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

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The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

The Amazon Rainforest

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”Mahatma Gandhi

As humans we tend to blame other people for our environmental problems. Most of the Amazon region is located in Brazil and having spent time there I have to talk about deforestation. Though each of us are responsible for creating the problem in the environment, caring for the Amazon is most critical for our survival.

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The Amazon Rainforest is the largest remaining tropical forest on our planet. It is home to one-third of the world’s species; one-fourth of the world’s fresh water; one fifth  of the world’s forests; forty-eight billion tons of carbon dioxide in its trees and two hundred indigenous and traditional communities.

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The Amazon is also one of the fastest changing ecosystems, largely as a result of human activities, including deforestation, forest fires, and, increasingly, climate change.

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The current deforestation is  driven by industrial activities and large-scale agriculture. By the 2000s more than three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle-ranching.Vast areas of rainforest were felled for cattle pasture and soy farms, drowned for dams, dug up for minerals, and bulldozed for towns and colonization projects. At the same time, the proliferation of roads opened inaccessible forests to settlement by poor farmers, illegal logging, and land speculators.

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The  Emilio Goeldi  Museum is a research institute related to the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).  It was founded in 1866 in the city of Belém, in the state of Para.

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Since its creation, the museum activities have been divided up between the scientific study of natural and socio-cultural systems in the Amazon area, scientific communication, the diffusion of knowledge and collections from the region and formation. All the results obtained in these fields make the Emilio Goeldi  Museum one of the most important research centers in Brazil.

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The museum is composed of three different places: a zoological and botanical park in the city of Belém, a research campus on the outskirts of the city and a scientific station in the Caxiuanã National Forest.

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The Park has more than two thousand species of plants and around six hundred animals that are native to the Amazon region and seems to be a popular school trip.

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Brazil is taking steps to save the Amazon rainforest.

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Since 2004 there was a seventy per cent decline in deforestation. In 2012 Brazil’s forest code was updated for landowners to protect eighty per cent of the rainforest. Some countries followed but not many. Different Brazilian states had different outcomes. It is not a downward trend. In 2013 Para’s deforestation had doubled and in 2014 it was the lowest of the Brazilian states.

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Greed, economy, state and government regulations seem to play a part in the reversal of the trend. The most obvious explanation was the change in national policy – first to sharply restrict deforestation, then to loosen the restrictions a bit.

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Saving the environment requires all of us. We can’t expect the Brazilians to take care of it for us while we drive our cars or put chemicals in the air. It requires us all to be well informed citizens of the world. What is happening in the Amazon affects all of us  and we should be aware of what is going there. We have one quest and we need to do it with compassion and not blame for each other. I believe that what we do makes a difference. I can only hope the rest of the world feels the same way.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

Things I Have Learned In Rio, Brazil

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer” Unknown

Rio is named for a river that doesn’t exist. According to tradition, it was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers, who believed the bay they encountered (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river. They named the area Rio de Janeiro, “River of January.”

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Rio was capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when that role was transferred to Brasilia.

Rio’s locals are called carioca (a name also sometimes applied as an adjective to the city itself). It may have come from kari ola, or “white man’s house” in the indigenous Tupi language.

The food scene in Rio is laid-back. ( feijoada)

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You can happily grab some fried bar snacks and a caipirinha to enjoy on the beach, or head straight from the beach to a rodizio (all-you-can-eat). The tropical influence is also evident in the many choices of fruit juice stands (on every corner in Rio), and the abundance of açaí.

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Cariocas  have a habit of putting mustard and ketchup on their pizza. There are also amazing five-star and cool trendy restaurants with delicious food.

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In Brazil, there’s soccer (or futebol) and then everything else. Brazilians are obsessive, diehard fans and just about everyone plays, especially at the beach. Even for the Americans who now grow up playing soccer, your skills are no match for the footwork and volleying on display at the beach in Rio. Even the younger groups of kids are able to pass the airborne ball back and forth, using every part of their bodies from their heads to their shoulders to their knees, like its nothing.

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Rio explodes with energy and color during the five days before Ash Wednesday, when millions take to the streets for the world’s biggest Carnaval. The party starts on the Friday, when the mayor hands over the keys to the city to a man crowned as King Momo, a mythical jester who acts as the head of the festivities. Rio’s Carnival features hundreds of booze-soaked bandas (riotous street parties, often with specific themes) and elaborate balls. The party reaches its height at the Sambódromo, when the best samba schools in the country compete for top prize. On Ash Wednesday Carnival is officially over, and King Momo goes home.Carnaval has been called one of the seven wonders of the world.

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In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many types of city property, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery. Street artists are allowed to decorate columns, walls and construction siding so long as they’re not historically designated. The city has even created a quasi-government agency, Eixo Rio to regulate the city’s urban artists, and celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27—the date Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex died in 1987.

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Carmen Miranda conquered the silver screen as a singer, dancer and actress in both Brazil and America in the mid-20th century. The Carmen Miranda museum  is filled with memorabilia including her trademark platform heels and towering turbans of plastic or sequined fruit.

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Rio de Janeiro became a World Heritage Site in 2012.

Rio is where you will find two of the world’s most famous beaches – Copacabana and Ipanema. Ipanema isn’t as hectic and the waters are cleaner.  When you’re in Ipanema make sure to stop into Garota de Ipanema as it is where the famous song The Girl from Ipanema was written.

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The Art Deco Copacabana Palace built in 1923 faces the beach. It has hosted the rich and famous for ninety years. You definitely feel old Rio when you are there even though it has been completely redone.

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.There are two great places to get away from the craziness in Rio de Janeiro.The Botanic Gardens covering over 130 hectares is extremely peaceful and home to over 6,000 types of plants and trees. The Tijuca forest is the largest urban rainforest in the world. Here you can go on hiking trails, admire waterfalls and much more. (Tijuca forest)

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Museu de Arte de Rio (MAR) is Rio’s newest art museum. It is part new modern building linked with a traditional building  by a canopy supported by pillars. The views of Guanabara Bay and the massive Rio-Niterói Bridge from the top floor are amazing. There is classic and contemporary art as well as an interesting exhibit on the history of Rio.

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The Museu del Arte Moderna is another incredible building designed by architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy.

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It houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Brazilian art in existence and interesting temporary exhibitions as well.

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The Biblioteca Nacional is the largest library in Latin America, In addition to the books, visitors can also delight in the library’s stunning neo-classical architecture and intricate Corinthian columns.

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Brazil’s most famous dance – samba – has its origins from the African slaves that worked in the plantations in the State of Rio de Janeiro There are more than 200 samba schools in Rio.

Lapa is known as the best place in Rio to experience nightlife.  This fun and unique neighbourhood comes alive at night, when Samba music can be heard pouring out of nearly every doorway and locals can be seen swinging their hips away while sipping on tasty cocktails. It is filled with row after row of live music venues, tapas bars, and thumping clubs.

I have to thank my guide Gabriel Morand who went above and beyond to make sure I had an amazing time in Rio. I saw everything I wanted to see, ate well and bought everything I needed to buy. I loved Brazil and can’t wait to return.

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Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

The Gardens Of Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil

The Gardens Of Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”Marcus Tullius Cicero

Roberto Burle Marx is considered to be the father of modern landscape architecture. He grew up in Rio at the end of Copacabana Beach near the Pau De Acucar – Sugarloaf. He started arranging flowers at events and eventually began getting asked to design gardens.(self-portrait)

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He bought a property two hours outside of Rio near the small town of Guaratiba, it is called Sitio de Roberto Burle Marx and tours are available in Portuguese.

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Even if you are not a plant person, you know that you have entered a privileged space.

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He restored the old house and chapel and began propagating plants collected on numerous expeditions in to the wilds of Brazil.

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There are large areas of a single type of ground cover surrounding clumps of sculptural agaves, bromeliads, plumerias, dracaenas, clusias, palms and a myriad of other plants.

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The 100 acres have 3500 plant species.  Plants are always used to emulate the way they would grow in their natural environment.

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Over the years he developed an extraordinary landscape climbing the hill and introduced hundreds of previously unused plants to the gardening world.

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His interest in painting had a great influence on his designs.

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His drawings for gardens look like abstract works on paper.

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The gardens themselves usually contain large masses of vividly colored plants in a variety of textures, relying more on foliage than flower.

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They are laid out in bold sweeping forms.  Garden structure tends toward the architectural, often with rectangles that reflect the forms of surrounding buildings.

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As his fame grew, he was commissioned to design parks and gardens throughout Brazil, South America and abroad. Burle Marx collaborated with architect Oscar Niemeyer on Iberapuera Park in São Paulo. They worked on several projects together throughout the world and were good friends.

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The Copacabana waterfront with its long wave patterned mosaic sidewalk is perhaps the most renowned work by Burle Marx.

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The beach once fronted the buildings along the shore, but was actually moved to make room for the new Avenida Atlantica and large underground parking lots.  The wide sidewalk next to the Avenida is paved with the classic wave pattern that was originally used in Lisbon, Portugal for pavements when rebuilding parts of the city destroyed by a massive tsunami in 1755.  The sidewalk is 2.5 kilometers long and is one of the largest mosaics in the World.  The design perfectly frames the famed arc of sand backed by the Pau d’ Acucar. You will see a lot of Olympic Coverage here this summer.

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Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

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

 

The Favela – Project Morrinho

The Favela – Project Morrinho

“The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams – each according to his or her own talent.”Paul Coelho

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The story began in 1998 when Cirlan Souza de Oliveira a 14 year-old boy moved to the favela Periera da Silva in Rio de Janeiro.

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He and his brother decided to play with bricks they found in the back yard to create buildings inspired by the new places and surrounding buildings he saw. His efforts attracted seven young boys who began the creation of the replica of their community built into a hillside where they played out imaginary adventures with toys.

They kept it hidden to protect it and being in their mid teens they didn’t think it was”cool.” The ‘trafficantes” who controlled the area found out about it and encouraged the project. They thought it would help the kids in their community have opportunities so they did not become traffickers as well. Sometimes they came and played with the boys in the miniature city with their guns slinging behind them. The police after understanding that the traffickers had nothing to do with this project became encouraging as well.(utube by Cirlan Souza de Olivera)

.In 2001 the mini favela was visited by two documentary filmmakers, Fabio Gavião and Markão Oliveira. The filmmakers were so taken with their work that they developed a documentary about the project. Out of the documentary grew a partnership that helped Projeto Morrinho become a registered NGO and opened doors to the wider world of arts and social projects. The project is already famous and has been recreated in top international art festivals in Venice, Berlin, Munich and Prague, among others.  (Morrinho at Mar Museum in Rio fundraising for the favela project)

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The fame of this miniature favela continues to spread, along with the positive message it put out about young people against the odds, taking charge of their own lives and becoming role models for others in areas, normally synonymous with poverty and crime. In this respect Morrinho has become an inspiration to young people across the world.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

 

Escaderia Selaron or Selaron’s Stairs, Rio, Brazil

Escadaria Selarón or Selaron’s stairs, Rio Brazil

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman

Chilean artist Jorge Selarón moved into a house next to these dilapidated steps in between the Lapa and Santa Theresa neighborhoods of Rio. He had left his hometown at the age of 17 to travel to 57 countries, staying anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, before landing in Brazil in 1983. After living in Rio for 7 years, he began decorating the steps. It became a tribute to the Brazilian people, using the bright blue, green and yellow colors of the Brazilian flag as his inspiration.

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As with many artists and new ideas, the project was originally criticized and mocked. Selaron with more obsession and passion in his veins than blood continued the work unfazed by the physical and verbal attacks. He called his piece “The Great Madness.”

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When his project began, he was consistently out of money, so Selarón sold paintings to fund his work.

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He scavenged both tiles and porcelain from various construction sites and piles of urban waste found on the street of Rio.

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As word of his project began to spread, he accepted tiles donated by friends and supporters from around the world.

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It is 250 steps and 125 meters long and has over 2000 tiles collected from sixty countries.

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Don’t just stop and take a photo.

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Walk up and down a few times because there are gems and treasures everywhere.

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Many tourists had the privilege to be photographed with Jorge Selaron as he was constantly working on the steps. He was the face of this bohemian and artistic neighbourhood.

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Unfortunately, I was not able to meet this legend as he was found dead on the very steps he decorated on January 11, 2013.  His body was found on the 215th step in front of his house. It is not known whether it was murder or suicide. He was found burned and covered with paint thinner. He had received death threats which made him depressed and reclusive.

Escadaria Selarón or Selaron’s stairs were officially declared a city landmark in 2005, and were continuously worked on and evolving until his death.

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It is the third most visited attraction in Rio after the Christ and Sugarloaf. It is unclear as to the future of the stairs as Selaron changed the tiles regularly for his living work of art.

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The lesson of Selaron was his life and not his death. I think it is to follow your passion at any age ( he was 43 when he started), use whatever materials you have at hand, and don’t listen to what anyone has to say about it.

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Fly safe,

JAZ