Monday, September 30, 2019

Water Parks Vacation

Our water park adventures.Summer vacations are nice, but expensive, so this year we decided to save on air fare and go someplace local. As a bonus, not flying is good for the environment.

Kids with camel at Camelback.We’ve heard from multiple people how much fun water parks are, but never tried this type of recreation until this summer.

Kids inside Camelback water park.There are three major water parks in relatively close proximity to us — Camelback, Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari. We decided to visit two of them in order to compare and have greater variety. Camelback was recommended by my friend Erica, and Great Wolf Lodge by one of Daniеl’s coworkers.

Climb to the top for the scariest rides.So we booked Calemback for 3 nights and Great Wolfe for 2 nights. I have to say that it even though it was quite fun overall, 5 nights are definitely an overkill, and 2-3 nights in total would have been plenty.

One of the best family rides -- Venus Flytrap. Note the people inside.We left on Friday, June 28th. It took us about two and a half hours of driving to get to Camelback resort. Our room was adequate, and the breakfast was good too.

Ready for the indoor obstacle course.On Thursday Arosha cut two toes on some sharp stone at Martin Pond, so I was a little worried about him getting an infection. Luckily, the resort sells water shoes, so those combined with band-aids proved to provide sufficient protection.

Anna conquering a rope path.Camelback resort has inside water park called Aquatopia and an outdoor park called Camelbeach. Camelbeach requires a separate entry fee, but one day tickets were included with our stay.

Arosha at the top.There were a lot of people at the resort, but we mostly did not have to wait in long lines, with the notable exception of the surfing ride, which we did not even get to try because one had to wait close to an hour for a few minutes of fun.

Rock wall climbing. She did reach the top.I liked both indoor and outdoor parks. I especially liked the ski lift ride, with a beautiful view of the Pocono Mountains. It was a bit on the extreme side for me still, with the kids riding unfastened over the abyss and all. None of the people around us seemed to be scared, and I tried to hide my fear as well in order not to freak out kids or worry Daniеl.

Arosha climbed the hardest wall they had to the top.One of the sad discoveries that I made on this trip is that I get motion sick on the water park rides after 2-3 rounds. What a bummer! I liked the thrill of it, but could not handle much. Luckily, nobody else in the family seemed to be experiencing this, so from time to time I lounged by the pool while Daniеl was in charge of rides with the kids.

Ceramics painting.There was a wave pool which kids really liked. Anna was wearing a life jacket most of the time. She got much better in the last few weeks with swimming by the way, and can go to the docks at Martin Pond by herself.

Dinner at a local brewery.She also started swimming lessons last week along with Arosha. Sadly, she is prone to have swimmers ear, so even with ear plugs and swimming cap she is currently on antibiotic ear drops. But back to water parks.

Outside Camelback aqua park. Some rides get outside the walls.We did a few other activities while at Camelback. Daniеl and kids took an obstacle course and climbed a rock wall. All of us painted some pottery, which was fun too. Aaron painted a lantern, Anna painted a puppy and Daniеl and I painted a Family sign, which is now proudly displayed among some other trinkets over the fireplace.

Fruits of our labor. Fresh out kiln.We visited a few restaurants, some are more expensive than others.

Great Wolf Lodge.The Great Wolf Lodge is located a 10 minute ride away from Camelback. It was a little frustrating that we had to upgrade our room for $60 extra per night because the room that we originally got had one of the sleeping places right next to the air conditioner and there was no way to move it or redirect the AC.

Our room at Great Wolf Lodge.The breakfast was very expensive (over $60 for the 4 of us). We pre-bought it while booking since it was advertised as themed breakfast and we thought it would be fun for the kids. The themed part consisted of a costumed person briefly appearing in the restaurant area and posing for pictures with willing patrons. Luckily, the hotel agreed to refund us the second breakfast and we just bought some bagels and cherries in the local supermarket and saved over $50.

Hugging a puppy. Naturally.There was no outdoor park at Wolf Lodge, but they did have an outdoor pool. The water was too cold for me and Anna, and the boys did not even try it.

Arosha at the obstacle course at Great Wolf Lodge.There was a nice outdoors obstacle course, which Arosha tried. It was $20 per person and not included with the stay.

Mini-golf course.The indoor park was nice. It seemed smaller than Camelback, but had a few somewhat different exciting rides. There were lines at times, but it was not terrible.

Duckpin bowling.We also played a game of mini golf and two games of bowling for variety.

Outside of Great Wolf Lodge.By the end of our vacation, Anna and I got a chlorine induced rash on different body parts. It took a few weeks before it cleared for me and Anna still has some patches of itchy skin on her legs, even though I treated her rash with steroids and moisturizers. I guess, she is more sensitive to that kind of stuff.

Water slides at Great Wolf Lodge.Overall, it was a very nice little getaway. A bit more expensive than we hoped, but definitely cheaper than a full fledged vacation. I am willing to go to another water park next year, but as I said earlier, the stay should be maximum 3 days long in order to maximize the fun and not get worn out by the repetitiveness of this past time.

Last moment of our water parks adventure.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Япония — О Еде

Street vendor on Miyajima Island.Наша поездка в Японию удалась. Мы погуляли по многим новым местам, попробовали много необычных блюд, услышали много непонятных слов, увидели много красивых лиц, и в целом на мгновение окунулись в другой мир. Мне было одинаково интересно смотреть и на Японию, и на самих японцев. Очень хотелось пообщаться с ними поближе и попытаться лучше понять их обычаи и культуру, но такой возможности не было. Несмотря на то, что все были чрезвычайно вежливы, много кланялись и улыбались, я иногда остро ощущала себя чужаком в этой мононациональной стране. В целом же японцы произвели на меня очень и очень приятное впечатление, и я лично убедилась, что японские женщины не зря славятся своей красотой.

Plastic dishes.Вообще очень сложно писать о нашем отпуске, потому что он был очень насыщенным и от этого не знаешь с чего начать. В эту субботу мы ходили в местный японский ресторан с Маруками, и с тех пор мне очень хочется попасть на рыбный рынок в Токио и отведать вкуснейших суши из Суши Дай. Разница в качестве морепродуктов, риса и чая очень заметна — а это значит, что еще не скоро я смогу получать удовольствие японских ресторанов в Бруклине. Итак, о еде.

Суши Дай

Chefs at Sushi Dai.Вопреки распространённому мнению, в Японии есть очень много разных блюд, которые не включают в себя морепродукты. В суши-ресторан мы сходили только один раз, но зато как метко! Даня почитал на интернете отзывы о разных местах, и этот ресторанчик, расположенный на рыбном рынке в Токио, очень хвалили. Работает он в первой половине дня — с 5 утра и до полудня, и попасть без очереди туда невозможно.

Japanese omelet.Мы запланировали поход на рыбный рынок на утро понедельника. Наша гостиница находилась минутах в 15 ходьбы от рынка, что пришлось весьма кстати, так как метро в Токио закрывается на ночь. Мы проснулись в 4 утра (разница во времени между Токио и Нью-Йорком составляет 14 часов, и к понедельнику мы были на каком-то промежуточном времени) и в начале 6-го вышли из гостиницы. Благодаря тому, что Даня хорошо изучил карты еще до нашей поездки (а так же тому, что в моего мужа при рождении кто-то встроил компас), мы нашли и сам рынок, и нужный нам ресторанчик без каких-либо проблем. В 5:40 утра мы присоединились к очереди (которая, кстати, заметно выросла вскоре после нашего прихода), а в 7:10 нас запустили внутрь. Стоит заметить, что в целом ряду маленьких ресторанчиков, наш был единственным возле которого в такую рань стояла очередь. В очереди там и сям встречались европейские лица, но большинство ожидающих являлось азиатами (скорее всего японцами). Прямо перед нами стояла пара средних лет — муж японец с русской женой. Живут они в Калифорнии, но у него в Японии мама и бизнес, и каждый раз когда они прилетают погостить, то заходят в это место.

Daniеl at Sushi Dai.Сам ресторанчик очень маленький и узенький. Не уверена сколько там посадочных мест — думаю, не больше 12. Мы заказали омакасе — курс на выбор повара, и остались очень довольны. Каждый из нас получил по 10 суши (плюс одну на наш выбор в конце завтрака), суп мисо, 4 кусочка рола с тунцом и сладковатый японский омлет. Еще в Нью-Йорке мы смотрели видео из этого места, и поэтому для нас не было шоком, когда одно из блюд — какой-то там моллюск — зашевелилось прямо перед нашими носами. Мне было страшновато это есть — всё-таки непривычно есть такие свежие морепродукты в сыром виде европейскому человеку — но с заданием я успешно справилась. Даня тоже сьел этот кусочек суши, хотя потом он откомментировал что большей гадости в жизни не едал. Еще мы ели тунца (жирного и обычного), морского ежа, красную икру, скумбрию, мелких креветок, окуня, угря и еще какую-то белую рыбу. Я помню, что окуня в Бруклине я прожевать не могла, а тут он мне так понравился, что я заказала его в качестве дополнительного кусочка. А еще мне очень понравилась красная икра — солёную красную икру я не люблю, а вот свежая была просто обьеденье.

Rolls and tuna sushi, I think.Завтрак нам стоил $50 на человека — не дешево, но оно того стоило.

Говядина Кобе

Kobe beef.Дегустация кобе бифа входила в планы нашей поездки. Мы точно не знали где, но надеялись, что в Осаке найдётся приличное место с умереными ценами (хотелось уложится в $100 на человека). Но то ли доллар сейчас настолько слабый (курс доллара к японской иене не был насколько плохим со времён второй мировой войны), то ли мы не там искали, но найти что-то дешевле $200 на человека мы не могли. К счастью, в ресторане, на котором мы остановились, никто не возражал разделить нам одну порцию на двоих. Хочется заметить, что так получилось даже лучше. Конечно, мяса могло быть и больше (мы получили 150 грамм мяса на двоих, но за счёт того, что в эта говядина очень жирная и соответственно относительно лёгкая, получился довольно приличный кусок), но закусок, овощей и риса входящих в цену ужина было более чем достаточно. Мы оба наелись до отвала.

Teppanyaki chef.Перед походом в ресторан мы очень боялись разочароваться ($200+ за ужин для нас довольно дорого), но получилось даже наоборот — мясо превзошло наши ожидания. За счёт его необычной “гранитной” текстуры оно было очень мягким (я бы даже сказала нежным) и сочным, и его практически не надо было жевать. Я очень рада, что мы побороли наши сомнения и попробовали этот деликатес.


Teppanyaki.Кобе биф нам готовили в тэппаньяки ресторане. Не считая мяса, всё очень похоже на наши местные хибачи. Вкусно (особенно жаренный чеснок), но ничего необычного.

Традиционные ужин и завтрак

Traditional dinner at ryokan.На 5-летний юбилей нашей свадьбы мы останавливались в традиционной японской гостинице — рёкане. Мы решили так же попробовать традиционные ужин и завтрак, которые предлагались в этом месте. Ужин состоял из более 15 наименований, включающих в себя супы, сырую и жаренную на гриле рыбу, овощи, различные соления, рис, десерт.

Traditional breakfast at ryokan.Что-то мне понравилось, что-то было слишком экзотичным на мой вкус, но в целом мы остались очень довольны и хорошо наелись. Завтрак тоже был интересным и включал в себя успевший полюбиться мне омлет по-японски, рыбу, суп, варёный тофу, рис, соления и грейпфрут. Гостиничный персонал посоветовал нам одеть на ужин предоставленные рёканом традиционные халаты с накидками, что мы и сделали. Мне кажется, это добавило всему действу остроты, чего мы собственно и добивались.


Okonomiyaki dinner in Osaka.Это блюдо, представляющее собой жареную лёшку с капустой и мясом либо морепродуктами, мы ели в одной из забегаловок в Осаке. Было неплохо, но лично на мой вкус не более того. Я выбрала окономияки с осьминогом и креветками, а Даня с беконом.


Tempura dinner.Я никогда не была большим любителем тэмпуры (обжаренные в кляре морепродукты или овощи) в Бруклине, но Японская темпура на голову выше местной. Не знаю в чём заключается секрет, но тесто в Японии было более воздушным, лёгким и хрустящим, и поэтому я с огромным удовольствием ела тэмпуру и в специализированном ресторане, и как часть нашего традиционного ужина.

Свинина в кляре

Fried pork cutlet dinner.К сожалению я не записала как называется эта ветвь японской кухни, но было очень вкусно. Эта свинина напомнила мне темпуру, но немного отличалась от вышеназванной по вкусу.

Бэнто Бокс

Bento box.Из Токио в Осаку мы ехали на синкансэне — “поезде-пуле”. Даня купил в дорогу две коробочки бэнто. Идея таких коробочек, где еда красиво и аккуратно разложена по отсекам, мне нравится, но больше покупать их как-то не тянуло.

Зелёный Чай

Tea ceremony.За неделю отпуска я выпила не меньше ведра этого чудесного напитка. Нам повезло, и когда мы уезжали из рёкана, тётушка-японка в кимоно угостила нас чаем, сделанным в рамках чайной церемонии. У чая был насыщенный зелёнй цвет, вкуснейшая пенка и очень приятный терпкий вкус. Второй по вкусности чай нам давали в Суши Дай.

Tea ceremony green tea.Очень многие рестораны тоже подавали неплохой чай, хотя, конечно, с тем, что нам подали в рёкане они не могут сравнится. Я покупала очень много чая в торговых автоматах, понатыканных на улицах с удивительной частотой. Причём, чай в автомате можно было купить как холоный, так и горячий. Я очень удивилась когда первый раз мне выпала бутылка с горячим зелёным чаем, но потом мы заметили, что под горячими и холодными напитками было написано “hot” и ” cold” соответсвенно, плюс у горящих напитков на бутылках были оранжевые крышечки, а у холодных белые. Мы привезли домой 3 упаковки по 100 грамм листового зелёного чая — надеюсь, что когда он закончится, можно будет пополнить запасы с помощью интернета.

Vending machine with hot and cold drinks.А еще мы пробовали буллочки с мясом, приготовленные на пару на острове Миядзима. Очень вкусно! А еще мы ели ланч в районе Сибуя в Токио, но он не представлял из себя ничего особенного. Что мне показалось очень интересым и необычным — это то, что практически кажый ресторан на витрине высталяет пластиковые модели своих блюд. Очень удобно, особенно для иностранцев.

Hiroshima steamed buns at Miyajima Island.А еще хочется отметить, что Хилтон как всегда был на высоте. Так как Даня является “алмазным” членом хилтоновского клуба, то мы получили в отеле бесплатные завтраки и доступ в “executive lounge”, где можно было вечером попить чаю или спиртных напитков, и подкрепится сладким или лёгкими закусками. Завтрак в стиле шведского стола был просто шикарным и включал в себя блюда как европейской, так и японской кухни.

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Friday, November 13, 2009


Tanoreen kitchen.Tonight we dined at a new restaurant — a place in Bay Ridge called Tanoreen. Danya found it through Zagat — high food rating of 26 and a moderate $31 estimate per person looked promising.

Inside Tanoreen.When we arrived at the location indicated on Zagat, the place looked closed and uninhabited. Apparently, the restaurant is currently located one block away from this address, but they will be moving to the 76th Street and 3rd Avenue in a matter of weeks.

Brussels sprouts for an appetizer.The decor of the current Tanoreen is not very posh, but the service and the food lived up to our expectations. We ordered Brussels sprouts as an appetizer, and two fish dishes as a main course. Danya got spicy tilapia with rice, and I got red snapper meal with salad. Everything was delicious, and the portions were quite big — we weren’t able to finish our food.

Red Snapper.My meal actually reminded me of kafta (ground lamb cutlets with onions, spices and pine nuts) which Habib used to buy for lunch from time to time when I was working at his pharmacy. The cuisine of Tanoreen is probably best classified as Middle Eastern, and it was really hard to pick just two dishes from a very appetizing menu. )

Spicy Tilapia.Our bill ended up being $49. I have a strong feeling that this was not the last time we ate at this restaurant!
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Al Di La

Al Di La business cards.This is another post from the “series” that I started a while ago:
The same website, or rather forum, that I found Applewood at had a list of other good places people were suggesting in Brooklyn.
As we’ve said before we’ve been to Applewood and to Saul and yesterday was Al Di La’s turn.

Al Di La restaurant in Park Slope.A bit of downside to Al Di La is the fact that they don’t take the reservation and the wait can take over an hour on a Saturday night. However they were nice enough to take down my phone number, so they could give us a call when our time was up.

Since we were in good company (Maruks) we just took a nice walk around Park Slope and when we got back they had a table available for the 4 of us.

Us near Al Di La.We started off with mussels (which I could not look at before Maine) and some sea-food soup. Mussels were good, but the soup I found somewhat tasteless and plain. For our main meals I ordered a steak and Alёna ordered black risotto painted with octopus ink. Steak was good, though not as great as at Saul, but Alёna’s risotto was delicious. And all that was complimented by wine.

Cozy interior.The total for the 4 of us came out to something around $180, which is not bad at all considering the amount of food that we ordered.

Overall it was a great experience with close friends. I had a very good time.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Restaurant Saul

Restaurant Saul business card.Today we felt “adventurous” — we decided to check out some new restaurant for dinner. I knew just the place to look for one. A while ago I was looking for some information on the lounge that Alёna and I had our first date at. Saul entrance.Sadly the place has closed down, but the search with the same address revealed that there was a new restaurant at the same location — Applewood. We have checked it out a while ago.

The same website, or rather forum, that I found Applewood at had a list of other good places people were suggesting in Brooklyn. We picked Saul and there we went.

The place was not cheap and the bill ran close to $200 for 3 of us, but I must stay that I haven’t eaten meat more delicious in a long time now. Alёna enjoyed her fish and Alex had the same meal as I. In short it was a good place that we should visit again sometime in the future.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mexican Vacation

Caribbean sea.We’re home. Just yesterday in the morning some of us were swimming and Caribbean Sea and now we’re in cold, gray New York. But I must say no matter how good the vacation is it is always nice to come back home. Home, sweet home.

I want to take a moment and jot down some notes before the memories start to fade.


Flying out of JFK is sweet. The ride there is less than 20 minutes which keeps my departure fears in check and saves greatly on time and taxi fees.

Near the main pool.We had a bit of a scare during check-in. First we were told that we were missing some papers that we should’ve gotten for Alёna at Mexican consulate, so she can’t go. I kept insisting that I did call the consulate and the embassy and was told that we don’t need anything and kept making them recheck until they did figure out that everything is OK. That was scary 15 minutes.

After a relatively short flight1 we stood in a passport check line for about hour and a half. The line was huge and was moving slowly.

And going back was even more fun. When we got to the airport the line to AA (our airline) was spanning through half the terminal. We stood in it for 1.5 hours and started feeling that we’re not going to make it. At that time they started letting people bound for New York go ahead of the line. Ironically it turned out that pretty much all flights were delayed, including ours, so we wouldn’t have been late anyhow.

The whole “check-in” in JFK took about 10 minutes, which was nice.


Riu Palaces Las Americas in Cancun, Mexico.During check-in I gave $20 to the clerk and asked for 2 rooms to be next to each other, be on the highest floor they can give us, and have ocean view. Inside the resort, near the elevators on our, 6th, floor.I’m not sure if $20 did it, or just asking would’ve worked, but that’s what we got.

The room had a full fridge of beer and other drinks and there was a full bar of hard liquors. I proceeded to take a shot of tequila before putting down my bag. )

The territory of the resort was not too big, but it had 5 restaurants, a buffet, a couple of bars and a bunch of pools and jacuzzis.

And no matter where you were there were always somebody asking you if you wanted any kind of drink. So needless to say we drank our fair share or all things alcoholic.

Rooms didn’t have any internet, but there was a Wi-Fi connection in the lobby, which was half dead as well. But that’s probably should be added to the “pros” column.


This is the main part of the vacation. There was no plan, no place to rush to and it was great. Alёna, mama and Lina were on the beach getting their tan starting from 7am. Initially I was out there pretty early too, but as the time went by I kept sleeping later and later. )

On the beach near our hotel.The water in the sea was very clean and the color was beautiful. It was as warm as a sea can get and we did a lot of swimming. I took my Casio watch swimming with me every time and I it was cool not having to worry about it going bad and having the time right there with me.

The only bad part about the sea was the fact there was a lot sharp hidden stones under the water. Each one of us ended up hurting our feet pretty badly at one point or another.

Alёna sitting in the water on the Caribbean Sea beach.Besides that we treated ourselves to the spa with a massage, dry sauna and hot and cold jacuzzi. This was the first time either one of us got a massage. We all ended up liking it.

And obviously we did a lot of eating.


There is no question that there was a lot of choices. Buffets had different themes every night and there was a choice of 5 restaurants for dinner. For lunch there was buffet and Italian restaurant and for breakfast — just the buffet. There was also 24 hour free room service which a small selection of light meals.

A restaurant requires a reservation at least one night in advance, so our first 2 dinners were in buffet, but the rest were in the restaurants.

We tried out all the restaurants and I have to say that living in New York spoils you. Brazilian was a joke. A very sad parody of what a real Brazilian steak house really is. It got nothing on Plataforma and the service was horrible on top of that.

Japanese was a big disappointment for Lina and Alёna. And even thought I’m not a big sushi eater, I can tell when a Japanese place is good. The problem with this one was not the fact that it was bad — it just wasn’t Japanese. Anything, but Japanese.

Tio Pepe Spanish restaurant.Our 3rd visit was to the Spanish restaurant. We were impressed. Really interesting selection of meals, great atmosphere and great service.

Steak house was OK. I for some reason had grown tired of steaks, so I kept ordering different dishes in different places, but in steak house I had to go for a steak. As I’ve said, the steak was OK. I’ve had better, but it wasn’t bad.

And for our last night we went to a place called Krystal — a fusion of different cuisines. Another great place. Delicious food. I ordered bass and I loved it — this never happens. The atmosphere was really nice, you get greeted with champagne and friendly, funny servers.

Out of 5 restaurants I’d love to go to Krystal and Tío Pepe (Spanish cuisine) again and would stay away from Brazilian Rodizio.

Chichen Itza

On Wednesday we a took a tour to Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza it an ancient city built by Mayans.

The pyramid at Chichen Itza. Temple of Kukulkan.The price of a ticket for one person was about $99 and the private tour for 5 people was $348 + tickets2. The choice was obvious. We had a van all to ourselves with a driver and guide. Our guide was really mediocre and boring, but he showed us the right spots.

They used to place the heads of people they sacrificed on top of this.It was interesting to see the Mayan pyramid with our own eyes and the rest of the ruins of their city. They were a bloodthirsty and brutal civilization and a lot of their art and architecture depicts it.

Temple of the Warriors.Later on we drove to a swimming well. It seems to be a round deep crater filled with water, and you can swim in it. The distance from the top to the water is 75 feet and from than there is another 150 to the bottom.

Ik Kil Cenote by Chichen Itza.Sadly I managed to catch a cold a day before and by this time I had a fever of 38°, so papa ended up the only one going to swim. He said the water was not nearly as cold as he expected, it was very clean and there was a lot of fish swimming in there.


All in all it turned out to be a great vacation. It’s nice to sometimes have no agenda at all and just do a lot of nothing on a beautiful resort on the shore of a Caribbean Sea with family.

  1. 3 hours 40 minutes there; 3 hours 10 minutes back. []
  2. $110 pesos per person. Dollar was 15 pesos at the time. []
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Red Bowl

Inside the Red BowlLast Saturday we had a delicious dinner in a little Chinese restaurant which is located in Williamsburg. It was our second visit to the Red Bowl, and, just as the first time, we had a great experience.

We know David, the owner of the restaurant, for a while now. He used to work as a waiter in Wasabi sushi restaurant in Bensonhurst. Maruks, being sushi lovers as they are, developed a very friendly relationship with David, so when he opened up his own place, he notified them, and they took us with them one day.

Sake from the Red BowlThe food in the Red Bowl is really good, and the prices are moderate. What I especially like though, is the warm atmosphere of the place. David treats us as special guests, always shares good alcohol with us, and gives discounts. This time we tried some sparkling sake from little pink bottles — I must say that was a real treat!

And if you want to know where the name of the restaurant comes from — just visit its bathroom. teeth

P.S. Too bad that the battery in Maruk’s camera died and we weren’t able to take a picture of David.
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