Sunday, August 14, 2016

A “NON-BLOG” POSTING FOR THE “LOW SEASON”




It’s that time of the year in Puerto Vallarta, México when it’s hot, hot, hot! And did I mention humid! This time of the year is currently referred to as the “Low Season," but it was formerly known as the “Off Season." Since "Off Season" did not sound especially appealing to those in charge of promoting more visitors to the area it was modified to the current "Low Season."   I for one would have been just as happy if they had left it alone as the "Off Season"! 


Low season is when you can have the beach, the pool, and your Kindle pretty much to yourself!  


"Low Season" runs from May to the beginning of November, mas o menos, and is our favorite season. It is when we feel a real connection with nature and with the people of the area. We also refer to it as the “Quiet Season” even when the not-so-quiet-fun-loving Mexican nationals arrive for their annual summer vacations in the months of July and August. We are definitely an oddity in this regard since most visitors and winter regulars prefer the “High Season” when the weather is milder and when there is a lot of “gringo” social activity.


Nationals enjoying the low season before their amigos arrive in July and August for fun in the sun! 

This time of the year is when we go out early in the mornings to do our errands in order to be home by mid-day for a quiet siesta. The afternoons are when you come out of “hiding” in order to enjoy the “relatively” cooler temperature. Your reward for this lifestyle includes incredibly gorgeous sunsets and dramatic tropical rainstorms in the evenings. Life is very simple during the “Low/Quiet/Off Season” and is based on the rhythms of nature. 


When "bonding" with a Luna jellyfish is excitement during the quiet season.


Oh, no!  Another incredibly beautiful sunset during the low season.


So in honor of this time of the year I have decided to post this “Non-Blog” posting. What that means is that this posting will have minimal text (what you are reading is what you are getting), but heavy on the visual with a collection of some of my favorite photographs taken at this time of the year. The following is the link to my “LOW SEASON” photo album.  I hope you enjoy!

PV "LOW SEASON" PHOTO ALBUM



Don't be shy! Us bloggers love receiving questions, comments, or suggestions. Until next time, safe trails and happy travels. And thank you so much for joining me. Laura

AND FOR THOSE OF US WHO NEED A SIMPLE REMINDER OF WHAT THIS BLOGGING "BIZ" IS ALL ABOUT:

Definitions of BLOG (bläɡ):

*Noun: a regularly updated website or web page that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also: the contents of such a site.

*A blog (the shortening of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web (WWW) or the “Web” consisting of entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appearing first).

*Verb: (used without object), blogged, blogging to maintain or add new entries to a blog.

*Verb: (used with object), blogged, blogging to express or write about on a blog.


Defining what a Blog is all about can leave you feeling and looking a little frazzled!







Monday, August 1, 2016

GETTING AROUND IN LATIN AMERICA




My  husband and I embraced the joys and challenges (up to a certain point that is) in our nomadic lifestyle for almost eighteen years before he said "no mas." Now we are "settled" and I am blogging in order to recapture the memories of our nomadic years. For me those years were beyond exciting. I loved everything about discovering a new place, exploring it, and setting up a home base if it seemed right for us.

A very large part of our travels obviously involved getting from one place to another. It was called transportation and the challenges of transportation can be a real drag. But getting around in Latin America was a big part of the experience. It was often on the "getting around" part of our lifestyle that we met the most interesting people, saw the most interesting sights, and collected the most memorable memories.

Consequently, I have decided to share the different means of transportation which were most important to us during these years of our "getting around" in Latin America." In lieu of typical photograph captions, I will be adding quotes regarding travel which particularly resonate with me. So if you are ready, let's hit the road.  Or as we said most often to each other, "let's get back on the bus!"







"A  journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”  Anonymous
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous Huxley   

 
"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears." Cesare Pavese 


"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Robert Louis Stevenson









“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust


“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson



“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Gael Attal



“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” Paul Theroux


“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” 
Paul Fussell


“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” 
Aldous Huxley


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”  Mark Twain



“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” James Michener


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
St. Augustine



“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson


“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” Ernest Hemingway


“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home,” Matsuo Basho



Please join me in this nomadic journey through my photographs which include descriptive captions in the following album link.  I look forward to your company!

GETTING AROUND IN LATIN AMERICA


Please don't be shy!  Us bloggers love receiving questions, comments, or suggestions. Until next time, safe trails and travel well.  Laura




                                           Memories are just a click away!




                             
     




Friday, July 8, 2016

CHILE: THE PORT CITY OF VALPARAISO (VALPO)


A beautiful sunny day shines on the colorful homes built in hilly Valparaiso which is always appreciated in this often foggy coastal city.

It was time to visit Chile and its Pacific coast.  We had been living in and loving the lake district of Argentina including the wonderful town of San Martin de los Andes.  But as wonderful as the lakes of Argentina are, we were in need of a "Pacific Ocean" fix.  It was as easy as getting on one of the convenient and comfortable long-distance buses for the haul over the spectacular Andes and down to the coastline of Central Chile.  Before we knew it we were in Chile!


The city and port of Valparaiso (nickname "Valpo") is a must when visiting Chile!


It was during one of our Chile visits that we met the Pacific port and city of Valparaíso. "Valpo" as it is commonly referred to by the locals was unique, crazy, and wonderful in my opinion.  I could not describe Valpo any better than the following:


The street are in Valparaiso definitely makes a statement, but it's up to the viewer to decide what that statement is!

"Syncopated, dilapidated, colorful and poetic, Valparaíso is a wonderful messPablo Neruda, who drew much inspiration from this hard-working port town, said it best: 'Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven't combed your hair, you've never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.'

But Neruda wasn't the only artist to fall for Valparaíso's unexpected charms. Poets, painters and would-be philosophers have long been drawn to Chile's most unusual city. Along with the ever-shifting port population of sailors, dockworkers and prostitutes, they've endowed gritty and gloriously spontaneous Valparaíso with an edgy air of 'anything goes.' Add to this the spectacular faded beauty of its chaotic cerros (hills), some of the best street art in Latin America, a maze of steep, sinuous streets, alleys and escaleras (stairways) piled high with crumbling mansions, and it's clear why some visitors are spending more time here than in Santiago."   source: Lonely Planet introduction to Valparaiso


Wonderful street art in Valpo is one of the rewards of walking the streets of this interesting and funky city!  

Valparaíso is one of the most important ports on the west coast of South America and lies around seventy miles northwest of the Chilean capital of Santiago. Built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Valparaíso boasts a labyrinth of streets and cobblestone alleyways which embody a rich architectural and cultural legacy. The "Jewel of the Pacific", Valparaíso is a city that has been revitalized by tourism and its colonial architecture helped the city to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003.



The old colonial architecture can be seen on the Plaza Sotomayor in Valparaiso which was in stark contrast to the avant-garde art exhibit of nudes!  


The interesting and unusual Menorá de la Paz (peace menorah) as seen on the wall of the synagogue in Valparaiso.


A bird's eye view looking down on the busy streets of Valparaiso.  

Valparaíso has a very mild Mediterranean climate closely resembling that of San Francisco at a similar latitude in the northern hemisphere. The summer is essentially dry, but the city is affected by fogs from the Humboldt Current during most of the year.  Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age as a magnet for European immigrants when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific".



A typical foggy day in Valpo definitely reminds me of San Francisco in my home state of California.


The colorful buildings in Valpo are very much appreciated on a cloudy day in this port city.

While it is an important industrial city, Valpo also attracts its fair share of visitors due to its wonderful historic districts, the cobbled streets, and the amazing cultural scene.  The city hosts a vibrant and varied schedule of festivals each every year.

During our visit to Valpo we were able to enjoy the amazing avant-garde art exhibit in the plaza which were all of nudes!  Just wait until you see my album to this posting with a large representation of the paintings.  Consider yourself forewarned because this public art festival was VERY original and often quite startling!


Checking out this large and bigger-than-life nude art exhibit in Valparaiso was an unexpected bonus during our visit.


The art exhibit "Cuerpos Pintados al Aire Libre" (Outdoor Painted Bodies) included works by forty five different artists.  It was stunning!  

Another example of the stunning outdoor exhibit of painted nudes in Valparaiso.


Assuming a pose with one of the forty-five paintings of nudes while visiting Valparaiso - thank you, Valpo, for this great experience!  


The second half of the twentieth century was not kind to Valparaíso as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and the consequent reduction in ship traffic dealt a staggering blow to Valparaíso’s port-based economy. The port of Valparaíso eventually recovered and now is a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso is also receiving growing attention from the cruise industry during the South American summer.


 Nicknamed "The Jewel of the Pacific", Valparaíso was declared a world heritage site based upon its updated urban design and unique architecture:  a blending of the old with the new!   

Standing guard over the Plaza Sotomayor and its tribute to their national heroes.


I hope some of these old and derelict properties are left as a reminder of by-gone days!  


During the past fifteen years, Valpo has staged an impressive renaissance attracting many artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up businesses in the city's hillside historic districts. The city exemplifies Chilean culture with festivals every year. Valpo is definitely an interesting and happening place!


Major industries include tourism, culture, shipping and freight transport. Approximately 50 international cruise ships call on Valparaíso during the 4-month Chilean summer (yikes!).  The port of Valparaíso is also an important hub for container freight and exports many products, including wine (yeah!), copper, and fresh fruit.


 In 1996 the World Monuments Fund declared Valparaíso's unusual system of funicular lifts one of the world's 100 most endangered historical treasures. And they are quite a ride!

I love street art as you may know from my previous blog post which you can check out at the following link:   LINK TO STREET ART POSTING 


  A ride on these funiculars is definitely a "must do" while visiting Valpo!

Valparaíso has also transformed itself into a major educational center with four universities and several vocational colleges. Well done, Valpo! Well done! We look forward to returning for another more extensive visit the next time we are in the area.  

I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those words definitely contributed to and inspired me in the creation of MEXICO AND BEYOND: LAURA'S PHOTO JOURNEY. The following link takes you to my photograph album for VALPARAISO.

VALPARAISO, CHILE


A reminder:  Be sure to click on the "I" information icon button (upper right corner) on the first photograph in order to see the captions for each photograph.


The magnificent Andes as seen from our bus window on our way home to
SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES, ARGENTINA .  Gracias, Valpo, for the fun visit and thanks to you for joining me!  Laura


                                     A Nomadic life can be thirsty work!




















Sunday, June 26, 2016

PUERTO VALLARTA: FISH, FRIENDS, AND FUN



The temperature and the calendar are both telling me it's that time of year again and that means Summer Time.  In Puerto Vallarta there are two seasons:  the "coolish" dry months of winter from approximately November until April which is locally referred to as the "high season" when most visitors arrive and the "hot" wet months of summer beginning after the Easter celebrations sometime in April and continuing until the end of October.  This period is called the "low season" as most people prefer the cooler dry months of winter.


The king angelfish is a non-migratory tropical fish that inhabits reefs in the eastern Pacific ocean from the coast of Peru north to the California gulf.
King Angel fish are not only beautiful, but also built to maneuver very quickly!

This is my favorite iconic photo of a yellow puffer. There are more than 120 species of pufferfish worldwide. Most are found in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, but some species live in brackish and even fresh water. Our local puffers are somewhat different in appearance, but isn't he handsome? 

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their bodies by swallowing water or air and thereby becoming rounder. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths. A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated.


We love it all year, but the "low season" of summer is especially dear to us.  With our proximity to a beautiful beach on the glorious Bay of Banderas, we have the opportunity of cooling off whenever we want by simply diving into the ocean. Even though we are fortunate enough to live on an incredible beach with fantastic snorkeling opportunities, we never tire of it.  Each day offers a different aquatic experience which makes it not only fun, but interesting.


In biology, any group of fish that stay together for social reasons are shoaling, and if the group is swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner, they are schooling. Fish derive many benefits from shoaling behavior including defense against predators, enhanced foraging success, and higher success in finding a mate.  Wow! Did you know all that?

Commonly known as the Yellowtail Surgeonfish is a tropical fish found in reefs in the East Pacific from the Gulf of California to El Salvador.  These fish are grey with numerous small black spots covering its head and body and a bright yellow tail fin. I fantasize about decorating a room inspired by their appearance. This species is the largest of our local fish populations where we visit them almost daily!

The olive ridley sea turtle, also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific from Baja California, Mexico, and Chile. These turtles are considered endangered because of their few remaining nesting sites in the world. Nothing is more exciting than spotting one of these magnificent turtles while snorkeling! 


I have created an album which includes some of my favorite photographs of our beach life not only in Puerto Vallarta, but other locations as well.  I hope you enjoy this summer time album. I have certainly had a fun time putting it together. Below the following photos you will find the link for my blog photo album.


Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay) attracts whales and dolphins who come to play, swim, and feed not so unlike human visitors!  

My husband has become very adroit at catching guineafowl puffer (protected by garden gloves!) who blow up as a defense mechanism, but deflate as soon as they are released.


Local pelicans show up as soon as the fisherman come in from a night of fishing. I think they are hoping to receive a free handout in order to start their own day of fishing.   

My Blog Album:    FISH FRIENDS WITH CAPTIONS

In order to access the captions click on the "I" icon on your device for the first photo and there you have it!  



Wishing you an enjoyable summer wherever you may be. And please don't be shy!  Us bloggers love receiving questions, comments, or suggestions. Until next time, safe trails and travel well.  Laura