Scones

Scones

Have you ever had scones with clotted cream, or Devonshire cream, and jam? If you haven’t, book a flight to the UK and give yourself an incredible treat. Yes, I am saying that scones with this amazing cream and the jam of your choice ~ though usually strawberry ~ is worth a trip to Britain. My sister and I rented a cottage in Somerset a few years back and would stop at the local market just to pick up some clotted cream to have with our scones and tea. Clearly, this is still one of my favorite memories.

Chile

Chile

It’s one thing to collect a few photos and funfacts about a place like Chile, then quite another to watch a video. Somehow, seeing the people in motion, living their lives, dancing to folk tunes, eating local food changes our perceptions of a place and its traditions.  Add to that the sensational first video and this line-up will give you a new view of this very, very long South American country.

The Andes

The Andes

Boasting the largest salt desert in the world called the Uyuni Salt Flats, the driest desert in the world called the Atacama, and the famous Machu Picchu Incan ruins, The Andes are one of the world’s greatest wonders. Stretching from Venezuela in the north all the way to Chile and Argentina in the south, it is the longest continental mountain range in the world.

The Andean Condor

The Andean Condor

One of the largest flying birds in the world, the Andean condor has a wingspan of almost eleven feet. The Andean condor is a vulture with the typical bald head but with a lovely white ruff of feathers around its neck. These birds live throughout the Andes Mountain Range in South America and will nest as high as 16,000 feet. They have no known predators but have a near-extinct status. They are a majestic bird and are currently being bred in captivity to protect the species against full extinction.

Australia

Australia 

The land of vast deserts and a gazillion miles of beaches: Australia. The Great Barrier Reef. Kangaroos. Koalas and eucalyptus. The friendly Kookaburra. And the highest average wealth per capita. A strong economy. A land that grapples with periodic droughts and floods. A place that has known human settlements for 30,000 years. With the Aboriginal population numbering 2.5 percent, Australia, like the USA, is a land of immigrants.

Eucalyptus and Koalas

Eucalyptus and Koalas

I spent part of my youth in Southern California, not far from the coast. There was a lot of agriculture in this area when I was a kid and eucalyptus trees were everywhere. They were grown primarily as windbreaks to protect all kinds of orchards and farmland. The trees also shed their bark which gives them an interesting appearance, though I confess one of my favorite things to do was to peel long strips off the trunks. I can remember wondering if the trees itched and if it felt good to have the bark pulled off. I suppose that lends itself to the philosophical question, Do trees feel? I certainly don’t have an answer to that one, but it’s an intriguing question. As for the eucalyptus tree, I’m also intrigued by the fact that koalas live on a diet primarily of eucalyptus leaves. In fact, these marsupials barely need to drink water because the trees are water guzzlers themselves. 

Lorikeets

Lorikeets 

These small-to-medium parrots come in a huge variety of colors. Some are all black, others mostly red or green, and one species is black and orange. Lorikeets are considered one of the most beautiful birds on the planet. The photos below are exclusively of the rainbow lorikeet and this species lives up to its name. Lorikeets are best known for their ability to lap nectar. They have papillae, or very fine hairs, on the ends of their tongues. The second video shows these in slow-motion.

Australia Blue Mountains

Australia Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are located not far from the Sydney metro area. In fact, they’re only about 31 miles away. So, if you’re planning a trip to Sidney, be sure to set aside some time to visit these beautiful mountains. They are perhaps best known for the Three Sisters, a line of monoliths that you’ll find in several of the photos below. The names of the sisters are Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo.

Onions

Onions

I’m a fan of onions. I like them raw, especially in sandwiches. I rarely indulge, however, if I’m in company since the resulting bad breath is very unpleasant for others. But so many dishes, especially soups, pasta sauces, or Mexican cuisine have to include this uber-flavorful bulbous vegetable. I can’t imagine cooking a pot roast, for instance, without an onion, sliced or quartered, added to the slow-cooker.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos

The first thing I learned while doing my research for this blog is that not all kangaroos are kangaroos. There are related species called ‘wallabies’ and ‘wallaroos’ which look very similar. I’ll leave it to you to see if you can distinguish which are which in the photos below since the primary distinction among these species is size, wallabies being the smallest and kangaroos the biggest. Most live in Australia but there is even a tree kangaroo that lives in New Guinea. But they’re all the same family called Macropods, which means ‘big footed’. I’m hoping some of my Aussie commenters can give us some insight!