The holidays

It’s almost become a tradition that I tell about our holidays here on the blog. But as the blog has developed away from the very personal it seems progressively awkward. Anyway, I promise to make it brief and with a digression or two…

We started in the UK where there was another Bar Mitzvah in the family, the fourth and so far last. Just like at the Bar Mitzvah two years ago, I took a picture of the rabbi’s legs. And no, it’s not the rabbi on the left. It’s her on the right.


We enjoyed a little time in London, I even found time to meet with some of my lovely Twitter-ladies, described elsewhere on this blog. We also fitted in a bit of shopping…

Off we flew to Switzerland to spend a few days in David’s flat. The weather was gorgeous, so we enjoyed a lot of time on the balcony and David and Dane also went swimming in the lake. Our first mission was to visit some friends who we met in the UK, but who have since moved to the south of France. They live in the most gorgeous house in Provence and we spent four lovely days with them.

As those of you who know me well will know, we, like so many other from the middle classes, have a penchant for Tuscany. We’ve been there 4-5 times before but still chose to go again. We’d rented a flat at an Agri Turismo place which was quite nice, but not fantastic. As we’ve seen most of the sights more than once before, we took it rather easy and spent most mornings leisurely at the pool. One of the highlights was a visit with my old friend Helle Tesio and her husband Alfredo. We go more than 30 years back. Helle took us to Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda where she teaches advanced Italian cooking to groups of agri-tourists. I so want to go on that course!

Unfortunately, towards the end of the holiday, Dane got ill (something that practically never happens), and he was really rather poorly. So it was a long journey home where it, to sort of further the misery, rained constantly between Genoa and Geneva. It turned out that what Dane had was the flu, which he generously passed on to David and me once we were back in Coppet. So a few days were torn out of the calendar.

At friends in Provence, France
Best ice cream in Tuscany
Lizard caught in a glass (released min's later)

Fattoria del Colle, Trequanda

Siena wedding. Rather romantic.

San Gigmignano in the sunset

Dane and I are back now in Denmark where it is gloomily wet and only warm when the sun is out and where our basement was flooded once more. I’ve had the wood burning stove lit already!

Today I was reminded of our trip to Australia in 2008. The reminder was a talk about cake. When we were there, we were rather surprised by their consistently excellent coffee *flat whites* and the ubiquitous banana bread which is served warm with butter. When we came back, Dane asked me to bake it and I baked a random banana cake. It wasn’t right. Baked my way through numerous banana cake/bread recipes before I found one that Dane could approve of. So I baked one today. Here’s the recipe:

Banana bread

* 265g (1 3/4 cups) self-raising flour

* 40g (1/4 cup) plain flour

* 1 tsp ground cinnamon

* 140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar

* 125ml (1/2 cup) skim milk

* 2 eggs, lightly whisked

* 50g butter, melted, cooled

* 2 overripe medium bananas, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush an 11 x 21cm (base measurement) loaf pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 opposite sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang.

2. Sift the combined flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Place the milk, eggs, melted butter and banana in a medium bowl, and stir until well combined. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve.



Same same but different

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is same same but different compared to Dubai. Or at least that’s how I experienced it. In the taxi there – one long ride on a motorway, straight as an arrow. Every five minutes we passed a mosque. When the muezzin calls to prayer, the mosque must be so close that every faithful can make it to prayer before the call finishes.

We lived privately with my friend who now lives there with her consultant husband and their children. She has a job (not many of the “wives” have a job in Abu Dhabi) as teacher at the woman university. Oh my, I just can’t believe what it’s like to teach a class full of women in black black black, veils too. It’s possible though, says my friend.

The MAN in Abu Dhabi is this guy:

Sheik Khalifa al Zayed is the son of The Nation’s Father and seems to be a somewhat more sensible ruler than his counterpart in Dubai. Education, nature preservation and ART are some of the important issues on his agenda. The maddest, craziest, loveliest project is Saadiyat Island, where, in a few years’ time, more art will be on display in the smallest space than ever before. Louvre, British Museum and Guggenheim, door to door. Read about it here (official web page).

There’s also an “entertainment island”, called Yas Island. One of the attractions there is Ferrari World and a Formula One track. In the middle of the track is the Yas Hotel. A design jewel with wonderful restaurants. However, I wouldn’t like to stay there when the racing is on.

All this is made possible by underpaid and overworked immigrant workers from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc. etc. They are transported in ugly run-down busses to their workplace in the early morning and they are picked up again at dusk. At the time we were there, the climate was merciful to hardworking people. However, they work in the summer too, when it’s 50 degrees Celsius in the shade. They don’t work in the shade.


3 things & 5 days in Wales





We had five lovely days with David’s brother Peter and his significant other, Frieda. They showed us all sorts of things, medieval castles, one of the worlds biggest mazes, a stunningly beautiful hidden valley, climbers clinging to the rock wall and an exceptional National Trust garden, the Bodnant. As it is obvious from the pictures, the weather wasn’t very good. But since it wasn’t really bad either, we’re not complaining.

We’ve taken quite a few pictures and mine are already uploaded with comments. See here. Look towards the end of the set.


Samsø via The New Yorker…

A reporter from The New Yorker went to Samsø recently to learn about the island’s status as “Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island” and how they’ve actually had considerable success in renewing their energy sources so as to leave less of a carbon footprint. So Samsø is now energy selfsufficient. Well done!

Where they have not succeeded, the article informs us, is in cutting down on the actual energy consumption. Selfishness, is the simple answer to the question of why… We’re all waiting for the neighbour to start cutting down on consumption before we’ll consider it ourselves, says the interviewee. I tend to agree…

Apparently, Samsø has had the status of Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island for 10 years now and I had to read about it in The New Yorker. If you go to the project’s homepage and take a look in their press section, you understand why. It’s not exactly something that has mesmerized the Danish media…

But some international media have visited and reported. NBC, Italian RAI Uno, CBS and more.

The reporter from the New Yorker also visits Switzerland and the father of an organisation called the 2000 Watt Society. It does not have it’s own homepage, but it’s pretty well covered in the article and also on this Swiss organisation’s homepage. Its goal is rather obvious and it suggests numerous ways to get there. But you and I can’t do it on our own. Our governments and local councils must take the lead. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything at all. At the moment we Europeans use 6000 watts (the Americans use 12000 watts), so must reduce our consumption with two thirds. What can we do?

  • Drive less – in more energy-efficient cars (walk more, use public transportation more). Shop for more than one day at a time. Share the school run with another family. Get the (bigger) kids to walk or use public transportation. This is England (or Denmark, depending on the reader…), not Chicago or Philadelphia…
  • Fly less. This one’s hard because the footprint we leave everytime we do it is HUGE! I’ve just flown around the world for the pleasure of it! And been to Denmark twice in two months! And David flies (that’s work, but still flying) to Berlin or Geneva or whereever almost every week!
  • Don’t buy more food than we can eat. Use leftovers instead of binning them. (Try entering some of the contents of fridge into Google – you’ll be surprised!) Be conscientous when sorting rubbish. Compost if possible. Collaps all cartons before binning them. When they take up less space, we need less containers = less lorry-miles.
  • Change all lightbulbs to energy-saving ones. It also saves money! And switch the light off!!!
  • Try to think in food-miles while shopping. It’s not easy, but the exercise is educational…
  • Try to avoid the dryer and hang clothes instead. Fill up the machines, both washer, dryer and dishwasher.

I do believe that every little thing counts. And – for instance – everytime we pick an energy-saving lightbulb from the supermarket shelf, we encourage the supermarket to buy more of those and less of the other ones.

More about sustainable living and about the importance of diminishing our carbon footprint NOW on Why not become a “fan” of on Facebook?

And more about sustainable living on the microplane from No Impact Man and on Carbon Footprint.

This is a portable eco fridge. The above picture is an energy-saving halogen bulb. Both and lots more can be bought at the Ethical Superstore.


Our time as leisurely travellers is up

We were in and around Sydney for a little more than two weeks, but on Tuesday we boarded an Etihad Airways flight to London via Abu Dhabi. That concludes our travels of a little over six months. What a feast it has been!

I’m sure I’ll get back to philosophical reflections later – now I’ll try to give you an account of our time in Sydney and of our excursion out of there.

We’ve done the “main sights” here in Sydney, the Opera House, the Aquarium, the harbour trips, the Botanical Gardens, the Fish Market.


The Aquarium was great, but Dane wasn’t at all impressed with the Great Barrier Reef section – been there, done that… The basin with the sharks, the giant turtles and the massive stingrays did impress him though!

The Opera House just leaves you in awe, when you first lay eyes on it. And it really doesn’t matter what the angle is and what the weather is like, when you first see it. It is just truly impressive. However, it does look great in sunshine, with the thousands and thousands of tiles reflecting the light. We didn’t go inside – it cost an arm and a leg and our trusted Lonely Planet guide warned us that it would be a disappointment. While it makes you proud to be a Dane, it’s at the same time such an embarrassment. Why is it we don’t have a major work by this master in Denmark?

The first week we used only public transportation: Copenhagen – shame on you! It is well functioning, well signposted, there’s lots of it and it is ridiculously cheap. We truly enjoyed both the busses (polite and extremely helpful drivers – every time), the metro (lots of trains to everywhere) and the harbour ferries. Oh, how enjoyable to go to work every day by boat (particularly in this climate)! Also, Sydney’s northern suburbs where we’ve had our digs, are very, very nice. Actually they remind us quite a lot of the San Francisco suburb we stayed in.

For the second week we rented a small car to take us a little further. Driving is in fact also quite easy in Sydney, everything thoroughly signposted so even directionally challenged people like David and myself can find our way. We visited friends and family in various prosperous and lovely suburbs and we went on one longer trip.

Everybody says that if you have a car and a few days to spare, go to the Blue Mountains. So we did. Going there we were reminded of Virginia. Both landscape and climate seem to be quite similar. On the way we were lucky to spot a very nice looking restaurant – really quite anonymous from the outside – for our lunch. It was Sunday and they served Sunday brunch with easy-jazz. Oh, so nice! Toque in Kurrajong hereby comes warmly recommended. We spent the night at a lovely B&B in Leura called Broomelea – the best bed in six months! We also had a lovely dinner at Silks in Leura, so all in all it really was a very pleasant stay.

Not until the next day did we really see the Blue Mountains and that was a neat surprise. It takes its name from the blue haze, created by the evaporation from the forest of almost only Eucalyptus trees, which covers the mountains. The mountains are not particularly tall, but they do look a lot like the Grand Canyon some places (smaller version, naturally). At a place called the Three Sisters, you can walk down to the forest floor. It does claim to be “a giant staircase”, but after having done 300 steps without much trouble in California, I didn’t think much before starting down. It was a loooooong way, though! Not until you get to the bottom of the steps do they tell you how many. 900. And that’s just before you have to go back up… I really was out of breath and sweating like a certain pink and smelly animal. But I was proud of making it at all – in flip-flops ;-)

In the evening, driving in the pitch-blackness, where cell phones are as useless as snow scooters, we encountered a BIG kangaroo. It just sat there, in the middle of the road. Luckily David reacted very quickly to my warning and braked and swerved carefully without skidding and without hitting the poor roo, who only got out of there in the last moment. It took several days before the silhouette of the roo in the car’s headlights disappeared from our inner visions.

From the Blue Mountains we went on to Hunter Valley, New South Wales’ wine region. It’s where the Lindemans wine, which we find on any shelf in the US and Europe is produced. Luckily, there are numerous other wineries. David chose to visit the oldest in the valley, the Tyrrell Vineyard, founded in 1858 by Englishmen. Meanwhile Dane and I went and saw a cheese factory and tasted a lot of cheese. Dane couldn’t eat lunch later… We stayed in Hunter Valley two nights at the Billabong Moon B&B, which was also very nice.

By the way, did you know (I didn’t) that Billabong isn’t just the name of a fancy surfer brand, but is the Aboriginal name for a lake, which appears during the wet season and disappears again in the dry season. In a place like Australia it’s very important to know where a lake suddenly appears, so you don’t build a house there during the dry season!

After coming back to Sydney we visited the Taronga Zoo, which was such a pleasant surprise. It has a marvellous view of the Sydney harbour, it is well proportioned, and most of the animals seem to be having very good living conditions. They use glass much more than other Zoos I’ve visited, which brings you so much closer to the animals.

And then – no more holiday! Just 24 hours of flying and quite a few hours of waiting here and there (stop-over in Abu Dhabi with white-clad oil sheiks and their black-clad, veiled wives – imagine Dane staring wide-eyed!) and an absolutely horrible trip by taxi to the family in Surrey.

I know it’s been ages since my last post, but there really wasn’t the opportunity in Sydney and since we’ve come back I’ve had quite a few things to do and been suffering from jetlag that just wont go away!

I’ll give the blog a new suitable name (when I get around to it) but will continue to write. So hang on, please!

As usual: more photos here.


We’re not coming home!

What’s this? (Buller, you can’t guess!)

The weather, the food, the coffee (yes!), the nice people, the beaches… It’s just downright too nice here to even consider going home to wet, cold and stressed Europe…

Sushi restaurant seen from above.

Ah, just kidding. But I do have to agree with at least 10 of my friends and aquaintances who’ve claimed that Sydney is the World’s loveliest big city. It has EVERYTHING. Brother – you were right!

The only thing we’re really, really missing is some Wi-Fi where we’re staying. I’m afraid that our nice host offers us a lovely bed, nice food, great views, fantastic hospitality etc. etc. But his company Wi-Fi is so closed-circuit that I just can’t tap into it.   :-(

So posts will be few and far between. But trust that I’ll write later and tell about all the things metioned above. And probably a few more.

We have a very busy schedule, visiting people we know from home and also people we’ve just met a few days ago.


On to Sydney

Tomorrow we’re heading the app. 2.000 km. down to Sydney. It’s almost cool down there, only 19-20 degrees at night! I’ll probably need a cardigan…

I’ve neglected to tell you that we live right next to a huge colony of fruit bats or flying foxes, as they are also known. They are incredibly fascinating creatures! They are really large compared to the bats we’ve seen in Europe, US and Costa Rica. And their faces are furry and look just like a fox. But in flight – well, when you look up and see them all flying off just after sunset, it’s like Batman multiplied!

See you in Sydney!


Our time in Tropical North Queensland is running out

But we made it further north to a national park called Daintree. So tropical! We visited more rainforests – both a “normal” one and a mangrove. Even if we’re “old hands” by now when it comes to rainforests, we’re still totally dazed and amazed by their greenness, their diversity, their density!

On a short cruise on the river, we saw our first croc in the wild. He was just a baby, the captain informed us…

Oh, did I mention it rained practically all day? 340 mm in 24 hours. And the temperature never dropped under 28 degrees (82F)…

At the end of our visit in Daintree we visited Daintree Icecream company. A great concept! They make icecream with all the fruits that can be found in the rainforest (and there are SO many!) and serve a cup with four scoops, so you can get a taste of the fruit that’s in season. Of the four tastes we had, we only knew of the Macadamia nut. The other three we’d never even heard of, much less tasted.

Pictures from the icecream company’s garden/plantation.

Today we went snorkelling again. This time at the outer reef (some 30 nautical miles (ca. 55 km) from shore) on a somewhat larger boat called Wavelength. We visited three different sites out there, Opal Reefs and Turtle Bay, and saw numerous fish. Some of the others saw both turtles and sharks, but we “only” saw hundreds of colourful fish and incredible corals. A marine biologist was part of the crew – who were all very knowledgeable – so we heard a lot about the environmental threats to The Great Barrier Reef. Very much like our visits to habitats and rainforests, this sparks further environmental-consciousness. So beware friends and family: I’ll be even more organic and environmentalistic (such a word exists?) than ever.

Pictures taken by David with instamatic underwater camera.

Dane snorkelled along with me all day, some times on his own, sometimes holding hands, but most of the time hanging on my back. So, honestly, I was/am totally wasted!


2 Fish & Sailaway

Uh, we’ve been so busy since my last post, I don’t even know where to begin.

The Rainforest Habitat is a 10 minutes walk from our dwellings, so we thought that would be a good place to start. And this place was even better than the Koala sanctuary we visited outside Brisbane. Not as many koalas, but many more cute kangaroos and hundreds of birds, many of them quite tame. It was yet another encounter with the incredible diversity of our planet and again, it made a huge impact on us. Dane is contemplating becoming a vegetarian – he just can’t bear the thought of us killing all those cute animals and fish just to eat them, now that he’s seen so many of them up close and personal.

It being Valentine’s Day and all (just another excuse for some exclusive dining), we decided to try out one of the better restaurants in Port Douglas. 2 Fish. That turned out to be an excellent choice. Lovely food, nice service. The fish was fantastic, the desserts to die for. The evening became even more exotic, because it rained the tropical way, in buckets with lots of thunder and lightning. And we sat outside, just under a tarpaulin, so we could hardly hear oneanother speak.

The next morning we went on our much anticipated boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We’d chosen a brand new katamaran, the Sailaway IV, that does a family-friendly trip to a place called the Low Isles. Sort of like in Castaway, but with a return ticket. There were only 7 other passengers and they were all very civilised (=middle aged ;-) ). The trip out to the reef (by motor) took a little over an hour and then we were sailed in to the island on a small glass-bottomed boat. From there on it was just to snorkle away from the beach. It was only a few strokes, then you were on the reef and there were thousands of fish in all shapes and colours. Just marvellous! Dane wasn’t too keen on snorkling on his own, so he got a ride on mommy’s back and we found Nemo in his anemone.

Because of the imminent danger of marine stingers, everybody has to wear a so-called stinger-suit, which covers you from head to toe. The stingers are not to be taken lightly – if the tentacles (two metres long) touch you around the chest area, it’s almost certain death. Everywhere else it’s “just” excruciating pain, lifelong scars and a couple of days in hospital…

A nice lunch was served on board the katamaran and we had much fun feeding the shrimp shells to the abundance of fish around the boat. Even a shark came along for the party. And then we sailed back home (by sail), happy and with an even deeper tan…

Today we went on a different kind of rain forest tour – we went with an indigenous guide, an aboriginee from the Kuku Yalanji tribe. He told us about the way the ancestors had perused the rainforest and we tasted some very nice bread, baked with flour made out of the nuts from a tree in the forest. Interestingly, the nuts has to be cleansed in the river for 7 days, because otherwise they are poisonous. At the end of the tour, he played us a couple of tunes on his didgeridoo. He was very good at it and had Dane mesmerized.

Then we went for a much needed swim in the Mossman Gorge, a lively river with very cool water. No crocs, no stingers = lots of locals! The afternoon was spent driving up along the coast and stopping every 10 minutes for yet another photo opportunity!

Quite a few more photos here.


Generalisations about Aussies

  • They are easy-going
  • They are friendly
  • They wear hats
  • They don’t wear baseball caps
  • A large percentage of them are of Asian origin
  • Boys and girls wear school uniforms. Also in High School.
  • They are mad about sport, like, eh, cricket…
  • When they have style, they really flaunt it!
  • When they don’t, they flaunt that too…
  • The younger ones are often tattooed.
  • They make a great latte here, and they have something they call a “flat white”, which seems to be more or less the same, but clearly favoured over the latte by the locals.
  • Even the take-away food and the fast-food is great here.

Before we left Brisbane, we went to the Gallery of Modern Art and saw an excellent and very comprehensive Andy Warhol exhibition. They had quite a few of his so-called Time Capsules, the contents of which were rather fascinating. At the museum café we had a marvellous meal served by very attentive waiters. Very nice!

Did I write that it’s hot in Brisbane? I take that back. It’s not hot at all. Here in Port Douglas it’s hot. Probably the hottest and most humid place I’ve ever been to in my life. And the locals tell us that it’s cool, because of the rain. They gotta be kiddin’! When you get off the bus, your glasses steam up. David and I just started giggling when we got out of the bus and couldn’t see anything – just like we’ve tried it hundreds of times in Denmark, getting INTO the bus.

We flew here this morning. It’s app. 1500 km north of Brisbane. But remember, that here in the southern hemisphere, north = closer to Equator = hotter. The main attraction here is The Great Barrier Reef. We will go out there on a couple of day trips to snorkle and sail in a glass bottomed boat.

Our accomodation here is very nice – a sizeable two-floor apartment with fully equipped kitchen and well functioning air-condition. We took the bus into Port Douglas (five minutes) and had a look around. It’s a really nice little town with chic little boutiques, a lot of bars and a number of very nice-looking restaurants. We ate at On the Inlet which boasted “feeding of George the Groper at 5:15 pm every day”. OK, we got some really nice food and first row seats for the feeding. Unfortunately, George must have had a bad hair day, because he kept himself well under the water’s surface, so we only saw his shadow and the ripples in the water when he grabbed the fish heads thrown out to him.

Finally, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I keep picturing (and envying) the Australian women’s closets. They probably have one shelf with long-sleaved sweaters. They have one warm jacket and a pretty scarf to go with it. All other closet space is dedicated to pretty little sundresses, nice skirts and stacks of sleeveless t-shirts. And 15 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of sneakers and 1 pair of wellies.

And I think of my closet at home. Where all the space is occupied by bulky sweaters and all the other winter gear, which I put on to avoid freezing. To no avail.


Lying a bit low

We’ve been lying low for a couple of days, because Dane has been ill. As usual we have no idea what hit him, but he went down with a fever and an upset tummy. He then slept 16 hours non stop, and that was that.

We visited the Saturday morning market in Chinatown (before he got really ill). Chinatown is almost next door to our motel. Among the stands was a book stand. And would you believe it, the guy sold only good books! Took ages to browse through his boxes – which were in perfect order, naturally, just like a library

Afternoon and evening were spent with our books and the telly, watching Dane sleep off the fever. This morning we took it easy, but then Dane insisted we went out. And he really was well again. We went for a walk in the Brisbane Botanical Garden, cruising along the river. And then we went to the movies and saw Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was great fun – Dane thought it was hilarious, his jaws were sore from laughing. I thought it was pretty funny too – loved the record company executive ;-)

(picture from IMDB)


Getting our bearings in Brisbane

So we’ve arrived in Aussie-land. The Aussies are friendly, funny and straight-forward. At least the ones we’ve met so far here in VERY hot Brisbane. We’re informed that it’s not usually this hot – it can get down to 12-14 degrees celcius in the midst of winter. Brrr…

We’ve spent one day in Brisbane downtown, familiarizing ourselves with the city’s layout. It’s pretty easy, although I must admit to some surprise as to how large it is!

The next day we went on a river cruise on a charming elderly ship, the Mirimar. It took us 1 1/2 hour up-river to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. It was great. You may think that it’s ridiculous with a whole field full of tame kangaroos and dozens of Eucalyptus trees with sleepy and accomodating koalas, but once you’re there, that’s all theory. The sanctuary really is a safe-haven for these animals, and the place is full of people totally dedicated to the well-being of these – and all other – animals.

The idea was that Dane should be the one to hold and pet a Koala. But he chickened out. And in fact it was probably a little bit too heavy for him – 8 kilograms.

See more pictures of all the cute and not-so-cute Aussie animals here.


Update and the last Costa Rica pictures

He woke us up early in the morning, so it was only fair that he let us take his photograph. 


Dane and I got some very much needed haircuts. Isn’t she gorgeous, this hairdresser from the Dominican Republic. She spoke app. 10 words of English…

Our very own surfer dude…

The beach at 6 o’clock in the morning. Just so breathtakingly beautiful!!!

We’re now in Brisbane, Australia after a long and tiring flight. The time difference between here and Denmark is nine hours. We’re ahead of you. We’re rather jetlagged, so are taking it easy. Will update as soon as possible. Love to you all – we’d really LOVE it, if some of you would leave a comment or send us an e-mail now and then. We miss hearing from you!


Pura Vida

Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, use this phrase all the time. It means something like “How are you”, “I’m great”, “Take care”, “Have a good life” etc. etc.

Well, we had lots of Pura Vida in our three weeks in Costa Rica. More than once we considered to discard our tickets back to the US. For a European or American, Costa Rica is a true paradise, Bountyland. And even if there is obvious poverty there, the Ticos are a good deal better off than many of their fellow Latin-Americans.

Costa Rica is a democratic country, it’s democracy has been functioning well for 50 years. It has no army and no death penalty!!! And there seems to be very little corruption. They are doing their best to turn the threat of devastating mass tourism (Americans – Hawaii has become too expensive) into sustainable eco-tourism.

We didn’t really do anything that last week – we just hung around the pool or the beach. Dane became pretty good at surfing on the rented boogie board in the sea, and he learned to dive and swim under water in the pool. The only unpleasant thing that happened all week was that I got a bad sunburn. On my lower lip of all places! The rest of me and both David and Dane got away with slight reddishness when we forgot ourselves in the sea or pool. I guess my lip got burned because that morning I couldn’t find my usual lipsalve, so just grabbed another one. Afterwards it dawned on me that it was one without SPF. It hurt like the devil and I looked like him too. It’s healing now, but is still rather unpleasant. I wouldn’t recommend it…

We had hoped to change our return ticket to Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas, but that was not possible. That’s another of the new rules the airlines have had to put up with because of the patriot act. How that should deter a terrorist is beyond me, but what do I know…

So – here we are, back in Vegas, which we really don’t like. This time in the Stratosphere hotel. Tomorrow at midnight we board a flight to Brisbane, Australia…

Hadn’t it been for the useless Wi-Fi provider in this hotel, some really nice photos would have accompanied this post. As it is, I just couldn’t upload them, the connection (which I’m paying good American $$ for) is that unstable.