Another amazing stop on our trip... 2 days in Madagascar, one in Nosey Be, (Meaning Big Island), and the 2nd in Diego Suarez, a town at the north end of Madagascar itself. In Nosey Be, we visited a Ylang Ylang forest and flower production centre, as well as a botanical gardens. Wonder of wonders, we got to hold chameleons and lemurs and boa constrictors!
Today, we visited Diego Suarez and got a private taxi to see Baobab trees and a drive through the countryside. Madagascar feels very much like Africa, although we've never been to Africa. It's as hot as we can stand, and Iain didn't even want to swim at the beach since the heat is so intense!
Yesterday we visited the Holy Land. -Quite fitting at Christmas, and a definite bonus, since we were originally scheduled to go to Cairo! Jerusalem is an amazing city. The off-white historical buildings glow with a golden light, and Iain and I both fell in love with it. He even commented last night that he might like to go back there one day, to live.
It certainly is a city of 'living history'. The tiny streets with their heavy stone slabs in the market place are the ones Jesus walked through when he dragged his cross up the hill. The 12 stations of the cross are market on the marketplace walls, as you walk through. The chapels and religious iconography everywhere mark the details of the life of Christ at every turn. Iain said he still didn't believe in Jesus, but he certainly looked intrigued when we entered the tomb where Jesus' body is believed to have been laid to rest (and risen from the dead shortly after).
We visited the Wailing Wall last, which was strangely commercial and full of crowds of public on-lookers and people praying. I had expected it to be silent, or filled with the whisper of prayers, but instead it was a busy town square with visiting Israeli army troops, crowds of laughing children and tourists taking photos.
Jerusalem is certainly impressive, with it's relics and temples at every corner, and it's a strange place poised in preparedness for the 2nd coming of Christ. Even the dead beneath their tombstones are all lined up waiting to be the first to enter the holy city by the golden gate, as the Bible tells will happen.
For me though, the city felt almost too perfect. 2000+ year old buildings, and they were all so clean and well-maintained, with almost no signs of destruction or damage. It was hard to feel a sense of the history of the place. The tourism (certainly not helped by the fact that we were on a 'cattle-herded' excursion, rather than free to discover the place on our own) made it feel more like a museum than a city. Perhaps that's what Jerusalem is though, a living museum of major world religions? And perhaps that's why no one wants to give up their ownership of the place.
In 24 hours we'll be over the Atlantic.. Can't wait to be weightless.. spread your wings and fly away!... perhaps I should just stay up there? Life has been heavy this week, sudden changes in financial security, big and little worries all gathering momentum like a tornado of concern. But tomorrow it will all wash away. There's nothing more to be done once the plane takes off.
I love flying. I was once a Flight Attendant for a year, and getting on a plane now feels so familiar, brings back memories, and it's as comfortable as getting on a bus. I've taught my son how wonderful it is to travel, and he's a great companion on trips. He's a trooper. He drops his child act, and becomes an equal. We are 2 world explorers pulling together to get to the other side. There's no greater experience in life than taking off with my son and sharing the world together. Tomorrow we're doing it again!
Sure there are those who've called to warn of riots in Cairo, Pirates at the end of the Red Sea, and a monsoon that may or may not have passed by the time we get that far south, but hey, if the Mayans are right, we'd better get out there and enjoy the Earth while we still can! Tomorrow's just another Monday. But it's also the starting point -we just need to jump the hurdle of our fears and live life to the finish line!
Well, in just 5 short days, we'll be leaving for our second 'trip of a lifetime!" We begin by flying to Italy (via Paris) and then spend 2 days in Genoa, Italy. On December 1st, we travel to Savona, where we board our cruise ship, "Costa Allegra"
Our first stop will be Naples, ITALY, and we'll visit the edges of Vesuvius, to view the archaeological ruins of Pompei!
Next we'll cross the Mediterranean (1 day at sea) to arrive in Alexandria, EGYPT. We'll have a whirlwind trip of Cairo, seeing the pyramids of course, and the museum in Cairo. Then back to the ship in Port Said to sail through the Suez Canal (Yet another canal!) Then we'll visit Sharm El Sheik, -beach resort on the Red Sea- for 1 day.
We'll cruise through the Red Sea to Luxor, and spend a full 15 hour day seeing all the amazing temples of Karnak, the gods, the Nile, etc.
Onward after that, we sail through the Red Sea, veering to the left, and head up to OMAN. Salalah is our stop there, where we'll go snorkeling and visit the Frankincense forest (one of only 2 still remaining in the world!). The next day we have 4 days at sea, -full of parties, social events and food food food!.. Then we arrive at the Sechelles. Hope I can still fit into my bathing suit by then! 2 days in the SECHELLES, -There we'll visit the Ylang Ylang forests, where the perfume is produced!
then another 4 days at sea to reach MADAGASCAR.
WE have 2 stops in Madagascar, Nosy Be, (big island) and a second island on day 2. Then on to Reunion Island, where we'll climb into the crater of a volcano!
Finally, the month long cruise ends in Mauritius, with a visit to the south of the island to see a lava field, black sand beaches, and other treats!
Our final 2 days will be spent in Mauritius, and then we fly out (on the 28th of December), for 1 night in Paris. From Paris, we'll fly home to Toronto on December 29th!
If you're wondering where we are, just check this blog!
IF time and internet allow, I hope to be posting photos of our journey here, as we travel!
Hilary Slater: I write in the morning before I get out of bed. I write in the evening when the world is quiet. I write at Starbucks, where I can escape the household interruptions. But most of all I write in November, when NaNoWriMo inspires me!