Benin. Ganvie

A beautiful, happy face – Ganvie (

Ganvie is a unique village built on Lake Nokoué, an hour north of Benin’s capital city, Cotonou. The village has a population of approx. 20,000 all living in houses on stilts over the water. It’s thought that the Tofinu people built their lake village and settled around 400 years ago to escape slavers who came from the Fon tribe (who were not allowed to fight on water for traditional reasons).

Unsurprisingly, most people rely on fishing for their income creating a vast array of vibrant floating markets.  Locals have devised a system of underwater plantings to ‘fence’ the fish in for a more effective catch!

Relaxing Ganvie style! (

Have you been to Ganvie? I would love to hear about it!




Belize. Sinkhole in the sea

The Blue Hole (

The Blue Hole is a cave or an underwater sinkhole. The hole is approx.  194 m deep and 300m across and can be found near the middle of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70 km from the mainland and Belize City.

The Blue Hole (

The Blue Hole began forming approx. 153,000 years ago as a series of caves when the sea level was much lower. As the sea rose, the caves filled with water and created The Blue Hole we see today. A series of stalactites from the original cave formation are still present inside the hole making it a fantastic (and perhaps a little eerie) drive spot.

Inside The Blue Hole (

Formation of The Blue Hole (

Have you been to Belize?

Have you experienced The Blue Hole?

I’d love to hear all about it!

Read more about The Blue Hole here

For more photos and stories visit



Belgium. The Abbey of Saint Sixtus.

At The Abbey of Saint Sixtus, approx. 30 trappist monks live a quiet, peaceful life, searching for God…and making beer! The Westvleteren ‘Trappist’ beer is sold exclusively at the abbey shop but only after an arrangement has been made by phone.

Beer from The Abbey of St. Sixtus (

The Abbey of St. Sixtus (

The Abbey of St. Sixtus beer (

Despite the huge demand for this very special brew, the monks make the same small quantity they made pre WWII. Customers are limited to 1 case each and must make the trip out to the monastery to collect it! Still, I have it on very good authority that it’s a very worthwhile trip!

A beer coaster for my brother! Beer expert, ex-Belgium resident, inspiration for this post and fellow child of a beer coaster collector! (

For more information and to reserve your case visit

Have you tried it?

What was it like? I’d love to hear from you!

Belarus. Midsummer Magic

Ivan Kupala Belarus (

For many centuries the night of 6 July has been celebrated in Belarus (and some other neighbouring countries) as the Midsummer Night, or the night of Ivan Kupala.

Ivan Kupala Festival (

The holiday, which merges the celebrations of the Slavic pagan God of Fertility (Kupala) and the beginning of the feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated with singing, dancing and traditions such as fire-jumping and night swimming.

Ivan Kupala Festival (

One ritual of the holiday is the Floating of the Wreaths. Unmarried girls weave wreaths and set them on the water. If the wreath drifts away, the girl will be married within the year. If the wreath sails back to the shore, the girl will have to wait.  If the wreath sinks, you’re in real trouble!

Ivan Kupala Festival (

Another tradition is the kindling of a large fire and having young couples jump over hand in hand.  If they can take this leap without letting go of one another it is a good omen for the marriage.

Ivan Kupala Fesitval (

Ivan Kupala Festival (

Ivan Kupala Festival (

Ivan Kupala Festival (

For more information visit

Beyond the Map – Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen

This is one of my favourite books and inspired my own travel to Petra, Jordan in 2008. It remains one of the best trips I’ve ever taken (with the fantastic Intrepid Travel). It tells the incredible true story of Marguerite, a nurse from New Zealand who has a chance encounter with a Bedouin man in Petra that changes her life forever.

Here is the intro to Marguerite’s story and a link to her website if you want to read more.

“Marguerite’s light-hearted and guileless observations of the people she comes to love are as heart-warming as they are valuable, charting Bedouin traditions now lost to the modern world.

Married to a Bedouin is the story of how Marguerite van Geldermalsen fell in love with Mohammad Manaja and married him; how she settled into his cave, and slept with him on the ledge in front under a sheet of stars; how she fetched water by donkey, baked bread daily and ran the local clinic.

 The book describes the most recent history of Petra. Through her stories and the stories of the people she shared the valley with, comes a picture of the site when it was alive, and when Marguerite was married to a   Bedouin.”

Also, here a few photos of our amazing adventure in Jordan.

The Treasury, Petra

The Treasury, Petra



Our Bedouin camp, Wadi Rum

Our Bedouin Camp, Wadi Rum

Tea time in Petra

Tea time in Petra

Tea tent, Wadi Rum

Tea tent, Wadi Rum

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Barbados. Bajan sayings.

Barbados (

I love the way English has evolved all over the world. The way the Bajan language has developed is very unique! Here are some of my favourites from

Sweet fuh days
Bajans say this when something is so good that you could go on enjoying it for a very long time.

Cat luck en’ dog luck
This means what one person gets away with, you may not.

When yuh en’ got horse, ride cow
You should try to make use of whatever resources you have available.

De higher de monkey climb, de more ‘e show ‘e tail
The more you show off, the more your own faults are expose to others.

Common dog does bark in church
Uncultured people will behave in a coarse manner no matter what social situation they find themselves in.

When a bird fly too fast, ‘e does fly past ‘e nest
Being over ambitious has its downside.

Eat soldier food, tek soldier blows
If you expect to share in the benefits you must be prepared to share in the problems as well.

Gih Jack ‘e jacket
We believe you should give every man his due credit.

Barbados (

Barbados (

Colourful Barbados – Coastal town (

For more great info about Barbados and more sayings like these visit

Bangladesh. Train travel to the Bishwa Ijtema.

Train travel to the Bishwa Ijtema (

Bishwa Ijtema is held each year at Tongi in Bangladesh. Upward of 5 million Muslim pilgrims gather at the river to worship and attend lessons. The meeting lasts for 3 days and includes followers from 150 nations.

The ceremonies and customs of Bishwa Ijtema are remarkable enough but the incredible way so many Bangladeshi pilgrims make their way on overcrowded trains is just as amazing!

Train travel to the Bishwa Ijtema (

Waiting for the train (

Train travel to the Bishwa Ijtema (

Train travel to the Bishwa Ijtema (

Beyond The Map

I’ve just updated my brand new Caravanserai 230 – Beyond The Map page!

Beyond The Map will explore a myriad of people, places and customs that cross borders, mix cultures and tell stories. I’ll be looking at everything from books, music and art to agriculture, climate, people and countless other amazing things that come my way through the Caravanserai 230 project!

I’d love to hear from you so feel free to get in touch and tell me about something in your life that’s Beyond The Map! To contact me, head on over to…

Today’s post is about the incredible Sami people from Northern Europe and Russia and their reindeer. The herders from Arnoy Island migrate annually to ensure a steady food supply for their animals. They encounter some very arduous conditions along the way including a 5km swim for the herd. The scenery is spectacular and the way of life is astounding. Enjoy!

Bahrain. Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life (

The Tree of Life is a large, 400 year old Mesquite Tree growing in isolation just outside of Jebel Dukhan.

Standing on a sandy hill at the site of a 500 year old fortress, the tree is a major tourist attraction, receiving approx. 50,000 visitors each year! In 2010, archaeologists discovered pottery and other artefacts around the tree, some dating back thousands of years to the Dilman civilisation. The Tree of Life has become legendary for its survival on very little water in the desert.

Tree of Life (

For more information on the Tree of Life

Have you visited the Tree of Life?

Are you from Bahrain?

Let me know all about it!



Bahamas. Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith (

Leap of Faith (

This looks pretty amazing but I’m not sure I’d have the courage!

“The “leap of faith” that the name of this slide refers to is not just the 60-foot near-vertical drop you’ll be sent down, but what comes after that. The speed that sliders gather as they fly down the side of the Mayan temple is used to propel them through a clear acrylic tube running straight through a shark-filled lagoon…..luckily your momentum keeps you from lingering too long”

Leap of Faith (


Leap of Faith (

Have you been here?

Have you taken the Leap of Faith?

Let us know what it was like!