Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shoes for the Extraordinary Taxi Ride.

Well my bags are packed,my shoes resoled
I'm gonna go where it ain't so cold
I'm gonna drive the Gibb River Road.
I'm leavin' on a taxi,
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh Babe it's gonna be extraordinary!
The extraordinary taxi ride
Yep, resoled my sandals, and made up a pair of rugged walking shoes pictured here-
And I'm packed and ready to go.Western Australia here we come, in my brand new shoes.But they are well worn in over the past month just so I can brag about how comfy they are.I've just redressed them after constant wear for a month and they look as good as new!
No doubt someone I meet will be so impressed he'll want them.And sure, someone will get them as I have a habit of leaving shoes behind at the end of my travels.Helps create that illusion that someday I'll go back there.There's magic invested in every pair I make.A special spell woven through every piece of leather I hand cut, or every stitch inserted, chanted to breathe a life into them.An incantation for the shoes and the wearer to be reunited someday soon in some exotic place.Hey that pair of boots in this story set off to Mali.see here If you don't believe me, just ask Edwin.He never knew he'd be heading there when I left him my boots but that magical spell soon had him heading that way!
Not everyone can wear handcrafted footwear, as they come at a cost, so every pair I make has a lot of care and attention imbued within them.Careful measurements are taken of the wearer's feet, lasts are created to get that exact fit,a lifetime's experience carefully used to pull all the elements together for customer satisfaction.And this pair will command attention wherever we go, because this whole Extraordinary Taxi Ride is attracting a huge amount of media attention.People are going to be asking about Reg and I, and what we do back home.So these shoes will get noticed.

All New Zealand leather uppers and linings.
Leather runners Blake sewn to ensure there's no lifting of the soles.
A lightweight well treaded rubber sole which is easily repaired when eventually needed.
The upper leather is dressed with a special water resistant dressing to enhance the natural look leather, and bring up a casual but smart look,which a quick rub over will bring back to near new  appearance.
Perfect for beer drinking as any spill will just run off!
Fitted with a fully moulded cushion footbed for miles of comfort.

Been crafting footwear for a good few years now.And when a customer comes in with shoes to be resoled and heeled,and he says I made them 25 years ago, I have great joy in telling him that sadly,the guarantee ran out last month!And we'll have a great laugh as he feels good about them, and I feel just great about having made them so well.Not unusual for that to happen.Quite a buzz to have a client that I haven't heard of for donkey's years ring up and ask if I'm still in business!And then order a copy of the pair she had made 12 years ago.And could I also resole the originals?

This boot we made for Lord Of The Rings trilogy .
Elven riding boot used in the horse chase scene used in the first film.

Currently I'm making a pair of replica Aragorn boots for a LOTR enthusiast in the USA.We made many other boots and shoes for the human and Elven characters in that series.Sufficient to say at this time that just send me an enquiry for costs to and we'll reply upon my return from Western Australia.Around 14th June.

                                    Elven riding boots

Faramir boots

                                                   Aragorn boots



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weekly Desktop Photo.4.Whale Sharks of Western Australia.

15 metres of whale shark!
What fantastic creatures.So gentle, so huge, so perfectly shaped for their ecological niche as cruising plankton feeders.Swimming along with these must be one of the great undersea adventures.And you can do this at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.Take your pick from any of the companies here .
Whale sharks are actually fish and not whales. Not only that but they are the biggest fish in the world and a fully grown whale shark can be as long as 15 metres in length and weigh 20 tonnes.They may be huge,but they are also a very gentle fish. And don't worry, they won't eat you as they  only eat small fish and plankton. That is why people from all over the world travel to Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay  to swim with the whale sharks. Studies reveal that this shark prefers warm waters, with surface temperature around 21-30ยบ C, marked by high primary productivity (much plankton).Which will explain it being seen around coral reefs when spawning of the coral happens between March and June as this means plenty of food around to attract the Whale Sharks.The species name of a whale shark is Rhincodon typus with "Rhincodon" meaning "rasp teeth" - which is what the whale sharks 4,000 tiny teeth look like (a rasp). The teeth are about the size of a match head or 0.3cm high. Whale shark are a pelagic species. This means they swim in the open ocean but are  usually found in the tropical  oceans.
Whale shark facts
"And thank goodness whale sharks are considered to be good-luck fish.Japanese fishermen are careful not to catch a whale shark. They call the whale shark "ebisuzame" which is a good luck symbol.
The predictable occurrence of whale sharks in a few localities, such as in Western Australia, has led to the developmentof an expanding tourism industry. In this area the whale shark is a protected species and its tourism has been managed through a system of controls, including the licensing of a limited number of operators tours. In addition, there have been calls from conservation-minded divers worldwide to refrain from riding, chasing, or in any way harassing any large marine animals, including whale sharks. Recently, some observations made on the Ningaloo Reef's whale sharks provided the information that regular diving is a normal behavior of these sharks and not an avoidance reaction during contact with humans. However, the natural variability in whale shark abundance and distribution, the reasons for aggregations at some areas, and the carrying capacity of the industry are still unknown. Consequently, evidence of any impact is difficult to obtain and interpret."

The whale shark is listed as "Vulnerable" with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
So here on the Extraordinary Taxi Ride, Tourism Western Australia's huge promotion you'll read of passengers Cameron's and Joal's experience of diving off Ningaloo Reef and swimming with whale sharks!
swimming with sharks
What an extraordinary experience!

                                                 Photos courtesy Tourism Western Australia.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

African Safari with Greenbushpig Safaris.July/August 2009.Part One.


Our guide quietly signalled  for us to proceed.Silently, single file,we followed as he led  us through the thick undergrowth.We'd left  the dirt track and now we were tracking spoor through the bush.Easy to do as broken scrub,smashed saplings, and torn up dirt evidenced a trail of large beasts crashing through the bush.We were following the trail of jousting male rhino. There was something up ahead, we could not only sense it, we could smell it also.A deep cloying, pungent smell wafting towards us on the gentle breeze.At any minute that Cape Buffalo we knew that was around could break cover and charge us.We'd have no warning.If they know you're tracking them, they may remain stationary, awaiting their foe to approach, often after hooking around and backtracking to lie in wait for anyone following their spoor past their ambush spot.Could we outrun it? No, but then all I had to do was outrun any one of the others!As long as I was faster than Russell our safari guide,I'd be okay.He got us into this, he can get us out! But I wouldn't be running...there was Kay to think about.All those Wilbur Smith novels of wild animal encounters were running through my mind.Imagination in a tense time like this can boil over.We were getting close, perhaps too close to our target.That smell was getting real strong!Colin our guide  held his rifle ready to bring it into firing position.That was an elephant stopping .45, and it looked bloody good to me.He'd told us we may see Cape Buffalo, but if we were so close to smell them like this,surely that's too close for safety? Africa's most dangerous beast! Hey, this was getting scary!

I'm sure Colin knew his job and wouldn't take us into unnecessary danger.He's got a wealth of experience,and surely been in situations like this before.He and Nick were our hosts at Imbambala Wilderness Trails Camp at Loskop Nature Reserve's Wilderness area and is only a 2 hour drive from Oliver  Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.This was the start of our great adventure with Green Bushpig Safaris operated by Russell Frankish, a guy I had met on cyberland travel forums.Some long chats about Africa and wildlife had established a rapport, so that when we struck real problems with planning our trip last year to South Africa and Namibia, he offered a solution that turned out just great.A custom designed safari taking in all the places we wanted so much to visit, plus a lot more, and within the dates we were chained to.So our first day was driving up from Pretoria to Loskop Dam where we were met by Colin and taken across the Dam lake by outboard boat ,game driving from bank to bank all the way.What a wonderful way to be introduced to safari game viewing! Spot game on the bank, motor towards them, cut your motor,and slowly  drift right up to view them so close.Spectacular.
That rhino had a tremendously wicked horn on him, and we didn't know it then but we were going to find out later just how it can be used to devastating effect in a conflict. And it was our first glimpse of giraffe in the wild.Such majestic creatures.If ever there was a prize for the most graceful of creatures, giraffe would surely take the trophy!We could sit and watch giraffe for hours. We were to see many at our Imbambala stay.
Accommodation was in the most delightful tented chalets,set high on raised platforms,strategically placed so privacy from other tents was ensured.And so crocodiles don't wander through the tent!Downside was,toilets and showers were 50 metres away rather than ensuited in our tents.But we could live with that.....we thought we'd be very comfortable.So we settled in, spruced up after a long drive, and toddled off down to the bar and restaurant, another large tented affair.Very quaint with good ambience and an outlook over the trees to the dam lake.We noted where the ablution blocks were as we were sure we'd be making visits in the dark.Colin's business partner Nick just has to be one of the great bush chefs, cooking up a fabulous meal that night.However, we struck a weather freak, with a real cold front coming through straight off the Antarctic and soon a  bone chilling cold set in.And we froze!This, in Africa!? The temperature dropped right out of that glass.Off to bed that night, in our tent,it was so cold we could feel the cold coming up through the mattress,even though we piled all the blankets from the other two beds upon us and snuggled up together.And just as we were feeling like we were beginning to thaw out, feeling a bit warm even, that dreaded nighttime busting feeling comes out we go into the frozen cold.Traipsing off ,torch in hand,hoping we don't meet up with Mr Leopard who's been coughing off and on during the night on the hill behind us.Hopefully he's made a kill and wasn't interested in two frozen Kiwis!

Walking safari with our host Colin as guide for the morning activities.Colin leading,then Kay,myself and Russell as tail end Charlie.And not 50 metres from camp Colin stops and surveys the ground.Pointing to broken shrubs,and churned up turf he asks what we thought had happened here.Rhino tracks he pointed out, and told us male rhino had been fighting.They are very territorial beasts and each male will stake out a large territory by creating dung middens at the edges of it's territory.Problem in a huge fenced reserve such as Loskop being that breeding may be too successful and  young males can not just wander off and stake out  new territory for themselves.Colin mentioned that in the past months, 4 young males had been found dead.Presumably killed by the dominant bull rhino,out to eliminate any new competitors.There's a case to be made for  the dominant bull to be taken out by hunters, thereby allowing a new phase of genes in the pool to come through.At the very least,perhaps a relocation program of the young bulls should be instituted.Money......
Cape Buffalo have been in the area Colin says.And we are to be very careful as they are probably still around.That warning didn't need to be made.....
We followed  the trail of disturbed undergrowth quietly,heading towards the top of the hills behind our camp.That smell getting stronger.Finally we came upon our quarry.Luckily, not a herd of Buffalo but sadly, another dead  male rhino.The young rhino wouldn't have stood a chance.Such a sad sight to behold.The wicked length of the horn on the bull rhino we'd seen while boating in, had done it's damage.Colin said the death would be reported, and the small horn removed.So sad, and here is the conundrum.How come there are so many rhino at Loskop to have dominance fatalities occurring, but elsewhere in all parts of Africa, rhino are on the brink of being poached  out?
Imbambala Wilderness Trails was a wonderful start to our safari in South Africa.It exposed us to how Africa truly is.Raw,exciting,and at times cruel,with an undercurrent of unexpected danger, and always unfathomable to an outsider. 
For more information on rhino and conservation programs refer here-


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kanna's big smile!

Kanna is a young San Bushman boy , a Polio survivor who is finally off to school wearing  his new custom made boots, handmade by myself.

We were pleased to hear from Naankuse, when 9 of  the older San Bushman children started at the schools in Windhoek, Namibia in January. Securing mainstream education for this marginalised community is a huge step forward in providing them with a better future. Too often San Bushman children of Namibia miss out on even a basic education. Until last year, very few of the Bushman children of the families at Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary received any education at all. But an amazing woman - Gill, took up the challenge while a volunteer at Naankuse, and organized  a school program for all the children, ranging in age from toddlers to high school age.

School was set up under the shelter at the end of one of the volunteer dormitory blocks. Tables and chairs were scrounged, a few books donated by volunteers, pigs were kicked out of the way, and the kids got down to learning. Which they took to like ducks too long out of water!
In August 2009, Kay and I met up with our daughters Emma and Elissa, for a family volunteer get together at NaanKuse, Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary. Set on a 15,000 hectare farm, situated 45kms from Windhoek's Hosea Kuteo Airport, it's easily accessible and very handy to Namibia's capital Windhoek to allow for a days escape shopping, or a Sunday afternoon pigging out at Joe's Beer Hall.
We were going to spend 2 weeks as wildlife volunteers. A chance to make a little difference in the grander scheme of things while travelling and learning much more about Southern Africa than the average tourist ever does. Not for us travelling to the next photo stop and ticking that off. Nope, we want more out of our travels. Lasting memories, experiences that test us, encounters with wildlife, and a sense that we just might have made a difference.

So Naankuse was selected as our great family adventure. Kay and I had spent 18 days on safari around South Africa, met up with Elissa in Pretoria, then we 3 flew across to Windhoek. With Emma flying down from the UK to join in a day later. I had been recommended Naankuse from a guy I had met on EHRA's Desert Elephant project. He had spent time there after we finished that project in 2008, and Dave had raved about the place, and revealed falling for a cute wee baboon there....
Little did we realise just how easy it is to fall for those cuddly and fun, mischievous baboons!. Gorgeous!

Along with caring for the variety of rescued wildlife, Naankuse offers volunteers other programs to use their skills. Choose what suits you here-
Wildlife Conservation Volunteer, Teaching and Wildlife Volunteer, Lifeline Clinic Medical Volunteer, Carnivore Conservation Volunteer or even Mechanic and Tradesman Volunteer. For more info go here-
 Accommodation is basic but adequate. We found ourselves in a room that could  take 3 beds easily, but the staff looked after Kay and I, and we didn't share with anyone else. Normally it's 3 to a room. Meals are filling, varied and well prepared in a large kitchen/dining area that is usually opened right up for the warm months. I think most couldn't wait to get at  the warm, fresh muffins served daily for morning tea! Kay has just reminded me about the half cooked spaghetti one night...and the other night when late comers missed out altogether! The joys of volunteering!
Hey, you want 5 star. You book 5 star!
Showers and toilets were cleaned everyday by the local San ladies. Just as well they were on the job each day, as the pigs had a habit of wandering through them if someone had neglected to latch the gate in the fence outside our block. And if one of those juvenile baboons escaped our grasp while bathing them it was a mad ruckus in the shower block trying to catch a flying bundle of screeching fury! Bedlam at times but great memories.
And the San ladies did all our laudry and got it back to us daily.
Right outside, at the end of our block was the school area where Kay got involved with looking after the children. She's a pre-school teacher back home so slipped straight into the role, teaching them a few new songs and games. We learned that when the children first all arrived at school, none of them knew how to play. This was a new experience for them. But slowly they cottoned on, and it was rewarding to see how each looked after each other. The eldest looking out for the younger, and they looking after the youngest. With the father away working on the farm, the mother would have to leave the children, no matter how old they were to their own devices for several hours. Hence the start up of the school served another purpose in that all the children were being cared for while the parents worked.
Around the back of our block was a trench in the ground in the shape of a rectangle. This we found out was the foundation trench for the proposed new children's school. After you've spent time during the heat of the day digging that out more, it kind of sticks in your memory! But dig we did. 

Back home,we followed on Naankuse's Facebook site the building, painting and grand opening of Clever Cubs School. What a wonderful achievement!
Facebookers go here -Clever Cubs
And in just a few short months, the older children had received enough tuition to allow them to start school in Windhoek.
Watch a video clip of the children’s first day at school Off to Windhoek school

We'd noticed one of the boys at play, hopping around awkwardly, obviously crippled in some way. Namibia is one of the last few countries where polio was known. World Health Organisation expects this disease will be wiped out in the foreseeable future. Kanna is a polio survivor and one leg is severely stunted and his shoes were badly worn and desperately in need of replacement. But new surgical boots made in Cape Town were beyond his family's ability to buy, so Naankuse would need to find all that money. Being a custom and surgical shoemaker myself I could hardly not accept the challenge. So we measured him up and on my return home, I made him a pair of black boots suitable for school wear.
And sent them over at no charge, taking 3 months to be delivered. I guess someone finally got off their backsides in the local Post Office after a tracking notice went out! But we were so thrilled to hear they finally arrived for Kanna.
Have a look at his smile!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sea Turtle Experience.

Over the past week it's been sad to read these reports of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its effects on wildlife, and particularly on sea turtles, of which all species are on endangered lists. We had such a wonderful time in Samoa turtle spotting off Virgin Cove Resort's beach just a month ago, so reading such reports is particularly disturbing to us. Let's chat about marine or sea turtles. There will be quite a few links in this post, but take the time to follow them. There's a huge pool of interesting info online at those links, and we could all do with knowing more about those magnificent creatures. Meantime, while we talk, we'll travel a bit from Samoa to Western Australia. Hey, turtles range wide and far! Grab hold of one!

Here you'll read reports of a sea turtle struggling in the oil.
 Sea turtle in oil slick

And this-
shrimpers to blame for sea turtle deaths

At Virgin Cove, Samoa, this past Easter, Kay and I had hired a small boat and gone turtle spotting out in the sheltered lagoon where they are often seen feeding. Brent is an enterprising like-able guy from Melbourne, Australia who with his Samoan wife had thrown in the wage working drudge, for the island lifestyle, and now fits perfectly into that beachcomber stereotype. Sinking their savings into a small runabout, he's now making enough to live well island style, by offering turtle watching or fishing tours. You could do worse I suppose. I mean, imagine who'd want to throw up a perfectly good 9-to-5 job, all that corporate career ladder climbing,  the house in suburbia, and the traffic jams of commuting for this beachcomber existence?! A no-brainer really.

And check this out for a workplace-

Beach fales at Virgin Cove 
                                          Beach at Virgin Cove.

Yes, life could be worse, taking tourists out in the hope of seeing a turtle isn't half bad at all. I kind of liked that guy's guts. Not just in making that decision to throw in his Melbourne job and move his family to this Pacific idyll, but to then risk it all on buying the boat, and starting up a hire business. If you're staying down in any of the South West coast resorts near Virgin Cove, give him your business.There'll be a promo leaflet on their front desk, or just ask them to arrange it. At 65 Tala, around $33 for 4 hours.Well worth it!

We were in luck, on this beautiful clear, still sunny day. Turtles abounded. We could spot several at once. Their indistinct dark shapes moved slowly through the waters, speeding up suddenly when we attempted to get closer. But occasionally one would surface to breathe before slipping quickly under and speeding away. They really can zoom through their subterranean world. Too fast to get a good focus.
And sorry but that's the best photo I shot.
We were watching the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and we saw many, but were never able to get up closer as I  guess the sound of the motor would alert them well before we could sneak up. But with crystal clear waters, we were able to observe many other fish and large rays as well as turtles of various sizes.
And we then spotted in the water, something really unusual-

Yes it was rather hot, and that's one way of enjoying a cool beer!

"It's reassuring to see so many turtles." said Brent.
Yes it is, given the tremendous drop in numbers of sea turtles worldwide. Sea turtle report here-
Turtles range far from their breeding grounds, and those we were seeing may have come from as far as Fiji. So seeing high numbers around Samoa may create the false impression all is well with  turtle conservation there. A co-operative approach by all countries needs to be taken to protecting beach breeding areas, ensuring trawlers have turtle excluder devices in their nets, and limiting longline trawling.
Interesting point that Green turtles aren't green but brown. The green title comes from the colour of their fat! I guess too many people would know that....

I've become very interested in marine turtles and have had a couple of volunteer turtle conservation sites bookmarked for the past couple of years. Costa Rica really appealed but recently I came across this volunteer project up in Western Australia which because it was relatively close was very appealing.
Read Here of Biospheres Sea Turtle Project. A dream volunteer project!
 I never realized until recently just how good the accommodation was ; I had imagined some tent in a rudimentary beach camp and so hadn't rushed in to booking a volunteer placement on that project, but was I wrong! - take a look Here 
One of the top resorts in that part of Australia. Up to now, our experience of volunteer projects has been very basic, rustic accommodation, if any! A sleeping bag thrown on the ground. A concrete block shared room. That's real volunteer work!
There's a lack of information on Australia's Flatback turtles, nesting numbers, migratory routes, feeding areas etc. and building up that vital info while enjoying a small part of Western Australia's awesome scenery is a job for dedicated volunteers. Really great to see Australia taking such a positive approach to protecting their sea creatures.
 I had been researching more about WA and came across the Extraordinary Taxi Ride promotion.
The Northern Coast Escape, Leg 8 travels through that area of coastal beaches. I'm keen to read more about that ride and will plan to read all the blogs, and watch the videos as Albert and wife Moira travel that leg. It's an extraordinary promotion, but being able to see all the videos is like getting a first hand picture of the area, building a familiarity and comfort zone with the place - piquing my interest - removing all the cattle stops on going there especially after Reg and I complete our ride in Leg 10, The Gibb River Road  there will be no reasons left for not going back, this time with Kay. That turtle project at Eco Beach Wilderness Resort would make a great base to assist in turtle conservation work, while spoiling ourselves, then taking off and exploring more of this vast area.

So it's amazing what sea turtles can be responsible for.

                                           Cockburn Range courtesy Tourism Western Australia


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekly Desktop Photo.3.

Paying Our Respects To A Great Author,Robert Louis Stevenson.

My desktop photo this week is of a fruit bat, seen on the climb  to the grave of
Robert Louis Stevenson on Mt Vaea

Robert Louis Stevenson.
1.Born: November 13, 1850
2.Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
3.Published over 12 novels and 20 short stories as well as poetry and non-fiction
4.Died:Vailima, Upolu Island,Samoa.December 3, 1894
5.Most Popular Works: Treasure Island, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, New Arabian Nights, and A Children's Garden of Verses.

Holidaying in Samoa, April 2010, Kay and I made a point of visiting the home of  Robert Louis Stevenson.We actually made two visits.The first, the day after arrival in Apia, saw us arrive by taxi at his house on the hill overlooking Apia in the area of Vailima.Now that word will stick with you , as each time you down a chilled local beer you'll see it right in front of you.Nice drop!
Arriving at his home, now a museum to his memory and works, we approached  through a croton hedged driveway opening on to a very large lawn area, fringed by colorful tropical plants backdropped by the surrounding jungle.We had our driver drop us at the first glimpse of the house,rather than drive right up to it.This is the best way to really take in such a beautiful setting , of lush but well tended lawn,and tropical gardens,while walking towards the museum.A guided tour took us through the many rooms.Most set up as it would have been in R L Stevenson's day.We had the history of the property explained, and how it has been  added to  and restored, over the many years and changes of ownership since his young death in 1894.
It was hot and humid, and with Kay getting over a chesty cough, we decided not to try the walk to his grave at the top of the hill, but spent a pleasant time wandering the gardens, and relaxing at the waterfall and pool just nearby.
But on the last day before we flew home, we just had to go back.And this time fit, and determined to make the climb.It's 1 and a half hours via one track, or just 1 hour taking the steeper.We elected to take it easy and go the longer route.In the heat, around 35% Celcius, and 100% humidity, we got a steam up,and my shirt was soaked in sweat! But the walk through the jungle was very enjoyable.Many lizards scuttled out of our path.Birds of great variety filled the canopy.And many lush plants were in full flower after the recent rainy season.
Part way up the track, we stopped to observe what we thought were two large birds circling in the upper canopy.As one came into land we could identify it as a bat, of a rather large species.Pteropus Samoensis Samoensis or Pe'a as it is called there, have had a hard time in Samoa, being a source of food in times of past famine, and now coping with the effects of loss of habitat.I believe these are now protected throughout Samoa.Bats are such interesting animals and deserve better respect from humans.
That photo is taken on my Canon SX10IS at extreme range of it's 20x optical lens.And now graces my computer screen.Click on each image and you'll bring up full size photos.Click your browsers 'back ' arrow to return.
Across the path there were many  prime trees that had been  fallen by savage winds earlier in the season, but these had been chainsawn open.Sawdust still covered the stumps.That must have been one massive storm to have done so much damage and fell such mighty canopy trees!
Huffing to the top, we made it,wrung out my shirt, gathered our find a family arriving by the other steeper track.With a 3 year old running along past us!
What a great vista from the top! Such a wonderful place to lie in repose forever.We had been told a little of how R L Stevenson was so reverred by the islanders.His rapport with the natives built upon his respect for their culture and customs.During that period of German imperialism,many native chiefs and leaders were imprisoned.R L Stevenson and his friends befriended those imprisoned, taking them food and working for their release.Such an enlightened attitude to the natives.On his death, the Samoans all gathered at Vailima, and hacked a path to the top of  Mt. Vaea .Then his coffin was passed along the line of mourners ,each wanting to help carry it to be buried overlooking Vailima,
There's not many Europeans as reverred and respected  by a native race,as is Robert Louis Stevenson, to pass into their cultural heritage.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me: 
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Somehow it felt important for us to make this trek to his resting place.Kay is an avid reader, and books are a treasure for her.And for myself, this aspiring travel writer was now looking upon the grave of one of the great authors of history.Such a gulf between our respective abilities.....nobody's going to be trekking to my grave.

Learn about bat conservation here-
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