INDIA …. plans to return

India, 
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,, the movies …supposedly taking place in Jaipur India. Fantastic actors… fabulous lines of description of India.   
“The challenge is to not only cope, but to thrive.” “All the street kids smile at me”. “Why would you not go out? There is so much to see. All life is here”. “I got a job. A kind of cultural advisor”. 

“She wants to thank you for your kindness …. 

But, I haven’t been kind”. 

“How can you bare this country?” “What do you see that I don’t”? “Light. Colors. Smiles. The way they see Life as a privilege and not a right.”

The hug …. the two men who see each other after 40 years. It brings tears to my eyes. The flight of the snowy white egret. “The top of the mountain.” The body being consumed in Udaipur. 

“Most things don’t work out as we hope. Sometimes the things we don’t plan … are the good stuff.”

“The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing.”

I long to return, even now and I left there only earlier this year in February.  

The head bob. Calling respected persons “uncle” or “auntie”. 
Movie Number two. “If not now, when? If not us, who?”

I am preparing my return to India. Still Rajasthani province but not the bus tour repeat from earlier this year. 
 In February 2017 I am planning to fly to Delhi with traveling friends (you are invited!!) on a direct flight out of Vancouver. Upon arrival to be met by a wonderful tour guide who will escort us by rail to Jaisalmer, in the desert. We will stay a week in a local living scenario, MAGIC time. We will enjoy activities, such as dining, spa, walking, shopping, talking and exchanging cultural experiences with locals.

We will return changed. I hope you consider this trip for you. Contact me for more details, dates, costs and to place your name on the list.

And read back in this blog for my descriptions of India ….

Namaste,
Pamela

************

More of India, some weeks later ….
I was prepared for difficulty, dirt and disease.

I found love and the soft spot of human existence.  I found acceptance and desire. I was not prepared for luxury and ease.
As with most of what I saw and photographed, India is surreal for the foreigner.  It’s as if it floats, almost disconnected … Like in a cloud in heaven.  Yet … It’s all part of and interconnected with the rest of the universe.  Spiritually, it may be the center of the the globe, beating with the blood of the worlds people’s.

I did not expect to be blessed, accepted and especially not celebrated, just for being me and showing up.  I believe this is how humans should feel, every day.  In familiar or unfamiliar lands, we ought to feel privileged and among friends and family every moment of our lives, in every place we venture.

Standing on a ghat along side a body of water, I felt akin to the people everywhere.  It is not in the water itself, this life’s blood is just one of the ways in which the pulsing energy is transported to connect the creatures that share the bounty.  A great conductor of life, the water assists me to feel the connection to nature and all that is live.

I did not expect the simplicity of life.  Almost free of longing or striving to be “other” than what is.  I found a land of healing, magic and mystery .. For and from all the senses, emotions, spirit and the precious body.

How did this gal from the ocean waves calling deep from the extreme high and low tides of Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia Canada, fall in love with a desert in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India?

With my antennae tuned to receive the negative, I found only love and joy.  I found colour and life.  I found a simplicity previously unimagined.

I found it all on a short camel trek to see the large orange sun ball slip gently behind the massive glorious sugar soft sand dunes on the other side of the planet Earth.

I fell enchanted with the women of this country who dress in spectacular colours and flowy silky fabrics.  Women who carry heavy loads of history along with bundles of sticks or large containers for water, carefully and with seeming ease upon their beautiful heads.  Their tasks are simple, important and immediate.  No question or resistance can be seen on their faces.  Life is what it is.
 

Excerpts from a blog: Song of India, Tales of Travel and Transformation. By Mariellen Ward: “I don’t entirely know why this is true, but India is much more than
a travel destination. I wrote recently in a magazine article that: “People don’t go to India to experience India; they go to experience themselves in India. They go to pit themselves against the crowds, chaos and poverty. They go to experience the open and unabashed spirituality. They go to test their egos, which India alternately builds up and smashes apart in the blink of a street child’s eye. People go to India knowing they will be forever changed … and not knowing how. But India is a master, a guru, who takes people where they need to go, and teaches them what they need to learn.” ”
***********

OLD DELHI, still assaults my memory
Old Delhi, an explosion and assault on all the senses.  

Breathe. 

Loud and smelly, fast paced, hard working labour of men carrying heavy loads down narrow alleys in the wholesale market, animals including dogs sleeping, piglets rooting through refuse between car tires, and cows with right of way and holding their ground, colourful fruits and produce, grey and dirty roadways littered with debris and years of garbage left to sit… Spices, rice, nuts, flowers on display in burlap bags in small doorways.  

Breathe. 

Beep beep sounds of tuktuks and small cars, motorcycles passing each other on left and right. Bicycles jutting in and out. Large trucks squeezing in to small spaces, taking time to unload and reload wares. Smoggy grey air, toxic to breathe, many people with masks and or scarves tied around their mouths to filter the smells in the thick air.  

Breathe. 

Trying not to touch anything .. The walls look sticky and dirty, cracked and old … The walking surface makes you glad of closed toed shoes …. Puddles of unimaginable liquids to step over, and feces piles. Uneven surfaces of stone and curbs, and people. 

Breathe. 

People, people … Poor homeless faces, disfigured bodies, women clutching babies and begging for food, young children not shy about asking for money, trying to take our hands. We have been cautioned to hold tight to our bags, not give to beggars as people who do get swarmed by unlimited number of needy ones. So hard on the heart. 
 Breathe again.  
Enormous Indian flag can sometimes be seen from the hotel through the thick smog in Delhi. The struggle of India!
Namaste, 
Breathe, 
Pamela

A Morning Post.  Gratitude and Mindfulness

Good morning 15 November 2016. My keyboard is set up and my fingers itching to tell a story.  
Early morning rituals include gratitude thoughts, my morning beverage and some time alone. Not always easy, or achievable but always an intention. And also a bit of dreaming.
Dreaming, I have learned, in adulthood, is good for my soul. I dream of locations, destinations, travel, and mindfulness. Truly.
Sometimes I forget how important it is to others that I do what I do. Last night I received a call from one of the wonderful women on my last travel adventure to Europe. She has been trying to find a mutually agreeable time to chat with me. I thought maybe to ask questions or talk about the next trip, or even to have feedback of the last one.
She called to express in some detail how it was for her to be part of the amazing trip that it was. Early October, 42 traveling people went on a fantastic luxury cruise for two weeks in the Mediterranean. There were stops daily in exotic ports of call. Some of the highlights for her were the same as for me. She wanted me to know how it was for her. I am and was reminded again and again how special travel experiences are for others, not just me.  
Sometimes my own thoughts are not accurate. Mindfulness reminder to breathe, stay with a feeling and try not to give it a story – good or bad. The more I practice, the more reminders I get and the more I breathe in and out during the day in mindfulness, the more in touch with this energy I become.
Today the story combines gratitude with mindfulness. I am feeling the energy, breathing in happy contentment and breathing out any expectations or fear. Breathe again.  
Time to go for my morning walk – climbing the apartment stairs, 12 stories, twice. I found a dear friend and fellow apartment dwelling gal who is patient and reliable and we do the stairs together each week day. Ta ta for now, my friends.
Pamela

Tides In: 31 October 2016, Kingsport Nova Scotia

The TIDE IS IN!
Tides in today as we drive around the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.  
A slow start to the day as yesterday was a travel day for me and my mom has a bad back right now. Last night we dined on baked beans and maple butter on raisin toast. Oh my. I love being “home”. Foods of my youth! Oh and dulse… a salty seaweed snack that I can’t get enough of when I get to Nova Scotia. And then some local white wine. Devine dining!  
Leaves rich in color cover as a blanket on the lawns and streets. Many still hanging gently in the branches, until their turn to fall. Rich reds, fiery oranges, yellow golds. Black bird conference in bare branches. 
Pumpkin people in Kentville .. 
We drive to Kingsport. The place of my childhood .. the only place for certain. I did not live there, but celebrated holidays and family. It’s the home, also, of the highest tides in the world. The red clay and sand are home also to the small white shells and critters.
I take pictures. 
Old concrete steps of the home I visited where my maternal grandparents lived. An oak tree in the yard, planted when my mom lived there as a little girl. Golden farm fields of corn stocks. Twisty turny roads with treasures around each bend. Old yellow school bus meets us bringing goblins and masked children home for trick or treat night.  
Front porches and sun decks decked out in orange pumpkins and welcoming decorations of autumn.

Start now! See the World!

START NOW, SEE THE WORLD

Presentation at MidLife Show, 29 October 2016

My purpose today is to help you get started.  You won’t see the world in one year … however, we can start dreaming today together on the next step.  If you start now, join a travel club, put your intentions out to the universe … I can assist you to see the world.

Be open to the inspiration of travel.

Travel changes lives.  Travel is inspiring.

Travel can be affordable, fun and do-able when you travel as part of a group.

You will venture to places you now don’t even maybe know are there.

You will experience bucket list destinations.

You will enrich your midlife.  Bring your family, bring your friends, or come out and meet new travel companions.  The world is here for you!

Summer of 2014 I retired from Government work after almost 30 years as a Probation Officer.

But before then I was looking for different ideas for business, and for income.  I don’t receive a full pension because, like many of you, I was working part time to stay home to care for my children when they were small.  I have almost always had multiple jobs and interests.

The Retirement years are full of possibility.  I started to think about how I wanted to spend my time and then I began to imagine how I could put that together.

For the first 18 months or so I travelled …. I am still travelling and yet now I have found I want more structure (and income) so I have gone back to work – related but not as intense kind of work…..To help pay for my lifestyle choices.

STORIES of RETIREMENT

1.       I retired end of July 2014 and left very soon thereafter for a lovely Baltic cruise for two weeks with my partner and some women from the Womens Travel Club.  We made great friends and saw amazing sights.  Then 4 days in London England.  My travel buddies flew home and I flew to Naples Italy.  I was met there by more women from the Travel Club and we stayed a few days before a week in Sorrento at a lemon farm / Agritourismo.  I found the Amalfi coast – Positano and so much more.  A magical (gluten free) week eating and living local in Italy.  Then my friends and I, five of us rented a car and drove south.  One of the gals had a time share she traded in for a week in Maratea, south of Italy on the coast.  We spend a further week eating and exploring and laying around the beaches.  Five weeks of heaven and I flew home with my small carry on size suitcase and a lifetime of dreams fulfilled.

2. 14 traveling women from the Women’s Travel Club in Victoria went on board the luxurious Oceania Regatta small boutique cruise ship, and cruised the Amazon River (the Brazil side).  We flew to Rio de Janeiro Brazil and enjoyed and explored a few ports of call in Brazil, then a week sailing on the fantastic Amazon River, then stops on Devils Island and the Caribbean and flew home from Miami 21 days later.

3. I have a friend who gave herself the gift of 6 months in a villa in South of France for retirement.  She opened up the idea to family and friends and asked for contributions, so much a “day” to rent space at the villa and so she recouped some of the cost.  I was one of those lucky people, so with my partner, my mom and her friend, and a few women from the Travel Club, off we went for 3 weeks to stay at the villa.  When the three weeks were over I stayed on another week and then went on a ten day Azamara cruise from Nice France to Barcelona Spain, with a few gals from the travel club … before I came home.

4. In January of this year I went with 17 women to India for two week tour in Rajasthan (North) with Indus Travels and 10 of them stayed on for another 10 days to 2 weeks in the south with GAdventures tour.  I had never been and was not really wanting to go to India – it was not on my list.  I had all kinds of fear …. But the trip was amazing.  This next February 2017 I am going back to India – for a week of local living experience.

5. www.PamelaTravelBlog.com Just a few entries back you will find my reflections on India.   I started the blog a number of years ago when I took a river cruise in Europe and ended up in my lifelong wish-list city, Paris.  Follow along if you like ….

6. On 16 October 2016 I returned from my last trip with 42 other travellers – we did a two week cruise from Athens to Barcelona on Oceania Riviera.  Many of the folks had never been on a cruise, many never been to Europe.  I found an affordable luxurious and wonderful experience.  7 couples and 28 solo women travellers enjoyed the ports of call, and fabulous life on board the ship.

7. This fall also 11 women from the Women’s Travel Club went to Europe to explore France and or Italy by rail!  Traveling on small group tours, as part of a travel club, they enjoyed the sights, sounds and experiences of these amazing countries … highlights of large cities and the countryside in between.  Wine country, olive  and lemon groves, villas and sunsets …. some went on to do a week at the Lemon Farm in Sorrento and are traveling home this week.

https://www.gadventures.com/trips/france-and-italy-adventure/3809/

https://www.gadventures.com/trips/ultimate-italy/1276/

https://www.gadventures.com/trips/local-living-italy-sorrento/2128/

8. A few small groups of women went to Cuba last year, some with WestJet Vacations, some small group travel, some on yachts and some local living in home stays.

COMING NEXT:

1.       India local living, and the Taj Mahal in February 2017: India local living in Jaisalmer (desert stay at a local Haveli, www.JasmineHome.com and followed by an independent 3 day private group arranged by GAdventures to see Delhi and Agra (Taj Mahal) https://www.gadventures.com/trips/agra-independent-adventure/2823/.  Flights are direct Vancouver to Delhi and there are six of us confirmed and booked to do this fun get away.  Includes desert safari, spiritual experiences, shopping and exploring this fabulous region of India.

So you’re taking a trip to India but haven’t made plans to see the Taj Mahal? We can’t let that happen. We’re offering a little something extra for those who don’t want to miss Agra’s highlights. On this Independent trip, you’ll see the spectacular Taj as well as take a G Adventures-supported walking tour around the streets of Delhi led by a former street kid. It’s a whole new perspective.

2.       France barge on Burgundy river for a week June 2017: Burgundy River Barge 23-30 June 2017 with GAdventures (hurry, almost all the spots are taken!!) https://www.gadventures.com/trips/burgundy-river-cruise-experience/2668/

Blessed with some of the most gorgeous countryside in Europe if not the world (not to mention perhaps the best wine around), Burgundy is a place everyone should explore at least once. And the best way to do it is from the deck of an ambling river barge. Visit small villages and first-rate wineries, bike through forests and vineyards on a provided bicycle, and soak up the glorious sunshine, all with the help of a charming little hotel that goes where you go. You won’t get a better glimpse of Burgundy’s pastoral pleasures than this.

Add on mid June to Italy for a week at Lemon Farm agritourismo https://www.gadventures.com/trips/local-living-italy-sorrento/2128/

OR Add on Puglia coast in Italy.  11-23 June Sorrento / Puglia combination.  This would be a private small group and we would spend some time at the Lemon Farm and some time exploring the Puglia region of Italy.

Get a taste for Italian life on this one-week trip to Sorrento, located just around the corner from the Amalfi Coast. Replete with gorgeous scenery and all the fantastic food and drink you’d expect, you’ll unwind on an organic lemon farm where a local family will be your hosts, giving you an in-depth look at what life at an Italian agriturismo is like. And of course, there will be food demonstrations, including limoncello- and pizza-making as well as a walk along the stunning coastline, a visit to the elite island of Capri and a stop at Pompeii. Don’t be a tourist in Italy—live the dream.

 

3.       South America cruise November 2017, 3 weeks Buenos Aires to Lima Peru Three week cruise with Oceania November 11 2017 …. Or make it a 35 day cruise ending in San Diego? http://www.cruiseshipcenters.com/en-CA/pamelamacdonald/Itinerary?item=829331

 

4.       Panama Canal cruise February 2017 Miami to Lima Peru Eighteen day Oceania cruise on board Sirena, Panama Canal starting in Miami Feb 2018, with option to stay on and explore Lima PERU! http://www.cruiseshipcenters.com/en-CA/pamelamacdonald/Itinerary?item=830974

 

After that – Myanmar, Bali, Egypt, more local living adventures in Spain, France and Italy.

Where do you want to go?  Let me know and I will assist to find travel companions to join you.

Pamela MacDonald

Your “travelling” Cruise and Land Travel Specialist

Cell (250)857-5518

pmacdonald@cruiseshipcenters.com

www.PamelaMacDonald.cruiseshipcenters.com

Manulife Insurance  is always recommended for your travel protection https://www.igoinsured.com/TravelWeb/auth/mlwd/forms/MWTakeOne.pdf

Check out & ‘follow’ me at www.PamelaTravelBlog.com

“Friend” me at https://www.facebook.com/pmacdonaldtravel

Join me at the http://meetup.com/Womens-Travel-Club and or

http://www.meetup.com/Inspired-Travel-Club-Meetup-Victoria-BC/

This is a great resource for Travelling Women:  http://travel.gc.ca/docs/publications/her_own_way-en.pdf

 

Post two: intentions

Post two: cheers to the FREE stuff!  
On the flight, domestic flight to Toronto. The woman steward has our names on a list. A special list. We can have free food, free wine … now or later. Options are endless!
She recommends Chocolate banana granola minis .. gluten free, vegetarian, organic. Oh my …..
Shelly gets a sandwich, and we settle for tomato juice at this time. Ha ha, 7 am in the air seems a bit early for wine just yet. Lol. Well, it must be five o’clock somewhere? There will be wine opportunities aplenty on this two week adventure to ancient vineyards in Europe. 

Daily Intentions for exquisite travel memories:
Dancing and singling, laughs and giggles, great friends – cheers!

Tastes and smells to recall delectable details described every evening

Speaking to the locals, using Italian phrases .. ti amo, piacere

Being inspired by and inspirational to international women

Effortless ease, go with the flow, no resistance

Beaches, ocean, hot tubs and pools

Luxurious living, receiving abundance

Out of my comfort zone, extraordinary, a little wild side

Do anonymous acts of kindness and generosity for others to feel special 

Capture ah-ha moments

Stay in the moment, a little bit longer

We are all beautifully photogenic

Lobster and prosecco, the great foods 

Skylines and vistas that take my breath away

Palma de Majorca and more

A beautiful peaceful friendly day. At the port of Palma de Mallorca we had a pre booked excursion to Soller (pronounced soll-yer). We sailed all morning in the beautiful sunshine arriving around noon in the last port of call on the cruise.  
The previous few days the seas were choppy, we missed stopping at our port of call in Saint Tropez. We had a sea day. Then Marseille, PROVENCE France yesterday. We wandered, walked, stopped for local lunch and listened to foreign languages being spoken. Our only stop in France as it turned out this cruise.
But today…. ahhhhh, the best stop. I love Palma and was here a few days last year on Azamara cruise with Azamazing evening at the Cathedral. This time I selected this excursion across the island and over a mountain range to another coast of this small island to this lovely little village, Soller. And we will take the famous train back to Palma. Hopefully to find a few treasures to take home to my daughters and mom …. ending the two week Mediterranean cruise.
Dining tonight with some of the fabulous women of the travel club I need to return to the ship and then packing later for early departure in the morning.  
It has been challenging trying to spend time with all the many wonderful women and couples who came along this trip. Some are staying on for extending their trip to Barcelona and some even to Paris.  
After the old time rail on board the Soller train ride back to Palma, we had a quick shop through the Majorca Pearl section.  
This is the eve before a major marathon run in Palma and the streets are alive with runners, their families and celebrations. Balloons, loud speakers, street foods and drinks, cameras at the ready, practice rums and prizes for the very young participants.  
The sun is still warm, the breeze from the Mediterranean Sea is light and welcome. Sail boats with white flags dotting the clear blue sea. Palm trees waving and glistening in the suns rays. Beautiful marina. The majestic and famous cathedral in the back drop. Last year I was here for an Azamazing evening and an overnight in is magical place. I remember the beach, the warm sun, the cathedral lit up for our event, the magic of Palma. I feel so fortunate to find myself here once again. One of my favorite destinations. Today made it more so.  
Pamellla 

The European cruise adventure 2016

Monte Carlo today. I have been on this cruise ship, Oceania Riviera for about ten days now. No days at sea, some days more relaxed than others.  
The Grecian Delights cruise began in Athens and moved through Heraklion, Santorini, Katakolon and Corfu. Greece is peaceful, and has delightful port towns.  
Santorini is spectacular and offers stunning scenery for those who take the cable car or taxi to the top. We selected a private ferry boat to Oia ( pronounced ee-ah). We shopped and then took a bus ride back to Fira (also pronounced Thera) and walked down the donkey trail to the ship’s tender docking station. White washed buildings, cobblestone streets, local wine selections, art galleries, painted blue domes, shops and cafes.
In Katakolon we enjoyed local wine, ouzo, Greek feta cheese and olives, swimming in olive oil. After lunch we found our way to a little piece of beach and cooled off in the sea. Many of our traveling friends went to explore famous Olympia.
A port stop in Messina Sicily was about 50 km to the old town (founded in the sixth century) of Taormina, by negotiated taxi. Off we went to explore this beautiful little town of incredible views, ancient ruins, quaint shops, enchanting architecture, cobblestone streets, bright flower boxes, ornate doors, small alley ways and great look off points. Many of my friends took in the famed Greek theatre and then we enjoyed rooftop dining and people watching before heading back to the ship.
Probably the highlight of this trip for me was a short visit to Positano and Sorrento, with lunch at the agritourismo, lemon farm where I stayed a week a few years ago. The weather was perfect, the scenery was breath taking, the lunch experience was personal and satisfying. I love this place and the family who run it.  
Mid cruise was a stop in Civitavecchia, the port city for Rome, Italy. Two dozen of our group went in to Rome and were treated to time to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.  
Portofino was the next stop and a visit to that colorful and scenic little town nestled in the coast of Italy, was the starting point for our purchased Oceania tour to Genoa city. Genoa was new to me.. and we were shown some amazing architecture and famous paintings an art sculptures from a different age in Italy. Our guide was lovely and very knowledgeable. We also saw Santa Marguerita and I was reminded of some previous cruises to this area.  
Yesterday a nine hour guided tour of three of the Cinque Terre towns that dot the coast of the Italian Riviera. Although the weather was cool and wet, it seems there is never a bad time to visit here. This is my third cruise to this area and I never tire of the colors and beauty of this coastline. We stopped a few times for warm up drinks and then a little meal midday. We began in the Tuscany region port city of Livorno, and drove through LaSpezia to visit Monterosso, Verrazano and Manarola. We rode on bus, several little local ferries, we walked and took a train ride. Pretty spectacular! I love this area of Italy and never tire of seeing it.
Back on the ship we enjoyed a relaxing soak in the thelassotherapy pool on the spa deck, reserved for suite and concierge guests. And then some time to warm on the heated tiled beds. Room service selected from the Red Ginger menu list. And then dancing in Horizons.
The sun rise this morning took my breath away. Stunning colors and the skyline of beautiful Monte Carlo, Monaco still lit up from the night before. This land is a destination playground for the very wealthy. The boats in the marina attest to the opulence of life for residence and visitors alike.  
Today the twin Oceania ship, Marina is also docked with us. And a Holland America ship, with its black hull, that has been keeping pace with our cruise throughout, is also here with us.
Tomorrow is Saint-Tropez, France, for a day, followed by a stop in Provence, Marseille, France. We have a tour booked on Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Soller Vintage Train Ride) and then disembarkation in Barcelona, Spain where I begin my flight home.
My friends on the cruise line, Dan Ostler and his sister Jane have been on cruises with me previously. Dan is a guest lecturer and an interesting fellow. Graham Denison is the artist in residence and joined us in Civitavecchia. I hope to have time to spend with them all. I stopped in to the artist loft today to catch a glimpse of his amazing paintings, done with a palette knife technique. Fantastic art of textured strokes and vibrant colors bringing his images to life.  
More later, 
Ciao ciao for now
Pamellllla of Italy