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Cave tubing in the Mayan underworld

Friday, May 9th, 2008

 Egyptian Women

Egyptian women wearing traditional abaya clothing

Contra Costa Times article launched: 05/09/2008

The girl is wearing an ugly brown Egyptian abaya.  It is so large that her body appears as a lump underneath.  Not one strand of hair escapes from her drab headscarf. She wears no make-up and has large brown eyes and unblemished skin.  She’s watching Orinda’s Monica Salusky watch her as she and her friends visit Egypt’s Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.  

The girls appear to be fourteen or fifteen years old and take turns photographing each other in front of the monument.  The other girls are not wearing abayas.  Two are wearing loose fitting trousers, shirts, and pastel colored headscarves.   The fourth friend, a mere slip of a girl, is wearing low rise tight multi-pocketed khakis with a form fitting stylish shirt.  She is wearing clunky bracelets and her fingernails are painted red.  The eyes of the girl in the brown abaya lock Salusky’s.  Seeing that she has her full attention, she holds her camera towards Salusky and gestures to her girlfriends.  While Salusky and her husband, John Sutherland, were touring in Egypt, this scene could unfold just as easily in front of a California landmark.  Cameras, it seems, speak a universal language.    

A camera was of no use to Rick and Terri Humman and their kids as they floated on a gentle current inside a cave in Belize.  “You climb into an inner tube and wear a helmet with a light attached as you float in the pitch black cave,” remembers Terri.  “Stalactites cover the rock walls.”  In ancient days it was considered the Mayan underworld; today it’s about cave tubing.  

Ambergris Caye, Belize

The Lafayette couple stayed on the island of Amergris Caye (pronounced key) in the town of San Pedro.  The family met up with their oldest son, Chris, who was traveling through Central America.   “The weather wasn’t great, but the white sandy beaches were beautiful,” notes Terri.  “You rent golf carts to get around the island. The rainforests and jungles are amazing, but it is really expensive.  The people were so friendly.  Wandering into beach front places in town you didn’t get the feeling you were intruding.”  The Hummans also enjoyed discovering the locally brewed Belikin beer.  

 Wine Country Inn 

Wine Country Inn Vintners Cottage

Back in California, beers crafted at Calistoga Inn’s Brewery go down easy.  Springtime in wine country is hard to beat – the valley is relaxed and restaurant reservations easy to come by.  If you want to dine with the locals and winemakers, check out Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen on St. Helena’s Railroad Avenue.  After a bike ride on the Silverado Trail or day of wine tasting, I recommend the Wine Country Inn, a member of Unique Inns.  For a special celebration or if you find yourself in the dog house, request the Vintners Cottage overlooking the vineyards.  The website has a special package “For Men Only” and a simple quiz to see how you rate on the “Thoughtful Partner” scale.

  Napa Valley Wine Auction 2007   

 Napa Valley Auction  Jason Tinacci photographer

If you are serious about rubbing shoulders with winemakers, you’ve probably already registered to attend the Auction Napa Valley taking place at Meadowood, June 5-8 and made your lodging reservations a year in advance.  For wine country lodging accommodations any other time of year, visit MG Concierge.  The four day “Classic Package” for two costs $5,000, while arm chair bidders can join in on the E-Auction lots from the comfort of home with the swipe of a credit card.  The E-Auction opens for bidding May 23.  I have my eye on “Six Sweet Months,” the lot includes 45 bottles of Napa Valley wine and six months of chocolate provided by St. Helena’s Woodhouse Chocolate