Sunday, August 30, 2020

A BLOGGER'S TRAVEL MEMORIES PART TWO





As many of you know I have had a marvelous life exploring, living in, and sharing my life in Latin America with my husband.  It has been an amazing journey which I will always cherish. This is Part Two of this blog posting about those other travel memories with some of my favorite photographs from countries including Ecuador, Colombia, Greece, Australia, and New Zealand. So if you are ready, buckle up and here we go! 

ECUADOR


A lovely young lady participating in the Epiphany Parade in Cuenca, Ecuador. Isn't she and her dress simply gorgeous!





Another child participating in the annual Epiphany Parade (also referred to as Three Kings' Day) in Cuenca, Ecuador. What proud children, parents, and beautiful memories.




The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is commonly referred to as the New Cathedral of Cuenca in Ecuador. I personally thought the blue domes were especially beautiful.




Quito way, way back when and definitely before my days of blogging. The gold beaded necklaces worn by the local highland women are very traditional and the baby on the mother's back is definitely a special photo memory for me.


COLOMBIA 




Enjoying downtown Medellin in Colombia with Botero's very voluptuous sculptures was not what I would call hard duty. On the contrary, I would call it a privilege to have met these magnificent and memorable sculptures.





Fernando Botero, a native of Medellin, Colombia is an internationally recognized figurative artist and sculptor. Botero's signature style known as "Boterismo" depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated sizes which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. My only comment was WOW!




Salento is an Andean town in Colombia west of Bogota. It’s known for its coffee estates, verdant scenery, and lovely ladies who we found in "Western Dress" for an annual celebration. The town is a gateway to the snow-capped peaks of Los Nevados National Natural Park to the northeast.




My husband liked to joke that Colombia and it's verdant countryside was so green that it "hurt his eyes!" And neither of us has ever forgotten this memorable pronouncement.




In Salento, Colombia Calle Real (the royal road or street) has colorful buildings and craft shops where the pace is slow and which was sincerely appreciated when we were weary from the road.

GREECE




Greece is a country on the Mediterranean coast in southern Europe. The country is known as the birthplace of democracy, the Olympic Games, western theater, and philosophy as well as the inspiration for Christianity and culture. The country is also famous for its mathematicians, historians, great warriors, and historical battles. And I fell in love with it.



Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea about 120 miles southeast of Greece's mainland. The whitewashed cubiform houses of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera on the Greek island of Santorini. They overlook the sea and small islands to the west with beaches made up of black, red, and white lava pebbles. Simply magical!




My favorite memories of Greece are from the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC which forever shaped its rugged landscape. The above photograph is without a doubt a contender for one of my favorite photo memories of all time. It was taken on the island of Santorini off the coast of Greece.




The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis in Greece and is dedicated to the goddess Athena whom the people of Athens considered their patron.  Construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power and it was completed in 438 BC. When we visited the Parthenon it was obviously undergoing restoration, but that did not hinder our appreciation of this spectacular site.


AUSTRALIA  




Our gateway to visiting the amazing country of Australia, commonly referred to as the "LAND DOWN UNDER" was through the dazzling city of Brisbane as seen above and we were fortunate enough to re-visit Brisbane when changing our itinerary. It set the tone for our wonderful stay in Australia and I would love to revisit it one day.


How does one introduce a person to Australia? I believe it is like introducing a person to America or Canada which I find next to impossible because of their massive sizes, diverse cultures, amazing histories, incredible traditions, etc., etc.


So for the purpose of this blog posting I am limiting myself to some visual memories represented by my photographs taken many, many moons ago from the "Land Down Under" and I am looking forward to your company, mates (Aussie speak for friends).




Sunshine Beach on the Queensland's Coast of Australia we called home for a period of time. I think it appealed to us because of our Southern California backgrounds growing up on beaches and Sunshine Beach was definitely a beautiful place to chill and recharge our batteries.



I loved the road signs in Australia including this sign warning it was a Cassowary crossing and to be on the lookout. The southern cassowary is the third tallest and second heaviest living bird and smaller only than the ostrich and emu.







Another great Australian sign warning of possible crocodiles in the vicinity. What's not to love about this country. The following saltwater crocodile I found on the Internet, not that I was going to get close enough to photograph a live one!



NEW ZEALAND




Before the arrival of the Europeans in the 19th century Russell in the Bay of Islands of New Zealand was inhabited by the indigenous people, the Maori, because of its beautiful climate and the abundance of food, fish, and fertile soil. Russell was then known as Kororareka by the indigenous people. We found Russell enchanting and memorable and it is definitely on my wish list for a return visit.



Russel on the Bay of Islands in New Zealand was wonderful and we enjoyed the warm company of the locals who opened their homes to us.



Rotorua, a town located on its namesake lake on New Zealand's North Island, is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. It is also home to a living Maori village and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute with traditional wood carving and weaving schools. A fabulous place to visit in my humble opinion.

Traditional Maori arts play a large role in New Zealand culture. They include whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving), kapa haka (group performance), whaikorero (oratory), and ta moko (tattoo).



Russell, formerly known by the Maori name Kororareka, was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. It is situated in the Bay of Islands in the far north of the North Island. Saying goodbye to New Zealand and Russell in the Bay of Islands was no easy thing.




Thank you for joining me on this excursion to some of my favorite places on this planet and I hope to see you again in the new future. Until then, stay safe and enjoy your travels. Laura 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

THE MAGIC OF OUR MARINE WORLD IN PUERTO VALLARTA





This posting is somewhat different in format which came about in a very unplanned fashion, but I have decided to go with the flow and I hope you enjoy.  What is different about this posting is that it is totally about images and the only thing to read are the captions for the various types of fish.  




As many you probably know my husband who I affectionately to as "Sr. Fish Man" is the underwater photographer in this family.  I think you will agree that he does wonderful work and I am very happy to share his photos with you.

And to get you warmed up for a little snorkeling adventure, check out the following movie by my husband with thanks to the magic of Google.
  





Holding on to a porcupine fish definitely requires good diving gloves!  

The link for the photograph album for this blog posting you will find at the conclusion of the posting. From that album I have chosen the following photographs of my favorite photographs to highlight.  So if you are ready let's visit our marine friends.  
  

Princess Parrot fish 


Whitecheek Surgeonfish


White-spotted Puffer



A gang of Yellowfin surgeonfish


A Surgeonfish whose colorful and unique pattern I find lovely. 



An Eagle Ray who I always comment on looks like he is "flying with wings" through the water.


Scrawled Filefish whose pattern I think is really cool. 


Large spotted Moray Eel


Gorgeous multi-colored living coral


 An Electric Ray who can really put on some "disco" moves.  


 Common brown spotted octopus who I find fascinating and "other-worldly."  


 A beautiful male puffer who we call a "jewel box" for obvious reasons.


 An Olive Ridley turtle spotting always makes for a special day!  Sea turtles IMHO are awesome! 


More gorgeous colorful coral.  


 "Bullseye" puffer fish because of his distinctive marking.



Dark-banded Fusilier


 Spotted Round Ray 


 A magnificent Yellow Pufferfish which I refer to as my husband's "totem."  Spotting a yellow pufferfish definitely makes for a special day.  


A magnificent Angelfish cruising the local waters.


 Another Angelfish cruising around the spiny sea urchins. No touchy!  


A reminder: if you click on the "burger" icon at the top right corner of the album it will give you the option of viewing as a slideshow.


 Until we meet again, wishing you well wherever your travels and adventures take you.  Saludos,  Laura 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A BLOGGERS TRAVEL MEMORIES PART ONE























As many of you know I have had an incredible life exploring, living in, and sharing my life in Latin America with my husband. It has been an amazing journey which I will always cherish.

Recently I have started sharing some memories of places we had visited, lived in, or explored in the past, but which have never been included in my Mexico and Beyond: Laura's Photo Journey postings.

Consequently, I have decided to create this blog posting about those "other" travel memories with some of my favorite photographs from countries including Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, and Venezuela. So if you are ready, buckle up and here we go!

Guatemala




Lake Atitlan is a body of water in a massive volcanic crater in Guatemala's southwestern highlands. Ringed by steep verdant hills it is known for its Mayan villages and volcanoes with striking pointed cones. It is simply gorgeous and in today's vernacular it is awesome.





The town of Panajachel is less than 90 miles from Guatemala City and is located on the Northeast shore of Lake Atitlan and yet is a world apart. It has become a center for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages. Our living experience in "Pana" was without doubt one of my fondest memories.




Florinda, my Spanish instructor in Panajachel, and her daughter are representative of the lovely Maya people of the area.




Guatemala has a wonderful Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival with the flying of huge kites in honor of those who have departed and my husband was asked to participate. What an incredibly special memory.

Argentina





A lovely Mapuche woman who kindly posed for a photograph in Argentina. The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina including parts of present-day Patagonia.





The beauty of Nahuel Huapi National Park and its lake outside the town of San Martin de los Andes where we lived was stunning.





La Boca is a neighborhood, or barrio, of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. It retains a strong Italian flavor with many of its early settlers being from the city of Genoa. Aren't the colors incredible!





The Tango is part of the lifestyle and image of the Porteno culture in Argentina and watching it in Buenos Aries was a special way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I loved the Portenos of Argentina and their zest for life. Bravo!





The modern skyline of Buenos Aires is spectacular and this photo was taken at the riverside port while waiting for the ferry to take us across the river to Uruguay for a visit.

Uruguay




The Portenos, locals of Buenos Aires, never miss the opportunity to soak up the rays as seen on the river crossing to Uruguay.





Uruguay is a South American country known for its verdant interior and beach-lined coast and Colonia del Sacramento is a town in southwestern Uruguay across the Rio de La Plata from Buenos Aires. It is known for its cobble stoned Barrio Historico (historic neighborhood) lined with buildings from its time as a Portuguese settlement. (Check out the vintage cars in this photo!)





La Calle de los Suspiros (street of sighs) is a historical street located in the Colonia (neighborhood) of Sacramento, Uruguay. The street was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. I definitely felt as though I was stepping back in time and found it to be magical.





Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay was a happening place with great food, people, and entertainment. It is renowned for its historic quarter and we were captivated by the vibe and the people.





One of the most striking aspects about Colonia de Sacramento in Uruguay is the number of old vintage cars just parked randomly in the street. Many are in some state of disrepair and some deliberately so.

For example, there is an old 1950s Citroen with a tree growing out of it and an even older Ford with its side cut away with a dining table for two. I found the people and culture of Uruguay totally enchanting and I would love to return.

Chile





Crossing over the Andes to Chile from our home base of San Martin de los Andes in Argentina was an easy bus ride with spectacular scenery along the way. This photo shows the date of November which was springtime in the Andes and consequently the sparse amount of snow.





A Chilean herder with his flock of sheep was a great photo opportunity while we crossed the Andes to visit Chile and since it was springtime he and and his flock looked particularly content.





Chile is a long narrow country stretching along South America's western edge with more than 3700 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. Fishing in Chile is a major industry and due to the Humboldt Current, the Chilean Sea is considered among the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.





Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia the city of Valdivia (his namesake) is located at the junction of three rivers where an amazing seafood market is located and of course we had to check it out.




Local sea lions waiting for their lunch handouts with local birds waiting for the scraps at the local fish market in Valdivia, Chile. Can you believe the size of those sea lions!





Valparaiso is a port city on Chile’s coast which is known for its colorful cliff top homes and the steep funiculars which definitely beat hiking up the stairs!



Colorful and charming Valparaiso on a gorgeous day. 

The following link will take you to my blog posting on Valparaiso:

THE PORT CITY OF VALPARAISO





Vina del Mar which translates to "Vineyard of the Sea" is a city on Chile's Pacific coast within the Valparaiso Region and is often referred to as La Ciudad Jardin, the Garden City. Visitors and locals enjoy the parks and water fountains of the city including a large flower clock (Reloj de Flores) with its numbers made up of flowering plants.





Wulff Castle is a historic castle of neo-Tudor style overlooking the sea in Vina del Mar, Chile. It was built in 1906 for the Wulff family and it is now the headquarters of the city heritage center. Pretty impressive location for an old castle, si!

Panama: Bocas del Toro





Christopher Columbus and his crew first visited the area of Bocas del Toro in 1502 on the Caribbean Coast and I can imagine they felt they had arrived in paradise. Bocas del Toro which translates to "Bull's Mouths" or "Mouths of the Bull" is a province of Panama.





The area of Bocas del Toro is approximately 1,800 square miles bordering the Caribbean Sea and is made up of the mainland and nine main islands. The capital is the city of Bocas del Toro which is referred to as "Bocas Town" on Isla Colon.





Bocas del Toro was a total escape from reality and we loved the biodiversity and the friendly inhabitants. You could literally dive into the water from your over-water cabin and be enjoying the marine life in seconds. We also loved teaching the local children to swim and use our snorkel gear.  Simply magical!




I found the refurbished and colorful buses in Panama works of art and wonderful!

Venezuela





The incredibly welcoming people of Venezuela were warm and friendly and they made our stay in their beautiful country some of our fondest memories. And for my Pisces "fish" husband fishing with local pelicans on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela was an awesome experience and cherished memory.





The locals were very curious and cautious about us, but with a little time and the encouragement of their mothers we were accepted and made to feel right at home. Many, many thanks for sharing your beautiful children with us, mamas!





The local ladies of Venezuela were definitely eye-catching which comes as no great surprise as Venezuela is the undisputed queen of the pageant world. In addition to seven Miss Universe titles, women from Venezuela have won eight Miss International competitions, six Miss World titles, and two Miss Earths. These particular ladies were promoting a local beer and I say cheers to that!




I hope you have enjoyed these travel memories from Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, and Venezuela. I have certainly enjoyed this nostalgic visit to some of my favorite places on this planet. Until next time, I wish you well wherever your travels may take you. Saludos, Laura