East of Heart
The last time I wrote, I had been on Vancouver Island for just over a month. The summer of surfing and serving that unfolded was incredible, a success on every level. In October I left, confident that I could once again uproot.
Life lately has been entwined with letting go, grabbing on to and braiding again strands of attachment. Relocating is fundamentally a series of concrete steps but I'm still not used to the emotional segmentation that accompanies it. After finally submitting my thesis at the beginning of June, I had only a week planned in Stockholm to say goodbye to a place and to very dear people with whom I'd formed close bonds for the better part of three years. I felt like an asshole. Then I returned home for two weeks after nearly a year away, and finally I moved to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, with no connections or notions of anything.
One Sunday morning, I received a text message from a friend asking me if I wanted to attend a Persian wedding party that evening. It turned out to be a Kurdish engagement celebration.
It's nearly 22h on this Monday, December 31st of 2012. We're five people from four different countries sitting around a table in a big open flat in Krakow, planning the night ahead. I wanted to share photographs from the nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz (a germanization of the Polish town name Oświęcim) that I visited today.
I got to do a five-day workshop with David Alan Harvey in 2009. It transformed my approach to photography of course, but I could have never anticipated how powerful its effects continue to be three years onwards.
Hi! I am back in Stockholm and I am still writing my thesis. I had the best two-month return to the field I could have hoped for. Now I live again between library and residence surrounded by reddening autumn leaves. I find it difficult to keep up the blog when I'm so focused on writing academically, but I assure you that it's just a temporary absence.
Between February and June, José went around Lima trying to convince musicians from his favourite Peruvian psychedelic cumbia bands from the 60's, 70's and 80's to come together as one and give new life to their percussive anthems.
It was almost six in the morning and the market in Capachica was already starting to bustle. People were slowly arriving, slinging large bags of produce or hauling carts of merchandise. It was drizzling and rainy season mud seemed to be caking up everything: tires, boots, dog hair. Our shared taxi van from Puno was parked on a side road, waiting for a few more passengers before continuing to Llachón.
The recommended route to Machu Picchu: by bus and on foot. Machu Picchu is beautiful. It takes your breath and stirs your mind. Anyone passing through Cusco should try going and even better if you've got the means and time for...
A last minute July 28 escape from Lima to Oxapampa for Peruvian Idependence Day.
Here you have it, the logistical summary table of my transcontinental bus travels in South America in the last year. In two trips, I covered almost 12,000 kilometers of road over a total of more than 220 hours.
I never expected that the most happening thing I'd find in La Paz on a Saturday afternoon would be a full-blown K-Pop (Korean pop) dance competition.
What am I eating?
I try to embed mention of food into my travel posts but since I happen to have a number of past restaurant colleagues with short attention spans, I have to give them a proper food post once in a while as a carrot for them to keep visiting.
To the west, long white salt flats and over snowy peaks, Chile. North, across the barren expanse, the Bolivian altiplano. To the South, majestic Mt. Chañi of Jujuy province in Argentina. And east, an enormous nearly full moon just rising over the hills.
Yesterday was my first full day in Buenos Aires and it coincided with an enormous country-wide call to protest by the socialist Left. More than a hundred thousand people congregated...
Were it summer, I would have stopped in Florianopolis for its unique beach landscapes, but on Marcelo's recommendation I opted to make Porto Alegre my last stop in Brazil on the road south.
I'm spending tonight at Guarulhos, São Paulo's austere and grimy ciment palace of an airport. I'm sleeping here because I rather wait until 5h45 to take a 4 reales bus (1 real = approx US $0.50) and 3.50 RS subway into town than pay the 100 RS it would cost to taxi to my friend Marcelo's place. I should have arrived around 17h30 but our original flight from Amsterdam experienced a technical failure of its motor de-icing systems...
When I came home from playing football today I took a shower. About two minutes in, my eye caught sight of a small black shape moving very organically at my feet. When I reached down to touch it, the water...
One of the fascinating facts often mentioned about the Inca is that their constructions didn't need mortar, that their walls stood without binding substance holding together the blocks. From contemporary inspection, it's obvious that Inca masons succeeded in doing this by very precisely cutting stone in the shape needed to fit into the next layer they were building and its planned adjacent blocks. It meant that you not only had to plan the shape of your structure but also how each individual block would fit within it and sculpt it to measure.
I am in Stockholm again. Following my seven country trip back to Sweden and the rush of the first week, I've felt a little...
These images are all from the main central areas of São Paulo, they don't really provide an idea of the scale and extension of the metropolis. I would need a helicopter to provide that.
I wasn't able to make it to Iguazu Falls while in Ciudad del Este, but I did visit the largest electricity generating plant in the world, the Itaipu hydroelectric dam. Itaipu means "the rock that sings" in Guarani, a name taken from...
After 36 hours in the Chaco, Manuel and I travelled to Asunción (5h). A day in the slow-moving capital left me with the strong impression that the country operates on a very different rhythm and cultural landscape than elsewhere I'd been on the continent.
I left Lima Thursday evening, arrived in Arequipa at noon the next day and from there caught a direct bus to the border town of Desaguadero going through Puno. I arrived around 22h and the border had closed at 19h.
Enveloped in your fog and smoke, your constant cry of horns, sirens and shouts, cradled in your hills and pressed back against your ocean cliffs, wandering and finding my rhythm amongst your million interminable streets, I have peaked at your smile, your dance and charm.
Christmas in Cusco made for a fantastic contrast to the months spent cursing the fog in Lima.
On the way back from Jorge Chávez flight port, another double length nocturnal trip through the capital, this time with a gregarious Marine ex commando two weeks from his retirement.
I have been brewing one last rant for the year. We are at an important inflexion point in history where we have stopped regarding the present as a time period moving away from and advancing towards past and future landmarks.
It was in the middle of the pedestrian chaos that links La Mar and La Marina avenues that I met Mohammed, but I had to line-up.
It turns out that palta comes from Quechua and is the name of a people that used to occupy an area in the southern Ecuadorian Andes and northern Peru. When the Incas set out to conquer new...
Certainly, some of my most memorable experiences have been linked to the opportunities I have had to collaborate with the university's School of Dance (soon to be faculty). From working with a renown visiting photographer to time-freezing emerging breakdance stars...
¡¿Que fue barrio?! On the tail of more fish, Boris and I traveled to the resort town and fishing port of Ancón north of Lima. We had been told in Ventanilla that the main port activity took place in the afternoon.
Last weekend, Boris and I woke up early to visit the wholesale fish market of Ventanilla in Callao, the province next to Lima where the international airport is. One of two such markets in the metropolitan area, it represents a midway concentration node between what is sold and selected off at port, and what is bought to be sold or served to the end consumer. The only other major wholesale fish market I had been to before was the Fulton Fish Terminal in the Bronx, New York and I was very curious to get an impression of what is being caught and sold in Peru in comparison.
I am working on a fish-related post for you in the next 24 hours but I needed to share these succinctly informative videos from the Pew Environment Group first.
Walking home from school last night, I happened upon this impressive food stand. I haven't got it clear yet, but usually when these stands have a reputation, people start to refer to them as huariques, small and unique local gastronomical institutions.
The news of Steve Jobs’ passing last night moves me most out of sympathy for the character. He was someone who had evidently made it his life’s purpose to pursue what made him tick...
Boris reminds me of why I study geography. A few weeks back, he told me about an emerging hillside area in the northeast of Lima where the city's fog accumulates densest and where he thought it could be interesting to install condensation tarps to foster urban gardening projects. I asked him to take me along on his next visit and thus got to explore Lima's outer neighbourhoods and markets with him this past Saturday. Great!
You know, Peruvians aren't lying when they tell you that over 3,000 varieties of potatoes are grown in their soils. Potato is called papa in Latin America, not patata!
At Mistura today, I also had the privilege of bumping into Yukio Hattori, president of the renown Japanese Hattori Cooking and Nutrition school, commentator on Iron Chef and one of the foremost public authorities on food in Japan.
Today, I attended Mistura, Lima's extraordinary annual national gastronomy fair. I had little idea of what I would find other than numerous food stands representing Lima's many restaurants and niche eateries (huariques). I discovered that it was a lot more [...]. To my luck, Ferran Adrià was again present to give an inspiring talk, now with almost a full week of enjoyment in Lima and an obvious enthusiasm for the culinary energy of this country.
Creative people are relentless and incredibly disciplined at keeping their mind in a state of invention. This was made evident to me once again on Wednesday in a sports coliseum filled with 4,000 students who came out to see Catalan chef Ferran Adrià give a free talk.
Wandering Lima's colonial-era neighbourhoods in the centre this Sunday, surrounded by weekend throngs, I definitely felt at the head of a mighty country with vast hinterlands and a very palpable sense of the past.
Back in Canada after more than a year away and now on exchange in Peru.
In this last of my catch-up posts, I wanted to share with you some overview financial figures of my trip in Turkey and Iran last year and my nine months living in Sweden. Some of you might see this bookkeeping as obsessive and tedious, but once my tables are setup, I rarely spend more than 1 minute per day feeding the spreadsheet with the latest information.
Snapshots of my last days in eastern Turkey in 2010.
Salam, chetori? Entering Iran was the realization of an old dream. It had long represented one of the most exotic places of my imagination, where ancient history, cultures, desert and spices coincided.
Wondrous and enlightening experiences of friendship in Kiev, Krakow and Warsaw. 5 days left before the move.
I wish I were announcing the near anniversary of East of Heart with more confidence. I feel bad for still having pending stories. At the moment, I am locking myself into an academic project that surpasses me in almost anything I have done so far;
To get to the festival we took a shuttle to the local town of Machka from where we hitched a ride to Zigana. Outside of Zigana we came upon the headquarters of the local road engineers who called up some friends who were going to the festival to come and pick us up. 40 minutes later a Hyundai Accent showed up blasting Turkish electro-folk.
The Turkish government keeps me from mapping my location, but I am at the ötögar (bus terminal) in Trabzon on the eastern Black Sea littoral of Turkey. I flew from New Delhi to Istanbul on the 8th of July and have since been enjoying a slow pace of travel in good company.
My final stretch in India. Having skipped Sikkim to avoid intensifying monsoon rains, I went up to the Himalayas of eastern Himachal Pradesh through the ancient Tibetan buddhist strongholds of Kinnaur and Spiti valleys.
From temples to tombs, Madhya Pradesh to Western UP. The departure from Jagdalpur was the beginning of one of my longest legs of transit of my trip in India. The bus to Raipur took 7h and someone was possessed enough to equip it with a horn that could emit five different ring-tones, always at around 80db. Reaching Raipur was also terribly far behind on its list of priorities next to filling the bus with as much people as possible.
After the epic arrival from Araku, Jagdalpur proved equally moving. Even in the in the late afternoon, the Sunday market (haat) was still in full swing allowing me to push my sampling of fruit even further.
Thus I boarded the train and nestled in for the epic ride up Araku Valley. One of few trains which bears letter in its serial name, the 1VK links Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh with Koraput district in southwestern Orissa and ends in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh.
Good-day from Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Since my last trip update in Kanyakumari, I have been working my way up through central India. I was covering most of my original planned landing points until I had a terrible experience with an extended night bus under monsoon rain.
Though I recently commented that in Tamil Nadu and Kerala women are quite visible (coming close to representing their half of the population), my experience in India so far has been that public spaces are predominantly occupied by men.
I've made my way down to Cape Comorin. Outside of my window (to my left at the present) cloudy skies glow faintly with the setting sun. Pilgrims, tourists and their concessions are everywhere but the streets are quiet and peaceful, as if everyone were silently reflecting upon their geographical position at the tapered end of the subcontinent while a light marine breeze keeps one cool from all directions.
My two weeks of work are over and I will be back on the traveling route as of Friday evening. I am planning a 10-day loop through Tamil Nadu which will allow me to coincide with some colleagues for a day of process-documentation in the middle of the hot southern plains.
I am residing alone at a friend's house in Bangalore. His family and him are on vacation but they have generously let me stay for the duration of my work stint. When I came back from the office yesterday around 8pm I immediately took notice of a dog crying loudly.
India can perplex me like no other place I have been to before. I can have trouble conceiving of its charms and deterrents as pertaining to the same place and it continues to lead to frequent feelings of irony and mood reversals. There is a level of consciousness that I obviously still fail to tap into! Provincial Mysore made for the ideal pit stop to catch up on sleep and reading. After a couple of lazy days however, it proved relieving to push myself to make the southbound bus to Ooty (also known as Udhagamandalam, 2286m) on Thursday.
From Goa I traveled through 13 hours of buses to the dusty and charming coastal city of Mangalore. There, I finally purchased some much needed antibiotics to combat my diluvial stool and after half a day I jumped on a bus to catch some higher altitude air in Karnataka’s fertile southern section of the Western Ghats, the Coorg Region.
The sky changing capes over the Arabian Sea in Calangute.
In between bouts of sea, I helped some young guys from Mumbai get there car out of the sand and joined them for a Kingfisher Strong beer in the shade after (not the guys in the photos).
I took a rickshaw from the airport to the Andheri train station after arriving from Abu Dhabi this morning. I then rode the train into the historic core of the city to Churchgate Station as the sun rose, unresistingly leaning out of the window holding to the top door frame most of the way.
Greetings! I am on stop over in Abu Dhabi on my way to Mumbai. The personal entertainment console in the plane made me forget about how far I was traveling (beautiful Crazy Heart), but the change of culture was everywhere from the second I stepped off.