Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa the living Maori village

Today is a busy day since I visited Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland this morning and now I am heading to a Maori village experience. I’ve been interested in the Maori and have been waiting to do some cultural and educational event to learn more about the culture. My campsite in Rotorua recommends Whakarewarewa as a more authentic village to visit.

I arrive late afternoon and catch a tour a few minutes in. Unfortunately I miss out on a Maori geothermal cooked meal since I am late for lunch.

Our tour guide takes us around the village and explains the typical life of a villager.

Steam box for cooking
Sleeping hut

We learn about two unique ways of cooking: one is in a steam box another is in a steaming hot lake.

Hot box
Boiling Lake
Food is placed in a bag, attached to a rope and lowered into the water to cook.

We also learn how the geothermal heat is used for bathing.

We are taken further through the village where we are taken to a community building.

There is another geyser nearby and I am here just in time to see it erupt.

I didn’t arrive in time to taste a geothermal cooked meal but I am there in time to see a cultural show. It is nice to see the dances, some with props.

I finish my visit trying some corn.

I head back to the campsite to rest for the rest of the afternoon but it is hot out.

Van life is getting old.

I think it could have been the long drive the day before, or maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t get my milk for my coffee in the campsite kitchen until 7 AM (kitchen is locked overnight) – van life has taken a toll on me. I’m beginning to think that this might not be a long-term solution for me. I like the freedom and simplicity but sometimes the discomfort of van life is too much especially when you’re not feeling well. Yesterday and today are pretty hot and after a long day of sightseeing outdoors the last thing I want to do is go back to my van and sweat. The nail in the coffin is when I somehow run out of my 1 GB of free data even though I am barely on my phone and laptop the whole entire time I am there (wifi at campsites is lacking or spotty at best, most charge extra). I’m leaving the campsite and getting a hotel room. I can’t do this right now. This is technically my last night of van camping since I have a hotel tomorrow night and return the van in Auckland the day after. I could tough it out one more night but I just can’t do it tonight.

After a booking.com mix up I finally get a motel room. I have AC and wifi, the only downside is now I can smell the sulfur smell, even with the windows closed in my room. Luckily it doesn’t bother me too much.

At some point a couple days prior I stupidly drove off with a glass on the counter of my van and broke it (broken dish number 2 – they really should provide plastic dishes in these things). Luckily I returned to the same chain in a different city and replaced the broken glass with an almost match. Don’t tell the rental place! Hopefully they won’t notice the difference.

Highland games

Once a year a time comes in Central Florida where there is a celebration of all that is Scottish. It is called the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. Every year it comes and every year I miss it because it is always scheduled on a weekend I have to work. Luck would have it that I was able to arrange my schedule to have this day off work so I could attend this year.
I am glad I finally got to attend.

The first task was to find my clan. I recently became aware of my Scottish heritage so I spent some time trying to locate the clan I hail from. There are a series of tents set up that talk about each of the different clans. Locating my tent proved harder than I thought because a name could possibly be part of a couple different clans. What matters is the area that your relative lived in. I wasn’t 100% sure so it was back to the drawing board to figure that out later.

Along with the clan tents, there were tents set up to purchases things to represent your Scottish pride.

I really wanted to buy a tartan that represents my heritage but not being 100% sure of the clan I held out this time.

Next it was on to the snacks. I started off with a haggis taco from tijuana flats. It was decent. The toppings masked the haggis flavor quite a bit. It was no haggies, neeps and tatties but it would suffice.

 I love Sticky Toffee Pudding. But I didn’t get any; too much food to try and I didn’t leave room.

Later on I had a craving for a meat pie. I shared a meat pie and sausage roll with my husband. MMMMM meat in bread, yummmm!

One of the highlights of the festival is the beer vendor Dunedin Brewery. This Florida brewery provides all the tasty beer beverages for the festival.
The only bad thing about the process is the 2 separate line process that these festivals like to do. You wait in one long line for a ticket to buy and beer and then another long line to get served the beer.

They do have these handy pitchers that can be reused year after year. It saves line time.

After gathering food and beverage they have a limited number of tables under tents, or you can sit on the lawn and watch the entertainment.

We ate quickly and went out to watch the entertainment.
I got to listen to some talented bagpipers.

There is an area with highland animals. These two hairy coo’s must have been hot here in Florida.

Finally it is time for the manly man games. We spent some time watching feats of strength.

And my husband tried his hand at archery.

And more manly games.

We finished the night watching a Scottish modern rock band play. I can say it was a very entertaining day and worth the wait.

Here is a short video of some of the nighttime entertainment,

Varanasi: Aarti

We traveled to Varanasi by small airline. We arrived mid-day and were given some time to rest at the hotel before attending an Hindu Aarti ceremony by the Ganges.
The ceremony was at one of the ghats, or stairs, along the Ganges. A car could only take us so far so we had to walk the rest of the way to the river. We saw many bike commuters and rickshaws

And some cows in an argument.

Some half constructed buildings.

An american who now lives there makes an offering to a temple.

Crowds start gathering for the best seats.

We had the choice to sit in the middle of the action but instead we chose an aerial view and watched from a balcony.

As the sun set, the ceremony began.

People watching from boats

Making an offering

Short video of the ceremony.

Flamenco in Sevilla

While in Sevilla we wanted to make sure we saw authentic flamenco while we were there. All recommendations told us to go to Casa de la Memoria. We booked our show in advance and attended one night. No food and drinks are served for the show; you were there for a performance only. I knew we would not be disappointed.
There were two dancers, one male and one female. The female was not outfitted in the traditional flamenco dress (see example below).

Instead she wore pants. The pants allowed us (the audience) to see her leg movements more clearly. I think I liked this better.

They were both excellent. The show was amazing. The were accompanied by some very talented musicians. At the end they all came together to play some traditional music.

I believe they switched locations since we visited. Be sure to visit their website for the most up to date information on shows www.casadelamemoria.es (change language to english). Make sure to make reservations  – it is a popular show.