Mumbai with Ashwin and onto Kerala

We arrived in Mumbai on Sunday at 4:30 am to be met at the airport by our past student, now friend, Ashwin Advani (Nobles ’03). What an amazing forty-eight hours we had with Ashwin and his generous, engaging aunt. On Tuesday we flew to Kochi where we’ll be for two weeks in Kerala to experience some of the beauty and power I have felt while reading The God of Small Things, a book that I have taught and loved for many years. Maneesha, who runs Silk Route Silk Route Escapes, has arranged our journey through Kerala. Here is some what we saw in Mumbai with our wonderful tour guide/Clinton fellow/friend, Ashwin (click here for a link about Ashwin’s important work in Mumbai).
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Best ice cream ever:
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Mumbai at evening, looking out at the Arabian Sea:
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And from inside our auto ride:
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Onto to Kerala…
From our time in old Kochi, seeing temples, churches, museums, fisherman using Chinese nets, erected in the 14th century. We stayed two nights in a perfect place called Secret Garden – great food, yoga class, and kind people.
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A group of Indian tourists wanted Ben & me in their photo…
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Maneesha included a fun chocolate making class and an evening Indian cooking class with Nimmy Paul in our Kochi experience – so fun and delicious:
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And now our skilled, gentle driver for the two weeks in Kerala, Nibu, has taken us to Munnar, a rugged, mountainous place patchworked with tea, coffee, and spice plantations. We’re staying at Windermere Resort with this incredible view:
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Bike ride among these hills tomorrow. How fortunate we continue to feel.

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In Datca

So today at our first breakfast (hard boiled eggs, olives, tomatoes, cheeses, olive oil, herbs, butter, jams, honey, fresh bread, and tea) at Fora (our apart/otel) in Datca (I have wasted a lot of time trying to put a cedilla under the “c” in Datca to no avail), we met the mayor of Datca, who also happens to own this hotel. He welcomed us warmly, found us a good map, and gave us an excursion for the day. “Tomorrow morning we’ll make a new plan,”  he said as he left when we told him we’d be here a week. So we’re heading to the end of this peninsula to Knidos, an ancient city, a bit like Ephesus, Mayor Sener Tockan told us. At this tip of the land, the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea. Cool.

I haven’t mentioned this weird truth before, but it’s definitely an interesting fact about Turkey: stray cats and dogs fill this country. All are well-fed and content to roam and sleep wherever they want, usually in the middle of a sunny, cement sidewalk. The cats look more mangy and sound more scary in a night cat fight than their canine counterparts who appear quite hearty and aloof.  I know this looks a little creepy – like a crime scene, but these two are right below our balcony:

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We’re finishing our second full day in Datca (the call to prayer is happening at the local mosque as I type at 4:54 pm; this happens six times a day, times dependent on the movement of the sun). Yesterday was filled with walking – all over this town and along the lovely coastline. We found a good market for supplies for our apart (think self-catering unit) at Fora, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, a primary school, a swath of white, red tile roofed buildings perched in the surrounding hills, and several outdoor cafes. Very perfect. We’ve begun to delve back into books, writing, 7 minute workout sessions, and have the time to savor the fun and challenge of our Aegean biking tour with David. We feel so lucky (how many times I think and write that…) to have landed at the Biking in Turkey website in our search for cool things to do in Turkey in our initial planning of this adventure. Our biking guide, Sinan, was extraordinary in his patience, humor, gentle direction, bike knowledge, and people knowledge. Our driver, Mustafa, transported us safely and kindly – a warm, sweet man. Our group of eight was diverse, interesting, and fun: Omar, a mid-thirties IT guy from Saudi Arabia was so willing to teach us about his world and share delicious dates and candy. Daisy and Pete, an early thirties couple from the UK were smart math peeps, who were always kind and quite hilarious. Heather and Meghan were a mother/daughter duo from South Africa, Meg, 26, now doing pharmaceutical research in London and Heather working in Namibia. And there were the three of us – David, Ben, and I. David thrives in a group of new people; he loves to hear and tell stories; the boy was born to laugh (and make me laugh). A lot. It was such fun to be with all of these people for seven days, chugging up mountainous terrain, flying down hills, and razzing (Daisy’s word) along beyond beautiful coastal roads. Around meals, beers, van rides, card games, and walking in villages in the evening (and some in Turkish baths) we got to know each other. We leave this experience with new friends and hope our lives intersect soon.

Today around Datca included the dramatic drive (steep inclines and declines & hairpin curves with nary a guard rail) out to Knidos. On the bike trip I didn’t have my camera for our stop at Ephesus; so I was happy to see another ancient city (over 2000 years old) with a camera in hand. On the way back, the mayor recommended a detour through three beach towns: Palamutbükü, Ova Bükü and Hayit Bükü. See some photographs of all of these places below:

First – recess bell at the primary school:

The drive to Knidos:

At Knidos:

 

And the beaches:

Thank you so much for reading, looking, and following our journey! We miss our friends and family!

David has just left in a taxi, bike ride is over, and Ben & I are sad but moving on…

It’s surprisingly poignant when David or Abby leaves these days. I’m never quite certain when we’ll see them next, and I just love having them in hugging distance. Turkey has been so fun with David – the exotic  beauty of Istanbul and the ineffable majesty of the Aegean mountainous coast on a bike. Sad (to be without David) and leg-tired, Ben and I will head to Datca for a week of recovery and relaxation. It’s a village on the Aegean coast that several people have recommended.

Here are some images from the last six days of riding on a bike:

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The view from the most amazing hotel:

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Our leaders, Mustafa (driver extraordinaire) and Sinan (our unflappable guide):

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A little more of what we see:

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Lucky, lucky us…

 

Aegean Bike Ride

So I had the vision of a bike ride along the Aegean Sea which it has been for a bit… (Lesbos Island in  the background)

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Here’s part of our group at the edge of the Aegean Sea:

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But mostly our trip has been in the Aegean mountains – which has been challenging, dramatically beautiful, and fun:

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I love riding through the small villages tucked into the mountains:

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And here’s a great afternoon break – ubiquitous Turkish tea and some other treats:

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How lucky we feel to be riding with this guy for four more days!

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p.s. If you want to see a cool article about Ben, Sheldon, and the Mtubatuba Football Academy, click here.

More Istanbul (if you want…)

I love watching magic shows. I know it’s all slight of hand and the cleverness of angles and mirrors and so many tricks, but I am there. All amazed. All enthralled.

One minute David’s not here. And the next he’s at our doorstep in Istanbul. Very magical. Of course there was that pesky detail of my locking us out of the apartment, waiting in the cold for the locksmith to arrive. Wishing I knew some magic to open a door. But that part was fixed by a man with a briefcase filled with tools to unlock anything. And we were off down the steep, narrow, cobbled road to a heated outdoor cafe for pizza, salad, and wine (or lamb chops, mashed potatoes, hot peppers, and beer if you were David).

This week in Istanbul has vanished so quickly. It seems we walked it away (how thankful I am for my new knee!). There’s a lot of magic in this city. Here are a few final images; tomorrow we fly to Izmir to start our bike ride along the Aegean Sea. More magic.

Bosphorus Strait boat tour:

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From Suleiman Mosque and night life:

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Finally, we are so thankful to our new friends at Robert College for their time, good conversations, and possible work together in the future. What an impressive place!

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Istanbul take two.

Uploading photographs is a bit of a precarious dance in some places – I decided to break up the post. I’m sure there will be an Istanbul III 🙂

More of what we’ve seen:

Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, and more –

Topkapi Palace and hookah cafe:

Obviously I cannot get enough of this tile 🙂

View from the palace:

And the hookah cafe…

annd me reliving my days of making smoke rings…

And how lucky we feel  to be doing all of this with David!

 

Istanbul. 

We’re in. This is a compelling place – so much to see, so many places to walk and gaze in wonder. There is a dizzying busyness here on buses, trams, subways, and cement brick steep roads. And the water – the Bosphorus Strait, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea – everywhere it sparkles. And we are in Asia and Europe…Words cannot capture what we’ve seen and done; here are some photographs to try:

The first day:

Aya Sophya & the Blue Mosque and more…

 

 

 

Leaving South Africa, heading to Istanbul this evening!

It’s been whirlwind of driving on the N2, through the majestic, dramatic topography of eastern and southern South Africa to get to Rocky Road to see the Nobles group in Plettenberg Bay for a night and then to Cape Town for a night before we fly out this afternoon for Istanbul.

Here are some images from the last few days:

Ben coming out of the Indian Ocean –

  

Nobles kids after a full day of working on house construction and painting in Kurland, Plettenberg Bay –

  

World Cup soccer stadium in Cape Town (where Abby went to a game in 2010)

  

The Cape Grace where we stayed with my parents in 2000 (we had a drink at the bar there 🙂

   

 

Some Cape Town images –

   

       

Love these two (it was Abby’s 26th birthday on the 19th & we meet David in Turkey on Monday)! 

  

Zinkwazi Beach (thank you, Walshes, thank you, Cathy, for connecting us to the Walshes…)

Here is where we are:





Here is what we see:



Here is where we walk every day:



Here is what I’ve found:



Here is what we do:

(Ben reads  on his phone)







Here is what I had for lunch yesterday  (and today and the day before yesterday):



Here  is one of the coolest things about where we are  (an outdoor shower):



IIn addition to watching a lot of Premier League, we also play this  (I won last night):



Some of you who know Ben well, may be wondering how he is doing with the “I-must-work-out-at-5:30-am-every-morning” thing on the road. Here’s how:  (We both do this  several times, depending on what we have to do – I highly recommend it!)



Thank you for reading and caring about what we’re up to; we miss our family and friends!

In Mtubatuba!

     This is Chris Kaimmer’s “happy place.” I can see why. Sheldon. The multitude of soccer boys – eager, enaged, and real. Rochelle, Sheldon’s lovely wife, who seems to absorb Sheldon’s enthusiastic world with calmness and love. Jayden, Sheldon’s son, who drove from the field to their compound with us and shows only kindness. George, Sheldon’s father, a retired sugar cane worker and Anglican priest, who told us about his father’s two wives (twins his father married for sixty-four cows, thirty-two for each sister) whom he couldn’t tell apart for years. I can see why Chris dives into this world. It’s like living in the best novel with characters you have grown to love over pages and pages. But it’s real.

   The first night here under the old wild oak tree that is like a pillar with a leafy, expansive umbrella, we talked with George, Sheldon’s father, about apartheid (they are a colored family – George’s father was white and his mothers were black – Zulu royalty; that’s why his father had to pay thirty-two for each twin instead of the normal twelve cows), his twin mothers, seven siblings, belief in god, buying a church and turning it into a home, and the sadness of human unkindness – all this while being eaten by evening mosquitos but not wanting to move out of the darkness because his stories kept coming.

    We spent the following day with Sheldon, the founder of Mtubatuba Football Academy, as he led us through Cape Vidal and St. Lucia where we saw dramatic vistas, monkeys, hippos, kudos, wild boar, and more. The evening included another delicious meal prepared by Rochelle, Sheldon, and family: pasta, vegetable curry, avocados, salad, wild spinach, and squash. How fortunate we are to spend time with such a warm, welcoming family.

     We’re off to Zinkwazi Beach for a few days!

Sheldon and Ben talking with the Mtubatuba Football Academy boys:





Cape Vidal: