Looking Back on the Backwaters of Kerala

My reason for wanting to visit India’s southern state was to experience Kerala’s “backwaters,” an intricate network of narrow canals, lakes, and waterways that run parallel to the Arabian Sea for hundreds of miles. I have long been intrigued by the romantic notion of plying these narrow waterways via houseboat, a very popular tourist attraction in the southern state. Continue reading

Cochin: Like China

Last October when I hit my 65th birthday, I decided it was time to re-prioritize the old bucket list. Looking back on the Medicare milestone, I realize now that many of the limitations I began feeling at the time were due to the constant barrage of AARP emails and well meaning newsletters preparing me for impending decrepitude. Around this time, I began to manifest aches and pains and imaginative scenarios that led me to think my physicality as I knew it was about to be over. So I had best “git to gittin’” as they say in the south.

I decided rather than my usual prioritization based on desire or geographical proximity, I would instead prioritize according to difficulty. Not just physical difficulty, but those destinations requiring a certain level of travel-savvy as well. I decided to tackle some of Continue reading

Was Bahrain as Boring as it Looks?

In order to get from Addis Ababa to my next destination, Cochin, India, I needed to make a connection somewhere across the Middle East. Where to connect was of course dependent on which airline I chose.

My one deciding factor on choosing Gulf Air connecting through Bahrain was their offer of a three day stopover package which included hotel, transfers via a private vehicle, and two sightseeing tours. But most importantly, it also included a Visa. The opportunity to extend my connection to include a few days exploring a country not yet visited seemed like time well spent. Continue reading

Reading Departure Signs: Addis Ababa

My favorite Jimmy Buffett song, “Changes in Latitudes” has a verse, “Reading departure signs in some big airport reminds me of the places I’ve been.” Only the opposite is true for me. Reading departure signs in some big airport has always reminded me of places I still would like to go… and perhaps none so much as Addis Ababa. Through years of travel through international airports, I have always stood in awe of this quirky sounding city appearing on departure signs, and hoped that one day I would get to visit such an exotic-sounding place. Continue reading

Utopia in Ethiopia?

Thanks to everyone for their support and kind words about my premature evacuation from India.  It’s only Day Six of my self-imposed quarantine, but it feels more like Day Twenty-Six.  Still, I am grateful to have a place as comfortable as 80 square feet can be.  At least unlike many, I have a free and secure place to park it, food to eat, internet to entertain me, and a solid 98.6° temperature. So for that, I am extremely grateful!

A good friend of mine who is in the mental health profession suggested we shift the term “social distancing” to instead “engaging in physical distancing but staying socially engaged.” I like that idea. Thanks to all my friends, family, and followers who continue to help me stay socially engaged.

Okay, so now it’s back to a much happier time in Ethiopia when the only things I had to worry about were severe dehydrating diarrhea, pick-pockets, and looking down the barrel of a Kalashnikov held by the roadside militia. Looking back, things seemed so much less scary then. Continue reading

Ten Deteriorating Days in Paradise

So this is a real-time update for a change. I still have two more posts to write from Ethiopia, and then the blog carries on to India by way of Bahrain. But as anyone knows who has followed the blog, it’s always lagging behind the times. Looking back in blog years while in Ethiopia, “coronavirus” was nothing more than a passing headline from China.

So I am fast forwarding to present day, one reason being because I have received several “Where are you now…Are you okay?” emails. But more so because I want to remember… Continue reading

Lovely Lalibela and the Rock-Hewn Churches

Back in Atlanta 2011 when my favorite Borders Bookstore in Lenox Square was going out of business, all travel guides were 75% off. There was one travel guide left on the Sale shelf to a country I had not yet visited, Bradt’s Ethiopia. So I bought it. As a long time collector of travel guides, it was just one more to add to my bookshelf full of Lonely Planet guides, Let’s Go, Rick Steves, Moon Guides, etc. dating all the way back to Europe on $15 a Day. My travel guides were one of the toughest things I had to liquidate when I sold my home and went full time in the Winnie.

Leafing through that Ethiopia guide, reading about the eleven rock-hewn churches, I Continue reading

Salt of the Earth

As I mentioned in my previous post, Feeling the Danakil Depression, there were other factors toward my feeling a bit depressed than just the Depression. National Geographic had a reason for calling it “The cruelest place on Earth.” Not only is the Danakil infamous for its inhospitable climate and riotous multi-colored, toxic fume-spewing geysers and sulfur pools. The phantasmagorical formations are a recent attraction, believed to be created only as recently as 1926 when inorganic iron from red hot magma emerged up through the standing salt pans, ten times more salty than the Continue reading

Feeling the Danakil Depression

One of the reasons I chose to do this tour with Dragoman is because it included the Danakil Depression. While many tour companies do the “historic circuit” through Ethiopia, not many include both the Simien Mountains and the Danakil Depression. Dragoman did both, so that contributed to my choosing them for my Ethiopia visit.

Located in the Afar region about 15 miles from the border with Eritrea, the Danakil Depression lies at the junction where three tectonic plates come together within the area known as the Horn of Africa. Dropping down to 410 ft below sea level, it is not only Continue reading