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Matanzas Beyond the Resorts

February 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

Natural beauty, rural communities, and urban centers meet in the Cuban province of Matanzas. Famous for their Varadero beach, Matanzas is the second largest province in Cuba. While most tourists see little of Matanzas beyond the walls of the beach resorts, the province is also known for its numerous rivers, deep valleys, sugar cane farms, and natural caves.

Follow photographer Tracy Zhang’s journey, beyond the resorts and into the heart of Matanzas province:

varadero

Varadero is situated on a narrow peninsula that only measures 1.2 kilometers at its widest point. Its 20 kilometer long beach attracts more than 30,000 tourists during peak season. But the town is more than resorts. At the tip of the peninsula is a Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, home to 27 species of reptiles, 32 species of butterflies, natural caves, and even a 2000 year-old aboriginal burial site.
cuba-bridge

beach-cuba
45 minutes away from Varadero is Matanzas, the capital city of Matanzas province. Matanzas is also known as the Venice of Cuba for its many bridges and rivers. As I sailed down the Canimar river, absorbed in the surrounding greenery, a group of children playing in the river caught my attention. After exchanging cheerful waves, the children began to sing Joseíto Fernández’s Guantanamera as the boat pulled away.

saturo-cave

One of my most memorable experiences in Mantazas was diving into the refreshing waters of the Saturno Cave. At 150 meters long and 20 feet deep, this dark underwater world – my first cave-swimming experience – left me amazed at the wonders of nature.

matanzas-cuba

farmer-cuba

While the beaches and caves left me in awe of nature, the city center of Matanzas brought out my curiosity about Cuban life. Old automobiles, overcrowded public buses, and horse-drawn wagons were all common modes of transportation. Houses with faded paint lined the narrow streets. Despite the beautiful scenery of Matanzas, I was also reminded of the country’s poverty.

sugar-cane-cuba

cuban-sugar-cane

One of the primary industries in Matanzas is agriculture. During the 19th century, the province was one of Cuba’s primary producers of sugar cane. During my trip, I had the chance to visit a banana and sugar cane farm located deep in the valleys. My day on the farm ended with fresh sugar cane juices made from a sugar cane crusher. As the host fed and re-fed the sugar canes through the machine, I watched the milky liquids flowed into a plastic pitcher. My mouth watered, knowing how sweet the beverage would be.

Photos © Tracy Zhang
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tracy-zhang.jpgTracy Zhang is Canadian travel photographer. She loves to capture the cultural essence and natural beauty of her destinations. She has lived on 3 continents, traveled to 25 countries, but her favorite place to rest her head is still her quiet suburban home in British Columbia. She blogs about travel and photography at Tracy Zhang Photo.

 

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The Coastal Scenery of Bonaire

September 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

Bonaire has a unique coastal scenery for a Caribbean island. While most islands in the area consist of sandy beaches and palm trees, Bonaire has a lovely combination of cacti, coral, and salt flats highlighting any trip across its shoreline. Add to that its surrounding reefs for scuba diving and snorkeling and Bonaire presents an interesting new destination for Caribbean vacationers.

Follow this photographic journey around the coast of Bonaire:
coral-beach-bonaire washington-slagbaai-national-park Bonaire beach and cacti © Gennaro Salamone

Slavery is a common theme when studying the history of the Caribbean islands. Bonaire’s history is no different. The Spanish and the Dutch fought for years with the latter eventually gaining control of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. Africans and Indians were used as labor with slaves living in quarters that were too short to stand in.
slave-houses-bonaire Former slave houses of Bonaire © Gennaro Salamone

Historically, salt production was the main labor for enslaved inhabitants. The salt industry still exists today and the solar salt farms along the southern part of Bonaire are used mostly for the creation of industrial salt. More important for visitors, the salt flats are a beautiful addition to the local landscape.
bonaire-salt-flats Salt flats of Bonaire © Gennaro Salamone

Miles of beaches covered in coral are found near the salt flats. Few venture into the waters of this area for swimming and much of it is uninhabited outside of a variety of birds and marine life. A lighthouse and its abandoned keeper’s house are a nice find for photographers.
bonaire-lighthouse Lighthouse © Gennaro Salamone

If you’re visiting Bonaire for diving or other water-related activities, a trip along the coast is a worthwile addition to your stay. It’s only a short drive from the resorts including Captain Don’s Habitat. That or a day trip to Washington Slagbaai National Park with its cacti, flamingos, and a sandy beach is a must.

This trip to Bonaire was courtesy of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. The content and opinions in the article are those of the author.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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A Traditional Maltese Fish Market

June 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Features, Food, Photography

Marsaxlokk, a traditional fishing village on coast of Malta, hosts an early morning fish market every Sunday. Locals go there to buy fresh seafood to prepare for their dinner that evening. Follow the happenings of a typical day at the market through the lens of photographer Kasia Tempes.
malta-coast Fisherman on the Malta coast © Kasia Tempes

While visiting the island, it’s worth it to get up extra early at least once to see the happenings at Marsaxlokk. The fresh seafood and serene atmosphere in this area of Malta will make the old Polish saying “the shortest way to your heart is by the stomach” ring true.
fisherman-malta Fisherman and his dog getting ready for the day © Kasia Tempes

You won’t be alone either. There are many tourists who come to observe this display of authentic activity by the Maltese people. Additionally, travelers have an opportunity to sample a variety of local fish including mussels, prawns, and the popular lampuki, which are delivered on the stands from the boats of Maltese fishermen. Fruit, vegetables, and souvenirs are also available.
lampuki-malta Local Fish © Kasia Tempes

Between fish stands, colorful boats stand out rocking softly next to the shore. Locals crowd the area to examine the goods that fishermen coil in their nets. Merchants too rush around weighing and flaying the catch as customers wait.
fish-market Fish being prepared at the market © Kasia Tempes

If buying and preparing the fish yourself is too much of a hassle, the Marsaxlokk waterfront has a variety of seafood resturants to feed the influx of tourists in recent years.
fish-market-malta Locals waiting for customers © Kasia Tempes
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kasia-tempes.jpg Kasia Tempes is an aspiring photographer and journalist from Kraków, Poland. She loves to observe and photograph people in their everyday lives while traveling around the world. View Kasia’s photography on her website.

 

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The Bavarian Maibaum Festival

November 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

The Maibaum or Maypole festival is a typical Bavarian cultural event. It has been taking place in towns throughout Germany and Austria since the 16th century. Follow the traditions of this Bavarian celebration through the lens of photographer Rolf Hicker.

It takes many strong men to lift the traditional maibaum (decorated tree) at the festival, which is mostly organized by local traditional youth groups. The maibaum itself gets erected by a group of helpers because the tall tree is lifted with only a selection of smaller poles. The process can take many hours. During the last push to get the tree up, you’ll hear the men screaming “hau rucks” for leverage and unity.
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Lifting of the Maibaum © Rolf Hicker

At the event, visitors can find many of these participants wearing traditional Bavarian clothing. Special socks are part of the traditional Bavarian clothing that’s worn during the lifting process. These special socks are worn with the famous German “lederhosen.”
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. German men wearing lederhosen © Rolf Hicker

While the boys are lifting up the maibaum, the girls are making sure that the guys are staying hydrated with original Bavarian beer. These women are wearing traditional clothing called a dirndl during the festivities. The traditional maibaum fest is a all day event. It’s common to see young men filling up a Masskrug or a 1 Liter Stein with fresh beer from a large wooden barrel.
Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Traditional Maibaumfest in Putzbrunn in Southern Bavaria, Germany, near Munich. Woman wearing a dirndl + Man with Bavarian beer © Rolf Hicker
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rolf-hicker.jpgRolf Hicker is a full time pro photographer who specializes in travel, nature, and wildlife. His images have been published in many of the largest magazines including National Geographic and Readers Digest as well as with some of the best known brand names like BMW, Holland America, Porsche, and Alaska Airlines. View more of Rolf’s Germany Pictures.

 

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A Scenic View of New York City

October 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

New York City has a captivating urban landscape. Follow this photographic journey through the lens of local New York photographer, James Maher.

This is a time-lapse exposure of a busy city crowd moving through Grand Central Station.  The effect was created completely in-camera. The woman seemed to be a lonely tourist waiting for someone to come rescue her.  She was so amazingly still that she looked afraid to even move. I never saw anyone come, and she soon walked off by herself.
grand-central-terminal Waiting in Grand Central Station, New York City © James Maher

This is a photo that I’ve been wanting to take for a long time. It captures two New York City subway trains in motion. This image was also created completely in-camera at the 72nd Street station in 2010.
train-new-york-subway Subway Trains in Motion, 72nd Street, New York City © James Maher

This photo was taken from the top of my mother’s building on Broadway and 94th street on a hot summer night in June of 2007. Lightning was flashing all around the building and the wind was gusting hard. Soon after this photo, it started to pour and the lightning strikes got close enough that I thought it best to leave. Earlier in the day, it is believed that one of these strikes hit a substation in Queens and was the cause of a blackout in the Bronx and on the Upper East Side, which created a lot of chaos during the 90 degree weather.
new-york-weather-lighting Lightning over Manhattan, New York City © James Maher

This photo was taken during the huge blizzard that hit the city in 2003. The snowstorm created such bad conditions that for much of the day I was completely lost in the park. At some point I found this bridge to seek refuge under. It didn’t take long before this couple came along with the same idea.
central-park-winter-tunnel Couple in Snowstorm, Central Park, New York City © James Maher

The Chrysler Building, in my opinion, is the most iconic building in the city. The Gargoyles are probably the most talked about aspect of this classic Art Deco building, but I much prefer the metal spire, which can often be seen glinting like a diamond in the hot sun, or glowing throughout the night.
chrysler-building-black-and-white Chrysler Building Spire, New York City © James Maher
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james-maher.jpg James Maher is a fine art street and studio photographer based in New York City.  James credits his inspiration for photography to his love for the city and its endless supply of personalities to capture and streets to explore.  His New York photography consists of both scenic and architectural views of the city, as well as the closeup daily life of the people on the streets.
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Rice Farmers of Thailand Through the Lens

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. A combination of natural beauty and countless cultural activities makes the area a popular tourist stop. Travelers have the opportunity to visit local hill tribes, sample delectable local cuisine, and raft along the Ping River. On this day, a local guide led our small group of travel writers on a tour of Lanna or the “land of a million rice fields.”

Follow this photographic journey featuring the Akha hill tribe transplanting rice:

khum-lanna rice-paddies-thailand Khum Lanna + Chiang Mai Rice Paddies © Gennaro Salamone

We were set for a sunrise biking tour along the rural country road from San Kwang village to Phrao to visit the local markets. Leaving the charming Khum Lanna, we were met by steady rains that prevented a view of the sunrise. Despite that, the early showers on the emerald-green rice paddies provided a tranquil atmosphere for the sojourn.

traditional-thai-people thai-women-working Akha Hill Tribe Transplanting Rice © Gennaro Salamone

We visited the local markets, stopping for tea and an interesting traditional drink that consisted mainly of raw eggs, before heading off to the area of the rice paddies where the Akha tribe was transplanting rice. Working in the rice paddies appeared to be labor intensive, but smiles were common among the inhabitants. This work is essential to the economic success of Thailand, which is the world’s biggest rice exporter according to the Bangkok Post.

thai-man gennaro-salamone-rice Local Farmer © Gennaro Salamone + Overzealous Travel Writer (Taken by Ted Beatie)

The highlight of the morning was an opportunity to join the Akha in the rice paddies for some hands-on learning. It’s one thing to observe the nature of the labor, but having your legs ankle deep in mud while bending to stick rice plants into the ground gives a new level of understanding. We were fortunate to have a guide who had relationships with the community. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to forgo complete independence while traveling.

I was joined on the trip by travel writers: Angela Dollar, Ted Beatie, and Carlo Alcos. Visit and bookmark their websites. After that, view Lake Titicaca photos featuring the Uros people.

This trip to Thailand was courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The content and opinions in the article are those of the author.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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The San Gennaro Festival

September 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

The Feast of San Gennaro is the longest running festival in New York City. It began in 1926 with the arrival of immigrants from Naples, Italy who lived along Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Revered by Neapolitans, as their protector, legend has it that vials San Gennaro’s blood liquify several times per year including on September 19. Though the festival still maintains religious significance to many attendees, it is primarily a celebration of the Italian culture that once filled the streets of the community.

little-italy-new-york-city little-italy-restaurant Little Italy, New York City © Gennaro Salamone

What was once a thriving Italian enclave, Manhattan’s Little Italy has shrunk over the decades leaving only a small section with Italian restaurants and shops. While visiting Arthur Avenue in the Bronx provides for a more authentic experience, attending the San Gennaro Festival is an opportunity to participate in a traditional street fair.

torrone-san-gennarozeppole-san-gennaro Torrone + Zeppole © Gennaro Salamone

The highlight for festival goers is eating Italian food from street vendors. Sausage and peppers, zeppole, and cuts from giant slabs of torrone are especially popular. There is also a cannoli-eating contest for those with bottomless stomachs.

italian-americans feast-of-san-gennaro Italian Americans cooking traditional sausage © Gennaro Salamone

When they’re not preparing your meal, vendors exhibit their fun-loving and uninhibited nature. It’s a much needed diversion from the crowded lines on Mulberry and the adjacent streets.

italian-horn-corno san-gennaro-statue Italian horns (corni) protect against the evil eye + Pinning of money on San Gennaro © Gennaro Salamone

For individuals who are more interested in the religious aspects of the San Gennaro, a mass is held on the official Saint Day (September 19) at the Most Precious Blood Church followed by a procession. It is tradition to pin money on the statue of San Gennaro as a donation to the church.
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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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The Uros of Lake Titicaca

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Photography

The pre-Incan Uros live on a series of floating islands on Lake Titicaca in Peru. The lake is located on the border of Peru and neighboring Bolivia. At over 12,000 feet, Titicaca is one of the highest navigable lakes in the world. The lake is a popular tourist destination, but only a few of the floating islands accept visitors.

Follow this photographic journey about the Uros of Titicaca:

uros-islands.jpg uros-floating-islands.jpg Uros Man + Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca © Gennaro Salamone

The floating islands are created from the totora reeds that grow naturally in the lake. These reeds are also used for meals, medicine, and for build boats. The boats were traditionally used for transportation, fishing trips, and defense. Carachi and catfish are two of the fish that have been caught for generations. Today, boats are often used for profit by locals who take travelers for a short journeys.

uros-girl.jpg uros-girl-2.jpg Uros Girls © Gennaro Salamone

The islands are filled with Uros children who are either wandering around or selling their family’s wares. The younger girl (left) was fascinated with a cat that was strolling across the reed floor of their island. You’ll find that all of the women are dressed in traditional clothing whereas a few of the men wear Western hats or pants. It’s also true that Uros women make most of the contact with tourists including providing information, selling goods, and setting up arrangements for overnight stays.

uros-people-1.jpg uros-people.jpg Uros Women © Gennaro Salamone

Only a few hundred Uros remain on the islands. Thousands of others have moved to the mainland. The Uros who remain on the island rely on a combination of traditional living and modern amenities. They have some electricity which powers their own radio station and a few hours of television per day. That being said, living on the island isn’t an easy life. Maintaining the totora reeds takes a lot of labor. The same is true of gathering food, educating children, and dealing with the encroachment of outsiders.

View another featuring journey Cusco, Peru photos.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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Pushkar Ghats Through the Lens

May 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Photography

Pushkar is located on the shore of Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan, India. It is an important pilgrimage site for followers of the Hindu faith. The lake has countless ghats, which are a series of steps that lead down to its sacred waters. The city is filled with devout Hindus who descend into the waters of the lake for a spiritual cleansing along with travelers who are observing the cultural happenings.

Follow this photographic journey around the ghats of Pushkar:
holy-cow-hinduism.jpg holy-cow-india.jpg Holy Cow + Preparing To Bathe © Gennaro Salamone

Sacred cows are seen throughout India including Pushkar. Whether it’s a rural area or walking down the streets of a major city, cows are a permanent part of the landscape. Revered by followers of the Hindu faith, the animals are well fed by owners and local passers-by. Travelers are often seen petting the gentle creatures (see photo above). Do note that beef is not readily available in Hindu communities. Tourists who are desperate for a fix will need to visit a Muslim community instead.

street-food.jpg india-colors.jpg Pushkar Street Food + Colored Powder © Gennaro Salamone

Before visiting several of the 50+ ghats of Pushkar Lake, indulge in some of the local street food. The cuisine uses a variety of spices and flavors that remains unmatched by other ethnic foods. After filling up, walk the streets of Pushkar which are filled with small shops that sell local products ranging from bracelets and clothing to the colorful powder used during festivals like Holi. That festival involves the throwing of colorful powder and water at friends and family.

rpushkar-lake-woman.jpg pushkar-lake-musicians.jpg Solitude + Musician of Pushkar © Gennaro Salamone

The ghats of Pushkar are considered a holy place. Hindus use the steps to descend into the sacred waters of the lake. Each ghat has a unique feel to it ranging from a place of solitude to a more celebratory atmosphere. Foreigners are expected to remove their shoes when entering the ghat area. It’s also considered inappropriate to photographs bathing locals without their permission.

Follow another photographic journey to Bodh Gaya, India photos.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.

 

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Memorial Day Weekend: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

May 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was developed to commemorate American soldiers who past away while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day weekend is an opportunity to visit a host of memorials and cemetaries that are dedicated to the nation’s history. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located at Arlington National Cemetery (Virginia) is the perfect spot to observe this history along with the changing of the guard. It is also near the attractions of Washington D.C.

Follow this photographic journey into the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier-2.jpg changing-of-the-guard.jpg Soldier on Guard © Gennaro Salamone

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier pays respect to the remains of unidentified soliders. Tombs of this ilk are found throughout the world. The Tomb at Arlington National Cemetary is guarded 24 hours per day, 365 days per year by specially trained member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry.

memorial-day-soldiers.jpg tomb-of-the-unknown-soliders-1.jpg Changing of the Guard + Tomb of the Unknown Soldier © Gennaro Salamone

The changing of the guard is popular among tourists. The ceremony itself is highly regimented. It provided visitors with a view of the formality of the armed services along with an idea about the seriousness in which the soldiers take their service in relation to guarding the Tomb.

arlington-national-cemetery.jpg Graves © Gennaro Salamone

Together with the happening at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, visitors have an chance to walk around Arlington National Cemetary viewing the tombstones and graves of more than 300,000 people dating back to the American Revolution.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.

 

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