Nevis W.I., December 19th, 2015
As usual, we started the New Year of 2015 in our house in Nevis and also as usual, we old folk stayed there till mid-March when we took a speed boat over to Reggae Beach and a taxi to Bradshaw International in St. Kitts. This time, however, we boarded a BA flight to Gatwick from where there was an easy connection to Geneva.
In May, Willi made his annual pilgrimage to Japan to see his friends and Sumo while Uschi drove to Kempten via the home of our son Nic and his wife Alexandra and the 3 grand kids Leonie, Keana and Matteo in Dättlikon, near Zurich, to see her relatives and friends in Germany.
Japan was sort of sad as Willi’s best friend Sam had passed away on the very day of his 84th birthday in 2014; also the traditional Old Boys get together is, sadly, constantly dwindling. Without telling anyone, I went with a friend to the Sosanji temple on a bright day to pay my respects to Sam.
Our customary visit to Chiang Mai started on October 15. Apart from the customary visit to the dentist, we met with Marc & Luxami Dumur, Ping Kaiwala, Pimpan Charoenjit, Hans Baumann. Claude Marsens unfortunately was not available this year in Bangkok.
Again we flew into Haneda, from Bangkok, with a far shorter ride into town than from Narita. After a few days at the Royal Park where we were treated royally as always, our friends Adi & Susi Schulthess flew in from Manila where they had visited their youngest son Eric and his family.
We were scheduled to start on a long planned trip to the Japan Sea to see the local sights, the changing colors of the Japanese maple leaves and of course, to taste the fine cuisine of their famous Inns in the hot spring areas. We had rented a Toyota Alphard, with 4 very comfortable seats, and a driver. We stayed one night each at the following places, except in Osaka (3 nights)
IKAHO, GUNMA PREF. KAICHORO
MATSUMOTO, NAGANO PREF. MYOJINKAN
TAKAYAMA, TOYAMA PREF. WA NO SATO
TOYAMA, TOYAMA PREF. RIVER RETREAT GARAKU
NOTO PENINSULA, ICHIKAWA PREF. LAMP NO YADO
YAMANAKA ONSEN, ICHIKAWA PREF. KAYOTEI
MIKUNI ONSEN, FUKUI PREF. BOYORO
AMANO HASHIDATE, KYOTO PREF. MONJYUSO SHOROTEI
KINOSAKI ONSEN, HYOGO PREF. NISHIMURAYA
OSAKA SWISSOTEL NANKAI
In Tokyo, Hideki Nagano drove us to his mother’s Sadako’s home where she not only prepared a sumptuous kaiseki luncheon but also showed us her many beautiful kimono designs and dyes.
After Tokyo, we proceeded to Honolulu where we met Martin Wyss and his wife for a very nice Hawaiian meal, had chats with Valerie Reisert and Baby Handl; later flew over to the Big Island where we had a good time with Kimo + Karen Dejon. We were driving around the whole Island but due to the thick clouds could not take the long expected helicopter trip to the Mouna Kea.
From Kona, United brought us to Los Angeles from when we rented a Ford Edge SUV that was our transport for 3 weeks. We met Jurg and Joan Mattmann for lunch in Temecula where we also stayed at the comfortable South Californian Winery with quite nice wines. From there to Borrego Springs and then on to Yuma AZ where we stayed in the casita of Charlie and Lynn Simants. One day, we went over the border to the small town of Algodones in Mexico, 10m. away from Yuma, with all kinds of businesses catering to US clients, all paid in greenbacks. Good and inexpensive food & drinks are available, live music and dancing even at lunch time. Well stocked pharmacies and dentists abounded. Huge parking spaces available on US territory. The border control is quite severe with returnees; all must show photo identity but we were not checked as to the value of goods brought into the US.
We then drove along Salton Lake to Palm Springs where we met Ed Marteka, our old neighbor from Kobe where we repeated our raclette dinner. We had found the cheese in a wonderful store in N. Wilshire Bvd. by online search – you hardly find such a variety anywhere in Europe, also meats, oils, wines, spirits, breads, chocolates, you name it, they have it.
Something we had wished to visit for years but so far never had the time, was Death Valley CA. Though not the summery heat in the 130s F, – it was actually quite cold in the mornings, below 50F/10C. It was a long trip in and out, but once there, we enjoyed the many rock formations, the shadows thrown especially by the afternoon sun, the vastness and the emptiness of the area. The Inn at the Furnace Creek is quite comfortable in the middle of nowhere but when you have an overflowing toilet at 1 am flooding the whole bathroom, due to the carelessness of the room attendant, this spoils your whole stay….
We returned to civilization through another more westerly route taking us through Trona, a huge mineral complex (Borax), then visited the airlines boneyard http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/southern-california-logistics-airport-victorville-boneyard.htm near Victorville where we spent the night in a very comfortable Hilton Garden Inn. The next day on we drove through Yucca and the Joshua tree country of San Bernardino County (14 were shot dead that night!) back to Palm Desert where in the meantime James and Julia Smith of Hilton (Hong Kong) fame had arrived from their native Scotland for their 3 month wintering, golfing, entertaining and what else is on their extensive program.
Back to LA and the LACMA for another encounter of the Otoman tiger, then a 4-hour flight to Chicago where we expected to freeze our butts off because we do not carry any winter clothes with us but it was around 10C. There we met Stacie Hartman, a dear acquaintance of a trip to the Torres del Paine journey many moons ago and the next day took a Pullman Rail Journey to New Orleans. From there, we drove along the Gulf of Mexico with our friend Martha Murphy to her beautiful Longboat Key home, and spent 3 days there with her, then on to Miami where we will meet with Joe + Elena Kurstin, Peter + Nora Hüppi, Colette Liffman and others. Departure for Nevis is on Dec. 22.
This year, son Nicolas and his wife Alexandra and the 3 grandkids Leonie, Keana & Matteo will, most unfortunately, not be able to join us for the Festivities this year.
In closing, Uschi joins me in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a most wonderful, happy, successful and healthy New Year of the Monkey 2016!
Willi and Uschi
*The Zurich number +41 44 586 5060 is in Switzerland and reaches us in Nevis over the Internet, if no answer, pl. just leave a message and your number and we will call you back within 24 hours.
The Nevis numbers: Land line +1 869 469 8818; Cell Willi +1 869 660 2000, Uschi + 1 869 665 8322