A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico City Day 2- Coyoacán and Halloween

IMG_2746.jpg

This morning we woke and started with a breakfast in the hotel Lobby but with realizing there would be some extra time I talked Thom into taking a little adventure walk to this famous churró and coffee place.
6C3ABBAECB4FEA9C9DF14D241FA729A5.jpg
The Churrería El Moro has been around for 78 years making churros (crunch cinnamon doughnut sticks) and hot chocolate or coffee with hot milk. Tasty!!!
IMG_2404.jpg

6C3BAAB50D75CA2594A9327878CC22D3.jpg

We headed back to our hotel where we would then split into our two groups with Chimy, Javier and our local guide Sergio in private vans to Coyoacán. Coyoacán refers to one of the 16 boroughs (delegaciones) of the Federal District of Mexico City as well as the former village which is now the borough’s “historic center.”
IMG_2408.jpg

Sergio, talking to us in front of a bakery displaying pan de muertos. The pan de muerto (Spanish for bread of the dead) is a type of sweet roll traditionally baked in Mexico during the weeks leading up to the Día de Muertos. It is a sweetened soft bread shaped like a bun, often decorated with bone-shaped pieces.
6C398237C12DD0928532354102030AB2.jpg
IMG_2411.jpg

The name Coyoacán comes from Nahuatl and most likely means “place of coyotes,” when the Aztecs named a pre-Hispanic village on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco which was dominated by the Tepanec people.

We pulled our vans over to get out next to a school. Here you can see the tree of life depicting more history of the people.

1DC2FF4DCA45AC92B407DBF9AC362FAD.jpg

The area was getting ready for Diá de Los Muertos and had wonderful displays set up.

1CF0D4F9D7A7D5761D0791FD4154E52B.jpg1CF1C3760963885484E3538EE2BCF82B.jpg

Large "sugar" skull
1CF2A6D708D3D304412075174337453B.jpg1CF5B6790FC65E0A448DBAE6D853A5E9.jpg

Catrina- an icon for Day of the Dead.. (I will be explaining all of this and the meaning behind the special day of remembrance in my next post)
large_1CF4281107368291411AC10DBA70CE07.jpg

1CF38368EE8A4C2040B74C42BB37A293.jpg1CF4E56EB48064B299E5DCBEC20F0A86.jpg

There were also stands set up selling yummy hot coca and pan de muertos.

1D108557FB581C35A23D35DBA1AF2F1A.jpg1D113756A30F2B2F4AA8CA5AA0F643F3.jpg

We checked out the Hidalgo garden and the cathedral.

90_72EC9646E0DA39595F29F43DA55497E2.jpg72E8C77AEE1075AB7B60A82163CD0666.jpg

1D11F468FCD1642C6BF07BBBE6F229F1.jpg1D129A48B1A23519D75F6AE086E9AF2F.jpg

Next was the Frida Kahlo Museum also known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul) for the structure's cobalt-blue walls. It is an historic house museum and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
large_1D13E3B1B5F081DFE2F2011EF30D206D.jpg1D131D26EB6D43EE2A87653EF25ED6B7.jpg

1DC26377CC6FF2E51190070EDC7296DA.jpg

Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg thinner than the left; she disguised this later in life by wearing long, colorful skirts. It has been conjectured that she was born with spina bifida, a congenital condition that could have affected both spinal and leg development.
1D4DC0ACEA3F8B26D9CD7BB955EF34A7.jpg

On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus that collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. Also, an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, compromising her reproductive capacity.

The accident left her in a great deal of pain, and she spent three months recovering in a full body cast. Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she had relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She had as many as 35 operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg, and her right foot. The medical complications and permanent damage also prevented Kahlo from having a child; though she conceived three times, all of her pregnancies had to be terminated.
IMG_2730.jpg

Her mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints and some brushes. Kahlo spent the time after her accident in bed, where she was able to spend her time painting as a way to entertain herself and express her pain. Kahlo created at least 140 paintings, along with dozens of drawings and studies. Of her paintings, 55 are self-portraits which often incorporate symbolic portrayals of physical and psychological wounds. She insisted, "I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

IMG_2708.jpg

The building was the birthplace of Kahlo and is also the home where she grew up, lived with her husband Diego Rivera for a number of years, and eventually died, in one of the rooms on the upper floor. In 1958, Diego Rivera donated the home and its contents in order to turn it into a museum in Frida's honor.
One of Frida's last paintings before she died.
1D2C0437FF59F32D8F326E7DAD32910F.jpg

The museum demonstrates the lifestyle of wealthy Mexican bohemian artists and intellectuals during the first half of the 20th century.
1D2B63FDE6B482ED44676679F6AC0185.jpg
According to records and testimony, the house today looks much as it did in 1951, decorated with Mexican folk art, Kahlo’s personal art collection, a large collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts, traditional Mexican cookware, linens, personal mementos such as photographs, postcards and letters, and works by José María Velasco, Paul Klee and Diego Rivera. Much of the collection is now in display cases designed for their preservation.

1D2CC776B0E11783B751C865EB95B521.jpg1D2DA2D7A6A27ACD68C3873ADCF3784E.jpg1D2E26D1CFAF39459EDCB01874253959.jpg

The two rooms of the upper floor which are open to the public contain Frida’s final bedroom and studio area.
This is located in the wing that Rivera had built. The original furniture is still there. In one corner, her ashes are on display in an urn, some personal items and mirrors on the ceiling.

1D30D240AA3C81C9BDE33F2E2E418F58.jpg

On her bed is funeral mask, and under the canopy is a mirror facing down which she used to paint her many self-portraits.
1D3040369042130B8E3D9D7750AF71B6.jpg

The head of the bed contains the painting of a dead child, and the foot contains photo montage of Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Mao Zedong. The pillow is embroidered with the words "Do not forget me, my love."

Her wheelchair is drawn up to an unfinished painting in the studio attached to the bedroom.
1D2FB6D2BF5FF238154EBFC91468A48E.jpg1D2F0704EB5FD828C9C1F6F005B7239A.jpg

There is also a special exhibit on Frida's suffering and how she embraced that suffering into her fashion and art. Taking ownership of the corsets she needed to wear to support her spine and embracing a style she felt distracted others from her legs.
1D4D1C080B2BECD43F57F6CB9A0C43F2.jpg1D4E9214054092A36F245E73A6869C01.jpg

Finally exiting back into the courtyard you are greeted upon more beautiful displays for Dia de Los Muertos.

1D487A6892AAE4B870F7BB9894A4B4B0.jpg

1D4953E79074E4AB9FD4433858A1C287.jpg

1D49FC8FE2304584AF3BB0FEFEC5464E.jpg

1D4AAE11B2821F1FA62CD0E7B5179F98.jpg

1D4B7509D263C9F5539D7C185550A61B.jpg

This museum was really touching to me. I have seen many of Frida's famous pieces in Philadelphia and NY but this was different. It really put a greater focus on her amazing life and how she lived through all of her suffering. I really enjoyed being able to experience this as part of our time in Mexico.

And then there was this moment.....(Sigh)
1D4C5B59D7C486CFAEA2EBBEB367B596.jpg

Ok Ok Ok......
Up next...
1DC1DC2ED4D93B1CE043F839BF519F2D.jpg

The next stop was The Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli or simply Anahuacalli Museum.
1D6E1E95C7DA4C9ED4BCE6109571DF24.jpg

IMG_2735.jpg

A special exhibit outside the museum with the statues of all girls...couldn't find out much about it but it is not always here.
1D6EEB0A0908C89A1280D3444A509462.jpg

1D68BBFFFA5D2DEFF41B48DA5C51E1E0.jpg

The unique museum was conceived and created by muralist Diego Rivera, who, motivated by his own interest in Mexican culture, collected near 60,000 pre-Hispanic pieces during his life and projected a building to place and exhibit them. This was partly his studio as well.
1D69A378D746111B903A27CCE573F9F9.jpg

IMG_2751.jpg

IMG_2752.jpg

IMG_2753.jpg

It was completed after his death by architects Juan O'Gorman and Heriberto Pagelson and Rivera's own daughter, Ruth. Built of black volcanic stone, it takes the form of a pyramid. The museum articles are collected from almost every indigenous civilization in Mexico's history.

1D6A98CE961F942462FBA1C14F467951.jpg

IMG_2754.jpg

The building forms a teocalli with means “sacred house”, its design notably influenced by the Teotihuacan culture as can be appreciated in the building’s boards, recreating the image of the rain god Tlaloc.
1D6D559605F32AE065A1B88F25F2E8B0.jpg

It also shows Maya and Aztec influences, as can be appreciated in the hexagonal and rectangular (Aztec) arcs that give access to the different showrooms.
The Ceiling in some of the rooms:

1D6C6991A29A10AAC781AA3C83DC5336.jpg
1D6B7F6ED80578A3AFB840A9F3A5C252.jpg

There was another exhibition of paper mache sculpture relating to the Days of the Dead.IMG_2747.jpg

IMG_2746.jpg

IMG_2745.jpg

An Alter to remember Diego...
IMG_2743.jpg

IMG_2744.jpg

Being that Thom and I and I are so into art and culture it was a real treat to have these included in our tour. After all this excitement it was on to lunch. Chimy had made reservations for us to have lunch at place that was once one of the house Hernán Cortés. Cortés was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
This was once one of his houses.
1D81F04CF49589004D67B7F2DE1BAB16.jpg

1D81296CD25522E052828ED18D665B72.jpg

Ok so now we had a short time to wander and see if we could gather up anything we may want for a Halloween costume. Many people just decided on painting their faces since there wasn't much time and many of the shops and stalls didn't have full costumes. Halloween is not typically celebrated in Mexico in the same capacity or way it is in the United States. However, there are more and more overlaps each year. But we would soon find that people tend to save their painted faces and "trick or treating" or rather "Me da mi calaverita" ( "Would you give me a skull"... A calavera de azucar is a skull made out of sugar) for November 1 and 2nd. Again more about all of that in great detail in the next post.

So back to the crazy tourists (he...he he) who wanted to celebrate Halloween. We were suppose to go to a party but that didn't really work out but everyone still celebrated with good spirits regardless. So what happened was, we went back to the hotel and prepared for a night out. Everyone pretty much painted their face and dressed up in some way for the most part. Thom helped out with his artistic skills and q-tips. I had picked up some crazy Maleficent horns and rocked a mask I had bought for another party before we left. We gathered in the lobby for dinner.
1DC39C00CFB07FFFA2991750D5D02E52.jpg

Chimy took us to his neighborhood for actually are really yummy Italian/Mexican dinner. We were the only ones wearing makeup and face paint but when there are 24+ of you it kind of makes you the majority anyway right?
large_IMG_6072.jpg

Who is that creeper next me?
IMG_6074.jpg

Dinner conversations were hilarious and jokes from that night would continue through out the trip (thanks to Thom especially..lol)
Afterwards we went to a small chill bar that specialized solely in Mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agave) native to Mexico. Not particularly Thom nor I's thing we did try some anyway. We also had to order some kind of snacky food item for the table as it was required of the place since it operated under some kind of different license. So why not crickets!

90_IMG_6076.jpg

Proof of someone eating them:
90_IMG_6078.jpg
Me not so much....

Well we headed back and it would be another busy jam packed day tomorrow as well.
I promise to tell you all about Dia de Los Muertos next as it would be November 1st on Day 3.

Posted by Kelly Rose 09:55 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Mexico City Day 1

Mexico day 1
Thom and I arrived in Mexico City and took a registered cab to our hotel. We will be staying at Hotel San Fransisco in the Historic Centro district. We immediately dropped our bags and headed out to do some exploring on our own before our group meeting at 6:00.

large_E2015C27DD731CE7DEDA0FBDDD20B17A.jpg

Now Mexico City itself doesn't have a great reputation and I am not here to dispute that. But just like any city there are bad sections and good ones and Mexico City is HUGE!!!! The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and the largest city in North America, with an estimated 20 million people living in the region. We are staying in the Centro historic area. This area is so great in many ways. Yes it is very busy with people but everyone seems really friendly. Mexico City is divided up into 16 delegaciones , similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonias" (neighborhoods), of which there are about 250.

There is so much history here and so much to do that I am actually sad that we don't have more time here. Here is an extremely brief history. Mexico City was actually once a lake. Crazy right! Due to this reason and earthquakes you can actually see how some of the buildings are crooked and slanted. The city now known as Mexico City was founded by the Aztecs in 1325. The old Mexican city is now referred to as Mexico City. It was once called Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs were one of the last of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples who migrated to this part of the Valley of Mexico after the fall of the Toltec Empire. The Aztecs were fierce warriors who eventually dominated other tribes throughout the region. They took what was once a small natural island in the Lake Texcoco and expanded it by hand to create their home and fortress, the beautiful Tenochtitlán. Their civilization, like their city, eventually became the largest and most powerful in pre-Columbian America.

In 1519, the Spaniards under Hernán Cortés arrived in New Spain. Cortes learned about the political problems of the Aztec Empire and was able to exploit them, enabling him to eventually conquer Tenochtitlan. The Spanish colony of New Spain was influenced by the timing of Cortes' arrival. The Aztec ruler, Moctezuma thought that Cortes was the god Quetzalcoatl, who was predicted to return to the land around the year that Cortes and his men appeared. While Cortes and Moctezuma initially treated each other with deference, friction between the Aztecs and the Spaniards soon erupted into violence. This culminated in the eventual siege and destruction of Tenochtitlan, and with it, the Aztec Empire.

The Spaniards rebuilt Tenochtitlan, renaming it Mexico City. They also rebuilt much of the infrastructure of the Aztec Empire, replacing themselves as rulers, with the Roman Catholic Church as the spiritual basis. This inhibited opposition by the natives to Spanish rule. The Spanish colonial city was built using much of the old Aztec layout and was about the same size.

So back to us now.... it is relatively easy to get around here with a map and our limited Spanish and so we head out. The architecture is fabulous!

E1D619F6D4700DD07ABBCFF9ED7DC253.jpgE1D71532927E0B6188869A6AD9BE6C2A.jpg

E203C62EB84755123575D6955C3D1E65.jpgE204A4F1913F63DEE8FDF12E895837BB.jpg

The Palacio de Bellas Artes is the most important cultural center in Mexico City as well as the rest of the country of Mexico.
E1D8F3F9E534219264125D74D62E895D.jpgE1D9A700BB959CC71B8880D168E4B05C.jpg
01793318A4EC2B47013E2C5AF1D12949.jpg

Amazing churches.... Even if the were built with parts of ancient temples and on top off Aztec ruins...
E2021690F47AF1A9CD49A7345AC17DB5.jpgE202D97EA808704A77FB069D4B05C18D.jpg

The Casa de los Azulejos or "House of Tiles" is an 18th-century palace in Mexico City, built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family.
E1DB0AAA915030BC059F5FEE62466A51.jpg

What makes this palace, in the City of Palaces, distinctive is that its facade on three sides is completely covered in the expensive blue and white tile of Puebla state.
E1DC0F66E95FB4427A566DAFDABF7CFD.jpg
The palace remained in private hands until near the end of the 19th century. It changed hands several times before being bought by the Sanborns brothers who expanded their soda fountain/drugstore business into one of the best-recognized restaurant chains in Mexico. The house today serves as their flagship restaurant. We had breakfast here a day or so later.
0179BD9B9897EF8053E9003B36E148E8.jpg

The city is fun and vibrant with Halloween and Dia de Los Muestos approaching and there are displays and street performers set up.
large_E1DD671FDB1E0B2672F96234515F1740.jpg

Display for Day of the Dead...more on the custom of this later....here are some teasers
FD99C05DBB7AF00743A4F975C464D442.jpgFDD41683F6ADBDD533846E73F67FBAC2.jpgFDA25796AE48E7E382FB026655EF4BCD.jpgFDCF10A4DFB2FCDFFA2C5E33321601D4.jpgFD9DA30CFE25CEC108FD0B4F97AF4797.jpg

Our main goal of the day with limited time is to reach The Secretariat of Public Education Main Headquarters.
E235BE3FD6D0C7F04952F75568BA32B6.jpg

Many murals Diego Rivera are painted there and it is totally free to see! Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez, (sheesh ... You know I copied and pasted all that!) known as Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter and the husband of Frida Kahlo. His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City. In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Covering all of the walls of these two courtyards are murals. 235 panels or 1585.14 m2 of this mural work was done by Diego Rivera between 1923 and 1928.
large_E2376FA2D82972FFA7882E9DE22ACD9F.jpg

This was Rivera’s first major large-scale mural project. The themes center around workers, and the glorification of all things Mexican, especially the Mexican Revolution. Rivera named the two courtyards “Labor Courtyard” and the other the “Fiesta Courtyard” based on the themes he painted in each. Because he was affiliated with the Communist Party at the time, Rivera painted small hammers and sickles next to his signature on the panels in this building.
E206B1FCA3D031792180B870D108B611.jpgE2060CD9B22F31EAA823A579AA1E9E2B.jpgE205515DE41A8C34B23CB381C5A6E24C.jpgE216846EC13A77D27E7EB5456252BFD7.jpg

The smaller, or Fiesta Courtyard, has murals by Rivera and other artists. Ground floor has the murals that give the courtyard its name “The Deer Dance” “The Corn Fiesta” “May 1 Meetings” With geometric planes and concentration of figures, “The Day of the Dead” is representative Rivera composition.
E21B3D10BB1FEE5820B9989CFA0DFA1E.jpgE21A14FCBE39577B15EDAB59E681B4E5.jpg

The upper rectangle is occupied by a trio of a peasant, a revolutionary soldier and a worker with the opposite side containing images representing the clergy, militarism and capitalism.
E23148C1F7FFDFA7B60B07812635318E.jpgE232532203BBCB1857E742F35BE40554.jpg

There are so many panels

E2369B659061C4826D34E51C48950510.jpgE21804940A7804EFCECD5A2A0300A06E.jpgE235BE3FD6D0C7F04952F75568BA32B6.jpgE2385227C11074A46832BC6B6698683E.jpgFD758F2E0B3F2BAD05FA53BBFF86D39A.jpgFD7260F1C9FF5ACF496B6E745439DCD1.jpgE23B00E2D36FA3A6F0DD38CA8188140F.jpg
FD6B987FD3B4FD3998617A0F97A7F0BF.jpgE2395F29932F97D626AE8351496B2C29.jpg

On the first floor of the Fiesta Courtyard is the coats-of-arms of the different Mexican states painted by Jean Charlot and Amado de la Cueva. On the opposite side of this floor are works by two other painters: “Washerwomen” and “Loadbearers” by Jean Charlot and “The Little Bull” and “The Dance of the Santiagos” by Amado de la Cueva.

The second level contains another Rivera work, “The Arsenal,” which has an image of Frida Kahlo distributing arms to revolutionaries. In the far left section of the panel appears the face of David Alfaro Siqueiros. Generally speaking, this corridor is devoted to revolutionary songs called “corridos” that crown and link the murals.
large_FD6DE711F7A9DB466648546892FA26D4.jpg

After this we decide to head back to the hotel and rest and refresh before meeting our group and guides. We stop and grab this amazing taco from a small shop on the way back.

Finally it is 6:00 and we meet in the lobby to join our new travel mates and guides. There are actually two groups and two guides and we will be all together most of the time. Our two guides are Chimy and Javier and I can tell from our first meeting that they are going to be so helpful and friendly. We head out to a taco restaurant for our first dinner. Chimy and Javier are patient and helpful in decoding the menu for us all. Food was delicious! We take a nice walk to the Zocalo center. The Zócalo is the main plaza or square in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. More about this later too.
Here we can see the beginnings of preparations for Day of the Dead. We also see ruins from the Templo Mayor. So much to take in and it's only the first day. It's going to be a really great trip!

Posted by Kelly Rose 04:48 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Victoria Falls! Let the Highs and Lows Flow!

We came back from our last safari drive to have one final meal made by Henley our cook. We would be on our own for food at Victoria Falls for the next night.

P1020879.jpg

Our tour was almost over but to enjoy the area more Thom and I had arranged for us to stay an extra night at the campground in a chalet since we would need to give our tent back after the first night. Then we had booked for our final night a room in a nice place on the Zambezi River where we could just take nice showers, eat a good meal and relax before our LONG plane ride home. But more about how that plan went to hell later...ha ha ha!

Right now we are boarding our truck and the teak wood is still on fire from two days ago with blue flames....so crazy! Henley our cook throws some water on it finally to put it out and the ground looked like it was melting and instantly boiling. Whoa!

Oh somewhere along the way we made a stop for this one of a kind picture!
Only at the bus stop folks!
IMG_2244.jpg

When we arrive we are briefed on all of the actives to do at Victoria Falls such as these incredibly scary adrenaline stuff where you leap and dive into the gorge.....Not really my style and I start having breathing problem from just listening to them talk about the options... There was a 10-15 minute helicopter ride over the falls that some chose to do and while the pictures looked amazing we opted out because it was kinda pricy.
At this point we were just going to go back set up our tent and get our heads around the area.

We took a nice walk and wound up where the adrenaline activities took place at the gorge!
IMG_1863.jpg

They had the flying squirrel where you run and jumped horizontally like super man across, A steep zip line that you glided across and then wavered back and forth and finally the gorge swing....This made my stomach turn every time I watched someone do it! It is essentially bungee jumping but you are in a harness that isn't attached around your ankels so you swing out after the free fall and you are not upside down....( I am getting woozy as I type this)

We left the gorge and headed up and over the the super fancy posh Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe and made ourselves comfortable for a cocktail! We got a Stanley and a Livingston of course!

IMG_2253.jpg

Umm So I can't find any nice photos of the hotel for some reason but I do have the ones Thom took of the bathroom...the important stuff
IMG_2264.jpgIMG_2260.jpg

Don't mind the pumbas munching on the grass....
IMG_1871.jpgIMG_1876.jpg

The hotel has a great view and you can see that rainbow in the back from the mist of the falls...
IMG_1875.jpg

large_IMG_1868.jpg

Dinner Time came and we had some great a cappella South African men's choir perform at dinner.
While our tour with our group was officially ending some of us decided to meet up the next night for a booze cruise down the Zambezi River the next night. So after some time chatting we went to bed for the final night in our tent!

The next morning we woke to go support Cool Aussie Nancy as she had signed up to do all three of the adrenaline activities.
DSC02377.jpg

DSC02376.jpg

Thom had then decided to do the zip line. So I went to video because watching fall from thing just ain't my thing! But check it out Thom!
DSC02379.jpg

large_DSC02382.jpg

DSC02387.jpg

DSC02385.jpg

In the end Thom also did the crazy Gorge Jump (WARNING....The F bomb is dropped once in this so maybe turn the sound down) It was kind of crazy because I didn't know he was going to do it and then I had to run back to my spot to catch it on video....

After all that craziness it was finally time to see the falls!!!!
P1020733.jpg

Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (Tokaleya Tonga: the Smoke that Thunders), is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
P1020732.jpg

IMG_1885.jpg

IMG_1895.jpg

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft, resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water.

IMG_1902.jpg

IMG_1890.jpg

IMG_1889.jpg

IMG_1884.jpg

Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls

IMG_1914.jpg

IMG_1912.jpg

IMG_1904.jpg

P1020737.jpg

Just a light mist ya know...

P1020743.jpg

Of course we need a tigger picture!!!

P1020739.jpg

After the falls is when the craziness started. We had a nice lunch at the Victoria Falls Hotel again and then made our way back to the campground so that we could check into our chalet and shower before our river cruise...Well there was supposively something wrong with the locks on the chalets and they couldn't place us in them but they had some kind of upgrade for us. Well this turned out to be a dirty disgusting dorm. So let's just say that the people at the front desk were not very helpful or kind about the situation and I started to really loose my cool. The short story was that we were suppose to have been able to check in by 2:00 our boat ride was leaving around six and we had no room before we left. Luckily Christine and Bob let me rinse off in there shower but we were still not to happy. But I wasn't going to let it ruin my boat ride so we went to drink up and have a good time.

IMG_2046.jpg

IMG_1921.jpg

It was really fun and I was so glad that I got to do that with the people I enjoyed much of time with on the tour. Paul, Vivienne , Good old John, Bob Christine and Cool Aussie Nancy all joined us!
IMG_2051.jpg

IMG_2057.jpg

We also didn't realize it was a bit of water safari as well!
large_IMG_1939.jpg

IMG_1946.jpg

IMG_1955.jpg

IMG_2042.jpgIMG_1995.jpg

IMG_1988.jpg

This is me when I find out that our room that I reserved and paid for in February was not available:
large_IMG_2025.jpg

With once again amazing sunsets!
large_IMG_2067.jpg

large_B506EE76AB84967CBDAD7D1FCB7ECCC5.jpg

Getting back now after having too many I was super enraged when I was told that we had to sleep in the dorm, luckily for them it was clean and we had the entire place to ourselves. That coupled with the fact that because we were so pissed about this and called our nice hotel that we were to stay in the next night and were told that they also couldn't find my reservation and also had no room for us resulted in had a serious 100% last straw kicking punching raging melt down before finally settling in for the night. It was a low point for me I would say.

The next day we were to leave and go to our new hotel for a final special night. Yup so I called again, they had our reservation and so I was relieved and thought that would be the end of the bad luck. With that in mind Thom and I had plans to walk across the border to the Zambia side of the falls and take a boat to Livingston Island and swim and walk on top of the Falls!!!

We hiked it there to cheap to take a taxi...lol ( It really wasn't that bad of a walk) And arrived at this even more posh of hotel than the Victoria Falls Hotel. It was the Livingston Hotel in Zambia and wow...did I feel like a fish our of water walking up to the gate sweating in our bathing suits and my yoga pants!!! Ha ha ha!!! But it was fine. we met on the sun gate with some other people and waited for them to take us by boat to the island.

The island is owned by the hotel and so the only way to reach it and have that experience of swimming on top of the falls is to go through this company. I was so glad I was able to make this happen before we left.

P1020790.jpg

P1020791.jpg

P1020796.jpg

90_P1020797.jpg

There we were greeted with some kind of starch drink that I politely pretended to drink..(.yum....that was so good maybe I'll just save some for later ok?)
P1020800.jpg

Bathroom with a view
P1020801.jpg

We then had to remove our shoes and truck through the mud to get to the edge.
P1020802.jpg

Our guide then took us to one of my favorite parts of the entire trip! Top of the falls!
It was absolutely AMAZING!!!!
P1020806.jpg

P1020821.jpg

We got swim around in Angle's Armchair... While Devils pool would have been slightly better it was still an amazing second due to the water levels being too high to do that eddy.

P1020840.jpg

large_P1020831.jpg

The views were spectacular and thrilling!

P1020874.jpg

P1020898.jpg

P1020920.jpg

large_P1020919.jpg

Dr. Livingston I presume?

P1020882.jpg

After our time on the edge part of the tour was a fancy brunch on the island YUM!

P1020924.jpgP1020925.jpg

So after we arrived back at the hotel it was time to walk back to Zimbabwe but we first had to make our way through the rest of the property. To our surprise (since this did not happen on our way in) Random animals were roaming the property!!!!
WHAT!!!

P1020927.jpg

P1020929.jpg

OMG that tree is moving and alive!!!
90_P1020930.jpg

P1020934.jpg

P1020935.jpg

More?

P1020937.jpg

P1020939.jpg

We finally made our way back to the crappy campground and got our bags and were off to our nice final hotel to only find out when we got there that there now magically was something wrong with our room and we could no longer stay there. What was actually happening and we knew this was there was some African Political conference happening and they were using there corrupt power to pressure the hotels and so we were getting bumped out. So after being taken to a crappy second hotel and refusing to stay there we were finally driven to this AMAZING hotel called the Victoria Falls Lodge. W could never had afforded to stay there so it worked out in the end. Plus we got a free dinner as well.

It was a beautiful redone hunting lodge with multiple look out levels of a watering hole where different animals visited daily.

IMG_2286.jpg

IMG_2091.jpg

B7B63779D334C60DACA1C8DD9B16647A.jpg

IMG_2101.jpg

B7B6A53503FAC486F6B739233900F1FC.jpg

IMG_2287.jpg

IMG_2124.jpg

Absolutely fabulous. Two pool to watch the animals and sun set!

IMG_2092.jpg

IMG_2273.jpg

IMG_2278.jpg

IMG_2272.jpg

IMG_2276.jpg

large_IMG_2114.jpg

IMG_2130.jpg

Here are some photos of our final celebrations!
IMG_2285.jpg

IMG_2284.jpg

This trip was such a mix of really amazing highs and lots of downs and lows I between. I am so grateful the experience and will all treasure all the moments that in the end make us stronger and smarter travels. Ok now I waiting board a plane to Mexico City so got to go!

Posted by Kelly Rose 03:49 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (2)

Hwange National Park

Ok so we but first a quick stop at the Painted Dog reserve...
It was not really that exciting to be honest an animal shelter with two dogs. But the painted dogs are just another species in jeopardy here in Zimbabwe. Painted Dogs, also known as African Wild Dogs, are unique to Africa and they are among this continent's most endangered species. It is estimated that less than 7,000 remain in the wild. The Painted Dog population in Zimbabwe is one of the last strongholds of the species and we are committed to their conservation. Our conservation methods and our work with the local communities are beginning to have a positive effect on the outlook of the Painted Dog species.

We then made our way to Hwange National Park where Ian (the rhino whisperer) was going to be meeting us there and taking us on some safari game drives. Turns out his jeep had some technical difficulties so he wouldn't be arriving on time. In Africa this can mean everything from an extra hour to it probably just isn't going to happen at all. But you never know. After lunch we became doubtful or at least bored as there was nothing much to do in the camping section of the park. So we walked to the park's little bar/restaurant and did what any bored person might do and drink....ha ha ha
Italian Ladies club split some wine and in the end our patience near the front entrance pays off and we finally spot Ian. We hop in his jeep and ride back to meet the group and be on our way. The park has strict rules about being out past dark and so while we will not be able to do a full drive Ian and his companion take us out and we are still able to catch some wonderful animals and views.
IMG_1695.jpg

IMG_1696.jpg

Lovely waterhole with the perfect light to capture the elephants!
large_IMG_1713.jpg

IMG_1711.jpg

IMG_1708.jpg

IMG_1722.jpg

The sun was starting to set....
IMG_1724.jpg

So we needed to start heading back but got to see a bit more before we got to the gate!
Some kudus, and wilder beast.
large_IMG_1740.jpg

IMG_1741.jpg

IMG_1756.jpg

IMG_1755.jpg

Check out this guy's antlers!
IMG_1752.jpg

Sun is fading fast!
IMG_1730.jpg

But wait there are some giraffes with different patterns and colorations then we saw in the Serengeti in Tanzania!
IMG_1764.jpg

IMG_1751.jpg

This is how you do it Boys! (Awkward)
IMG_1749.jpg

Now the moon has come out it was as if the sun and moon were on strings like you would see at a children's play. One went down and the other immediately popped up!
IMG_1784.jpg

IMG_1779.jpg

Now after dinner Ian tells us we can take an optional ride in the land rovers at night. We can't drive through the park but we can drive around the perimeters and look for some fun creatures at night! So it is really cold at night in the jeep so we bundle up with sleeping bags and beers. Cool Aussie Nancy is sporting her onsie that is essentially a grownup tigger costume and has front seat. Tigger, I mean Nancy is awesome because she stands and guides this flood light back and forth in search of glowing eyes! We spot what is essentially a type of deer that is so tiny even full grown. I forget its name. Then Ian asks if we have seen flying baboons? He spots a few and immediately starts chasing them with the jeep (and us in it) howling at them. We drive them up the tree and then they start jumping and flying from all over. After that bit of fun we resign to the fact that we won't see much else and so Ian takes us to a nearby human waterhole.

Then all of a sudden it is there! A huge male lion crosses the road right in front of us. Pauses at our jeep and the annoying flood light. Looks right at us and continues to cross into the bush! Super cool!

We meet at this kinda poshy hotel for a drink at the bar. We get scotch mixed with Amarula...the South African cream liqueur (kinda reminds me of Baileys). I went to use the bathroom but the Thom went outside on the lawn with group and said he saw some more impala and elephant. They also heard a lion in the distant. We return to camp and happily sit around a great fire (it was a log of teak wood!!! I know right???) talking and listening to stories and knowledge of life in the bush from Ian. We are sooooo tired that Thom and I finally decided to turn in. Just as we are about to go to sleep, we hear Ian in a loud whisper "It's a Honey Badger!" followed by the running and scuffling of footsteps.... We passed on the chase because well we were already in the tent with shoes off and in our sleeping bags...also you know honey badger don't give a s!@# anyways...lol

The next morning we ate breakfast ( that teak is still burning/smoking btw) and Ian picked us up for one more drive. We didn't see too much but there were some fun birds along the way. I personally am not a big bird watcher here in the states and I find most birds kind of boring. But in Africa they are amazing and beautiful! Here are only a few.

IMG_1800.jpg

IMG_1808.jpg

IMG_1798.jpg

large_IMG_1809.jpg

large_IMG_1812.jpg

IMG_1830.jpg

IMG_1834.jpg

We were tracking a lion but never found him. Back to the waterhole.
Love this picture of Thom with Bob and Christine (the Floridians)
IMG_1836.jpg

Oh a hippo.... ( can you tell we are spoiled now...) And in the distance you can see a croc too!

large_IMG_1824.jpg

Lots of warthogs...I mean Pumbas! Ian does this call that sounds like a dying pig and it scares them away...Tails up boys!
IMG_1794.jpg

IMG_1852.jpg

He keeps saying that he can talk to them but they keep running.

IMG_1855.jpg

IMG_1853.jpg

Finally his call works and they stop and stare at us for a bit...he he he..

large_IMG_1857.jpg

large_IMG_1858.jpg

Once again on our way out we happen to see something amazing and kind of rare right in front of us crossing the road! (It's not just for chickens you know)
IMG_1838.jpg

A family of Ostrich! Mom, Dad and Babies!!!

IMG_1840.jpg

IMG_1841.jpg

Mom heads into the bush and Dad pushes the little ones along..."Nothing to see here kids just another bunch of tourists with their cameras..."

IMG_1843.jpg

Mom takes the babies into the bush but Dad keeps and eye out! "That's right humans you stay right there....I got my eye on you!"
IMG_1847.jpg

"And don't even think about following us!"
IMG_1848.jpg

Next stop Victoria Falls...where you thought jumping into a gorge was about as exciting as it could get there....but oh no, let's wait to find out in this upcoming final African post how Kelly and Thom brought Jersey RAGE to the country of Zimbabwe and made it out to tell you about it.....Don't worry after the screaming and kicking it does have a nice ending....

Posted by Kelly Rose 20:01 Archived in Zimbabwe Tagged park national hwange Comments (1)

Matobo Hills, Nswatugi Cave and a Village Visit.

We left the Rhinos and headed to a camp area for a quick lunch.

P1020621.jpg P1020623.jpg

We chased this rainbow lizard for a while....
P1020646.jpg

And got some nice views as well...
P1020653.jpg

Matobo (or Motopos as it use to be called) National Park
P1020622.jpg

The hills, known locally as kopjes, fall into two main categories. The balancing 'castle kopjes' are formed by the rock splitting along natural lines of weakness, or joints. In the Matobo these joints run noticeably from North to South and East to West. So the balancing piles of 'building blocks' that look as though they have been carefully constructed from the ground up are, in fact, constantly forming themselves from the top down. And because the boulders on the summit are more exposed to nature's weathering effects they tend to be more rounded than the angular blocks at the base of the hills.

large_IMG_1599.jpg

We passed the MOTH (Memorable Oder of the Tin Hats) Founded by Charles Evedon this memorial pass recognition to the fallen from World War 1

IMG_1595.jpg IMG_1596.jpg

We also passed Gordon Park...where all scouts as we know started...yup that's right kids it started in Zimbabwe!
IMG_1598.jpg
It was in the Matabeleland region in Zimbabwe that, during the Second Matabele War, Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of Boy Scouting Association, and Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British Army, first met and began their lifelong friendship. During many scouting expeditions, Frederick showed Baden-Powell woodworking and they shared stories of survival - which may have later laid the groundwork for early Boy Scout principals. Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training program in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldwork, and self-reliance.

Then it was a short hike up into the mountains....
90_IMG_1603.jpg

With wonderful views:
large_P1020664.jpg

IMG_1606.jpg IMG_1608.jpg

Finally we reach Nswatugi Cave.
IMG_1626.jpg

These hills have one of the greatest concentrations of rock art in the region. The hunter-gatherer peoples who once found security and sustenance in these hills have left countless paintings across the Matobo.

IMG_1609.jpg

Evidence for the early history of the area comes from archaeological excavations and from analysis of the rock paintings. These indicate a long and perhaps continuous use of the caves from the Stone Age right through to the early historical period first by hunters and gatherer societies and then by Iron Age settlers practicing agriculture.

IMG_1614.jpg

The art is not simplistic illustrations of their lives. There is a selection of what they chose to paint and not to paint. These are symbols and illustrations of their deepest religious feelings and understanding of the reality of life around them. They would relate to the viewer the complexity of social relations (age, gender and living in community) as well as the complex realm of spirits. This only worked for those brought up in their society, knowing the symbolism. We outsiders stand here not fully understanding this ancient and now largely forgotten symbolic language.

IMG_1611.jpg

The finely wrought art is a depiction of the complex religion of the Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers, and although beautiful, has meanings that go beyond the aesthetic. The images are likely to signify various aspects of human emotions, relationships and interactions with each other and the world around them.

IMG_1620.jpg

IMG_1623.jpg

The realistic giraffe paintings are some of the best such depictions in the hills although they were not well suited to the rocky terrain.
large_90_IMG_1616.jpg

IMG_1610.jpg

As with the kudu, they were nevertheless well adapted to the open Acacia woodland just outside the Matobo. These animals are often depicted large in central and prominent positions in the bigger living sites and in many instances, the artist would have required some sort of ladder to paint them.

IMG_1624.jpg

Exactly what the minerals were mixed with is not known for certain, but is likely to have been gums from acacia trees, latex from euphorbias, blood, urine, animal fat or marrow, egg white or yolk or a mixture of any of these substances.

IMG_1612.jpg

Here you can see an example of shadow paintings of humans that only seem to reveal themselves in when the sun is blocked.
IMG_1622.jpg

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years.

IMG_1619.jpg

The dating of the paintings is still debated, with some experts suggesting an age of up to 20,000 years. However, it is likely that the majority of the paintings that have survived to the present day are less than 2,000 years old. If this is something that you would like to learn more here is a great link http://www.rockartscandinavia.com/images/articles/a12walker.pdf
I am hoping to eventually link some video of Ian our guide speaking to us in the cave because I could have spent hours listening to him explain all kinds of interesting and amazing things about the caves and the people....

After the paintings we had to take a vote on either seeing Cecil Rhode's Grave or visiting a local village. The village people won (lol) and we headed off.
IMG_1633.jpg

First we needed to meet the chief
IMG_1642.jpg

What a character this guy was! He told us of how he was attacked by a leopard when he was younger and showed us his scars to prove it!
IMG_1666.jpg

Then we met some of the other people of the village while they showed us some of their ways of life
IMG_1682.jpg

Some of them sang and danced and did a bit of a performance for us.
large_IMG_1647.jpg

Then we were invited to join in the fun...
IMG_1665.jpg

IMG_1664.jpg

IMG_1662.jpg

Honestly I would have to say that it was not the most authentic experience ever but the people were still very nice. The truth is, you are not going to get any kind of 'authentic' experience when you are on a tour. For that you really need to volunteer and live with and like the people themselves. This made me even more appreciative of my time spent in Ghana years earlier.

Ok so one more safari park a quick sad stop at the painted dogs sanctuary and then off to Victoria Falls....

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:21 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (1)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 58) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »