Cuba Tips for Photography
Wander, Be Bold and Pay Up
The musician makes eye contact. On this cue his body shifts into a striking pose. Guitar strings are raised and fingers flexed. You know he has done this before, but not for you. His eyes are twinkling that universal message of commerce. You can take my picture for a fee. Caribbean harmony.
1. Wander off del Prado and the popular tourist squares of Viejo Havana. You will find anything going on in the side streets and mostly the unexpected. An impromptu dance session, a car under repair, a cigar smoking momma, a parade and more local color treasures. Architecture, cars, people. Mix and match as you desire or as they roll out on any street.
2. Change your perspective. Head to the rooftop or poke the lens into a mass of men street battling out a chess game. Separate yourself from the rest of the tourists roaming the plazas and promenades.
3. Pay up for portraits. It is the culture and many have gone before you so. Be prepared with small (US) dollar bills in amounts you know will be acceptable locally. Helping locally will have you feeling more connected to your travel destination.
4. Work the pose for your unique style. Travel is no reason to leave your creativity at home.
5. Be mindful of the sky. In the Caribbean it can change to a mother nature drama in minutes. Just make sure a hurricane is not brewing.
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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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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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