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US: St Simons Island, GA – African American Musical Traditions (even Gullah Geechee), Crafts and Food

For over 40 years the Georgia Sea Islands Festival on St. Simons Island, Georgia has celebrated the African American musical traditions, crafts, and food of the coastal barrier islands.Women gsif5_a094edcd-5056-a36a-0b4d02effe6ba3a5

Each year the highlight of the festival are the musicians – young, old, and some “with an old heart” — who perform traditional spirituals, work songs, and plays handed down by their ancestors. Live entertainment includes The Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters.

There will be cuisine such as  smoked mullet, fried fish, sweet potato pone, homemade ice cream, and demonstrations of traditional Gullah Geechee knitting cast net and sweet grass baskets.

Men Singing gsif4_a0952c76-5056-a36a-0ba9ac6ed479ebd0The Georgia Sea Islands Festival is FREE and filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family.Crowd gsif3_a0953f8a-5056-a36a-0b44dfd584862c30

Location: Gascoigne Bluff Park, 1000 Arthur J Moore Dr, St Simons Island, GA 31522
Date: Sat, June 2, 2018
Time: 11am – 6pm
Tel: 912- 634-0330
ssiheritagecoalition.org/2018/02/16/georgia-sea-islands-festival-2018
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: goldenisles.com

US: Portsmouth, NH- Meet Ghosts, See an Equestrian Ballet and Join the Halloween Parade

Brave attendees meet the Ghosts on the Banke at Strawbery Banke’s famous family-friendly Halloween celebration. Long-dead sea captains, 17th century shopkeepers and wayward pirates haunt the streets of Portsmouth’s oldest neighborhood as you trick or treat safely from house to historic house. ghosts-on-the-banke

Trick-or-Treat safely as Jack-O-Lanterns light the way to step over the threshold of time and meet the “Ghosts on the Banke.” Discover pirate treasure, visit with the wacky witch, look into the future with guidance from the gypsy fortune teller. Catch a Ghostly Tale when Community members bring history back to life with spooky plays, skits, and interactive improvisation throughout the evening. Light up the Night and warm weary bones by the bonfire.

Masques on the Banke (Sunday Oct 30 only – 5:30 – 7pm) – Step “Behind the Mask” at this 90 minute event, as the majestic black Friesian horses of Runnymede Farm perform their equestrian ballet. US Premiere of a choreographed equestrian dressage seen only in Europe.  Meet the horses and enjoy a mask-making craft for Halloween.  Special guests include: Wick’d Fire and the Skeleton Crew Theater.
Show off Your Costume (Oct 31st at 7 pm) – March in a New Orleans-style parade, past haunted houses of old, through ghostly lanes full of things that go bump in the night. The Portsmouth Halloween Parade starts at Peirce Island by Prescott Park. It is an all-inclusive celebration of community, creativity and free expression that walks, stalks, dances, trumpets and drums its way through downtown Portsmouth each year – for more info:  portsmouthhalloweenparade.org

Location:  Strawbery Banke Museum, 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth NH 03801
Date: Fri Oct 28 – Sat Oct 29, 2016
Hours: 5:30pm – 8pm
Tel: 603-433-1100
strawberybanke.org/events/ghosts-on-the-banke.cfm
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: goportsmouthnh.com

US: St Marys, GA – Wild Horses Graze on Georgia’s Cumberland Island

A short ferry ride transports you to the treasured, pristine Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, offering visitors over 17 miles of secluded, white, sandy beaches.

Preserved and protected for future generations, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes a designated wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas. Walk on the footsteps of early natives, explorers, and wealthy industrialists.wild-horses-cumberland-island

You can’t explain Cumberland, you experience it. Time moves to the rhythm of nature. On this National Seashore, it is the animals that are the inhabitants and people are only visitors. The majestic sweep of deserted sandy beach is dotted with shells and usually deserted, except for the wild horses roaming at will. The dramatic slope of the dunes is a constant work in progress, sculptured by the wind and sea. The inland’s, majestic live oak and palmetto forests provide shelter for the horses, deer, turkey, alligator, armadillo, mink and a tremendous variety of coastal birds.

You’ll find campsites, hiking trails and first-come-first-serve bike rentals on the island. There are no amenities on the island beyond the restrooms and water fountains. You should bring lunch and water bottles to refill.

The visitor’s center in St. Mary’s, Georgia is the gateway to Cumberland Island. Here you can get tickets for the ferry over to the Island, as well as information about camping permits on the Island.

Location:Mainland Visitor Center, 113 Saint Marys St, GA 31558
Hours: Visitor Center  8 – 4 pm
Tel: 912-882-4335
nps.gov/cuis/index.htm
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
visitkingsland.com

US: St. Marys, GA – Wild Horses Graze on Georgia’s Cumberland Island

A short ferry ride (passengers only) transports you to the treasured, pristine Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, offering visitors over 17 miles of secluded, white, sandy beaches.

Preserved and protected for future generations, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes a designated wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas. Walk on the footsteps of early natives, explorers, and wealthy industrialists.

You can’t explain Cumberland, you experience it. Time moves to the rhythm of nature. On this National Seashore, it is the animals that are the inhabitants and people are only visitors. The majestic sweep of deserted sandy beach is dotted with shells and usually deserted, except for the wild horses roaming at will. The dramatic slope of the dunes is a constant work in progress, sculptured by the wind and sea. The inland’s, majestic live oak and palmetto forests provide shelter for the horses, deer, turkey, alligator, armadillo, mink and a tremendous variety of coastal birds.

You’ll find campsites, hiking trails and first-come-first-serve bike rentals on the island. There are no amenities on the island beyond the restrooms and water fountains. You should bring lunch and water bottles to refill.

The visitor’s center in St. Mary’s, Georgia is the gateway to Cumberland Island. Here you can get tickets for the ferry over to the Island, as well as information about camping permits on the Island. Wild Horses - Cumberland Island

Location:Mainland Visitor Center, 113 Saint Marys St, GA 31558
Hours: Visitor Center  8 – 4 pm
Tel: 912-882-4335
nps.gov/cuis/index.htm
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
visitkingsland.com

Canadian Museum of Nature is Museum of Fun

If you are heading out to Ottawa to enjoy our nation’s capitol, leave some time to explore the Canadian Museum of Nature. It’s the perfect place for all ages of the family to enjoy themselves. The brainy kids (or adults) can soak up extensive details about nature while the playful gang can pull levers or turn knobs in a deep sea sub, IMG_5043learn on many touch screens, or even dance around in front of  the endothermy camera checking out their colorful “hotspots”.

Everyone is awed by the the 19.8-metre blue whale skeleton in the Water Gallery but keeping going further in. All the way in the back are many interactive games for young and old alike: make believe areas for the wee ones, a board game along a wall,  animal jigsaw puzzles on touch screens, word games, etc.  

Gawk at the dinosaur fossils or walk amongst the fleshed-out dinosaur creatures for photo ops with kids. In the Vale Earth Gallery swoon over the 1200 gorgeous minerals, rocks and meteorites. Our 5 1/2-year-old couldn’t get enough of the joystick which controls a huge earth or the button to start the volcano.

Sure there’s a full size mammal gallery but the 11, 8 and 5 1/2 year-olds all stayed longer in the small Nature Live space where they oogled the cases of walking stick bugs in different camouflage colors and thicknesses. How many of you have come face to face with a tarantula? Then they listened intently as a docent showed fossils which were indigenous to Ottawa.

If you have time there are two 3D movies, “Prehistoric Planet 3D and Micro-Monsters 3D” (both too scary for the 5 1/2 -year old) but our gang liked the interactive museum more.IMG_5051

The famous Bird Gallery, with  one of the most extensive collections of Canadian birds in the world re-opened June 1. A special exhibit on now is Ultimate Dinosaurs June 11-September 5 and then upcoming is Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, October 6-April 2 .

A brand new Arctic Gallery will be unveiled on June 23 which is set to explain how the arctic is changing, including plants, animals and people of the area plus scientific research. Outside, three new ecozones will be shown off on June 17 including a woolly mammoths and an “iceberg”.

I’d like to give a thumbs up to the friendly security guards who answered questions informatively and helped to point out nearby bathrooms and water fountains.

Canadian Museum of Nature, a Beaux Arts building, was our first national museum, completed in 1912. Trivia buffs should note that this building  served as home to Canada’s House of Commons and Senate following the fire that destroyed the Centre Block of Parliament in 1916.

Location: 240 McLeod St., Ottawa
Phone: 613-364-4021
www.nature.ca

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US: California Lemonade Chain – Healthy, Inexpensive & Delish

The California Lemonade chain has fabulously delicious, healthy, inexpensive, IMG_1807seasonal Southern California comfort food. You can choose a 3 or 2-plate meal for only $10. We love that pricing goes by portion size – you can get 1, 2, or 3 portions of each.

Start with the wildly creative salad bar (beets, tangerines, walnuts & onions or watermelon radish, ahi tuna & snap peas or Thai quinoa, cuke, red pepper, mango, peanuts & carrots). Sandwiches are called “right-sized” as they aren’t the gi-normous ones often found in US restaurants.

The hot section features some land and sea food (buttermilk chicken, red curry salmon, pot roast, BBQ brisket). Yes there are desserts and of course, as it’s name implies, 7 kinds of lemonade (ginger peach, blackberry thyme, cucumber mint) to wash it all down. Don’t skip the mac ‘n cheese (only $3.75) or the (yikes!) brussel sprouts.

This photo’s at LAX airport in the Delta departure lounge but there’s about a dozen of them all over LA.  California. They also have a yummy cookbook.

www.lemonadela.com

Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Danube River

The Cosmos Tour through Prague, Vienna and Budapest criss-crosses the Danube River.  The river flows from the Black Forest to the Black Sea for 2,872 km, and passes through or touches the borders of 10 countries: Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

www.cosmos.com/Product.aspx?trip=46050

South Africa: Visiting Robben Island, UNESCO World Heritage Site

By Adele Shapiro – March 2012.

As a child I used to visit Robben Island with my grandmother. Her son, my uncle, was a warder in the prison services there. The name “Robben”, despite sounding very English – is in fact the Dutch for “Seal” – and the name derives from the extensive seal colony that was found on the Island by the first Dutch settlers.

We would go to the Cape Town docks and from there, take a boat ride to the island, where we would spend the day with family. I was vaguely aware that there were bad people on the island, and that it was a prison…. but little did I know then of the role it was to play in South Africa’s later history. Years passed and now as an adrobben1ult, I found myself revisiting the place where “the bad people” were kept, only now I realized that some were not so bad after all.

I bought a ticket for the tour some days before the trip, (advisable, as they fill up quickly) and took time out to examine the display at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

There were many photographs of the political dissidents, the calls for boycotts, the anti-apartheid marches and there was also a prison cell that had been reconstructed for the purposes of the exhibit. I strongly recommend a visit to this exhibit before going to the island as it helps to contextualize the experience.

The trip began, as in times of old, with a boat ride from Cape Town docks, but this time instead of my uncle meeting us, we had a pleasant tour guide who told us jokes on our bus trip, whilst pointing out various sights on the island. Our bus was parked under a sign that said: “Welcome. We serve with pride.” I wondered if that sign had been there when Robben Island had been a prison as it was so sharply incongruous to the environment. I hoped not.

robben2Robben Island has had a long history. First as a lighthouse to warn ships of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), of the rocks that surround the island. But since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used for the isolation of (mainly) political prisoners. The island was also used at various times as an animal quarantine station, a home for slaves, a leper colony, a hospital for the mentally ill and as a prison for French Vichy prisoners of war.

First we saw the Leper Graveyard and then house where Robert Sobukwe (Founder of the Pan Africanist Congress) had been kept separate from the other political dissidents.

It seems that Robert Sobukwe had special status in the prison. He was kept in solitary confinement at all times, but allowed certain privileges including access to books, being permitted to study, being permitted to wear civilian clothes, and being permitted bread. His children were allowed to visit him and they had their own bedroom in his “house”. Robert Sobukwe was convicted of incitement for demonstrating against and defying the Pass Laws, and in particular, for his connection to the PAC demonstration (although he was not present) which became known as the Sharpeville Massacre.

The notorious Pass Laws required black people to carry a pass book at all times when outside their compounds or designated areas, and were designed to limit severely the movements of the non-white population. This legislation was one of the dominant features of the country’s apartheid system.

Sobukwe was sentenced to three years in prison. After serving his sentence, he was moved to Robben Island for internment, as a new law called the General Law Amendment Act had been passed, which permitted his imprisonment to be renewed annually at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. This procedure became known as the “Sobukwe clause” and Robert Sobukwe was the only person whose imprisonment was extended under this clause. Imagine how special one has to be in order for parliament to pass a law just for you!

We also learned from our tour guide that the American politician and Pastor, Andrew Young, had fostered Sobukwe’s children in the USA, while Sobukwe had been in prison.

Our tour continued to the lime quarry where the political prisoners had worked. At the entrance to the quarry we saw a small cairn, and learned its history. In February 1995, (the landmark change of government was in 1994), about one thousand former political prisoners gathered again on Robben Island, but this time as free men, and to mark the occasion, each one placed a small stone from the quarry in a pile, making a small memorial to their years of hardship and struggle.

As we continued on our bus ride, we were shown a church, a hospital, a school and a mosque, and realized that far beyond our expectations, the island had supported a whole community. We duly arrived at the prison and tumbled out of the bus for our tour of “the real thing”. We were excited and filled with high spirits and I wondered for a moment where my heart would have been had I not been a tourist.

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Inside we found grey walls. It was cool at midday; it was clear that at midnight it would be very cold. The communal cells were large and each had a bathroom attached.

Here we met our prison tour guide, Derrick Basson, a former political prisoner who served time on Robben Island for sabotage.

Derrick was very patient, humble and remarkably, not bitter. He answered all the insensitive questions calmly and without anger. In addition he explained the grading of the prisoners by race and also the diets that varied due to the racial classification of each prisoner. One of the curious facts he told us was that black prisoners were not given bread. As they were Africans their “natural” food was considered to be maize meal. The mixed race prisoners were allowed bread as they were considered to be more western or European and less African. The black Africans were also not allowed jam or syrup. I suppose you do not need jam if you have no bread.

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Then I remembered that Robert Sobukwe, in spite of being black, was allowed to have bread, and it struck me that this must have been because he had been a university professor, and since this is a very “European” and non-tribal job, maybe he was considered eligible to receive bread.

Derrick further explained how prisoners slept on mats on the floor and how 5 blankets had not been enough to keep them warm at night. I suddenly remembered an interview with a former Alcatraz inmate who spoke of the extreme cold and of how prisoners had learned to sleep with only their elbows and knees touching the floor, hands locked behind the head. I became very grateful for my duvet.

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We were told that in the beginning the political prisoners had been kept with the ordinary criminals, but later on, they were, thankfully, given their own “wing” and kept together. They came to call this place “The University” as they learned many things from each other and many of them also obtained degrees while in prison.

Derrick then took us to a yard where the prisoners had chopped rocks and turned them into stones, day after day in the sun. They were told that these rocks were used for roads built on the island, but no one seemed to know if this was true or not.

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We were then taken to Nelson Mandela’s cell. Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, as well as the co-founder and leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe or “Spear of the Nation”. He was arrested in 1962 and convicted of sabotage, (amongst other charges), after he admitted to manufacturing explosives and acts of public violence, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison, 18 of these on Robben Island. After his release, he served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

My very first impression was of how small the cell was. No, not small, tiny. And then I thought that at least he could stand up and lie down in it, but not much more than that. At least it was larger than the dreadful box that I had heard was used in China. But there was no toilet. Just a metal bucket with a lid. At least a lid. And no tap, so no water. And if you are thirsty during the night, what should you do? And of course there was no electrical socket and no radio nor TV. And all I could think of was 27 years. TWENTY SEVEN YEARS! There was no door handle on the inside. The door was only operational from the outside, not unlike a cage. I remembered that Nelson Mandela had once remarked that the hardest and most traumatic experience he endured whilst on Robben Island for all those years was that he never ever saw, or even heard, a child. Can you imagine that? Now he insists on being photographed with children, whenever possible.

robben10And then it was all over. We walked out to the yard, Derrick took us to the exit, and we said our goodbyes.I felt an odd mixture of elation and depression. Very happy that I had been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site of such importance, happier still that it was no longer a prison, and most happy that I was leaving. Yet also depressed and ashamed because of the suffering this place represented.

Duly subdued, we gratefully returned to our boat to ponder our feelings of inspiration and shock, enjoy the beautiful sunset cruise back to Cape Town, and watch a school of dolphins at play in the sea.

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Remember when planning a visit to Robben Island, that the tours don’t always run on time. There was no snack bar on the boat. Our boat was 1 hour late in leaving Cape Town harbour and then we were rushed through our tour, which was a pity as there was too little time for questions.

A suggestion would be to make no appointments after the visit as the timing can vary, and also, take a snack pack. A sun hat and sun block are also good ideas.

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Ferries depart (supposedly) at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, weather permitting, from Nelson Mandela Gateway, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Tickets costs are R230 for adults and R120 for children (U/18). Telephone: +27 (0)21 413 4200
Fax: +27 (0)21 419 1057