Month: May 2017

Thursday Doors: Historic León, Nicaragua

March 30, 2017 (Day 9 of our Panama Canal cruise)

We took a walk through this historic city. León is the third largest city in Nicaragua and, according to our guide, it has the largest art gallery in Latin America, with a collection of over 2,000 works. In addition, it has many other small galleries and shops which cater to tourists scattered throughout the downtown area. Like many Latin American cities, its buildings are bright and colorful.

Here are some of the doors of León’s city center.

20170330_180320
Need a notary? Sr. Gonzalez is your man!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
A lush inner courtyard is visible from the entrance to this motorcyclist’s place of business.
20170330_191000
Houses and businesses are painted in every conceivable color.

20170330_191126

20170330_183927
Inside the Basilica Cathedral looking out. Directly across the street is another beautiful door!

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The outside of Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption, which is located on the central plaza. Two major schools also border this plaza so it’s common to see school kids on their breaks hanging out here.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America (Haiti is the poorest). However, everyone receives free social services such as education through college and health care.  The revenue for these services comes from taxes, but not income taxes, because Nicaragua does not have income taxes.  Tax revenue comes from sales and property taxes.

Our guide, for example ,  lives in a modest house some distance from the city center. He and his wife own a Peruvian restaurant, but income from this is barely enough to live on. He told us that, for instance, he pays $0.88 from a vendor for a bottle of beer but sells it for $1.00. The profit margin is low.  He welcomes jobs like this, leading tours of foreigners from cruise ships, because it is extra income for him.  Whenever he gets a job as a tour guide, he and his wife go to the movies that night! Tonight they have it all planned – they’re going to see the new Beauty and the Beast.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Shiny motorcycles and cars clog the streets of downtown, in contrast to the sometimes shabby building facades.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Corner entrance to a pizzeria

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
This theater hosts a variety of plays and productions. (In the foreground are my sister Mary, her husband Elmer, and our guide Pedro.)

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Entrance to City Hall. Someone needs to reattach the N in the word Revolucion over the doorway!

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Entrance to a laboratory – the place to go for a blood draw?

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Entrance to the Centro de Arte Ortiz Gurdian, the art museum we toured. This museum houses over 2,000 artworks.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Beautiful tile-framed entrance to Artesanias Flor de Luna

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The Two Fridas Cafe

Thursday Doors, 5/11/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Modern Architectural Marvels – São Paulo

November 22, 2016

We visited two architectural marvels today, one recommended by our host, the other we just happened to find.

Jewish Cultural Center: We happened upon this place on our way to Batman’s Alley and because Dale is Jewish, we decided to go inside and take a look. Celebrating Jewish history and culture since 2003, this center hosts special events and occasional book fairs and lectures, and also has a theatre and an art gallery.  It has a café that serves typical Jewish Brazilian fare (I wish we’d known that when we were there!).  The address is Oscar Freire, 2500.

Brazil 2016c 356

Brazil 2016c 353

Brazil 2016c 357

Brazil 2016c 354

Brazil 2016c 361

Instituto Tomie Ohtaki: This institute, inaugurated in 2001, has eight gallery rooms, four studios, a restaurant, café, and bookstore. It is dedicated to exhibiting architectural works as well as the plastic arts. Last November, it  had an exhibit of the works of Antonio Gaudí (Spanish architect who designed the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, among other things). We decided to go because it was only about a mile from Batman’s Alley.  Address: Avenida Faria Lima, 201, Oeste 01451-001. (Entrance is on Rua dos Coropés, nº 88.)

20161122_134655

20161122_134333

20161122_134705

20161122_134712

20161122_205029

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We were hungry by then, since it was past 2:00 pm, and noticed a restaurant inside.  (Part of it was the restaurant and part was the café – apparently only one of them was open while we were there.) There was a menu with somewhat reasonably priced sandwiches, but the waiter told us we could not order from the menu at that time. Our only choice was the buffet. It was a rip off at R$58 each (nearly US$20) and the selection, in my opinion, was not very good compared to other Brazilian buffets I’ve been to.

I thought the Gaudí exhibit was wonderful, but my husband was disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Praça do Relógio on the University of São Paulo campus

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We wisely took a cab to the Praça do Relogio (the first driver we asked didn’t know where it was, the second did) on the USP (University of São Paulo) campus.  I wanted to go there because I had read that it’s a large park containing species from all six ecosystems in the state of São Paulo.  It was kind of a disappointment.  For one thing, we couldn’t find all the ecosystems which are not marked in any way.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The first thing we came to was a memorial to the students of USP who had been persecuted and killed during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). I was glad to see this – in spite of the corruption scandals and upheaval the Brazilian government is going through now, at least there is the recognition that Brazilians died defending human rights and the democratic process.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We  wandered through the nearly deserted park, seeing the occasional student crossing through, hearing the sound of a batucada being played by someone who repeated the same rhythms over and over – perhaps he was practicing for something –  and taking pictures.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

In spite of the park being deserted, evidently there were plenty of people around, as this full parking lot shows.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 445

The clock is actually a cement tower carved with designs with a clock at the top, and standing in a circular pool of water, surrounded by a mosaic tiled walkway with words spelling out NO UNIVERSO DA CULTURA O CENTRO ESTÁ  EM TODA PARTE. (In the Universe of Culture, the Center is Everywhere.)

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 439

KODAK Digital Still Camera

We had to take a bus from there which would take us to the end of the yellow line subway station.  It took a couple of inquiries and contradictory answers to figure out which bus stop and which bus.  When the right bus came, it clicked:  my GPS route had said take bus 8022-10, so when the bus bearing the number 8022 arrived, I figured it was the right one.  The driver confirmed it.

It quickly filled with students and I paid the R$3.80 each to pass through the turnstile, even though we qualified as idosos – I wasn’t going to bother the driver by showing him our passports, which is what the money taker said to do.  Soon we couldn’t see anything but the bodies and backpacks of students filling the aisle, crushing together.

Little by little, the students got off.  It was obvious when we were no longer on the university campus, where there were several stops, and soon after that we arrived at the last stop – the subway station for the yellow line.  Relief!  After that, I knew exactly what to do:  we rode the yellow line all the way to Luz, transferred to the blue line and got off at Vila Mariana.

20161123_035552

That evening, we returned to Graça Mineira for dinner, where we ate a sinful dessert: There was a card on the table advertising some desserts and we ended up getting one to share – good thing, because it was big!  It was a churro-like donut-shaped shell filled with doce de leite and ice cream on the side, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was yummy!

20161123_042144

CFFC: Forgotten

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, the theme is Isolated Objects. A few years ago, I saw this Barbie doll, forgotten and abandoned, in a yard. There were even lawn clippings on top of the doll, indicating someone had mowed the lawn, which is perhaps why she lost her right foot and seems to have a split left leg.Lost Barbie

CFFC: Sky

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is all about the sky. The temptation at first was to post pretty sunset pictures, but I noticed that often the most interesting sky pictures were not always sunsets, although many were close to sunset.

The first picture was taken last September at 7:23 pm CDT, when I was taking a walk in a park near home. I liked the juxtaposition of the orange sunset color and the half moon already risen.

20160908_192352

About a month earlier around the same time (I love taking summer walks late in the day!), I took this picture. Yes, it’s a sunset, but I like the way the sun rays show up and the small clouds which are a contrasting color with the rest of the sky.

20160803_192911

And speaking of sun rays, the next picture I took a few days later at 6:57 pm CDT. Blue rays shoot out of a cumulus-nimbus cloud, while above are puffy white clouds that look like cotton.
20160809_185714 (2)

The next picture I took on a late July morning in Minnesota, while on a trail near my hotel. I love the deep blue of the sky and the pale moon which has not yet set.20160725_082904 (2)

Earlier that month, we waited along with hundreds of others for fireworks to start on the 4th of July.

20160704_202236

I love watching storm clouds build up. In 2013, we were on the Illinois tollway heading north to Wisconsin when storm clouds rolled in. This is a series of storm pictures.

DSCN8082

The clouds were very menacing, but there was no rain – yet.
Dark clouds portend a late afternoon storm - on I-90, en route to the cottage

As the storm clouds continued to accumulate, part of the sky even looked green.

Vehicles on I-90 as the storm approaches.

Finally the rain came.

DSCN8089 (2)

It rained hard for awhile, but then, close to sunset, it cleared up. It begins to clear up, creating a lovely sunset.

Finally, my favorite sky picture: I took this in 2014 at our cottage in northern Wisconsin. The sky there had many moods, some dark and threatening, some brilliantly beautiful at sunset, and then there were delightful skies like this, reminding me of many happy days spent at the lake.

interesting cirrus cloud formation

 

 

 

 

São Paulo’s “Beco do Batman” (Batman’s Alley)

November 22, 2016

Our agenda for today was a bit more far-flung and complicated.  We planned to start by taking the Metro blue line, transferring to the green line, getting off at Sumaré and walking from there to Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley), an area famous for its beautiful and extensive graffiti art. The walls, doors, pillars and even streets are beautifully and creatively painted by several different graffiti artists.  We didn’t get lost due to a main landmark, a cemetery, on our left side and by asking and receiving good instructions.

I’d been a bit apprehensive about going there – it was far from anything familiar to me in this city, and it seemed as though we’d be isolated.  But we weren’t – we actually saw a few other tourists there, posing and taking pictures.  Seeing this place was definitely worth the effort!

Beco do Batman is tucked away in a couple of narrow streets, reached by descending a hill off the main avenue.  We took many pictures there, trying not to duplicate our efforts.  It was easy to see the stylistic differences between the artists. I am going to let the photos speak for themselves.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 364

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Brazil 2016c 376

Brazil 2016c 387

Brazil 2016c 391

Brazil 2016c 392

Brazil 2016c 394

There were many more impressive murals! If you liked what you saw here, be sure to pay a visit to Beco do Batman if you go to São Paulo!