert, it will take  you along the beaches.

Imagine sitting atop a giant dromedary watching the  horizon across an ocean, hearing the surf and feeling the camel below you.   Camel rides can be arranged in San Cristobel, Los Cabos  and also in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Mexico.  This unique adventure is a great way to see more of Mexico and learn more about these unique animals.

There are a few things you should know about camels.  They drink about 40 gallons of water at one time, then if they are tired, they will sit or lie down, in which case you will just have to wait for them to be ready to move again.  Don’t bother arguing with them or they will spit at you.

If camel riding isn’t for you, consider seeing the area on horseback, from a hot air balloon, with a 4×4 jeep or hiking.  The possibilities are endless in paradise.  You can spend your time on the beach, take a bike riding tour to an ancient mayan ruin or take a canapy tour.

Your best value will be seen by booking well in advance, to save time and avoid the disappointment of a sold out tour.

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Southeast Asia Vacation 20 days under $1600

map of southeast asia itinerary
map of southeast asia itinerary

Southeast Asia, including Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand, all in one vacation is on sale for $1512 per person.  This is a 20 day guided tour with accommodations, transportation, some meals and plenty of sightseeing with an English speaking guide.  Several dates available.

See the white sand beaches, the ancient wats and the bustling cities in this vibrant and interesting hidden piece of the world.   Travel by bus train and even boat to visit these unique locations while enjoying the company of your small group on English speaking travelers.

I’ve posted several details about Bangkok recently, including the street market scene, the River of Kings, visits to temples and golden buddhas.  Once you arrive in Southeast Asia, expect friendly people who enjoy speaking English and love elephants, buddhas and their beautiful culture and beliefs.

Travel by tuk tuk on your free time and be sure to enjoy the street food and entertainment as you weave your way through the region.  Optional tours include mud baths, motorcycle touring, snorkeling and cooking classes to name a few.

 

This is a tour that welcomes solo guests, as well as couples, friends, families and groups. Call today for details and pricing.

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How children live along the Amazon River

Children caring for children in Las Palmas village along the Amazon River
Children caring for children in Las Palmas village along the Amazon River

On our Amazon River Cruise, we sometime stopped in villages to learn about their culture and life styles. The children spend their time much differently than American kids.  It never seized to amaze me how responsible the children of the Amazon River were for their younger siblings.  They were gentle at all times and seemed to be happy to be together.  The boy in this picture carried his little brother around on his shoulders for hours.  When he tired, another kid took the little guy and carried him everywhere.

These families don’t have the pleasure of a “child safe” area that will allow Mom to get any of her work done.  Both parents are busy during the day with basic chores like fishing, hunting or working the fields.  The kids take on the caregiver role during the day.

On a visit to a school house, the teacher asked all the children to sit on the desks that were lined up along the wall.  Immediately, the older kids, who were 8-12 took the younger ones to their places.  Some were lifted to the desks to sit with the older kids, and the little ones just naturally took their seats at the other kids feet.

When one kid fell, his older brother came and picked him up and took him outside.  One of my fellow passengers felt bad for the little kid, so he gave him a t-shirt on his way out.  The kid took it and wiped his tears with it; I guess it never occurred to him that he was receiving a gift.

I felt the loss of community life in our world as I watched these kids interact with each other.  They shared everything, not that they had much and they took care of each other.  Kids came and went from different family huts without a thought or invitation.

After school was out, the kids all went into the field to play soccer, their favorite pastime.  Kids as small at 3 were out there and everyone who ran on the field just played.  No one worried about team jerseys or referees they just played the game.

For a while, some of us went on the “field” to play with the kids.  This field was just a spot where the weeds were a bit shorter than other places.  It was probably shorter because the kids play there each afternoon.  Somehow, in this world of villagers who work so hard just to survive, they find time to have inter village games each Sunday on these fields.

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Hiking Echo Point Three Sisters Blue Mountains Australia

Continued from previous post

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Three Sisters Rock Formation

We arrived at Echo Point and were just taken back by the magnificent rock structures to our east.  The Three sisters stood proud and ominous just out of reach from the viewing area.  The clouds were eerily below us in a Jamison Valley that stretched for miles.

Catching a glimpse of a stairway that few people did more than look at, we couldn’t resist making our way to the forest below.  We each had a bottle of water and nothing else.  We’d put about an hour on our parking meter, what more could we need.

Stairway to Jameson Valley

Stairway to Jameson Valley

We started down those stairs on that beautiful morning, not even noticing, really that all the other tourists were just watching from the lookout.  A few people walked down a few flights of stairs to take some photos after a while, but nothing more.

We loved the view from that lower level and eventually descended further and further to the forest below.  After a few hours, we realized we hadn’t seen a soul and we’d bounced down about sixty (no that’s not a typo), sixty flights of stairs to the canyon floor.

When we finally arrived there, we found beautiful trails along the plushest green carpet of earth we had ever seen.  There were birds overhead, and an occasional lizard, but still, no sign of people.

Wendy on the Echo Point Hike

Wendy on the Echo Point Hike

We walked on for a while more and at one point passing directly below the Three Sisters rock formation.  We could see, far above us, a lone rock climber hanging from the Sisters, but no one else.

Finally, we came to a flight of stairs that would lead us back up to civilization, our water long gone, our legs tired and we were getting hungry.  The jungle called.  We decided to press on.

We crossed a valley and eventually came to a cog railway where we were able to hitch a ride up to the top.  There was a snack shop and store.  Continue to my next blog.

 

Ferns on the valley floor

Ferns on the valley floor

 

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Hiking Wentworth Falls in Blue Mountains Australia

Wentworth Falls Hike
Wentworth Falls Hike

Continued from previous post

As I look back on these pictures, it is hard to believe they were all taken on one hike.  The landscape changed so drastically along the way.  We started out on a wide dirt path, almost the size of a private road, through the woods.  There were flowers blooming everywhere, even off season.

We were there in March, which is their fall.  The trees were green and the flowers were in abundant.  There were ferns everywhere complimenting the underbrush and the walkways.

After passing several waterfalls, we came to an area of cliffs and the mountains still in the distance.  They seems to be all around us, above, below and at our side.   I loved walking under the cliffs and they were just the right height to make it comfortable and cool.

As we walked, we saw and heard birds all around us.  They just love the canyon like atmosphere from the mountains and cliffs around us.  We sometimes saw or heard people in the distance, but like the hiking trails at home, there weren’t many people around on a weekday and we had most of nature to ourselves.

Interesting tree and fern
Interesting tree and fern

 

 

 

 

2 Wentworth Falls Hike Blue Mountains (37) 2 Wentworth Falls Hike Blue Mountains (38)

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Enjoy Polar Vortex Travel to Alaska or Antactica

Iditarod finish line
Iditarod finish line

Dealing with the Polar Vortax is easier than you think.  After weeks of hearing that the continental US is experiencing colder temperatures than Alaska and even Antarctica, I’ve decided it might just be the year to bundle up and visit these places.  If for no other reason than to warm up, we should take this opportunity to chase the warmer breezes and see some new places.

For me, the Iditarod calls out, with this year’s race beginning on March 2.  The festivities in the week leading up to the races might just be as much of a highlight as seeing the ceremonial start to the race in Anchorage or the post start the day after.

Imagine the excitement at the kennels when dogs are chosen for sleds, their positions determined and their mushers prepped.  I can’t help but think of Rudolph and his quest to lead Santa’s sleigh.

Wildlife and northern lights, both more visible in the winter skies, are another reason to venture north next month.

We survived the polar vortex in New England, why not survive it in it’s homeland?

There are only a few opportunities to visit Antarctica during the course of a year.  The months of December, January and February bring the warmer temperatures and the cruise companies are ready to offer clients the opportunity of a lifetime.   Celebrity cruises offer a 14 day adventure departing Buenos Aires.  This is the shortest full voyage out there, but for people with more time, the exploration can continue for up to a month.

If we are going to bundle up and accept this new cold as normal, let’s try to feel it in it’s homeland.

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Fly into Iquitos Peru to take an Amazon River Cruise

In emergency cut here. Air Peru aircraft safety feature.
In emergency cut here. Air Peru aircraft safety feature.

To get to the Amazon River cruise departure point, we had to fly from Lima to Iquitos, with one stop.  These flights took a total of about two hours to accomplish, once we were underway.

The Peruvians know their weather changes rapidly and they all just took it in stride when, after finally finally finally boarding the aircraft and getting settled in, we were asked to deplane because of weather en route.  We just went back inside and waited.

There really aren’t a lot of options when traveling to Iquitos, an isolated land locked city in the northeast of Peru at the entrance to the Amazon River.  You can arrive there by plane or by boat.  There are no roads linking this area to the rest of the country.  In many ways, that’s what makes it special.

When we were finally ready to depart for the second time, I boarded and noticed this sign.  I just prayed that my seat wasn’t on the other side of that window.  It says “Cut here in case of emergency”.  It even gave the emergency crew guidelines of where to place their machete.

Our flight was actually very comfortable.  One word to the wise: don’t book your return flight to the states expecting to actually arrive back in Lima on schedule.  We allowed an extra 3 hours, we were still 2 hours later than that.  In this case, those midnight flights departing for the USA were actually a godsend.

This map of Peru shows just how remote Iquitos in, located in the northeastern part of the country.
This map of Peru shows just how remote Iquitos in, located in the northeastern part of the country.
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Hiking the Blue Mountains of Australia

<a title="Travel journal date March 11, 2011 North China Sea" href="http://www Learn More Here.SoloToGroupTravel.com/family-travel/reliving-march-11-2011/” target=”_blank”>See previous post.

Once we set our GPS for the Blue Mountains of Australia  for a hike, we were on our way out of Sydney for our Australian explore.  The driving on the left took a little while to get used to, as it always does.  The bicycles that shared the highway with us also demanded some extra attention.  The time change from East Coast USA to Sydney was catching up to me, at sixteen hours difference.

The scenery was just beautiful as we drove along with the mountains in the distance.  They were named for their amazing color which comes from the eucalyptus trees and we could see why.  The drive to the entrance was only a few hours at most, but after a very long few days of travel, we had an early dinner and went to our hotel for the night.

Starting out before sunrise, our first stop was Wentworth Falls.  The fog was thick and the weather cool, but we still enjoyed a long morning hike into the forest when the sun burned it off just a bit.  The hike itself was easy to moderate and took about 2 hours.  The scenery, though, could have made this a full day hike just to enjoy nature.

Wentworth Falls Hike Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls Hike Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains Australia Fog

Wendy at Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains Australia

Scenic Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains Australia

Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains Australia Fog

Wentworth Falls Blue Mountains Australia

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Ten benefits of a cruise vacation

Ten benefits of a cruise vacation:

The Norwegian Getaway
Norwegian Cruise Lines newest ship the Getaway.

1. Unpack your suitcase once and see several different destinations.  Once you enter your stateroom, you will feel like you are at home.  At each port of call, you have the excitement of a new destination without the hassle of getting there or repacking.

2. No wasted time getting from place to place.  While the ship is moving, you are sleeping or enjoying the activities on board, there is no need to arrange your day to catch flights or trains.  Spend the days in port and let the ship captain and crew take care of the rest.

3. Choose from a large ship with 4000 people to a small intimate ship with 16 people depending on your preferences.  Think of it as city vs. country or large resort vs. boutique hotel.  A small intimate gathering in the main dining room is perfect for some, while others prefer to have several restaurant options and seating times to choose from.

4. Know your budget and costs before you travel.  The all inclusive dining feature is featured on all ships.  Many upscale cruise lines also include drink packages, excursions, and internet in their pricing.  The cabin categories allow guests to choose the stateroom that best fits their needs: choose from an inside cabin, a window view, a balcony, mini suites and more exclusive larger suites with butler services and more.

5. Design a vacation that centers around your interests.  Theme cruises are a great way to meet people with similar interests (music, quilting, lifestyle, sports and learning, to name a few).  My personal favorites offer cultural experiences such as those that have ports of call along the ancient Mediterranean coasts.

6. Gamble or shop duty free on board.  Once the ship is in international waters, the casino is open and the tables are hot.

7. Be entertained with non stop activities and shows on larger ships.  From pools to spas  and ziplines to outdoor movie theatres, the variety of pastimes on board will keep every guest busy and happy.  On a smaller ship, such as an Uncruise Adventure to Alaska, enjoy wildlife viewing, nature talks and beautiful scenery.

8. Learn about different cultures on shore excursions with an English speaking guide.  Choose the excursions that interest you, from scuba and snorkeling trips to cooking lessons and walking photography tours.

9. Family reunions and multigenerational travel are the latest trends in vacationing. Enjoy meals together at a designated time, treasure one on one time at other times, there is something for absolutely every age range on a large ship.

10. Relax and unwind.

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