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: tourist trap?


Little Havana.-
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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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Antigua Holy Week in B&W


You may be thinking why we are doing so many slides shows, we have food that it is such fun sharing the pictures like this, with music and a little bang.

The pictures here were all converted to B&W in LR and finished in Silver Efex Pro 2. Grain was added to many for mood and so was the borders.

We had done a show in color, but it is always nice to play in monochrome, especially when using the color controls in LR.

Enjoy!

Oaxaca, dance of colors


The celebration of the Day of the Dead could be very colorful, especially on the “comparsa” nights, where there is even a custom contest, with the make-up school participating and having a very animated march of laughter, joy and music.
Here are some of the masquerades, another time I will add anecdotes, which are always there.
Enjoy!
OAX passingmem

OAXmimo

OAX pancho

OAX littlenightmusic

OAX kiss

OAX hairdofromback

OAX greenface

OAX girlyellow

OAX Frida

OAX deathtunnel

OAX Catrinamezcal

OAX catrinacell

OAX bridelastnight

OAX bitchplease

OAX bellecomparsas

OAX Fridadaytime

Butterfly Expedition


For one reason or another, mostly health related, we had not visited the Butterfly Garden at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. So Valentine Day seemed like a good time to do it, since the rather was on the cold side for Florida. Sun was out and a little breeze for macro, but were going to be inside an enclosure, so it should be OK.
Black Butterfly

Lots of people since it was a week-end. We were there early and enjoyed lots of spots with shade. Sun will yield tremendous contrast and many times, white glare from the sunlit leaves in the background, so we avoided it. The cool weather was perfect because they get a bit lethargic. Happy butterflies move too much for good pictures.
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We took a lot of gear, not knowing which would work better. One camera, the new Sony a7 mkII, and a handful of lenses: Leica 35 Summilux, Leica 75 Summicron, Sony 70-200G with extension tubes, Lensbaby Sweet 35 and Edge 80. No tripods, although they are allowed, I would think kind of difficult when the place is busy. You gear will most likely end up on the ground. No flash is allowed in consideration to a couple of Hummingbirds in there. I was laughing thinking the ones in Costa Rica and Ecuador must be extinct right now with the 8 flash set-ups.
Crystal

Since I wanted a certain look to the pictures, most successful came from the 35mm with close up filter and the 70-200 with extension tubes. All wide open in my case.
Looking forward to our next expedition, on a week day this time, to work a little more comfortably.
White

Monarch

Minimal

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