Becky’s Square Challenge this month is about perspective. She gives several examples, including this one: Geometry – the way that objects appear smaller when they are further away and the way parallel lines appear to meet each other at a point in the distance. Today, I have a photo that shows a street scene in a rural town in Egypt. Notice the children coming toward me and the women sitting in front of a house – they seem small, but there are other people far down the street who can barely be seen. The row of houses gets smaller toward a “vanishing point” in the distance.
When I saw that Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #88 had the theme of chaos, I immediately thought of Egypt…
Egyptian roads are chaotic. Jokingly – but not really – locals will describe to you the beliefs of Egyptian drivers: Speed limits are just suggestions. Lines on the roads are merely for decoration (really, no one pays much attention to them – drivers make a 3-lane road into a 5- or 6-lane road!). Don’t use your headlights at night because you will inconvenience drivers coming in the other direction.
Cairo is a very large, chaotic and polluted city.
While on our Nile River cruise, we stopped in the town of Daraw to visit their animal market. Getting there took a lot longer than it should have because we were stopped by a very slow train. Tuk-tuk, auto, and foot traffic piled up behind us.
Finally, we made it to the market, where there was plenty of chaos! The market teemed with hundreds of animals and the smell was very…well, exactly what you would expect!
Perhaps it was really organized chaos – sheep and goats were in one area, camels in another, etc. Somewhere in the back where those green tents are, animals were being butchered on the spot!
On July 8, we visited the last city on our river cruise. If we could have taken more time in Budapest, Hungary, I would have liked to see more of it – well, there’s always the next time! This is what I tell myself every time I have to pass up something on a trip in order to see something else.
Dutch Goes the Photo this week has the theme of City. I am only posting here the photos that show the city overall; I will post more of Budapest in a later post.
Budapest is really two cities – Buda on one side of the Danube and Pest on the other. In the morning, we went to Buda, but the first photo is of Pest, looking across the river. That large white building in the middle with the orange dome is the Parliament building.
Looking down at buildings below
Ferris wheels seem to be fashionable in cities these days! I took this photo on a bus tour of Budapest.
We spent the morning in Santa Fe before hitting the road toward Amarillo. First, we went back to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to see the interior.
The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886. There had been two previous churches on the same site, the oldest in 1626, which was destroyed in a revolt, and an adobe church built 1714-1717. The new cathedral was built around the adobe church, which was dismantled when the construction was complete, only a small chapel remaining from that previous church. (Information from Wikipedia.)
The cathedral was built in Romantic Romanesque style, which featured high round arches supported by columns and square towers.
The stained glass windows of the apostles (along the side walls) and the rose window in back were imported from France.
religious relics and art
A side chapel, possibly the one saved from the previous church
Stations or “Way” of the Cross – every Roman Catholic church has 14 of these, depicting Christ’s passion and crucifixion.
View looking toward the back of the church
Rose window and organ pipes
The simplicity of the décor and design is what made the church beautiful for me. Below, stained glass window with candle, “Receive the Light of Christ.”
The basilica is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. It was officially elevated to a basilica by Pope Benedict in 2005.
Leaving the cathedral, we walked toward the Georgia O’Keefe museum, passing Burro Alley.
This mosaic on a building wall may have been in Burro Alley, but I can’t remember.
I will write separate posts about the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the state capitol. Stay tuned!
Antigua, Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walking through its old, sometimes crumbling, downtown is like being in an open air museum!
Our guide today was Dario, whose English was not as good as our previous guides in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but he was understandable. He told us he’d been a science teacher and so today we were his “students.” Our group was large and he had a lot of stories to tell us, so he would clap his hands to indicate he wanted us all to gather around him. He had given each of us a number, so he would call out the numbers and we were to reply with “a word, any word” to declare our presence. He also created imaginary “bridges” to get us to walk single file on the narrow sidewalks.
Typical cobblestone street-Antigua
There were 37 of us on the tour, so we tried to keep up in order to not lose sight of
the rest of our group. We tried to keep the little flag with the number 12 on it in sight. We all wore lanyards with Dario Morán written on them. Whoever was at the front of the line had the benefit of Dario’s continuous narrative. Dale and I were never in the front, because we always got out of line to take pictures.
With all the walking and narration, Dario left us little time for bathroom breaks!
The old part of Antigua has many cobblestone streets and sidewalks. We walked along a street that took us to a wall in bad repair with indentations that apparently were bricked over windows of what had been an old hospital. Because it is privately owned, Dario said, the government can do nothing to restore it and apparently whoever owns it doesn’t care to pay for restoration, which is a pity – it could be made into an interesting museum open to all. Dario said there were other such privately-owned sites that would be better put to use as public patrimony.
Our first major stop was a 1736 Capuchin convent, called Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, belonging to an order of Franciscan nuns. It has been partially restored and is open to the public. One interesting architectural innovation was the columns, which were wider at the bottom than at the top to create a sense of space.
This convent and church has several sections. One courtyard flanked by arched hallways had a number of carved stone slabs imprinted with religious or secular objects on display. Another area was a circular courtyard around which were small rooms with arched entryways and each equipped with its own “toilet” (a private area marked off with a hole to use for the purpose). A few of these rooms had wax figures of nuns who would go into these rooms for a private place to read or meditate.
The columns in this courtyard are wider at the bottom.
Stones with religious symbols on display
Stone at convent
Stone image at convent
Crown-stone at convent
Left: A wax figure of a nun in a private “room.” Right: passageway to another courtyard.
A nun’s private moment
Some of the archways led to larger, more open rooms with windows onto other courtyards with trees and flowers.
We gathered in a patio in front of the church entrance but did not go in – I’m not sure if it’s open to the public.
We continued our walk down a cobblestone street with yellow arches over the street. Over one of these was a clock tower. Everywhere we walked, vendors followed us. A couple of young men, one with a Mohawk hairstyle played wooden flutes and tapped on hollow pieces to make percussion sounds. Women in traditional dress peddled their wares to anyone who paid even the slightest attention.
Although many of the items were similar – beaded necklaces, fake jade pendants, beaded birds and earrings, woven cloths in various sizes, designs and colors – they were mostly quite nice and well made. They and we played the game of pretending the jade necklaces they were selling for $10 were “real” jade.
As I walked along one of the narrow sidewalks, I saw the woman in front of me negotiate with a vendor to buy three necklaces. I showed interest so she followed alongside me as I asked her about various necklaces. I spoke to her in Spanish. (She spoke enough English to sell stuff to tourists.) She wanted to sell me some that didn’t interest me; I wanted (fake) jade. As we walked along, she would show me some of her wares, then suddenly point down and tell me to be careful, there’s a pothole down there! This happened a couple of times. I was enjoying this, since I had had little opportunity to have a conversation in Spanish on this trip. I finally negotiated for 2 necklaces for $15. She wanted $20, and they were probably worth it, but I told her I needed $5 to tip the guide. She accepted this excuse and drew a five-dollar bill from a fold in her skirt, as change for my twenty dollar bill.
Many windows in town were draped with purple cloths, called cucuruchu (not to be confused with cucaracha, although tourists often did, Dario told us!), as preparation for Holy Week. We saw some of the statues that were being prepared for the Passion procession, a tradition here.
We came to the Plaza Mayor, the main square, whose center featured a mermaid fountain – the mermaids had jets of water flowing from their breasts.
I saw a sign with the word sanitarios, but didn’t have the chance to follow up on that immediately without risking losing the group. Along one side of this plaza was the main cathedral, a pale yellow edifice decorated in Baroque style with white bas relief designs and statues. The symbols of Saint James (Santiago) were present in the design, including the shape of a shell. Dario pointed out one figure of a saint, high up over the main entrance, who was holding a black cross.
The rest of the plaza had greenery flanking its walking paths and on the three sides not containing the cathedral were government buildings and arch covered walkways with rows of stores.
Plaza Mayor – Antigua
Plaza Mayor – Antigua
We then walked to the ruin of a large church that seems to be in the (slow) process of restoration.
Church ruins – Antigua
Church ruins – Antigua
Church ruins – Antigua
Church ruins – Antigua
After the ruin, we walked to the jade factory and museum Jade Maya, our last stop before lunch. Real jade was sold for high prices in high class shops like Jade Maya, which was a factory, museum and showroom where beautifully designed jewelry sold from $50 (for earrings) to over $500 (for stunningly crafted necklaces). It was possible to get a cheap souvenir for $19, imprinted with the symbol of an animal which corresponded to your exact birthdate. The vendors looked up birthdates in a large book with small printing, containing every date for the last 100 years! The symbol for June 2, 1952 was “Iq” (pronounced “eek”) or colibrí (hummingbird). I bought the round pendant on a black lanyard and in the packaging was a card explaining the symbol’s significance.
We arrived in Cartagena, Colombia early this morning. The shore excursion we had signed up for was to meet on the pier at 7:45. After getting up with an alarm and having breakfast delivered to our room, we were ushered to group #10’s bus. Our guide’s name was Roque and the bus driver was Fernando.
We had signed up for a highlights tour of Cartagena with “less shopping.” Our first stop was San Felipe Fort. We only had five minutes there – disappointing because I would have liked to explore it.
Founded in 1543, Cartagena was attacked and sacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, leaving the city impoverished. It is the 5th largest city in Colombia and its major port. Tourism is its most important industry, second only to coffee. There are three cruise ships in port, including ours, here right now. By the time we left, another had arrived.
Because of this, there were tons of tourists all descending on Cartagena’s old walled city center, following group leaders holding up flags with tour numbers on them. It is the custom here for the tour guides to provide each group member with a sticker with the guide’s name on it, so people filed by with “Benny” or “David,” etc. stuck on the front of their shirts.
There were also lots of vendors milling around where tourists were taking pictures, and they were quite aggressive.All of them spoke enough English to get their point across.I kept telling them, “No, gracias,” and if I showed no interest, they’d leave me alone. Even the slightest interest would have them following me, trying to bargain.Dale saw some magnets and asked how much they were.
“Three for ten dollar,” said the vendor.
“Solo queremos uno,” I told him.But then Roque was calling us back to the bus.The vendor followed us. “Five dollar!” he called.
I waved him away, saying, “No tenemos tiempo,” as we made our way back to the bus.
Since we had other destinations to get to, I didn’t have time to find out more about the history of the fort and why this plaque is on the base of the statue!
Our next stop was Las Bóvedas (The Dungeons) which is now a shopping area with vendors selling native goods. There were a series of bright yellow arches forming a loggia, with stalls that were once prison cells, flanked by bright red gates. Each stall had its own number painted overhead, above which were small grated windows. The stalls overflowed with brightly colored clothing and purses, postcards and artwork. I am not sure how these dungeons were used in the past – for slave pens, prisoners, or what? We were given 25 minutes at this place. It was quite picturesque but seemed a lot of time for a tour with “less shopping.”
Dale and I climbed on the old city’s wall and walked around but eventually came down and looked at the shops. Although I bought one shirt at the last minute, I was more interested in taking pictures of the colorful stalls and the adjacent streets.
From there we went to the Palace of the Inquisition, a museum about the history, complete with gruesome details, of the Spanish Inquisition in Colombia. Cartagena was one of three centers during colonial times that maintained this horrific policy – the other two were Peru and Mexico.
This policy arose from the expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain, some of whom were able to stay by “converting.” Some probably genuinely did, but others became conversos (converts) in order to maintain their residence and personal property in Spain, and continued to practice their own religion in secret. The leaders of the Catholic Church in Spain, including the ruling monarchy feared that the conversos were not genuine converts and the Inquisition was their way of rooting out heretics.
Most of the accused were killed or tortured to death. For example, 3,000 people were “denounced” in Mexico but only 43 condemned to death. However, Roque told us that virtually all the condemned died, because they were either tortured or worked to death. One man he told us about was sentenced to two years of rowing – day after day with only short breaks and little food. He lasted 6 months.
Instruments of torture were on display including one for tearing off women’s breasts with a hot metal contraption that was fitted over the breast and was then tightened. I assume these were used on women condemned as witches.
In a green courtyard were two scaffolds, one with a noose and a guillotine atop the other. The guillotine was for the lucky ones – it killed instantly.
Another courtyard was lush with tropical plants, including the oldest known bonga tree, 220 years old.
From there we walked to San Pedro Claver Church. It struck me as ironic that we were seeing a church right after touring a museum about the Inquisition. Perhaps if we had toured the church first, I might have been more interested in the religious relics housed in a small museum there. Roque told us this was the most beautiful church in Cartagena, but it was nowhere near as elaborate as many Latin American churches I’ve seen. He took us into the church’s museum of religious relics, where he pointed out an interesting painting showing priests and other clerics in Hell because of their abuse of power (like the Inquisition! I thought). That painting was done after the Inquisition!
On the way back to our ship, Fernando took a scenic route along the most well-known beaches. All beaches are public, Roque told us, but the properties alongside are very expensive. Some condos cost up to $700,000. The few houses in that area are worth a million dollars. We passed a handsome house designed in Arabic style with arches, decorative tiles and repeated patterns. This house was custom built and is worth $1.5 million. It belongs to the owner of the Coca-Cola Company in Colombia. Roque told us his name, which I can’t remember but it sounded Arabic.
He pointed out another beautiful house, considered the most beautiful in Cartagena, that would fetch a similar sum.
We came into view of the cruise ships and made a short photo stop. From this spot we could see the entire curve of Cartagena Bay with its tall white high rises lining the beachfront avenue.
The day dawned bright and sunny – for the first time since we got here!
Having obtained a map at the art museum on Friday, I studied it to figure out how to get to Av. Paulista and where to get off the metro. To get to Avenida Paulista, one can take the metro green line either to MASP-Trianon (next to MASP – São Paulo Museum of Art) or, even better, to Consolação/Paulista right at the north end of the avenue. The entire avenue stretches about 2 miles and MASP is close to the middle of it.
We got off at MASP-Trianon but then decided, instead of going into MASP right away, we’d set off toward the southern end of the avenue.
The street was full of people, and the ones you had to watch out for were those on wheels – bikers, skateboarders and roller bladders. Most were bikes. In fact, we’d seen a whole group of them in front of our apartment building earlier that morning, so when we saw large groups of cyclists on Av. Paulista we assumed it was some sort of race – perhaps a marathon. However, we were told there was no race – every Sunday there are lots of people on bicycles, utilizing the bike trails, which are actually quite numerous. What we saw earlier was probably a cyclist club.
And here it was no different – an orange-colored divided lane in the middle of the street that was just for bicyclists. In fact, we saw some people wearing vests with neon strips on them directing bike traffic – holding back cyclists to let pedestrians cross and vice versa. Even so, we narrowly missed colliding with people on bicycles occasionally!
The atmosphere on Av. Paulista was relaxed and festive. There was lots of music being played so I made that one of my “themes” for the day – videorecording snippets of the various musicians and musical groups. I also began taking pictures of tall buildings, especially unusual ones.
A carnaval-type band passed by dressed in blue and white costumes with a variety of percussion instruments. I took a still picture and a short video.
We came to a man who was selling a happy face stick figure whose movements he controlled via remote control – the little guy jumped up and down, crumpled to the ground, got up again, always with a wide grin and tears. I took a video of that too, since the man was playing recorded music to accompany his puppet’s movements. (Note the white strip in the middle of the sidewalk in the picture below – the raised sections help blind people with walking sticks feel their way down the street.)
I had read online to watch for the series of bronze bass relief plaques illustrating various medically-related themes of life, on the side of Santa Catarina Hospital. I’m glad I read this, or otherwise might have missed them completely. I was looking for them! A informational plaque at one end told about the exposition, starting with: “The work explores the phenomenon of art and medical science with human intervention in the natural cycle of life and death.” Dale started at one end and I at the other, taking pictures of each one until we met in the middle. Below is a sampling of them. They represent medical history, humanism, and contemporary questions.
Lots of interesting wall art, too – including a wall of blue and white tiles with identical side views of a breast!
We came to a collection of food trucks. Behind them on an adjoining street was a beautiful façade of convex glass windows surrounding a large, beautiful clock with Roman numerals and small circles showing the month, day of the week, and the phase of the moon.
At almost the far end of the avenue was the Casa das Rosas (House of the Roses), a historical Victorian-style house so named because of its extensive rose gardens. It was free to go in and look around and to wander the gardens.
Below: Two views of the Casa das Rosas.
Beautiful undulating stairway in the House of the Roses
More beautiful features of the house:
Balcony and floor tiles:
Balcony – Casa das Rosas
View of the gardens from the balcony of the house:
Interesting modern ‘art deco’ building behind the House of the Roses:
Other historical buildings stood side by side with modern, glass skyscrapers reflecting the sun, with modern art sculptures in front.
We stopped for lunch somewhere along the way, at a cluster of food trucks. It was extremely crowded and there was no place to sit except on ledges surrounding trees. We managed to find seats at the end of a long table when Dale came back with the food. Next to us was a couple speaking English. They were British and it was actually a father and daughter. The father had come with his daughter to Brazil, but he was going back home and she was staying for several months.
It seemed sunny and relatively warm when we got out of the car at the Jardim Botânico (Botanic Garden).
On Eliane’s advice, though, I kept my windbreaker with me, tying it around my waist and sure enough, dark clouds soon hung ominously overhead.
We took the path toward the main structure, a 3-dome glass greenhouse. Along the path were various colors of petunias, nothing spectacular. Landscaped hedges formed concentric triangles on either side of the path. It was more crowded than I expected, but the weather was decent and it was the day before a national holiday.
We entered the greenhouse and climbed the stairs to the upper level. It was OK, but not very impressive really. Eliane told me she’d never been here before, and she seemed to have the same opinion as I did about the place.
Off to one side was a sort of pretty alcove with bright colored flowers so we headed there.
Even though it had started raining lightly, no one ran for shelter nor stopped their activities. On the sloped lawns, kids were running around and teenagers played ball.
We walked back toward the car and passed a group of young guys throwing and running with an American football! I expressed surprise at this, but Carlos said American football was developing a fan base here. Some people watched the games on satellite TV and now Curitiba has two football teams of its own! American teams are invited to come to play a game with these teams and help them improve their technique.
It seemed to be clearing up some, so we headed to the Rua das Flores (Flowers Street), a pedestrian street closed to traffic in the center of town. I was happy about this, because it had been one of my favorite places to walk when I last stayed in Curitiba, in 1979. Since Dale and I sometimes noticed different things, I’ve included some of his pictures as well as mine. Most of the photos speak for themselves. If you visit Curitiba, I strongly recommend taking a stroll down Rua das Flores as part of your itinerary.
Since there was still a bit of rain, we went to another mall – a smaller one, less fancy than Patio Batel. Although Dale and I both initially refused, we were easily persuaded to order sparkling wine, which they call espumante. I tried to get online, but all the nearby WiFis were locked! Carlos said it was maybe a new policy because the mall had just changed ownership and was now owned by an American company.