Month: May 2016

Week # 2 Los Barriles

Week # 2 Los Barriles
Agoura Hills, CA

Agoura Hills, CA


Hello Everyone,

Do not forget if you clic on one picture twice you can see them bigger.

On week # 02, we stay at Los Barriles taking care of Paul and Alma’s home including the 2 dogs, Cisco and Rally, as they went to San Diego California for a week.
There we visited small pueblos around, like Miraflores and Santiago. On Paul and Alma return from the States we plan to go to La Ribiera but on our way our car decided to slowly died on us, lost in the middle of no where with no houses around. Michel and I were wondering calmly what we were going to do, when we saw a truck with a young driver on board, approaching us

We did not even needed to sign him as he immediately stop and came to see what was happening, he told us to wait as he was going to fetch a friend who is a mechanic. He turn his truck around in the sandy road and disappear around a corner. As we were waiting from time to time cars crossed us, all of the drivers Mexicans or Americans asking us if we needed help and we told them that a mechanic was on his way and less than 1/2 an hour later a cloud of sand indicated us that some cars were coming our way, the first one was our young rescuer followed by the mechanic and his helper and the third car with 3 more men on board in case our car had to be towed.

The mechanic went under our car, he Bang, Bang, Bang very hard and succeeded to have it run again, his diagnostic was, may be the gas pump.
He took us back to Paul’s home There one of the man drove our car to the mechanic shop. And Later on, in the afternoon he brought our car back saying that he had cleaned the filter to the gas pump and for us to drive and see if it was working otherwise the gas pump will have to be change.

The car was working fine, so next day as we had to cash some money from an ATM machine we decided to go for Breakfast at the “Las Palmas hotel” and at the same time use their machine who is the best in town as it allows you to take more money than others, for a lesser charge.
As we left the hotel, again the car died on us this time we call Paul who left his shop to pick up Mimi, took him to another mechanic in town, pretty soon I see my Mimi with his “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” hat wired on his head driving Paul’s blue Jeep followed by 2 trucks full of mechanics, again 2 of them went under the car and again, Bang, Bang, Bang our car started but the verdict was the gas pump is dead.

Very well so lets change it, but here is where the real problem started…… the piece had to be bought in La Paz, only there it could be found.
La Paz is one hour drive from Los Barriles, suddenly I remember that Link from El Triunfo told us that he was going to La Paz this same day, so I called him asking him if he could buy the piece? as he says yes, I pass the phone to the mechanic in order for him to explain what piece he needed.

At the hotel I rented a car for $72 a day all included and with every body help, we moved the dogs and all our stuff { Mimi and I we do not know how to travel light} to the rented car and soon our car was on his way to the mechanic.

After bringing back Paul’s Jeep to his store we hit the road direction El Triunfo where we will meet Link coming back from La Paz with our piece.
There we waited with Ceci, Link assistant for his B & B and his shop.
Time went by and Link arrived at 9 pm worn out from his day of shopping having to go to so many different places.

For us it was too late to go back to Los Barriles even though it is only a 45 minutes drive, it is too dangerous to drive at night, because of all the animals like cows, horses, goats etc…… Who wander freely.
We decided to spend the night at El Triunfo living early in the morning to bring the piece to the mechanic.

Next day at 8:30 am the piece was into the mechanic hands and Mimi and I went for a good breakfast before going back to Paul’s house.
Finally on April 19 we were on our way to La Paz with our new gas pump.

This little story explain to you how differently things works, here it is a complete different world nothing can be compare to what we are use to.
Except may be in poor States or places far away from big city.

Bonjour a tous,

Rappel, si vous cliquez sur une photos 2 fois elle s’agrandira.

La deuxieme semaine d’Avril, nous sommes restes a Los Barriles afin de garder la maison de Paul et d’Alma ainsi que les 2 chiens Cisco et Rally alors qu’eux 2 se rendaient a San Diego en Californie pour une semaine.
Nous en profitions pour visiter d’autres petits “pueplos” dans les environs. A leur retour Paul et Alma nous conseillèrent d’aller a La Ribiera.
En chemin notre voiture décida en douceur, de s’éteindre refusant d’aller plus loin. Nous étions maintenant sur une route de sable, sans aucune habitation autour

Nous nous demandions sans affolement quoi faire? sachant depuis longtemps que cela ne sert a rien de s’affoler, quand nous voyons arriver vers nous une camionnette ayant a son bord un très jeune homme. Pas eu besoin de lui faire signe qu’il s’arrêta de lui meme et vint nous demander si nous avions besoin d’aide, devant notre certitude, il nous dit qu’il connaissait un garagiste pas très loin, il sauta dans sa camionnette fit un demi tour dans le sable et parti a fond la cale. De temps a autre d’autres voitures s’arrêtaient avec a leur bord soit des Mexicains soit des Américains tous nous offrant leur aide.

A peu près 1/2 heure plus tard nous voyons au loin un nuage de sable indiquant l’arrivée de voitures, en tête venait notre jeune homme, suivi par le mécanicien venu avec son aide, la troisième camionnette avec 3 hommes a son bord venant a la rescourse au cas ou il faille pousser notre voiture pour l’arrimer au camion du meccano.

Le meccano et son aide disparurent sous notre Avalanche et Bang, Bang, Bang elle se remet en marche.
En sortant de dessous notre véhicule le meccano nous informe qu’il s’agit peut-être de la pompe a essence
Il décide de nous suivre jusqu’a chez Paul et son meccano part avec notre voiture pour se rendre a leur atelier

En fin d’après midi ils reviennent nous annoncent qu’ils ont nettoye le filtre d’arrivée d’essence et que nous devrions essayer de conduire afin de voir si cela fonctionne et si cela ne marche pas il faudra changer la pompe a essence.
La voiture fonctionnait et le lendemain matin nous quittions Paul et Alma afin de nous rendre a La Paz.
Avant, toutefois nous devions nous arrêter a l’Hôtel de Las palmas qui possède la meilleure machine qui “crache de l’argent” comme disait mon petit Pablo, surtout c’est celle qui autorise la plus grosse somme pour un faible pourcentage, et pour faire d’une pierre deux coup avec le Mimi nous décidons de prendre le petit déjeuner la, vu que c’est pas très cher.

Les sous dans ma poche kangourou pour notre séjour d’une semaine a La Paz, le ventre plein, les chiens a l’arrière nous étions prêt pour notre route d’une heure.
Quand la de nouveau, notre Avalanche décide une fois encore de s’endormir, impossible de la faire repartir.
J’appelle donc Paul qui est a son magasin a 10 minutes de l’hôtel il me dit j’arrive, arrive donc Paul et sa jeep il embarque Mimi et me dit d’attendre la avec les chiens. Environ 1/2 heure plus tard je vois arriver Mimi son chapeau de “L’arche perdue” visse sur la tête, au volant de la jeep bleue suivi par une camionnette avec des mécaniciens, une fois encore l’un d’entre eux se glisse sous la voiture et Bang, Bang, Bang remet la voiture en route et sort de dessous en déclarent c’est la pompe a essence qui est morte il faut la changer.

très bien changeons la pompe, mais c’est la ou le réel problème commence……pas de pompe a Los Barriles il faut aller a La Paz qui se trouve a 1heure aller autant pour revenir.
En espérant la trouver au premier magasin qui en vend, autant dire cela demande une journée, surtout que Mimi et moi ne connaissons pas la ville et il est maintenant près de 13 h

C’est alors que je me souviens que Link m’avait dit qu’il descendait ce jour a La Paz, je lui Tel et lui demande s’il pourrait nous acheter la pompe il me dit que oui
Je passe le Tel au meccano qui lui explique ce dont il a besoin.
A l’hôtel je loue une voiture pour $72 tout compris et Mimi les Meccanos et moi transvasons le contenu de l’avalanche ainsi que les 3 chiens dans la location
{j’avoue que j’envie les gens qui savent voyager léger je ne sais pas comment ils font, nous c’est tout le contraire et je ne sais pas lequel de nous 2 est le pire}
Les meccanos repartent avec l’Avalanche, Mimi avec la jeep pour la rendre a Paul et moi je le suis avec la location afin de le récupérer.

En route pour El Triunfo ou nous allons attendre le retour de Link et récupérer notre pièce.
Nous attendons en compagnie de Ceci l’assistante de Link pour son B & B et sa boutique.
Link arrive a 21h lessive de sa journée en ville a courir les magasins rien que pour trouver notre pièce il a du en faire 3.
Pour nous l’évidence est la, impossible de redescendre a Los Barriles même si ce n’est qu’a 45 minutes c’est trop dangereux a cause des vaches, des chevaux, des chèvres et tous les autres animaux qui vivent en totale liberté.

Nous décidons de passer la nuit chez Link au moins cela lui fera des clients, et de partir le matin de bonne heure.
Le jour suivant a 8:30 la pompe etait dans les mains du mécanicien et Mimi et moi de s’offrir un bon petit déjeuner car nous ne nous souvenions plus de quand datait notre dernier repas. Puis de retour a la maison de Paul et d’Alma.

Enfin le 19 Avril nous partions pour La Paz avec notre nouvelle pompe.
Cette petite histoire c’est pour vous expliquer comment les choses fonctionnent ici, c’est un monde différent qui n’a pour ainsi dire rien a voir avec ce que l’on connaît dans nos pays riches, peut-être dans des petits villages de l’intérieur qui ne roule pas sur l’or ou les banlieux pauvres peut- on rencontrer des situations ou l’entre aide est importante.


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Reflections on the trip

Reflections on the trip
Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia


I don’t know whether we are getting older or just easier to please but this trip to Central Australia and the Top End was on of the best holidays we have had. From the red centre to Alice to catch the mighty Ghan then into balmy Darwin more modern than outpost, then onto to the amazing wetlands of Kakadu. Its a journey that will hold many fond memories for years to come.

Top 10:

1. Tali Wiru
2. Ayers Rock and the Olgas
3. Field of Light
4. The Ghan
5. Katherine Gorge
6. Jumping Crocodiles
7. Air Boat Ride
8. Yellow Water Billabong
9. Ubirr Rock Art
10. Darwin’s Restaurants

What we didn’t like:

1. Darwin’s punishing heat
2. The flies in Central Australia

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Flying home to Brisbane

Flying home to Brisbane
Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia


We sleep in again today as we fly out at 3.30 pm. On checking out at 11.00 am we leave our trusty esky behind and head to the Ducks Nuts Cafe for a Bloody Mary. It is just what the doctor ordered.

I have kept the car for an extra day so that we are free to drive around. We head off to the Hanuman Restaurant for lunch and we are the only ones there. We hope this is not a sign of bad food but we are not disappointed as we are served one of the best Indian entrees we have ever had. Our main was just as good and we both comment that we will miss the Darwin food as we haven’t had a bad meal yet with perhaps the exception of the Mercure Crocodile.

Making it back to the car just as the parking meter ran out, we jump in and head to the airport. Finding the Europcar bay was a sinch and checking in was even easier as this airport actually had staff at the counter. We headed up to the bar, purchased a couple of cold beers and charged our electronic devices before boarding.

On board the plane was chock a block and we were glad that we had purchased seats with extra leg room. Watching a couple of movies the time whiled away and It wasn’t long before we touched down in Brisbane with the feeling that both Central Australia and the Top End will be nothing but distant memories. I guess this is why I write these blogs as a reminder of what a fantastic time we had and to savour those memories for ever.


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Back to Darwin & some mudcrabs

Back to Darwin & some mudcrabs
Darwin, Australia

Darwin, Australia


We sleep in this morning and check out at 10.00 am on route to Darwin with our esky full of fresh ice. Travelling in true Muller style we crack our first morning beer as we exit Kakadu National Park heading toward the Humpdy Doo Pub for lunch. On arriving the place is packed and we order a couple of burgers and yes they are right as we give them the thumbs up for the best burgers in the top end.

Another hour and we are back in Darwin now becoming a familiar site. We have booked into the Vibe Hotel right in the middle of the Harbour Precinct. It’s now mid afternoon as we head back to Hot Tamales for another one of those amazing margarita’s then check Restaurant One to see if they have Mud Crabs on the menu. They don’t have any left so we book Crustations on the Wharf (my original choice) as they have freshly caught Whole Chille Mud Crabs, so we reserve two.

We decide to visit the Oil Tunnels just across the road which were built during WWII to hold fuel for shipping. On entering the tunnels were claustrophobic and the humidity seemed to have doubled. Deb couldn’t cope and high-tailed it out of there, but I soldiered on into a much larger and cooler tunnel filled with amazing pictures depicting the early days of Darwin and the various defence establishments set up during the war.

On exiting the tunnels I spotted Deb sitting in the shade and we decided to head back to our room for an afternoon nap before heading out to dinner. On arriving at the restaurant located at the end of Stokes Wharf we pass the Pearl Lugger we heard about on the train its name is Paspaley 4 and oh boy it is one very flash boat. Next we get seated outside and sit at a table for two on the edge of the wharf and order a mud crab each as the sun sets over the harbour. Its a balmy night and reminds me a lot of Port Moresby.

By the way the mud crabs were excellent and what a great way to spend our last night in the top end,


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Yellow Water Billabong Cruise

Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
Kakadu National Park, Australia

Kakadu National Park, Australia


It’s Mothers Day today and this morning we set the alarm and rise in the dark getting ready to head to Cooinda Lodge and the Yellow Water Billabong for a sunrise cruise. We step outside and it’s warm but not hot as we depart with our headlights on for a 40 km journey to Cooinda. There is no traffic on the road but I drive cautiously in case a Wallaby jumps out in font of us. We arrive at the tour bus stop with 5 minutes to spare and it is still dark.

On boarding the cruise the mosquitoes are fierce so we lather up in aero-guard which does the trick. As the sun begins to rise we take some excellent photos and cruise out of the billabong onto the South Alligator River spotting half a dozen crocs and a magnificent eagle sitting on top of a dead tree. We awe at the bird life starting to take flight for the morning and spot some buffalo and wild pigs in the distance.

Twenty minutes into the journey we spot a big croc dragging something from the bank. On queue it dives to drown its prey and we follow the bubbles waiting for it to resurface. Some two minutes later up it pops right next to the boat and it has a three foot pig by the head. The croc now begins to swim down river looking for a secluded opening onto the bank and after following it for 100 metres it disappears into the mangroves. “Amazing” says the guide “that’s the first time we have been lucky enough to catch that action”.

We spend another hour immersed in this amazing place before returning to the lodge for breakfast. We consider a walk to Nourlangie Rock but it’s way to hot already so we return to the Mercure Crocodile for a relaxing day. Unfortunately the Mercure doesn’t acknowledge the fact that its Mothers Day so we open our own champagne, Deb opens her cards and checks messages from the girls and we ring home to wish our own mothers a great day and catch up on some news.

We head on down to the restaurant for dinner but once again the menu is less than inspiring as we order lamb and pork and mashed potatoes. Life is hard in the tropics!


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An airboat ride & some rock art

An airboat ride & some rock art
Jabiru, Australia

Jabiru, Australia


We wake to a sunny morning and head down to breakfast at the lodge. Today we are taking an airboat ride on the Wildman Home Billabong and wetlands and I cant help but overhear a rucus between some French tourists and the manager about getting bumped from their tour the previous day onto our tour today.

We head off at 9.00 am in a rickety old jeep and drive about 5 minutes to the water where the airboat is moored. I cant help but notice that it has a nice V8 sitting under the cage. We all board and the tour operator starts the engine and by God its loud. The scenery is breathtaking as large flocks of Magpie Geese take flight in V formation and we spot all manner of birdlife.

We soon head out of the billabong into the wetlands and are surrounded by thousands of pink lilies in full bloom. We stop the boat every now and again to listen to the guide as he explains the ecosystem and about the different birds he has spotted. Its not long before a 3 metre croc sticks his head up and crashes into the boat. We spin around and chase it down until it finally dives and disappears.

Back on land we pack the car and head off to Jabaru some 2 hours away. We pull into the South Alligator River Resort to buy some ice then head to the Mamukala observation platform which has a nice view over the wetlands but very similar to the Wildman wetlands. Forever onwards we pull into Jabaru do a quick scout around town then into the Mecure Crocodile Hotel our home for the next two days.

On checking in we find out that no rooms are ready so we decide to have lunch just as an AATKing tour bus arrives then another followed by another. The place is packed but we don’t have a long wait as the tour bus’s have their own buffet of which we are not allowed to partake. With a very lack lustre menu Deb settles on a hamburger and I a pizza. We only hope the dinner menus is better.

The temperature is reaching 35 degrees and we have come to the realisation that you can only partake in activities early in the morning or late at night. so we decide to stay in our room until sunset. At about 5 pm we head toward Ubirr and supposedly some of the best Aboriginal Rock Art in Australia. Its a 40 minute drive and the car park is filling up as we arrive. The walk is signposted as 1.6 km and it is still hot, so we head off with a cold bottle of water each.

Its not long before we spot the first set of paintings and they are much more detailed than the smudged colours we have seen at Ayers Rock. as the path meanders through some spectacular scenery and rock formations the painting seem to improve. On reaching the half way point Deb looks at the steep climb to the lookout and decides to sit it out as I begin the climb. Ten minutes later I reach the summit and the climb was well worth it, but boy am I hot. I think how nice it would be to watch the sun set but that is still 30 minutes off so I return to find Deb sitting in the shade and I am dripping wet. Your mad she said as we head back to the car and some cool air conditioning.

Back at the Hotel we check the menu which is uninspiring so we decide to skip dinner and get in an early night as we have a 5.00 am start in the morning.


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Drive to Wildman

Drive to Wildman
Mary River National Park, Australia

Mary River National Park, Australia


Today we are heading to the Wildman Safari Lodge in the Mary River National Park but have a late start as we have timed a Jumping Crocodile tour at 1.00 pm. We start the morning with breakfast at the Ducks Nuts Cafe then stock up on some ice, supplies and grog as we will be unable to buy alcohol in the National Parks.

We decide to visit the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery before leaving the city and see an excellent gallery depicting the devastation Cyclone Tracy left behind when it hit the city on Christmas eve of 1974.

We head off south on the Stuart Highway turning left onto the Arnhem Highway looking for the Pub at Humpty Doo. This place is infamous and serves a mean hamburger but we just top up our fluids with a morning beer. On the road again we head to The Windows on the Wetlands Information Centre which was worth a stop and commanded an excellent view across the wetlands and the Adelaide River. Next stop was the original Jumping Crocodiles and we purchased some tickets and downed a cold beer waiting for the 1.00 pm cruise. It did not disappoint and Deb got some great shots as 5 – 10 crocs jumped high out of the water after a dangling pork chop. The highlight of the cruise was a close encounter with ‘Agro’ a 4 metre giant and the biggest on the river.

Next stop the Bark Hut, a small outpost just outside of the Mary River National Park, we have another beer here and a long chat with the American barmaid then head to the Point Stuart turnoff and another 30 km to Wildman Lodge our accommodation for the night. We pull into the Lodge with a less than prompt welcome and eventually get shown to our ‘Habitat’ which is very swish but hot as hell. On goes the ‘aircon’ and out comes a nice cold Vodka and Orange filled with ice.

Deb decides to go for a swim and we have a cocktail in the air conditioned bar before heading back to our room for a shower and wait for sunset. At around 7.00 pm we head into dinner and enjoy a lovely 3 course meal and a nice bottle of red before retiring for the night.


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