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Self Portrait – In Maps

I have been saving my maps since my first international trip in 1975. When I see them now, they bring back memories of the routes I took and the adventures I had along the way. I sometimes made notes on my maps – of the roads I traveled, the towns I visited and the dates I was there. I didn’t think of maps as sacrosanct. They were user-friendly, there for adding details.

In these maps, I see my grape-harvesting job in France, a 3-week bicycle trip in the San Juan Islands with one of my sisters, road trips across Mexico, Panama  and Italy with my family, work trips to the Middle East, hiking in Hawaii, Alaska and around my home in the Rocky Mountains.

One of my favorite maps is a topo map of northern China. I went there in the early-90’s to do a “first descent” of a river in a remote area. It was so long ago, that without that map, I might not remember all of the towns we stopped in- and the lake in which I nearly swam (unknowingly) to North Korea. But with that map, the details are clear. I still use maps wherever I go – even if I have GPS – I take my map. This photo makes me realize that these maps are such a big part of me – and they make a very strong self-portrait.

Favorite Hotel: Santa Fe NM: Hotel St. Francis

I never want to leave the boutique Hotel St Francis in Santa Fe, NM. Its a feeling I have when I’m there – like I’m in the company of an old soul. I just want to sit back and listen.  A block from the Historic Plaza in Santa Fe, this hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with so many special touches – a pitcher of iced lemon water in the lobby, a wine tasting room, a beautiful front porch extending the length of the hotel…and the most incredible hospitality. Its reasonable priced, too. Highly recommended. I want to live there! www.hotelstfrancis.com.

 

   

 

Favorite Signs – St John, USVI

You have to admit that this island has character. Good character. Locals express themselves on local street signs … and in the street. Seems there’s always a note of humor, irony and, in some cases, an appeal to the higher conscience. In the case of the “Watch for Falling Goats” Sign – its about safety. The goats often hang around this area by the local dump. The hill is steep and they sometimes fall into the street. If they could read the sign, they might be more careful?

 

Island Jeeps – St John, USVI

In a post-Hurricane Irma/Maria tribute to one of my favorite places in the world, the island of St John, USVI, I am posting some favorite photos I have taken over the years of the island and its community. One of the things I love about St John is the cool island jeeps. They are works of art!

 

Snapshots Colombia

Things in Colombia that I can’t resist — in order of photos posted:

 

  

Arepas – Colombia

Besides the people (and the coffee … and the chocolate), the Colombian arepas are the best part of a visit to this country. An everyday staple, the arepa is breakfast, lunch and dinner – and, though the outer shell is corn-based, like the Mexico taco or Italian bread, there are endless variations on the recipe. The arepas at this local street-side restaurant were served with limes, hot sauce, a mayonnaise-based dressing.

 

 

Old-Fashioned Solar Eclipse

 

Lunch on the Gulf of Mexico

We had the most amazing food on the Gulf of Mexico in Campeche.

Look at this artistic presentation!

 

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Mayan Chocolate

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The Mayan civilization is believed to have started the cultivation of cacao to make chocolate. The Ecomuseo del Cacao, in the Yucatan Peninsula tells the story of Mayan Cacao. The Museum, located on the Puuc Route near the town of Ticul in the Yucatan peninsula, is a true find for history and chocolate lovers. The best part: the hot chocolate-making demonstration by local Mayans who hand crush and hand froth the chocolate before adding spices such as Canela (Cinnamon) Pimienta gorda (Allspice) and Chile (Hot Pepper). It’s out of the way and very much off the beaten track, but its well worth a stop in the jungle.

 

 

Jipi Hatmakers of Becal, Campeche

 

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Artisans in the town of Becal, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula weave these famous jipi hats. This is an art that has been practiced, in the case of some families, for generations. Many families in this small town have underground caves in their backyards which are used for weaving. This helps to keep the jipi plant cool and moist, making it easier to manipulate. This woman wove several hours a day for a few days a week. Her other work included plant prep, dyeing, and finish work. The family had a street front store in front of the house.

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Water + Go Pro camera + St John, USVI = An Unexpected Visual Adventure

Marquay Cat – Panama

The Marguay is a rare jungle cat.

This one was being rehabbed at the former Paradise Gardens in Boquete Panama. The Gardens, which have since closed, was a big draw for animal lovers everywhere.