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On Monday Kongo visited some cenotes in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula.  Cenotes (pronounced SIN-oh-te) are sink holes where the limestone crust of the earth has collapsed to uncover the fresh groundwater below.  They are all over the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and are quite beautiful.

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Long time readers will recall that Kongo is a bit of an opera buff.  He also likes theater and his all time, never to be exceeded, favorite is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1988 musical Phantom of the Opera, based on the Gaston Leroux novel written in 1910 and inspired by the magnificent Opéra Garnier in Paris.  So naturally, when Kongo visited Paris a few weeks ago a trip to this icon of France was a high note of his visit.  Kongo has seen Phantom in London (three times), New York, Washington, DC, San Diego, and Abu Dhabi so being able to scamper up the Grand Staircase was pretty special but he was truly overwhelmed by the beauty of opulence of the rest of the building.

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Monkeys love secrets and scattered about Paris in the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements are nearly two dozen hidden passageways that seem to escape the crush of tourists in the shops along Rue de Rivoli.  These passages were the shopping malls of the 18th and 19th century and at one time there were more than 150 of them in Paris.  The ones that remain today have been restored to their original glory and offer a glimpse into the past and the promise of hidden secrets and spirits of those Parisians who walked these wonderful places hundreds of years ago. Mrs. Kongo and the monkey were guided through these secret places where (relatively) few tourists venture by a lovely young lady and student of history named Erell Bernard.  Read on for a glimpse into the past.

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Kongo did a full day touring Kiev today and now he’s a tired little monkey. Oksana, his tour guide, took him through squares, caves, monasteries, cathedrals, Golden Gates, Metro rides, squares, presidential palaces, some more churches, across the river, a slew of monuments, and a heavy dose of Soviet architecture. Whew.

The picture above is St. Andrew’s Cathedral at night.