Friday, June 24, 2016

Indian Food Puns

My Family and I just had a very long thread with Indian food puns. It was tremendous pun.

Disclaimer: Around 5 of these puns are plagiarized.



I wanted to start this thread with Indian food puns because I have a lot of tricks upma sleeve.

Man,go for it!

I knew you'd rice to the occasion.

C'mon guys, don't sit and watch idly.

Naan can escape Abhi's wrath

Great work Pavi! Keep em cumin

You just have to make a saag of everything!

Don't pista husband off!

Gheeee... calm down

Your earlier puns were awful, but this one was sitaphal.

Aam warning you guys - stop!

Before we stop, lassi what the others can do.

Abhi, next time we meet, brinjal movie downloads you have.

Akki to keep this going may be to include non-Indian foods too.

A hot cup is really kafi for me.

Don't let any one of us stop you Dr. Abhiram Natarajan, PachaDi
PS: saar ee, I couldn't do batter

Dieting shows carroter.

When Abhi started this, I clearly saw samosa behind this.

Many people want to hittu Abhi

Poppy Abhi

Why the anger against me? I'm a paneer of this form of humour.

Why this happla about Abhi?

He is such a payasa man

Abhi my pal,ya don't take their kaalu pulling seriously

Pavi you think I am your pal? Semiya!

Balu uncle, don't call me pious, it makes me feel barfi.

Abhi has bean muttering all day

I knew you were capable of coming up with good puns. I just kulfi it.

This thread is looking real guud.

Agree, although some peepul are trying to orange a closure of the thread.

We just need to pepper up this conversation.

Yes, otherwise this thread kadai.

Abhi, don't you have an egg-jam coming up soon?

Yes, but I am trying to curry some favour.

Bangalore is so hot that shavige nalli neere saaku.

Yes, such temperatures haven't been seen for a lavang time.

Bangalore folks are  such avalakki lot...

Yes, avakai of people are blessed.

Keep calm and curry on (punning).

It's heartening to see that all of you sev the best for last.

Is that samosa be funny?

This thread is turning me naan.

Hmmmm... What is the final thali of puns?

Neevu yaaru nannanna mudde maadtilla.

Haha abhi neenu yeshtu kootu

I won't ever say enough to puns. I'll always scream - momo.

My favourite kind of movies are the gorikai.

Aaah Pavi, you thought you could get away, but I kaju unawares.

Abhi says, "Yaaroo mudde madtilla!": Actually he is suffering from kismis.

There have been some poor attempts, but the previous one was soppu.

We have a total of 60 puns asafoetoday.

Cmon guys, aamchur you guys can come up with better ones.

Before I sing next time, I should check masoor.

This is oota nonsense.

I must tel you guys to stop.

Utter naansense - we are doing all right.

If I had to rank pavi's puns, I'd plesarattu.

Sarayu is a keetle-hennu

please romaine calm

Good idea, Lettuce try and branch out a bit.

Ee messages nodi naanu tumba dhaniyanaadey.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Geeking with the family


I shared the comic below with my family. It resulted in a chain of hilarious emails. I documented a few.





  • Was it sine-d with your name? Bwahahahahhaha
  • I was too 'tan'ned to sign..
  • Was it 'cos' you were out in the sun?
  • I will 'cosine' it in a 'sec' ;)
  • Bit derivative eh Pavi?
  • No, it's quite integral
  • I must admit that it was partially derivative
  • You were 'cot' in the act! :P
  • Stop with all the 'hyperbolic' talk people...
  • This conversation has become too 'tangential'
  • I like the 'equation' we have as a family.
  • Let's all meet at the next 'function'
  • Why do you 'constantly' say that?
  • Side note - is Poppy a constant as his initial is 'K'?
  • Yes, but don't 'differentiate' me. I'm not an 'integrated zero', either.
  • You are but a 'fraction' of your former self.
  • If you are a 'fraction', then you are not 'natural', you are 'whole'.
  • How 'irrational'!
  • Hope that heuristically speaking, you'll all discover that you are mere 'surds' and uninteresting 'prime nos'.
  • This is the 'limit'!
  • It is rather out of 'proportion', yes. 
  • In all 'probability', we are going to run out of ideas very soon...
  • This conversation is now a bit 'disjoint'
  • You all need new clothes, so you must go to a 'Taylor'.
  • Are ya Bhatta?
  • Bhas-kar!
  • The root of anything 'negative' will always be 'imaginary'
  • In 'sum', we can say that this is utter nonsense.
  • This is a 'prime' conversation.
  • Actually, I think it is rather 'odd'.
  • The references are not '4n' to me.
  • The 'progression' of this conversation is not 'harmonic' at all!
  • I hope that we all 'converge' to a conclusion. This is getting way too 'complex'.
  • I can't 'count' on you guys to make sense.
  • The 'principal' subject of this conversation has changed so many times that I'm losing 'interest'
  • Yes, my disinterest has been 'compounded' many times too.
  • Is the compounding 'regressive' or 'progressive'? 
  • People are not doing it the right way; sentences are not 'calculated'
  • Appa's mathematical puns are  not 'congruent' with the everyone else's.
  • I am going to stop monitoring this conversation and just eat some 'pi' instead as this conversation is getting too 'divergent'.

If you can come up with more, please do leave them in the comments section. I would love to read yours. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Godambi-Limerick wars

Source: Google Images
It all started with my MIL (mother-in-law) making avalakki with lots of GODAMBI's (cashews). She distributed the avalakki among all of us, and then all hell broke lose....

My SIL claimed that she had been cheated of her share of cashews in the avalakki she got. Her suspicion was that my FIL had eaten all her cashews.

It then led to war of limericks between them. When my husband (H) chimed in with his indifference, I decided to jump in and call "order".



FIL:

    Too much ado about some fucking cashew!
    After all it is a bloody, measly 'nut', ah! phew!
    Of it, if avalakki is bereft,
    It is a sign of some theft -
    To gobble them up, take from your husband a cue

    - GO-'DUMB'-I-POP

All for a cashew!
Source: Google Images



SIL:

    Not measly is the glorious cashew, 
    Why will you not give it its due?
    'Tis a nut sublime, 
    And almost a crime, 
    Not to pilfer but instead eschew.
    



FIL:
    
    Oh! Your blasted, fucking euology, despite,
    Made with unbecoming and shocking spite,
    All for an insipid nut!
    It is only a mutt
    Who can go to ecstasy for a bite, right?!

    - GO-DUMB-I-POP virachita

    

SIL:
Limerick wars
Source: Google Images

    I cannot help this Philistine, 
    Who rejects a nut so pristine, 
    Calls it a mutt, 
    Likens it to his butt,
    Such a person deserves the guillotine. 
    
    


FIL:
    

    
    Oh! My darling Beti, Oh! My dear, dear, dear!
    Your epicurean kaju-love brings me a sad tear!
    I'm appalled at your taste
    Developed in unseemly haste.
    And to ill-constructed ditties I cannot lend my ear.

Source: Google Images
    - CASH-POP-YOU
    

H:
        
    Who to trust Appa or Sarayew
    Qualms they have not more than few
    Ethics, they both badly lack
    how dare a pot call the kettle black
    don't care coz I dislike godambi. Phew!
    
    
Believe me - I actually did do this!
Source: Google Images
     Me:

    Oh Good Lord! - All this ballyhoo
    For a stupid fucking nut called cashew
    I look around queasily 
    What a crazy family!
    As a frustrated DIL, I now impose a CURFEW!




In summary, I can tell you this:

Shakespeare won't be turning in his grave
But for cashew, he will start to crave

Friday, September 27, 2013

My wall art :-)

There was an unpainted wooden wall in my home. I always thought that the wall looked empty but I did not feel like putting up photographs there. When we shopped for furniture we got a LOT of scrap white paper. I used the scrap paper and did the wall art below. Whenever I looked at the wall art, I always felt good. It made me think of the big beautiful world out there :-). I felt inspired. It rekindled some creative spark in me. We have moved and I miss my wall art! :(


















Whenever I looked at the wall I was reminded of Chennaveera Kanavi's poem below -

ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ತುಂತುರಿನ ಸೋನೆ ಮಳೆ 
ಸೋ__ ಎಂದು ಶ್ರುತಿ ಹಿಡಿದು ಸುರಿಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು 
ಅದಕೆ ಹಿಮ್ಮೇಳವೆನೆ ಸೋಸಿಪಹ ಸುಳಿಗಾಳಿ 
ತೆಂಗುಗರಿಗಳ ನಡುವೆ ನುಸುಳುತಿತ್ತು || ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ||

ಇಳೆವೆಣ್ಣು ಮೈದೊಳೆದು ಮಕರಂದದರಿಶಿನದಿ 
ಹೂ ಮುಡಿದು ಮದುಮಗಳ ಹೋಲುತಿತ್ತು 
ಮೂಡಣದಿ ನೇಸರನ ನಗೆಮೊಗದ ಶ್ರೀಕಾಂತಿ 
ಬಿಳಿಯ ಮೋಡದ ಹಿಂದೆ ಹೊಳೆಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು || ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ||

ಹುಲ್ಲೆಸಳು ಹೂಪಕಳೆ ಮುತ್ತು ಹನಿಗಳ ಮಿಂಚು 
ಸೊಡರಿನಲಿ ಆರತಿಯ ಬೆಳಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತು 
ಕೊರಳುಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾಡುತಿಹ ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಪಕ್ಕಿಯ ಬಳಗ 
ಶುಭಮಸ್ತು  ಶುಭಮಸ್ತು ಎನ್ನುತ್ತಿತ್ತು || ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ||

ತಳಿರತೋರಣದಲ್ಲಿ  ಬಳ್ಳಿಮಾಡಗಳಲ್ಲಿ 
ದುಂಬಿಗಳ ಓಂಕಾರ ಹೊಮ್ಮುತ್ತಿತ್ತು 
ಹಚ್ಚ ಹಸುರಿನ ಪಚ್ಚೆ ನೆಲಗಟ್ಟಿನಂಗಳದಿ 
ಚಿಟ್ಟೆ ರಿಂಗಣಗುಣಿತ ಹಾಕುತಿತ್ತು || ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ||

ಉಷೆಯ ನುಣ್ಗದಪಿನಲಿ ಹರ್ಷ ಬಾಷ್ಪಗಳಂತೆ 
ಮರದ ಹನಿ ತಟಪಟನೆ ಉದುರುತಿತ್ತು 
ಸೃಷ್ಟಿ ಲೀಲೆಯೊಳಿಂತು ತಲ್ಲೀನವಾದಮನ 
ಮುಂಬಾಳ ಸವಿಗನಸ ನೆನೆಯುತಿತ್ತು || ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ||


ಒಂದು ಮುಂಜಾವಿನಲಿ ತುಂತುರಿನ ಸೋನೆ ಮಳೆ 
ಸೋ__ ಎಂದು ಶ್ರುತಿ ಹಿಡಿದು ಸುರಿಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು ___ ||


Monday, June 17, 2013

Just think about it..



It has been more than a year since I got married. Over the past year, my husband and I have heard some interesting comments from people of all ages. Most often, we end up irritated. Here are some of them. I encourage you to give it a thought too.

1)  To my husband: "now that you are married, you probably get hot breakfast every morning."
I love cooking for my husband and my husband also feels the same way about cooking for me, but one should not assume that my job/moral responsibility is to serve him hot breakfast in the morning. My husband knows how to cook and if he is hungry he is perfectly capable of cooking and eating himself. Just because he has a wife, one should not assume that he has the license to stop being in charge of food. Both the husband and wife are equally responsible to cook and eat healthy.

8/10 people I have met after we got married have asked me this question in our first meeting - "Do you know how to cook?". The same people ask my husband - "How is work?". Why don't you ask my husband about cooking and ask me about my job?

2) To my husband: “You wash vessels and also cook!? You are so helpful and understanding"
When I do the above, I never receive any such compliments. When I do the same work, am I not being helpful and understanding? Why are some people assuming that it is something I should do by default? Aren't we equally responsible to run the home?

3) To my husband: "You are so open minded. You are letting your wife study after marriage also"
I was truly horrified when I heard this. Seriously? “Letting you wife” - Seriously? My husband is not my boss and I am not under his control. I am an independent being who has the right to take decisions.

Also, my husband is quitting his full time job to pursue doctoral studies. Nobody has complimented me so far!! I am also giving up a comfortable life so he can pursue what he is passionate about. We are going to have a lot less money than we used to for the next few years. Just because I am a woman, even educated people talk as if it is my duty to abide by his decisions. One should not assume that it is the wife's duty to sacrifice everything. Whether the wife chooses to do it or not is her personal choice and nobody has the right to judge her. Everyone must keep this in mind - It is both the husband and the wife's responsibility to be supportive of each others decisions; they are not doing each other a favor by being supportive!

4) To me: "What have you cooked for dinner?"
Whenever people come over for dinner, they always ask me this question. My husband and I cook together and nobody asks him. Why do people assume that it is my job to cook dinner and serve? I have always seen that women come into the kitchen to help set the table and the men just sit and talk - they just assume all the kitchen related work is a woman's job. Even in big corporate companies when lunch is ordered, it is always the women who go and set the table and serve the food. At times, when few women choose not to do it, the men look at them questioningly as if their raising eyebrows is a sign for them to go and serve food!!

I always request our guests to help us with setting and clearing the dinner table. Yes, my husband and I love to cook for them and we like to be good hosts, but I would also like to spend time with all of them. I would like to participate in the laughter and discussions, and not just be a silent observer.

A sincere request to all who are reading this post - Whether you are a man or a woman, a young boy or a girl, when someone makes such comments, please do correct him/her. It horrifies me further more, when I see people of my generation talk/act like this. You don't have to advise them or scold them or shun them. You could just make them aware they are being insensitive. The least you could do is make them think about it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A trip to the Galapagos islands

Abhi, his mom and me went on a vacation to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, this April. In this post, I have written a few things that might help you if you want to travel to the Galapagos. I have also shared a few photographs of our trip. If you want to know more, plenty of information about Galapagos is available on the internet.

Why Galapagos?
The Galapagos is an archipelago across the coast of Ecuador in South America. It is a group of 18 islands spread on either side of the equator. Charles Darwin visited a few of these islands on his voyage on ‘HMS Beagle’. It is believed that this voyage was what inspired him to come up with the “theory of evolution due to natural selection”. The Galapagos is home to animals and birds that are endemic to the Galapagos and not found anywhere else in the world. It is one of the few places in this world where you can see animals living fearlessly in their own habitat. Given the rich historical and scientific significance, it was quite naturally a top destination in our 'places we wish to visit' list.

How to get to the Galapagos?
You will need to fly into Ecuador. There are two international airports in Ecuador – Quito and Guayaquil. From here, you will have to take another flight to Baltra (Galapagos Islands). We flew from Guayaquil to Baltra. The Guayaquil airport is extremely good. Indian citizens are given visa upon arrival at Guayaquil or Quito. People at the immigration department in Ecuador speak reasonable English. This was my second trip to Latin America and I had learned enough Spanish to manage which really helped a lot. I would advise learning a little bit of Spanish or having an offline Spanish translator app on your phone.

Once you reach Baltra, you have two options to visit the many islands. Depending on your time and budget you can choose what you want to do.

1. Island Hopping – Few islands have towns which have hotels and B & B’s. Some people like to travel to an island, stay there, explore and hop on to the next island.

2. Cruise – Most people who visit the Galapagos choose this option because it is comfortable and you can also visit remote places and islands which have no human inhabitation. Again, depending on your budget and time you can choose between different cruises. Your options vary from small boats to yachts to luxury ships. There are many travel websites which give you details about the cruise packages.

When to go?
There is no perfect time to visit the Galapagos. It entirely depends on what you want to see and what kind of weather you are comfortable in. For more information about when, how, what, where – this is a good website to go to - http://www.hillmanwonders.com/galapagos/galapagos_islands.htm

What we chose and why we chose?
We decided to go on an eight day cruise on the Galapagos Explorer II. We preferred a big ship because we were not very sure if we would be comfortable with the rocking sea on a smaller boat or yacht. We decided to go in the dry season for two reasons – We wanted to snorkel and the hence wanted to avoid the cold water in the wet season. Plus, we get enough rain in Washington state. ;-). Additionally, being vegetarians, we felt we would have more options on a bigger ship (which turned out to be true! The chef specially made Aloo parathas for us one night for dinner. Aloo parathas in Ecuador is really something!!)

We reserved our cruise through Galapagos Inc. Everyone at Galapagos Inc were extremely nice and professional. They gave us all the information we needed and made the entire process very easy. We give them five stars for all their help. We highly recommend their service.

Our ship had 6 floors which included a reception, main lounge (where we had presentations every evening about the schedule for the next day), a piano bar, a restaurant, a jaccuzi bar, a sun deck, a boutique and a library. There was also an elevator for people who did not want to climb stairs each time. There was a doctor on board all the time. The housekeeping crew made incredible towel puppets every day!

A few pictures of our ship:


All the lovely towel animals :)


OUR TRIP

Day 0 -
We decided to go one day ahead of our cruise so that we could rest and get over the weariness of the long flight journeys we took. After flying to Baltra, we went to a small town called “Puerto Ayora” on Santa Cruz island. Details about how to get to Puerto Ayora are accurate on wikitravel and it was really helpful. (http://wikitravel.org/en/Puerto_Ayora). Once we reached the town, we headed to Hotel Mainao. It was a really nice hotel (breakfast included) with amazing views of the sea. In the evening we went on a stroll to explore the city. We visited the historic fishermen’s market. Sea lions and pelicans would drop in occasionally and steal fish (video below). It was really amazing to see how fearless these animals were.


Day 1 –
We left Hotel Mainao and headed to the Baltra airport to meet a crew member of our ship. We were escorted to the ship in a zodiac (small inflatable motor boat).

In general, we had a wake-up call at 7 am everyday followed by breakfast. We had two outings every day – one before lunch and one after lunch. We would be briefed about the activities the previous day after dinner. For each outing, we had to get on to the zodiac from the ship to get to the island. There were two types on landing at the islands – dry landing and wet landing. Dry landing was when we could get out of the zodiac directly on to the rocks or dry flat land. Wet landings were when we had to get on to the beach or at places where water would have covered the rocks due to high tide. I would advise carrying shoes for hiking, sandals (with velcro strap) for wet landings. (You don’t want to lose your sandals when getting out of the zodiac). Sun glasses, hats, insect repellent and sun protection is a MUST on all outdoor trips. A bathing suit for snorkeling/swimming. (Wet suits and snorkeling gear are available for rent on board). 

On the first day, after lunch, we had an orientation where we were introduced to the crew and we were also briefed about our entire trip followed by an emergency drill.

Lava rocks at Sulivan Bay
In the evening, we set out to explore Sulivan bay on Bartolomew island. Here we saw volcanic formations on the rocks – lava that had cooled and condensed. We also saw many sally lightfoot crabs, a marine iguana swimming, a lava heron, lava cactus and penguins. That night our ship was anchored. We saw sea lions hunting, four sharks circling our ship and many flying fish from the deck of our boat. It was such an amazing experience.

Sally Lightfoot crabs



Day 2 –
Female lava lizard
In the morning, we set out to Bartholomew island. It was a dry landing. We had a long hike followed by snorkeling time at the beach. We saw a variety of animals and plants.
Flora: Lava cactus, scalecia trees, salt bush and mangroves
Fauna: Sea lions, lava lizards, marine iguanas, a school of dolphins swimming.
The landscape was breathtaking during the hike. After the hike, we were given time to snorkel at the beach. The beach had clear water so snorkeling was a lot of fun. It was my first time snorkeling and I was very excited. I saw many colourful fish.


View atop Barthelomew Island

Lovely fish while snokelling


















Hermit Crab
Post lunch, we had a commanding bridge tour. We were taken to the control room of the ship and an officer explained how things worked in the ship. It was very informative. Later in the afternoon we visited “Playa Espumilla” in James island. On our way to the beach, we spotted two sea turtles mating. Upon landing, we spotted the yellow warbler, the mocking bird, the pintail duck, the hermit crab and the female large ground finch.

Yellow warbler
Sea turtles mating ;)

























Day 3 -

  
Hawaiian Petrels
In the morning, we had a tour on the zodiac where we spotted many birds and animals followed by snorkeling in deep waters. We visited “Punta Vicenta Roca” on Isabela island.

I was very scared about snorkeling in the ocean because (a) I have always been scared of water (b) I only learned swimming two months before the trip. However, I made up my mind to overcome my fear and enjoy myself. Looking back, I congratulate myself on that decision :)

Fauna: Galapagos penguins, marine turtles, marine iguanas, fur sea lions, Nazca boobies, blue footed boobies, brown noddy terns, Hawaiian petrels, flightless cormorants, swallow tailed gulls and frigate birds.


The feet of the blue footed boobies were so pretty. What a lovely blue!

Beautiful big blue footed booby








Abhi was right next to the turtle when he got this shot
Snorkeling here was an experience I will cherish my entire life. We had to jump into the Pacific Ocean from the zodiac. This time we had to snorkel in deep waters; at places the bottom of the ocean was not visible. We swam with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins. They were swimming right next to us fearlessly. The sea lion swam so quickly and often swooped past me. Many a time, I lost my balance and yelled loudly when the sea lion playfully charged at me! We also saw a massive sea turtle, which I think is the most peaceful creature I have ever seen  – it swims so slowly with not a worry in the world. For those who could not swim, there was a glass bottom boat tour. This is one of the advantages of going on a big ship. They have equipment and facilities for people of all ages. My mother in law saw underwater life on her glass bottom boat tour.




Finally caught the sea lion on camera once it stopped freaking me out



In the afternoon, we went to “Punta Espinosa” on Fernandina island.
Fauna: Sea lions, flightless cormorants, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks and marine iguanas.
Flora: Lava cactus, mangroves

Sea lion nursing its baby. So adorable!
On this hike, we saw hundreds of marine iguanas and we were less than 5 feet away from them. We walked past sea lions happily lazing in the sun. We saw the bones of a whale which were collected by the rangers of the Galapagos National Park. We saw the great blue heron and also watched a Galapagos hawk catch a marine iguana and eat it when it was alive. (Ewww Gross!)

Hundreds of marine iguanas on Fernandina

The Galapagos hawk was merciless in devouring the iguana


Day 4 –
Darwin lake
We set out to “Caleta Tagus” in the central western coast of Isabela island. In the morning we had a zodiac tour followed by a difficult hike. On the zodiac tour, we spotted a juvenile penguin shedding skin. The main attraction of the hike was the Darwin lake (extremely salty lake which does not support any life). Sailors who passed by this island had written the names of their boats and the year in which they sailed. The earliest one that we could spot was 1836. We also saw many species of Darwin finches.


Darwin finch








In the afternoon, we set out to “Bahia Elizabeth” on the zodiac. On this tour, we experienced a quintessential Galapagos moment. On a single rock, we saw sea lions, a marine iguana, Galapagos penguins, blue footed boobies, brown pelicans and crabs resting without disturbing each other (please see video below).


Galapagos penguin - my husband is really proud of this shot




Zodiac tour in the mangroves




We then headed to the mangroves, where we spotted sea turtles, a school of golden ray fish, a school of eagle rays and mallot fish. The sea turtle was within my hands reach from the zodiac. The golden rays shimmered in the water in the sunlight. They were unbelievably beautiful.







Sea turtle in the mangrove - its nesting area

Day 5 –

Post office bay
In the morning we set out to visit the “Post Office bay” in Floreana or Charles island. Eighteenth century whalers set up a wooden barrel that served as a post box. Sailors posted their letters and also picked up other's letters to deliver them. The post box is functioning even today.

Flora: Palo Santo, Manzonilla, Galapagos cotton, salty bushes

Inside a lava tunnel - all that light is from the flash on the camera


Later, we headed to the lava tunnel. It was steep tunnel that was formed because of lava flow during volcanic eruptions. It was so steep that at places we needed ropes to get in. It was pitch dark and there was knee deep water. It was a wonderful experience!

We were also given some time to snorkel at the beach but the water was so murky that we could hardly see anything for a long stretch. My husband says he spotted few rays though.

In the afternoon, we visited Punta Cormorant and had snorkeling time at the Devil’s crown in Floreana island. During the walk, we were supposed to see pink flamingos, but I did not spot any. Some others on our cruise said they did. These flamingos fly all the way from Bolivia to the Galapagos during summer. We had already seen the flamingos at Bolivia, so we were not so bothered. Also, on our way back on the zodiac, we could spot few sting rays and hammerhead sharks.

Devil's crown
Snorkeling at the devil’s crown was really challenging because of high currents in deep waters in the Pacific Ocean. Devils crown is an underwater volcanic formation. This region has extensive marine life and is an attractive spot for snorkelers. The currents were so strong that I could not swim for more than ten minutes. My husband, being a good swimmer swam in the crown. He says he spotted hammerhead sharks along with sea turtles, sea lions and beautifully coloured parrot fish.


Day 6 –
In the morning, we visited “Puerto Baquerizo” – La Galapaguera, a small town in San Cristobal island. From the town, we went on a one hour bus ride to see giant tortoises (endemic to Chatham island) bred in captivity.

Giant tortoise



Baby tortoises
Few centuries ago, there were thousands of giant tortoises endemic to the Galapagos islands. But, sailors who sailed past these islands, captured these tortoises for meat because they could survive with minimal food and water for years. Sadly, nobody knows how many tortoises were killed by sailors for food. Scientists estimate that thousands have been killed. These giant tortoises have now been declared as an endangered species and are being bred in captivity. The giant tortoises live for 150-200 years and wear more than 200 kgs! In the breeding center, we also saw many small tortoises and how they were being provided food and the correct temperature for survival. After this visit, there was some time for shopping. J There are few cafés and restaurants that offer free wi-fi in this town.

That noon, we had some beach time. The sea was extremely rough and not many people swam. My husband did and had a great time being thrown around mercilessly by the sea.

Day 7 –
Gobbling a guava
In the morning, we visited Los Gemelos in Santa Cruz island and the “Tortuga Crossing” ecological reserve. In this trip, we saw giant tortoises in their own natural habitat. We saw them munching on sweet pink guavas. They were so cute with guava smeared on their face! Also, there were few shells of dead tortoises at this reserve. I could easily fit into them!! During the walk in the ecological reserve, we also saw two huge sink holes.

Land iguana
In the afternoon, we visited the Charles Darwin research station and the town of Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz island. In the research station, we saw giant tortoises bred in captivity (please do read about Lonesome George). We also saw land iguanas which have been declared an endangered species. They have become extremely rare and hard to find on the islands because poachers kill them for their skin.

Another unique thing we saw at the research station was two giant tortoises mating. Nature is amazing in its design! After this visit, we shopped for a while at Puerto Ayora. There are few restaurants that offer free wi fi in this town and there is also an ATM.

Giant tortoises mating - they put on quite a show :)


Before dinner, there was a nice toast for a safe trip back home and a nice slideshow of photographs captured by the crew over the years.

Day 8 –
After breakfast, we were dropped off at the airport at Baltra. We flew to Guayaquil and back home. It was fantastic trip. We visited 24 points in 10 islands and traveled 534.5 nautical miles. We crossed the equator twice. One night while relaxing in the deck, we saw a shooting star. It was a memorable experience. I will always remember the forget-me-not blue waters, the adorable sea lions, the smug iguanas, the cute giant tortoises, the lovely blue footed boobies and the beautiful penguins! I think my wish to visit Narnia came true with this trip :)

That's my Dawn Treader :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A trip to Bolivia


Abhi and me decided to go on a vacation to Bolivia. In this post, I have written a few things that might help you if you are travelling to Bolivia. I have shared a few photographs of our trip. Facts about a place are always available on the internet.

Why we decided to go to Bolivia?
Both Abhi and me are academically inclined - we like science and history and exploring new places.We have already been to typical tourist places - amusement parks, casinos, beaches and the like. We wanted something different, something that would be a learning experience. We chose South America because we have always wanted to see many places there. We decided to explore only one country this time because neither of us had been to South America before and thus had no idea what to expect. An email forward had gotten us fascinated by the Salar De Uyuni. We had read a lot about it. During the reading, we also explored the map of the Amazon basin. A part of the rain forest was in Bolivia. So we decided to do both the Salar and the Bolivian Amazon.

How we planned our trip?
The internet has a lot of information. A number of package tours are available. But we wanted to be on our own. So, after a lot of surfing on the internet, we came across a site - boliviatravelsite . This site has information on tourist locations, hotels,  transportation, package tours etc. We planned our trip in Bolivia based on information from this site. We spoke to Vivian Blanco. She was extremely helpful and professional.   We made our payments through PayPal. They are legitimate and offer good services. For the amazon basin, the best place to look at is National Geographic. We found that Chalalan Ecolodge was one of the best. It is owned and managed by an indigenous community - San Jose De Uchupiomonas.
Knowing/ Learning Spanish is very helpful. It would be cool to have a Spanish translator on your phone.
You can get visa upon arrival in Bolivia. Make sure your to and fro flights have no connecting flights in nearby countries. You will not be allowed to board the flights without visas.

First look at La Paz. La Paz is at an elevation of roughly 3,650 m 
Where did we go in Bolivia?
Day 1 - La Paz City
If you are someone who travels with an academic curiosity to get the feel of another country and learn about its people and culture, then La Paz sight seeing will definitely be good. We visited the government buildings, the Plaza Murillo,the museums, the colonial streets, the moon valley and the witches market.If you have seen the Grand Canyon, then you may not find moon valley fascinating. The witches market is a must. We asked a Yaitiri to tell us our future.It was fun :-)
La Paz is at a high altitude. It is advised to rest a day to get acclimatized.
Moon Valley

Day 2 - Lake Titicaca, Copacabana and Inca Ruins
First look at Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. We went by boat and then by road to the small island of Copacabana.We visited the church .From there, to the inca ruins is again another hour by boat. There is something so mystical about the lake. Carry a few energy bars, cookies, biscuits, chocolate bars etc (specially if you are vegetarian/vegan) since it is a long trip and finding vegetarian food on Copacabana is difficult.

First look at the city of Copacabana
Lake Titicaca , The Sun island and the Andes in the background.
The Inca diety

Day 3 - Salar De Uyuni, Uyuni
Salt Pyramids at the Salar De Uyuni
Uyuni Town

Uyuni is a very small town with basic facilities. Internet and telephone are available at a few places. Do not expect hotels to provide you with wireless. If you have gone on bagpacking hikes or trips, you will be very happy with the facilities. If you are used to 5 star hotels and expect the same, maybe Uyuni is not for you! To get to Uyuni from La Paz, you can take the bus or the flight. We travelled by flight since it saves time and is also less strenuous. We heard from some European travellers that they had a hard time  travelling by bus to Uyuni since the roads were bad.
Hotel Cristal Samana, even the bed is made of salt!



We visited the Salar and the Inchuasi island.
 We stayed at Hotel Cristal Samana , a hotel made entirely of Salt. The staff at the hotels are extremely friendly and helpful. Being vegetarians, we had a tough time with food. You get bored with bread after a while. We had carried Maggi and MTR foods. The staff let us use the kitchen and cook. Carrying Sunglasses is a must, specially in the Salar. Warm clothing will help a lot.

@Salar De Uyuni



There are two seasons when you can visit the Salar. It is beautiful and breath taking both times.

1) When it is filled with water, although you may not be able to go to the Inchuasi island. (Nov to Feb)
2) When it is dry. ( May to October)

This time,we decided to go when it was dry since we planned to visit the Amazon basin too. Hopefully, we will be able to go to the Salar when it is filled with water :-)


Salar de Uyuni - the salt desert of Uyuni - is, as the name suggests, a desert of salt. Yes! A DESERT OF SALT! What makes it even more awesome is that it is entirely flat (some people also call it the salt flats). Another thing that is wonderful about it is that it becomes a mirror when it has a thin layer of water over it. We aren't that widely travelled, but we can guarantee that the Salar is one of the most breathtaking places on earth.
Giant cacti at the Inchuasi island.

Day 4 - The many Lagunas surrounding Uyuni
Laguna Verda
Flamingos
We drove across the mountains, visited many lagos, saw an active volcano , saw flamingos and other animals. If you are not a big fan of dry lands, then maybe you could skip this tour because its a lot of travel by road. Specially on the mountains, you can hardly call them roads!! We had a roller coaster ride! We decided to stay another night since we had plans of heading to the Amazon the next day.We stayed in Hotel Tambo Aymara in the town of Uyuni. If you stay at Cristal Samana, you may not get access to telephone or internet because it is far away from the town and closer to the Salar.Also, remember to carry toilet paper on this trip - you may not find toilets for very long distances. :-)

Day 5 - Head to Rurrenbaque
Where did we land? ;-)


We took a flight from Uyuni ->; La Paz ->; Rurrenbaque. These flights go freakishly close to the Andes. You do get wonderful sights of the mountain ranges on this flight. Halfway, you start seeing the lush green forests and the long stretching and winding rivers. The Rurrenbaque airport, is a big surprise. You land in the middle of nowhere and then you start wondering if you actually landed in an airport :-)


Yeah baby! That is Rurrenbaque airport ;-)



A volunteer from the Chalalan community received us at the airport and dropped us at Hotel Oriental to rest for the night. Rurrenbaque is humid. Its exactly like Chennai - sticky weather. You feel like bathing every time you go out. If you are thinking of hanging out in shorts , trust me, you want to carry good insect repellents. You can get insect repellents in the town of Rurrenbaque also. You will get a bed , a fan, hot water and a western toilet in Hotel Oriental. Dont expect more than that. A few hammocks are available in the hotel.


Day 6 - First day of our Amazon trip
Matapala, our cabin at Chalalan
Brad Pitt and Di Caprio stayed here :-)

We went on a 5 hour boat ride across river beni and river tuchi and reached the Chalalan Ecolodge, situated in the Madidi National Park. The boat ride is upstream and if you are lucky you will find many colorful birds and butterflies on your way. Make sure you carry enough number of synthetic tracks and extra pairs of socks.Never forget to wear insect repellent in the Amazon basin. After the boat ride, we had to walk for half an hour to reach the lodge. We were allotted our cabins. The cabins are made of Mahagony wood and are extremely well made. The lodge is very well maintained and very clean. It is rated as one of the best by National Geographic. Nothing to worry about food and water. Make sure you carry a good torch because a few bulbs are available only in your cabins.The torch comes in handy on night hikes.

Jaguar Footprint
We went on a walk in the forest before sunset. The guide from the community explained to us about the different species of plants and animals that live in the forest. He explained to us about the vegetation and the habitat. We spotted  a lot of weird insects, a jaguar foot print, wild plants and berries, witnessed two giant ants fight, ant and termite nests .. and a lot of other things. I cannot explain the feeling of standing in the middle of the forest and listening to the sounds of the stream flowing somewhere nearby, a few birds chirping, monkeys jumping from tree to tree, ants and spiders scuttling away just next to your feet....

After sunset, we went on a night hike and spotted Tarantulas, wolf spiders, crabs, frogs, toads and a lot more! :-)
Tarantula, we saw it moving. It was freaky in the dark!

Day 7 - Hiking in the forest
Hiking in the amazon forest

We went on a long hike uphill and downhill and crossed streams. Make sure you are fit for this hike. If you have not hiked before, it would be good to exercise or go running for a few days before the trip.Make sure you wear water proof shoes and carry another pair of slippers/flip flops. Crossing streams/rivers in flip flops is better and advised. We saw a lot of animals on this hike. I cannot explain how I felt when the guide spotted  a green snake just in front of me. It was baby, but it was still scary!

The amazing forest and its vegetation!




After lunch, we went on a canoe ride in the afternoon where we spotted many birds and monkeys. The Chalalan lake is mesmerizing! After sunset we went on a canoe ride again, but to spot boas. The guide taught us how to spot Boas and Kaimans. We were lucky! We did spot boas :-)






The green snake in our path.

What do you think it is? ;-)

Abhi's favorite hand shake shot :-)
The beautiful Chalalan lake
The colorful stork

The boa we spotted on our night canoe ride
Kaiman - found only in the Amazon

The beautiful Amazon!!!
Day 8 - Head back to La Paz
Again, we had to come back by boat. This time it was downstream, so it was a lot quicker. Post lunch, we headed back to La Paz. From La Paz, back home :-) I should be honest, I was so glad to be back home :-) This time it was different- we were heading back to my home, hmmm .. no our home :-)

It was a fantastic trip! My Abhi bestest :-)