Tag: Cemetery

A Great Day for the Dead

A Great Day for the Dead

La Paz, Bolivia – November 2, 2018

Today was the first time I ever saw Dia de los Muertos first-hand. I chose the La Paz Cementerio General for my visit. I was a little apprehensive because of the unknown and the fact that I was going by myself. Another reason for my apprehension was the odor. One of my work colleagues told me there was a foul odor at the cemetery because the tombs were not airtight. As an ex-cop, used to dealing with bodies that had, shall we say, “ripened,” I knew exactly what odor was being described. Spoiler alert – I did not encounter any noxious odors at the cemetery.

Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead) is a traditional holiday in many Latin American countries. It is a day for remembering a family’s dead; but, more importantly, it is a time of celebrating the family members return from the afterlife for a visit. To that end, there are many offerings to entice the family member to visit and then to ease their return to the afterlife. The visits occur between noon on November 2 and noon on November 3; however, those times are not rigid.

A family can expect visits at either the tomb or grave of their loved one or at the family’s own home.  In either location, family members place photographs and other items that the dearly departed loved during life.  Additionally, things the loved one liked to eat or drink are also laid out as offerings.  Those items can include bread, cookies, sweets, food, soup, soft drinks, beer, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.; virtually anything the loved one enjoyed.

The bread used for the Dia de los Muertos is interesting because of its many variations. One of the more popular shapes is the t’antawawa, an Aymara word meaning baby bread. A t’antawawa is in the approximate form of a baby’s body with a painted, ceramic face/head. They can range in size from tiny bread or cookies to nearly adult life-size. The food can also be in the shape of animals such as horses. Other bread shapes include the traditional dinner roll size, round loaves, ladders (to aid with travel to and from the afterlife), and crosses. It appears the maker’s imagination only limits the shape.

A work colleague shared with me that when setting up the offerings at home, their place of choice; they receive as many as 150 family members (living) throughout the holiday. That is a lot of people just to have drop by a home.

With that bit of preface, allow me to share my experience of Dia de los Muertos.

I walked out of my front door at 07:00. Green, Sky Blue, White, Orange, and Red. Those colors have nothing to do with the holiday nor are they colors I saw when I walked outside. Those colors just happened to be the five; that is correct, five, Teleferico lines I had to ride to get to the Cementario General.

While on the Orange Line of the Teleferico, I passed over the “illegal” cemetery, Cementerio la Llamita. I do not know if it is, in fact, an illegal cemetery. If it is unlawful, by deduction, that means that the regulations for burial are less strictly enforced. Therefore, it is such “illegal” cemeteries that may be the cause of my colleague’s comment regarding odor. I quickly tried to take a photograph, which is why the focus is not quite right.

A partial view of the “illegal” cemetery as seen from the Orange Line of the Teleferico.

At the end of the Orange Line, I changed to the Red Line. I only had one stop to go to be at the Cementerio General. I got off the Red Line and walked out of the Teleferico building. I noticed right across the street was an entrance to the cemetery. I do not believe that entrance is generally in use, just on select days. Approaching the gate, I saw a few small flower stands. Many cemetery visitors stopped to buy some flowers before entering.

A secondary entry to the Cementerio General (General Cemetery) in the northwest portion of La Paz.

The Cementerio General is the main, and quite large, cemetery in La Paz. The exterior wall of the cemetery is nearly 1.5 kilometers long (4,389 feet or 0.83 miles). That means the area covered by the cemetery is almost 10 hectares (24 acres). On the grounds, there are dozens and dozens of columbaria, some with as many as three levels. The “population” of the cemetery must be in the tens of thousands.

At the gate, Bolivian National Police searched the bags of everyone entering. As soon as I made it past that checkpoint, I faced multiple columbaria. At the end of the columbarium closest to me, I saw a mural with two painted skulls. Then I noticed that almost every columbarium had a painting at the end, even those with three levels. Much of the art was stunning. I did not photograph every mural, but I did capture a lot. At this point, the narrative will cease so the reader can view all of the paintings I captured. At the end of the mural photographs, the story continues.

My first view of the artwork on the end of a columbarium at the Cementerio General. The artist is Ñatinta, completed in 2017. The other name appears to be Llukutter.
A skull mural at the end of a cuartel (barrack) 53. This one is also by Ñatinta, completed in 2016. The other name appears to be S. Cuello.
The artist of this mural appears to be Tuer. The work appears to have been completed in 2018.
An intricate design surrounding a skull. This was done by Osek. It appears to have been completed in 2018.
Psychedelic skulls by Nando Pantoja and Angela in 2018.
A skull of a cholita by Pez Dani, probably 2018.
A collection of colorful flowers and plants, possibly by Tekaz. It was probably completed in 2018.
This work shows singers serenading at the tomb of a young man. Note the t’antawawa’s below the young man’s face. The style seems reminiscent of Picasso’s Guernica. It is possibly by TViore in 2017.
A woman and a young child by an unknown artist.
Some of the largest artwork at the Cementerio General is logically located at the end of the three-story columbaria.
This cholita and skull appear to be done by JP Zdas.
This portrait is by Ricardo Akn in 2018.
She seems to be watching all those who approach.
This three-story piece is done by an unknown artist.
Another psychedelic skull by Ñatinta in 2017.
The banner reads, “no tears for the final rest.” At the very bottom, it reads, “for all of the saints who rest in La Paz.” The artist’s initials appear to be TZV.
Angels with skulls and barbed wire halos. The artist is unknown.
A young person with flowers. The artist is possibly Stfil.
An unusual design by Tekaz.
A stylistic skull surrounded by what appear to be cocoa leaves. The artist is Boos.
Flowers at the end of a columbarium by Ciclope.
A heart. The bottom reads, “the measure of life.” The artist is JP.
A skull at the end of a columbarium. The artist is Decoma.
A neon cholita. The artists are Huyllas and Natinta, done in 2018. The bottom left reads, “your voice will not be erased…my little soul.”
Another flower arrangement by Tekaz.
Some stylized coyotes. The artist is unknown because the name is partially obscured by the ladders.
Another view of the psychedelic skulls by Nando Pantoja and Angela in 2018.
Removing a mask by Mamo and Ñatinta from 2017.
Above this woman’s face are the words to a song often sung during the All Saints celebration. The artist is Willka in 2018.
Flowers growing from a bird held by a woman. The artist is Giova in 2018.
A skull with sunglasses and a hat. The word that continues from one columbarium to the other reads, “perpetual.” The artist is Ñatinta from 2016.
A child playing the violin. The artist is la Gabu.Z.
A zintangle woman? The artist is Nona.
A Bolivian astronaut skull. The artist is unknown.
A blue skull. The artist is Alme in 2018.
Birds and a stylized face. The artist is unknown.
A cholita skull complete with the traditional braids. The artist is BLK from 2015.
A cholita from 2017. The artist is unknown.
Three couples from 2016. The artist is unknown.
A contemporary view of children/teens from 2016. The artists are Bufón81 and Afta17.
A young person’s memories of La Paz from 2017. The artist is Bufón81.
Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The artist is unknown.
A stylized angel embracing a woman above a woman on a bed of skulls. The artist is unknown.
A landscape. The artist is unknown.
A blue skull and candles. The artist is unknown.
A mummy with an apple. The artist is unknown.

Some of the above photograph captions contain the word “cholita.” That deserves some explanation. Cholita refers to the women of the indigenous Aymara and Quechua tribes. In the not too distant past, cholita was a pejorative term. However, today, it has regained a particular popularity and resurgence in use. The cholitas are very distinctive with their bowler hats and long hair braids.

Looking down the aisles between the columbaria, I could see far into the distance. They seemed to go on forever. The columbaria here in La Paz look much different than those that one might see in the United States. In the U. S. each tomb is covered by an engraved headstone bearing the name and pertinent details of the person in the grave. In the Cementerio General, each monument has a glass door, usually with a small padlock. Behind the glass is a void of some eight to ten inches before the masonry seal on the tomb. On the masonry seals are the name and pertinent details of the person in the grave. Often the details include a photograph of the person. Filling the remainder of the void are offerings or representative items of things the person enjoyed in life. In some instances, there are metal holders on either side for vases of flowers.

Several very large columbaria vanish into the distance.
The inscription above this tomb reads “Dear Dad.” The offerings inside are things the deceased enjoyed; in this case, bread, cigarettes, Coca-Cola, and a clear beverage.
This father was obviously a huge Bolivar fan.  Bolivar is a professional footbol team in Bolivia.
A man on a ladder tending to the tomb of a loved one.

The tallest, single-story columbaria I saw contained tombs seven high. The visiting family must use ladders to reach the uppermost graves. With the aid of the ladder, family open the glass door, remove dead flowers and old offerings. Once clean, the family places new offerings into the tomb, and the glass door closed.

A view to the east from the Bolivian Police columbarium.
Several empty tombs at the Bolivian Police columbarium.
Looking to the west atop the Bolivian Police columbarium.
A unique cross placement on a columbaria.

There is an initial fee and then annual fees after that to place a loved one in a tomb at Cementerio General. If the annual fees are not paid, after about three years, the remains are removed, cremated, and dealt with by cemetery personnel.

I did see a few graves in the ground with headstones, but that was by far the exception, not the rule.  The columbaria were the norm within the Cementerio General.

I ultimately made my way to the main entrance of the cemetery. The church is there. The church was lovely inside, but it was not ornately decorated. Of particular note were the statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus and another area with a depiction of Jesus in the tomb.

View toward the altar of the church in the Cementerio General.
A statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus in the church at the Cementario General.  The statue is known as the Viren de Copacabana.
A stained glass cross on the west side of the church at the Cementario General.
A depiction of Jesus in the tomb in the church in the Cementerio General.

Leaving the church, I saw a display containing many of the items that families might bring to the tombs of their loved ones. I was immediately drawn to the t’antawawas, probably because I had been given a t’antawawa cookie the day before by a work colleague. Those on display ranged from cookie-size to some made of bread that was approaching three-feet in length. At the exhibition, there was even a t’antawawa made in the shape of a horse. There were other bread designs, including one that reminded me of a colossal pretzel, bread crosses, and bread ladders. Huge onion plants partially framed the display. The families often use those, and large sugar cane stalks as decorations at the tombs.

A display of some typical items brought to the tombs of the departed in the Cementerio General.
The display of offerings is located just outside the church in the Cementerio General.
A detail of some of the offerings typically brought to the cemetery. Note the t’antawawas on either side of the cross. Also, note the t’antawawa in the shape of a horse in the upper left.
The offerings can also include beverages and food.

I sat down at a bench near the display. I stayed there for quite a while, watching the people streaming into the cemetery. Many of them stopped to view the exhibition, some even taking photographs as I did. Others merely walked on by, destined for the family tomb. While I sat there, I saw a couple of men dressed in medium blue clothing wearing hard hats. One, in particular, made frequent eye contact with me. It dawned on me that they were probably masons, available for hire by the families to make any needed repairs to tombs. I ultimately approached one of the men. He confirmed he was, in fact, a mason, waiting to be hired by an incoming family. He was kind enough to allow me to take his photograph. Unfortunately, I was not thinking, so I failed to get his name. Regardless, he was very nice.

Since this was at the main entry point, many people stopped to view the display of offerings.
People looking at the display.
Some people simply walked by the display without stopping to look.
The Bolivian Police checked all packages at the entry points to the Cementerio General.
This mason was kind enough to allow me to take his photograph. I neglected to ask his name.

After my rest on the bench, I continued walking through the cemetery.  I did find a large map of the grounds.  It is truly astonishing just how many columbaria are at the cemetery.

A map of the Cementerio General.

In the eastern portion of the cemetery, I noticed several tombs that had QR codes. If one captures the code with a smartphone, information about the person buried there is displayed. I did not do that, but I did come across two vast tombs that were obviously of revered Bolivians. The first was the tomb of Carlos Palenque Avilés, 1944 – 1997, a famous Bolivian singer and politician. The second large tomb was that of Germán Busch Becerra, 1903 – 1939, a military officer and ultimately a President of Bolivia.

The tomb of Carlos Palenque Avilés in the Cementerio General.
The tomb and monument to Germán Busch Becerra.
A mausoleum in the Cementerio General.
A columbarium with an angel statue in the Cementerio General.
These columbaria do not seem to be so crowded.
The columbarium at the rear reads, “Union Workers Welfare Society, founded on the first of May, 1909.
Two people carrying a ladder while the Teleferico moves nonstop overhead.
An art deco styled angel in the Cementerio General.
Stained glass crosses at a mausoleum In the Cementerio General.
The oldest tomb I saw in the Cementerio General. Note the QR code in the lower right.
A columbarium with high-ranking Bolivian army officers in the Cementerio General.
Various sizes of ladders propped up beside a columbarium in the Cementerio General.
Ladders are strategically placed throughout the Cementerio General.

I found a mausoleum dedicated to those that had fought in the Acre Campaigns.  That was a border dispute between Bolivia and Brazil at the turn of the 20th Century.  Bolivia was the victor in the fighting.

The exterior of the columbarium for the Benefit Society of the Country for those in the Acre Campaigns.
The interior of the columbarium for the Benefit Society of the Country for those in the Acre Campaigns.
Stairs leading to more columbaria.
The columbaria seem to stretch on forever.
Ladders at the ready at the end of a columbarium.
A small, tiled columbarium.
The access alleys to the columbaria begin to fill up with people.
The sun coming over the edge of the roof of a columbarium seems to beckon one to heaven.
Looking through the ground floor level of a three-story columbarium.
The mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.
The stained glass of Mary and Baby Jesus in the mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.
Detail of the stained glass of Mary and Baby Jesus in the mausoleum of the Dr. Abigail Mendoza family.

In all of my wanderings in the cemetery, I never saw any sadness. I never saw any family members weeping. The Dia de los Muertos seemed to be more joyous than a sad occasion. I did find out that families can hire people to cry at the tomb. I did not personally witness that. However, I did see families that hired musicians to play and sing at the graves. One of the more noteworthy groups were about ten boys playing drums and Bolivian pan flutes. They did an excellent job and amassed quite a crowd of onlookers. I did come across another group of boys with drums, but they did not seem to be as polished. In fact, a woman walking by the group covered her ears.

A group of young boys performing at a tomb in the Cementerio General.
The group of boys performed in front of a tomb bedecked with offerings of bread, fruit, and drink.
One woman’s music is another woman’s noise.

During my walk, I stopped at one point when I saw a man and his young son.  The man was struggling with one of the ladders.  I asked him if he needed assistance.  He politely declined.

A man and his son renting a ladder.
A mausoleum in the Cementerio General.
One of the more narrow areas between columbaria.
There never seemed to be a shortage of ladders.
A young girl running around while musicians are playing in front of a tomb.
A woman taking a selfie atop the ladder in front of her loved one’s tomb.
Women working together to clean out a tomb in preparation for newly placed offerings.
The offerings consisted of bread, t’antawawas, onions, fruit, and a drink in a thermos.
Another of the endless aisles of columbaria.
A family preparing to go up the ladder with some offerings.

Strategically placed throughout the cemetery are sinks and water spigots. The visitors use these stations to clean items from their loved one’s tomb. Most often, the items cleaned are flower vases. Near each sink are rubbish bins in which the old flowers are placed. Workers come by periodically to police the area and take the rubbish to large 30-yard trash bins. In turn, those are removed from the cemetery by large trucks from the local trash service.

People washing vases while an employee collects the discarded flowers.
Discarded flowers were everywhere.
A man and a mason discussing needed repairs at a tomb.
Ladders at the ready.
A mason with his tools of the trade rounding the corner.
A woman waiting beside a ladder.
Walking to the tomb with offerings.
A woman walking with bags of offerings.
After all of my wanderings in the cemetery, I decided it was time to head home. I walked to the main entrance of the cemetery. Not far from there was an exit. As I stepped onto Avenida Baptista I noticed the street was closed for the holiday. There was a real carnival atmosphere. One of the first things I saw was an art deco building that reminded me of a building in Wellington, New Zealand (see the posting Wellington Museum).
This art deco style building is across the street from the Cementerio General.
Avenida Baptista on the front side of the Cementerio General.

There were a couple of zebras walking on the sidewalk. The zebras are people in costume. The La Paz Zebras were born as a way to help regulate traffic and avoid pedestrian/vehicle mishaps. The Zebras have been around since 2001. As I walked past, they both said buenas dias!

A rare sighting of two Zebras in front of the Cementerio General.

One of the streets heading off from Avenida Baptista had what seemed like dozens of stands of BBQ and other delicious smelling foods.  I wanted to try some, but I did not since Mr. E. Coli had just visited me.  While on that street, I ran into a shoe shiner.  Many of the shoe shiners keep their faces covered because they do not want their friends and family to know that is what they do to earn money.

Directly across from the main entrance to the cemetery is a small mall with nothing but flower shops. While I was there, it was doing a booming business.

A panorama of Avenida Baptista in front of the Cementerio General.
Two women walking toward the Cementerio General.
The young man in the light blue jacket is a shoe shiner.
Some flowers for sale across from some wonderful smelling BBQ.
The main entrance to the Cementerio General.
The church framed by the entry arch.
Part of the flower market directly across the street from the Cementerio General.
People walking by Rebecca’s Flower Shop.

I began walking east along Avenida Baptista. Luckily, it was all downhill, so I did not have to grapple with gravity very much. As I noted above, the street was closed to traffic. Instead of vehicles, the road was packed with vendors of every ilk; ladies’ lingerie, plasticware for children, handmade wooden items, DVDs, ice cream, fruit, etc. It was varied and noisy as some vendors shouted out what was available. Pedestrians choked the parts of the street that were not covered by vendors. I can only imagine the scene later in the day when it would no doubt be busier.

An interesting looking building on Avenida Baptista.
Selling colorful plasticware for children.
A woman selling watermelon slices.
A man and his ice cream cart.
A woman waiting to make an ice cream cone for the man and his daughter.
A cholita perusing the wares.
A girl in a red dress.
A cholita walking through the market.
A woman and a young girl in the market.
Strolling through the market.
A young woman donning her hat.

At the Garita de Lima park roundabout, I stopped to take in the sights.  That is where I saw the Evangelical Baptist Church and the Hospital La Paz.

Two artificial flower vendors at the street market.
View downhill from the roundabout at the Garita de Lima park on Avenida Baptista.
The Evangelical Baptist Church across from the Garita de Lima park on Avenida Baptista.

Departing the Garita de Lima park roundabout on Max Paredes, I saw something that very much reminded me of home, the kitchen gadget salesman. A man set up a portable table in the street. The edges of the tabletop held about four dozen oranges. In the middle of the table, there was a pile of different colored plastic gadgets. The salesman, speaking loudly and rapidly, demonstrated how one could insert the device into an orange and quickly obtain the juice. He had several people standing around watching his demonstration. I am not sure if he sold any to that crowd.

A juicing device salesman on Max Paredes.
The street market met vehicles just east of the Garita de Lima park on Max Paredes.
The mix of vehicles and pedestrians on Max Paredes. Note the van has the Cementerio General as one of its destinations.
It is tight quarters walking this section of Max Paredes.

Shortly after passing the kitchen gadget salesman, the street opened to traffic once again.  At that point of Max Paredes, there were still vendors; however, they were relegated to the sidewalk or curbside.  This area is where the food market begins.  It is set up in specific sections.  There are sections for vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cooking spices, lentils, fish, and meat.  There were even a couple of fabric vendors thrown in for good measure.  Between the vendors, pedestrians, and vehicles, one has to be careful while walking.

A vegetable stand on Max Paredes.
The vendor points and provides answers to a patron’s questions.
This woman was advertising in a loud voice what she had for sale.
Various cooking spices for sale.
A woman preparing a fish for a customer.
A woman at a meat stand along Max Paredes.
Another fish stand on Max Paredes.
Meat for the carnivore.
Yet more meat available near the Max Paredes roundabout.
Women selling lentils along Max Paredes.
Waiting for a customer.
The fruit section of the Max Paredes market.
A cholita walking through the fruit section.
All the bananas one could possibly want.
The vendor tried to entice the young girl with the dog to buy some bananas.
A cholita at a fruit stand on Max Paredes.
The fabric section of the market on Max Paredes.
One of the many Dodge buses operating in La Paz.
This bus is known as The Prince.
This bus is known as Crazy Boy.
The statue in the roundabout at Max Paredes.

After walking nearly a mile (1.3 kilometers), I found Sagarnaga, the street for which I had been searching. That street would take me to the Witches Market and the Basilica of San Francisco. I was quite happy that my walk from the cemetery to the Basilica was downhill.

In the Witches Market, I did a little shopping. I found several touristy items that I could not live without.

The point where Sagarnaga narrows.
The cobblestone Sagarnaga descends to the San Francisco Basilica.
An old building on Sagarnaga.
Sagarnaga continues downhill from the Witches Market.
Traffic and pedestrians share Linares.
A yarn covered light-pole in the Witches Market.
A taxi preparing to turn from Melchor Jimenez onto Linares in the Witches Market.
A newly completed mural on Melchor Jimenez in the Witches Market. The artist is Tikay Marsh Aner.
Searching for bargains in the Witches Market.
A llama mural in the Witches Market. The artists are Sebollin, Jonatan, Marbot, and Ahau Flamma.
A display of items for sale in the Witches Market.
A typical tourist shop in the Witches Market.
A mural in the Witches Market. The artist is unknown.

When I finished shopping, it was lunchtime. I was not that hungry, but I did want to sit down for a while. I found Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub. I asked the man that greeted me at the door if he had a cold beer. He said he did so I immediately sat down! I continued to talk to him as he came by my table intermittently. I discovered he was Tomas Luna, the owner. We had a pleasant conversation. He was kind enough to allow me to take his photograph.

While sitting at Luna’s, I received two unexpected “guests;” Hillary and Leslie. They called me. They were both anxious to hear about my Dia de los Muertos activities. I told them a little bit but added that they would have to wait for my blog to get the rest of the story.

An ice-cold Paceña cerveza at Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Tomas Luna, the owner of Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
Unexpected guests while I was having my beer.
Tomas Luna, the owner of Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub.
The owner at the door to his restaurant, Tomas Luna.
San Francisco Basilica is visible in the distance.
Street-level view of a passing van.
Sagarnaga was virtually empty because of the holiday.
From Luna’s, it was just a few blocks down to the Basilica San Francisco. The last time I was there, it was after my CLO walking tour (see the Witches Market post). That time, the Basilica was not open. This time, to my surprise, it was open. I walked inside. Immediately I saw some huge signs. I thought they said that one could not take photographs during mass. A mass was in progress, but I could tell it was at the very end. I heard the priest give the final blessing, and the people responded.

Soon the people were walking to the back of the Basilica to exit. That is when I began taking photographs of the very elaborate and beautiful altar. After about four or five clicks, I suddenly found myself in the company of a Bolivian National Policeman. He was not amused. He said something in Spanish and pointed furtively to one of the signs. In my best Spanish, I tried to tell him I thought I could take photos when mass was over. The officer impatiently pointed at the sign again. I said I was very sorry and beat a hasty retreat to the exit.

The altar at San Francisco Basilica.
The altar at the San Francisco Basilica.
The choir loft at the rear of the San Francisco Basilica.

The last portion of my journey was several blocks downhill from the Basilica to the Light Blue line of the Teleferico.  Between that line and the Green line, I made it back to my neck of the woods and ultimately home.  I arrived at my house at about 14:00.

A mural at the Mercado Camacho near the Celeste Line of the Teleferico.

Next year, I will return to the cemetery.  I will probably go at a different time to see how that may change my experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed my day.

A skull along via 33. The artist appears to be Zamir. The brilliant color indicates it was completed in 2018.
Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier, New Zealand – February 20, 2016

Our bed and breakfast hosts made a delicious breakfast for us on the final morning of our visit to Queenstown. After breakfast, we settled our bill, piled into the SUV, and hit the road again.
I planned to travel just over four hours on Highway 6 to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately, about 10 miles out of Queenstown, TomTom raised her head. Instead of continuing on Highway 6, she directed me to turn onto the Crown Range Road toward Cardrona and Albert Town. As I noted in several other posts about our South Island trip, I decided not to argue.Just after leaving Highway 6, the paved road began a steep climb over the mountains. Many switchback turns helped us make it to the summit. The route took us through one of New Zealand’s old gold mining districts. Traveling through Cardrona reminded us somewhat of the old gold mining towns in Colorado.
On the other side of Cardrona, I saw several cars parked on either side of the road. I could not quite tell what was going on. At the instant I reached the cars, I realized why the cars were there. They were admiring and photographing the Bra Fence. Yes, you read that correctly, Bra Fence. An avid photographer and a male, I wanted to stop. My three female passengers vehemently overruled that desire. So, it was on to Albert Town.
Just before Albert Town, we entered a beautiful area of New Zealand, the Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea area. The area looked amazingly like that around Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado. However, the lakes are enormous in comparison to Blue Mesa. Lake Hawea, the smaller of the two New Zealand lakes, is about three and one-half times as large as Blue Mesa. Lake Wanaka is an impressive five times larger. At the closest point, the two lakes are only about one kilometer apart (just over a half-mile).

Panoramic view of Lake Wanaka.

Even though the lake area was beautiful, the next area we traversed, Mount Aspiring National Park, was spectacular. The National Park is a west coast rain forest. It is impossible to describe the unending shades of green throughout the forest. The moisture from a light mist seemed to enhance the colors. As our altitude increased and decreased, the amount of fog increased and decreased as well.

One of the many waterfalls in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Highway 6 followed alongside the Haast River through the majority of the National Park. The lower in elevation we went, the wider the Haast River valley became. The river joins the Tasman Sea near the village of Haast. We stopped there to have lunch. I decided to have a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. In New Zealand, they call those a ham and cheese toastie.
After lunch, we were back on the highway. We still had another 60-plus miles to attain our final destination of Fox Glacier. Because of the twisting, turning, roads in New Zealand, our planned four-hour journey became a six-hour sojourn. We finally made it to our hotel around 15:30.Fox Glacier is a small village. We found out at dinner just how little. The population is about 200 people. Virtually all of those are involved in the tourist industry. One of the largest cogs in the tourist machine is the heli-tours. While we were there, dozens of people were always waiting for a helicopter to take them to the top of Fox Glacier. We opted to drive and walk.
The next morning, after breakfast, we set out for Fox Glacier. The glacier’s namesake is Sir William Fox, a past Prime Minister of New Zealand. Backtracking on Highway 6 just one mile, we turned left on Glacier View Road. In about two miles, we arrived at the parking area at the end of the road. There was a well-manicured path leading into the rainforest. It was about a ten-minute walk to the viewing area. Walking through the rain forest, we were all amazed at the various floras. Of particular interest to me were the ferns. As new shoots of the fern grow, they sort of unroll and spread their fronds. The Maoris believed the unrolled fern was a sign of life, new beginnings, or rebirth. That sign figures prominently in Maori art, referred to as koru. One of my photographic goals, while I am here, is to get the perfect shot of a live koru.
At the end of the trail, the “viewing area” was simply a small opening in the trees. Regardless, one could look easterly, up to the Fox River valley. In between clouds, since it was somewhat foggy, we could see the blue face of the glacier. We also saw a parking area across the river. There were dozens of vehicles and motor homes. We decided we would go there and see if we could get a better view of the glacier.

On the trail to the Fox Glacier overlook.
The trail through the rain forest.
The trees absolutely dwarfed our vehicle.

Driving the Fox Glacier Access Road, we saw a sign that noted the glacier had been there in the 1700s. At first, we did not understand what that meant. Then it dawned on us that the face of the glacier had been at that point in the valley. That was probably one mile from the parking area and about two miles from the current face of the ice.
From the parking area, a string of people hiked toward the glacier and back again. Leslie, Hillary, and I wanted to walk a little way to try to get a better view of the glacier. Lorraine opted to sit on a rock near the parking lot and wait for us. We continued for a couple of hundred meters or so. We were able to get a magnificent view of the glacier. We also saw a gruesome sign warning people to not stray off marked trails for fear of being crushed by ice falling from the glacier.

It can be quite dangerous to stray from the marked trail. Several people have been killed over the years by falling ice.
For perspective, look at the hikers on the trail at the lower center of the frame.

A few photographs later, we hiked back to Lorraine. When we got back to her, she asked if we had felt the earthquake. The three of us looked at each other and replied we had not. Lorraine had felt it while she sat on the rock. We must have been walking at the time. I checked later and found the earthquake was a 3.8, very slight. That is just one more reason we did not feel the quake.
We decided we wanted to go to the beach that day. We left Fox Glacier and stopped in town to get the makings for sandwiches. We took the groceries and headed to Gillespies Beach. It was only about a 14-mile drive, but most of that was on an unpaved road. Just as Gillespies Beach Road left the river valley, there was a rather ominous warning sign. I did not think the way was as bad as what the sign seemed to indicate.
At the end of Gillespies Beach Road, there was a small parking area. We opened the back of the SUV and had our picnic lunch. Then we walked down to the beach. The beach was not sandy. Instead, there were pebbles and small stones making up the beach. However, turning around and looking to the east, we saw the Southern Alps, including Mount Cook. With an altitude of 12,217 feet, Mount Cook is the highest point in New Zealand. It seemed bizarre to be on the beach and yet see these extremely tall and snowy mountains.

One of my favorite New Zealand photographs. Mount Cook is the peak on the left. Mount Sefton is in the center. Mount Sealy is on the right.
The view toward Australia across the Tasman Sea.
John Quinlan’s tombstone.

Gold was discovered near the beach in 1865 by a miner named Gillespie. As with gold strikes in other parts of the world, men descended to the location in droves. Some miners invariably died there. The burial place is the nearby Miners Cemetery. We walked the five-minute trek to look. Many of those interred there were from either Ireland or Scotland.

Done exploring, we drove back to the hotel to prepare for the next day’s departure.

View from Knights Point Lookout.
View from Knights Point Lookout.
A rather ominous sign as one enters the forest on the way to Gillespies Beach.
The path for the two-minute walk to the Miners Cemetery at Gillespies Beach.
Two finials on one of the iron fences at the Miners Cemetery.
Detail of an iron fence around one of the graves at the Miners Cemetery.
John Quinlan’s final resting place at the Gillespies Beach Miners Cemetery.
The Southern Alps as seen from Gillespies Beach.
Driftwood and grass on Gillespies Beach.
Rocks on Gillespies Beach.
A piece of Fox Glacier sitting in the Fox River.
The small dot in the sky near the center is a helicopter. At times they were as thick as the mosquitoes.
Some of the rock gouged out by the glacier.
Preparing to walk higher toward the glacier.
The lower portions of Fox Glacier.
Looking down the Fox River Gorge toward the Tasman Sea.
A danger sign along the trail.
The Fox River.
Water cascading near the Fox Glacier parking area.
Fox River bridge.
Flowers along the highway.
One of the many one-lane bridges.
The road through the rain forest.
Multiple koru.
A koru.
A silver fern.
Everything was so green.
A fern.
One of the stunning cliffs in the Fox River Gorge.

Walking Tour

Walking Tour

Paramaribo, Suriname – February 23, 2014

I had to leave Georgetown on Saturday because Trans Guyana Airlines does not fly on Sunday. The flight was full, 14 people including the pilot.

Taxiing at Ogle Airport in Georgetown, Guyana.

It was mostly cloudy the entire trip, so the views were not all that spectacular. As we descended through the clouds to land, it did get a little bumpy.

Flying near our house. Toward the center-left is a row of five houses. Ours is the one in the middle of the group.
A canal in the countryside. Many of the fields are sugar cane.
At our cruising altitude.
Descending into Paramaribo.
Passing a cemetery on the final approach.
On the ground at last!!

Upon arrival, a driver met me. He took me directly to the Courtyard by Marriott, my usual abode here.

The jackpot is a little over $72,000US.
Passed this large Hindu temple on the way to the hotel.
A very, very small two-story house in Paramaribo.
The view to the east out of my hotel room.
The Suriname River passes the Courtyard by Marriott.

Shortly after checking in, I made arrangements for a walking tour the following day. At about SRD 175 (US$55) I was a little nervous, wondering if the tour would be worth that much money.
Typically when I am here, I stay in the hotel for dinner. This time I decided to live on the edge and go into town.
I had the front desk hail a taxi. The car was at the hotel within a minute or two. A few minutes and SRD 20 (US$6) later, I was deposited at De Waag Italian Restaurant. It is downtown very near the Suriname River wall, on the edge of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The building was used initially to weigh cargo coming and going at the Paramaribo docks; thus the name, De Waag. At 18:05, I found I was the only customer.
The ambiance was nice. It is a 19th Century building of two stories is wood construction covered by white plaster. Breaking the roof-line on the riverside were three dormers, each no doubt providing a commanding view of the river.
I found it interesting that the music being played over their sound system was quite heavy with Rock and Roll selections from the 1950s; enjoyable, but somewhat out of place.

The sign for De Waag.

Some paintings on the wall in the restaurant.
Some other early diners at De Waag restaurant.

I opted for the shrimp in Creole sauce. The server brought it quickly. The vegetable served with it were thin, long slices of carrot and some skinny green beans. The Creole sauce bathed the vegetables and the shrimp. It had a pleasant, spicy taste, but it was not spicy hot. They served french fries on the side with mayonnaise, which immediately reminded me Suriname was a former Dutch colony. I had undoubtedly heard of mayonnaise and french fries before, but I had never tried it. I was shocked at how good that tasted.
The entire meal came to 110SRD (US$35), including two glasses of Merlot and an espresso. I thought it was very reasonably priced.
After dinner, I called for the same driver to come back to the restaurant. Once again, he was there within a few minutes.
When I returned to the hotel, I stopped at the bar for a nightcap. Since my tour of the El Dorado rum distillery in Georgetown, I have been drinking the 21-year-old El Dorado rum. So that night I decided to try a Surinamese rum. The oldest available was 15-year-old Borgoe rum. It was good, but I do not think it compared to the 21-year-old El Dorado. It was smooth, but there was a real distinct taste of oak. That taste seemed to me to verge on bitter. The 21-year-old El Dorado is milder with a little hint of sweetness.
After that, it was time for bed. I had to be rested for my hike the next day.

Sunrise over the Suriname River.

Finished with breakfast, I made my way to the Hotel Torarica. That was where I was to meet my guide for the walking city tour. Of course, I was there well before my appointed time. That provided me the opportunity to walk around the property and take some photos.
I was astonished by the size of the hotel property. Walking through the lobby to the rear of the hotel, one ends up at a huge swimming pool and patio complex. Beyond that is an extensive garden area. In addition to plenty of open space, there are two tennis courts. Continuing toward the Suriname River, one encounters a riverside building that houses a bar/snackette. There is plenty of seating on the expansive deck.

A riverside bar as seen from the pier.From the deck, there is a pier extending just past the bank of the Suriname River. At the end of the dock, there is a gazebo. The entire complex can be used to dock boats. When I was there, I saw a small “party” boat docked at the gazebo. A little farther out in the river was an anchored sailboat. I did not recognize the red, white, and blue striped flag at first. Then it dawned on me it was the Netherlands flag. That made sense. I don’t think I would have wanted to be on that tiny sailboat for the Atlantic crossing.

A gazebo at the end of the pier at the Torarica Hotel. The sailboat is flying the Netherlands.
The pier leading to the gazebo.
The Suriname River as seen from the pier.
At anchor, the sailboat is pointing downstream. That means the tide was coming into the Suriname River.
A family walking back to the hotel.

A little farther downriver was another pier. Docked there were several pilot boats and other small boats. I assume that pilot boats depart from that location to meet up with ships coming and going from the Atlantic to the docks at Paramaribo. The pilot boats meet up with ships, regardless of their direction of travel, to drop off a pilot or pick up a pilot. The pilot is in command of the vessel while he or she is on board. The pilots have the local knowledge necessary to navigate the shallow river to and from the Atlantic Ocean.

The pier next door is where the pilot boats dock.

I ultimately met my guide, Boyky, in the lobby. That was around 09:00. He was born in the interior of Suriname into the Saramaka tribe of the Maroons. The Maroons are tribes that formed as escaped slaves intermixed with the indigenous peoples of Suriname, beginning in the 18th Century.

He ushered me outside and asked if I would like to start by walking to the Chinese Market. I said sure, although deep inside I don’t think I was too interested. We walked through a typical urban neighborhood on our way to the market. Old buildings that seem to have already enjoyed a long life are the norm. Many of the residents of the city do not have enough money to buy the necessary paint for their homes or businesses. It does lead to some interesting photo compositions.

The home on the corner may have seen better days.

As it turned out, I am delighted we went to the Chinese Market. It was unique and fascinating. The Chinese Market is open-air, under one giant roof. I estimate the covered area was something like 75 feet by 150 feet. As soon as I walked under the roof, I felt as though I had been transported directly to a small village in China.
We made our way to what I would call the back corner of the market. That is where some people were frying something that reminded me of the Mexican churros. The man working the dough rolled out long, flat pieces about four or five inches wide. He then made several crosscuts. That resulted in a flat piece of dough four or five inches long by one inch wide. He placed one on top of the other and creased them lengthwise down the middle with a small piece of bamboo. The final process was pulling them until they were 15 or 16 inches long. Once they were the right length, they were laid gently in a large pot of hot oil.
The finished products were retrieved from the pot when they were golden brown. I did not have one since I had just eaten breakfast. I was told they are not a sweet snack. That surprised me since I had likened them to a churro.

The frying station for what appeared to be a Chinese version of a Mexican churro.
Preparing the dough for frying.
One places the new dough in the oil while the other removes the finished product.

The market was reasonably crowded; however, I would not have called it packed. It appears one could get just about anything there; chicken feet, fish heads, squid and vegetables. In addition to those ingredients, one could also purchase any number of cooked delights; some fried, some steamed, while there were others that were packaged and ready for consumption. I could not bring myself to try anything. If I return, I will make sure to go hungry so that I can partake.

There were a lot of people in the market for a Sunday morning.
Green vegetables for sale at the Chinese Market.
Not being the best Chinese connoisseur, I was not sure what many of the items were.

As we departed the market, we walked by a booth where the offering was roasted ducks and roasted chickens. We stood and watched for a moment as the booth worker took a Chinese cleaver to cut up a chicken for a client. It looked and smelled terrific. If I had had a place to keep them and then heat them, I would have bought one of the chickens.
The next stop was the Palmentuin, Palm Garden, about two blocks away. It is directly behind the Presidential Palace, which was at one time the Governor’s home. When the garden was initially planned, there were about 1,100 palm trees planted, thus the name. It is a pretty and serene setting.

Typical drainage found throughout Paramaribo.
Palmtree Garden, a park very near Fort Zeelandia.
The palm trees are incredibly tall.
The iconic I Love Suriname sign near Fort Zeelandia.
A row of homes outside Fort Zeelandia. I believe they all house businesses today.

Walking through the Palmentuin, we ended up at the Fort Zeelandia complex. There is one impressive “skeleton” of a building in the area that used to be the storehouse. It was nearly 200 years old when it burned down in the 1990s. I thought it was just an interesting looking hulk of a building. Unfortunately, since it is directly beside the President’s office building, I was not able to take a photograph.
The actual fort itself dates from the mid-17th Century, comprised of five brick buildings connected by some bastions. The buildings, by their placement, form a five-pointed star. The fort was critical in protecting a young Paramaribo from marauders, including Caribbean pirates. Boyky let me wander around on my own for a while.
Virtually all of the buildings house various exhibits detailing the history of the fort and Paramaribo. One of the buildings houses the pharmacy. There is a relatively extensive collection of pharmaceutical containers. That makes it easy to “transport” oneself to the 17th and 18th Centuries and imagine what life must have been like then. In that same building, there are also a couple of old surgical tables on display. Quite frankly, I found them to be a little gruesome.
Baka Foto is a good restaurant on the ground floor of one of the buildings. From the outdoor dining area, one has a splendid view of the Suriname River. During a past trip, I ate at the restaurant. I thought it was excellent. It is one of the highest-rated restaurants in Paramaribo.
The smallest building houses a museum gift shop on the ground floor. A couple of items caught my eye. Both were made from seeds native to Suriname. One seed is red, about the size of a pomegranate seed. Holes were drilled into the seeds by which they are strung onto a bracelet. The other item was made with much smaller, flatter seeds. These were woven into an intricate necklace.

One of the buildings in Fort Zeelandia.
Looking down the steps into the center courtyard.
Two more tourists entering to tour the fort.
A gun emplacement at the fort overlooking the Suriname River.
Another of the buildings in the courtyard of the fort.

When I met up with Boyky again, he surprised me with a cold bottle of water, quite thoughtful.
We continued our walk along the river to the area of town that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Much of that area in the city has the preserved architecture of the early Dutch colony. The look is very European, with some portions reminding me somewhat of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The area is very picturesque.
Most of the homes and buildings have red brick foundations. The expensive bricks initially imported from Holland, showing one’s wealth based on the finished height of the foundation. There is one building in the row facing the river whose entire front facade is of the red bricks. That original builder must have been quite wealthy.
What remains today are structures that were rebuilt after the devastating fires in Paramaribo in 1821 and 1834. Since wood was the primary building material in use, it is easy to see why both fires were so destructive. According to a January 2014 report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), “…to date, the property maintains the attributes for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List. However, if urgent measurements are not taken the Inner City will fall into an irreversible decay or suffer significant transformations, which will lead to the progressive erosion of the attributes that warranted inscription of the property on the World Heritage List”. That would be every bit as devastating as the fires mentioned above.

These homes facing the Suriname River are a testament to why the historic inner city of Paramaribo is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The structures in the “Fixer-Uppers” photograph document three stages of the buildings; the building on the right is in apparently excellent shape, the building in the middle is a government ministry building. I believe Boyky said it was the Ministry of Housing. That was a little ironic. Harder to see and in much worse shape is the building on the left. That one is decaying because of family problems.

Many structures have been renovated while others, “fixer-uppers,” stand and wait.

Boyky explained that part of the problem leading to the decay of the area is the prevalence of multiple family owners scattered around the world. Over time, many properties have been passed down through wills. The family heirs have become far-flung; with members of a typical family residing in Suriname, Canada, The Netherlands, etc. That makes it difficult for everyone to come to terms on what to do with a property. As a result, some properties continue their decay with no mediation on the part of the family.
Across from the river-facing buildings, one can see the hulk of a sunken ship in the middle of the Suriname River. Boyky said this was a German boat that was sunk by its captain during World War II.

A sunken boat from World War II is still visible in the Suriname River.

We wound our way to the Catholic cathedral. Mass was in process when we arrived so we were not able to enter. Regardless, I was able to take a photo during communion from the door at the rear of the cathedral. Please see more pictures of the cathedral in the post, Suriname on TDY. It is worth taking a look back at that blog entry. The interior shots of the wooden church show just how amazing the structure is, especially after the recent renovations.

A building at the corner of Waterside Street and Keizer Street.
The monument to Simon Bolivar sits behind the white Center Church.
The Center Church dates from 1810. In the distance, one can see the spires of the Catholic cathedral.
A very bright building on the corner of Heeren Street and Noorderkerk Street.
The recently renovated Cathedral in Paramaribo.
Mass was in progress, so I only made this one photograph.
Another view of the Cathedral.

Ultimately we wandered back through the Palmentuin to end up at the Torarica, our starting point. The total distance of the walk was 2.11 miles or nearly 3.5 kilometers. It was 11:40 when we finished.
Since I was a bit worn out, I decided to sit by the Torarica poolside cafe to have a Merlot and lunch. A DJ was providing the music. It was loud but strangely relaxing. Maybe I was just unconscious after my hike!

Detail of the typical colonial architecture found in the inner city of Paramaribo.
Flags of South American countries flying near a government building.
The flags as seen from the other direction.
Sitting with lunch and a Merlot at the poolside of the Hotel Torarica.

For lunch, I chose the Honey Mustard Chicken Club sandwich. Once again, it was served with french fries and mayonnaise; wonderful! The entire lunch ran $22.
After lunch, I called for my taxi and went back to the hotel.

San Juan

San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico – January 6, 2013

Our stop at Old San Juan, Puerto Rico had a couple of hiccups at the start; getting off the ship and cash. First of all, San Juan is the main start/finish point for the Caribbean Cruise we chose. That means they disembark about 3,500 people. All of those people have to go through U. S. immigration and customs. In ports of call we usually got off the ship on deck 0. When we tried this time, our cards set off an alarm. Some of the crew directed us to the forward part of the ship on deck 3. We all had to wear “In Transit” stickers since we were in transit to Barbados. That sticker thankfully kept us out of the enormous line. A crew member escorted us to an immigration station without a queue. At first, that officer did not quite understand our status, but we finally made it through his scrutiny.

From immigration, we made the long walk to the port exit. Just before we reached the door, I realized I had left most of our cash in our cabin. I was not about to go back through all of the monkey business to get back on and off the ship. Instead, I inquired about an ATM. One of the people at immigration told me there was one about three blocks away. Tyler stayed with Leslie while Hillary and I walked to the ATM. I was able to get some money out and walk back to Tyler and Leslie reasonably quickly.

We hailed a taxi to take us to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro). That is one of several forts in and around San Juan. This particular fort is on the most northwestern part of the land that begins to form San Juan bay. That also happens to be the most northwestern part of the walled Old San Juan.
From where the taxi dropped us off, it was about one-third of a mile to the entrance of the fort. It was very windy that morning. The walk took us across a vast expanse of grass. Upon arrival, it was a mere $12 to get all of us admitted. I saw a sign noting it was a UNESCO World Heritage site.


The walkway to Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
The lighthouse and flags.
Tourists reading the informational sign prior to entering.

We explored a lot of the fort; however, it is so large, and there are so many stairs, there were a lot of places we did not go. We confined ourselves to levels 5 and 6, foregoing levels 1-4. Since 5 and 6 were the highest levels, the views were amazing. We were even able to go up into the lighthouse about halfway. Anytime we were not protected by a wall or structure; we found ourselves buffeted by a powerful trade wind from the north.

The main entry to the fortress.
View from the fortress across San Juan Bay.
The Atlantic Ocean as seen from the west wall of the fortress.
A stack of quite large cannonballs.
The flags definitely felt the wind. These are the U.S. flag, the Puerto Rican flag, and the Spanish Brigade flag.
A view of the cityscape from the lighthouse window.
Cementerio Maria Magdalena de Pazzis as seen from the fortress.
A panorama of the point of the fortress. By the coloration of the water, one can see where the water from San Juan Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Another view of the cemetery from the fortress.

El Morro is approaching the 500-year-old mark, since construction in 1539. Old San Juan had been founded some 18 years earlier in 1521. Construction on El Morro continued through 1790. About 100 years later in 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico became a United States territory.

Leslie walking on the sidewalk, departing the fortress.

After our tour of El Morro, we walked into Old San Juan on what ended up as a two-mile walk. We walked mostly east until we turned south on Calle de Cristo, one of the main streets. Thankfully our stroll was all downhill.
One of the first things that struck me about Old San Juan was color. There are very vibrant colors used on homes and businesses throughout the city. The colors are not bright and loud but rather more of a muted pastel tone. I just found it quite striking.

A pussy gato relaxing at the door.
The door to number 6.
A very red Thunderbird.
A street scene heading toward old town San Juan.

As we started down Calle de Cristo, we walked past an old convent. A friend from Puerto Rico said that is where the television show The Flying Nun was filmed. Another block or so found us in front of the San Juan Cathedral. We did not go in because the mass was in progress. It was Three Kings Day.

This street takes one back toward the port.
Cars driving by the Hotel el Convento.
A view of Cathedral Plaza taken from the steps of St. John the Baptist Cathedral.
Interior view of the Cathedral.
The three kings make their entrance to the Cathedral.

Just past the cathedral, we stopped in a small store called El Galpon. Hillary bought a Panama hat. The owner had two dogs with him behind the counter; one was an older hound dog of some sort and a Chihuahua. While we were there, they both got up off of the floor to stretch and then immediately laid down again. The Chihuahua buried its nose behind the larger dog’s leg. That led me to begin talking to the owner in Spanish. I commented that we had lived in Madrid for three years. I also said Old San Juan reminded us of Madrid.

Two dogs taking a siesta.
Cigars for sale.

When I asked where we might be able to get a vino tinto, he directed us just around the corner to a small restaurant called Rosa de Triana. As soon as we entered the restaurant and sat in the courtyard, we felt immediately transported back to Spain. The people at the restaurant were incredibly friendly.

Leslie and I enjoyed a Spanish Tempranillo wine, something we had not had since we lived in Madrid. Hillary had white wine, and Tyler had a Mahou beer. We did not have lunch, just some tapas. We started with some Manchego cheese. Tyler had a bowl of Gazpacho while Leslie and Hillary had lamb chops. I settled on Sopa del Lintejos, a very good bean soup. We felt so at home!

The courtyard of Rosa de Triana.
Hillary taking photos while Tyler contemplates the courtyard.
Brother and sister.
A sundial was hidden under some foliage.

After leaving Rosa de Triana, we continued downhill toward the port. We stopped in several shops along the way. In one of the shops, Leslie found a handmade ceramic cross she bought to add to her collection. When we left that store, we noticed a bit of a commotion around a white pick-up truck. The Three Kings were in the bed of the vehicle. As they slowly drove along, they tossed out small bags of candy. We snagged a couple out of the air.

The three kings threw candy out of the back of the pickup to onlookers.
The three kings in a parade.
The Cathedral Plaza.
A blue pastel building.
Pedestrians approaching Calle de San Francisco.
The view north on Calle del Cristo.
Two pedestrians on Calle Fortaleza.
Two pedestrians on Calle Fortaleza II.
Colorful buildings along Calle Fortaleza.

At the end of Calle de Cristo, we stumbled across Parque de las Palomas. There were dozens of pigeons there. Leslie, Hillary, and Tyler got some feed and spent several minutes feeding the “feathered rats.”

Hillary and Tyler receiving some bird feed.
Leslie and her new pet pigeon.
Excited to feed the pigeons by hand!
She finally got the pigeon off her shoulder.

Near the park was Calle de Tetuan.  The buildings along the street were beautiful pastel hues.  Of particular interest was the door to a skinny, yellow home.  It has to be the smallest two-story home in the world!!

A view of Called Tetuan.
This is the entry to a very small house.
This just may be the smallest two-story house in the world!

Once we made it back to the port area, we had to stop for our customary beer. The restaurant was all out of the local beer, so we had to settle for Dos Equis. We had some nachos as a “chaser.”

People relaxing in a plaza in the afternoon.
Detail of the facade of the Popular Bank of Puerto Rico.
Preparing for a refreshment prior to re-boarding the cruise ship.

We left the restaurant and walked to our ship. Much like the morning, re-boarding was challenging as we made our way through 3,500 of our closest friends also trying to board. By continuing to inquire with port officials and crew, we were finally able to bypass the majority of the waiting passengers and get back on the ship.

For dinner that evening, we went to the Atlantic dining room. Hillary made arrangements with the wait staff for a special dessert in honor of our 29th wedding anniversary. When the time came, one of the team asked me how long we had been married. I replied 29 years. He said, “To the same woman?!” We all had a good belly laugh!

After our meal, we went back to our cabin. We all got comfortable to watch a little TV. I was out like a light as soon as I fluffed my pillow that final time!

Tomorrow, St. Thomas!