Friday, November 30, 2012

Valle Escondido and life!

It is a month since we moved into the house on the green of the golf course with the birds now very regular guests. Two little light blue feathered ones are sitting each morning chirping, waiting for freshly sliced oranges or guavas!

I have to tell you, the other night I went out to enjoy the cool of the night, I for the first time in my life I saw a possum!  What a  'beautiful ugly' little animal, I tried to take a photo, but the flashed scared him away. I saw his foot prints in my garden the next day, so I will get him the next time.

I am getting used to being stable in one place, but I still walk around the house and the garden just loving it! The boys wait for their tea and cookies in bed every morning, and only then will they lazily get out. Marco is finished with school, so now he is even more relaxed than ever!  Oh, yes he won a competition launched by Brainline to tell them his story, about homeschooling, and send his prize, a set of earphones to his Aunt in SA.

Joe took some time getting used to being in a house again, not worrying where to eat and sleep, standing in the shower for so long, but he is starting to act normal again. Normal? Now what will that be anyway?

We still do the Insanity exercises every other day, always trying to inspire the lazy one for the day. And we love going to the Club House after six, because that is the only time Marco is allowed to swim in the pool! No children under 14 before six in the evening, is the rule. We start with a little work out in the gym, (Marco is not allowed in the gym at all) so he swims and waits for us, while we sauna and then he joins us in the jacuzzi, bubbling us away!

My Landlord gave me permission to fool around in the garden, and the farm girl in me, enjoyed it so much! Each night I crawled into bed with a couple of aches and new pains, and spider bites, but I can`t wait to get back to the soil the next day. It was a challenge to clean up the garden, and to find new spots for overgrown plants, but it is starting to look so beautiful! I got the irrigation system running and the whole garden is smiling!

I am still fighting my battle with the ants, but not even that is breaking my speed! Thanks Jennifer for helping me in my battle. I have to introduce you to this dear friend of mine, remind me of that! I told you before...I love strong women, and the role they play in my world!

PS. I am going to let you be for a while. It is our 25th Anniversary, can you believe that? My Johan is taking me away tomorrow where and for how long, only he and the boys know, so as soon as we are back, you will know too!


Monday, November 26, 2012

How Do I Get Rid of Ants?


My mother called them little sugar ants, and I can remember them getting into the sugar pot all the time, and when you put a teaspoon in your coffee, the little black bodies would swim in the dark world of your mug!! 

But I`ve searched, no not for them, I don`t have to, they are all over, I searched for them on the Web, and believe it or not, they are even there!  Monomarium Minimum! That is who they are. I wish I could type, `In Memoriam` too, but alas!

I read; they are 1mm, and the queen is 4mm, and it is true, but a thousand together is 1m and that is a lot of ants on the kitchen top! They are omnivores, but meat is their favorite. True as well, they eat everything, they can even found a hole in a packet of noodles in a drawer. They are amazing at smelling empty meat polystyrene packets or bones in the rubbish bin. The microwave doesn`t harm them, they can even escape the radio waves. They don`t get electrocuted in the wall sockets....NOTHING GETS RID OF THEM!!

So I searched the Web!  I found serious poisons, Borax, Clorox.....and many more.
I found cinnamon, but I don`t believe that one. They enjoyed sharing the sugary pancakes with the boys.
Soapy water someone said, but that only helps for the ones I could drown, soon many more were marching in, and I could surely not try my luck with the soapy water in the wall sockets!
Hairspray!  Can you still buy that stuff? I thought they banned it after the eighties, when I also did my share being a young school teacher with puffy hair! Remember the blue bottle..Dippity Do, or something, even my eye lashes got stuck with those!
Alcohol?  Well, after sailing and fighting mold, and hearing about alcohol as remedy, I made sure to always find a better cure than alcohol. I do not waste alcohol on anything else but my liver!
Baby Powder?  Interesting! I tried that, and it worked, I could follow their tiny foot steps all the white powdery way....disappearing into the pack of Nachos!  My ants were clever, they didn`t bother to search for the pheromones in the powder, they enjoyed leaving this new scent for their followers!  I read that they communicate with pheromones, a scent they leave behind, even touching each other`s antennae to share this scent. This scent takes them to the food source..... but my ants preferred the soft smell of baby powder!

Oh my, while I am typing an ant is walking all over my notes! What a cheek! Can`t they pick up my hormones? Can`t they pick up that I`ve had enough of them? Can`t they pick up that I am the Mass Murderer in Panama?  I read that some of them even make a sound, emitting an alarm when someone gets crushed! Can`t they hear the echoing sound of crushed Monomarium Minimum?

I read that they can walk as far as 200m from the nest in search for food!  You see that is my problem! My ants are well rested! They live all over the house, close to the food sources, where the boys spill the milk, leave the mug, drop a golden ball of syrup! They don`t have to count their steps with their built-in pedometer either, they can just walk over the kitchen top for an afternoon stroll to get a snack!

And so I am fighting this 100 million year old species, maybe that is why they can survive me, they`ve been around much longer!


Monday, November 19, 2012

News from Joe!

He has been and still is such a part of the check out his page for some news!

Welcome back!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blessed with a big birthday!

Loving life!

It was his big day! It was his big year!  Or was it three? Or was it fifty?

199? somewhere.....

The chef on his Catlyn!
True to tradition we woke him with our voices, stronger because Joe`s deep sound was here, and a box baked chocolate fudge cake and his two candles! And we spoilt him, with the best gifts ever! His favorite food, a softly curved avocado, waiting for him to treasure it, and squeeze it every day, just gently until she is ready for him. A packet of his favorite Lays chips, not his favorite flavor though, but the green bag of cream cheese and chives had to do, to balance the bitter sweet taste of Panama beer. But we loved him in his bed with hugs and kisses, more than all the gifts in the world, and our home made cards with our own messages and poems...

Janlie, our daughter was the first on Skype, and he sat on the steps for an hour with his sister from London, and he loved Facebook with all his people, and he ended his day with our family in South-Africa! A loved man was he....!


I`ll share Joe`s birthday card for his Dad with you....


We are already one, and we imagine we are not
and what we have to uncover is our original unity.
Whatever we have to be, is what we are.

I am happy to be in your presence again,
father and son together as one.
The skies may separate heaven and earth
every morning she shall give birth,
not to good or not to bad,
happy or sad
but to a fresh, new beginning that glows with love.
It`s the egg of life,
the radiant sun that lights the earth to provide new beginnings,
may this day be a beginning like no other
where God`s grace shines brightly on you,
and brightens this day forever.

Blessings and Love, this is my gift, it is not a brilliant thread
of Light between my heart
and between yours.

I love you Dad, thank you for being a part of my life.....

We love you, Daddy!

Our whole family with Granny.....2002!
from all of us....

Always on our way to.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Boquete, Panama!

I am living the life! I am still not used to having a house, so I find myself walking up an down, finding a cob web, cleaning a corner.....!  For so long I`ve been so used to cleaning and maintaining, seldom sitting on my butt doing nothing, that I just can`t find peace yet!

 But I love it! I love getting up in the mornings, with the sounds of the people in my house still sleeping, mingling with the new sounds of birds I`ve never seen. While the kettle is on the stove, I watch them, nibbling on the fresh oranges and guavas we left for them in the bird feeder. At night I keep on one of the lights outside, to attract the bugs and hairy moths, food for the insect eaters the next morning. And then the kettle whistles....

When I walked passed the  bedroom, there is a huge human bundle under the blankets, and when it moves, the wild hair stirs, ready for a hug and a warm cup of tea! Joe is home! We share stories, laugh a lot, cry a bit, hug all the time, as if we want to keep the time to stand still forever! Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Johan fetched him about a week ago, driving back to Panama City with our rental, and the two of them stayed over in a hotel, only to come to us the next day with the bus. The eight hour drive flew away, and before they knew it, they stopped in a very wet David. They left behind the noise of the city, and the Red Devils (busses) honking and polluting the air!

Peace and quiet, this is what they came to, in Boquette! We are staying in a beautiful house, on the gholf estate, Valle Escondido. It took me a day and more to make the house mine, and now a week later, I live here between the mountains with the sound of the river close by. I bake pancakes if it rains, and soup for the chilly days, and Johan spoils us with his master pieces, loving the big kitchen!

While living on our yacht, Catlyn, I fought the battle against mold/mildew and over here I found a new one. Sugar ants! It`s been a week now, and I am a mass murderer, but there are no signs of them moving on, or their numbers diminishing! I tried salt all over the kitchen, cupboards name it, I tried a strong poison all around the outside of the house, I followed them to corners, but still....

If you have any ideas, this time I need your help!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our bornday boy!

Panama, in a hotel room, half past four in the morning, or actually before the start of day, and Mom and Dad were trying as best they could to get up softly! Marco wanted his day to start the same time as when he saw the first of this world twelve years ago! It was 12h30 in Unitas Hospital, Pretoria, SA, and with the time difference, it was now!

Already he was stirring with excitement, as I was searching in my slow brain for the 'fire lighter' to light his candles. We arrived yesterday afternoon in Panama, and went straight for the Hotel and peace. We were fetched by a Driver from Hell (shuttle from the hotel) from the airport!

Late that evening we realised that it was our sons birthday tomorrow, and we were not prepared! Luckily I bought some candles in Quito, some time ago. We went for a stroll, with only hospitals close to us, and a "one women show" little shop. We found a fresh doughnut, and some sweeties, and along the street beautiful yellow flowers.

We sang to Marco, just the two of us, and it sounded so wrong! We were a choir of seven not too long ago, and now, only two of them left! But Marco didn`t notice, and enjoyed his birthday cake, and his candles and all the hugs and kisses. Janlie, his sister was the first to call, and he enjoyed Joe on skype, and Jaco the night before, and then all the messages from his family and all his friends.  We enjoyed a day at the Albrook Mall with our birthday boy!

Happy bornday, Marco!
30 October 2012.


 2005 : Our Kids from Left (Louis, Joe, Marco, Janlie and Jaco)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our beloved Quito again!

We were exhausted when we reached Quito, and when we found the Alcala Hostel our host invited us in, although it was still early morning, and gave us a room with a wonderful hot shower! We stayed for three days, enjoying Halloween in the very noisy streets of Mariscal!

We missed our dear friends, Tony and Isabel, but maybe one day... But we made a new friend, Vanessa, and for the first time since we left Trinidad, we met a South-African! We hugged like family, enjoying the comfort of being close to someone from our home. She is also running her blog, and shared a touch of her life with us!
We fetched the rest of our luggage from our host in Quito, Lilya, who were so good in keeping it for us while we were in Peru!


Off we were to the airport with bursting bags! Luckily we left early, because when we reached Copa Airlines, the man behind the counter asked us for our air or bus tickets out of Panama!  There was no WiFi, so we rushed to the Internet cafe in he building, and struggled to get air tickets out of Panama. Of course it was way too far ahead for us to plan! Who plans ahead for end January already? We tried to book bus tickets to Costa Rico, but without success, we battled to get Expedia on line. We found Air America, and did a booking and printed the tickets! But it didn`t feel right....

We were allowed to go to the gate now, and we flopped into the chairs! But there was no peace for us yet! Marco was called to go with an Airport Person, to get his bag searched! I offered to go instead, because I packed his bag, and all the others of course, and I left my two men standing! A couple of other people were also joining me, going down into the basement of the Airport!

Why is it that already you feel guilty? I stood in front of a steel table with a man and a gentleman and my bag! He asked me to open the bag and I did. My mind was racing! What did I pack in this bag? What if someone sneaked something into my bag? I could see some scenes from movies in my head. And to make it worse, there were these steel cages with barking dogs in it, right behind me, and I wondered about them sniffing...something?

The guy with the gloves, started digging into the bag, and I recognised something pink and white and lacy. I kept on digging and found our zip lock bag with medicine, and that kept them busy for some time. I had a couple of toilet rolls, in this bag, for all the hostels and places we got into with no supply, and that kept him going. It was almost as if he was paging through each roll. And then he found my Coco leave tea! Oh my, that was something." It is wonderful for Machu Picchu and the altitude!" I explained, but a couple of stares and phone calls later, I was told that it was not allowed into Ecuador, although I could swear I saw some in the Markets and squares. By now, I was sweating, and now I was thinking "Movie, Marlene, this is your movie, no longer only a stupid blog!"

I was the only one left, and eventually after a lot of Spanish and a lot of people in uniforms, they told me that I could go! But of course I had to get all the stuff back that was strewn all over the steel table! i did get it back in, but the whole bag was a mess, and of course when the bag reached us again in Panama, it was torn!

My two men were delighted to see me again, and we were hardly seated on the plane and it took off! Luckily for Copa Airlines, they served a tall glass of Cabernet Sauvignon! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Back in Lima!

We left Cusco, in the Cruz del Sur bus. It was a long drive of about 22 hours, but as soon as we got the "lazy boys' in horizontal position and the snacks on our laps, we were good to go! Surprisingly it was a very pleasant drive, and we reached Lima just before lunch! We booked into the same hostel as the previous time, because we enjoyed it there, and I can defnitely recommend it to other backpackers. K`usillu`s Hostel with Ricardo as your host!

This time we had time to enjoy Lima, the big city! Someone said, it reminds her of a city like Amsterdam, to me it was a big city with it all! In this city I met a beautiful women, Magaly, in her shop in one of the markets. It always amazes me at the power of women, and she was such a great business women! We shared a couple of moments, and I remembered my days working in one of my boutiques, helping a women to look beautiful!

We went to the centre of town watching the historical buildings and cathedrals, which was so beautiful renovated and kept. It was the change of the presidential guards, and I loved the procession in Quito, Ecuador, and was excited to see the one in Peru! But it was a disappointment! They just didn`t have the flair or discipline of the men in Ecaudor!

We walked the streets on our way to China town, and found corn! We saw them in Ecuador, but never tasted them, and here was a young girl selling them on the street. It was delicious! We saw corn, shades of white, and with big kernels and with small kernels, and I especially took a photo for my farming brother in South-Africa of the black corn!(maize)

I had to take the photo of the stall where they were selling warm jackets for dogs, big and small! It was so cute, a Spiderman, a batman and so many more! It was a pity I didn`t see a doggy wearing one of these outfits!

We left Lima for Guayaquil, but as soon as we reached this terminal we felt like going straight to Quito, and not searching for a place to stay. Three hours later we got onto the next bus, the local ones, and were heading for Quito! We arrived after a very speedy night in the bus, and were in time for a long warm cappucino and croissants at a nearby Pastilleria! With our tummies filled we found a lovely hostel, and had a long warm shower!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Salkantay Trekking, Finale!

I wish I could stay in Machu Picchu for a whole day, just being there. I don`t want a guide to tell me his version of the truth, I just want to be there. I would have loved to put up the little red tent, and spend the night. Sitting with Johan and Marco, and talking about the possibilities....

We slowly walked back to the little town, Aguas Calientes, ( Warm Water) and we knew we had all the time in the world. We followed the river, until we could see all the hotels and restaurants and little shops through the trees. We are thinking of going to the hot baths just to relax all our sore muscles, and to reflect on what we experienced these last five days. After that we would be starving, and could enjoy a good lunch at one of the many restaurants! Our train was leaving only at a quarter to six, and it was only around three!

We checked out the menus of the restaurants along the way. Our luggage was stored at the hotel, and we popped in to get our towels and swim wear. For some reason Johan thought of asking for our train tickets at the hotel desk, where our guide left it for us, while I was trying to find a towel!

Oh boy! We are leaving within less than an hour! Our guide, who bought our tickets the morning,  did not bother to check or bothered to inform us of the change of departure. We got into the first restaurant with a nice pizza and a cold caparina and a tall beer for Johan!

Marco was a bundle of nerves! Gordon and Sarah! Where were they? Were they still at Machu? How could we possibly find them? He ran to the lobby to check whether they took their train tickets, but the tickets were still there! He forgot he was hungry!

About twenty minutes later, we saw them strolling down the street! Marco was so glad! They had just enough time to grab their bags, because they went for a massage and lunch, and were on their way to the hot baths!

We reached the train station, and enjoyed the trip to Ollantambo! I regretted that we couldn`t spend a day there as well! The town was beautiful, and I could see some more ruins. We shared the train with a lot of tourists doing different trekkings and similar trekkings, and visiting Machu Picchu.

We reached the station, and of course all the other groups were met by someone with a board saying their names! We stood around like orphans! No one to collected us, to take us to Cusco. But we found a taxi, and negotiated a price (70 sol), while Sarah got hold of our agent in Cusco, Rider. No apology later, someone came up to us. He was not impressed by our negotiating power, and only wanted to pay our taxi 50 sol! Ok, about half an hour later, they threw some people out of their taxi, to make space for the "family" to go back to Cusco!

I will spare you the further details, of trying to set up a meeting over two days with our Agent at Bioandean. Only standing in front of a closed office and later excuses of not meeting with his group to listen to their grievances at least!  Jabu did come to our hotel, just before we left for our supposed meeting at two, as we`ve arranged with Rider about nine o`clock that morning via email. But Jabu was only there to collect their duffle bags, which we were supposed to take to the office. He sincerely apologised to Johan for his behaviour.We were not upset anymore about the whole situation, just amused! Sarah and Gordon left a day later than us, and no one even bothered to fetch their duffle bags! A couple of times they went to the office with and without us, to talk to Rider, and to return the bags, but with no success!

All I know is that they were recommended by Trip Advisor, and all I know is that I will not recommend them to any one! Rider did contact us eventually via email some time later, and sent us a 30US$ voucher to refund us our lunch!

We found many Tour Agents in their little offices all over Cusco, and they were offering excactly the same Salkantay Trek for 190US$! We paid 390US$! They do not include your sleeping bag, but you can rent it. They might have a slightly different menu, I don`t know.  I just have to share with you our experience!

We didn`t allow it to spoil our memory, maybe it created an even more juicier story for my grand children! Machu Picchu and the whole five days, being challenged physically, being enticed by Nature, being loved by new friends, will stay with me forever!

We found Sri, with his sprained ankle, and enjoyed a "family" dinner that night! Sri flew back to London, to heal at the side of his beloved Jude!

ps. Other Tour Agents to consider-