Jubilados (Spanish for retirees) savouring the journey

Chosen carefully, planned well and travelled independently

Stories of global travel adventures from Gloria and Kerry, a.k.a. Spice and Magellan

“Did you see any mafia?” people asked when we returned from Sicily.

“You’ll see signs they’re still around, like villages with piles of garbage at their entrances,” said those who had travelled there recently.

“You don’t see the Cosa Nostra in Sicily,” others said. “The power’s shifted to new mobs in Calabria and Naples.”

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Once upon a time long ago when the land was owned by the king, the church and the aristocracy and the Danes ruled Norway, a poor man had an idea. “Why do we not farm on Skagadalen ledge where the grass grows long for shepherding goats, Trolls bother not with snow avalanches and the rush of Seven Sisters Waterfall can be heard across the Geirangerfjord?”

“Outlandish,” exclaimed his wife. “The cliff rises straight as a mast. How will we scale down such precipices to sell our goat butter? The Trolls—especially Bøyg with his evil potions—will hurl rocks and lure us to mountain edges and to our death in the fjord we will fall.”

“Worry not thee,” said her husband. “We will build tree-trunk bridges and attach rope ladders in the most dangerous spots. It is said Bøyg hinders travellers—he will not bother we farmers.”

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Is there somebody you know who has been characterized in a love story?

For us, ‘tis Liz (Chute) O’Carroll, proprietress of The Pebble, a renowned B&B in Halifax. Liz and her husband David’s love story is immortalized in the short story “The Pebble” by Ireland’s Bryan MacMahon, writer, teacher, novelist and playwright from the literary town of Listowel where Liz and David grew up. “Our story is one of the great romances of our town,” Liz told us.

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Conehead, Rove-Inn’s most remote (and perhaps most memorable) camp spot.

On Rennell Sound, Haida Gwaii, the only point on the west coast of Graham Island accessible by vehicle.

Our destination, 15 km in, first-come, first-serve, no reservations, no potable water, no internet, and no cell-phone coverage: the single spot at Gregory Beach; or Conehead, further on with two campsites and an outhouse.

Accessible, yes, but only on logging roads. And only between 7am and 5pm if you have a CB radio (we don’t). Otherwise you must follow someone who has a CB radio, or travel at other times. (5pm for us.) Prohibited are RVs and boat trailers. We were warned: “Surface conditions on the Rennell Sound Forest Service road are not the best—the current condition of the road can be confirmed at the Visitor Centre in Queen Charlotte City.” Magellan checked: all good.

Another warning: “The final descent from the alpine down to the shore is a startling 25% gradient, one of the steepest public roads in North America.” Magellan dismissed the cautioning.

The wilderness for two nights, a visit to the renowned Bonanza Beach—relax, there’s nothing to worry about he smiled confidently.

And for a time, he was right.

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It was almost a decade ago our book club started so I don’t recall whether gratitude goes to Teresa, Anna, Susan or Ed (or me?) for suggesting our first read: The Leopard, by Sicily’s Giuseppe di Lampedusa, a classic gathering no dust on my bookshelf so often is it in my hands. Little did I dream that one day I would see Lampedusa’s original manuscript—in the ballroom of the palazzo in Palermo where he lived the last thirteen years of his life.

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Boy! Was I ever shocked when I went to pick up my Hertz rental Toyota RAV SUV in Costa Rica.

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