True beauty in our cruel world

This is the most beautiful photo depicting the emotional connection like humans. We all (animal and human) know emotions and we all feel love and pain.

Compassion and kindness

❤️❤️❤️

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Tribute to a rescued soul

June 2006 – who rescued who?

I am heartbroken beyond words. My beautiful boy Ruffy has spread his beautiful angel wings and left us.

For all those who know me he was my world.

He was at my side constantly for the past 12 1/2 years, this is a tribute to him from me and the special bond and love we shared.

He was a rescue dog and seriously it was the best thing I ever did. He was the most incredible dog I have ever known. Funny, sweet and full of personality. I would love to share this tribute with you.

RIP Ruffy Bendle.

You were so loved. You are a hero in the eyes of all who have been with you for the last three weeks. Your strength was Herculean. Your love constant. My house, my world, my car, my everything is forever changed.

Rest now little one.

Please visit me.

I love you to the heavens and back infinity. Thank you to all who have supported me over the last three weeks it has meant the world and I couldn’t of got through it without you. You know who you are ❤️❤️❤️

A spoken poem. Volume required

I cried for a long time that day

Leaving Vinales

I step out on to the balcony and take in the view one last time. It is breathtaking as the sun rises over the mogotes (mountains). Feeling a little melancholy as I know it really will be the last time. I silently say thank you for the experience as I breathe in one more breath and turn and walk away. I leave my room to be greeted by my cats. “I’m sorry I have to leave you” I pat them, say goodbye and wish for them, that another tourist will come and give them food and love soon. 

I board our little bus heading for Trinidad armed with food for whoever, dog or cat I meet on the way. It does not take long. Our first stop. One nursing mum approaches me, I feed her, then another comes, and another. 3 mums, all hungry, all recently given birth, where are their babies? I feed them all I have. I pat and talk to them. My soul is literally crying. The first one in particular looked at me with such appreciation. Through her infected eyes, a sadness beyond what I was able to cope with. I saw appreciation and thanks not for only the food I just gave her but for some tenderness and affection. I patted her, tickled behind her ears, under her chin for as long as I could, I didn’t want to leave her. I had to leave. I said goodbye with so much sadness in my heart and wished her a better next life. Looking back from our bus watching her for as long as I could see her, I cried. I cried for a long time this day.  F735C578-B44F-481A-9608-E29C203925D4

Havava with love

 

 

Havana 

Will this aeroplane actually leave the ground? 

Concerning thoughts are growing as I look at the other customers boarding flight AA1447 from Miami to La Habana (local lingo) 

Everyone appears to be carrying anywhere between 50 & 100kg. Just an average. The bags are plastic wrapped in enough layers to cover the state of Miami.

The Cubans seem to come to the US to buy up big on anything and everything.  Electronics, toiletries, clothing, air conditioning units.  It is obviously worth it for the additional baggage fees they pay, not to mention taxes and fines which we find out about in a few hours. 

 

Hola. 

First tip never bring a drone in to Cuba

Wow this place. Enter. Sniffer dogs running around playing, don’t be fooled though, they do there job too. One disaster after another. Only one luggage belt working for 4 international flights, every Cuban having their imports checked. Thoroughly one by one. A drone, oh no, we wait and wait to have it confiscated until our departure. See my first top! 4 hours later. Exchange money. No can do, we don’t have enough money! What?

Leave the airport, pouring rain, actually I won’t even use the word pouring, it’s not descriptive enough, torrential, flooding streets rain. Yep welcome to Cooba, Habana. Woo hoo we are here! 

Arriving at our casa ( Cuban owned house they rent out to tourists ). We wait out the rain. As we were leaving to explore, we were warned. Be careful of walking under balconies. They can fall down. Craig laughed. No serious the lady said. 

The start to Cuba is somewhat crazy but we are still smiling and positive as are all the Cubans we have met so far. 

Think the 1950s/60s, it is like time has stood still. Nothing has moved on 

La Habana is a photographers delight. Turn left photo opportunity, turn right, look up, look down, photo opportunity after photo opportunity. Even the novice would take delight in Havana. Gorgeous people smile, yell hola, where you from? Australia, ahhh skippy. 

They want to show or tell you something amazing about their country, maybe sell you a service, like a ride around town in an old vintage cabs, a ford convertible, chevys and Buick’s, in their bold and bright colours or a maybe you prefer the bike cab. Young Cuban men cycle you around showing you the sights for 10 cucs. ($10) we did this, our man, Massile chatted to everyone as we rode, the men welcome each other with a hand shake and a kiss on the cheek, girls hold hands, when did we grow so unaffected and lose that intimacy in Australia?  Massile tried his luck chatting up girls. He was thoroughly

entertaining. He taught me a few salsa steps to prepare me for the clubs. There are little Cuban tuk tuks and bubble (that’s what they look like) cabs. But, by no means are they pushy. You say no, they smile and tell you to enjoy your day. 

A neglected city that is poor but it is still so beautiful at the heart and soul of it. It has a personality of its own. We are captivated. Love at first sight. 

We sat at the hotel inglaterra to taste my first Cuban mojito. Taking in the ambience as the band played. This is the first hotel built in Havana dating back to 1890.  Winston Churchill was even a customer here in 1895. God I live history. 

Cigar smoke twirls through the air as men and for that matter women smoke big fat cigarillos. Older men dressed like Fidel himself look totally hip and cool in this city. Murals of Fidel, Che and Camilla are painted or drawn on many walls around the city. Street corners and parks come alive with small bands, locals dance sexily, smoking cigarettes and drinking Cuban coffee.  People rest any where and everywhere, on a step, a bench, a cart carrying there fruits. Holes in the walls with locals selling 50cent pizzas. 

The colours of everything everywhere are vibrant and exciting. Old men sit on steps chatting about life. A bride and groom are being chauffeur driven through the small Havana streets in s convertible. Honking the horn constantly. Everyone including us cheers as they drive past. A group dressed up sing, dance and twirl their way through the streets, the people part to let them through. Life is to be enjoyed here in Cuba. 

We are staying at a casa in Habana Street. It’s simple. A lounge with a couch and 2 chairs. A bed room with 2 small double beds and a bathroom. Nothing else. Simple. What drew us to this place was the little roof top terrace that looked colourful and pleasant to sit for an afternoon mojito. Hahhaha the reality was vastly different. Check out the photos. We still loved it nonetheless. Next door lives an old lady, when we come home at night she is sitting in a wooden rocking chair, behind the big iron gate, in the morning when we leave the casa she is still sitting, unmoved in the same spot. I say hola with a smile, she nods and says hola back. So content with life, this lady is, as are all the locals. 

No internet, value adds to the life of the Cubans in my eyes. They live. They congregate in parks, on corners, at front doors, in the streets. They talk, they laugh, they play music, drink coffee, they live. I am envious of the simplicity. 

On the other side of our Casa,  lives a man, he plays Cuban/Latin music, all day, every day, it’s playing in the morning when we get up and it is still playing when we go to bed. Somehow it is just fabulous and does not disturb or prevent you sleeping. We are steeping ourselves into Cuban life and I like it.  

As I said earlier, there is no internet in Cuba, but occasionally someone will have paid for internet which creates a hot spot. You know when you have found one of those hot spots as there are groups of people, especially young ones sitting in the street using their phones for 5 minutes of internet. A young local will be selling the password to the street users for a small fee.  

Mojitos delicious beyond words. I had to have a mojito in memory of the legend Ernest Hemingway. We visited his favourite bar here in Havana, where I signed the wall along with thousand of other signatures. The Mojitos here are as strong as they are tasty. 

Wedges ? Sugared cornchips, sound awful, no it’s not. Quite delish actually, as are the chips they sell. The Cuban version of potato crisps. Thinly sliced potatoes fried. Both are sold around the streets in paper cones for 1 or 2 cucs. Close to the Australia equivalent. ($1or 2)

Food is cheap here, everything is cheap here. For bread, starter, main course and a few drinks 40 cucs. That is what we have been paying for 2 drinks lately in other destinations. The meals are big, fresh and they are very accommodating to dietary needs, if they understand what you mean! 

Our casa provided the most scrumptious breakfasts. Fresh, in season fruits and juices. Toasts, anything you desire. Nothing to much trouble. 

Dogs run through the streets at their will and play. They are happy, just like the people and mostly seem somewhat well cared for.

A bubble cab to the north side of town where we walked an alleyway. Painted by an artist, sculptures made from iron and bathtubs, if one word could be used, spectacular would be it. Every Sunday locals play the drums and another party has started, walk 10 minutes to the food that was truly scrumptious . A Cuban with insight to a European/Cuban mix.  Cocktails are again delicious and cheap.This part of Habana is even cheaper. 30cucs for cocktails, beers, starters and mains. So much food. Hello another 3 kg. 

We found a club. Latin music, mojitos, dancing. Locals and tourists mixing together. We strolled our at midnight. Took a taxi, with no handles on the inside and barely a seat, but 10 cucs took us back to our casa and that 10 cucs will buy the driver and his friend  a days worth of food, drinks, cigarettes etc. 

Whilst we have our daily downpour of torrential madness. We make the most of indoors. A visit to the very educational  and moving Museum of Revolution 

I learnt, I cried, I have even more respect for these strong people and their country. Viva La Cuba. 

I am further intrigued and am now on a mission to learn more. 

Second Tip ( for the girls )byo toilet paper. It is not readily available in toilets, which are few and far between unless you pop in for a drink, use the toilet, then as you have had more liquid intake, you will need another stop ( phew)  you can buy one square in some places for 50cents. Hold on girls!  

I could chat for hours about this place. So much to tell but for Facebook, this is it. 

Hasta Luego

See you later 

To the Bahamas and back

On board Royal Carribean  enchantment of the seas

 

Sail away @ 4.15

From a port I have never before been

 

The party starts straight away 

Cocktails, beers, nachos,

It’s only the first day

 

Bahama mama the waiter yells

Another new cocktail

With all the whistles and bells

 

800 staff are working on board

2700 extras plus us add to the hoard

 

How this boat fails to sink

Causes my poor brain

To over think 

Day one, getting to know the ship. Restaurant 1, 2,3, 4,and so on. Check, bars, how many ? Too

Many to count 

In all seriousness a cruise is a cruise wherever you may be.  Why is it that it always seems to rain when you are on a cruise ?

Cruises are basically a frenzy of over consuming. Food and alcohol. The more the better.  So there is a saying a 3 day cruise is a 3kg cruise etc. so does that mean we gain 3 kg over the next 3 days. Feeling thankful in more ways than one that this is not a 30 day cruise. 

Day 2 Coco Cay, it rained.  

Craig and I did have a beautiful experience. We went and swam with the sting rays. When you enter the water, if you stay calm, move slowly they apparently sense your vibration and swim around you, even rubbing up against you.  Which happened. Obviously a calm soul, they swam around me. Their smooth skin rubbing against my legs and their tails rough like a cats tongue. 

Dumpling a rescue stingray, poor darling was a shark attack survivor, and cannot go put into the open water now. I was very fortunate and that I had an amazing interaction with her, she was very beautiful and calm, I held her and even gave her a little kiss on her head. Who knew they were so gentle. 

An Aussie with a stingray brings up the subject of Steve Irwin, who they fondly refer to as the crocodile hunter. RIP Steve. 

What else did we do? EAT, shows, cocktails and EAT!

Day 3 Nassau. This is more like the Bahamas that comes to my mind. Colorful conch style houses, scatter through the big beautiful houses built by the affluent and wealthy, again scattered through the many high rises, resorts that block out a lot of the beaches. We hired a bike and ride around the island. A funny thing happened in the Bahamas. 

Craig and I had been riding our little moped along, for about an hour, god only knows where because we had no idea and no map. We just go with, wherever the wind takes us. Then beep beep, a car horn honks, we just kept moving. Again, so I waved for them to go past. No, they honked again. This happened numerous times until, they pulled up beside us. 2 women in a car, “pull over police” pardon? Police pullover and she flashes a peak cap with the police embroidered in the cap. Hmmmm I thought. Are you lost? Maybe!!! Do you have a map? No! Are you really police?  we ask. Yes! Follow us please. Gulp 

Okay crazy thoughts are rattling through my head, are they legit? Are they taking us somewhere where a gang are going to rob us. Empty our bank accounts? I memorized the car and number plate. I’m not sure why but figured that we can catch them later when we escape from this situation. We can do a quick U turn or right turn and make a run for it. On our moped 😜. Sure!!!! They wouldn’t catch us in their hotted up car. If  they were police, we would have been in even  more hot water. We went with it,following them with each turn. We got to a right turn, the passenger hopped out of the car, approached us and with a very friendly face and sweetness gave us directions to find our way back to the more tourist area. Police I am not sure, or a couple of locals playing a prank, they did a good deed. 

We found our way back, did NOT get a map but went venturing off to the other side of the island where we found beautiful beaches. Swam in beautiful Bahamian clear blue waters. Dehydration set in whilst lying  on the beautiful Cable beach, despite many cute little beach boxes and retro looking caravans serving drinks and eats, I had to go thirsty. Why? That was my question. May I please have a water, my parched mouth voiced with my money in hand. No cash, no credit card, only room charged. Really? Yes! So I can’t have a drink? No! 30 minutes later I may have been in a desert. I saw a boy riding up and down the beach on his ATV with drinks in hand. I ran after him. Please stop, can I buy a drink off you?  No cash, no credit card, only room charged. Really? Yes! So I can’t have a drink? No!. I did notice a a semblance a pity on his face, and on he drove anyway. Back on our moped, we rode on and found a local area,  with the islanders, it was Mother’s Day celebrations and we sampled local cuisine and yes finally water. I live on to tell another story after our attempted kidnapping and my almost dehydration  🤣

Final night on board, well as the Americans do, they put on a big farewell parade. It was fabulous. All the staff carrying all the flags from their countries. Some putting on a national dance or song. There was 4 Aussie crew. They did nothing, but wave our flag. We whooped and cheered being the only 2 Aussies on board.  The one and only Fijian crew member was the hit of the parade with his tattooed face, costume and similar to a haka dance with the long 👅 tongue happening. The crowd roared. The Indians also won a screaming applause with their tradition dance and fabulous sense of humour. 135 Indian staff on board, but the winners, from down near home, the Philippinies with 230 staff. Wow

The Norwegian captain ended the night with statistics of how much food was consumed over 3 days. You do not want to hear, nor do I want to write or acknowledge as I lower my eyes to the possible 3 kg, could be 6 for Craig. He ate for 3 people. 😜 

Au Revour

Hasta Luego

Adios

Catch you later

Cuba here we come 

Miami Heat

Miami

Bentley’s, rollers and lambos. Spanish music and g strings

Welcome to Miami

Pure entertainment

South Beach offers the best people watching. A hub of activity. This Art Deco area is trendy, chic, avant- grade and expensive. Reminiscent of an old time movie. Retro style buildings are a photographers delight. Just ask Craig.

With its large cuban population the first language spoken here is Spanish. I encountered a few times when I wasn’t understood at all. Now my question is, was that because they didn’t understand English or was it the Aussie accent? I was asked by one man to say shark. He thought it funny

See thru clothing, fishnet, lace, tight and short seems to be a common uniform for many females

Big, small. It doesn’t matter. Flesh and more flesh. Every body is beautiful and they wear their bodies with confidence and pride that we don’t know in Australia

Lamborghinis and Rolls Royce’s drive by on a regular basis. Actually there are more rollers here than there was at the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.

Cafe and restaurants one after another, beckoning you in with 2 for 1 cocktail offers

Hookahs are displayed on tables

Cuban cigars

Strippers

Tattooed men and women

Girls with red, blue, yellow, pink hair and of course matching bikinis

Men wearing their pants around their thighs. A fashion statement I still fail to understand

Roller bladers fly by with ease along the water front

Bright retro beach boxes, beach umbrellas, beach chairs, towels, cabanas and beautiful bodies are spotted as far as the eye can see on beautiful South Beach

People doing selfies

Models being photographed

Men doing backflips and handstands

A beach front gym that is fantastic with muscled up men sparring, doing chin ups, bench presses, push ups, muscle ups and to my surprise it has not been vandalized

Once again marijuana permeates through the air, everywhere

Push bikes and walking were our mode of transport with many stops to photograph yet another amazing old Art Deco building. Even when they are building new properties, they are built in that same architectural retro style side. This is an amazing place to see and stay. This place is glamour, glitz, hustle and bustle all day long and night.

Customers ordering fishbowl cocktails, beers, cuban rums in the mornings. I stopped for brunch one morning, around midday, after a juice and some healthy food, my lovely waitress thought me rather weird that I ordered green tea, she responded with absolute surprise, with really? No alcohol

The restaurants and cafes serve a delicious array of delicacies to delight any taste buds. I have not yet been disappointed with any meal ordered and trust me I do a lot of eating.

This buzzing piece of the world attracts the rich and famous, the youthful, the more mature (yes I am in that category) basically it is worthy of a visit from anyone and everyone.

Speaking of famous, we encountered fame first hand whilst enjoying our little tête-à-tête this morning.

There was a lot of activity as a Rolls-Royce full of people. Followed by a four-wheel-drive full of more people pulled up directly in front of the cafe. People were dancing and pumping their arms in the air and music was blaring. They stopped mid road, got out, yes, they got out the car leaving their cars in the middle of the road, with traffic banking up behind them. No one bats an eyelid at anything here. Basically anything goes. A waiter went up and asked “sir may I help you”? Don’t you know who I am? The lovely young waiter, a foreigner and there are many here, said no I’m sorry I do not. He was in good company because nor did we or any of the tables surrounding us.

Are you waiting with bated breath? Who did they meet? We were quickly educated, this was Casanova, a famous rapper with his entourage. Have you heard of him? If not google him.

A table was very quickly organized for our famous friend,

a valet parking attendant took care of the cars and what you would call normality in Miami took place once again.

Different bars playing different music, some play salsa, some rap, some rock, all are very loud. With each new bar we visited, we sampled a new cocktail, all delicious.

As loud as the music is by night, the next morning is another day. It’s quieter, I’m listening to Frank Sinatra croon, fly me to the moon, to me this is very fitting for this 50s inspired environment, it certainly suits My mood and I can actually hear Craig talking.

This place is pure fun and excitement, a few nights may be enough for this more mature gal. I loved the experience Miami. Thank you 🙏

Better Than Sex

What is “Better than Sex”?

Dessert and luscious or should I say lushfull drinks.

Do I have your attention now? An adults only dessert restaurant right here in Key West. Did we go? Of course? A dark little restaurant, taking you back to the 20s era, bordello style, where you are led to your own private little booth. The menu is given to you modern day style, on an iPad. It is vast and fabulous, tickling your tastebuds.

Delectable desserts such as Cookie Nookie, Fork you fondue, Kinky key lime pie, Missionary crisp ( I had that one) to tantalise your taste buds and drinks with a twist, champagne, beers, one with a white chocolate and coconut rim ( called a rim job), I had a vodka wine with chocolate drizzled through the glass and rimmed in caramel. Coffees oozing mouth watering decadence. This is not the place to count calories. I just died and went to sugar heaven. You leave this establishment feeling quite naughty, with a look of sheer delight and satisfaction on your face.

Our punishment this evening for this ultimate decadence was received and served, leaving the heavenly venue we were hit with torrential rains that resulted in us having to run. Some one up there encouraging us to burn some calories.

Janette Bendle 8th May 2018