Partnering with several Mexican Rotary Clubs, the New Lebanon Rotary Club and my Moraine Rotary Club received a $150,000 grant from Rotary International to set up offices and mobile cervical cancer detection and treatment centers in rural south/central Mexico. Undiagnosed female Mexicans were dying at an alarming rate. Me and seventeen Rotarian’s flew to Mexico City, were driven 100 km south to several cities and stayed with Mexican Rotarian families for a week. I stayed with a family of four in Cocoyoc in the state of Morelos. I helped set up a local clinic (Photo #1) and went with a local eye doctor to screen and provide glasses to poor rural people. I had brought 700 pair of used eyeglasses with me.
I got to visit Tepoztlan and hike up an ancient Aztec mountain trail to a Aztec temple ruins Photo#2). I visited two Mexican rotary clubs and met many fine Rotarians. One day Rotarian Antonio and I took a bus 113 miles to Mexico City with the active volcano Popocatepetl (17,930 feet in height) in the distance. We visited the famous National Museum of Anthropology which has 23 rooms of Aztec and other artifacts (Photo#3 & #4). We saw “VW Bugs” everywhere. It seemed like over half of Mexico city’s cars were Volkswagen Beetles (Photo#5). At the market booths I purchased Mexican dresses for my daughters and a wood puppet for one of my sons. Restaurants were usually beautiful open air settings (Photo#6).
The climate in the state of Morelos where I stated with Antonio and Marisa and their two daughters, was almost perfect. Over 70% of the state was warm and humid with an average year round temperature of 77 degrees. they didn’t have any screens on their windows as they had no insect problem. Their house required no heat or air conditioning.
I also got to attend an outdoor Catholic Mass spoken in Spanish set up in a beautiful shaded grotto by a stream. As for one facet of the Rotary project, when working with the eye doctor, a 74 year old poor Mexican man was examined and we found a pair of used eyeglasses that matched his farsightedness. He got up, threw down his cane and did a little dance while crying. The doctor interpreted his comments for me. He said he has not seen clearly in over 14 years. Now we can see what his great grand children really look like. As I have told my children many times, You Can make a Difference in the World One Person at a time. Through Rotary. I have.
I was in Morelos, Mexico on a joint Moraine Rotary/ Morelos Mexico Rotary Club cervical cancer detection center project. Mexican Rotarians from nearby Tepoztlan invited me to climb the nearest mountain trail which would overlook the city, valley and far beyond. Tepoztlan, located 46 miles south of Mexico City, is the reputed birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent God. We drove into Tepoztlan, hiked the cobblestone street past merchants and street vendors selling food, crafts and hollowed-out gourds. At the trail head (Photo#1) we began ascending the stone trail (Photo#5) climbed by the ancient Aztecs centuries before. The hike was a good workout as the trailhead begins at almost 6000 feet above sea level. I was in shape but the altitude made me breath heavy. Photo 2 shows the city below as we hiked up 2,000 feet (a 2.1 mile trail) to the mountain top where the ruins of El Tepozteco Pyramid (Photo#4) stood, a Temple honoring the Aztec God. The pyramid was built in 1470. Photo #3 shows the view of the city below from the ruins. We hiked a quarter mile north and west of the ruins overlooking the canyon where one Rotarian named Carlo lived and away from city lights. Afterwards, we rested at a local bar drinking the town’s favorite – a michelada – beer with various kinds of sweet and sour goo around the rim. I preferred just salt and lime around the rim.
Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Mike Araiza, Carol Araiza, Tim Clark
Date: April 1985
We had 12 hours to explore this Caribbean island. Our Carnival cruise ship docked and we grabbed a taxi and headed to Dunns River Falls. At 180 feet high and 600 feet long this world famous landmark is the most popular of all Jamaican falls. Our group hiked 30 minutes through lush surroundings and small natural pools that you could swim in. Since Rosie was pregnant with Jacque, we climbed slowly up and down the slippery rocks and gushing water. At the base of the waterfall you could see where the falls empty into the sea at Dunns River Falls Beach making the falls one of the few travertine waterfalls in the world!
After the falls climb, we visited an open air marketplace/fair with dozens of booths selling Jamaican crafts, carvings, jewelry. One local named Cool Cat tried to openly sell our group reefer. We told him where to stick it. One Jamaican man was dressed in a colorful headdress & wanted $1 to have a photo with him.
To celebrate our 25th Anniversary we stayed at Nine Beaches Resort at the Daniels Head area of southwest Bermuda. Bermuda is a British Island Territory of 71,000 people. We had our own small cabana (Photo#1) on the coast with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean from our bed. The resort had nine private beaches or coves.
We enjoyed free breakfast every morning at the resort restaurant overlooking the swimming pool and ocean. We enjoyed all of the water sports -swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling & standup paddle boarding. This was my first attempt at paddle boarding and I tried close to 40 times and finally stood and got my balance on the board. Rosie & I bicycled on the Railway Trail to a Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and crossed the World’s Smallest Drawbridge. One day we took a ferry over to the capital city of Hamilton and enjoyed a street fair sampling some local food. At one booth I tried to get my hair braided so as to look like one of the locals but I failed miserably due to lack of hair. Enjoyed one dinner at the Royal Navy Dockyard Restaurant. Gasoline here was $8.00 per gallon.
We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary at the beautiful Sandals Royal Bohemian Resort. We almost didn’t get to go on this vacation as a huge hurricane went by just east of Nassau two days before. It was a fun, relaxing week of good food, swimming, snorkeling and scuba. The exciting scuba and snorkeling adventures in shark infested waters can be found in the Scuba Diving category. The swim up bar in the main pool was a favorite place to quench the thirst with cool daiquiris. Come to think of it I swam up to the bar every hour before losing track of time. The resort had a private island that we took a boat over to and played on the water swings and hunted shells before dinner. As always my bride looked beautiful in her evening dinner dresses or in daytime swimsuits.
Nassau is the capital and largest city in The Bahamas with a population of 275,000 or 70% of the entire country. It is located on the island of New Providence. Historically, it was considered to be a stronghold of pirates. The town that would be named Nassau was founded in 1670 by British noblemen where they built a fort and called it Charles Towne (Photo#1) in honor of England’s King Charles II.
Rosie and I went to Sunday Catholic mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and toured the old downtown city center. We passed the Government House home of the Bahamian Parliament with a statue of Christopher Columbus in front. Parliament Square included a building for the Supreme Court. We saw the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Pirates of Nassau, horse drawn carriage rides and the Straw Market which sold crafts, fish and food. I almost got killed walking back to the Sandals Resort as I forgot drivers in Bahamas drive on the opposite side of the road as Americans. I looked left which was clear and stepped out in front of a car coming from the right. I got back just in time.
This valley across the Nile River from Luxor, was the site where rock cut tombs were cut for Pharaoh’s and powerful nobles for over 500 years between the 16th to 11th century BC. After our boat ride across the Nile River and a 45 minute donkey ride we reached our destination. A total of 62 known tombs have been found here spread out all through the valley. In another adventure, I wrote about us viewing the most famous tomb here, King Tut.
Jacque and I got to visit four tombs: Ramses IX, Ramses IV, Thutmoses III and King Tut. We had to climb a lot of steps to reach the tomb of Thutmoses III which was located higher up the hill (Photo #3). The paintings and hieroglyphics on the tomb walls still retained beautiful, vivid colors even after 3,000 years. Examples are Thutmoses III (Photo#4), Ramses IV (Photo#5) and Ramses IX (photo#6).
We rented a calesche (a horse drawn light, low wheeled carriage with removable folded hood) to travel through downtown Luxor to Karnak. Jacque looked beautiful in her new Egyptian scarf. The calesche driver offered me 30 camels for my daughter eventually upping his bid to 5 million camels. That was a tough deal to turn down.
The Just north of Luxor we visited a complex of temples, halls, chapels and sanctuaries from the Middle Kingdom until the Greek-Roman Period. The Karnak Temple is the largest temple in the world! It is so big that St. Peter’s, Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls. It was built by Ramesses III who reigned between 1186 to 1155 BC.
Jacque and I toured the huge Karnak complex, the Temple of Amon Ra, the giant 95 foot tall Obelisk of Hatshepsut (Photo#2) and the avenue of ram-headed sphinxes (Photo#3). We bought tickets for the sound and light show which lit up the temples but was meager compared to light/laser shows in the USA.
Later we stopped by an Egyptian restaurant and ordered the national dish called Koshary, a mix of rice, lentils, macaroni with spicy tomato sauce in a bowl (Photo#4). After dinner, walking the streets of Luxor we found a McDonalds where Jacque ordered an apple pie.
Jacque and I boarded an Egyptian felucca, a traditional, large Egyptian wooden sailboat with one or two sails, for a fifteen mile overnight trip north on the Nile River towards Luxor. The canvas roof was removed during the day in let in sunshine. Jacque settled back to read and write in her trip logbook then we both enjoyed the views of the Nile as Aswan faded into the distance. Ninety percent of Egyptians live within a mile of the Nile and we could see that the Nile gives life to Egypt with its thin strip of fertile farm land. We befriended Ali, the captain’s teenage assistant. He could not speak much English but smiled a lot. I gave him my one-eyed binocular as a gift at the end of the boat ride.
We eventually pulled up to land and ate dinner on the second felucca which pulled up with food. After dinner we played dodgeball on the beach and local Nubians came to dance and sing Egyptian songs. We both danced and the Nubians taught Jacque to play the drum (Photo#3). Our group slept overnight on the felucca. The canvas roof was re-installed and thick blankets were passed out. Egypt was 90 degrees in the day but the desert was a cold 48 degrees at night.
The next morning we enjoyed a hot breakfast to warm us up. The boat took us farther north on the Nile River where we embarked about 12 miles south of Luxor. We hopped in a van and visited Edfu Temple (also called the Temple of Horus) one of the best preserved ancient monuments (Photo #4 & #5) built between 237 and 57 BC.
Quite a road trip. A severe sandstorm kept us from visiting here the day before. We joined a caravan of buses in Aswan for the 174 mile drive across the desert two lane highway in southern Egypt to see the famous Abu Simbel. Each bus (Photo #1) or van had a police officer in the front seat with a rifle to protect us from bandits or Sudan rebels. Our caravan hogged both lanes because out here vehicle traffic was very rare. At periodic checkpoints we saw four to six armed guards in each guard shack. We felt safe and were glad the bus did not break down in such a desolate Sahara Desert area.
Arriving at our destination we saw that Lake Nasser (Photo #2) was opposite Abu Simbel. Abu Simbel is the 3,000 year old temple of Ramesses II and his wife Nefertari built in 1265 BC. Ramesses II was the 3rd Pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. Under his reign Egypt became a world power. As Jacque and I approached the large temple (Photo#3 & #4) we marveled at the four colossal 66 foot statues on each side representing Ramesses II seated on the throne and wearing a double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Small statues in front not higher than his knees depict his wife, mother, sons and daughters.
The temple had 23 foot tall entrance doors. Inside we viewed eight majestic Osiride pillars lining the entrance hallway, carvings and hieroglyphics. The temperature was much cooler inside but the rooms got smaller the deeper we went toward the sanctuary. Depictions of Ramessess II as the God Osiris were on many walls.
The smaller temple of Abu Simbel is dedicated to Nefertari (Photo#5). When we exited the temple, we passed through a bazaar of tents with Egyptians selling everything imaginable. For $2 American (or $11.00 in Egyptian currency), I purchased a small, black marble scarab and a Nefertari statue which I use today as paperweights.