Who knew you could feel such paradise in your home state?

Florida is of course full of beautiful beaches, but I didn’t know the prettiest one until my family went to Key West when we took a cancer weekend break May 2014.

Now there’s a ton more I can write about Key West itself, but our trip out to Dry Tortugus was the best.

The first time we just did a day sail, taking us three hours south. We disembarked and took lots of pictures from the failed, crumbling fort, surrounded by pristine blue water. Eventually Younes and I got in for some snorkeling and saw gorgeous fish.

We because thrilled that we could stay over camping for at least three nights and decided to come back and do it. A year and a half later, we made it back. Everything had to be carried including water, food, ways to cook, toilet paper, fishing gear, etc.

We left at 6:30 to catch the ferry and the ride was beautiful being followed by playful dolphins. We disembarked at 10:30 and Younes shot the breeze with the captain, which meant we got an overflow campsite which we were able to change to a regular the next day.

We had lunch and settled in for a nap. By the time, we got up it was late after. We put our suits on and frolicked in the lukewarm waters.

Younes tried to catch us fish but was unsuccessful. So he started a fire on our fire pit and warmed up canned potato soup on it instead. Then I brought out the makings for s’mores, which I don’t think he was quite so excited as I was. It’s an American thing, I get.

We retired to our tent but rose around dawn to see the remnants of the night sky and the beginning of the sunrise. We then retired for another nap and then it was snorkeling time!

There was snorkeling gear for everyone on the boat and we snorkeled for hours. I saw such amazing fishes. I also tried to find an old shipwreck someone had told me about. But wait…was that a hammerhead shark? I didn’t investigate and instead swam fast in the opposite direction.

That’s when I realized I hadn’t seen Younes in awhile. Since he’s not the strongest swimmer, I was getting worried. He had gotten caught on the tide off the fort wall

and had to paddle the rest of the way around. He wore a lifejacket for the rest of the day.

We made spaghettios over the grill and then went to sleep while getting up once or twice to admire the night sky

The last morning we had to have all our gear ready for the boat at an early hour. After that, we had till 10:30 to play. Which I did, spending every possible second in the hour until we absolutely had to board the board.

Although I was sad to go, I had had fun dolphin watching and taking pictures on the way back.


#tbt -Lesotho

So I’m not doing so well healthwise. Which means until (if) thinks turn around, I’m not going to be doing too much out of state travels. So Tuesday’s and Thursday’s will both be dedicated to former travel.

Starting from the beginning in 2011, I left Swaziland and with a quick stop in Johannesburg, I took a mini-bus to the capital of Lesotho, Maseru. Knowing the lodge had little booked had little as far as food but a kitchen I could cook in, I stocked up on the staples – eggs, bread, cheese, etc. then I took a minibus to Malealea Lodge.

Malealea Lodge was a place so many of the guests could do overnight hiking and pony trekking, a huge tourism appeal. But once I saw the beautiful property, found out I would get a clean, simple cabin with a private bath and that the kitchen I could cook from was huge and that there was nightly entertainment, I decided to just do day trips instead.

I think it was a good idea. I made dinner (much cheaper than the backpacker provider dinner of 100R and listened to a Basotho children’s choir around the campfire, turning into my comfy cabin early.

The next day, I slept in a bit and spent the days exploring the grounds and nearby village. I brought some local produce – mostly onions and potatoes -enough for a big batch of potato soup – and I was glad I packed things in. I also made a reservation for a daytime hike the next day.

The hike was gorgeous and took us to a rushing waterfall. We we got back, I invited my guide for a cool beer at the lodge where we talked about Lesotho in general. That night, there was another bonfire and performance, where I met a Dutch family, who invited me for dinner. I already made my potato soup so we all shared and the invite,d me to a school performance in another village (they had a rental car) the next day.

It was delightful meeting the teenagers, especially the girls, who I hoped things would work out for. They were so bright but growing up in a male-dominated society would make things difficult for them. That night the Dutch family said goodbye to me but gave me their contact info for The Netherlands in case I was passing through later on. I tucked it in a safe place.

The next day was pony-trekking time. In this case I was in a small group. There were lots of mountains and cliffs but I trusted my pony -that was what they were make for after all. We saw gorgeous vistas and Basotho sketching in the sandstone and was just as happy get a shower and relax my sore body on a lounge chair afterwards.

The last day included another day hike and while I invited my guide for a cold beer afterwards, he took me for a shebeen (it was right on the backpacker groups so it was safe). Then I settled up with the front desk, took care of residual garbage in the kitchen, took a long shower, packed and enjoyed the grounds one last time. My mini-bus would arrive for me at 6:30 the next morning.

(Funny side-note. I was asked to do an exit interview at the. Order back into South Africa and got questioned on how much I spent in each category. When asked about food, I said 500Rand. “I think you mean 500USD, the agent said.” ‘Nope definitely 500R” I was impressed by my own frugality.)

Also, my pictures are on a computer I haven’t touched in years, so I will use stock photos and replace if/when I find my real pictures.

#tbt -Lesotho