WanderTours https://wandertours.com Be. There. Now. Mon, 06 May 2019 22:23:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.1 Q&A with Una McDonagh of Inis Oirr, Ireland https://wandertours.com/qa-with-una-mcdonagh-of-inis-oirr-ireland/ https://wandertours.com/qa-with-una-mcdonagh-of-inis-oirr-ireland/#respond Sun, 28 Apr 2019 00:01:18 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=15729 One of the many things that make our tours special are the people we meet along the way.

Beth with Una on Inis Oirr

Una McDonagh is one of those very special people!

Una lives on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands off of Ireland’s west coast. It’s remote, rugged and filled with beautifully wonderful people.

I wanted to know more about Una and, whether you’re on one of our Ireland trips or not, I thought you’d be interested in hearing more from her, too!

Q. You were born and raised on Inis Oirr. How many people currently live on the island?

A. I was born and raised on Inis Oirr, the smallest and most beautiful of the Aran Islands. At that time there was no secondary school on the island therefore everyone went to boarding school on the mainland from age twelve or thirteen.

It was a very difficult adjustment as for many this would have been their first time away from home. I am talking about the 1970s and 1980s, before the era of mobile phones and daily ferry services to the island. Therefore students only got home to the island for Halloween break, Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.

In my opinion leaving for boarding school at such a young age, and being segregated from home and family, really took its toll on island life and the population. Leaving a very young and a very ageing population on the island in the late 70s.

The majority of young people went on to college or to work on the mainland or emigrated after secondary school and set down roots elsewhere only returning to the island for summer holidays in many cases. This exodus of young people from the island was recognized locally and the same was true of all offshore islands and many rural communities at the time. Various government grant-aided schemes and initiatives were set up to encourage employment to keep the young on the island and to encourage others to return home to raise their families on the island.

None were more successful than the group of parents who returned to raise their families in the island environment of their own upbringing who decided that it just was not good enough to send their children off to boarding school at such a young age and they started the secondary school Colaiste Ghobnait on the island which had just nine students.

After teaching for about nine months they received Department of Education recognition. As the saying goes, the rest is history–31 years later.

Of all the schemes to keep a healthy balance of population on the island, the secondary school has been key. Young families have and are continuing to return to live on the island and now we have the full range of education available right up to college including preschool, primary and secondary.

Now there are seven children attending preschool, 30 in primary school and 23 in secondary school. Young couples are settling down and raising their families in one of the most safe and beautiful unspoiled environments in the world. It’s rich in language, culture and community. In total, there are 280 residents on the island at present.

Q. What was it like to grow up in such a small community?

A. Growing up on an island is so unique and special. Looking back now our generation was on the cusp of change and we were so lucky to experience the old traditional ways with no modern amenities such as no running water or electrical power. But we also embraced the change and the new, bringing the island into the 20th century.

Running water and electrical power came in 1970 and 1971. It made life easier and labour-saving devices were gladly welcomed such as washing machines, fridges, electric kettles and clothes driers.

We no longer needed to go to the well three times a day for spring water for tea making and cooking. Everyone harvested rainwater in a tank near the house which was used for washing and the like though we still went to the well to bring water to the cattle and animals in the fields.

We grew up immersed in island life as everyone young and old helped out with gardening, farming, collecting seaweed, cooking or whatever had to be done according to the season. Everyone was involved. It was not all work and no play however and each season brought its own particular games. Nobody made a decision to change from say spring games of skipping and ball games and the like to summer games such as playing Staggs or having sandcastle competitions. It just seemed to happen automatically with the weather. I am pleased to announce that many of those games are still played in the schoolyard today.

We had all the freedom in the world and once our chores were done we were gone only returning home when it got dark or hunger sent us homeward bound. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a Child.” Nowhere is this more true than on Inis Oirr.

Q. The Aran Islands are known for being one of the most traditional areas in all of Ireland. What are some of the traditions that Aran Islanders have held on to?

A. As far as we are aware, people have inhabited these islands as far back as 1,500 B.C. They have eked out a living from the barren limestone landscape by farming, fishing, creating fields by clearing the stone, building drystone boundary walls, and layering the fields by drawing sand and seaweed from the beach and layering those to sow crops. Those crops included potatoes, wheat, barley and vegetables to sustain their families and animals.

Even though soil is scarce on the limestone landscape, that which is present proves very rich in minerals and nutrients. This very same method of farming is still in use today and you will see a patchwork of small fields and potato and vegetable drills on your visit.

Due to modern building methods and availability of high quality insulation systems, the day of living in the thatched cottage is well gone as everyone likes their creature comforts in this day and age. This has also made obsolete the need for the heavy homespun traditional clothing and shawls.

Recently a group of island women started a conversation about the traditional dress and that anyone under 25 years of age would be hard pressed to remember such clothing and that pretty soon that same clothing would be forgotten completely thus Stitches in Time was born, an exhibition and history of the traditional clothing and island dress.

Down through the ages scholars, writers and artists visiting the Aran Islands have commented on island dress as unlike anything they had ever seen before. This was especially true of the Crios (pronounced Kris) a multi-coloured woven belt worn by men to keep up their trousers but also to support the back as well as the multi-coloured patterned crochet shawl worn by the women.

Even though the islands have improved immensely over the last 30 years in terms of creature comforts, housing, accommodation, and access from the mainland, we still remain a unique and very special community.

Our language is our most important asset. Gaeilge is our language, the language spoken on the island every day and in most homes. All of our education systems are through the medium of Gaeilge. Traditional music, song and dance (old time dancing not to be confused with Irish dancing) are alive and well among the people.

Feast days and traditional customs are still practiced today such as St. Bridget’s Day on February 1 marking the first day of spring where the young girls still go house to house with the Brideóg (a straw doll dressed in communion dress and veil to represent St, Bridget).

The head of each household will pull out some straw and make a St. Bridget’s Cross and will hang one in the house and one in the barn to guard both people and animals from disease and also from fire. St. Bridget is the Patroness of Ireland as St. Patrick is our Patron. Here and on Inis Meáin, our neighbouring island, are probably the only places that this tradition still survives today.

The Wren Boy’s celebrate the Wren on St. Stephen’s Day on December 26. St. Gobnait, our only lady saint to build a church on the island is celebrated on February 11, her feast day and Naomh Caomhán (St. Kevin), Patron Saint of Inis Oirr is celebrated on June 14. This day is still classed as a holiday with open air mass at his church in the graveyard and a vigil on the previous evening.

There is a parade and music and dance and sometimes currach and boat races. It is still held in very high regard as is each island’s Patron Saints Day with similar celebration.

There was always a method of doing things on the island passed down from generation to generation and, even though there are modern ways and means of making jobs easier, traditional methods and ways are still adhered to because there was a reason for their survival – they worked. These are but a sample as the island has held on to many traditions and are too numerous to mention here. Luckily islanders have recognized the importance of preserving the old while embracing the new.

Q. You’re quite the entrepreneur – running a restaurant and also holding knitting workshops and cooking classes there. What made you decide to start these businesses?

A. My family holds a long tradition of involvement in the tourist industry for many generations. My grandmother accommodated guests such as poets, writers and artists from the late 1800s to early 1900s in the family cottage.

Our house was built in 1932 specifically to accommodate guests. At that time there was a passenger and cargo ferry service twice a week from Galway City which anchored in the bay and everyone and everything had to be rowed ashore by currach (a canvas and tarred canoe).

Guests booked their holidays by letter at Christmas or early in the new year. That time only the well-to-do took holidays in Ireland and they would stay on the island for a number of weeks–full board at Ard Mhuire–and truly immersed themselves in island life and its traditions.

In the evenings everyone would gather in the kitchen, guests and locals alike, to relate stories of the days goings-on and of course to sing and dance. Island singers would be looking forward to some visitors in particular who would be known to have a good song or story.

My father played the melodian. My mother came from the same tradition as her own mother and father who were emigrants from New York and Boston. They set up a grocery shop and guest house in 1932/33.

Granny provided tea for visiting day -rippers from Inis Mór, an island popular in the 1950s and 1960s with honeymooners who would sometimes hire a boat for the day to visit Inis Oirr. They would lunch or picnic at Granny’s.

I grew up immersed in that environment in a house full of history and stories and good friends who started off visiting on a family break and returning year after year. One family has come for four generations and we are still in contact with them.

It was a natural progression for me to continue in this tradition. The knitting workshops came about initially to offer something of our traditions to the visitor and encourage increased bed and breakfast nights at Ard Mhuire. However it developed into something more pretty quickly as I realized the need to embrace tradition and to pass on local stitches, skills and island techniques.

There is no longer an everyday market for the heavy Bainín sweaters as modern living has dictated and also there is a shortage of knitters of such garments (it takes 60 hours on average to hand knit a sweater).

I feel what I am doing in the workshops with knitting, baking, butter churning and spinning and dying is a way of sharing our history and culture and preserving and keeping alive our traditions for future generations.

Q. Because the islands are somewhat difficult to get to, I know you don’t have a lot of visitors (and even fewer than Isis Mor which is quite a bit larger). About how many tourists do you interact with in any given year?

A. Access to the Island has improved immensely in recent years, especially with the introduction of the new ferry services from Doolin that get you across in 20 minutes– weather permitting of course.

This improvement has lengthened the tourist season on the island now, running from March to the end of October. We need this extended season to ensure the survival of the many tourist-related small business set up, in many cases by the returning young islanders, and to ensure the survival of future generations.

It can sometimes feel a little busy around the pier at sailing times but walk in any direction for about 10 minutes and you really do get away from it all to enjoy a unique and special jewel. We have a Céad Míle Fáilte (welcome) for everyone and our wish is that you leave refreshed and enriched from your island experience.

Q. And of the tourists, how many are from outside of Ireland?

A. On a yearly average we get about 500 visitors a day and of those about 60% are from abroad and 40% are Irish. Once people make the discovery, many return year after year.

Q. Some people might go a little stir crazy in such a remote location. What is it that keeps you on the island?

A. Island life in this day and age really is the best of both worlds. Every day is different, dictated by nature and the weather while also accommodating the everyday work-life. Daily access to the mainland on a year-round basis ensures we want for nothing. It’s 60 minutes by ferry to Rosaveal, 10 minutes by air via Aer Arann and 20 minutes to Doolin. These run from March to October.

Access to broadband is good on the island, enabling some people to work from home. The island community of immersion in the Irish language and culture is a perfect environment to raise a family and a very active community offering crafting, language classes, and sporting and dance exercise classes to anyone interested so there is no excuse to be idle as there is something here for everyone.

Q. What are the top things to do on Isis Oirr? Is there something in particular that can’t be missed?

A. How to spend a day on Inis Oirr? Start your day on arrival by walking up the pier to Caifé Úna and enjoy a homemade scone or cake fresh out of the oven along with great coffee or tea.

Take stock of your surroundings perched on the waterfront and beautiful sandy beach, watch Sandy the dolphin play and entertain you while you plan your day.

Take an island tour in the Wanderly Wagon or a pony and trap ride and meet some locals while getting a history tour of the island. Feeling a little more energetic? Take a walk along the beach and shoreline or cycle and discover the sights for yourself.

Even though we are a small island, there are many roadways and walking paths to discover. Among some of the highlights to see is our beautiful church which is in the process of restoration at the moment. This work is a very specialized job as it is a protected structure.

Other sites to see include St. Kevin’s Church in the Graveyard and St. Gobnaits Church, our only lady saint to spend time on the island. There are the ruin of O’Brien’s Castle towering over the island and a beautiful lake and the lighthouse. There’s also “The Plassy” shipwreck off the coast where islanders rescued the crew (it was later featured on Fr Ted TV).

The landscape itself is special boasting many rare wildflowers such as the Bee Orchid and Gentian and many unique butterflies and birds.

Return to the Village for lunch and afterwards take in the other half incorporating Aras Éanna Art Centre where there is usually an exhibition or an evening show if you decide to stay overnight. There’s also the holy well of St. Éanna.

Return to Caifé Úna to await your ferry or take a leisurely stroll on the beach.

Q. What’s the best way for a person to meet some locals when visiting the island?

A. The best way to meet the locals is to talk with the people you meet. Stay overnight to sample the nightlife and get a better sense of place. Book a crafting or knitting tour with Beth at WanderTours to really sample our culture and traditions and have all your questions answered firsthand.

Everyone is very friendly and happy to oblige. So come and visit and talk to the locals. It’s amazing the similarities between peoples even though those we think are worlds apart!

Céad Míle Fáilte,

Una McDonagh

https://wandertours.com/qa-with-una-mcdonagh-of-inis-oirr-ireland/feed/ 0
Eagle Creek 40L Global Companion Bag Giveaway https://wandertours.com/eagle-creek-40l-global-companion-bag-giveaway/ https://wandertours.com/eagle-creek-40l-global-companion-bag-giveaway/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:28:01 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=15185 Eagle Creek Global CompanionI know, I know. You’ve heard it from me many times before. I’m a big advocate of packing light.

There are many reasons why but most notably because you are simply safer if you’re not having to manage a bunch of luggage while making your way through an airport, train station or big city.

While the Eagle Creek 40L Global Companion might be a little small for a big adventure, it’s definitely a great go-to bag for a shorter getaway, be it for business, vacation or adventure.

Lucky you. I’m giving away one this month!

First, about the bag…

The Global Companion comes in two sizes, the 65L and the 40L. I have found that with my body size (5′ 2″) the 40L fits me better (although I have a friend who’s just a tad taller than I am and she loves her 65L).

While the bag is designed as a backpack, you don’t have to actually wear it on your back. It also has two handles, one on the top and one on the side with the one on the side a better option for carrying it. Both handles are great for placing it and moving it around in the overhead bin.

If I’m walking a short distance, I find myself just slinging the bag over one Eagle Creek Global Companion insidearm/shoulder rather than putting both arms through the straps and carrying it on my back.

The bag opens like a clam shell and has mesh openings on each side so you can easily see inside both sections making it easy to organize. A few other outstanding features:

  • Shoe compartment in the bottom to keep them away from your clothes.
  • Compression straps to keep the size minimized and easier for putting it in the overhead bin.
  • Rainfly to protect the bag in bad weather.
  • Padded laptop sleeve for easy removal at TSA.

The bag weighs just over 3.5 pounds making it pretty darn light as bags go.

Would you like you’re very own Eagle Creek 40L Global Companion bag?

Now about the drawing…

1) Send me your favorite travel tip using this contact form. It can be anything! Favorite travel gear, a money saving tip, how to meet the locals, best way to book your flights. Let me hear it!

2) You’ll need to be subscribed to the Wanderlust and Lipstick newsletter. Click on that link and enter your email address. Be sure to check the WaL box.

3) This contest closes at 11:59 pm PST on July 31, 2018 and I’ll choose one lucky winner using a random number generator on August 1, 2018.

Approximate value for the Eagle Creek 40L Global Companion bag is $160!

* Eagle Creek is happy to ship to a winner with an address in the U.S. or Canada. Winner will have three days to reply once being notified. If no response, a new winner will be chosen.

I’m looking forward to hearing your tips and sharing them in a blog post on the Wanderlust and Lipstick site in August!

Be Bold,


https://wandertours.com/eagle-creek-40l-global-companion-bag-giveaway/feed/ 0
Experience North India https://wandertours.com/experience-north-india/ https://wandertours.com/experience-north-india/#respond Mon, 18 Dec 2017 01:45:37 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14773

Looking for our India tour(s)? We’re so happy you landed here!

We’re currently working on our latest itineraries and if you contact us, we’ll let you know as soon as they get posted to the website.

What can you expect from one of our tours? Here’s the lowdown on our North India trip…

This 14-day women-only tour of North India is one of our most popular at WanderTours and sells out quickly. You’ll take in the highlights of North India’s spectacular architecture as you explore the Jain temples, Agra’s Red Fort, Jaipur—often referred to as The Pink City—the Royal City Palace and of course, the iconic Taj Mahal – a breathtaking experience.

But this is more than a tour of the highlights. You’ll also partake in one of India’s biggest festivals, Diwali, the Festival of Lights and, if you choose the Varanasi add-on, you’ll witness the spirituality and culture of India in aarti (prayer) ceremonies on the Ganges River. 

India Aarti Prayer Varanasi

You’ll be immersed in Indian culture in an intimate way as you are welcomed into homes for cooking classes, demonstrations and meals. And, you’ll have an opportunity to see firsthand the organizations that are helping marginalized women and children by visiting The Salaam Baalak Trust and the Sambhali Trust – often a highlight for many of our tour participants.

Sambhali Trust India

There’s nothing like traveling with a group of women to explore another culture! And with the ample time to shop the colorful markets and explore some dining on your own, you’ll leave this tour not only with a deep love for India, but a feeling of sisterhood with the group.

Group India Udaipur

With only 15 spots, this tour sells out every time and this one will be no exception! Contact us right away to get on our North India waiting list or if you have any questions about this tour. 

Cheers and happy travels!


https://wandertours.com/experience-north-india/feed/ 0
Learning About New Orleans https://wandertours.com/learning-about-new-orleans/ https://wandertours.com/learning-about-new-orleans/#respond Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:01:24 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14264 French Quarter New Olreans LouisianaOn the New Orleans Culinary Tour from Wandertours you will experience this Louisiana city through its varied food cultures. To whet your appetite for travel to the Crescent City, here are other facts about New Orleans.

It is called the Crescent City because it sits in a bend of the Mississippi River, a bend which curves in the shape of a crescent.

The Mississippi began creating that crescent around 2200 BCE. Archaeologists think that people began living where New Orleans is now somewhere between 300 and 400 CE. We know they made pottery, and it’s likely they traded with other tribes up and down the river.

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded the city of Nouvelle Orleans on May 7, 1718. The city was named to honor the Duke of Orleans, who was regent of France at the time. Note that date: 2018 is an important anniversary year.

At parades in New Orleans — and there are plenty — there are bands. What about the people you’ll see behind the musicians, waving handkerchiefs, twirling parasols, dancing through the streets? They are second lining, a New Orleans tradition begun as jazz bands played in funeral processions, and mourners and friends joined in the walk. Doesn’t have to be a funeral to bring forth second liners now, though.

New Orleans French Quarter corner by tpsDave

A visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art will reveal a collection of nearly 40,000 artworks, particularly strong in art from France, from Africa, and from the Americas.

The Museum of Art is located in New Orleans City Park. The park provides 1,300 acres of green space and recreation for the city. Founded in 1854, it is one of the country’s oldest urban parks. Grounds include sports fields, forested walking trails, and a historic carousel.

Voodoo, an idea long associated with New Orleans, is a mystical practice involving, among other things, belief a supreme being, intercessors or saints, and use of drums and chanting. It had its beginnings in the religions of West Africa. Slavery times took believers into contact with other religions of Africa, to communities in Brazil and the Caribbean, and to New Orleans. It has been both banned and praised in the city across the centuries. The most famous voodoo queen is Marie Laveau, who died in 1881. If you visit her tomb in Saint Louis Cemetery Number 1 you’ll see that people still leave offerings to seek her favor.

New Orleans is known, rightly so, as the birthplace of jazz.

New Orleans music statues by N Bauer

Ragtime, swing, brass band music, Creole music, Cajun music, Zydeco, blues, soul, pop, and rock and roll have all crossed paths in the music of New Orleans. There’s a strong country music factor. Gospel and spiritual music have history in the city, too. All that said, the first opera ever performed in the United States took place in New Orleans, in 1796. In the nineteenth century, New Orleans native Louis Moreau Gottschalk expanded classical music‘s boundaries by drawing on ideas from his mother’s Creole background to compose his works. These days, the New Orleans Opera Company is going strong and the musician governed Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, based in New Orleans, brings top class classical music to the Gulf south.

To learn about the history, culture, and especially the foods of New Orleans, sign up for Wandertours New Orleans Culinary Tour.

Photographs by Nicole Bauer, tpsDave, and llambrano, all courtesy of Pixabay.

Kerry Dexter writes about the arts, history and travel for print, online, and broadcast, as well as at her own site Music Road.

https://wandertours.com/learning-about-new-orleans/feed/ 0
Eating Vegetarian in Santa Fe https://wandertours.com/eating-vegetarian-in-santa-fe/ https://wandertours.com/eating-vegetarian-in-santa-fe/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 15:30:25 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14216 WanderTours Santa Fe trip offers the opportunity to learn about culinary styles of Santa Fe and the southwest through visits with respected cooks and chefs. Corn, beans, rice, chiles of all sorts feature in the food you will learn about. You’ll have the chance to explore to explore vegetarian food in Santa Fe on your own, too. Here are ideas to help you begin that exploration.

peppers veg new mexico

Cowgirl BBQ might not come first to mind when you are thinking of enjoying a vegetarian meal in Santa Fe. Their Five Pepper Nachos have been singled out for praise by the Wall Street Journal, though, and you will find a range of vegetarian choices for quesadillas, veg selections in the burger menu, vegetarian chili, plenty of side dishes, and for comfort food, a popular butternut squash casserole. The restaurant is in a hundred year old adobe a short way off the Plaza, and veg dishes are marked with a bright green leaf on the menu.

No need for menu markings at Annapurna’s World Cafe: everything on the menu is vegetarian and much is or can be made vegan. When restaurant founder Yashoda Naidoo moved from India to New Mexico, she found she had to cook for herself as there was no place around which met her strict Ayurvedic dining requirements. She was soon asked to cook for others, and Annapurna’s came to be. Many of the dishes are Indian, there are many creative veg combinations, and an extensive dessert menu as well. Menu items feature seasonal produce and include a South Indian Sampler plate, Masala Dosa, and Kitchari. In another creative combination there are burritos which use traditional Indian flatbread chapati instead of tortillas to hold the ingredients. Annapurna’s is on Saint Michael’s Drive.

The Plaza Cafe has been dishing up American diner fare and New Mexico favorites to Santa Fe residents and visitors since 1905. The menu includes dishes from the current owners’ Greek heritage as well. Look closely at the menu and you’ll find veg dishes among the meat offerings. You can have tacos filled with calabacitas (a form of squash), a Greek salad with feta and olives, fajitas with portabella mushrooms, or perhaps huevos rancheros with red and green (known in Santa Fe as Christmas) chile.

New Mexico Corn by Santa Fe School of Cooking

At Bumblebee’s Baja Grill, you’ll find an informal atmosphere and a menu which draws from New Mexican, Mexican, and American cooking. Tofu and Beyond Meat vegan chicken are offered among the choices to customize your taco or burrito. A rarity in Santa Fe, there is vegan tortilla stew (it’s usually flavored with meat) and as a long simmering dish, it’s not one a restaurant can easily customize for non-meat eaters. Other vegetarian friendly dishes include a whole range of vegetarian burritos and tacos and the choice to have any of their burgers with a vegetarian patty.

A brewpub might not strike you as a likely place for a vegetarian meal, but Second Street Brewery in The Railyard district has you covered. Starters include a New Mexico cheese plate and nachos you can customize by adding mushrooms. There is plenty of veg-based fare on the main menu too. Dishes include the Total Vegetarian, which includes sweet potato, quinoa, and fresh veg, a Smoked Portabella Wrap, seasonal vegetables, and green chile mac and cheese. At times your meal will come with a side of live music, as well. There are two other locations in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe has been a crossroads of cultures, trade, arts, and food for more than four hundred years. It still is. Seeking out vegetarian food in Santa Fe offers unique ways to explore those cultural intersections. Learn about Wandertours Santa Fe culinary trip where you’ll meet up with chefs, cooks, and scholars, and have the chance to explore the tastes of Santa Fe on your own, too.

Photographs by Remcoosculiflowers/Pixabay and Tourism Santa Fe

Kerry Dexter writes about the arts, history and travel for print, online, and broadcast, as well as at her own site Music Road.

https://wandertours.com/eating-vegetarian-in-santa-fe/feed/ 0
Papua New Guinea Celebrates at The Goroka Show https://wandertours.com/papua-new-guinea-celebrates-at-the-goroka-show/ https://wandertours.com/papua-new-guinea-celebrates-at-the-goroka-show/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 03:43:36 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14209 Papua New Guinea is a country where people often live separated by geography and history, focused on their own nearby community and tribe. Singsings, though, are gatherings where tribes share their traditional dress, music, and dance. The largest of these, named for the town in which it is held, is the Goroka Show.

In 2018 the Goroka Show will mark its 61st anniversary. It began when members of the Papua New Guinea police force who came from Australia were looking for ways to encourage tribes to interact with each other. Remembering tribal gatherings in Australia, they decided to introduce the idea to PNG. These days natives of  Papua New Guinea and visitors from across the world come to experience the Goroka Show — and it will be part of Wandertours 2018 visit to Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Gunie Goroka Traditional Dress by The Keys

You will see dancers and singers who paint their faces and bodies in many colors and designs. They will dress in costumes which might include head and body adornment made of feathers of all sorts, bone and wood ornament, and in the case of the Mudmen from the Asaro Valley, head and face covering made of clay and meant, some say, to suggest or evoke ghosts and spirits. One story tells that tribe members, fleeing an attack, hid in the Asaro river. When they rose up their bodies were covered with the light colored mud from the river. Their attackers thought they were spirits and ran away. Later, still covered with mud, they went to see where the other tribe was. Their adversaries, seeing them on land, were even more convinced they were seeing ghosts and were frightened away. Adding fearsome masks to their attire (they thought river mud would be poisonous if applied to their faces), the Mudmen built up the battle attire for which they are still known.

The singing and drumming you will hear at the Goroka Show will feature vocal harmony and rhythm, and different patterns of drum sounds. It is bound to have a lot of variety: more than 700 languages are spoken on Papua New Guinea. Many of the songs and dances tell stories related to local myths, legends, and history, and may have ceremonial purposes too. If you’d like a preview of what some of the music may be like, Healing, Feasting and Magical Ritual: Songs and Dance From Papua New Guinea is a recording which offers music from five of Papua New Guinea’s regions.

It can be quite a sight, and sound, as the dancers and singers from varied regions compete to show off their cultures and tell their stories through music, dance, and costume at the Goroka Show. Many New Guineans come to experience and learn about their own culture. Visitors from around the world join them. Would you like to join in too? Find out more about Wandertours Papua New Guinea tour which in September 2018 will include the Goroka Show.

Photographs by The Keys/Pixabay (person in traditional dress) and Beth Whitman (Asaro Mudman)


Kerry Dexter writes about the arts, history, and travel for print, online, and broadcast media and at her own site Music Road

https://wandertours.com/papua-new-guinea-celebrates-at-the-goroka-show/feed/ 0
A Q&A with Bonnie from Santa Fe’s Kakawa Chocolate House https://wandertours.com/a-qa-with-bonnie-from-santa-fes-kakawa-chocolate-house/ https://wandertours.com/a-qa-with-bonnie-from-santa-fes-kakawa-chocolate-house/#respond Tue, 27 Jun 2017 16:21:52 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14159 We do some chocolate tasting on our Santa Fe Culinary Tour and one of our favorite stops is the Kakawa Chocolate House, best-known for its chocolate elixirs. We thought it would be interesting to get a little bit of background about this delectable business from Bonnie Bennett, who co-owns it with her husband, Tony.

Kakawa chocolate

Q. Drinking chocolate or elixir is your house specialty. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of drinking chocolate?
A. It’s a looong history but here’s a quick version!

The Theobroma Cacao (tree) species, which is believed to have been around for over 10 thousand years, began to be processed by the Olmec in southern Mexico over three millennia ago. The rulers of the Maya appear in research to have been the first to create a cacao, chocolaty, frothy drink. The Aztecs who followed also used cacao as a drink and as a form of currency (cacao beans). Post destruction of the Aztec culture, the Spanish conquerors and many European capitals perpetuated “drinking chocolate” long before it became the super sweet, milky version most people recognize today as “hot chocolate” or the solid processed bars of our current history. Cacao has one of the longest histories with a wealth of historical and pictorial imagery dating back thousands of years. Truly “food of the Gods”

Q. Why did you choose to make drinking chocolate your main focus?
A. Kakawa Chocolate House was founded on the concept of re-introducing guests to chocolate! With extensive research of the role and recipes of cacao (chocolate) in the Mayan and Aztec cultures as well as in old Europe and colonial America, this remains a fascination and focus of Kakawa. Over the years we have used this research as a platform to create new and special contemporary elixir blends as well as amazing handmade truffles, caramels, baked goods and even organic ice creams!

Q. What is your favorite drinking elixir? Why?
A. With 16 to choose from I have several favorites! My single top pick? That has to be the Mayan Full Spice. In addition to being historically based on recipes from (literally) thousands of years ago it is amazingly complex with layers and layers of flavors created by herbs, florals, spices, nuts and, of course, chili.

Q. What is the most popular item you sell?
A. Our elixirs as a category are the most popular reason to come to Kakawa Chocolate House but our single most popular item is our amazing sea salt caramel. It is unlike any other you may have tried. Dreamy and delicious!

Kakawa Rose Caramels

Q. I know your caramels are made with agave rather than sugar. What other local flavors will we find in your chocolates?
A. We are big believers in local and seasonal, and never use preservatives or corn syrups. Depending on the season, you may find a variety of local ingredients including mint, lavender, pinon nuts, apricots and of course, many varietals of New Mexican chilies! Other regional ingredients include prickly pear, mescal and other herbs.

Q. How did you get into the chocolate business? How long have you been in the business?
A. After leaving New York’s fashion industry we were intrigued by the concept and research that founded Kakawa Chocolate House and wanted to find a way to perpetuate these ideas and share some chocolate love! My husband and I have owned and run Kakawa for over six years. You can find one of us there every day!

Kakawa Chocolate House

Q. Do you eat chocolate every day?
A. Absolutely! I find a meal isn’t complete without a bite of good dark chocolate. There is the happiness (serotonin) factor of course, but also extensive medical research detailing how healthful good quality dark chocolate is for our bodies, hearts and minds! So, what’s not to love!

Q. What are your favorite chocolate flavor combinations?
A. Too many to name! Our chocolatiers are always creating new and unusual combinations to delight the palette, so I am never without a “new” favorite! Some of my classic favorites include Blueberry and Basil, and Cherry Chili. Really anything with chili and dark chocolate; those Mayans knew what they were doing thousands of years ago!

Photo credits:
All photos supplied by Kakawa Chocolate House

https://wandertours.com/a-qa-with-bonnie-from-santa-fes-kakawa-chocolate-house/feed/ 0
Irish Whiskeys to Try When You’re in Ireland https://wandertours.com/irish-whiskeys-to-try-when-youre-in-ireland/ https://wandertours.com/irish-whiskeys-to-try-when-youre-in-ireland/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 22:34:44 +0000 https://wandertours.com/?p=14097 Old Midleton Distillery

Only sparkling wine produced in France can be labeled Champagne and similarly, only whiskey which is actually produced in Ireland can be called Irish whiskey. If you’re traveling with us on our Women-Only Ireland Tour we’ll be visiting Jameson’s Old Midleton Distillery, one of the largest distilleries on the island.

The word whiskey is the anglicized version of the Gaelic word uisce from uisce betha—or “water of life,” as whiskey is known. History claims that the Irish were the first distillers in the British Isles and that Irish whiskey was once the most popular spirit in the world. However, after the late 1800s, the bottom dropped out of the market, with the result that within 100 years there were only three distilleries left in the country.

Although Irish Whiskey has often had the reputation of being a cheap shot to accompany a beer, it is currently in an upswing of quality and its popularity is booming. As of early 2017 there are now 16 distilleries operating, with another 14 in the planning stages. There’s obviously no shortage of whiskey to sip when you’re visiting the Emerald Isle!

So, which whiskeys should you try? Here are a few suggestions:

Jameson Irish Whiskey—(established in 1790) is the best-known of the Irish whiskeys—in fact, it’s one of the most popular in the world. They produce a number blended whiskeys which are produced in the Midleton Distillery, just outside the city of Cork. This is where we’ll be visiting on tour.

Jameson Irish whiskey

Bushmills—established in 1608 and producer of popular blended whiskeys is the world’s oldest whiskey distillery. Their distillery is located in Northern Ireland so you won’t be visiting it on our tour…but I’m sure you’ll still be able to find one of their whiskeys in the local pub.

Bushmills Irish whiskey

Redbreast—is a single pot whiskey brand that is owned by Jameson and produced at its Midleton distillery. Try the Lustau Edition which is finished in sherry casks from Bodegas Lustau in Spain (thus the name).

Redbreast Irish whiskey

Teeling Single Malt—Dublin was traditionally the heart of the Irish whiskey industry but when the industry fell on hard times, the last distillery in the city closed its doors in 1976…until now. The Teeling family began producing whiskey in Dublin in 1782. They are now back in the city, opening the first new distillery there in over 100 years. You’ll find eight different whiskeys which are produced by them.

Teeling Irish whiskey

There are far too many whiskeys to list them all. I do suggest, however, that you try not only some of the blended whiskeys, but also some of the single malts. Even if you don’t consider yourself a whiskey drinker, you may end up bringing a bottle or two home with you!

Although this tour is currently sold out, please contact us if you’re interested in being put on the waitlist in case of a cancellation or if you’re interested in any of our other tours.

Embrace life,


To stay up-to-date on all things WanderTours, follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS.

Photo credits:

Old Midleton Distillery – Olivier Bruchez via Flickr
Jameson Whiskey – Patrick Truby via Flickr
Bushmills Whiskey – Alain Rouiller via Flickr
Redbreast Whiskey – Jameson Fink via Flickr
Teeling Whiskey – Dominic Lockyer via Flickr

https://wandertours.com/irish-whiskeys-to-try-when-youre-in-ireland/feed/ 0