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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands

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Shrine in Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

I love cemeteries. This shrine in Recoleta Cemetery is perfect in it’s haunting simplicity.

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Just finished reading Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana, a satirical tale of a socially awkward vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-revolution Havana who is enlisted by the British Secret Service. A neat and very funny story, I recommend it for a rainy day. (If you want to know more about the book itself try reading tobedwithatrollope’s quite thorough review)

What I loved most about the book was simply it’s setting – in the warm, beating heart of Cuba’s capital. I love Havana, I really do. I loved revisting her famous streets and sipping daquaris in her famed night-spots along with the books protagonist, Mr. Wormold. My oh my, I really miss the place (and the amazing friends I made there)… might be a vacation on the horizon, methinks.

How could you not love a town with this much crumbling and simplistic charm:

Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Cuba

Have you been to Havana? Did she charm you too?

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Mid-century style rolling through the streets of Havana

Havana is a magical place filled with timeless beauty and crumbling history. Very surreal.

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Small survivors of the January 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

These pint-sized survivors were rescued from the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where they were found abandoned after the January 12, 2010 earthquake which reduced an entire wing of the public hospital to rubble.

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By the way, If you want to read about my experience doing relief work in Haiti you can read my posts City of Displaced Souls about my first two weeks in Haiti after the earthquake and The Broken Heart of the Caribbean written as I was leaving Haiti, after 6 weeks.

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fatima

Fatima in the doorstep of her house in Chefchaouen

I met Fatima in the street near her house in Chefchaouen, Morocco. She invited me in for tea and suggested I marry her son.

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After three epic days on the Inca Trail, my friends and I awoke on the fourth and final morning of our trek with anticipation gnawing at our bellies. Just the ten of us (or so it seemed) striding purposefully through the 4am darkness, hawing our jagged little path across the flanks of deep, quiet mountains. We each entertained visions of the magical, epic, ancient, forgotten, discovered city – Machu Picchu, the famous lost city of the Incas.

Machu Picchu: the never-really-lost city of the Incas

Guided initially by the glow of our torches, then by the first sparkle of light that hovered in the damp air, we made our way along the thin and twisting pathways of the mountain side. Two hours later, after hiking a final stairway toward heaven itself (or so it seemed), we finally mounted the famous Sun Gate, just in time to see the sun rise above the horizon and bask its eternal glow upon…

the impenetrable layer of perfectly white clouds which blanketed the valley below us. We couldn’t see a brick of Machu Picchu.

While truly handsome, this wasn’t quite the scene I had hiked for four days to lay my eyes upon. “I want to see Machu Picchu,” I whined, with a childish pout. Eternally optimistic by nature, my friends and I were loath to despair. We quietly agreed that if we waited it would clear. Wayra, our guide, thought us foolish and informed us that it was thus fogged almost every day (they don’t put that in the brochure now, do they!) We stubbornly ignored his advice and waited…

After almost an hour our patience was rewarded. The clouds split and faded just as the sun hit the ancient city. Triumph! But we were too awe-struck to be cocky. Stunned and humbled by the sight laid out before us, we sank into silence to milk the moment for all it was worth. Unable to extract all her glory, for she has an endless supply, we eventually gathered ourselves and begun a surreal decline into her waiting embrace.

Sacred mountains protect Machu Picchu

After the obligatory “Look Ma, I’m at Machu Picchu” photo ops, I broke away from the crowd and purposefully lost myself in the alleys and stairways of the proud mountain-side town. Sitting in a shaded corner, soaking in a bustling calm of the place, I found myself looking out over history, hidden in the enclave of a trilogy of mountains – Machu Picchu (old mountain), Waynu Picchu (young mountain) and Putucusi (happy mountain). A gentle breeze blew seductively on my neck, bringing with it the memory of cool waters trickling through the fountains and irrigation chutes. Ay, Machu Picchu, with her manicured grass banks and farming terraces, tropical plants growing in rocky crevices, stone temples and statutes made of the Earth’s treasures, flowing waters; a city with her head tipped elegantly to meet the sun’s rays.

A hum of chatter emanated from the hundreds of tourists below. They were happy. Machu Picchu is a happy place. It is old and pure and perfect and pays homage to the gods – to Pachamama (the earth mother), Inti (the sun), Killa (the moon), the air and the water. This was a culture of people, Quechuas ruled by Incas, who knew how to respect the planet, who understood the wondrousness of the gifts we have been given, the treats that money is not required to enjoy.

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