Monday, November 13, 2017

La noche de los muertos

Our first graveyard in Uranden

A tour until 4:30 A.M.! Where else but in Mexico for the Night of the Dead Tour with Animeche Tours?

We left the town of Pátzcuaro in central México at 9 p.m., and en route to our first stop our guide Jaime told us of the history of the celebration and regaled us with song.
Jaime leading us in a singalong en route to our first cemetery. 
In Pátzcuaro, as in some other locations in México, the "day" of the dead, is more like a "week" of the dead. It pre-dates the Spanish colonization of the country, and was adopted into the Catholic Religion to coincide with All Saints Day on November 1st. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honouring the deceased using calveras (skulls), aztec marigolds, and the favourite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves (Wikipedia).  It is believed that the souls of the deceased return at this time and the survivors celebrate their return.

We first went to the town of Uranden, and after a traditional meal we were treated to traditional dances. The dancers had lightening fast feet!

Many people, even if they aren't performing, paint their faces, starting several days before the
Day of the Dead, much like people in Canada dress up for Halloween. I especially like these two with their smart-phones; quite a contrast with the traditional dancers.

We then watched some pescadores with their fishing nets and boats perform a show, a representation of the traditional way in which some indigenous people still fish for small sardines using the butterfly nets. In season they get up before the sun and use the artificial light of the torches to attract the fish.

Next we travelled to Arocutín to visit our first (of three!) graveyards. This was a larger cemetery than the others and there was more room to maneuver.

What struck me was that the people weren't sad or sombre; many of them were laughing even.

I was trying to discretely take a photo of this family, but they saw me and smiled for the camera. 

A more somber looking lady. 

By now, it's about 3 a.m., and they don't look very tired!
Some of the offerings for the souls of the loved ones.

These boys, though, couldn't last the night.

While marigolds are the dominant flower, there are others.

Whereas children here ask for candy, there they ask for money. His jack-o-lantern probably represents a calvera (skull).

There was a lot of traffic getting from Arocutín to Iguatzio, and so we didn't have as much time at the last two graveyards, and since I was taking photos, I didn't get very far in either of these cemeteries. And then we had a long bus ride back to Pátzcuaro, and I had a fifteen minute walk home. I stopped first at an Oxxo (corner store), thinking a beer would be good to put me to sleep, but they had the beer fridges barred off (and all the next day) so I had to make do with a liquid yogurt. By the time I got to bed it was 5 a.m. (and two days later I was up at 5 a.m. to catch an early bus to the airport). My body had quite a time adjusting!

Camera settings:

Auto ISO, with a max of 6400. (And often I needed 6400.)
Shutter priority
Aperture - usually as wide open as I could, from 4-5.6, but sometimes, if there wasn't much movement in the scene and I wanted more depth of field, at f/11
SS - usually slower than 1/10 of a sec.
I did bracket all the shots (3 images for each), and usually HDR'd them when editing.  
I used a tripod, usually set low, not only to get low angle shots, but because it was easier to move around with it

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pátzcuaro - Oct. 28, 2017

Here's some photos from last night and this morning

On the way up to El Mirador this morning.

An older rougher road to begin with.

Beautiful views along the way!

A herd of men were out rebuilding the cobblestone road. Labor intensive or what! Probably 100 men working on this stretch, whereas we would have one big paving machine and a few labourers. Their way sure gives a lot more people employment, and the cobblestone looks much nicer, too!

Lake Pátzcuaro, with Isla Initzio

Lots of steps to reach the top!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Forbidden Plateau to Mt. Washington - Sept. 30, 2017

Wow! What colors! I've never been so dazzled by fall colors as I was yesterday on our Island Mountain Ramblers' hike from Forbidden Plateau to Mt. Washington.

We started our 27 k. hike at 8:20 under cloudy skies, with showers in the forecast We headed up the old ski area, and although going from this end meant we had more elevation gain than starting from Mt. Washington, I was glad we got this part over first, as it wasn't 't scenic at all. Thanks to our leader, John Robertson, for arranging our car shuttles and deciding to start from the old Wood Mountain (Forbidden Plateau) Ski Area.

Heading up the old ski area. 

John and Karen scoping out our route at the entrance to Strathcona Park. 
It wasn't long, however, before the colors assaulted our senses.

One of the many beautiful fungi along the way.

                                                                             And many colorful shrubs!                                                     

Bil nearing McKenzie Meadows

Mike crossing the "bridge" in McKenzie Meadows

Karen in McKenzie Meadows.
Rain-infused blueberry leaves

More magnificent fungi.

One of the many beautiful ponds en route.

Can it get any prettier?

A few whiskey jacks checked us out.

Natural lines

Paradise Meadows, with Mt. Washington in the background.

And after 9 hours, we reached Mt. Washington, tired but oh so infused by the beauty we had experienced!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bastion City Viaje - July 28-August 5, 2017

Lucky or what?!
1. After missing our flight to Bella Bella on the 27th, we booked a float plane to take us to Calvert Island, where we would try to meet up with our friends the next day. We flew over the area twice before our pilot managed to find the needle in the haystack and we joined David and Evelyn on their boat.
2. We enjoyed the company of 9 other wonderful and interesting people.
3. The weather was perfect, and the smoke from the mainland forest fires didn't appear until the last night.
4. Wow! What great scenery!

July 28

Susann and I, and Chica, caught an amphibian plane from Port Hardy to the Calvert Island area, south of Bella Bella.

We were allowed to have Chica with us, but she wasn't too thrilled!

We had a smooth, clear flight, with wonderful views.

It was an interesting landing!

The plane taking off after dropping us off.

Our good friends David and Evelyn met us,

and took us back to the Bastion City, our home base for the next nine days.


We started our near the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy, which at 1,230 kilometres is the largest marine conservancy on the BC Coast. Our boat was moored in Pruth Bay, to the right of the yellow circle on the map below.

There were 11 of us on board, and then 12 when Milo arrived on August 4th, with five painters amongst us.

After lunch on the first day, Susann and I headed to shore, me on my paddle board with Chica, and Susann in a kayak, and hiked over to West Beach.

From there, Chica was my intrepid companion.

And we went to the lookout.

In the evening, several of us paddled and then walked over to Wolf Beach.

July 29

The day started out with light rain, and the painters stayed on board in the morning. I kayaked over with Chica and we hiked to North Beach.

I like photographing plants festooned with rain drops.  

And the snail liked the rain, too.

The sand was wet,

but Chica liked it regardless.

Piles of drift wood were framed by fireweed at the end of the beach.

Captain David caught many crab and boiled them, making for tasty appies!

The rain had let up in the afternoon, but some clouds hung around for the sunset. 


July 30-31

Chica and I went hiking both days, and on the 31st I went with some of the painters as far as 6th Beach, and then Chica and I walked on to 10th Beach

Here Gaye and Poppy are scrambling over to 6th Beach

                            Natural rock paintings.

                            Beautiful Indian Paint Brush

                            Sun Dew is a carnivorous plant, but alas no prey was trapped at this time.

7th Beach, the next little beach, was my favourite of all with a cliff chock-full of life--mussels, little crabs poking out, and other critters.

                            Sea anemone

                            Skull-like formations

                            Some more exhilarating hiking after 7th Beach

The trail became increasingly bushy, and we turned around after 10th Beach. 

August 1 - to Goose Group

I rousted Chica out of bed early this day because we were departing at 7:30 for our next site.


When I reached the dock I turned around and captured this scene.

And then we walked over to West Beach.

When we arrived back at the dock the boat was waiting for us. 

It was a four-hour voyage to our next moorage at Goose Island, some of it rough, and my two girls weren't feeling well.

There was some sea-life along the way - orcas, sea otters, and of course gulls.

In the afternoon we all headed over to Gosling Island. 

And a beautiful forest, too. 

August 2 - Goose Island


The Bastion City from Goose Island

Mark entertained us several nights with his wonderful singing and playing.

August 3 - to Dodwell Island

This was a short 1-hour voyage, and once again we spotted orcas.

Our moorage at Dodwell Island was in a picturesque little bay with marvelous reflections and sea life.

Sea Urchin

August 4th 

Susann boated to nearby Shell Beach, where some of the artists painted. 

Three of the artists displayed their masterpieces our last night.




Bon Voyage!