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Where On Earth Is The Kingdom of Tonga?

  Ever since taking an anthropology class at university, and reading about the Kingdom of Tonga, I had longed to go there.  Kingdom of Tonga   Anthropology of the Kingdom of Tonga   Reading that the bigger you are in Tonga, the more prestige you have, shocked me. There was also something about cultural sexual norms hundreds of years ago that included encouraging teenagers to experiment with both sexes. Interesting.  And many many years ago – cannibalism was the norm in Tonga.   The people were family oriented, gentle and super friendly! Then there was the intrigue of pristine, crowd-less and peaceful Polynesian … More…

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Azores: A Guide Like No Other

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  Before we met our guide for the island of Faial, and during a three hour wait between island flights, we went for a long walk and ended up at a snack bar where a table of 10 or 12 robust working men were having a year-end dinner. When I asked if I could interview them, they giggled like school girls, and became quite flustered. I chose the best-looking man. They all laughed nervously.     “What type of work do you do?”     “We’re construction workers.” Big smile.     “Do you have a good boss?”     “He’ll be a `good boss’ if he pays … More…

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A Powerful Voice

How many times have we said we don’t like something, only to find that an authentic first-hand experience of that very thing astonishes you, and you come away with a complete change of mind… and so it happened with us in Budapest.   First of all, Budapest is an extravagant and exciting city, ranging from magnificent to modest. Architecturally, it is beautiful. Many original historic buildings have been maintained, and these elegant structures seem to be valued much more in Europe in general, than they are in North America.   Much of the charm of Europe is in the magnificent … More…

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House Sitting: It’s The Little Things

  House sitting sounds easy enough – who can’t look after 3 dogs and 4 chickens on a gorgeous country property?   The problem lies in the constant tension created when you are not sure of things. Why is the dog biting himself? Why is that chicken not moving? What if that had just caught on fire? What if one of the dogs gets run over? Where is this? Where is that? Driving up and down trying to find the recycle bins, or looking for a can opener for an hour. Breaking something, however small, even a glass… What if it … More…

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Shrimp Heads, Goose Feet and Szechuan Chicken

  The food in Beijing, China was absolutely nothing like any Chinese food I have eaten in North America or anywhere in the world, for that matter.   Because they were business dinners, we had fairly formal dinners in the better restaurants. All of the dinners were served on large round tables with a huge turn-table or Lazy Susan in the centre.   At least twenty dishes would appear on the table, and no matter if the end of the business dinner was obvious, no dish, according to custom, could become empty and would be replaced as soon as it was … More…

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