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Dreaming of the Maldives

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My baby’s been waking me up at 5 am each morning eager and ready for the day. Me–not so much. Some things make waking up early easier, and for this non-coffee drinker, a walk on the beach helps. Of course, most of the year I don’t have that luxury. But a year ago we were in the Maldives with our toddler and a pregnant belly and she was getting me up early. We’d grab some breakfast to go and creep out of the villa so Hubby could sleep. She and I would wander up and down the beach or just sit on our back deck. These water hens learned very quickly that a certain 2 year old loved sharing her breakfast bread with them. They’d show up every morning eager and ready for the day, much like my baby was this morning.

Baby Python

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Now, I’m not a snake expert by any means, but our nature guide told us this was a baby python, so I’m rolling with it. Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a wonderful place to visit in the cooler months. Thousands of birds spend their winters in the park boundaries after migrating south from Russia, the Himalayas, Nepal, China, etc. We got to see cranes, storks, ducks, owls, hornbills and many more I can’t identify. You also see land mammals like antelope, monkeys, and deer, plus a variety of reptiles, such as the snake above and lizards. The park has raised walking paths all over with swampy or open water throughout. We hired a cycle rickshaw to take us around and then got out to walk down smaller paths. You can also go via boat if you desire. We went on a chilly day and a number of reptiles came out to sun themselves in the afternoon sun. I sure was glad this was a baby and not full grown!

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Romeo: A Tiger of Ranthambore, India

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This is Romeo. He’s a massive male tiger who lives in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India. Ranthambore is known for its tiger population and visitors can go on jeep safaris through the wilderness looking for tigers, leopards, crocodiles, Sambar deer, Nilgai, and more. You have the choice between a large 20 person canter (big open aired jeep bus) or a 6 person jeep. We went with the jeep and, with our daughter on our lap, piled in with 4 others. Each jeep gets assigned a zone of the park to explore and off we went. We bounced along on the dirt paths, looking for animals. We saw a bunch of Sambar deer and Nilgai (a type of antelope), plus a few crocodiles and lots of birds.

Suddenly we saw excitement ahead–the other jeeps were circling and cameras were out! TIGER! We raced over and all the jeeps jockeyed for position. Finally, I saw him. Massive Romeo. He ambled along, passing between our jeep and another before moving over a ridge. Quickly the drivers and guides made decisions as to which path was best to track him. We zipped around and barreled (and I do mean barreled–we had to hold on tight!) down a path to where the guide anticipated Romeo would reappear.

We ended up seeing him again along a river bed where he drank, waded and eventually crossed over before disappearing into the woods.

This is not a zoo. It is a national park and tiger sightings are not guaranteed. We felt really lucky to have seen Romeo (and we also saw the head of another tiger taking a nap behind some rocks).

The Marwari Horses of Rajasthan, India

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The Marwari horse is a rare breed from the Marwar (now Jodhpur) region of Rajasthan, India. Rajasthan is in north India, near the border with Pakistan. They are very hardy and are known for their turned in ears. At a museum I visited in Rajasthan, they said the Marwari horse has the turned-in ears to prevent a sword from cutting off the tips in battle. These horses are a cross between sturdy and small Indian ponies and Arabian horses.

I got to see these horses at the Pushkar Camel Fair, which happens every year sometime in October or November in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. The small village comes alive with people selling horses, camels and livestock and religious pilgrims coming for a Hindu festival. It was a sight to see!