Category Archives: Travel

Graveside Contemplations

While Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival (Dia de Los Muertos) includes a significant amount of crazy costumes, parades, parties, and street revelry, the primary focus for many is the late-night gathering of families at the graveside of loved-ones to reflect on those that have passed on. These cemetery gatherings themselves are often an odd mix of frivolity and solemnity.

Although in a broad sense it could at times feel like a bit party walking through the large cemetery gatherings (at one cemetery there was a stage set up with a live band playing), at a more intimate level it could also feel rather intrusive. Although not intended to be an occasion of mourning, but rather a time of celebration, one couldn’t help feeling that you were walking through people’s private gatherings. Some families preferred to be left alone, but many were quite welcoming. If you took the time to at least give them a smile you generally received one in return, and possibly even conversation or mezcal.

Conditions for photography were difficult. It was quite dark with candlelight often being the only source of light. The intimacy of the occasion also required a high level of respect and courtesy (sadly ignored by some photographers). Most folks didn’t mind being photographed if you at least gave them a few moments of your time.

Remembrance - Oaxaca, Mexico

Remembrance – Oaxaca, Mexico

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Also posted in Cultural, Mexico Tagged , , |

A Sense of Place

Mitla is a small, mostly quiet village about 30 minutes outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. Mitla is known for a small archeological site of Zapotec ruins, which is what most touristas come to see. Ruins are interesting but it’s often the everyday life and scenes of a place that I really find most appealing.

Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

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Also posted in Cultural, Mexico Tagged , |

A Day Out in Manila

This past weekend saw us head out to explore some hidden parts of Manila, including the Quiapo and Divisoria areas. These areas are known for having cheap goods, including grey-market photography equipment and inexpensive eye glasses made while you watch. In Quiapo, optical craftsman were essentially grinding and cutting lenses for new glasses in the street, right next to vendors selling fruits and vegetables. Quiapo, one of the older parts of the city, is full of narrow streets and alleyways, lined with dingy shops, twisting this way and that, while in Divisoria endless street vendors lined the sidewalks and alleys selling cheap clothes, home goods, and useless knickknacks and baubles. At the Quiapo Cathedral, homeless street urchins ran around selling religious trinkets and begging for money from the tourists and the steady stream of prayerful locals coming and going from the cathedral.

These areas can be very busy, crowded, and dirty. The drainage in this part of the city, even more so than other areas, is almost non-existant and even a small rain can cause localized flooding of streets. The drainage that does exist is often choked with trash. While I wouldn’t necessarily say these areas are dangerous, at least during the daytime, they are known for pickpockets, purse snatchers, and bag slashers, so one definitely needs to keep a close eye on personal effects.

But all that is a large part of what makes these places interesting.

Optical Alley - Quiapo, Manila

Optical Alley – Quiapo, Manila

Avoiding the puddle - Divisoria, Manila

Avoiding the puddle – Divisoria, Manila

Roast corn (mais) - Quiapo, Manila

Roast corn (mais) – Quiapo, Manila

Make way! - Divisoria, Manila

Make way! – Divisoria, Manila

Riding through the rain - Quiapo, Manila

Riding through the rain – Quiapo, Manila

Mandarins (ponkan) - Quiapo, Manila

Mandarins (ponkan) – Quiapo, Manila

Hey there! - Quiapo, Manila

Hey there! – Quiapo, Manila

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I <3 JC - Quiapo, Manila[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6218" align="aligncenter" width="820"]No one going anywhere - Divisoria, Manila Going home but not going anywhere – Divisoria, Manila

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Also posted in Cultural, Philippines, Photography Tagged , , |

Briefly, in Baguio

Baguio is located in a mountainous region about six hours north of metro Manila. Known for its cool, fresh, mountain air and nature areas full of pine trees, Baguio is a popular escape for Filipinos looking for a respite from the hot and humid low-lands. During a recent trip there we were able to, well, not do much of anything since it rained continuously for almost the entire three days we were there, sometimes quite ferociously. However, during a break in the weather we were able to get out briefly and walk around the main town center and market. Here’s a few images from that short outing.

Through the Market - Baguio, Philippines

Through the Market – Baguio, Philippines

Brooms of Baguio - Baguio, Philippines

Brooms of Baguio – Baguio, Philippines

Transit Center - Baguio, Philippines

Transit Center – Baguio, Philippines

The Empire - Baguio, Philippines

The Empire – Baguio, Philippines

Parked - Baguio, Philippines

Parked – Baguio, Philippines

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Also posted in Philippines, Photography Tagged , , |

The more things change…

Sometimes life feels like a continuum of change. And of course, it really is. For that reason most of us do what we can to bring some stability into our lives, grabbing on to whatever we can that makes us feel anchored. I suppose I do that too, to some extent. I like to think of myself as more adventurous than I really am, but I do seem to get a bit bored if I spend too much time in one place. I can’t really do continuous travel for more than a month or two before it gets tiresome, but I’m finding that spending six months to a year or so is a nice way to experience a place.

Given all that, my time here in Darwin is rapidly coming to a close. In about a month I’ll be heading off to the Philippines for an extended stay. What with wrapping things up here and making preparations for moving on, I haven’t had a chance to get out much with the camera. To be honest, I’ve felt like I’ve hit a wall here photographically. One should, of course, really use those sort of feelings as a challenge and an opportunity for growth, but that’s often easier said than done. With this upcoming change there will also be a lot of travel, which I’m looking forward to. I’ll be in Oregon and Washington in October with possibly a few days in San Francisco. At the end of October I’ll be in Oaxaca, Mexico for about two weeks for Day of the Dead. Sometime in the first half of next year I’d like to get to Japan and/or maybe South Korea and China, but that’s tentative ideas at this point. And of course there will be much exploring of the Philippines.

Edge of the Sea - Nightcliff, Darwin, Australia

Edge of the Sea – Nightcliff, Darwin, Australia

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Also posted in Australia, Darwin, Landscape Tagged , , |