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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international consultants. About living in Italy, the Veneto area near Venice; in Indonesia, central Java. Why we love the southeast of the United States and moved back from Italy. Our love for gardening, the botanical way. Sharing with you our manifold treasures from exotic places and even offering several at Spectrenoir:http://ebay.to/2xI69uc, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy |  google.com/+MariettesBacktoBasics 
I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Check out my google.com/+MarietteVandenMunckhofVedder ABOUT page, where you see my other LINKS and email address; you just scroll down.Thanks!
Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pond's (India) Limited Mushroom Project

You now know from the previous post where we are staying for the 11 nights that we will be working here in India.
Now let's look at the actual mushroom plant location in south India in the Nilgiri mountains at an altitude of 2,000 meters (or 6562 feet).
The reason that you find most mushroom plants high in the mountains is for the more favorable climate of cooler nights and often cooler days as well. No need for using expensive air-conditioning for maintaining the optimum climate for mushroom growing but instead using the Lord's natural air-conditioning!
You could see how the area looks like, from watching that remarkable video from the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, winding though tea estates and through Eucalyptus woods... from my previous post.
Also here you see how we traveled daily from the Savoy hotel to the location Needle Industries where the mushroom plant was located.
On Monday, March 5 of 1990 when I came first to the mushroom plant to work with the harvest crew, my blond braid went through numerous hands... my arms and hands got caressed and they liked my skin. They only wanted to know what those freckles on my arms were... I replied that it was my 1% of India genes. My blue eyes got approved and that was it.
Yes, complete with Bindi on my forehead.
We did a LOT of walking and climbing, remember this is at an altitude of 2,000 meters or 6562 feet!
Both of us never owned a FitBit...
At the entrance with the security people.
You can see that we are high up in the mountains at 2,000 meters or 6562 feet.
They are still constructing lots of new growing sheds.
ALL excavation is done by hand!
Women are even aiding in the construction, making mortar and carrying it in a basket on their head up on the scaffolding.
Man-height boulders are being chiseled into small pieces and carried in baskets on their head.
Even the soil for filling in the tens of meters difference in height; everything is hand labor!
Same spot as the photo above but a bit more from a distance.
Compost is made of straw + chicken litter, water and mixed with a pickaxe.
Women were distributing the dry chicken litter!
Working in those countries makes you SHUT UP FOREVER about magnified so-called problems we encounter here in the Western World! Good grief...
It is such a lovely area...
In the back you see the compost pasteurization tunnels being constructed.
Here you see a concrete ring where they catch the runoff water on the compost slab.
You can see those men working with the pickaxe.
Here you clearly see  the excavation of different soil layers in progress.
In addition some airco units for adjusting certain growing conditions.
This is the inside of a growing room with mushrooms ready for harvest.
They grow in bags of 12 kg or 26.5 lbs of pasteurized compost on racks of bamboo instead of nice aluminum.
Addressing the saree problem with the manager.
 Those long saree dresses can cause contamination as they sweep over surfaces.

Stay tuned for my next post where I do tackle the saree issue.

Thanks for your visit and comment!


Friday, August 10, 2018

My 1st Trip to India - Consulting Together with Husband Pieter

On March 2, 1990 we both traveled from Atlanta, USA (yes we had moved back from Italy) to Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 8 hours on a KLM Royal Dutch Airline flight.
There we had a layover of some 8 hours.
On days like that it is priceless for having an airline courtesy card with access to their business class lounge. For reading, writing and relaxing. We also did make phone calls (old fashioned coin machine) with the family in The Netherlands.
We left again on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for Delhi, India and on Sunday, March 4 we arrived early morning in Delhi at 6:00. 
Through customs and checking in for the flight to Madras (now Chennai), the capital of the state Tamil Nadu.
A representative of Pond's India Ltd. did meet us and drop us off at the Trident hotel in Madras. 
We were exhausted and slept till 19:00 and had some room service as food and by 22:00 in bed for the night.
On Monday March 5, we got up at 3:30 and re-packed our suitcases for an early flight at 6:15 to Coimbatore. We would be going on to Indonesia for living and working there. So we packed only our work clothes for the job here and the other suitcases stayed behind with Pond's.
In Coimbatore we were met by a person from Pond's India mushrooms. 
A very dusty but interesting ride up into the Nilgiri Mountains, to our destination in Ooty.
The first time that I saw an elephant in one of the villages, donkeys, buffalos and lots of monkeys alongside the road.
Passing palmtree woods and eucalyptus tree woods.
We arrived at the Mushroom plant by 11:30 and we got garlanded as a traditional welcome.
We filled that first day till 18:00 - we were very tame by then...
It had been a long day, since we got up at the Trident hotel in Madras...
Waking up at 3:30 in the morning in order to go to work!
Just to show you the luxury of hotels in India. Elegant setting in a garden; indeed!
But we hardly could indulge as we were there only for 1 short night.
So here we are now at the Savoy Hotel Cottages in Ooty.
For 11 nights, so we have now a base to start from and don't have to pack every day...
The Taj Group's Savoy is one of Ooty's oldest hotel with parts of it dating back to 1829.
These 19th century cottages are surrounded by 6 acres of landscaped gardens.
Such lovely garden and this huge Orchid cactus lived in a tree.
We took a starter home from this...
Ooty is called the Queen of Hill Stations, a former British Resort area and it is nestled in the Nilgiri hills (can be translated as The Blue Mountains). Eucalyptus trees grow in this area and also the Neelakurinji flower turns the hills blue, every 12 years! Click on link that shows the Neelakurinji in the bordering state of Kerala.
Ooty Udagamandalam (also known as Ootacamund and abbreviated as Udhagai or Ooty (click link for more and for photos).
Just to give you an idea how we traveled to our work during those 11 days.
There is a famous Botanical Garden and they have thousands of Roses...
So much to see and explore but as usual, we were not there as tourists! 
One morning in our 2nd week, we did ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Ketti station.
Actually a Toy Train...
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2005. Click the above pink hyperlink to learn more.
Nilgiri Railway was made famous through cinema first in 1984 with David Lean's 'A Passage to India'.

This is a short video about Nilgiri Mountain Railway and at 10:44 you can see the Ketti Station where we got off.
Quite an experience!
Ketti station is at 2,109m or 6919 feet altitude and it goes till Fern Hill at a height of 2,193m or 7195 feet, the highest point on the railroad. Shortly before Ooty, the line dips downhill.
Now you also know why the Palace, where husband Pieter dined during his solo trip, is called Fernhills Palace, once the Maharaja of Mysore's summer residence. (see post below about Husband Pieter's ADVENTUROUS 2nd Trip to India).

We both worked with pleasure at this mushroom plant high in the mountains.
Very nice staff and also my group of harvesters and supervisors with whom I worked rather intense.

Stay tuned for more in my next post and thanks for your visit and comment!

Previous post:
Husband Pieter's ADVENTUROUS 2nd Trip to India | previous post by me


Monday, August 6, 2018

Husband Pieter's ADVENTUROUS 2nd Trip to India

While living and working in Italy, Pieter got invited to come to the Mushroom plant of Pond's India in Ooty, Tamil Nadu in the Nilgiri Mountains of south India.
Nilgiri Mountains near mushroom plant location...
So on September 9, 1989 Pieter flew from Treviso, Italy to Amsterdam The Netherlands and from there in 7.5 hours to New Delhi, all on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
In Delhi, Pieter was met by a person from Pond's India and he got dropped off at the Centaur Hotel, near the airport.
Delhi's landmark Centaur Hotel to become history soon click link for video.
So many places where both of us have ever stayed or visited are being demolished...
Centaur Hotel is owned by Air India and got built for the 1982 Asian Games.
Humongous size and very glitzy!
Pieter got to take a shower at the hotel and he napped for a couple of hours.
He got picked up by a person from Pond's India who took him sightseeing.
The 72.5 meter high Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (UNESCO/NHK) click for short video.
Red Fort click for link
Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi Presidential Residence click to see short video
India Gate click for more info.
Pieter then went to a good restaurant with his guide and to Palam the domestic airport in Delhi for a 19:00 flight to Madras, now called Chennai.
To the hotel and in bed by 23:00.
On Monday, September 11, Pieter got picked up for a meeting at Pond's India, as a welcome he got garlanded.
Pieter managed to write a card for my parents and mail it from Madras. Mom always collected picture post cards.
Old Fort, New Delhi. Built by Sher Shah in the 16th century A.D. after he defeated Emperor Humayun.

By 11:30 to the airport and flight via Bangalore (officially Bengaluru) to Coimbatore.
From there a couple of hours with an Ambassador car into the Nilgiri mountains to Ooty.
The mushroom plant is at an altitude of ca. 2,100 meters.
Again a welcome with fresh jasmine garland.
Till 19:00 Pieter did a farm walk over the small mushroom plant.
To Southern Star hotel in Ooty, beautiful suite - a pity that this time we were not together there...
After a good dinner with the manager, late in bed.
Tuesday September 12, full day at the farm and construction site. Discussion over tunnel design with architect and tired by 19:00 back in hotel. Shower and by 20:00 ready for dinner at palace once the Maharaja of Mysore's summer residence.
Fernhills Palace Ooty click link for more photos.
Now called Ooty Fernhills Palace Hotel and Regency Villas.
Yes, most Westerners will be amazed at the number of Palaces and beautiful structures that are being used for hotel and or restaurant in India!

On Wednesday, September 14, Pieter did call me at work in Germany... Yes, all the way from Italy during my vacation time there, I did still do consulting in Germany.

By 17:00 there was panic at the office, the morning flight from Coimbatore to Madras had been cancelled...! 
Therefore they had to break up right away and instead try to go by train, in approx. 8 hours to Madras (Chennai).
The dusty ride down the mountains to Coimbatore was quite a challenge for the duration of approximate 3 hours.
Now the train tickets are being SOLD OUT! 
Back to a hotel, eating a bite and in bed by midnight.
Friday, September 15, up at 5:30 because he has to catch the early flight to Madras (Chennai).
What a plane; an AVRO!
Anything is better than missing the train and flight from Delhi to Amsterdam!
With a lot of fiddling, Pieter gets around 10:00 in Madras (Chennai) and had a chance to fresh up at the hotel. What luxury a shower is!
Meeting with the general manager from Pond's India and again he received another wrapped garland and a package with Pond's products. Did report about his assessment of the mushroom plant and construction and we both have to come back early March for 2 weeks consulting; they were very pleased with his work.

Relaxing at the hotel and then to the airport.
Worrisome message about the delay of the flight to Delhi from 17:00 to 20:00.
The people from Pond's are getting concerned and start calling; what to do if the International flight on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines would be missed?!
With a slice of pizza Pieter sat down and waited; a lot of pressure always for such international consulting jobs.

The people from Pond's India do take care of you in an extraordinary way and Pieter did compliment the manager for that earlier at his office.
Bad news from the airport; plane will no sooner depart than 20:30 and on Pieter's itinerary is written that the flight takes about 4 hours - that says enough about not making the International connection.
Also considering the distance between the domestic Palam airport to the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi...

There will be people form Pond's to retrieve Pieter in Delhi for transport to a hotel - IF things do not work out!
Enough for getting it very warm and certainly in Madras!
They depart even later, at 21:00 but there is hope again. A direct flight of only 2.5 hours instead of a stop in Bangalore!
Of course they took away his carry-on luggage and therefore it takes forever till it shows up on the luggage belt.

A representative from Pond's is there and he'd called with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines but they'd already closed their check in desk.
Fortunately they get hold of a KLM staff member, as there are 6 more passengers for the same flight and they will try to keep the plane on the ground longer... She chartered a KLM van that transported them in about an hour to the airport.
The check in desk re-opened briefly and they depart happily through the check point.
What a relief!
The plane was full, coming from Singapore and they landed around 7:30 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Pieter did call with my parents but learned that I (Mariette) already had departed that Saturday morning at 6:30 towards Italy = 12 hours driving from The Netherlands through Germany, Austria into northern Italy and  than eastbound towards the Venice area.
Pieter's KLM courtesy card no longer was valid so it meant hanging around and no chance for taking a MUCH NEEDED shower from all the sweat, dust and diesel-exhaust fumes.

The flight to Treviso over the Alps is just a little jump and on the road below, Pieter imagined to see a white Ford Escort slowly moving homebound... At the Brenner pass on the border of Austria with Italy there was a long queue of trucks.

Pieter got home by 16:00 and he sat on the balcony waiting for me to FINALLY arrive home.
That was only after midnight. A nightmare due to the strike of truckers at the Brenner; they blocked everything so I had to take the back roads, the old ancient border route through the mountains, before the Interstate got built.

It took me a good 17 hours driving instead of the usual 12 hours.
But we were happy to see each other and Pieter was pleased with a slice of rice/whipped cream pie from my Mom and a huge bar of chocolate from his Mom.
She lovingly handed it to me: 'Here, this is for my youngest...' And that was the last I ever heard from her in person as she died in November.
As hungry as I was and for me being a chocaholic; I did NOT touch that bar but delivered it faithfully.



Thursday, August 2, 2018

Beaufort South Carolina, Spanish Moss Trail

Yes, we did bike another fabulous trail on our 2nd day, staying at the Savannah Hyatt Place which is very close to the border of South Carolina.
Here husband Pieter is on his bike, next to the SPANISH MOSS TRAIL sign - click on pink hyperlink.
And the reason for the name of SPANISH MOSS, you can see to the right from Pieter, hanging from the trees!
The start of the trail is NOT easy to find with address for GPS but we found it:
1709 W Vine Rd, Beaufort, SC 29935, United States.
That made for a perfect start and nice parking spot for our car and we started going north.
Renovated Old Railroad Depot that you ride through or around optional.
Here Pieter is also holding my bike while I take this photo.
Looking over the marshes alongside Battery Creek.
We did not bike the entire trail as there are only benches along the trail but no restaurants or anything for a nice break.
My wicker basket (used for Mauzie my dachshund in the past) is great for having bottled water and some snacks!
Yes, you bike past this sign about Elliot and Fuller Tract A Protected Forest where you can see pictures of Beaufort Spanish Moss Trail's Flora & Fauna.
Alongside the parking there was this mighty southern live oak and it is full with Spanish Moss!
It is impossible to capture this type of southern live oaks.
They stay green year round and that gives the south its charm!
Thanks for joining us onto this unique trail in Beaufort, South Carolina.
We have been so very lucky as on October 27 when we rode the Sea Pines Resort Bike Trail and on the 28th this Spanish Moss Trail, it was perfect weather.
The next day they had GALE WARNING and very strong winds of 40 km/h so not ideal for biking!
Temperatrues in C are still very pleasant for November.
  That's the bonus of living in the South.

Related links:
Sea Pines Resort Bike Trail, South Carolina | previous post by me

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