Figs Take You Places in Armenia
A Fickle Pursuit of the Best
How can mere figs take you places? In northern Armenia you could travel across the country in pursuit of the best. Shopping for Armenian figs is not taken lightly by locals but you can make it as complicated as your palette requires. After all, you are in a land that straddles Europe and Asia and most rules in this part of the world are blurred.
The best taste, variety and price. All of these come into play in the fall. That is when fig trees explode with nature’s joy of sweet pulp, seeds and juice. It is an amalgam that can delight the most discerning of tastes. As you drive throughout the countryside vendors will have on offer along the roadsides their fig tree harvest. They will be everywhere, especially in the north. Your research can be as easy or as complicated as you prefer. You can negotiate with every vendor. Play their proximity against each other. Chances are they will be friends and neighbours though and their alliances wont’ be easily broken. They will collaborate with each other before they will align with a fig starved non local hitting their pocketbook for the best deal.
The country is so small you can cover your fig acquisition expedition in an afternoon and return home with a trunk full of figs from several varieties, depending on your mood and palette. So prep your tastebuds for a little mouthwatering work and get yourself on the Armenian roads!
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Where Can You Go In India?
Rajasthan train is the way to go in this part of India. If you drive any distance in rural India you “get it”. A train ride cannot be beat for getting around expediently and without worry of accident. And they are more or less timely, given the part of the world you are in. A Rajasthan tour is probably tops on most “what to do in India” lists. Blue City of Jodphur, Pink City of Jaipur, Ghats of the Ganges. Princely states, harems, ladies palaces, all can be seen easily by Indian train. Most of these sites can be seen in a busy, but not frenetic week of Rajasthan train travel. The largely intact forts and palaces are full of centuries old antiques from elephant palanquins to ornate hookahs. After the tiger safari, riding an elephant up to a palace, marching around a fort and a smattering of local colour side trips to equally fascinating Fort Chittaugarh (Fort Chittor) and erotic Khajuraho temple can be easily arranged by India Rail.
You can get a view of the Indian countryside outside of the teeming cities. In the middle of nowhere you will be surprised to see an Indian Rail employee who looks like a local farmer, and most likely is one. He may be quietly waving a flag with full sense of purpose having fulfilled the days rail duty. Occasionally there will be children playing or locals just gazing at the wonder of the train lumbering through their regular schedule. So take in the big sites but be sure to admire the everyday living in this exotic and colourful land.
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Autumn Skies Colour Palette
from Whitehorse, Yukon to the Rocky Mountains to northern Quebec
Autumn skies lure venturesome folks to the forests and streams and mountains and roadways this time of year. It is annual pilgrimage time and everyone is in search of colour. Nature dresses up the landscape for another showstopper season. Colours that pop with the post summer cool down when the autumn skies are bluest. Red, orange and yellow against azul skies. Even mother nature knows that complementary colours, opposite positions on the colour wheel, catch the human interest. Every day the blends evolve, meld, and transition into a new canvas.
Depending on where you live the experience may differ in palette but always thrills. Within a mere hours drive north of Montreal, Quebec lies a haven of lakes and streams with a multicoloured Appalachian mountain backdrop. In the east you can find the much sought after crimson reds. On the western prairies nature sticks to an analogous palette, primarily tones of yellow and orange with different values. On the west coast the big leaf maples wield the largest brushes. If you want to venture north where autumn takes on the coloured dress earlier look for brighter bluer skies to show off the colours. Even for those who prefer or can’t get off the beaten path most are accessible from the roadside. Midweek, you are in deserted territory. So what are you waiting for?
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Alberta, Land of the Wild Horse
There is something about a wild horse that speaks to a hidden part of us. The suppressed part that responds to an unfettered life, dominated by none and without rules. The part that does not want to live by schedules and appointments and dislikes smog and pollution almost as much. After all, don’t we all want more free will from the shackles imposed by ourselves and others? Free in the open fields and aromatic woods of our dreams. Running with mane tangled from the elements after days spent in the mountain air of an untamed land. Just like in the movies, a life of the strong and free.
But strength and romanticism do not always keep company in the same body. The same can be said for nostalgia and freedom. The wild horses that roam the foothills of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains are not truly wild. Although they are descendants of domesticated Spanish horses released during colonization they have roamed free for many years. They have been here long enough to resist being rounded up back into captivity. As far as day to day living is concerned these horses lead a life of chaos. The wild horse has to survive a hostile environment without any hope of human help for basic needs provided to its domestic relatives. A constant search for the necessities of life, food and shelter, leaves little time or energy for loafing around enjoying the natural environs of the Alberta foothills. In the depths of winter after fresh snowfall there is no overwintered dry hay to be found.
People have been nurturing the horse human partnership since wolves started hanging around the campfire. We domesticated them and now we romanticize their wildness. Tamed their instincts and admire the release of them. The next time you see a wild horse or any wild creature, admire them for their struggle as much as for the freedom they instill. The wild deserve it.
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