Ten Cemeteries In The World To Visit Before You Die

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Ten Cemeteries In The World To Visit Before You Die

“Why’s that cemetery so popular? Everybody’s dying to get in!” unknown

Visiting a cemetery is a lot more interesting when you are alive. It is always a sometimes spooky, sometimes beautiful history lesson. Some of them are a resting place of famous people, some have really unusual memorials and others simply provide a surprisingly nice and tranquil walk. Here are some cemeteries to visit before you die.

Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place of the good, the bad, the beautiful and the rich people of Argentina’s past. It is a remarkable necropolis of tombs and mausoleums.  It is proportioned like a miniature village with its stately Greco-Roman crypts lining the narrow walkways. They believed “the bigger the mausoleum, the closer to God.“

It is less expensive to live your whole life in Buenos Aires than it is to be buried in Recoleta.When you enter the cemetery through the neoclassical gates (designed by  the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo.)  There are two messages in Latin. The message on this inside is from the living to the dead and says rest in peace. On the outside, it is from the dead to the living and says Wait for God.

You have found Eva Peron’s flower strewn monument when you see people. She is buried among the rich people who did not like her.

There are approximately eighty cats who live at the Recoleta cemetery.  They say that they are the guardians/tour guides of  the 4800 tombs and have been taken care of for twenty years.  Everyone including me  takes photos of them.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Jewish Cemetery was established in the first half of the fifteenth century.  It is one of the most important historic sites in Prague´s Jewish Town. The oldest tombstone, which marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, dates from the year 1439. Burials took place in the cemetery until 1787. Today it contains some 12,000 tombstones, al though the number of persons buried here is much greater. It is assumed that the cemetery contains several burial layers placed on top of each other.

Pere La Chaise, Paris, France

Cimetière du Père Lachaise is the most visited cemetery in the world. It is the hub of Paris’s dead rich and famous. The list of famous corpses now buried there includes Jim Morrison, Moiliere, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, and Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani. Wilde’s tomb is one of the garden cemetery’s most famous and is covered in the lipstick kisses of admirers. It is no accident that all these famous people are buried here. Established in 1804, the cemetery was first used for reburials from other parts of the city. In a macabre (and involuntary) form of celebrity endorsement, officials had high-profile bodies moved in to boost popularity. I hope to go in the spring. (as a visitor).

Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery, Jerusalem,  Israel

The Mount of Olives has been used as a Jewish cemetery for more than 3,000 years.Approximately 150,000 Jewish people are buried there including some of the greatest Jewish leaders, prophets, and rabbis of all time.Among the notable Jews buried here in biblical times were Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi and Absalom, the rebellious son of King David. In the modern era, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, author Shai Agnon, Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold and prime minister Menachem Begin and his wife Aliza were buried here as well.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

This place is the final act of studio founders, writers, directors, and performers in Hollywood history; it’s where the industry’s biggest players went to die like Mickey Rooney, Cecil B. De Mille and of course Toto. Appropriately, the scene here is full of gaudy tombstones, mausoleums, peacocks, palm trees, and reflecting pools. Live concerts and movie screenings aren’t uncommon on the cemetery’s manicured lawns.

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Romania

The “merry” cemetery features over 600 ornately carved, colorful wooden crosses, often with a dark or extremely literal take on the life of the body that lies beneath it. Each grave is adorned with a blue cross and a scene from the departed’s life – both good and bad. There is also a poem. The carpenter who carves the markers and composes the poems doesn’t hold back. There are references to drinking and cheating and even some mother-in-law jokes.

Okonoin Cemetery, Koya, Japan

This forested site on the side of Mount Koya is where Kobo Daishi — the founder of Shingon Buddhism — lies in eternal meditation and it’s where many devoted followers want to be buried. So many, in fact, that it’s the largest cemetery in Japan. Grave markers line the path to Daishi’s mausoleum, and each salvation-seeker’s tombstone is more unconventional and weirder than the last.

Two hundred thousand monks are buried there and waiting for the resurrection of the future Buddha. Look for the memorial dedicated by a local pesticide company to termites, and for statues that mimic monks and coffee cups.

St Andrews Cathedral Graveyard, St. Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Scotland that was built in 1158. Most of the grave stones are so old and worn that there is no writing left. Many famous pioneers and champions of golf are buried here.The most famous grave of the nineteenth century was the golfer young Tom Morris. Sometimes people leave golf balls on his grave for luck.

Highgate Cemetery, London,  England

Highgate is one of seven garden-like cemeteries that were built in a ring around London in the nineteenth century, when inner-city burial grounds had become overcrowded. Gothic tombs and buildings are now overgrown with ivy. Obelisks tower over its crypt-lined Egyptian Avenue, which leads to the Circle of Lebanon, a set of tombs built around an ancient cedar tree. George Eliot and Karl Marx are buried here a long with a poisoned Russian spy who’s name I don’t know.

Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, USA

As far as cemeteries in America go, there is none more famous or respected as the Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families have been laid to rest. The sweeping rows of white marble headstones, and the constant guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, are sobering reminders of the ultimate sacrifice that many have made.Tomb
Soldiers who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, and certain Veterans and Family members are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. So are Presidents.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

Some Of My Favorite Tour Guides

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Some Of My Favorite Tour Guides

“To let life happen to you is irresponsible. To create your day is your divine right.”Ramtha

A great tour guide is one that creates an experience that you will remember. The best guides I’ve had have left me wanting to go back to the destination or have left me feeling like I’ve made a new friend. I have had many amazing tour guides but I picked ten in no particular order.

Ogus Kaya, Turkey

Ogus is such a warm, friendly and truly motivated guide. He is organized and punctual. We traveled for a few weeks in Turkey with him. He taught us a tremendous amount about the history and architecture. I was obsessed with the Mosque architecture of Sinan. We felt that he wanted us to love Turkey as much as he did and i think everyone did.

One of the highlights of the trip was the balloon ride over Cappodocia. I like my feet on the ground and was not going to do it. He finally said that he would go with me. He reminded me that he had two small children and one on the way. This balloon ride became one of my most cherished travel memories which I would never have done without him. ogus 51@yahoo.com

Petar Vlasik, Croatia

Petar was my first internet tour guide. After a land tour and small boat tour both cancelled, I decided to take my kids and plan a trip through Croatia by myself with Petar. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this without a husband. It was before Trip Advisor. He was recommended by Rick Steves  (so i knew he wasn’t a serial killer). Petar was smart, funny and so knowledgeable about his beautiful country.

We had a wonderful trip. Croatia is still one of my favorite countries for those who have not been there yet. I did not listen to him about hotels and I was sorry. I learned from Petar that a good tour guide always knows best and to trust my instincts about internet tour guides. http://www.dubrovnikrivieratours.com

Dvir Hollander, Jerusalem, Israel

Dvir’s knowledge, insight, humor, non judgmental world view and kindness made touring this amazing city with him a special experience. We met at lunchtime and we were hungry. When Dvir recognized that we were kindred spirits about food, he described himself as a “ friendly dictator” when it came to where we should eat.

If you are going to Jerusalem, I highly recommend hiring him – not just for the delicious food, but for how much you will learn and experience. He has the unique ability to figure out just what you want to do and then he casually adds in what he feels you are missing. The trip was perfect. Contact him at hollander2000@gmail.com.

Guide Gift Bangkok,Thailand

Gift was another guide that I found online before trip advisor. I read the reviews on her page and went with my gut. She is knowledgeable, kind, and fun to be with. I felt like I was seeing Bangkok and Ayuthetta with one of my friends.

She has her plan but is always ready to change if there is something you want to do. She also knows a very good place for Thai Massage. When you are in a part of the world that feels very different from yours, Gift can make it feel like home.
http://www.privatetourthailand.com)

  Do Sy Quy “Buffalo Joe”Hanoi, Viet Nam

My guide in Hanoi  was Mr. Do Sy Quy. He was my first guide in Viet Nam  and set the tone for an amazing experience. “Buffalo Joe” is kind, friendly, funny, intuitive and very knowledgeable about Hanoi and Viet Nam history.

I connected with him immediately and feel like I have a friend in Hanoi. i will always remember our drive to and from Ha Long Bay and everything we did –  especially the Thanh Chuong Viet Palace. http://www.incensetravel.com

Andres Miguel, Buenos Aires, Argentina

i have had a few great guides in Argentina but I had to pick Andres Miguel because he is a tango dancer.  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food, shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He changed things around and went with what interested me.

The boat ride was an impromptu surprise as was eating at a family restaurant on Sunday for the best empanadas. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect Buenos Aires day.  tango@culturacercana.com.ar

Jose Villa, Cartagena,Colombia

The hot, sleepy city of Cartagena is such a special place and seeing it with Jose is the way to go. Being alone he let me tag along to teach English at their church and visit the music school his son Kevin attended..They were both knowledgeable and fun.

We saw the old city, beaches, markets, took a private boat to the islands, visited a fishing village, paddled a canoe through the mangrove tunnels and strolled the streets of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I stayed an extra few days because I loved this city and felt so safe and taken care of. http://cartagenadestiny.com

Carolina Velasquez Obreque, Santiago, Chile

Carolina was our tour guide in Santiago and Valparaiso. She was funny, knowledgeable and organized. She came to us through Vaya Adventures. We spent a beautiful day with her exploring the Casablanca wine region between Valpo and Santiago.

The trip was seamless – except when I lost that paper that they give you at customs when you land. Apparently it’s very important in Chile. She went with me to get a new one before driving to Valpo which is why I am home and able to write this. I highly recommend spending some time in Chile with her. https://www.vayaadventures.com

Michai Bojanowski , Wroclaw, Poland

Michai is a wonderful guide who loves his country. With knowledge and humor, we spent a long day in Wroclaw exploring the beauty of the city. He incorporates the darkness of the past as we explore the Jewish quarter. He has such passion for passing on the truth.

Before lunch I saw a street art drawing of man looking out the window. I ask about it. He tells me it is Poland’s most famous poet and playwright Tadeusz Różewicz.

After lunch, he has brought copies of a beautiful poem that he thought would go with what he was speaking about.He made sure we learned a little extra. I love that.  michal.bojanowski@chidusz.com

Wayne Thomas, Aukland, New Zealand

I usually don’t write  about a half day group tour of a city but I learned and retained more information with Wayne Thomas of Bush and Beach Tours http://www.bushandbeach.co.nz/, then any day tour I have ever been on.

He has a way of passing on knowledge that is sometimes funny and sometimes personal  that makes you remember it.  This is a wonderful welcome tour of New Zealand. I highly recommend him.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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

Things I Have Learned In Salta, Argentina

Things I Have Learned In Salta, Argentina

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Salta is a province in Northwest Argentina. Matt Damon and Robert Duvall are married to women from Salta.

One of the most beautiful drives in Argentina is from Cafayate to Salta City   through Quebrado de Cafayate -especially if red is your color.

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The view is  breathtaking. It looks like Arizona but  it is much more accepting of Hispanic people.

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Stops along the way include the dis Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), IMG_1129

snacks,

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a musician-friendly natural amphitheater, IMG_1134

other natural rock formations that look like a frog, a saint and an obelisk.(frog)

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and shopping,

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Anywhere you’d like to stop and take a photo  is worth it. IMG_1139

The road from Cachi to Molinos is not so paved.

Cachi is quiet.

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San Carlos is quiet.

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Molinos is quieter.

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IMG_0705 The house of the last Spanish governor has become the Hacienda Molinos and is the place to stay in Molinos.  I  didn’t see any other places to stay so literally it is the place to stay.

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This is the library in Molinos. This is the address of the library. If there is anything you can send them –  Spanish and English books, they can really use it. Send books to Norma Susana Fabian, Pje 9 de Julio S/N, Molinos C.P. (4419),  Provincia Salta C.P. 4400, Argentina.

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The library is the size of this table and the small number of books are old and worn.  People come in and borrow books  and Norma writes  it down in her notebook. IMG_0884

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Dont go to Molinos expecting things like tourist attractions,  restaurants, shopping and internet.  Do go expecting quiet, few cars, natural beauty, clean air,  kids playing soccer and riding bikes instead of video games,  a sky covered in stars,  horses and a lot of stray friendly dogs.

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And more dogs.  Molinos and all of these pueblos in the north, have their share of stray dogs.  They are only too willing to give you a tour of their town.

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And llamas IMG_1099

and horses

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and goats

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And sheep. ( and a pig who thinks he is a sheep) IMG_0721 And of course meat

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Coquena is a vicuna refuge outside of Molinos. IMG_0746

Outside Cachi you will find chilis drying in the sun on the side of Ruta 40. IMG_0696

Difunta Correa  (Deceased Correa) a is one of the best known Argentine alternative saints. She died of thirst in the San Juan desert around 1845. She was trying to find her husband in the army. She was carrying her baby who was found miraculously alive by gauchos.  In 1898 a famous gaucho prayed to Difunta Correa  to find his herd of  500 lost cattle and she did.  The story spread and a sanctuary was built around her grave. Cattle ranchers and truck drivers have created roadside altars. People leave water bottles to calm her eternal thirst. You will also see water bottles just tied to the side of the road for her. (I think it says this is my sanctuary you can pray to me for help but no garbage)

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Salta City has  the best collection of preserved colonial architecture in Argentina. It is  named Salta, La Linda because of the beautiful architecture.

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It has oddly colored churches -baby blue, burgundy and gold and shell pink. It is best not to wear a hat inside the church, though opinion is divided on that.

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MAAM Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana de Salta.  houses the perfectly preserved remains of three Inca children “given” to the gods 500 years ago. They were buried at the top of  the volcanoe Llullaillaco (6700 meters high). There is one child on display at a time. They look like they are sleeping. The children were believed to have been buried  as part of the Capacocha sacrifice. The sacrifices were performed on children, as they were seen to be the purest of beings. A beautiful male and  female  child would be chosen and then married.  The children were taken to the summit of a mountain, given an intoxicating drink to make them pass out and then they would be strangled, hit over the head or buried alive. The three children found at Llullaillaco were believed to have been buried alive during their sacrifice and are estimated to have only been 15, 7 and 6 years of age. It is disturbing to have this insight into the Inca culture and see what was done to children from the conquered tribes in the name of peace and unity.

Salta is also home to a world-class symphony orchestra, the result of a successful strategy several years ago of recruiting Eastern Europeans, virtuoso trained in the communist era, to play alongside and mentor local musicians.

The teleflorico San Bernando is  a way to get a view of the city usually reserved for incoming airplanes.

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The top of the mountain has a restaurant, various lookout points, a playground, waterfalls, a downhill biking adventure and an outdoor gym for the newest in high altitude workouts.

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Faster internet is coming to the Calchaqui valley. (see this road -we are directly facing this truck going in the opposite direction)

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Ponchos have been made in the Andes for hundreds of years. Argentines value artisans and Arnaldo Guzman does beautiful work.

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Quebrada de las Flechas (canyon of the arrows) is  located in the Calchaqui valley. It’s inclined pointy rock  formations and narrow gorges make it an interesting tourist site on Argentina’s route 40. IMG_0973 IMG_0970

It is some of the driest topography in the world and home  to a number of UFO sightings. IMG_0986

Los Cardones is a spectacular national park located ain the Calchaquíes Valley. It covers 65.000 hectares of hills and gorges, with an altitude ranging 2.700 and 5.000 m. It is filled with cardone cacti.( my new Bolivian/Argentine hat)

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The cacti stand  like giant sculptures with blue sky and the Andes in the background.

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The cardone cactus is the world’s largest cactus. It is most common in Baja California. Im from Southern California yet I had to go to Salta Argentina to see them for the first time. They grow slowly and can live up to 300 years.

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Cardone cacti are a source of wood that is apparently as strong as iron, and used for rafters, doors, ceilings, window frames, furniture, and souvenirs.

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Northern Argentina is a place filled with mountains that continually change colors, ancient indigenous culture and traditions, pueblos that go back in time and landscapes that keep on surprising you with their beauty.

Our  local tour guide  on this Cultural Xplorers trip (www.culturexplorers.com/)  was Homero Kosiner. We traveled for almost two weeks. He was easy-going, always happy, very knowledgeable and proud of his city and Northwest Argentina .No question was too small for Homero to answer. We covered a lot of ground on this trip and it was confusing to keep track of. Homero answered my questions over and over and is still answering. I also have to thank our driver Vicente Coria. Between the unpaved roads,  river beds,  narrow hairpin turns, mountain roads, one lane roads, animals, and hours of driving, Vicente was superb and always smiling.

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Viaje Con Cuidado,

JAZ