Travel Pinch Me Moments

“You have to travel to see new light, find new hope, renew the mind and revitalize the soul.” Lailah Gifty Akita

It was summer in January on a beach in Napier, New Zealand.  The weather was hot and the sun was setting at 930 PM. The moon was out at the same time.  My new friend pinched the fingers of both her hands together and said, “This is a pinch me moment”.  I had heard of pinch me moments when someone wins an Academy Award or accomplishes a dream but I had never heard of it standing on a beach watching a sunset.  She explained that, “You pinch your fingers to save the moment. When I am sitting in my kitchen in England and I look out the window at the dreary weather, I will remember this moment.” 

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 As I watched the moon that night, it made sense that it is also the small moments that resonate in our minds. They are part of the story making events of our lives. Here are some of my travel pinch me moments. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Looking out at the balloons in the air over Cappadocia, Turkey.

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Watching the sun set over the Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

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Rainbow over Iguazu Falls, Missiones, Argentina

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Angor Wat, Cambodia

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Walking on the beach in Varadero, Cuba

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 Sailing on the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

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Machu Picchu .

Seeing the elephants up close in Kruger National Park, South Africa

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The Tori Gates on Myajima, JapanIMG_1074

The view of the volcano in Santorini, Greece

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Amazing Travel Days

Ten Amazing Travel Days

“It’s a perfect day, drank Sangria in the park, later on when it gets dark, we go home”  Lou Reed

A perfect travel day is when everything falls seamlessly into place. There are days when you experience amazing things because the world is an incredible place. I picked ten of my favorite days

Cappadocia , Turkey

Cappadocia could be among my favorite places in the world.  The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities.

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Floating across the sky at sunrise, above the lunar-like, rugged moonscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon was one of the most incredible mornings of my life and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Dubrovnik and Peljesac Penninsula, Croatia

I had a great time in Croatia with my kids. A particularly beautiful day was spent exploring the Peljesac Peninsula with our tour guide Petar Vlasik http://www.dubrovnikrivieratours.com.  We stopped at a few different wineries for wine tasting. Ston is a fortified city from the middle ages with stone ramparts said to resemble a small great wall of China. Ston is known for their lush oyster beds and salt pans and is a great place to eat the freshest oysters and buy salt.

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That night we attended a really good jazz concert at the Old Rectory Church in Dubrovnik. It was a great family memory.

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Onsets and Ryokans, Japan

Ryokan are Japanese style inns found throughout the country in hot springs resorts. Ryokan are a traditional Japanese experience, incorporating elements such as tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and local kaiseki ryori (eight course typical Japanese meals with local and seasonal specialties).

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The main activity besides eating is bathing. The geothermal springs located throughout the country( onsens) provide hot mineral-rich water for indoor and outdoor baths. The chemistry, temperature, pressure, buoyancy, sulfa and magnesium of thermal baths have curative properties . The meals show all that is beautiful about Japanese culture. Kaiseki is a multi course meal rooted in the Buddhist idea of simplicity. I have been fortunate to visit a few ryokans in Nikko, Yufuin and Iso Nagaoka. Each one has been special.

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Marajo, Brazil

Marajo is an island in Brazil in the state of Para at the mouth of the Amazon. It is the size of Switzerland and home to many beautiful birds and water buffalo.

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The story goes that a ship laden with goods and water buffalo from India hit a reef and sank off the coast of Marajo. Some of the buffalo escaped the wreck and swam to shore. The buffalo are descendants of this shipwreck though now more have been brought in. There are large herds of domesticated water buffalo on the island. At Fazenda Sanjo you can experience life on a farm in the Amazon. There is piranha fishing, riding and milking buffalo, canoeing and horseback riding through the river with the buffalo. We did the riding with the buffalo. It was definitely the most different thing I have ever seen up close and pretty amazing.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a summer theatre festival that includes cutting edge theatre, interesting comedians, and everything else. It is a festival where anyone can perform and my daughter’s high school took advantage of that and had a three-week summer program in Edinburgh. My son and I went to see her perform. It was my first time at the Edinburgh Fringe. Being a theatre person, I loved every minute of it and have been back a few times.

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My son worked there the following summer. The Royal Mile is the definitive part of the fringe. This road is packed full of street entertainment, groups doing excerpts from their shows (mainly musicals) and lots, lots and lots of acts trying to flyer you to get you to see their shows. There’s not really any equivalent to this anywhere else. Theatre goes on all day and all night. We had a blast.

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Cartagena, Colombia

The heat in Cartagena gives it a sleepy feeling which kind of makes it okay to sit on the wall, browse through shops and street vendors, buy fresh fruit from a woman carrying it on her head and not go to a museum.

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La Boquilla is a poor fishing village twenty minutes outside of Cartegena. It is a peninsula at the end of a beach with the Caribbean Sea on one side and a lake with mangroves on the other. The guide takes you on an old canoe through mangrove tunnels with flocks of birds and fishermen fishing for crabs ,shrimp and small fish.

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After the canoe they pull out a fresh coconut and make a hole for a straw with a machete. I walk for a long time on the beach with my feet in the Caribbean Sea. I have lunch on the beach of fresh fish, plantains and coconut rice.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez became a writer in Cartegena. His novel Love in The Time Of Cholera Is set here. It is one of my favorites. I see Fermina riding in the horse and carriages and Florentino wandering everywhere in despair. You can see how much of Cartegena is in his books.

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Hoi An, Viet Nam

Hoi An is one of the most charming cities in Viet Nam .Hoi An’s Old Quarter is lined with two-story old Chinese buildings that now house shops with elaborately carved wooden facades and moss-covered tile roofs.

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The food market reminds visitors of another era when it was filled with goods from all over the Asia. (mangos, rambuchan, snake wine) Hoi An is a place where you can get clothes and shoes made at a reasonable price as long as you have a picture. It is also one of the best eating cities in Viet Nam and known for cooking classes and especially delicious food.

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After spending the day in the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Hoi An, i head back to the Nam Hai all-villa resort on quiet Hoi An Beach. The contemporary architecture is welcoming and eye-catching as feng shui mingles with strong modern lines.

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The Spa at the Nam Hai is truly something wonderful. Composed of 8 villas, floating around a lotus pond, it is the ideal location for a relaxing massage, steam shower and herbal tea! The people who work there are most helpful and always want to practice their English.

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Venice, Italy

Every corner you turn in Venice ,you walk deeper into some real-life watercolor painting that a camera can never do justice. It’s like no place else I’ve ever been.

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It’s  a maze of canals and small streets, whimsical bridges, and colorful buildings. And as with all mazes, you should prepare to find yourself lost a time or two. I was there with my kids and a friend,  It was during the Art Biennale in the summer.

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We got to see incredible modern art from all over the world in the morning and explore the city in the afternoon.

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An important Venetian holiday is held on the third week in July. It is the Feast of the Redentore commemorating the end of the plague that killed fifty thousand people including Titian. The fireworks display is so extensive and significant that the re-election of the mayor is contingent on their quality (sort of like us picking a governor based on his movies) I have to add that they were the most incredible fireworks of our lives –I hope that mayor got re-elected.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

It started in Tigre, a port a half hour from Buenos Aires. We sailed through the different rivers of the Delta Del Parana.

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At lunchtime, we went to Tres Esquinas in Barranca, a working class barrio in Buenos Aires for steak and empanadas. I love outdoor markets but the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego  in San Telmo is a phenomenon. The antiques are around the plaza but the shopping continues with arts and crafts vendors for many blocks. It is curbside capitalism at its finest.

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La Confiteria Ideal did not start as a tango hall but as  a pastry café in 1912. In the nineties it became a tango hall. Its faded glamour was a perfect background for the faded glamour of the tango dancers I saw that day. Dance has been a big part of my life. Andres Miguel my tour guide is a tango dancer.  tango@culturacercana.com.ar  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food and shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect day.

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Krueger National Park, South Africa

My daughter and my new son-in-law  were married on a safari In South Africa with sixty-five of their closest friends and family. A game park in Africa is an unlikely wedding destination. (We Love Pictures)

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You know that word that we Americans overuse for everything – awesome? i didn’t expect to have the feeling of humbleness and awe I had when seeing the African animals in the wild up close. There are moments of joy in your life. Watching your daughter get married to the right guy   in the peace and beauty of the African Bush is a distinctive moment of happiness. Watching your son officiate the wedding with intelligence, humor, kindness, sensitivity and even a bit of spirituality  (albeit in the form of animals)  makes it perfect.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

My Top Ten Instagram Photos This Year (travelwellflysafe)

“Just give me a thousand words and you may make your own pictures.”
Erica Goros

I have been instagramming for about half of the year. I see the world in pictures anyway so it is really fun for me. I learn as I go. I have “internet brain” now. i think it’s going to be a real thing. It is getting harder and harder to immerse myself in a book or lengthy article. It is much easier to spend time looking at photos that have nothing to do with anything, places I want to go or have been or finding the perfect emoji to put on my comment. My topic hopping, time-wasting, hashtagging, bad spelling sessions have resulted in this blog. (No particular order)

#sunset (Yesilkurt,Turkey)

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#hiking in#redmountain (St. George, Utah)

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impossibly#wide #beach (Marajo, Brazil)

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Can you take a bad #Venice photo? (Italy)

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#car in#cuba (Varadero,Cuba)

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#streetart in #bogota (Colombia)

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Holding up the #mountain just noticed the #cross (Tilcara, Jujuy, Argentina)

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#cactus or #cacti  (Jujuy, Argentina)

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#sunset makes the best #photo (Izmir, Turkey)

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Another boring day in #marajo (Belém, Brazil)

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None of my LA photos made it into the top ten. Instagram likes me out-of-town, with mountains, a beach and a great sunset. I agree.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Things I Have Learned In Misiones, Argentina (Iguazu Falls)

Things I Have  Learned In Misiones, Argentina (Iguazu Falls)

“They say that people who live near waterfalls, don’t hear the water.”

Jonathan Safran Foer

Misiones is a province in Northeast Argentina. It is surrounded by Paraguay, Brazil and Corrientes Province.  It was part of Paraguay in the 1800’s.

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The land is mostly covered in a subtropical forest. (Emilio White – photographer)

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The rocks and soil have a high iron content giving the ground a red color.

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Paraguay is the largest producer of marijuana in the world. (no it is not, it is yerba maté which is also grown here)

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Yerba Mate is grown in Misiones and Corrientes provinces of Northeast Argentina. It was originally cultivated by the Guarani people. it called mate after the gourd it is drunk from. It is a stimulant but has less caffeine than coffee or tea.

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You can get to Paraguay in ten minutes by  rowboat.

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San Ignacio Mission was one of the many missions founded in 1632 by the Jesuits in what the Spanish called the Province of Paraguay in the Americas during the Spanish Colonial Period.

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This is an odd admission fee price breakdown.

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The history of these ruins will be familiar to anyone who has seen the movie “The Mission” with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons. It is one of the most beautiful musical scores by Ennio Morricone  from a movie and the themes go around in my head as I walk through the ruins. (Play music)

It was designated a world heritage site by Unesco and World Monument site.San Ignacio Miní was included in the inaugural 1996 Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.

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The impressive well-preserved  ruins are “ Guarani Baroque style” .  The mission guides explain how the missions were maintained and run.  Originally the Guarani joined the missions to escape slavery by Paraquay and Brazil.   Eventually the Spaniards got rid of the Jesuits to enslave the Guarani themselves,

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The Guarani are a group of indigenous people who live in Paraguay, Brazil and Misiones.(Guarani selling orchids on the side of the road)

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There is 1 per cent left of the Atlantic Rainforest in Missiones. Conservationists are working very hard to save what is left. There are many endangered animals birds and fish and amphibians – including the giant otter, anteater, jaguar and tiger, Brazilian merganser and harpy eagle and crocodiles. (Emilio White- photographer)

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Iguazu Falls are the waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu.

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The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 1.67 miles of the Iguazu River.  (Emilio White photographer)

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Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (head of cow) was the first European to find the falls in 1541. One of the falls on the Argentine side is named after him. The falls were rediscovered by Boselli at the end of the nineteenth century and another Argentine fall is named after him. (Emilio White -photographer)

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No, I am not on this boat. Yes, that is a real rainbow.

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Iguazu Falls has the greatest annual flow of any waterfall in the world. The water falling over Iguazu in peak rainy season has a surface of about 40 hectare (1.3 million ft.).  They are taller and twice as wide as Niagara Falls. IMG_1522

 Do not feed the Coati. The photos will explain.

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The Devil’s Throat (Gargantuan Del Diablo), a U-shaped, 82 meter high (269 feet), 150 meter wide and 700 meter long (490 by 2300 ft) cataract, is the most impressive of all marking the border between Argentina and Brazil.

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Two thirds of the falls are in Argentine territory.

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The water from the lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that drains the Parana River in Argentina, shortly downstream form the Itaipu Dam.

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How is the water?

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Iguazu Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left a large crack in the earth.

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The best time to see the falls are in Spring and Autumn. Summer is intensely hot and humid and in winter the water level is much lower.

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Seeing Iguazu Falls, I stand in awed wonder. They are my first important waterfalls. You know that man can never create anything this perfect. It will always be a favorite place for me. They will be my reminder of beauty and power in nature and life,

Special thanks to my guide, wildlife photographer Emilio White, for sharing Misiones and the rainforest with me. It is always best to see something for the first time with someone who is as passionate about the rainforest as Emilio is. He is currently working on a book about the Atlantic Rainforest and Iguazu Falls, I can’t wait to see it.

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Buen Dia and Fly Safe,

JAZ

 

Things I Have Learned In Jujuy, Argentina

Things I Have Learned  In Jujuy, Argentina

‘Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.”

~Annie Dillard

The Train to the Clouds makes up one of the most important attractions in this area because of its distinct building and engineering.

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It is now closed but you drive along this route of unique beauty where the mountains touch the clouds.

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The Puna is part of the barren high altitude landscape that stretches across the Altiplano in Northern Argentina. It is around 4000 meters high.

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The Altiplano (high plain) is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet.

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You don’t see much except wild vicunas and guanacos.

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The viaduct at La Polvorilla is the last stop of the Tren A Las Nubes at 4200 meters above sea level.

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Las Nubes means the clouds. It is a word you quickly learn in Salta and Jujuy (between 10-14,000 ft. above sea level most of the time.) There is the train to the clouds,  restaurant in the clouds, farm in the clouds, gym in the clouds, winery in the clouds,  hotel in the clouds, store in the clouds, etc. In other words, you are very high up in the Andes.

San Antonio de Los Cobres is one of the highest altitude towns on the Puna and is known because it is one of the stops on the Train to the Clouds. That’s about it.

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The cold wind rips through us and it turns out that it is the windiest day in thirteen years. We are at our highest altitude of 14,000 feet. The altitude headache is kicking in and it is freezing.  But I have been in a cozy restaurant drinking fresh coca tea, eating llama and lentils, and talking about the rainy season and mine exploitation.

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It is not a good day for a drug test when you are at high altitudes in the Andes chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea. The test is for coca, not the chemicals that turn it into cocaine.

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It takes about three hours on an unpaved dirt road to go from San Antonio  to Salinas Grandes.  When someone tells you that you are taking the road alongside the train to the clouds, it sounds so exciting, but  why do they forget to tell you it is unpaved and very rocky?

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A stunning natural phenomenon, these salt flats took about 22 million years to form the current topography. Salt deposits from a since-disappeared body of water cover the ground here, forming a durable surface that appears snowy from a distance and almost fossil-like up close.

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Salt  can have a big glare, when not in a salt shaker and laid out in salt flats of 8,290 kilometers.

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The pueblos of Purmamarca, Tilcara and Huamahuaca are on the main highway to the Bolivian border. (Pucara of Tilcara-pre Inca fort)

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This entire area is the Quebrada de Humahuaca . a UNESCO site for its villages and natural scenery.

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The towns are more interesting in Jujuy than Salta.

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We see no tourists here from the United States but you can always find South Americans, a few Germans and Australians, and of course the British. They go everywhere.

The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead.

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One of the markers of the Tropic of Capricorn is in Jujuy province in Northern Argentina.

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This beautiful church in Uquia is one of the many colonial churches in Jujuy. It has a fine collection of paintings from the Cusco School of Art . (the Incas were taught to paint for the Spanish and put their own symbols in the paintings)

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There are nine angel paintings. When the Indians were told to paint angels,  they did not know what they looked like. The Spanish told them that they look like us, but with wings. They painted soldiers with swords, spears and wings. The most beautiful wings that the Indians knew were the ones from the flamingos of the highland lakes and so the wings in the paintings on the soldiers are pink. The angels have very red cheeks from the wind in the northern Andes against the Spanish fair skin.  (no photographs please)

The seven colored mountain of Purmamarca pink, green, grey, purple, orange, brown, white) is pretty impressive as far as colored stone goes .

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It shows many geographical ages.

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The mountain is a backdrop for the village.  Everyday, there is a big handicraft fair in the main square of the village which adds even more colors.

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Purmamarca was my favorite place on this trip. Hiking in the colors of the mountain made me feel like I was in some amazing painting.

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I have so many beatuiful photos it was hard to pick just a few.

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Tilcara is a lively Andean village . There is an arts and crafts market and many restaurants around the main square. There are many gatherings in restaurants at night with live traditional music (sometimes from the guests) and local food.

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Indigenous cultures are very much alive in these mountain pueblos.

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Humahuaca is a pueblo in the Humahuaca Valley, 10,000 feet above sea level.   Many Bolivian immigrants sell traditional Andean crafts and coca leaves. The architecture, adobe houses, street lamps and cobblestone streets are all from another time.  The ancestral customs continue here.

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The historic Cabildo building (town hall) is the home of the main tourist attraction. There is a stellar performance by San Francisco Solano, a mechanical  statue with waving arms that blesses the audience of tourists and locals every day at noon. It comes complete with music blaring from the nearby Church of the Candelaria..

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Gauchito Gil is another folk saint. He was the Argentine Robin Hood who got tired of fighting in the Civil War  and protected the poor instead. He was found in the forest by a general and pleaded for his life. He said to his murderer, “Your son is very ill, if you pray to me, he will live.” This turned out to be true. Again the story spread. Today, small red shrines can be found on the roadsides of most northern Argentine motor-routes, and great pilgrimages are organized to his sanctuary in Corrientes.  Drivers believe that if they fail to acknowledge or leave offerings to the saint during their journeys, they may crash or breakdown. You can find red flags along the  route.  When I was checking the facts (yes, I do that) I found out that Gauchito Gil also has a facebook page.

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Traveling with Daniel Salazar from Cultural Xplorers is never boring.  His sense of humor, adventure, kindness, shopping skills, intelligence and knowledge of many things made this trip so much fun. I also have to thank him for being my personal photographer most of the time, and I hope we will remain friends.

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It is always good for a New York city kid to spend some time in small villages in Argentina. When you are young, it looks like just the kind of places to escape from, when you get older, you are not so sure.

Buen Dia And Fly Safe,

JAZ

Wineries Of Salta, Argentina

Wineries of Salta, Argentina

“In wine, there is truth.” Pliny the Elder

A decision that you will have to make everyday in Salta  is  –  Malbec or Torrontes? There is no wrong decision.

Salta does have some of the best Torrontes in Argentina. Though it is widely planted in Argentina, it seems to do best in Salta Province.

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Many of Salta’s vineyards are planted at dizzyingly high altitudes in the mountains and foothills. The mountains serve as both climate protection and irrigation. Grapes grown here reach perfect ripeness and acidity without becoming too extracted or alcoholic.

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A bodega is a winery.

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The Bodegas of Salta are at lower latitudes and higher altitudes than anywhere else on Earth. Interestingly, these two factors balance each other out; the cold temperatures associated with high altitude are tempered by the high temperatures found at equatorial latitudes. The combination creates an unexpectedly excellent climate for quality wine making.

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Some of the vineyards are at altitudes of 10,000 feet. The latitudes are as low as 24 degrees south.  Their proximity to the equator is similar to such places as Egypt and Mozambique.

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Malbec, Merlot, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most prominent red wine varieties in Salta, while Chardonnay and Torrontes  are their most respected white wines.

Tannat is a little-known grape, originally from Southwest France.

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If you are a person who gets carsick, you should probably make sure you take proper measures before attempting this ride to the high altitude vineyards. Even then, it will not be good. But later in the day when you feel better, it will have been worth it.

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Fresh air and shopping  can be helpful with car sickness.

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So can a good meal of carbs at Vinos de Payogasta off Ruta 40. (humitas – like a tamale but much creamier inside, lentil soup, homemade ice cream with dulce de leche)

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A tour of this small family run winery is interesting. (Salta Wine Route -Vinas de Payogasta). The wine was good. I brought some back from here.  (four planes and a lot of driving on unpaved roads and every bottle arrived intact!!!) The manager was so passionate in how he talked about winemaking. It was wine from the heart.

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If you are driving to Colome from Salta City you will have to drive through the Molinos River-always. It is much easier to go in the dry season when we did it. If you are driving in the rainy season, it is best to start out against the current and then go with it. That doesn’t always work.  You can still get stuck and your car may turnover and never be the same.

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Colome, Salta is one of the world’s highest vineyards.  Donald Hess, an eccentric billionaire  planted vines high up on the mountain , at 10,206 feet.  He had them certified by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the highest vineyards in the world.

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The James Turrell Museum opened in 2009  at the Colome Vineyards.  James Turrell is a contemporary artist who works with light in space. He does incredible installations and has retrospective shows running In NY and LA.

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I know I have seen  more narcissistic  things than some billionaire opening a small modern art museum for an artist he collects in the middle of  a winery, at 10,000 feet above sea level,.that doesn’t get much foot traffic, and shows eight installations.  At the moment, I can’t think of what that could be. The museum is closed Mondays and you should probably call during the rainy season.

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Colome Bodega is the oldest vineyard in Argentina. It is celebrating its 180th birthday.  The Hess family bought it in 2001.

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The road from Molinos to Cafayate  is not so paved.

Cafayate is very quiet during siesta time (12-5)

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The wines of Cafayate are strong and flavorful with intense color.

It was here that Jesuit missionaries first planted grape seeds from Peru in the 1550’s, having failed with an earlier attempt near Buenos Aires.

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The Jesuits began the first vineyards in Cafayate, to make wine for church.

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In Cafayate you can have wine flavored ice cream at Heladeria Miranda. (malbec or torrontes?)

Finca De Las Nubes in Cafayate  means farm in the clouds. The wines are farmed organically-no chemicals, clean air, pure water and altitude. (and also our best lunch – fresh sheep goat and cow cheeses with avocado and baked apple and of course meat)

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Wine barrels make excellent tables. (Finca De Las Nubes)

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Jose Luis Mournier has made wine here for almost twenty years. He came from Mendoza and wanted to build a winery to leave to his children. The winery is so high up in the mountains that on some days it is literally in the clouds.

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Argentina is the fifth leading wine-producing country in the world. It is the largest wine-producing country in the southern hemisphere. Salta is tiny compared to other Argentine wine regions and only produces 1% of Argentina’s wine.

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Though Salta had these natural advantages, it has only been in the last ten years  that the bodegas of Salta have really learned how to improve the quality of their wines. At this rate, they could become one of the important wine regions in the world.

Buen Dia and Fly Safe,

JAZ

 

 

A Perfect Day In Buenos Aires

A Perfect Day In Buenos Aires

“Without the streets nor dusks of Buenos Aires a Tango cannot be written.” Jorge Luis Borges

Every morning is a new beginning.   Sometimes, when you are fortunate, it is just another perfect day.

It started in Tigre. Tigre is still an important timber processing port about a half hour outside of Buenos Aires. The “Puerto de Frutos” (fruit port) is now a crafts fair located in the old fruit market by the riverside.

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I looked at the brown murky water (it is clean but filled with sediment not pollution) and lush foliage and really wanted to explore.  Andres, my tour guide said his boat was nearby. (unplanned). His boat is named Juan D’Arienzo after a famous tango orchestra director.

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We sailed off through the different rivers of the Delta del Parana. It was Sunday and many people were out in their rowboats. We passed the supermarket boat bringing supplies and also the public bus boat.  We saw the church and school and many of the homes on the islands.

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I loved being on that river, It was a calm and peaceful day but I knew it could change in a minute  with a rainstorm, wind or dry spell.  Are we like that also? Always moving and then  changing when things happen?

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Tres Esquinas means three corners and is named after a famous tango.  The restaurant is located in Barracas, a working class barrio in Buenos Aires .  It is definitely a local place to have steak and empanadas. It was filled with families having their large midday meal. We had a couple of empanadas each.  They were muy sabroso. I think it was about two dollars. (I am bad at conversion) delicious and economical.

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I love outdoor markets but the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego  in San Telmo is a phenomenon. The antiques are around the plaza but the shopping continues with arts and crafts vendors for many blocks. It is curbside capitalism at its finest.

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There  is so much to see – vintage soda water bottles, old telephones, mate cups and  kitchenware  are on display everywhere.  There is also a produce market. Tango dancers are on every corner. It seems as if everyone in Buenos Aires is here, shopping or hanging out. It was overwhelming even for a professional shopper like myself and so much fun to see.

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La Confiteria Ideal did not start as a tango hall but as  a pastry café in 1912. In the seventies it became a venue for concerts and many famous people performed here. But it the nineties it became a tango hall. It has been the location of many tango scenes from movies. Its faded glamour was a perfect background for the faded glamour of the tango dancers I saw that day.

I was there on a Sunday afternoon . They dance from three until nine. This is  very early for a milonga (place where people gather to dance tango) which doesn’t usually start until eleven. The dancers were mostly older and seemed to know each other. They had come here for many years. The men sat on one side and the women on the other.  The men signal silently for a dance across a crowded room with the nod of their head, a wink, or a raised eyebrow.

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The older generation danced with the awkward sensual grace of people whose bodies no longer moved the way they used to but their soul remembers.

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Tango is about emotional connection and trust. There’s a saying in Spanish that captures the importance of the embrace in tango: “El abrazo es mas importante que el paso” (The embrace is more important than the step) ). In the embrace there is trust without intellectual analysis.

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There was a lesson in watching these older people completely submit themselves to the dance and the moment. There was no before and no after  -simply dancing.

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The music of the tango is from the orchestras of the thirties fourties and fifties. It is the music of Buenos Aires. It is also some of the music of my childhood. My parents were folk and ballroom dancers. I learned the tango steps when I was five.  I can  play a few songs on the accordian. I never thought I would ever admit to that.  Watching the milonga tango dancers, brought back many memories of my childhood. It’s amazing how much you can remember with a few notes of a song. (Juan D’Arienzo , tango orchestra-I love this video)

Dance has been a big part of my life. Andres Miguel my tour guide is a tango dancer.  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food and shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect day. Muchas, muchas gracias Andres. tango@culturacercana.com.ar

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Buen Dia and Fly Safe

JAZ