Archives for the month of: October, 2016

The traffic was light on because it was a Sunday but we still needed to be at Nairobi airport at least two hours prior because of the added security. There was an area quite a way from the airport where we had to get out of the car and go through screening ourselves and a notice on the wall said ‘no guns will be returned’. The vehicles had to go through another screening before picking us up again and then driving further to the terminals. The only other place we had done this was at the military airport in Kashmir. We were very happy again with the added security.

We had a good hour’s flight to Mombasa and we were lucky to see Mt Kilimanjaro again in the distance. For a short flight they a drink (non alcoholic) and two packets of delicious nuts (only roasted macadamia and cashew nuts). The macadamias must grow here as they had big bowls of them on the buffet at Mara Serena hotel as well.
I had reconfirmed our pick up the night before but even then the manager of the ‘Cowrie Shell apartments’ where we were staying had forgotten us so after a very helpful lady on the information desk rang him, we were lucky to get another driver – Caroline or Shiro (her African name) who took us to north side of Mombasa to our apartment. It
was warmer and more humid at the airport but once we arrived at the ‘Cowrie Shell’ beachside apartments there was a lovely breeze and it was nice to see the palm trees and the ocean.
We took a taxi to a shopping complex and bought some fruit and weetbix for breakfast and had a good coffee at the Java house in the complex. All cars were checked coming in and out of the place. The apartment was huge with kitchen facilities and a lounge dining area and the complex had a pool. We had a good fresh fish meal that
night at the outdoor restaurant at the complex and the next morning went for a nice long walk along the beach. It was fairly early and the sellers were just setting up there booths on the beach selling clothing, paintings and wood carvings.

Shiro took us into the city to see Fort Jesus which dates from the 16th century and we had wonderful views over Mombasa and the Indian Ocean. It is a Unesco world heritage site and there were men working at the site however the fort needs a lot of repair. Shiro then drove us through the very narrow streets of the old town which is predominantly muslim. She told us that the central police station in the old town was attacked a couple of months ago by three muslim women trying to petrol bomb the building. The police killed the three women. Locals told us to keep the windows of the car closed. So different from 1991 when I walked freely around the old town. A sad situation.
On the way back to our apartment we stopped at Bombolulu, a large centre giving work to disabled people. They make aa variety of goods from wooden items including furniture, clothes, cloth bags and jewellery and their showroom is made out of rocks and is beautiful. They have a kindergarten and we saw the children playing outside. We made a few small purchases and headed back to the ‘Cowrie Shell’apartments. I went and lay in the sun for a while at the beach and was surprised to see two camels walking along the beach with their minder.

We decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Mombasa Serena hotel a couple of kilometres away. I emailed the food and beverage manager to ask if we could make a reservation and he suggested the Jahazi restaurant on the beach which is in the shape of a dhow. Very atmospheric. We ate wonderful seafood and it was a fine dining
experience with amuse bouches and palate cleansing sorbet between courses. Downstairs a cat was lounging about but not being a nuisance. Herman the manager came and met us after dinner and explained that they have three cats who are territorial and shoo away any other unwanted wild cats which can be a problem. They feed the three
cats and the one seemed very content. The grounds are beautiful with lots of frangipani trees and palms and the beach is pristine.
Herman showed us through the luxurious Spa which was built a few years ago but looked very new. A big white tower in the garden had been built and was used as a children’s play area. He also explained that tourism was down about fifty percent however they catered for conferences which kept them busy and as we were leaving the head of the government security force arrived with an entourage in many black 4wds.

The spa impressed us so much that we returned the next day and had steam baths and massages in a very tranquil setting which were excellent. Another fresh fish meal back at the apartment restaurant for $10 each was as good as the previous one there. The day was a bit overcast so we relaxed and got ready for our early morning flight back to Nairobi and on to Dar es Salaam.
Shiro picked us up promptly at 5.45am (after 6am it would have been a problem with traffic) for the 8.15am flight to Nairobi. There were many crazy ‘matatu’ or shuttle vehicles on the road but it only took us 40mins to get to the airport. There are major road works in Mombasa as well as the new railway from Nairobi to Mombasa which is to be completed next year. The departure lounge at Moi airport in Mombasa is not completely enclosed so there are a few crows waiting to steal any uneaten food.

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After breakfast at Lake Nakuru Lodge we left at 7.45am for the long drive to the Masai Mara stopping along the way in Naivasha at the new Buffalo Mall for a Java house coffee. Interestingly they ask if you would like ‘anything to bite’. The last 70kilometres to the main gate took us over two hours. It was a rough road indeed with a lot of corrugation and dust. Many people have been protesting and complaining for years because of the bad condition of the road to the main tourist attraction in Kenya, the Masai Mara. The theory by many is that the politicians and the air companies who fly people into the Mara from Nairobi and take others back who will not do the drive twice are fearful that they will lose business. There is no other logical explanation according to our driver. Most other roads in the country have been upgraded with much less traffic. In addition to that, the hard shoulder where driving would be preferable is littered by large rocks placed there by the Masai who for unknown reasons don’t want drivers there, even though that land does not belong to them.
Once we had passed the main gate we could start a game drive where we saw many elephants, zebra and four lionesses who had full stomachs and were sleeping. They had killed a wilderbeest which lay under the bushes to avoid detection by the vultures so that the females could go back for more food at a later date.

We also saw many migrating wilderbeest who had not yet returned to Tanzania because of late rains which gave them lush grasses to eat across the savannah. Francis our driver/guide drove us to a plinth that had T and K on it – for it was the border as such between Tanzania and Kenya.
The scenery in the Masai Mara is something that I always remembered as being so beautiful and it has not been spoiled by many camps or lodges even though they have increased in number but are well hidden. In the two days we only saw one other lodge high on a hill outside the park.
The Mara Serena lodge where I stayed many years before had been refurbished extensively both in the standard of rooms and a new lobby/shop/viewing area and increased space in the bar and restaurant area had been added. The pool and the fireplace were the only features that were the same. We were advised by the staff not to keep the doors to the balcony open if we were not sitting there because the baboons have been known to come in and take bags, cameras and any items they could get their hands on. The only downside were a couple of loud toddlers at dinner so the manager allocated us a nice quiet table away from the terrors for each mealtime. The next day the staff asked if we would like to have a private meal by the pool to which we of course agreed.
Our morning game drive was over a few hours and we saw more wildlife including a large herd of about 30 elephants with a very small baby and another few lazy lions under a tree. We opted not to do the afternoon game drive but instead relax in our room so that we could catch up with emails, blog etc.
That evening we were shown to a lovely private spot overlooking the pool complete with brazier to keep us warm (it wasn’t that cold but it was very atmospheric) and we had a menu with several choices and a dedicated waiter. It was a lovely experience which we were not expecting. The manager came to make sure everything was alright.
I don’t know whether the meal was in response to our complaint of the noise level in the restaurant or because they were amazed that I had stayed there so long ago.
Whatever the reason it was very generous of the manager and we will definately go back one day to the Masai Mara and stay at the Serena Mara lodge.
We were sad to leave the Mara the next morning after breakfast for another long drive back to Nairobi which took us via another part of the Masai Mara on not so bad a road and then via the wider Rift Valley on the Italian road – a road and church built by Italian prisoners of war in 1942. I remembered it being a horrendous drive but the road had probably been resurfaced many times and was a pleasure to drive on other than with the trucks that used the same road.
I erroneously thought that it would be hotter at the equator but it was cool in the early morning and evening with the locals wearing big coats and around 26-28degrees during the day.
We were back at the hotel by 3.30pm and had a quiet evening repacking our bags in readiness for our flight to Mombasa the following morning.
There are 41 tribes in Kenya with most getting on. The only troublesome ones apparently are in the north where they still practise witchcraft and kill each other.
There is a lot of intermarriage between the tribes Masai and Kikuyu and others. The Masai don’t really work other than tending their cattle but a lot of Masai communities now send their children to school. Most wear vibrant coloured red or orange fabric over their other clothes. They are no longer nomadic and many of them are building concrete and corrugated iron roofed houses instead of the traditional mud ones. The Masai who do work are easily identifiable because of their height and there are also some extremely tall women.

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Francis or Murunga (his African name) a very educated, professional and friendly guy was our driver/guide who was early to pick us up at 6.30am on the 18th October for our five day safari to Mt Kenya, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara. I wanted to retrace my steps and the only deviation was to change from going to Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru
to see the millions of flamingoes which unfortunately had since relocated as we found out to Lake Bogoria because the water levels had risen considerably and there was not enough alkalinity in the water for much algae to grow and for them on which to feed.

We were lucky to be travelling on a new highway out of town as there was bumper to bumper traffic of many kilometres going into Nairobi and this Francis said was a normal traffic day. Horrendous! White collar workers must be in the office for 8am and to achieve that they need to be on the road by 5.30am Monday to Friday. The highway which was only two years old was 8lanes wide but near the city this narrowed to two lanes.

We were into the countryside quickly and we drove on the lee-side of Mt Kenya which was much drier than the other side of the mountain. Wherever there was a river, patches of green crops and Kenyan white corn grew in small farmer holdings. The Kenyans staple food was Ugali – white corn (They don’t know yellow corn)and skuma wiki – kale
or spinach. We saw some coffee plantations in poor condition. We stopped after about four hours at a curio shop full of African carved items. Some very beautiful but the prices were very high. We made it a washroom stop where when I went to close the toilet lid it came off in my hand. Maintenance seems to be an issue here in Kenya
also as well as in Dubai and in India.
We also stopped on the equator (or nearby!) for the water demonstration. An African gives you a coriolis effect demonstration of how the water runs down anti clockwise in the southern hemisphere by walking 10metres after the sign and then moves 10metres to the other side and shows you how it runs down clockwise – only it is a trick
as you have to be a couple of hundred metres away from the equator for it to work but we gave the man KS100 – about a dollar and for many people who do not know the effect at least they learn something.

Francis gave us a lot of local information about Kenya. The Kenyan constitution states that men can have as many wives as they like. The law used to be that the first wife had to agree but the politicians (probably all men) removed that proviso. He did say that why would you want a lot of wives as the dowry system is still in place
in Nairobi and in the tribal lands, however, many Kenyans these days did not have several wives or many children.

Mt Kenya was the location of a large British army barracks with several thousand men as well as a Kenyan army barracks. There is some doubt as to whether the British army will stay as the law has changed now so that if they commit any offence in Kenya it will be tried in a Kenyan court.

Soccer is the favoured sport and there are several channels of the sport on the television but apparently betting has become a problem since they introduced it for the sport.

One impressive and secure system is in place in Kenya and is used by many Kenyans. It is called M-Pesa and it is a mobile phone-based money transfer,financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom. Our driver pays for everything via his mobile phone so that if anyone steals his phone they cannot access his account. It saves him carrying large amounts of cash and if the card is stolen it is tracked through the mobile phone network.

We reached the Mt Kenya Safari Club in time for a sumptuous buffet lunch on the terrace overlooking the grounds, pool and maze and Mt Kenya in the distance.
Our accommodation was luxurious and the staff lit the fire in our large room while we were at dinner. The club was set up by the actor William Holden and three others in 1959 as golf club and hunting lodge however he later changed from hunting animals to working for the conservation of animals instead. We were taken by a Kenyan Wildlife ranger around their ‘orphanage’ where they take in rescued animals and have a breeding programme for ‘Bongo’ an endangered species of forest antelope.
The ranger showed us a leopard lying high up in a tree and then let us into the cheetah enclosure where we could pat a very docile female cheetah.

The staff lit a fire outdoors which made it very atmospheric in the evening although it was a bit cool to eat outside. Another sumptuous meal was served for dinner and I treated myself to a Pimms cocktail. So much for trying to lose weight while in Africa! They even had a high tea in between the meals which we deliberately missed.
All the staff we met in all the hotels, Java house cafes and in the service industry in general were all polite and friendly and treated each other well as well as the bosses who spoke to their staff were pleasant or joking with them.

After a peaceful night and early morning bird songs we left at 7.30am for the five hour drive to Lake Nakuru past the many geo thermal power plants along the lakes.
The mountain formation around Elephantaita lake was impressive although that lake is apparently not known for anything in particular. We stopped along the way at Thomson Falls and had a photo taken with two chameleons on a branch held out over the falls. We paid the man KS100 or a dollar for the service. I had the same photo taken in 1991 but with only one chameleon! We climbed again to have a wonderful view of the narrow part of the Rift Valley before reaching Lake Nakuru in time for lunch again. We had to deviate our route slightly as the main gate was under water. A problem of rising water levels around the lake.

We reached Lake Nakuru Lodge with it’s lovely gardens and pool area and a restaurant overlooking the lake.
A staff member was stationed at the restaurant with a ging and a large stick to ward off unwelcome baboons which could be aggressive. We went on a game drive with Francis in the afternoon and saw many zebra and a few rhinoceros in the distance by the lake. The armed game wardens patrol the park 24hours a day in 6hour shifts on the lookout for poachers who they are told to kill on sight. In the morning I detoured around two baboons walking by the pool. They managed to get around the electric fence which surrounds the lodge. The view of the area in the early morning was beautiful from our balcony.

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I had been in Kenya 25years ago and I didn’t recognize the city although it wasn’t as incredibly changed as somewhere like Dubai.
We came across the most pleasant immigration official on the 14th October who welcomed us and she was very chatty and also processed our $50 visas on arrival very promptly. I had to give all my fingerprints but Maurice didn’t. When I asked why he didn’t have to give his, she said in a sweet voice ‘if you get to that age we think you are good!’ Did that make me a potential criminal?

We had arranged a pick up from our hotel ‘La Maison Royale’ so as to not have the hassle of finding a taxi driver on arrival.
The hotel was located in Westlands where there is a lot of construction taking place and the streets were clean and tidy. The check in staff were also very professional,friendly and cheerful and the hotel had only been open for a couple of years.
We don’t do mass tours so we had arranged for a car with driver for the next day to take us to the Masai market, Karen Blixen’s house, the giraffe centre and a couple of other places in between. We had a wonderful day.
The pick up was not there at the allocated time of 9am so we called the company who said the driver would be to us in ten minutes.
He arrived and asked what time we were flying out! I said that we had just arrived the day before and he was to be with us for the day.
We all realised then that the allocated driver had not turned up and Daniel who usually did airport transfers was sent in his place with no information! We were a bit worried but we had a wonderful day and Daniel turned out to be a real gem, the best guide and a very cheerful one where nothing was too much trouble. He even found us the best coffee too at the Java House, a chain of 15 cafes in Nairobi, owned by Italians.
The pollution in central Nairobi is pretty bad with no controls over fuel emissions and sometimes an hour’s journey can take five hours.

We went early to the Masai market when the stall holders were still setting up shop. It was such a colourful place with some of the women in traditional colourful Masai dress and most of what anyone sold was also very colourful with so many innovative knick knacks. I had to buy a woven basket as well as a couple other small souvenirs which were very well priced.
The traffic in Nairobi can be horrendous with some traffic jams lasting hours. Luckily being a Saturday the traffic wasn’t so bad when we drove to see Karen Blixen’s house and gardens and then on to the Giraffe centre – a non profit organisation to educate schoolchildren and youth on conservation. There are only ten giraffes there and there was a baby who was only two weeks old. They are very gentle but when feeding them you have to be careful that they don’t unintentionally head butt you when they toss their heads back. We spent some time there
before heading to the coffee garden – a house built in 1905 and relocated from the centre of Nairobi to the outskirts of ‘Karen’ suburb where many large houses and properties are hidden in vast gardens and behind large hedges. After a light lunch we drove up to the Ngong village where trucks on the road and at the side of the road with many belching out black smoke. The container terminal in Mombasa is one of the largest in Africa and thousands of trucks go backwards and forwards from there to Kenya, Uganda and southern Sudan. The sheer volume of trucks, most carrying containers make progress very slow especially when they go up a hill or hog the ‘climbing lanes’ so that cars cannot pass.

We were very lucky as we could see Kilimanjaro and a neighbouring peak very clearly. Maurice had always wanted to see Mt Fuji (which he did see last October)and Kilimanjaro so he was very pleased.

Amboseli Safari Park gets it’s name from the Ambosel, dust devils or willy willys as we call them in Australia and they are constant, picking up dust and whirling around the park. There are over a thousand elephants in the area and we saw many of them, most semi submerged with the hippos in the vast tracts of swampy water. The wildebeest, Grant and Thomson gazelle, Ostrich and the many zebras were scattered over many kilometres as well as the ostrich, waterbuck, water buffalo and the huge numbers of cattle that the Masai herd to the water. A lot of the park was very green with all the water around and many of the elephants were practically submerged. The government are building large bores away from the park so that the Masai will not need to bring their cattle through the area. We saw a number of giraffe who stayed mostly in the shade of large trees and away from the rest of the animals.

The road into the park was bone shattering with a lot of corrugation and the driver chose this particular entrance as it had been graded!
We left the park at 2.30pm for the 4 1/2 hour trip back to the hotel. It was an exhausting day but a very fulfilling one as Maurice got to see Mt Kilimanjaro as well as so much wildlife in a natural state. The Chinese are very active in Kenya financing the new railway between Nairobi and Mombasa which should be finished next year and then they want to continue it all the way across Africa! The Chinese use their construction engineers and African labour. They have also built many new highways in Nairobi and around Kenya.

We were given a packed lunch to eat on top of the observation hill where we got a spectacular 360degree view of the whole park. Ephrahim our driver did a great job of getting us there and back in one piece and we both collapsed into bed after such a long day.

Kenyan TV showed eight thousand stored tusks being burnt in Kenya, one of the biggest hauls of elephant tusks and it was reported that over 70 percent of the elephants in Africa have perished in the last few decades. It was good to see that the population in Amboseli is so great although the largest number of elephants are found in Tsavo National Park.

We had a lay day the following day visiting the Westgate mall (where 67 people had died in a terrorist raid in 2013 and which now had very strict security insideand outside the mall). We went to see the movie ‘Inferno’ (our second trip in 5years to the cinema) and a meal before heading for Mt Kenya and a five day private safari the next morning with a well recommended tour company called ‘It started in Africa’. I wanted to revisit places that I had seen 25years ago and also show Maurice what I loved about Kenya.

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It was time for some R&R in Dubai and we had a few relaxing days with Alan, a couple of swims in the Arabian sea at Jumeirah beach, a spot of shopping in the Mall of the Emirates where we now know our way around and we had some delicious Arabic and Turkish food. Delivered food is huge business in Dubai
and the quality and price are very good, especially if you know where to order. The daytime temperatures were between 35-38degrees and the evenings were lovely and balmy so that we could sit outside at restaurants which we couldn’t do there in Summer. The shops all had Autumn and winter gear and everyone was commenting on how much cooler it was. Well compared to 45-55degrees I suppose it was a lot cooler. We enjoyed it anyway.
The construction continues unabated there with more malls, skyscrapers, apartments and hotels. It is hard to imagine who will live in all of the dwellings once they are completed. The malls are full of tourists but many of the individual upmarket shops are void of any people and in the local area there are five supermarkets and you are lucky to see a couple of people in them..

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We drove on the 13th of September to our 92year old friend Mary in Greve in Chianti. It is always a lovely and tranquil place to visit and we enjoyed chats with her and her carer Barbara and Mary drove us (she is a great driver!) to ‘Le Panzanelle’ about 15 minutes away to have a wonderful yet very reasonable meal.
Our run of good weather prevailed with sunny, warm days.
We drove on the Autostrada to Sezze Scalo which took us about five hours to stay with my relatives and next morning took the 7am train into Rome which took about 45minutes.
We wanted to get in early to visit an agent who completed our Indian visa applications and uploaded the necessary photos before we took them to the Consulate.
Maurice had checked the weather the previous night and because there was only ten percent chance of rain (never trust the weather bureau) we set off in short sleeves and with one umbrella. By 9.00am it was like a black night sky with torrential rain. Within minutes the street looked like a river and I gave up trying to keep my feet dry in my sandals. Maurice stood with many others for half an hour wet to the knees, waiting for the consulate to open at 9.30am and the Indian visa agents kindly lent me an umbrella to get further down the road to the consulate who are not the friendliest of people. We wanted to be assured of being towards the front of the queue as we
had a 10.30am appointment for our vaccinations on the other side of Rome.
They herded us like a mob of sheep and there was no logic to their system. The electronic dispenser for numbers should have been activated at 9.30 but the Indian official told us that it would not operate until 9.45am. No rhyme nor reason. We luckily were seen quickly and on the way out at the entrance we did laugh at a little enterprising Indian man who was selling umbrellas and vegetable samosas so we bought one umbrella and two samosas and they were delicious.
We had vaccinations for yellow fever, compulsory when entering South Africa from Kenya as well as the Hepatitis A and B. We could have gone the whole hog and had cholera and typhoid as well which was also recommended by the tropical medicine doctor who was very thorough in giving us every possible disastrous medical condition that we could encounter. We did also opt for some anti malarial/intestinal fix all etc tablets and some natural
neem oil to combat parasites in water when showering or as a preventative to mosquito bites as well as a cure all for a myriad of other maladies which we might need in Africa.
After recovering from the bill (a whopping 414euros) we had one of the worst meals we had ever had in Italy at ‘Ragna D’Oro’ which had been recommended by the tropical medicine doctor.
I suspect he was a regular and was treated as such but we should have had warning bells when we saw many tourists in the restaurant. By then we were feeling a little sore and woozy from the vaccinations so we took the train home and had an early night.
The ten days we spent in Sezze with the family ensured I put on about three kilos – too much good food as usual. Our Perth friends Tony and Michelle arrived on the 21st of September and we found them (with the help of my American born cousin Ruth Lotero now living in the town of her grandfather)a lovely B and B with 180degree view of
the surrounding countryside and the sea in the distance.
We did some touristy things going to ‘Piano delle Orme’ an amazing museum with exhibits displaying early rural life and the history of the draining of the Pontine marshes (one of the good things that Mussolini did) as well as an amazing, vast collection of every kind of military vehicles from the second world war.

On the Friday we went to Tivoli, hoping to miss the weekend crowds and visited Hadrian’s villa which is much, much more than a villa. It cover’s hectares and is the remains of a whole Roman city. Within a few kilometres is Villa D’este and Villa Gregoriana so we set off with the help of the sat.nav which unfortunately took us through the old town again – a bit hairy for Van Mauriceson but we made it through without scraping the van or any other cars. Maurice has become much more relaxed in Italy about stopping or turning the vehicle and making others wait as does everyone else in Italy but at least we don’t double park and leave the car or park on a corner on a crosswalk which we have seen many times. No-one seems to get excited by all of this but we do shake our heads every time we
see it. There also is never any urgency at the supermarket checkouts if the checkout chick knows the customer as everyone waits patiently for them to finish their conversation. The other interesting habit is if someone is serving you in a shop and another person comes in they start serving them at the same time rather than
finish with one customer. It is Italy after all.
Maurice and I had been to Villa D’Este in May so while I made lunch in the van our guests went through the gardens and after lunch we moved to another parking spot where we could walk to a view point to take some photos of Villa Gregoriana.
We also managed to catch the huge Sezze Saturday market selling household goods, clothes, plants and all sorts of foods. We were all kindly invited to cousins’ houses for a meal and had a couple of delicious meals at a fish restaurant and one specializing in open fire roasted meats.
We briefly saw cousin Ruth Lotero who had just arrived back from San Francisco and London on the 25th September, had a great paella meal at a new Spanish restaurant that night and left Sezze on the 26th September to Roccamandolfi. We detoured slightly to Monte Cassino and visited the enormous and ornate Abbey on top of the
mountain. The enormous Abbey except for the belowground level areas where the monks and many refugees sheltered was totally destroyed by the Americans during the war as they thought it was a German stronghold which wasn’t at all. Hadn’t they thought of spies?
There were only monks and refugees but it it did make it easier then for the Germans in the vicinity to then comandeer it. Many refugees were killed but the monks and other refugees who hid in the basement survived. We opted for the guided tour which was fortuitous as we learnt a lot from our guide and were shown areas that we would not have otherwise seen. The views from the top over the town of Cassino below and the large Polish war cemetery were lovely and clear given it was another warm and sunny day.
After lunching in the van we continued on to Roccamandolfi where we dropped our guests at the only hotel (and a good one) in the lower town and Maurice and I then proceeded to empty the van of most things which were then taken down by Luca to Joe’s house to be stored for the winter. We had a relaxing few days and some nice local restaurant meals. We took a picnic up to the ‘Campitello’ past the castle and up into the mountains and were so lucky to see the wood brought down from the thick forrest by a few hardy men and their mules. We saw our guests off on the early morning train to Rome from Boiano where we saw our first sunrise there which was a bonus.
Luckily the weather had been lovely for their stay. Two days later we had overnight rain but it was still not cold for the start of October.
I was invited to a ‘ladies night’ at the hotel where a lot of good food and wine was served. Roll on the diet!
Everyone in the town was stacking their firewood for the winter. Some of the townsfolk had made a transition to pellets instead of wood. We had a woodburning stove and still had wood from a couple of years ago. We saw a lot of people at their mountain plots gathering their crops of potatoes, corn and beans and I helped one day shelling
the borlotti beans with another few women. Maurice and I both imagined the towns people doing the same thing centuries ago.
We had another anxious wait for our Indian visas (why don’t they make it easier for tourists who want to stay longer than 1month?). We had to surrender all passports -Australian, my British and Maurice’s Irish one as well has his expired Aussie passport. I had written in bold 18font letters a letter stating we would be leaving Italy on the 7th October giving them 3weeks to process the visas but it still hadn’t happened two and a half weeks later!
Two of my cousins and a husband make the two hour journey by car to visit us in Roccamandolfi bringing enough food for twenty.
On the 6th October we had the van washed and then prepared it and covered it for it’s 6month stay in the garage. On the 7th October we left Roccamandolfi for Rome and went to the Indian consulate at the designated time of 4.30pm to collect our passports with our Indian visas. Thank God it was the last time we needed to do this in Rome as the officials at the consulate were not only unhelpful but one was particularly rude.
We visited my old aunt and her husband in Rome and stayed at our favourite B and B Nik Niks just down the road and only 10mins from the centre of Rome by metro.
A taxi ride to the airport on Sunday the 9th October only took 30minutes and 50euros which saved the hassle of a taxi to the train station and then the train to the airpoprt.
It was even getting cooler in Rome so we were glad to leave Italy was the warmth of Dubai.

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