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Archive for the ‘cultures’ Category

India2, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

If you travel to Durban you will discover that it is heavily influenced by the Asian Indians who live there, in fact Durban has the largest Indian population outside of India – ironic that its at the tip of Africa.

See video on travel to Durban and explore the Indian culture here.

If you are looking to make your own curry, there is the mix your own spices section at the Hyper-mart. A great meal of ‘Durban Curry’ at the Riverside (formerly the Athlone Hotel) and saris aplenty at the mall.

Most of Durban’s Indians are descendant from indentured labourers who arrived from 1860 onwards. Local labour was discovered to be economically self-sufficient so there was a need for hired help. The first ship arrived from Madras and despite the initial intention to have Indians work the sugar cane plantations they soon made a name for themselves as clerks, market gardeners and traders. In fact I can recall a fellow who had a property near our house in Kloof – ‘Paddyarchie’ who was our source of vegetables, we used to pop across and gather Kaki Weed to feed our rabbits from the edges of his land. I suspect mum used to trade some of our ever increasing rabbit population for vegetables (never admitted).

Ghandi is said to have spent time in Durban, helping local Indians oppose a bill that obstructed their right to vote.

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Xibalba, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I have produced a short Mexican documentary on the Yucatan entitled ‘Cenotes in Tulum’. In this video I visit a number of cenotes around tulum, all reachable by bike from the town.

the cenotes are a favourite dive site and their density and their extent makes Tulum arguably, the cave dive capital of the world. admittedly, I think they mean cavern dive.

See the Mexican documentary on the Yucatan and Cenotes in Tulum here.

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A visit to Sian Ka’an is one of the oddest experiences that I’ve ever had. Who’d think that a day in the swamp is a day well spent? And yet the haze, the turquoise water and holes from which the lake bubbled were intriguing.

The Mayan ruin of Muyil is one of many Mayan treasures crumbling in the forest and sinking into this oddly scenic place. There is a very unique feeling to the landscape – nothing like the sterile desolation that the well traveled tourist ruins at Tulum have become. And in amongst the grass and crocodiles there is a rusting narrow gauge railway. There is also a channel that connects the lake in the middle of the swamp out to the Caribbean Sea, and a current of incredible strength flowing down this channel which was dug by slave long dead and sacrificed.

In the accompanying video on the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, we wandered amongst the pyramids and climbed to the top of one such crumbling edifice that Manuel called the castle. It was over fractured blocks that I clawed my way up to a platform way above the canopy. One misplaced handhold would have sent me bouncing back down the pyramid – a fall that I’d not survive.

I assume it was an alter that I found myself leaning on and behind me a grotto from whence I gazed across the swamp to a structure known as the Customs building. In the shadow I noticed a kneeling figure up against the wall, just a faint outline where the light caught the edges of raised plaster. It seems that the fresco must be decaying in the humidity, and the building is supposedly slowly settling into mud.

Check out this video on the Sian Ka’an –  Mexican documentary, Exploring the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

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A free learning is something of value that you gather by way of the experience of another. while visiting Tulum – Mexico (Yucatan) I decided to investigate the properties of tequila – in particular, the mescal variety along with it’s distinctive worm that is found floating at the bottom of your bottle.
Being reasonable thinking people I would hope that you can enjoy a free learning at my expense.
see video on mescal tequila – here.
Not only should you derive wisdom from my suffering, but also an understanding of tequila’s psychoactive properties, and from a local, something of its preparation, consumption and the finer differentiation of various mescal drinks.

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Cenotes in Tulum, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

In case you were wondering why I stopped posting, I’ve been in Tulum for the last little while – exploring cenotes and just generally enjoying the culture of the Yucatan.

Check out this video on some cenotes near Tulum here.

we stayed in our usual hotel, the Punta Posada Piedra, spent time learning Spanish from Santiago, the night watchman, watched turtles crawling up on the beach to lay eggs – and one that changed its mind. We visited the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and to me, most significantly visited several local cenotes and snorkled in them.

Cenotes that I have documented on the video link above are Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavara (Temple of Doom), Manati Cenote and Dos Ojos. Of course there are plenty of others, but those are the ones that are most easily reached from Tulum.

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As JC was in the process of studying for a test today, we could only make a short trip. Our excavation of the Tooth Tube will have to wait till next Saturday. We initially visited a place near Paris called Sinkhole Swamp and that was a bust though the place was quite beautiful. I suppose we should have known it from the start, the whole area is too thickly overlain by till.  On the way back to Guelph we made a diversion to the Galt Shelter Caves as I had never seen them.

I believe I had first learned of the Galt Shelter Caves from Ongley’s Manuscript. He described them as “small”, I add to that description, “shallow nooks in the cliff along the shores of the Grand River – humble in appearance, and by the added blight of spraypaint, not worth the struggle down the cliff face and through the vicious thorn bushes”.

Some of the features were in the upper portion of a heavily fractured cliff face. We climbed a short way to access most and where for the most part pretty disappointed. There was nothing but gutted hollows – cave vandalism at its worst. Fortunately I don’t believe there were any formations to break, just the usual empty cavities of a shelter that had been worn by running water.

Two things that work against preservation of these features, firstly they are well known by local kids, and secondly, they are easily accessible as they are literally within an urban area. Can you imagine the impact of people who did this kind of thing visiting LS Cave or Rovers or the Tooth Tube or P Lake Here.

I am very selective about whom I share locations and this is why..

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A cave in marble – Ontario, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Subject to my failure a few years ago to find a particular marble cave I have always felt this sadness whenever anyone mentions Ontario Marble caves. Well this coming Tuesday I am again going to attempt to locate the “P-Lake Cave” and photograph the beautiful stream that runs within. This picture was taken of me in another Ontario marble cave.

It’s rather a grim and rainy day outside and I’ve spent most of it here in front of my computer – working on my soon to be released book “Caving in Ontario; An exploration of Karst”. The name may have changed a little since I last mentioned it, but I think this title better captures the true content of the material.  Here is part of the foreword and if you are waiting (and I know some are) you will not be disappointed. I am taking longer than expected because the work needs to be perfection.

Foreword to “Caving in Ontario”

“Caving in Ontario” has been written as my second book on Ontario caves – the first being “Rockwatching” which was published by Boston Mills in 2005.

I am still left with the feeling that I want to be more specific about what it means to be a caver in Ontario. And so in writing this book I am writing for a specific reader; those who want to understand caves and the subculture of the caver in a part of the country where many believe that caves do not exist.”

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With the arrival of Toronto’s good citizens it really started heating up in the square around the Heart Machine.

I understand the mobile rave had nothing to do with the official Nuit Blanche, the mobile rave was a grass roots event, not for profit loosely organized and with a number that prospective ravers could call to see where exactly the rave is at any time through the night. As for one of my favorite activities – people watching, it was a very colorful crowd and a mega sound system that literally shook windows in surrounding buildings.

Rave organizers advised ravers to not “be that guy”, keep it legal, keep from blocking traffic etc. The actual rave would not be illegal, it would be the activities that were taking place by rave participants that might push the boundaries. Well from what I saw, they pushed the boundaries a lot.

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So I’d meant to visit the Heart Machine. It seemed to be a nifty concept, the idea of taking control of your city, instead of passively waiting for the city to happen and you just being an observer. As the artist had written, the interaction between citizen and city was meant to be symbiotic.

long before you saw the exhibit you could see the orange flicker of the Heart Machine on the upper walls of nearby buildings. I was especially interested as the Heart Machine had been featured last year at the counter-cultural Burning Man Festival in Nevada. the whole idea is that these 4 big severed arteries or maybe it was the Vena Cava would belch huge roiling puffs of flame into the sky when triggered to do so by some good citizen who was beating at the heart. Well it certainly was a spectacle and it drew a crowd of citizens who chose to interact with the exhibit.

Carl, Jeff, Maggie and I were standing around the Heart Machine somewhat passively watching this fire twirling girl toss a flaming stick around when this Mohawk’d  fellow climbed up onto a reddish mound that I took to be the heart. Imediatly the heart seemed to be picking up the pace. The pulse was increasing and the night above was lit by great roars and exhalations of fire and then the citizens arrived – planned or not they certainly added to the atmosphere and if it had not been for the chill in the air I could well have imagined that I was at the Burning man Festival myself.

I felt it first – this primitive vibration in my gut, a pounding beat explained as “step-Dub” by Jeff who is familiar with the raving scene. The street was packed and a mob was moving toward us – the smell of weed (cannabis) preceding their arrival. It was a mobile rave where the police were conspicuous in their absence, several hundred youths in varying degrees of stonedness, one fellow near me puffing a joint so large it lit the crowd up all around him. There was this guy who looked like Renfield from Dracula, faries, various pseudo Manga characters, kids in masks, costumes, fancy gowns and tons of neon glow sticks. And of course a couple of rave queens in a pickup and another vehicle behind that was kind of like a float. “Water, anybody got water?” a young fellow cried out to nobody in particular.

The music was pounding out so loud that I could barely hear Maggie saying “lets get out of here, this is getting out of control”. As though in reaction to the new arrivals the heart was now spewing flame as though it had just ruptured. A fire engine was caught up in the mess and its siren added to the chaos.

You might say that these citizens of Toronto had come to interact with the heart, and interact they did!!! It was a symbiosis that seemed symbolic of recent interactions – read into it what you will.

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P1010585, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

One of the more exciting events of my rock-related year is the Bancroft Gemboree where i can schmoose with other rock-focused people. You absolutely know that this weekend the accommodation in Bancroft and for miles around will be booked solid so either I will be staying with my sister or possibly in Peterborough.

At the Bancroft Gemboree there is every natural crystal from the beautiful to bizarre – a booth of Columbian emeralds, Pakistani Peridot dealers and Russian fellow who sells black power pyramids of some unnamed substance. You stand there long enough he’ll have you convinced to put one in your living room – an investment that will turn your life around. Well if you believe that crystals will heal your warts, you’re well advised to see him as you’re likely thinking along similar lines. I’ll get a picture if he’s there this year and see what he has to say.

If you are into crafting, beading, crystals or geology, or just looking for gems, rough or cut, the Bancroft Gemboree is an event that goes beyond the material presentation of those goods, it’s a cultural event that bonds a motley crowd of locals to a throng of rockhound and crafting visitors. There are two huge venues, though I have always found that the better gem-stuff is in the venue lower down the hill. The best deals at the gemboree are typically outside at the top of the hill though last year I was disappointed.

Maybe next year I’ll get a booth and flog my upcoming Ontario cave book there.

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