Slow exposure of the top of Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Epupa Falls
Epupa Falls is a series of cascades stretching about 1.5km through the Kunene Region. This is the northern-most point in Namibia, where the Kunene River forms the border with Angola.
(ISO100 16mm f/16 30sec Crop)

It is a primordial landscape, born out of the very heart of the pre-Jurassic Gondwana super-continent.

The Kunene Region in Northern Namibia is dry, mountainous, and underdeveloped. It is home to semi-nomadic tribes whose ways of life have barely changed for hundreds of years (see: Women of the Himba, and Himba Model Shoot).

The Kunene River, which starts in the Angolan highlands and runs 1,050 kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean, is the only perennial river within the ecoregion. The river marks the Angola-Namibia border and tumbles over Epupa Falls at a gorge formed between 2,100 million and 1,750 million years ago.

Although the time-lines are wildly different, I had no trouble imagining dinosaurs walking among the primitive baobab trees that cling to the rocky river banks.

That was, of course, once we got there.

I and four other photography enthusiasts were travelling with photographer Ben McRae and local guide, driver, chief cook and bottle-washer, Morne Griffiths, across the vast expanses that comprise Namibia.

I knew we’d be camping for the next several nights, so I treated myself to a small cabin with a plywood bed the night we stopped in Kamanjab, and enjoyed a decent sleep and a shower with water so splayed that I got my exercise dancing around, trying to get wet without getting scalded; facilities in Namibia can be “rustic”. After a very early hot breakfast, we started our journey of 440 kilometres north through the dry winter landscape dressed in subdued autumnal colours; about six bumpy hours past hornbills perched on electrical wires, ostriches and giraffes loping in the distance, and long-horned cows and humped brahman along the roadside. Gradually, the thorn trees gave way to palm forests, and we came across our first giant baobabs.

Nothing, though, prepared me for the magnificent Epupa Falls.

Join me in Namibia’s timeless Kunene.

Rosy-Faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis) on a bird feeder, Kamanjab Namibia

Rosy-Faced Lovebird (Agapornis Roseicollis)
The sun wasn’t yet up and the winter air was still cold – but the birds were already gathered around the feeder in the rest-camp courtyard in Kamanjab.

View of a gravel road from a truck window, Kunene Namibia

View from the Truck
We set off early morning, heading out on the long, dusty roads north to Epupa. (iPhone6)

Baobab at the side of a road, Kunene Namibia

Baobab
The mighty baobas (Adansonia digitata) grow along the side of the road.

Baobab trunk with a name carved into it, Kunene Namibia

“Make your Mark”
There is an African proverb: “Knowledge and wisdom are like a Baobab tree, one person’s arms cannot encompass it.” The trunks are huge, with an average diameter of 5 m (16 ft).

Baobab trunk with growths, Kunene Namibia

Scars and Textures
Baobab trees frequently live for between 1,000 – 3,000 years. Their succulent trunks have a high resistance to drought and fire.

Top of a Baobab tree against a blue sky, Kunene Namibia

Look Up!
In the right soil, baobabs grow quickly, and can reach between 5–25 m (16–82 ft) in height.

Golden bird nest in the Branches

Nests in the Branches

Rocky Cairn or Shrine against a Kunene hillside, Namibia

Cairn or Shrine

View of a gravel road from a truck window, Kunene Namibia

View from the Truck
Leaving the baobab tree behind, we rejoin the the road and climb the rocky hills to Epupa. (iPhone6)

Sere landcape at the top of Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Above Epupa Falls
After pitching our tents in the allocated camping spot, we join the other visitors on the dry, rocky terrain above the falls.
(ISO200 70mm f/4 1:320sec)

Sere landcape at the top of Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Afternoon above the Falls
The afternoon sun still packs heat as the shadows deepen and grow longer. It is not as quiet as it looks, however: the roar of the falls, just hidden from sight, is palpable.
(ISO200 24mm f/11 1:100sec)

The top of Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Epupa Falls
Nothing had prepared me for the first sight of the magnificent falls, with the waters of the Kunene tumbling straight down the rocky gorge separating Namibia from Angola.
(ISO200 70mm f/3.5 1:400sec)

Water falls into the rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Below the Falls
Before sun-up the next morning, I grabbed a head-lamp and tripod and picked my way carefully over the jagged, primordial landscape below the main falls. Countless waterfalls tumble into the river below from all directions.
(ISO 100 70mm f/25 3.2sec)

Rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Morning on the Falls
(ISO6400 200mm f/2.8 1/400sec)

Person sitting in Rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Solitude
As early as I was, I wasn’t the first. Photographer Ben McRae had already found a spot on the ancient rocks.
(ISO800 16mm f/2.8 1/100sec)

Sunrise

Sunrise
(ISO200 24mm f/5.6 1/200sec)

Sunrise over the rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Sunrise
(ISO100 70mm f/32 3.2sec)

Rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Below the Falls
Epupa Falls are thought to be the oldest rock formation in Namibia, between 2,100 million and 1,750 million years old.
(ISO400 35mm f/6.3 1/60sec)

Rocky landscape below Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Kunene River
As the sky finally lightens, the green river contrasts with the ancient rocks of the gorge.
(ISO100 16mm f/5.0 1/60sec)

Long exposure of water over the rocks, the Kunene Ricer, Namibia

Water on the Rocks
(ISO100 200mm f32 2.0sec)

Backlit baobabs, Epupa Falls, Kunene Namibia

Morning Light on the Baobabs
The spray from the falls backlights the baobabs.
(ISO100 175mm f/32 0.8sec)

Angola over the River, Epupa, Kunene Namibia

Angola over the River
Angola looks wild and empty across the river.
(ISO100 30mm f/7.1 1/60sec)

Baobab Trees on the edge of the Kunene River, Namibia

Baobab Trees
The giant baobabs have a shallow roots, spreading further than the height of the trees, allowing them to cling to the river banks and survive the dry climate.
(ISO400 70mm f/8.0 1/400sec)

Baobab Trees on the river Kunene River bank, Epupa Namibia

Baobab Trees
It’s a pre-historic landscape: baobab trees are among the oldest living trees in the world.
(ISO100 70mm f/2.8 1/400sec)

Leaves on a Baobab Tree, Epupa Namibia

Leaves on a Baobab Tree
To conserve moisture, baobabs only have leaves about three months a year, during the wet season.
(ISO100 35mm f/14 1/60sec)

Top of the Falls, Kunene, Namibia

Top of the Falls
(ISO100 200mm f/32 0.6sec)

Top of Epupa Falls, Kunene, Namibia

Top of the Falls
“Epupa” is a Herero word for “foam”; the falls are named for the the foam created by the tumbling water.
(ISO200 70mm f/5.6 1/400sec)

Girls at the top of Epupa Falls, Kunene, Namibia

Girls at the top of the Falls
The morning sun lights up this “foam” at the rocky top of Epupa Falls.
(ISO100 200mm f/2.8 1/400sec)

Since 2012, Himba chiefs have been protesting against a proposed dam on the Kunene River in the Baynes Mountains. The dam might bring in economic development to the region but would irreparably change the traditional ways of life, and this ancient landscape itself.

Text: Take only PicturesDevelopment is not always “progress”.

Until next time.

Pictures: 15-16August2015

Zähringerbrunnen on Kramgasse , Bern, CH

Zähringerbrunnen : the Zähringer Fountain
In the UNESCO-listed medieval city-centre of Bern, a fountain topped by a bear in full armour, with a cub at his feet, was built in 1535 as a commemoration to Berchtold von Zähringer, who founded the city in 1191. (iPhone5)

The Swiss city of Bern is indelibly associated with bears. The bear has featured on the city seal and coat of arms since at least the 1220s. Stories relating to the keeping of live bears in a Bärengraben (bear pit) in the centre of the city – in what is still called Bärenplatz (Bear Plaza) –  date back to the 1440s (or 1513 – depending on your source!).

Legend has it that Bern was named for the bear that Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, came across in the wood that was to be cleared for his new city. He had vowed to name the city for the first animal he saw on his hunt.

This story is widely questioned. For a long time it was thought that the city might have been named after the Italian city of Verona, then known as Bern in Middle High German. Scholars since the 1980s, however, think the name is of Celtic origin.

What is not in question is that Berthold V founded Bern in 1191. He had been charged with establishing a city to help solidify his family’s position over their land holdings. The Zähringer ruling family, decreed dukes by the German king, held much of what is today Switzerland – then considered part of southern Burgundy. In order to reinforce their position in the region, they started or expanded a number of settlements.

For BernBerchtold V chose an easily defensible, long and narrow hilly peninsula, surrounded by the Aare river on three sides. Somehow, the old city has managed to retain its medieval charm, while functioning in the modern world. Tram tracks run down the cobbled streets; up-market hotels, fashionable boutiques, and quirky coffee shops are tucked into the  covered, arcaded sidewalks. Everywhere you turn, there are colourful statues and fountains and clock towers. Guild flags hang from the buildings that once housed them; canton flags hang from the Renaissance-style Bundeshaus (Parliament Building); geraniums hang from every window. It is the best-preserved historic town centre in Switzerland, and – as the “Old City of Berne” – it was UNESCO-heritage listed in 1983.

The beauty of travelling in Europe is that everything is accessible by train. My husband and I were travelling from England. Friends of ours from Zurich met up with us, and we spent a leisurely day walking around the Old City.

Busker on bagpipes in Bern, Switzerland

Busker on a Dudelsackspieler
Evening in the centre of Old Bern is lively, in spite of a threat of rain. (iPhone5)

Rain clouds over Houses of Parliament, Bern Switzerland

Parliament House
Evening clouds hang over the buildings used by the National Council and the Council of States. (iPhone5)

Man and woman with a sidewalk game of Nine Men

Nine Men’s Morris
The restaurants fill up as people stroll the streets. (iPhone5)

Parliament Square, Bern CH

Bundes Platz – Parliament Square

Flags of the Cantons flying from Parliament House, Bern CH

Flags of the Cantons – Bundeshaus

Archway through to the Terraces behind the Bundeshaus, Bern CH

To the Bundeshaus Terraces
An archway leads to the back of the parliament buildings, …

Stature of a Woman in a Fountain, Bundeshaus grade, Bern Ch

Woman in the Fountain
… where there are gardens …

View over Bern from the Bundeshaus Terraces, CH

View from the Bundeshaus Terraces
… and views over the red-roofed buildings below.

BEKB Bank Building, Bundesplatz, Bern CH

BEKB Bank Building, Bundesplatz

Bern Old City streets with pedestrians and trams, CH

Bern Old City Streets
Trams and pedestrians share the old cobbled streets.

Looking up Theatreplatz to Bern

Zytglogge
Bern’s 800-year-old mechanical clock in its 23-meter tower is one of the the city’s most famous landmarks.

Red and gold ion-marktgasse_8437

Lion – Marktgasse
(iPhone5)

Bern

Old Clock Tower – Zytglogge
The Old Clock Tower, built by Caspar Brunner between 1527 and 1530, in what was once Bern’s west gate

Painted limestone buildings in the Old City of Bern, CH

Medieval Bern
The buildings in the Old City include 15th-century arcades of painted limestone.

Slanted red doors to the Underground rooms on Kramgasse, Bern CH

Doors to the Underground on Kramgasse
Intriguing slanted doors lead down to cellar stores and coffee shops.

Monkey Guild Statue, Bern CH

Monkey Guild Statue

Zähringerbrunnen on Kramgasse, Bern CH

Zähringerbrunnen and Zytglogge on Kramgasse
Medieval clock towers and Renaissance fountains are features of the Old City.

Vennerbrunnen - Ensign Fountain, Bern CH

Vennerbrunnen – Ensign Fountain
The ensign, carrying a flag with the bear of Bern, promises to protect the city.

Das Berner Rathaus City Hall, Bern CH

Das Berner Rathaus – City Hall

Reflections in a shop window, Bern Old City, CH

Medieval Ships and Dreams
There are plenty of shops to fire the imagination.

View over the Aare River to the Old City Bern, CH

The Fast-Flowing Aare
To reach the Rose Garden and the Bear Park, we crossed the Nydeggbrücke over the Aare River.

The Old Bärengraben, Bern CH

The Old Bärengraben – Bear Pit
Bern’s first captive bears were held at Bärenplatz (Bear Square) in the Old City from the 1400s or 1500s. The bear enclosures here were first opened in 1857, and were upgraded numerous times. Due to ongoing protests from animal rights groups, the newer Bärenpark was opened in 2009, and this section of pit became an information area, access to the Bärengraben’s shop, and a performance space.

Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) in a cage, Bern CH

Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos)
The bears remaining here, near the old enclosures look healthy, but forlorn.

Paving stones with names - the Old Bärengraben, Bern CH

Funding Cobbles
Contributors to the improvements are commemorated in the walkways.

View over Old Bern from the Rose Gardens, Switzerland

View over Old Bern
At the Rose Gardens, we enjoyed a late lunch – and views over the old city.

Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) on green terraces, Bern CH

The Bärenpark
We walked back down the hill through the Bärenpark – opened in 2009 –

Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) on green terraces, Bern CH

Eurasian Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos Arctos)
– where the bears have more room to roam between the old Bärengraben and the bank of the River Aare.

People in Bern Old City, Waiting for the Zytglogge, CH

Waiting for the Zytglogge
We made our way back through the old city, where people were waiting at the east face –

East face of the Zytglogge, Bern CH

Zytglogge
– for the old clock to perform. At four minutes to the hour, the clock’s mechanical figures (including bears, a crowing cock, a fool, a knight, and a piper) begin their procession.

View from a Swiss Rail train - Bern, CH

On Swiss Rail
We collected our bags, made our way to the train station, and – sadly – left Bern behind.

It was a delightful city to visit.
Text: Happy Travels

Like I said – that’s the beauty of Europe: every delightful city is just a rail-trip away.

Happy Travels!

 

Photos: 30-31July2014

Vietnamese Spices and Rice Noodles

Vietnamese Spices and Rice Noodles
Street food gives you insight into local culture, but it can be risky when you are travelling; sometimes it is safer to eat the five-star version as prepared in the pristine environment of a modern resort.

It can be relaxing to travel like a “tourist”: to find a haven in crisp sheets and smiling staff who speak your language, after a hectic day in a bustling foreign environment.

I usually avoid up-market resorts – mostly because I’d rather travel twice as often than pay twice as much. But, every so often, an offer comes to my attention, one that fits in so neatly with other plans we have already made, that I can’t resist.

So it was in February this year. My husband and I were already committed to attend the Singapore Air Show (see: Lines, Curves, and Dreams of Flight) when I saw a special deal for a new resort (Naman Retreat) near Danang in Vietnam. It gave me a chance to go back to Halong Bay (see: Vung Vieng Pearl Farm, Karst Mountains and Caves; and Spring Rolls and Winter Weather), and took us into a region of Vietnam I had always wanted to visit.

The resort itself and the package-deal we got was bliss: wonderful food, daily massages, an included cooking lesson, yoga classes and gym, a bicycle tour and other daily activities, shuttles into Hội An and Đà Nẵng, smiling and attentive (but not intrusive) staff… the list went on. Our only complaint was the weather: winter was colder, wetter, and had hung on longer, than any of the locals could remember – but we couldn’t really blame the resort for that!

Put your feet up and settle back into some true Asian comfort.

Purple Water Lily, Danang Vietnam

Water Lily
Nothing says “Southeast Asia” to me like waterlilies in beautifully manicured ponds.

Grey stone wall with terracotta mural of Vietnamese farmers, Naman Retreat, Đà Nẵng

Rural Mural
When you see the conical hats working in the rice fields, you can be nowhere but Vietnam.

Vietnamese Gardener with a cart in the rain, Naman Retreat, Danang Vietnam

Gardener
Even in the rain, the staff are hard at work maintaining the grounds. (iPhone6)

Quiet morning on a Danang Beach, Vietnam

Morning on the Beach
Fishermen have their rods set on the quiet winter beach. No holiday-makers are around; it is far too cold to swim. (iPhone6)

Sand Crab on yellow sand, Danang Vietnam

Sand Crab (iPhone6)

Hay Hay Restaurant viewed from the pool, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Naman Retreat’s Hay Hay Restaurant
With bamboo walls and a thatched roof, the Hay Hay Restaurant, designed by locally-based Vo Trong Nghia Architects, is an intriguing fusion of contemporary design and Vietnamese tradition. (iPhone6)

Bamboo arches Inside Naman Retreat Diningroom, Danang Vietnam

Resort Dining Room
Inside, bent bamboo pillars reach high …

View inside the domed bamboo roof Hay Hay Restaurant, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Vaulted Bamboo Ceiling
… up to the vaulted ceiling. Different types of bamboo, chosen for their properties of strength, rigidity or flexibility, have gone into the construction of the airy resort buildings.

Cereals in glass jars on the Breakfast Bar, Hay Hay Restaurant, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Breakfast Bar
When I saw the breakfast selection, I was in heaven! (iphone6)

Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Display Kitchen
Mid-morning, we were back in the dining room for our cooking lesson.

Smiling Vietnamese man in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Smiling Chef
Vu, whose official designation according to his name-tag, is “Flame Keeper Captain”, greets us and gives us our Cooking Class Recipe card.

Spring Roll Ingredients on white plates, , Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Spring Roll Ingredients
The rice-paper wrappers and filling ingredients are laid out and ready.

 Vietnamese man in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Chef Vu
Vu describes the ingredients and explains the process of making the dipping sauce for traditional Vietnamese fresh spring rolls.

Vietnamese man in chef uniform whisking sauce, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Whisking Sauce
He whisks the coconut juice, white sugar, melted rock sugar, salt lemon juice, chilli, garlic and fish sauce together, …

Man in white uniform whisking sauce, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Whisking Sauce
… beating vigorously until the ingredients are well combined.

Man in white uniform Rolling Spring Rolls, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Rolling Spring Rolls
Once the sauce is made, Vu demonstrates how to roll the prawns, pork belly, mint, coriander, and bean sprouts into their parcels. I love the contrast between his simple Buddhist bracelet and his jewel-studded gold ring.

Vietnamese Traditional Fresh Spring Rolls, Danang Vietnam

Vietnamese Traditional Fresh Spring Rolls
When we’ve made our own spring rolls, we get to eat them. Lunch is served!

 Vietnamese man in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Making Pho: Traditional Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
As we enjoy our spring rolls, Vu tells us how to make Vietnam’s best-known soup: Pho.

Two Vietnamese men in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Chef with a Frypan
With a sous chef watching on, Vu adds ingredients to a heavy frypan …

Man in white uniform with a heavy frypan, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Ingredients in the Pan
… and cooks them up.

Vietnamese man in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Talking about Pho
Although pho is now known around the world, the noodle soup is thought to originate near Hanoi in the early 20th century, influenced by both Chinese and French cooking traditions.

Vietnamese man in chef uniform, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Chef Making Soup
Although the soup stock has simmered for 10 hours, pho is delightfully fresh tasting. Vu puts freshly cooked noodles, cooked beef, and fresh herbs into bowls before topping the dishes with the broth.

Vietnamese man in chef uniform Chatting with Customers, Hay Hay Restaurant Display Kitchen, Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Chatting with the Guests
As we finish up our soup, Vu takes time to review his cooking class and chat with participants.

Bronze sculpture of sprouting rice on water, , Naman Retreat Danang Vietnam

Sprouting Rice
Rice, sprouting in watery rice paddies where it is grown by dint of backbreaking labour, is central to Vietnamese life. Dotted around the Naman Retreat buildings, beautiful bronze sculptures of rice sprouts are reflected in granite ponds.

It was a beautiful combination:-

Text: Keep smilingWe had a haven where we could retreat from any hustle and bustle, while being immersed in the very best of Vietnamese food and culture.

Who could resist?

Pictures: 24-26February2016

Portrait of a Rajasthani Man in a colourful Turban, Khejarla India

Portrait of a Man in a Turban
Textured walls and colourful turbans: you don’t need to go far in India to find a photographic subject. (Khejarla, Rajasthan)

Trip Advisor gives it a good rating.

“Fort Khejarla offers guests an enlivening experience,”says the official website.

I still think of it as the hotel that tried to kill me.

Well, shock and asphyxiate me; “kill” might be a bit extreme.

I was looking forward to our stay at the heritage “resort”, Fort Khejarla Hotel, 85 km east of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. My husband and I had stayed in a couple of old palaces on an earlier tour through Northern India and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. On this trip, I was travelling with a photographic group under the tutelage of photographer Karl Grobl and the watchful eye of local guide DV Singh.

The turrets of Fort Khejarla, Rajasthan

Khejarla Fort
Fairytale turrets rise up over the 400-year-old walls built by the Rajputs.
(iPhone 4S)

inner courtyard, Khejarla Fort, Rajasthan India

Inner Courtyard, Khejarla Fort
Morning light slants through the delicate arches and over the ancient crumbling red sandstone bricks (iPhone 4S).

I was thrilled with my room: cool marble floors, a four-poster bed all to myself, and even a sitting alcove, complete with velvet-covered antique furniture. I bounded out of the suite and crossed into the courtyard, where a shoemaker was selling his wares. I bought slippers for my absent husband and an embroidered silk jacket for myself before checking at the office for a hairdryer.

Back in my room after dinner, I slipped off my shoes and went to wash my face. The light switch zapped me. I tried to turn on the water at the sink: the taps shocked me. I called for a technician, who finally arrived in his black patent shoes and shiny blue pants. Of course, the electrically charged particles ignored him.

He turned on the shower water; I put my hand towards it and you could see the electricity arcing towards me. “Ah,” said the technician (translated by DV), “it’s because you have bare feet!”

They decided the mini-electric water-heater might be to blame, and installed me in the room next door. Not as nice, but less “shocking”.

Or so I thought.

While working on my computer, I noticed a funny smell – which I’d previously attributed to an oil burner left in the room – coming from the bathroom. The hair dryer which they had lent me was on fire, and it had attacked my waterproof plastic toiletry bag. Before long, toxic fumes were choking me, the fire was spreading, and I was despairing of anyone hearing my cries for help as I attempted to smother the flames with towels.

That I am still here clearly indicates I was eventually heard. The fire in my room was dealt with as I sat, like a limp, soot-blackened rag-doll, raspy-voiced and quite exhausted, in the courtyard outside my room.

The next room I was given was a palatial suite in the newer sections of the building. I retrieved what was left of my toiletries and finally got my shower and hair-wash before tumbling, completely worn out, into bed.

Of course, photo trips sleep in for no one. Bright and early the next morning, I was out in the streets of the modest surrounding community with my camera, making portraits wherever I could find them. Even with no voice, I had no trouble gaining consent from the friendly people of Khejarla.

Join me for a walk through town, and some street portraits – Indian style.

High school Girls, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

School Girls
It is early morning, and the light has not yet fully reached into the narrow streets. Young women in their pristine salwar kameez walk to school.

Child

“Kids wil be Kids”
Younger school children goof around when they see the camera, ….

Indian girl in school uniform, Khejarla India

Schoolgirl
… but without invitation, they line up against gates and doorways, …

Grinning schoolboy and girl in plaits, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Schoolchildren
… with their siblings …

Indian boy in school uniform, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Schoolboy
… or alone, looking boldly and clear-eyed at the lens.

Indian boy in school uniform, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Schoolboy
Around every new corner, the backgrounds, the light, and the colours change.

Portrait: Two Men on a Motorcycle Khejarla India

Two Men on a Motorcycle

Indian woman seated in her shop, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Shopkeeper
Shopkeepers wait for customers…

Indian man leaning on a shop counter, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Customer at the Counter
… and customers stop to chat.

Portrait of an Indian shopkeeper in pink, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Shopkeeper
Even though they know I’m not buying anything, they are generous with their smiles.

Scruffy Indian Child with Finger-Goggles, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Child with Finger-Goggles
Once the school-children have passed, the streets are the domain of the younger kids, …

Portrait of two young Indian children in the Street

Children in the Street
… with their cheeky faces and brightly coloured “civvies”.

Indian Man and Child in a doorway, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Man and Child

Veiled Indian Woman in a Doorway, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Woman in a Doorway

Green Chillies for sale, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Green Chillies
There is plenty of food available on the streets: fresh …

Street Food, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Street Food
… and freshly cooked. I have no idea what some of it is.

Two indian women in a Ribbon and Bead shop, Khejarla, Rajasthan

Ribbons and Beads

Portrait of a Khejarla Man in a colourful turban, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Khejarla Man

Three boys, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Three Amigos
Children are everywhere: I’m not sure why so many are out of school.

Indian Woman in the Street with firewood, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Woman in the Street
Everywhere, “life” happens in the dusty streets.

Boy swinging on a low Gate, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Boy at the Gate
The young ones are curious about the stranger.

two Men in a shop Doorway, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Men in the Doorway
Men take a break from their labour to check out the woman with the camera …

Two Indian men in discussion on the Stoop of a house , Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Discussion on the Stoop
… or just to chat with their friends and neighbours.

Shopkeeper with a cheroot,, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Shopkeeper

Three Men, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Three Men

Cows in the Street, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Cows in the Street
It wouldn’t be India unless there were cows in the dusty streets, …

Woman with a black bundle, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Woman with a Bundle
… women carrying things on their heads, …

Young girl carrying a toddler, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Child Minding
… or young children looking after their younger siblings.

Indian woman walking in front of an open doorway, Khejarla, Rajasthan India

Places to Go …
… things to do. Life goes on.

I enjoyed my time in the streets of Khejarla; it was engaging without being too “enlivening”.

Sign-Off-NamasteUntil next time ~

Namaste!

Pictures: 11Nobember2013

The wooden Our Lady of Lourdes Indian Band Catholic Church in Sechelt under a grey sky, BC Canada

Our Lady of Lourdes Indian Band Catholic Church – Sechelt
A simple church built of wood, Our Lady of Lourdes, was transported by barge to this spot on the waterfront on Shíshálh Nation lands in 1973 to replace an earlier building which had burned down. (iPhone6)

Woods and water are the central features of Canada’s Sunshine Coast.

This rugged, mountainous, landscape on the southern-mainland coast of British Columbia (BC) in Canada’s west is bounded by the Coast Mountains on one side and the Strait of Georgia on the other. Although it’s just a stone’s throw from Vancouver, no access roads have been built around the fjords or through the mountains, and the region is only accessibly by air or water. Most residents and visitors are dependent on the BC Ferries, which act as an extension of the local highway system.

Coniferous trees – especially Douglas fir and western red cedar – cover the steep slopes and have always been important to the life and livelihood of the people. The indigenous Coast Salish people built their longhouses and dugout canoes from the resilient and ubiquitous western red cedar. Much of their artwork was carved into and painted onto the beautiful local timbers.

The first European visitors explored the area from the waterways in the late 1790s (e.g.: José María Narváez, George Vancouver, Dionisio Alcalá Galiano & Cayetano Valdés), leaving their names on many of the local geographic features. The first European settlement didn’t happen for almost another century with the arrival of loggers, farmers, and fishermen.

Logging has always been important, developing into a broader timber industry in the early 1900s: most of Canada’s softwood comes from BC. Patches of brown, felled, land can be seen breaking up the forests of Douglas-fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, yellow cedar, juniper, yew, red alder, grand fir, mountain hemlock, broadleaf maple, sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, balsam fir, western white pine, white spruce, white birch, and black cottonwood trees that extend almost endlessly up the mountainsides to the snow caps. Smoke plumes rise up from the timber- and pulp-mills, meeting the clouds that frequently threaten coastal rains. Arbutus trees cling to rocky cliffs high above the rushing waterways; those waterways are made treacherous by the scattering of dangerous dead-heads – the almost-unseen stray logs that have escaped the long log-booms that drag far behind the sturdy tug boats that tow them.

The evidence of the importance of wood is everywhere.

Yellow wooden rowboat on the grass - Gibsons BC

Wooden Boat – Gibsons
Whether in or out of the water, boats – of all shapes and sizes – are a feature of the West Coast. (iPhone6)

Wooden Bench overlooking the water, Sechelt BC Canada

Wooden Bench – Sechelt
Benches – donated in the names of loved ones – sit along the Boulevard on the Sechelt waterfront, overlooking Trail Bay. (iPhone6)

Carved face on a wooden Totempole- Sechelt BC Canada

Watchful Totem – Sechelt
The northern-most West Coast Native tribes (the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian) were the first to carve the cedar totem poles we are now used to seeing. Through cultural exchange, this art form spread across the whole region. This particular watchful face looks to the waters west of Shishalh tribal lands in Sechelt. (iPhone6)

Mossy-roofed old house, Earl

A “Fixer-Upper” – Earl’s Cove
Even wood as resilient to the elements as western red cedar (Thuja plicata) can end up mossy in the damp shadows and weathered by time. (iPhone6)

BC Ferry docking at Earl

BC Ferry – Earl’s Cove
The mountains are high, the rivers are wide, and the forest is thick: if you want to drive, car ferries are the only way to access the Sunshine Coast roads. (iPhone6)

Welcome sign at the entrance to the old Powell River townsite, BC Canada

“Welcome to the Heart of Powell River”
Powell River is the site of Western Canada’s first pulp mill, built in 1908. The pre-planned model company town was started in 1910. In 1995, the township and the 400+ original buildings that remained within the boundaries were designated as a National Historic District of Canada.

The RodMay Heritage Hotel, Powell River, BC Canada

Rodmay Heritage Hotel
Built in 1911 as the Powell River Hotel, the Rodmay was the first commercial building in the old township.

Postmaster

Postmaster’s House
One of the first buildings in the township was the former home of the local doctor – build in 1910 to replace the earlier tented accommodation. The Postmaster’s House followed soon after. A typical Craftsman Style house built in 1912 of cedar shakes and shingles, it is now a private home.

Front entry to Dwight Hall, Powell River BC Canada

Dwight Hall
The community centre, built in 1927, is still home to community activities.

Patricia Theatre, Powell River BC Canada

Patricia Theatre
Once housed in an older building (1913), the Patricia Theatre (1928) is the oldest, continuously running cinema and vaudeville business in Canada.

Federal Building, Powell River BC Canada

Federal Building
The 1939 building that was once the site of the Post Office, the Customs and Excise services, and the Canadian Telegraph operations, has been re-purposed to house the local craft brewery.

Green western red cedar in the wet, Powell River BC Canada

Cedar
The trees in the gardens, …

Small cherries on a wet tree, Powell River BC Canada

Cherries
… and those lining the streets, are lovingly cared for.

Japanese Maple leaves with rain drops, Powell River BC Canada

Japanese Maple
Even plants that are not indigenous …

Honeysuckle flower, Powell River BC Canada

Honeysuckle
… do well in this wet and temperate climate.

 The Old Courthouse Inn, Powell River BC Canada

The Old Courthouse Inn
The Provincial Building (1939) once housed the local police, forestry services, and other provincial government services.

Old Lamp in the boutique Old Courthouse Inn, Powell River BC Canada

Old Lamp
The interior of the old Provincial Building has been lovingly refitted and filled with antiques (iPhone6) …

Double-bed in the boutique "Sheriff

The Sheriff’s Office
… and operates as a charming boutique hotel: The Old Courthouse Inn.

Derelict two-story wooden home, Powell River BC Canada

Derelict
The wet weather takes its toll, and not all of the buildings have kept up.

Front stairs of the Arbutus Apartments, Powell River BC Canada

Arbutus Apartments
Build as the Oceanview Apartments in 1916 for married employees without children, the beautifully maintained Arbutus Apartments remind us again that the whole raison d’être for the township …

Looking past St Luke

Mill Smoke and Roof Work
… was the mill, which as Catalyst Paper Mill, still operates. In its glory-days, the paper produced here supplied 25 newspaper outlets. In the foreground, you can see a carpenter working on the eaves of St Luke’s Hospital, originally built in 1913 by Dr Henderson.

While wood, and timber products, are still important to the livelihood of the Sunshine Coast, the area is reinventing itself as a centre for recreation, tourism, and retirement living. The forests still play a major role: providing a beautifully aesthetic backdrop, places to walk and sit, pulp for specialised papers, timber-products for modern building, and beautifully grained woods for homewares and artworks.

And, of course, plenty of fresh air. Text: Happy Travels

‘Till next time,

Happy Travels!

Pictures: 08-  June2016