Diane and I love to travel, especially to other countries. Ever since we were volunteers in the Peace Corps to Chile in the 1960s we have traveled to many places, including most countries and territories within the following regions: South America, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Polynesia, Middle East, and North America. In fact, we have been in over 70 countries. The following paragraphs explain some of our travel highlights since 2013, when I first began this web page.
Diane and I began our travels abroad in 1966 as Peace Corps Volunteers in Santiago, Chile. Some day I will write about our many adventures from then up to 2013. For now, let’s begin in Cuba.
Travels in 2013
We traveled to Cuba in March 2013 with a group of about 25 people on an organized tour organized by Tallahassee Community College. We flew to Miami and spent a day visiting South Beach, Vizcaya Mansion, the botanical garden, and eating Peruvian food. Bright and early we boarded a charter for the short flight from Miami to Havana, where we spent several nights at the famous old Hotel Nacional (National Hotel) on the waterfront (malecón). We visited a variety of sights in Old Havana during the day—many colonial structures and pre-revolutionary buildings.
Cuba is famous for its old American cars, and I especially enjoyed seeing the 1953, ’55, and ’56 Chevys because those are the types of cars I had in college. We also visited western Cuba, the locale of beautiful limestone haystack-shaped mountains (mogotes) in the Viñales Valley. We also went to one of the oldest towns in Cuba, Trinidad, on the south coast (this picture was taken of us on a balcony adjacent to the roof of the Cathedral in Trinidad, Cuba). Many of these towns and areas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and walking in the old streets and unspoiled rural paths is like going back in time a hundred years or more.
I took my flute with me to Cuba because I love improvising Latin jazz (salsa, guajiro, son, etc.). Fortunately, I got to jam with numerous small groups at restaurants, streets, parks, tourist sites, and other venues. That was great fun, and the Cuban musicians enjoyed having an old gringo play their music with them!
Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico
We took a 7-day cruise with another Tallahassee couple to the Western Caribbean over Christmas, 2013, leaving from Tampa, stopping in Key West, visiting Roatan Island in Honduras, Santo Tomas de Castilla in Guatemala, and Costa Maya in Mexico. Our major objective was to visit some Mayan ruins that we had not seen before, and we did: Quirigua in Guatemala and Dzibanche in Mexico. We also experienced some African-derived Garifuna music and dance in Roatan, Honduras.
Travels in 2014
Israel and Jordan
In January 2014 we traveled to the Holy Land (Israel & Jordan) with 25 members from our church (First Baptist Church) in Tallahassee. We flew to Tel Aviv and went by bus to many archaeological sites, historical regions, and current/active places. I bought a small cane flute in a store in Tiberius on the shore of the lake of Galilee, and throughout the trip I played Christian hymns and other types of music in many sacred and natural sites. We visited many towns and regions where Jesus began his life and carried out his ministry, such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum, Tiberius, Galilee, Jordan River, Jerusalem, and much more. I also bought a wonderful Palistinean nai flute in the Islamic quarter in Jerusalem, which I taught myself to play. The Muslim mosque on the Temple Mount is an awesome structure, seen in this photo.
We also went to Amman and Petra in Jordan. I had a great time playing my cane flute in Petra, improvising Arabic music and playing the Indiana Jones theme from the Temple of Doom movie.
In every way it was a wonderful trip and a tremendous learning experience to walk where Jesus walked and where many Old Testament events took place.
In the Wake of the Vikings: Sweden, Denmark, Shetland Islands, Iceland, Northern Ireland, England
For two weeks, from June 1-15, Diane and I went on a cruise called “Ice” with Semester at Sea, leaving Stockholm and sailing to Copenhagen, then to the Shetland Islands (Scotland), on to three ports in Iceland, then to Belfast, and ending up in Southampton, England. We were gone 15 days on thid wonderful educational cruise that Diane won in a lottery with OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at FSU. The scenery in the Shetland Islands and Iceland was fabulous, and the lectures on board were educational and very enjoyable. Of course, we ate too much.
One of my ethnomusicology colleagues and a friend for over 40 years, Dr. Ted Solis, also took the cruise (neither of us knew we were going to be on the same cruise), and we had a great time, talking about past explorations of the Semester at Sea and remembering our many friends who had been on the faculty over the years (Max Brandt, Phil Sonnichsen, and others). The Semester at Sea ship for this cruise is new (the MV Explorer), which Ted explained is much better than the old ships used by the Semester at Sea back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. There is no longer a gamelan on board (nor are there any musical instruments of any type today, except for a piano), but the library and computer facilities are good. Along with us 800 adults were several hundred students who were getting credit for courses.
Here is a photo of Diane and me sitting on a cliff by the Eshaness lighthouse in the northern Shetland Islands, overlooking the North Sea.
Below is a photo of us next to the the Goðafoss (“waterfall of the gods”), one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, near the northern town of Akureyri.
I refer to this particular cruise as “In the Wake of the Vikings” because of its emphasis on Viking history and lore. All of my grandparents were born Jutland, Denmark, and I have often thought, albeit with tongue in cheek, thought that I might have Viking roots. As an anti war pacifist from Minnesota, I was happy to learn that in the Shetland Islands many Vikings were peaceful farmers, as were my ancestors. So, who knows?
Norway: Bergen, fjords, islands, and northern ports of call
In September Diane and I, along with 14 of our Tallahassee friends, took a 12 day voyage on a Hurtigruten cruiseship/ferry/mailboat from Bergen to Kirkenes (the most northern town in Europe) and back, cruising in the estuaries and fjords of Norway. This was another cruise that had a Viking emphasis because many of the places we visited were former Viking settlements.
Diane and I ended this European adventure by spending a few days in Amsterdam where we rented a houseboat on a canal, complete with a traditional windmill just a few feet from the dock. It was so nice to have swans swimming by our window every morning.
Travels in 2015
A Southern Pacific Adventure: From Chile across the Pacific to Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, and French Polynesia
Over Christmas 2014 and New Years 2015 Diane and I took a South Pacific cruise on Oceania. We flew to Santiago, took a bus to Valparaiso, and embarked from the cruise port. Our first stop were the Juan Fernandez Islands, and in particular Robinson Crusoe Island, the later named After Defoe’s novel about the marooned sailor, Alexander Selkirk in the18th century
After several days more at sea we arrived at Easter Island where we spent 2 nights, giving us ample time to visit most of the archaeological sites featuring moai, the enigmatic and collosal stone heads.
After more days at sea we arrived to Pitcairn Island, which also has an enigmatic history, although it is not archaeological, but sociological.
Several more days at sea took us to four islands in French Polynesia: Fakarava, Rangirora, Bora Bora, and Tahiti. The first two are very flat atolls, and the second two are volcanic with impressive peaks.
We flew back to Tallahassee from Papeete, Tahiti. Ever since we lived in Chile, we’ve wanted to go to Easter Island, and we finally had the opportunity.
Seeking Diane’s heritage: Slovakian Heritage Tour and Vienna, Austria
In July Diane and I flew to Vienna, Austria, and joined a two-week tour of Slovakia with other tourists of Slovakian heritage, like Diane (both her grandparents on her dad’s side were born in Slovakia). We toured many parts of Slovakia, visiting castles, taking cable cars into the high Tatra Mountains, attending festivals and musical events, rafting on a river, eating wonderful Slovakian food, and much more. One day we arranged to visit Diane’s second cousins whom she had never met. Their daughter, Martina, who is our son’s third cousin, was our interpreter. We had met Martina several decades ago when she visited St. Paul, Minnesota. Diane’s aunt Mary Ann and sister Barbara had visited the entire family in Slovakia several years earlier. So, we were treated well when we arrived. We had a great time visiting old family homesteads, the Andy Warhol Museum, looking at pictures of other family members, eating traditional food, and just getting to know more of Diane’s relatives.
After Slovakia we took a ferry on the Danube River from Bratislava to Vienna, where we rented an apartment for a week in the museum district. We had great fun attending many concerts, visiting museums, seeing a show of the Spanish Riding School in the Hofburg Palace, and much more.
The Caribbean: From Boston to Puerto Rico, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, and New Orleans
In October we cruised the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Lines. It was a “re-positioning” of a ship from Boston to New Orleans, by way of the Caribbean. We had never visited five of the islands on the itinerary, so we got to add more countries to our travel list. This cruise was a part of our extended 50th wedding anniversary celebration, and we traveled with Mary and David Stevenson (our friends who were married on the same day and year as we — June 26, 1965), Louise and Walt, and many other acquaintances from the Westminster Oaks Retirement Community in Tallahassee (where Mary, David, Walt, and other friends live).
Travels in 2016
March 3-11, 2016. Trinidad and Tobago
A conference of SEMSEC (Southeast/Caribbean Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology), and an invitation to be a discussant on a session, caused us to travel by air to Trinidad in March. We spent three days in San Fernando in the southwestern-central part of the island of Trinidad, where the conference was held. It was wonderful to see many of my former ethnomusicology students and numerous old friends (and make new friends, as well).
One of the highlights was climbing Nabarima Hill (aka San Fernando Hill), which is a slight peak that is considered by the Warao Indians (a culture in Venezuela where I did my dissertation research — please link to “Ethnomusicology as Advocacy” from the main page or just below Travels) to be the northernmost sacred mountain in their cosmology — it is a very sacred place for them. While in San Fernando I tried to contact the Warao descendants that live in that region, but was not able to make personal contacts. I left a copy of my book and CD for them with a Trinidadian scholar I met at the conference, but I never heard if the Warao descendants ever received my gift.
Then we traveled in our rental car to Port of Spain where we stayed for another four nights at the very comfortable Heritage Inn. From there we drove to and along the North Coast until the road ended. The beaches and mountains in the north of the island of Trinidad are spectacular. Especially impressive are Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas, and other beautiful beach locations.
One day we drove south to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary on the western coast, where every dusk thousands of scarlet ibis (the national bird of Trinidad) fly to particular islands in a large lake to roost. The boat tour in the Caroni Swamp was the highlight of our entire trip to Trinidad.
We also visited several Hindu temples on the west coast of Trinidad. While I did not enjoy driving on the left side of the roads, we survived and had a nice time. We heard excellent East Indian tassa drumming, a great steelband, and a good East Indian popular music group. We enjoyed the food, especially bake ‘n’ shark, one of the local specialties.
December 6-20, 2016. Around the Southern Cone of South America: Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, Chilean Fiords and Lake District, Santiago de Chile
More than 50 years ago Diane and I lived in Santiago, Chile, where we worked as Peace Corp Volunteers. During that time we visited Buenos Aires in northern Argentina, Ushuaia in the extreme south on the Beagle Canal, took a train across the pampas from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and hitchhiked across the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago. We also traveled throughout Chile, from its far north in the Atacama Desert to Punta Arenas and Torres de Paine in the far south (on the Strait of Magellan and in the Chilean Pategonia region). This photo is a selfie from 1967 of us posing on a hill with Cuernos del Paine (a particular mountain in Torres de Paine) in the background.
However, we never had the time to explore the southern third of the country between Puerto Mont and Punta Arenas, except for Torres de Paine. The southern third of Chile is the fiord and estuary region, laden with amazing mountains and glaciers reached only by ship.
In December, 2016, we found the perfect cruise for visiting that region. It was a thrilling experience to visit Ushuaia and the Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina again after 50 years (we were first there in 1967 for Christmas and New Year’s). Several of these photos were taken 50 years apart, so you can see many changes.
Tierra del Fuego National Park in 1967 and 2016
The cruiseship passed around Cape Horn, which was as calm as on a summer day in the Gulf of Mexico — it can often be so rough that cruiseships will not traverse the area. Then we slowly cruised through the Beagle Canal and the many estuaries of Tierra del Fuego, seeing some of the most beautiful mountains and glaciers in the world.
After reaching Puerto Mont in the south of central Chile, in the lake district, Diane took a horseback riding excursion in the wilderness of that beautiful region. I am not a horseback rider, but I talked my way into going along free, just to accompany her and spend the day visiting with the Chilean campesinos and making use of my Spanish. It was a very nice day.
When we finally reached Valparaiso, Chile, we spent a day with Chilean friends that we met on our Easter Island trip in 2015, and then took a bus to Santiago and stayed two weeks, visiting old musician friends from the 1960s and celebrating Christmas with our dear friend and UCLA colleague, Dr. Luis Merino. It was so nice to be with him and his family at their country retreat in the coastal mountains. It was a wonderful reunion. We also spent many days walking around Santiago, trying to locate old haunts from the ’60s and exploring new areas. Santiago has certainly changed!
Travels in 2017
October 19-November 3, 2017. Italy, Greece, and Malta
In October and early November we flew to Italy and took a train to the cruise port of Civitaveccia on the Italian coast, northwest of Rome. We stayed there several nights before our cruise, giving us a full day to visit the beautiful medieval hill town of Tarquinia that is an important Etruscan archaeological site. We first visited Tarquinia in 1985 when we were living in Florence, but at that time most of the Etruscan tombs were not open for tourism; today it is possible to visit almost all of them, which we did. Because of their wall paintings, the tombs are important sources for the study of Etruscan musical instruments.
After several days we boarded a cruise ship for various Greek islands, Athens, and Malta, visiting Mount Etna and Pompei on our way back to Civitaveccia and then on to Rome for a day.
Travels in 2018
March 7-18, 2018. The Caribbean: St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Thomas, The Bahamas
We toured parts of the Caribbean again in March, 2018, cruising with more friends from Tallahassee. Although we had visited St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and Martinique back in 1977, we always realize there are new things to learn, and 40 years is a long time for many changes to take place. Also, we had never been to the other islands in the itinerary.
One of our favorite islands in the Caribbean is St. Lucia, and the peaks called Gran Pitons are always beautiful. This picture is one of the two Pitons as seen from the Caribbean Sea when we departed the island in our cruise ship. Our St. Lucia road day trip took us from Castries, the capital, to the region of the Pitons for taking pictures and learning about the northern part of the island. In 1977 we spent most of our time in Soufriere, a beautiful region with a “drive in” active volcano, which we walked to.
Things were a lot different 40 years ago, when we also spent several days in Martenique, which is today a French state. Back then we rented a car and explored most of the island, including driving and hiking to the top of the Mt. Pele crater. This time we spent all day in the capital, Fort de France, which was the port of call. We enjoyed the museums, parks, and ice cream.
August 27-September 15, 2018. Baltic adventure: Denmark, Norway, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden (followed by a week in Copenhagen).
Travels in 2019
January 11028, 2019. The Western Mediterranean: Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, and Madeira (followed by a week in Barcelona).
April 25-May 10, 2019. Cruising the Adriatic by Yacht: Croatia and Montenegro
July 28-August 11. Crossing the northern Atlantic on the Queen Mary II to England (followed by a week in Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Bath)
September 17-October 2, 2019. Switzerland and the Rhine: (beginning with a week in Interlaken, the Alps, and Basel) Rhine River cruise to Amsterdam
Travels in 2020
January Western Mexico: San Diego to Puerto Vallata, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas (followed by a week in southern California)
So many other places to visit, and so little time!