The Maldives

Originally we had intended to fly to another destination, but couldn’t find anything we liked, so we followed the advice of a colleague and decided to try the Maldives. We were in no way disappointed! We landed in Malé airport and a boat took us out to Coco, one of the 1200 atoll islands which form a large circle.

We especially love the climate, about 30°, mostly sunny, not so humid and moreover, no “climate change catastrophes” such as tsunamis or typhoons or earthquakes. The people in charge of Coco (my good friends) have transformed this island into a lush paradise of palm trees, flowers and walkways between the island villas and the boardwalks to the water villas, which are more costly, but worth their money.

Coco offers about 5 fantastic restaurants, cafeteria and à la carte, a beauty salon, a diving school, meet and greet evenings, a turtle research center, several shops, e-carts to get to the other end, a large pool. several beaches and many other things.

At the research center you can talk to the marine biologist about how turtles are often caught in fishing nets or plastic waste. They sell adorable stuffed turtles and the proceeds go towards the research. The corals are unfortunately also bleached in many spots since 2016, when the water temperatures rose worldwide. Yet they are altogether still in better shape than, for example, the Red Sea. Many are growing back, due in part to the efforts of the research center.

The snorkeling is wonderful in this clear green-blue water, there are masses of colorful fish, turtles, manrays, small sharks and corals of every hue. You can take boat trips, learn diving, arrange for a massage with aromatic oils, book a table and order fresh fish at one of the open air restaurants, watch the natives dance or just relax on a beach. Hopefully this atoll will now be flooded some day when water levels rise!

Hongkong

Hongkong was the last stop of the three week trip in the group and we added on another day before we flew the 13 hours back home. It is a fascinating city of old and new, hi-tech and traditional. We first had a harbor cruise and afterwards drove up to Victoria Peak for the best views. One can pay to get into the platform, but opposite there is a shopping mall with good windows too. We also visited the largest museum with exhibits of crafts, boats, city model and art.

Naturally, we went to visit a temple with buddha statues, puppet figures and many other buildings of interest. My husband bought a nice cell phone downtown, it just needs a different plug for charging. Many Chinese speak quite good English and are always helpful. We sometimes took the underground subway train, cheap and fast.

Downtown Hongkong is a busy, bustling place. There is so much to see and to admire that it is difficult to describe it all. It is rather a shame that the British influence has lessened, but it is wonderful to visit. We can strongly recommend the Maritime Museum down at the water’s edge.

Hemingway’s mojito – now is mint bloom!

One of the top classic cocktails, and now that the mint flowers are blossoming, a fine time to mix some mojitos against the heat wave Europe is experiencing :

fresh limes, cooled, partially peeled and cut into round discs

cane sugar and a pestle to grind the discs of lime with the teaspoon of sugar

ron añejo, one shot glass

fresh sprigs of mint

crushed ice / cold water and ice cubes

Put several rounds of lime into a mojito glass, a teaspoon of cand sugar on top and grind with the pestle. Add the rum, the crushed ice, some sprigs of mint and a cocktail stirrer. Enjoy while it ‘s hot!

Earnest Hemingway loved this cocktail especially,  as every Cuban tour guide will be eager to point out. He was known for his drinking habits, his intrepid nature when in Cuba or in the Spanish Civil War. Whoever looks for clues, will be able to find them in his short stories: one tenth meaning and nine tenths buried in the underneath currents of meaning like an iceberg.

sea water ocean winter
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Everybody knows of his physical prowess and his symbols of love, friendship, those bewildered repetitions when his characters must adapt  to a new environment, the search for love, light, orderliness, human warmth,  not agony or the strain of war. As to a list of good reads, I’d offer you a library shelf or two, my faves were “A Clean Well-lighted Place”Farewell to Arms“, For Whom the Bell Tolls“, “Fiesta“, “The Old Man and the Bridge“… take your own pick! Oh yes, and for fun, look at his old boat, tiny but double sturdy!

two white goat kids
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