Trip to Galapagos (Arrival at Quito)


Finally, we decided to do a trip to Galapagos. Always in bucket list, but never materialized before. It proved to be one of the most fun trips, not only for the beauty of the place and abundance of wildlife, but for the dingy rides and sea activities.UIO Ecudor000000

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American Airlines flies direct to Quito (UIO), four hours from MIA, which was great. The airport there, although not too big, is one go the most efficient we have visited. Immigration, customs, and baggage claim were fast and smooth. Our reservation was in a hotel a couple of minutes from airport, since out flight to GPS was very early in the morning. We had decided to go one extra day earlier, just in case of any delays because if the boat left, we would be grounded. It was nice to take a tor of the city, see downtown and most important, the “Mitad del Mundo” and the Solar Museum, which proved to be much more interesting than we had anticipated.

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UIO Llama

UIO souvenirs

We loved everything about our short stay in Quito and los forward to go back and spend more time. Food is delicious, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, great corn dishes and the typical “canelazo”, warm drink to enjoy and fight the altitude. Fortunately, we didn’t feel any effects, even at the Virgen del Panecillo, at 10,000 ft. Our doctor had suggested a “high altitude prophylactic treatment” but decided against once he realized we would be in highlands only a couple of days and then flying to sea level.

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People in Quito are very hospitable and really know how to make you feel welcome.

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UIO Matthew

UIO vendor

I will be posting more stuff and pictures about our Galapagos adventure, one we would love the repeat.

Pictures on this post were all made with the Sony a7rii and Sony 24-70 f/4.

 

Sled dogs in Longyearbyen, Svalbard


Meet Lumi, a four months old female in training.

Lumi
Beautiful 4 month old female, in training.

Do not despair, my animal lover friends. She is a happy puppy. Her enclosure is huge, there are other dogs in training and she is very much loved. I was proudly invited by the caretaker to meet her.

The day we went for the sled dog ride, my heart sank when I saw each one chained to their little houses. I really wanted the whole thing to be over and get out of there. DO NOT JUDGE.
These dogs, the majority of them mixed, are working dogs. Nothing wrong with that, I worked all my life and nobody frowned upon that. They are athletes in a way, very strong, (each one can roughly pull 60kg ) and are a very important part of the Arctic life.
A dog that would jump to kiss you and gives you belly IS NOT and abused dog. They are very well fed, their health very much taken care of (if one is sick or in any trouble, the get to be in the main shack and walked around for their bodily needs as any other loved pet).
The care takers know every dog by name, and they are all animal lovers. You couldn’t do the job otherwise.
They get go ride at least once a day and I’m a witness they love it! Their joy is intoxicating.
I visited three kennels and got enough dog love for the rest of the year

Husky love
This beautiful girl was taking a Sunday morning stroll with her family. A bit more relaxed than the one at the kennel, she didn’t jump at me, but accepted and corresponded to my affection.


On our ride with Svalbard Huskies, one of the guides was a beautiful girl from Seattle. She can tell each of the hundred dogs apart and by name.

After they were harnessed, with the riders help, who get to learn, we went on our way. Six dogs to each sled (with wheels for the summer), two guides and four general workers make each team. Guides concentrate in the route which they know by heart and the rest just pull merrily.
We carry empty dishes (I was trying to figure that out) and stop by the clean streams for give them water. We stopped twice for water and a third time by a mine just so we could see it. They did not care for that stop and were hauling to get going LOL


When they got overheated, the whole team went to the side stream of water, took a quick and fun dip and came up to the road. Smart puppies.
We also saw many locals walking their dogs and “parking” them outside the business they were visiting. Got to “talk” yo many of them. I particularly remember “Monster”, with beautiful blue eyes and the female we saw the last day, who shed half her fur into my clothes.

Dogs are the only pet allowed in Svalbard, although the Russians have managed to illegally import some felines into Barensburg, the mining community across from Longyeabyen. Since they are isolated, they are contained there.

Dog parking
Sign outside the Radisson Blue Polar Hotel. It was common to see dogs “parked” outside businesses. All patient and well behaved.


Dogs are happy in Longyearbyen, both as home pets and as working dogs.

Husky close up
This beauty was, as most of them were, very friendly and loving. Difficult to get a good pic since they are so active. Wet kisses galore!
Svalbard Husky
One of the dogs at the kennel.

Little Havana Flavors


A slide show, to the tune of Albita, of some of the images I have taken for a Little Havana project.

This area has seen a great improvement, even gets A big influx of tourists, to the tune of a few daily buses, rain or shine.

Enjoy!

 

 

Today it is not about photography


Well, in a way, yes. Roxanne used to be a nature phtographer and artist, and now is at home, in Hospice service, brave and strong waiting for the inevitable. Her firnds, either on-line or hard copies, are trying to help her in any way we can, with donations, virtual hugs, kissses, pretty notes, whatever you can think of to make her feel love aorund her.

 

Ao please, if you can eat a sandwich instead of a full meal one day this week, think of making at lesat a small donation to help this wonderful human being go with dignity and not to have to worry about the bills she is leaving for her loving husband.

Thank you, from their family and for all the women that are victims of cancer every day.

Thank you,

Fabiola

 

The embedded widget did not work, you can copy and paste this link:

 

https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/fvn4/hope-for-roxanne/updates/120112

 

Little Havana: tourist trap?


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It all started as an outlet for Cuban refugees to play dominoes and forget about their Caribbean paradise that was no more.

Years have come and gone. Miami is now the beacon for Latin-American refugees seeking the ever elusive American dream.

It is not only us Cubans, it is all new world blood, humiliated, stepped-on, diminished . We are nothing but cheap labor.
The “carrot” of good behavior is paraded in front of our eyes. If we are humble and obey, maybe we will be allowed to reside in Wonderland of Wonderlands.

Big fallacy. We did not grow up to worship the gold coin. We grew up to value family and justice. And we burn our wings to come to a land that promises that, the joke is on us!

But, we are here. Strong, invincible, with roots that go beyond the cortex.
Proud, hard working, forgiving of the culture that we do not understand, not totally believing the false promises, but there is always hope.

What would people be without hope? Annihilated before even takinge the first step forward.

Do we have a chance? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, we are vibrant, alive, full of joy and pride of our heritage.
Hopefully that prejudice will die one day. That our warmer colored skin does not make us target of hatred and intolerance.

One day, maybe, people will be appreciated for what they are, their intrinsic right of birth to be unique ant part of a big collective at the same time. No fake oppressor.

Face value: the way we are born.

I present to you Little Havana, the Latin-American tourist trap in Miami.

All images were captured with Sony a7rii and Sony 24-70/2.8 G Raw capture, converted to B&W in Lightroom.

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But then, there is our music…
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