Ocotillo always reminds me of the Penitentes (a Catholic sect in the Southwest) who beat their own backs with thorny ocotillo branches with every step as they journeyed to a shrine. It’s not ocotillo’s fault that men come up with crazy ideas. Like cactus most other desert bushes, ocotillo needs thorns to survive. Ocotillo also grows showy flowers and small green leaves when water is available. During droughts the bush sacrifices its leaves and stands there looking deader than a crispy roadkill pancake until the rains come and life is good. I don’t know if ocotillo has some meaning in […]
While camping on Carlsbad Beach in California, I noticed an ad for a ride in a biplane. Barnstormers! Wilbur and Orville! Snoopy and Red Baron! Two for the price of one! Janene revved high spirits as we opened our pickup doors, “You look like you came from Colorado!” Enthusiasm flowed as she briefed us, checking for hazards: “Are you wearing earrings, Ann? Tuck your hood in, so it won’t pull. I have a vest if you’re cold.” I especially appreciated these efforts because I was so nervous about getting airsick, I’d taken two pills, and they were making me slow […]
Though Tenerife’s giant lizards are now extinct, many other types can still be found. Our tour guide has a gecko that patrols the ceilings for mosquitos at night then naps in the warm cubby behind a television set through the day. In Colorado we once had a lizard quietly volunteer to clean out a housefly infestation in our sunroom. He did a fine job then disappeared. A Tenerife blog post painted a darker picture of living with lizards. The poor little guys tended to lurk in dangerous places like door and window frames or underfoot and cause serious guilt issues. […]
Tenerife Island, one of Spain’s Canaries, gets almost no rain. Though the Canaries lie along the African Sahara coast, Tenerife enjoys wondrous pine forests and a generous underground reservoir. That’s because wind and water currents bring dense clouds, and the pine trees help themselves. Their needles are so adept at sucking in moisture, excess water drizzles out through their roots—enough to support cities, crop lands, even passing cruise ships. These pine trees are also exceptional in that their wood is dark and strong. Fortunately, Tenerife is blessed with exceptional wisdom as well as trees. The first agenda item for so […]
Dogs, Canaries, Islands, and Confusion
No, the Canary Islands were not named for canaries. Canaries were named for the islands. That seems to be certain. Many claim that Europeans visiting the islands were surprised to see large dogs on Gran Canary so named it “big dog island” in Latin. Others say the name came from a tribe of people with a similar name or maybe a tribe that worshiped dogs. Whatever. A Canary Island dog surprised me as well, though it wasn’t particularly big. I just never saw one that looked quite like that.
How Safe is Egypt?
I gulped at Mom’s suggested trip to Egypt. The Middle East? But many reputable companies were offering tours. Also, the U.S. travel advisory site noted just a couple areas to avoid, which naturally weren’t on the tours. Obviously, Egypt and the tour companies are highly motivated to protect us golden geese. They’d be crazy to encourage visitors if they didn’t believe they could keep us safe. And who would know better than they whether the situation was safe? “Safe” being a relative term, of course. So how safe was Egypt? I was surprised at how welcoming the people were. people […]
Tipping Egyptian Style
The tour company promised to take care of tips for every service they arranged other than the main tour guide. That sounded wonderful. No stress over who to tip how much. …If only. Almost every restroom we used featured someone handing out toilet paper at the door. The five pounds they expected in return was next-to-nothing, but a pain to keep handy. Qualms crept in as well. Shouldn’t the attendant who put herself out to be pleasant and keep the room nice, get more? (Note: Even when the five pounds was considered a charge rather than a tip, these generous souls allowed relief to folks lacking fives.) “It’s a tipping culture,” […]
Venturing the Souq
I was amazed to find that the in-your-face vendors of the Egyptian souq calmed down and become hospitable when I stopped and told them what I wanted. “Sit down. Would you like something to drink? Coke, tea, anything you like.” The first shop tender didn’t have a necklace Mom wanted, so he took us across the street to his brother. The brother sat us down and brought choice after choice, much appreciated since our tour’s pace was taking it’s toll. Mom finally settled on two pendants and chains. I bargained as best I could, and Mom helped by saying, “maybe we should go” a couple times […]