Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Notes from Lima, Peru

Back from Lima, Peru and I thought I would check-in. Had a wonderful trip. Really liked Lima, will have to go back again someday, if nothing else to photograph from the fantastic Mirabus. Was a lot of fun.

I started out traveling through Houston, which was eventful in and of itself. The flight from Austin to Houston was full, full, full and so the self-proclaimed "baggage Nazi" tried to get us to check every form of luggage we could possibly think of and even some that did not yet exist. I swear, she was just about to ask me if I wanted to check my left arm because, you know, "it's free! And so much more convenient!" Um, I don't think so. Managed to get on the plane with my laptop and camera gear. Of course, there were like six people traveling with guitars. Did they ask them to check these? Oh no! Only camera gear. The airlines seem to hate photographers for some reason. The flight to Lima was not so bad. It's about six or seven hours from Houston and a late afternoon flight which is fun, although I have a hard time falling asleep sometimes on the planes. I managed to stay up and watch a couple of movies, Creed with Sylvester Stallone and The Big Lebowski which was an event in and of itself. I swear, if I had done nothing else but watch The Big Lebowski, the entire trip would have been worth it. I don't know how but, somehow, I managed to never see that film, yet I heard a lot about it. It's one of those movies I have always wanted to see but somehow always just seemed to miss. Miss it no more, as I now can say that, as part of this trip, I not only visited South America (first time) crossed the equator (first time too) and finally got to see The Big Lebowski. What a trip even before it started. Big Lebowski aside, we landed in Lima, got stuck in customs, wrangled our baggage back from the hoarders, and made the drive to our hotels. Driving in Lima can be quite the adventure but we made it to our hotel without any excitement and the hotel was nice, photos of the bed to follow at some point.

Lima is know for it's food. It's a culinary capital and well-deserved. The restaurants we visited were all very good and the food and drink quite tasty. I tried my first pisco sour which was wonderful, almost like a margarita, very refreshing. They also have ceviche which was wonderful and I enjoyed a drink they called an "herba buena" which is kind of like a lemonade only more like a limeade but actually made with key limes. Since I love just about anything key lime, I had a lot of these herba buenas. They are bright green and make for interesting late night tweets if you are so inclined (I was.) I would imagine they Instagram quite well too, if you are into that.

I stayed in the Miraflores section of Lima which is kind of the arts district. It has very pretty houses that I got to walk about and photograph some. Really very interesting place. I could do a lot with that kind of architecture photographically. Managed to touch upon it some and it reminded me of my early days, shooting with Barbara and the crew, lots of windows and doors, careful with corners and edges, trying to optimize colors. Reminded me of my early days back when I first started shooting, not to mention I love colonial architecture. One of the the things that struck me the most about Lima was how the colonial architecture was sort of "mixed in" with the rest of the styles found in the city. It was not uncommon to see a very modern building right next to a colonial building, quickly followed by another modern building then two or three colonials right in a row. Most of the cities I've visited featuring any kind of abundance of colonial architecture have sort of sections where the colonial architecture is preserved. In Lima, not so much, it's all sort of mixed in across the city. This really made for interesting shots and was just fascinating to walk about and enjoy.

On Saturday, we took something called the "Mirabus" which is an open air double deck bus which rides through Lima. We managed to get a long tour on the Mirabus (somehow the shorter one was sold out) and wound up taking a 2 hour tour through downtown Lima. It was really very wonderful. We visited the older part of Lima, saw the presidential buildings, the fountains, and visited the catacombs in the church of San Francisco. Although they did not allow photographs, that was really something to visit. The catacombs were really fascinating and the building itself was a well-preserved example of colonial architecture. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to go back to visit again someday.

The return from Lima itself was interesting. I met a teacher from my hometown on the plane and we chatted for a while and then, of course, the flight from Houston was a disaster and a half. For starters, I had to clear customs in Houston which is not that bad, although I was reminded of how Houston has all of these long hallways. It's like a bowling alley in there, I swear. It's like hallway after hallway, with signs that say things like "United States next left." I swear, what a trip! If that were not bad enough, I get on the plane which was sort of half empty, and try to sleep but, nope, not happening this flight. Right after takeoff, almost *during* takeoff really, some lady gets up and starts screaming at one of the flight attendants. When I say "screaming" I mean like I actually thought they were going to come to blows, it was that bad. Seriously, I thought they were going to turn around the plane of force us to land somewhere like College Station (half way between Austin and Houston.) In the days post 9-11 they can do this now, as we're supposed to take our seats when the little seat belt light is on and they can actually turn the plane around if a passenger becomes too out of control.

The flight itself is less than an hour but, man, what an eventful forty minutes that was! If the screaming passenger from Hell (nay, San Francisco) were not enough, the pilot came on and announced that we were expecting turbulence for most of the flight so they would not be serving beverages. Now, I can live without my free orange juice for forty minutes, no problem, but what I didn't expect, what none of us expected, was that the bouncy flight somehow combined itself with an overhead bin that was not quite closed all the way. End result? Just as the screaming demon lady was doing her thing the plane hit what felt like a large "bump," the bin was forced open and stuff started flying out. Some poor young girl was almost taken out by some flying debris and the cabin was filled with that "joyous" crashing sound nobody ever wants to hear on a plane. Lucky for us the pangs and screams of the demon lady drowned out the din of the bins crashing. Oh, what a flight! Almost makes me wish I'd hitchhiked home from Houston, really that did.

Last leg from Houston aside, Lima really was wonderful. This trip was "The Big Lebowski. Here's your food!" of trips and I hope I get to go back again someday. I recommend you visit Lima if you ever get the chance, although I might recommend you avoid a connection in Houston if at all possible. Oh, and it goes without saying really but watch out for some screaming demon like lady en route to San Francisco. What a trip!

Until next time...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Another Day, Another Bed

Bed in hotel suite, Minot North Dakota
Realizing I owe you a bed from the last trip, I thought it wise to post before I go off and make more beds. At least I thought I should post a bed from my last trip before I head off onto my next one. This bed is in North Dakota, in downtown Minot to be precise. We were wise and got a suite which was wonderful. The bed was quite fluffy but firm. I have to say, as far as beds go, I really liked it. Now, I may not get to do a bed in Peru but we shall see. It would be kind of nice to go off and get a South American bed but I might not have the time or energy to pull it off. We shall see.

I'm gearing up and packing out so expect some possible notes from the road or at least a few tweets from the airport. Again, we shall see. This is not my usual trip. Not going crazy with the photo gear but will try to bring back something other than cookies.

In other, completely unrelated news. I hear the cookies are really good in Lima. At least, I've been told to bring back some. Again, we shall see, if time and tide permits, eh?

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your bed, wherever it might happen to be.

As we photographers sometimes say, here's wishing you safe travels and good light.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Enter Froggy Friend

This weekend I got to tour the Willow City historic schoolhouse as part of the Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools Tour. Willow City is a small town located out near Fredericksburg, Texas, about an hour and a half from my current home. The school itself is an historic building, dating back to 1905. It's a two story brick structure with several rooms downstairs and a large auditorium style room upstairs, which served as a classroom for the high school students. Inside one of the downstairs rooms there was something called a "sand table" which is sort of like a giant sandbox, elevated on a tabletop like setting. That's what you see pictured here. This is a close up detail of some toys in the sand table. I guess they used the sand table when it was raining or too hot for the children to play outside. Another interesting tidbit about the Willow City school was that it was actually a replacement school. The original school, dating back to the early to mid-1800's washed away in a flood and in 1905 they built the two story brick replacement structure which stands today, included as part of the historic schoolhouse tour. I was enamored with the little toys and especially liked the expression on the little "frog man face" so I setup and took this shot while I was touring the building. They had a very interesting piano in the upstairs room so look for some shots of that to follow as well.

It was great to get to tour the old building, although I have to say it was a bit hot. I wasn't too hot inside the building itself, as they have some mighty ceiling fans going and, being a brick building and all, it's out of the sun, but, dang, it was over 100 degrees this weekend. It was hot. I've jokingly been saying that Hell called and they want their weather back! Yes, it really does get all that hot in central Texas in August. I suppose I should have grown to expect this but, somehow, when you are out in it and the sweat starts pouring off the back of your neck and your boots get filled with puddles of sweat from it rolling down your leg, why, it just kind of feels especially hot and sticky.

Even with the heat, it was a nice weekend. The trip out there is nice. It's an actual drive out in the country and I must confess that part of central Texas is a bit more green than the Austin area. More cows (real cows, not just the ones you see here in small form,) especially longhorns, more green, more open roads, more space, less traffic, and fewer people. Oh, and a lot of wineries. When I say "a lot" I mean we must have crossed paths with about 50 of them. Seriously. There is even one called "Fat Ass Winery" (I can't make this stuff up!) Who knew there was a whole "Tuscany in Texas" movement complete with wineries and fake Italian style castles out in the hill country? (I sure didn't!)

All in all it was happy but hot shooting. And I got to introduce you to my nice little froggy friend who's probably still out stuck in the sandbox. It's not easy being green, well, not in this heat anyway.

Until next time...