School girl in Panajachel, Guatemala, selling fabrics. She says "Why don't you buy my stuff?" I gave her a little Australian flag.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Travel and prosperity go together like a horse and carriage.

Travel and prosperity, and peace in the World all go together. If everyone travelled around the world for 6 months when young, say early twenties, absorbing other cultures, then there would be no wars, I predict.

Young people travel as students, or tourists and as backpackers. The ones I have met come from prosperous countries. You can divide countries into 3 categories viz., Prosperous, So-So, and Hopeless. Here is my assessment.

The most traveled people come from New Zealand (me included), the reason being it is also the most isolated. Everyone goes around the world at least once in a lifetime to see if it really is as depicted in books and newspapers. Next most traveled are Australians and then the British and Americans. Of the Europeans I would put the order as Germany, Italy, France and Spain, but they seem not as well traveled as the Brits. Very frequent travelers are the Israelies particularly as backpackers in South America. African travelers are thin on the ground with notable exception of young people from South Africa, Kenya and Egypt.

Conversely, I have never met ANY travelers from North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, Niger, Algeria and many other African and Middle East countries. This leads me to suggest that travel is a pursuit of people from prosperous countries who have found peace at home and are spreading it around the world. It follows that to encourage this activity Governments, Councils etc should promote easy and unrestricted travel, youth hostels, hospedajes and the like. My article on Tips for backpackers covers some of these points. Click HERE
Foto: Young itinerant sales girl holding Aussie flags at street restaurant in Panajachel, Guatemalan Highlands.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What's the difference between the pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica?

From time immemorial mankind has been obsessed with building huge structures for various reasons, especially religious ones, and also to show how clever they were and how advanced was the technology of their culture. Today, history repeats itself as modern sky scraper towers compete in height that dwarf the ancient stone pyramids of Egypt and Mesoamerica.

The Egyptians began it all some 4650 years ago, with the beginning of the Pyramid Age, lasting some 800 years, covering 2650 BC to 1850 BC of Egyptian history. This was a time of strong Pharaoh controlled central government of a combined Lower (deltaic) and Upper Nile region (south to first cataract), a distance of about 500 miles. The Pharaohs and citizens believed in life after death. It was important that each King was buried in a tomb enclosed within an impressive pyramid monument, with all the trappings needed for his soul to journey comfortably into the next world.
Continue HERE
Foto is of El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. It is 25 meters high and dates back to 800 AD. No longer are you allowed to climb up it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chilean Lake District

This weekend I have started to read a new library book called "A History of the English Lake District". It has many fine illustrations of mountain and lake scenery plus describes in detail famous people who lived their and promoted the region from about 17th century onwards. The poets Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey feature strongly and painters Turner and Constable, and the more recent children's writers Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome of "Swallows and Amazons" fame. This literary background has helped make the English Lake District a huge tourist attraction. Cumbria Tourism claim more than 8 million visitors in a single year when the resident population is only 43,000. It's too soon for this to become an Amazon book.

Similar, bigger, but culturally different Lake Districts exist around the world which attract tourists for the scenery. The New Zealand Lake District adjacent to the Southern Alps in the Canterbury and Otago Provinces I first explored ages ago to go hiking and trout fishing. Next I ventured to the Chilean Lake District or "Region de los Lagos" which stretches from the town of Pucon on Lago Villarica to Puerto Varas on Lago Llanquihue.

It is a great region for hiking, skiing, boating, fishing and just chilling out in. Perhaps some Chilean friends can tell me of early literature of the region? The first German settlers in Chile eventually made their way through the mountains via Lago Todos Los Santos to settle in Argentina at Bariloche. I wonder if Pablo Neruda wrote any poems about the Chilean Lake District? My articles on the region are listed in the RHS column of this page and include:
Chilean Lake District A & B, and Southern Lakes Crossing, which is the tourist trip through the Andes to Argentina at Bariloche.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wineries on Tour

On of the many delights of travel is to visit a winery and sample its produce. Often this is best done by taking a "winery tour" with a mini bus load of enthusiasts. A day trip may take in a visit to 4 or 5 wineries and include a leisurely lunch at one of them. Cape Town in South Africa springs to mind, as do the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. During my travels I have visited many wineries in South America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Here are some of my articles about these wine regions:

Wine tasting destinations in Chile reviews the Classic French grape varieties grown in vineyards at different altitudes, from maritime, Central Valley and foothills of the Andes.

Wine tasting destinations in Argentina The Malbec grape is the favorite red and is grown in the irrigated foothills of the Andes, but also at high altitudes.

Wine tasting destinations in Brazil and Uruguay Brazil is the third largest producer of wine in South America, after Argentina and Chile. Wine regions are mainly in the SE and include Uruguay, growing classic European varieties.

Unusual tasting destinations What are the most northern, and southern latitude wineries? Also considered are the wineries at the 2000 to 3000 meter altitude in Mexico and Argentina.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's New for 2012?

Kindle Travel

The Kindle electronic book reader from Amazon has opened up several new worlds of travel to be enjoyed by young and old. The present and future travel is enhanced by the ready download of Lonely Planet Guide books of any country desired, for a modest cost of between $10 and $18 per guide book, which is at a discount from the real paper book edition that may require postage for delivery. An e-book saves lugging around heavy books when traveling or backpacking across multiple countries.

Traveling in the past, or armchair travel, is well catered for by Kindle. I have been enjoying many Kindle travel books which are classics, such as Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" which is a funny account of a boating holiday along the River Thames ca 1885. Then if you are a fan of Latin America what could be better than being absorbed by one of the first travel books written by a woman, "Life in Mexico" by Madame Calderon de la Barca, a Scots lady who married the Spanish Minister to the US. The book is a detailed account of her two years traveling through out Mexico in the years 1839-41. If you have ever traveled in Mexico and are familiar with the geography this is a fascinating book. Both these old travel books are free Kindle downloads, but first buy your Kindle from Amazon. Cheers, Allano