Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘commerce’ Category

Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal

 

scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

Read Full Post »

 

P1040854, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

We were walking by the front of the National Gallery and this madman – unmoving until Maggie passed by, did this.

Well aside from the shock and obligation of dropping a pound in the box, our visit to the National Gallery was amazing.

In London, most museums and galleries are free (as it should be). Sadly I missed the “dead Italian guy” who was said to be on display in a museum near St. Pancreas. The security guard at the national library sent us in that direction as I declined to unpack my backpack for a search; he said it was nothing to be embarrassed about. I said I just could not be bothered to lay out my underwear and whiskey bottles to see the medieval manuscripts they had -honestly, the hassle vs. reward didn’t justify the effort (but I understand their need for security and they were very courteous as they were everywhere in London).

At the National Gallery we were immediately immersed in the fantastic paintings of Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Cezanne and others of their fame. there was nothing posted about not taking pictures, but I thought it safest to not try anything like that in case I got arrested. There are over 2300 paintings which are said to be one of the greatest collections of Western European paintings in the world. It was kind of odd standing about 2 feet from what I only usually see in books.

The National Gallery in London sits at one end of Trafalgar Square. You can get there quite easily from Charing Cross or Leicester Square – just walk toward the statue of Nelson, which rises up atop a column. If the gallery is not your thing, then people watching might be. I got some great photos of tourists posing with the lions.

Read Full Post »

 

Canadian Grain, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here is an interesting little discovery in a market in Marrakesh some time in the early 1980s. Many of these sacks were labeled something to the effect, “Gift from Canada – Canadian grain for Ethiopia”. I cant remember the exact wording but it was something like that.

Any thoughts as to the confusion between Morocco and Ethiopia? Admittedly they are both in North Africa, but one was on the eastern edge of the continent in the midst of a terrible famine and the other is on the western edge with no such kind of problem. Do you suppose there is a deficiency in the geographical education of the pilots or ships captains who got the product here? Maybe in the interests of conservation the Ethiopians decided to send product from their own country to Morocco in those same sacks in which they’d received their aid supplies.

I had this picture taken as discretely as possible so as not to create a stir. As you can see nobody seems too bothered. If I could have got closer without a problem I would have.

Read Full Post »

Witness my wife being pickpocketed – it makes an interesting picture.

P0000181, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This post had appeared on my other site – thetravelnet – but as it was too much to keep up I will repost it here for its informative value – would be visitors to the Mercado Central in San Jose – BEWARE.

Every type of unusual item can be found in the “Mercado Central” – Peruvian ponchos, cheap yellow plastic rain coats, pig’s heads, cow’s feet, leather belts and wind chimes. Situated just to the edge of San Jose’s downtown core it is well worth a visit but – keep your wallet close – the pickpockets swarm as thick as flies.

Admittedly, we had been warned but feeling invincible with my money belt tucked across my belly (gave me the appearance of a really beefy beer drinker) we wandered in to the foray.

For reassurance I rubbed the secret stash from time to time and glumly followed Maggie around as she nosed into the various heaps of bric-a-brac looking for trinkets. At a vegetable stall she found tomatoes at half the price that you could buy them at the convenience store across from the Melia (our Hotel). Absent mindedly I stood some distance off wishing she would hurry – I am not a big one for shopping. Two young guys who were running the store had not noticed me and the smaller, sharper one called out quite loudly to the other – “Englise”, quite literally meaning a tourist but more practically implying, “stupid dope” or “easy mark”.

Maggie wanders around our home town with her backpack hanging open, no doubt losing things from time to time. It would appear that she had continued this habit here in the Mercado Central – a practice that was akin to slopping great heaping piles of fish guts into shark infested waters. We were immediately identified as a meal ticket. I could see a pouch on the back of Maggie’s day pack where the buckle was loose and a wad of untended postcards hung out as a signal to would-be pickpockets, “Easy pickings here”.

The smaller stall tender’s hand shot out at the pack with the speed of a viper strike – no luck, a better angle would be required, and he maneuvered around for a second attempt. Working in tandem the larger, more placid looking stall tender drew Maggie’s attention. He stood squarely in front of her mumbling something and she straining to understand what he was saying.

I was already moving in for a defensive block, Maggie was still oblivious. She bent over to look for ripe tomatoes. The two conspirators exchanged gleeful glances; they were by all appearances a well practiced team. Sudden shock as I pushed the predator away, the stall attendant immediately changed his demeanor back to dutiful sales man once discovered. They were by appearances only teenagers. I suppose they were just doing what was expected in a world of limited opportunity. No hard feelings on my part. The viper had melted back into the crowd and we bartered for tomatoes. Jeeeze this guy is not so bad, “Picture?” I asked. Compliantly he posed with Maggie just behind.

You might see by the picture that no sooner had I raised my camera than “the stealthy one” slid back for another attempt at Maggie’s pack (see his foot to the bottom right of the picture). Pretty brazen dont you think? We left so as not to tempt fate any further. Consider that while I am watching Maggie, who is watching me?

Read Full Post »

Costa Rica 3 278, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Saw these guys on the way to the Peninsula de Papagayo – Nicaraguan Melon pickers.

In Costa Rica the locals favor the plush jobs – dealing with tourists. The Nicaraguans do the dirty work – construction, farm labour etc. Stopping the van, I introduced myself and shook hands, they seemed shy and confused but went along with my strange ritual so as not to insult me. These guys earn around 7000 colones a day. I asked them what time they started work and through Alan our interpreter I was told they were up at 4 and working by 5.

On the outskirts of Tamarindo, a town plagued by excessivly hasty development I tailed a group of Nicaraguan construction workers as they left their work site. It was a purpulish twilight and stalking along behind I remained an illusive voyer. In small groups the workers broke off along paths into the bush. Many were staying under sheets of wriggly tin. I can only imagine the bugs and insects making life a living hell.

 The dry leaves and undergrowth were crawling with all sorts of hazards, not least of all snakes and scorpians. At that time, just after the first few rains of the wet season, the baby tarantulas were making an appearance – UG! imagine sleeping in that. I passed several of the workers rooting around beneath a mango tree, they had shopping bags and were picking fallen mangoes for their dinner. Peering for bruises and rubbing the over ripe skins I was able to pass by unnoticed.

In leaving the farm workers (above picture) they offered me a melon and though I offered to pay them, they would not take any of my money – what amazing people!

Read Full Post »

gemboree2 020, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Aristocracy oozes from his very pores, he is cool and non commital. I wonder if I am worthy to even barter. The table in front draws me closer. The salavitating rockhound within is fixated on the stones. Oh, oh, I must have a citrine! I cant help myself and he knows it.

I inquire as to where the stones come from and am told that everything passed through Jaipur. Apparently this guy lives six months in Montreal and six months in Deli. “Jaipur is only a three hour drive from Delhi, but that can vary quite considerably” he says with understatement. The roads in India are a nightmare. It appears that there is little in the way of rules, beyond “don’t hit the cows”. They are sacred animals and have every right to snooze undisturbed in a busy intersection. Trucks choose whatever side of the road they wish to travel on and the carnage of burned out smashed up auto shells litters the roadside.

I mention that I am writing a book on gems, “Oh but you cannot forget the Indians,” he asserts. “Jaipur is the major coloured stone cutting centre in the world”.

A massive wall and seven defensive gates surround the Old City, where the gem trade thrives. It is a place that breathes colour and is dyed with an ancient culture. People call it the “pink city though it is also the state capital of Rajasthan. “It was founded over four hundred years ago by the great prince, Maharaja Jai Sing ”. Brightly clad women, in silk saris, float through broad-street’d markets. A monkey with leathery and wizened features peers from a darkened alcove. At sunset the streetscape melts into a world of orange and pink pastel, a camel cart creaks by led by a wraith-like figure. He glides slowly along on stick-like feet. As the warm evening breeze ruffles his cotton shroud you might suspect that it were only a skeleton beneath.

“We Indians have the buying power that other regions do not,” the dealer tells me. You see my stones, none of them were found in India. They were however all cut in Jaipur. Of course there are other places”. “Bangkok”, he raises a knowing eyebrow. “Brazil” he shrugs. “China”, he sighs. “Its big and new and just entering the market”. A great beam breaks his saddened features, the very sun shining from his teeth, fanning his hands over his product he proclaims in a golden voice, “And then there is India”.

Read Full Post »