Colombia. Fura and Tena’s story.

The Fura and Tena mountains and emerald mine. (

More than half of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia!

An ancient Colombian legend exists of two immortal beings; a man, Tena and woman named Fura who were created by the god Ares in order to populate the earth. Ares gave the couple 1 rule to secure their eternal youth; they must remain faithful to one another.

Fura, did not remain faithful, their immortality was taken away and they soon passed away. Ares later took pity on the couple and turned them into two mountains protected from storms and serpents and in whose depths Fura’s tears of remorse became emeralds.

Today, the Fura and Tena Crags, rising approximately 840 and 500 meters, respectively above the valley of the Minero River, are the official guardians of Colombia’s emerald zone.

Sifting through the mud for emeralds that may have washed down stream. (

Inspecting the emeralds (

The stunning finished product (



Chile. Patagonian perfection.

I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I challenge anyone to nominate a part of the world more beautiful than this…



Horse treks in Patagonia (



Chad. Never smile at a Nile crocodile!

For reasons I can’t explain, I jumped ahead to China leaving Chad and Chile behind! So let’s play catch up! Here’s Chad!

Guelta d’Archei (

A Guelta is a specific type of desert wetland formed when underground water in lowland depressions spills to the surface and creates permanent pools and reservoirs.
Guelta d’Archei is one of the most well known and is populated by several species of animal including camels, fish and Nile crocodiles! To reach the wetland, you need a spare 4 days and a well equipped 4×4!

Guelta d’Archei camels (

Amazing rock formations (

Rock art at Guelta d’Archei (

Snap, Snap! (

For a fantastic look at Guelta d’Archei check out this 2 min video from the National Geographic.

China. Great memories but no Great Wall!

After a long trek up to the peak of Moon Rock

A few years ago we took a fantastic Intrepid tour of South East Asia. Here are a few photos from our way too short trip through China. The Yao women were an incredible highlight with their beautiful long hair and vibrant traditional dress. We loved everything about our Intrepid adventure: the food, cultural experiences, the accommodation but most of all the wonderful friends we made along the way! For more info on Intrepid Travel visit

Bridge, Yang Shou

Rice harvest

Yoa minority group with beautiful traditional dress and long hair.

China 5

Yoa women washing their long hair in the river

Cheng Yung bridge with not metal nails – completely assembled with wooden pegs

A building once used by the communist party – now accommodation!

Central African Republic. The beauty of the Wodaabe.

Woɗaaɓe or Bororo are a small group within the Fulani people. They are nomadic cattlemen with migrations stretching from southern Niger, northern Nigeria, parts of Cameroon, and the western region of the Central African Republic. The Wodaabe are well known for their physical beauty, elaborate traditional dress and rich cultural ceremonies.

Wodaabe family migration (

See here  for a fantastic 12 min doco by Sandrine Loncke demonstrating several aspects of daily life and the preparations for the ceremonial event Gerawol. The film has been made in Niger with travelling Wodaabe from several African nations including the Central African Republic.

Cayman Islands. The mermaid of Grand Cayman

Mermaid of Grand Cayman (

A 2.7m tall, 270kg bronze mermaid statue was recently installed on the Sunset Reef off Grand Cayman.

The sculpture, created by 42-year-old Canadian artist Simon Morris, is officially named Amphitrite, Siren of Sunset Reef. This beauty of the sea is visited by thousands of divers each year.

Mermaid of Grand Cayman (

Mermaid of Cayman Island (

Mermaid of Grand Cayman (


A resort on Grand Cayman (


Have you seen her? What was your experience?


Beyond The Map. 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Some pretty amazing maps here (and some funny ones too!) A perfect addition to our Beyond the Map section!



If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.

Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.

If you enjoy this collection of maps, the Sifter highly recommends the r/MapPorn sub reddit. You should also check out There were also fantastic posts on Business Insider and Bored Panda earlier this year that are worth checking out. Enjoy!


1. Where Google Street View is Available


Map by Google



2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System


View original post 740 more words

Cape Verde. Cesária Évora – the one and only.

Cesária Évora (

Cesária Évora was an extremely talented and much loved singer from Cape Verde. Nicknamed the “Barefoot Diva” for performing without shoes, she was also known as the “Queen of Morna

There’s not much more I can add to this…Enjoy.

Cesária Évora (

Cesária Évora (

Cesária Évora (


For more information on the lovely Cesária Évora

Canada. Just enough room.

Just Enough Room Island (

It’s not difficult to see why Canada’s Thousand Island region attracts so many visitors each year. Highlights include lighthouses, historic castles, maritime museums, fishing, diving and gorgeous cottages along its many, many shorelines!  Perhaps one of the best known cottages is the tiny house on the equally tiny Just Enough Room Island.

The house and land are considered an island because they remain above the water year round and include a living tree!

Just Enough Room Island (

Thousand Islands region (

Cottage – Thousand Islands region (


Thousand Islands (


For more information on the Thousand Island region

For more on this amazing house

Have you visited this region and seen this gorgeous little cottage?


Beyond the Map. Postage stamps.

The Beyond the Map feature of this blog is here to explore people, places and customs that cross borders, mix cultures and tell stories. What could be more fitting than international postage stamps? I’ve always loved the ever changing designs, shapes and colours of stamps and the way they give the receiver a small glimpse of the sender’s national identity, iconic people, customs or celebrations.

The Black Penny stamp – the first postage stamp. (

Here are a few interesting details about postage stamps and some of the incredible artworks that carry our correspondence around the world.

  • The first postage stamp, the Penny Black, was introduced in the UK in 1840. Being the only country with a postage stamp at the time, there was no need to include the United Kingdom wording anywhere on the stamp. To this day, the UK is the only nation not to identify itself by name on its stamps.

Unusual stamps Sierra Leone (

  • The first person other than a head of state to appear on a stamp was Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait featured on the 10 cent stamp in the United States in 1847.
  • Switzerland once produced a stamp made with lace and another of wood. The United States fashioned a plastic stamp and East Germany issued a stamp of synthetic chemicals. In the Netherlands a stamp was made of silver foil and Bhutan issued one with its national anthem on a playable record.

Postage stamp that plays the national anthem of Bhutan (

  • A 1993 stamp featuring Elvis Presley from the US postal service was the most popular stamp ever sold – over 120 million!
  • The Australian government produced stamps to look like gems using 3D technology. The impressive designs feature diamonds, opals and pearls. Australia was also the first country to issue regular Christmas stamps each year, from 1957.
  • The world’s longest pictorial set of stamps (134 stamps) came from Turkey between 1958-1960.

Postage stamps (


Stamps from Pakistan (


Amazing Tongan stamps (

Amazing stamp from Djibouti (

Do you have a stamp collection? Feel free to share any amazing stamps you have found!