Men in Uniforms

Men in uniform – and women- have a certain appeal..whenever I notice one, well.. I have never managed to reign my desire to immortalize those encounters…always with a smile, a knowing smile, a smile acknowledging the ludicrousness of my impulse

Checkpoint Charlie, a vestige of an unhappy period for pre 89 Berliners Berlin, Germany –5 June 2016

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Who is he? No clue. A passerby in uniform…et voilà Moscow Russia – 9 May 2016

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With the guard at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V- and his two sons Rabat, Morocco – 6 April 2016

 

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This Mayan site has some of the best-preserved stelae and those vigilant men in uniforms are making sure it stays it that way Archeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua, Guatemala – 4 November 2015

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Alpha female in uniform Todos los Santos, Guatemala ­– 1 November 2015

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Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK – 1 June 2014

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Notting Hill, London, UK – 24 August 2014

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With the of our Paris➡️Havana flight aboard a Cubana Airlines’s Ilushin II-96 – 25 November 2013

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With the “eyes” watching over the weekly Sunday march Huancayo, Peru ­– 30 October 2011

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During a demonstration, probably a minor one as the Riot Police officers didn’t seem slightly worried, considering that one of them lent me his cap and the other one his shield Arequipa, Peru ­–18 October 2011

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Police officers in longui, Bali, Indonesia- 27 March 2010

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Historically responsible for safeguarding the Crown Jewels: a Beefeater, Tower of London UK ­–15 August 1989

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The closest I could get to him behind the chain, Tower of London, UK­– 15 August 1989

 

The Day of the Dead, Guatemala – 2 November 2015

// Part 7 of 8//

This celebration takes place the day after All Saints Day, and like the previous one, it’s celebrated throughout Guatemala 🇬🇹.

From far away, as we drove downhill toward Sunil, we could notice the bustling activities taking place in the village. Hands laden with candles and flowers, entire families headed to the local cemetery. A few kites, held tight, were aiming to the sky amidst the electricity wires. How to describe the atmosphere?

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The graveyard was metamorphosed into the Chelsea Flower Show, barely leaving a bare footpath. Wearing their traditional outfits, “guests of the deceased for the day”- men, women and children – came to be reunited with their cherished relatives. Wishing to spend quality time with them, they made themselves comfortable around their burial vaults and indulged in food and drinks.

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Some families have planned the outing with a punch and brought along musicians, living it up in certain areas of the garden of remembrance.

 

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Obviously, the strongest family ties I’ve ever seen..how many people miss opportunities to get together with their families while here we get to witness visceral bonds transcending death itself. These families, these people strive to have at least an annual meal among their departed ones while in the very same time, in a different place, some people are willingly skipping a celebration with their living family…

Different people, different mindsets…different values, different priorities….

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Todos Santos Cuchumatán-All Saints Day, Guatemala 1st November 2015

// Part 6 of 8 //

While all of Guatemala celebrates Dia de Todos los Santos, the small hilly town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán is known for having one of the best festivals during which local men hold wild, drunken horse races.

These races are the culmination of a week-long festivities and a mad night of dancing and libations that continue throughout the day of the race for all men, riders included…

Upon arriving to the village, we admired the costumes of the inhabitants and particularly the attires and the headdresses of the racers.

Trying to catch a good view of the races, we climbed up a grassy hill and managed to find ourselves a suitable spot on a rooftop. The track is approximately 100m long and the horses have to cross it 6 times, back and forth, a drunk rider saddled on their back.

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We left during the midday break before the races resumed. According to our guide, we shouldn’t stay until the races are over as the general excitement would have reached an unsettling level and  the streets would be lined with men so drunk they can no longer stand.

The races sound like fun but each year there are many injuries, some fatal…and paradoxically that bring honor to the deceased’s family..

Let the Party Begin

// Part 1 of 8//

Traveling in itself is a rewarding experience, and the icing on the cake is when you witness a particular celebration during your stay. If you do your homework properly, you can time your trip according to annual happenings in your planned destination. We did it when we visited Laos 🇱🇦 for the Boum That Luang Festival, worked it out to be in a Guatemala 🇬🇹 celebrating All Saints Day and next day’s colourful Day of the Dead …and while in Bhutan 🇧🇹, we ended the Druk Path Trek with a big celebration:The Thimphu Tsechu Festival.

However, you might stumble upon such events unknowingly and that’s even better…forget the anticipatory hype and the build-ups, the surprise factor doubles the pleasure and is truly the cherry on top of the icing on the cake..Talking from experiences, twice in Myanmar and 5 times in Peru !!

 


Noviciation Ceremony known as Shinbyu, Pagan, Myanmar – 8 February 2005

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Nat Festival, Mt Popa, Myanmar – 9 February 2005

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Boun That Luang Festival,Vientiane, Laos – 24 November 2007
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The 20th anniversary of the School of Civil Engineering at Universidad Andina Nestor Cáceres Velásquez, Puno, Peru­– 24 October 2011

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All Saints Day, Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Guatemala – 1st­ November 2015 

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The Day of the Dead  Zunil, Guatemala ­– 2nd November 2015

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The Thimphu Tsechu Festival, Thimphu, Bhutan – 12 October 2016

 

Come On Baby Light My Fire

Rincon de la Vieja -1,916m. It has 9 craters and a large number of fumaroles and hot springs on its slopes. The name means “The Old Woman’s Corner”, a reference to a local legend about a girl whose lover was thrown into the crater by her father. She became a recluse living on the mountain, and was credited with powers of healing Costa Rica – 18 March 2018,
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 Arenal -1,670m. This conic volcano has a crater 140 m in diameter. We made it in time for the sunset Costa Rica – 15 March 2018

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Kilauea1,247m.We were lucky it was active. The hotel concierge advised us to take our chances and head there instead of calling the monitoring center to inquire about the volcano’s activity because that may be misleading as by the time we reach there the eruption might be over. Later on, we followed some other tourists’ recommendation and biked, then hiked in a pitch-black night to observe the incandescent lava flowing into the ocean Hawaï, Big Island – 24 April 2017
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Haleakala crater- 3045m. This massive shield volcano forms more than 75% of the island. Another volcano forms the western 25%., Maui, Hawaï – 20 April 2017
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Lake Atitlan’s famous trio San Pedro’s-3,020m-, Atitlan-3,535m-, & Toliman -3,158m. Guatemala31 October 2015
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Agua 3,760m. This almost perfect cone is covered with a thick vegetation like many other volcanoes in Guatemala. On the right side, the volcano Fuego (3,763) is constantly spewing small ash clouds- last major eruption was in 1974. Antigua, Guatemala – 29 October 2015  
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Mount Fuji 3,776m. This iconic conic snow-topped volcano is the highest mountain in Japan, and a World Heritage site since 2013. Majestic, despite the works beneath Honshu, Japan – 28 March 2015
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2010, Indonesia, Bali, Mount Batur – 1,717m- is an active Volcano. We left the hotel at 3:00 am; after around a 2 hours hike we reached the caldera and along with another friend, I resumed the last leg up to the peak- another half hour. From our promontory we watched silently the sunrise bringing life to the still life around us.
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Mount Eden-196m. This dormant volcanic cone overlooks Auckland and offers one of the best views of the city Auckland, New Zealand – 8 April 2008,
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Mount Teide – 3,718m. According to hubby, the honeymoon turned out to be more like a boot camp…day tours and night shows: barely few hours’ sleep Tenerife, Canary Islands – 16 July 1985




From Place to Place

Applying black lacquer on the teeth of young coming-of-age women was a very popular rite of passage Hoi an,Vietnam – 18 March 2001

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Madagascar – 7 May 2009

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Peru – 27 October 2011
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Xangkhong, Chiang Dao, Thailand – 17 November 2007
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Carmine or brown red teeth colour are a side effect of chewing betel nut, a very common practice in SE Asia Paro, Bhutan– 7 October 2016