We are in the coastal town of Bahia de Caraquez, which is known as an eco town. Also, someone who works for Planet Drum Foundation, a group I’ve worked with, manages a sustainability project here. But this town was severely hit by an earthquake 2 years ago, there is still rubble. This is life in the developing world.We wonder if this impacted on eco projects. We will be here a few days, I will connect with my contact person. We will also hike. Feliz ano nuevo!
The bus ride from Banos to Cuenca took us through high Andes canyons, past crashing rivers, through farm land bordered by high peaks and through some beautiful towns. It also took us through some dust filled towns and a congested, polluted city that screamed Poverty! People with broken teeth leaned against buildings, apparently with nothing to do. This of course is the legacy of imperialism and colonialism. The world’s contradictions smack you in the face in the developing world. Some say beauty is a bourgeois luxury that is irrelevant to oppressed people. Others say it is essential to them, that it is their strength and survival, and they appreciate it more than we comfortable ones do. I am with the second opinion, although this may be a naive First World hope. I will explore this question more on this trip and beyond. I know that awareness of life’s bittersweetness sings for me, I have reason to believe it is useful for all. But I must work on this.
We are in Cuenca, a lovely town in the southern Andes. More to come.
Literally. This is a region of ancient volcanic ash formations in wild shapes. Fairy chimneys are high towers like inverted cones of all sizes. People have carved houses in the sides of these cliffs, they are warm in winter and cool in summer I am told. We also visited an underground city. Ancient settlers built on these to escape heat and cold. Early Christians expanded them and used them as shelter during times of Roman persecution. We also saw inns for silk road traders cut into cliffs, and an old monastery. Pigeon Valley, home to many pigeons, is a lovely creekside hike . And we climbed to an old church cut into a cliff, complete with frescoes from the 11th century, it is thought. We usually explore alone rather than taking tours, but this got to remote areas and the guide was knowledgeable, and a hoot. And Turkish delight is yummy!
This one huge city. You don’t grasp that until you take a ferry Mon the Bosperous and get some perspective.It is a beautiful ride but astounding, there is one main financial district and 5 others 9,000,000 people it all hits home. We went to one of the Prince Islands. Part of it was crowded, a Jersey shore kind of thing. We walked up a hill to a lovely area with quiet streets and great views of the Bosperous.
We will miss Istanbul, although the crowd are tiresome and it is time to move on. I do highly recommend that you come here. It is fascinating, beautiful, and romantic. We felt totally safe everywhere, and yes, we found lots of great veggie food. Next post will be from the geological wonderland of Capadocia, tomorrow or the next day.
I will be brief because of the connection. We visited Tokapi Palace, administrative center for the Ottoman Empire, home to the sultan, their families, their concubine, and many more, about 5,000 people. It was an educational center as well. The palace wound up with the best food in the Empire. Many decisions about war, peace, economics, etc.were made here, the sultan had the final say, of course. There was a big collection of beautifully decorated weapons, including swords inscribed with elaborate prayers. Fascinating place, but the world does not need royalty.
Then we visited part of the Asian side of Istanbul, yes, this city lies in both Europe and Asia. We walked through a beautiful neighborhood with winding streets climbing high hills, pedestrian areas and big squares. About a decade ago the government wanted to pave a park here. This led to big demonstrations for democracy. The park remains, we saw it, and Turkey is more democratic than many other places. There e were wonderful views of the Bosperous, too. And next time you are I’m Istanbul, have some Turkish rice pudding with chocolate sauce.
This morning we visited Haggia Sophia. Constantine had the original church built in the 300s. It was burnt during a riot, as long with its successor. It seems like riots were common in the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Justinian began the present structure during the sixth century. When Sultan Mehmet conquered Contantinople in 1453, he changed it into a mosque. Attaturk, the very seckular president made it into a museum in the 1930s.
The building is gorgeous, high dome ,multiple pattterned stained glass windows. For years Islam prohibited representation of humans in art. There are very large and dramatic Arabic sentences on the wall, I have no idea of what they say.Some of the Byzantine mosaics remain. They sometimes show an emperor seated next to Christ. They believed that, but it is still beautiful work.
We made our way around town when a tumultuous thunderstorm hit. The guards at a mosque let a large group of folks take shelter there, us among them. It was an international community of wet people, and a group of locals had a prayer service in the middle of it all. This is the kind of thing that happens when tyou travel free form. More to come, watch this space.
The connection. At our hotel is weak, these posts may be brief. We are fine, thiss city is astounding! Whatever you think of Islam, hearing “There is no God but Allah…” chanted from 4 mosques in unison means we aren’t in America. The mosques are beautiful, we visited the Blue Mosque today, more to come. We visited the Islamic Museum of Science and Technology (fascinating) and wandered through a beautiful park. Ice cream scoopers are masters of illusion, google this for videos,and the famous cats are everywhere. Connection may die, I will try to figure this out and write more later.
It was cold and rainy today, the subway is the most confusing I have seen since Tokyo. But London is fascinating. We wound uan 11th century church with a tomb of a poet who was friends with Chaucer, Shakespeare’s church.
We walked along the Thames to the Tate Modern Art Museum, fine stuff. England swings, come to London. Next post will e from Istanbul in a few days.
This is one wild city. The traffic charges like a metal avalanche and how do you cross the street? But the whole world flows through here. We are in a student district in south London ewkith a strong Middle Eastern population. Good restaurants abound. There is also a community library that was set up after funds for the city one dried up, a cafe that promotes fair trade coffee and tea and works to find jobs for ex inmates, and a great eclectic bookstore. There are signs about how this area was hit by V2s in 1944. There is a nice community park and a wildlife sanctuary, which was locked, sadly. And if you know San Francisco, Telegraph Hill is nearby, complete with a flock of wild parrots!