Hiking through the hills around Banos, Ecuador we heard a noise above us. Two kids hanging out in the trees giggled and hid from us as we looked up. They were minding a herd of sheep along the path. Waving and chatting with them, the kids turned shy and refused to engage us in conversation. Turning to continue our hike, we heard the landing of a berries on the path. As we looked back the kids waved at us, smiling micheviously from their perch. On our return back down the mountain they chatted with us a little more and thankfully we were spared from their berry artillery.
The Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe is one of the busiest in the world. Due to the huge influx of refugees from Zimbabwe, the South African government has set up, with the help of several multi-national aid organizations, a refugee camp near the border. Waiting for the rest of our bus to be processed by South African immigration, I headed to the ladies room. Opening the stall door I couldn’t believe my eyes at seeing this sign. Disbelieve turned into horror when I contemplated how dire the economic situation must have been for people to use zimbabwean currency as toilet paper.
We spent our afternoon in Jerusalem wandering through the market in the old city. After spending several weeks in Arab speaking countries it was no surprise that we felt “at home” in the muslim market area. Passing through a less touristy part of the old city market (not a souvenir in sight!) we stopped at a busy spice stall to marvel at the “spice of the rock” in front of us. Made completely out of spices, although the shop keeper admits to a non-spice base and mosque, the creativity blew our minds. I love the cashew on top.
It should be no surprise that wetlands attract birds, but we couldn’t believe the diversity and variety of birds we saw in the Pantanal in Brazil. From huge storks to small kingfishers the area was a birders heaven. Each night at dinner an older British couple sat with their private guide going over the new species they saw that day and playing back the recordings of its song. I have always liked birds, but spending time in the wetlands of Brazil really made me appreciate their grace and beauty. I love this picture because it captures the peace we had gliding through the water.
Driving through the Sahara Desert in Sudan was exactly what you imagine it to be like- hot, windy and deserted. Fortunately that means the ancient Nubian and Egyptian ruins are in excellent condition. Although we were alone at every single site we visited (to be fair it is Sudan and some were nearly 20km into the desert!) this was one of the most impressionable experiences of the entire country. Stashed in the middle of a village, archaeologists have uncovered ancient noble tombs. As you can see, they are beautifully decorated inside and haven’t been retouched at all, unlike some in Egypt. Hardly viewed by tourists, we loved climbing down into the tomb with the local guardian, who explained in broken english and charades the different symbols and depictions. We were never able to get so close to tomb heiroglyphs again. It was an amazing experience for us and one we’ll never forget.