In 1984, while employed, I met a young Indian Engineer, who, recently graduated and having settled in a job, was looking to be married. Wishing to marry an Indian girl, he traveled back to India and found a girl who captured his heart. He had casually invited my wife and me to the wedding to be held in Madras, India. I think we surprised him when we agreed! We attended the wedding and then spent another 5 weeks touring both India and Nepal . We traveled by plane, train, bus, oxcart, pedicab and car throughput India from Calcutta to Madras to Bombay and Dehli. This was probably the most interesting trip we have taken. Everything was different and unique. The beauty of the Taj Mahal by moonlight, the fascination of the burning ghats of Varanassi; a most memorable trip!
Nepal was just as incredible. The fascination of Katmandu, the magical smell of the jungle and riding on elephants at dawn looking for White Rhinos. (Found 'em!) We spent Christmas in Katmandu. Funny, the Hindus and Buddhist don't celebrate Christmas like we do!
In 1990 we both quit our jobs (an attractive early retirement package helped) and took a trip to Africa, the middle East and Europe. We landed in Madrid, Spain in early March. We had chosen Spain because of the image of sun and low cost. So much for preconceived images! It was cold, rainy and shockingly expensive. We didn't stay long, and quickly headed south to Morocco, looking for sun. After a time warming up and learning the meaning of Ramadan, (not eating from sunup to sundown, for one thing) we flew to Kenya and went on safari in the Maasi Mori reserve. Incredible wildlife! A side trip to the Seychelles was something that Corrine had long thought about. It was a beautiful island country, described as being a thousand mles fron nowhere, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was here that we first tried snorkeling. The water was bath warm and the fish would eat out of your hand. We then flew to Egypt and the Pyramids. Corrine didn't share the fun of going into the great pyramid, missing the thrill of the small, hot and humid interior and the thought of all those thousands of tons of rock overhead. Not the place for anyone with claustrophobia! A trip up the Nile brought us to the Valley of Kings at Thebes. Visited the tomb of Tutankaman and the great Temple of Karnac. A bus trip down to the Sinai peninsula brought us to St. Catherine's, a monastery in the middle of the desert at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Bibilical site where Moses brought forth the tablets containing the 10 Commandments. A camel ride took us part way up the mountain and after a short climb we found churches and sanctuaries at the top. The descent was by the "3000 Steps of Redemption" built by some long past monk in an attempt to assure his redemption.
We continued through Israel and all of the history, both ancient and modern, associated with that troubled land. Jerusalem is one of the more fascinating cities of the world. Devout Jews dressed in black, walking beside young solders carrying arms, form some of the interesting contrasts to be found there.
From Israel we left on a ship to Rhodes for a weeks stay before continuing to Turkey. Being not too familiar with Turkey made our discoveries of Cappadocia and Parmaluca all that more exciting. We had traveled to Trapzon to the east and from there traveled by ship to Istanbul. Entering Istanbul from the sea is one of the more unforgettable sight in the world.
A bus ride from Istanbul through Bulgaria and what was Yugoslavia brought us to Munich, Germany. After several months of living in hotels rooms of widely varying quality but of uniformly high cost, we decided that the way to go would be to buy a Volkswagen Camper, saving in hotel rooms and at least some of our meals, and giving us complete freedom of movement. A few day search found a nice 1975 Westfalia (purple!) for about $3000. We bought it and took off to explore Europe.
We then traveled through France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Italy and crossed the English Channel to England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Finally in November, we were starting to get cold again, running low on money and we had a brand new granddaughter to see. We returned to Munich and sold the Volkswagen back to the same car dealer from whom we had bought it. Naturally, he didn't give us what we had paid for initially, but the change in exchange rates resulted in getting the same dollars we had paid. A great way to see Europe.
Corrine had always wanted to take a trip on the Amazon River so in 1994 we made our plans and flew to Iquitos, Peru. Even 2000 miles from the mouth, the Amazon is still large enough for ocean going ships. Our river boat was not an ocean going vessel, but a classic, picturesque river boat. We spent a week on this boat exploring the upper Amazon. We learned something of the people living along the river; some quite primitive, others more modern and educated but with few means of improving their lives. A visit to a leper colony reminded us that the disease is still prevalent and victims are still considered outcast by their society
After the memorable trip on the river, we flew to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire. Located at 10,000 feet, it took a little adjustment before running around the city. The hotel provides Oxygen for its guests suffering from the altitude.
The city is fascinating with the Incan and Spanish remains. There are many examples of Spanish buildings built on Incan foundations. The Spanish work looking quite crude compared to the incredible stonework of the Incas. We took several side trips to ancient Incan sites with many of the original Incan terraces still being farmed today. The main site in this area is, of course, Machu Pichu, the last holdout of the Incas. Perched high in the mountains amid swirling clouds it is an awesome, otherworldly place.
We returned to Cusco for a few days before flying to Lima for a day and then Miami. Here we rented a car and drove down the Keys to Key West before returning home.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust, French writer, 1871-1953
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