Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Papua New Guinea 375-001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I recently conducted an interview with Anne Gordon, a well known Canadian travel writer. Anne had just recently returned from Papua New Guinea and in particular, a trip up the Sepik River where she visited local tribes and learned something of the Malagan culture).

See the Papua New Guinea documentary interview with Anne Gordon here

As a travel writer Anne speaks about the benefits of belonging to NATJA and other travel organizations, the benefits such as sponsored trips and the professional development opportunities that are open for travel writing.

As Anne said, “New Guinea is undoubtedly the most exotic and fascinating place she has ever been, there are over 900 tribes scattered throughout the island and an an ecosystem that spreads both above and beneath the surface”. Many of New Guinea’s tribes maintain customs and cultures that hold a special fascination for us in the west. Head hunting and cannibalism still exist in isolated pockets and have been practised quite commonly within the last 100 years.

Anne Gordon’s interview centres around the Sepik River and the carver’s of the Malagan culture, in particular the master carvers of New Ireland, she shows many incredible pictures of the tribes in that area and the tribal culture of New Guinea.

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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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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

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Blog11, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Anne Gordon, (Anne Gordon Images) a regular guest blogger on my site has just emailed me this post …

“How about a kiss;
These cows are seen everywhere in India. Woe betide
anyone who causes them injury.
Buses, cars motorcycles and humans give way
even when they lie down in the middle of the road.
Arriving in Jaipur late at night we saw them stretched
out on the raised area dividing the road lanes, often
with a mangy mutt cuddled up beside them”.

It would appear that in India the cow is a sacred animal, it is reguarded as a matriarchial figure, respected by Hindus for their gentle nature and religious connections. Lord Krishna, is sometimes depicted as a young cowherd and his alternate name, “Govinda” can be loosely translated as one who brings hapiness to the cows”. The Hindu purifacatory material, “Panchagavya” is derived from the cow’s various by products (milk, curds, ghee, urine and dung)

Roaming free, the Indian and Nepalese cows enjoy a priviledged status amongst animals and in essence are even reguarded more highly than many people. The poor farmer benefits from this free ranging arrangement in that his charges are free to wander into the rich man’s field and gorge to their heart’s content. 

FOR AN INTERESTING READ ABOUT AN INDIAN COW SANCTURARY GO TO, http://www.chakra.org/living/SimpApr02_03.html


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Blog02t[1], originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Another amazing picture from Anne’s travel library see her website in the del.icio.us links “Anne Gordon Images” (sidebar to the right). Anne’s own description seemed the most fitting explanation for the chance encounter.

“I had taken this image at Pushkar on the fringes of the Great Indian
Desert in Rajasthan. It is an Important religious centre for
those of the Hindu faith. This old man is a sadhu; a priest in the Hindu religion.

There are close to 5 million sadhus in India today. They are
men who have given up all wordly things and live in
caves and temples relying on other Hindus to provide
sustenance. I had managed to capture this image in the early evening while walking alone down to the mela to photograph the
sunset. It is a most sublime feeling watching as the great glowing orb sinks behind the dunes.

The sadhu stopped me and pointed to my camera and himself indicating that he wanted his picture taken. The Hindus were gathering for prayers beside the lake and the strident sounds of the day were replaced by bells, music and song. In preparation for worship they set adrift thousands of leaves, each carrying a minute flickering oil lamp”.

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Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Cartago was once the capital of Costa Rica but it was replaced in 1823 by San Jose. The town began to grow in the 1500’s and as early as 1562 the pious locals erected a church to St. James the Apostle. Unfortunately the quakes and eruptions of the nearby Irazu Volcanoe threw down every structure that was ever raised on the site of the old church. Finally in 1910 the townspeople gave up. A massive gothic cathedral that had been erected there was shaken down by an earthquake once again. It was just not meant to be.

The town sits on pretty shaky ground, all of the grandest of colonial buildings have been destroyed and what remains is subject to a continual trembling assault. Earthquake damage is a fact of life here. Renaldo , our taxi driver explained the outrageous crevice running down the middle of the road near Parrita as being from the earth quake six months ago.  The bridge just outside town also appears to have moved. The tar is stretched up to the edge of the concrete, like distorted skin over a broken bone. The cars had to slow to a virtual standstill to negotiate the bump. 

Irazu’s last eruption was in 1994 whereupon it poured ash over the area for more than two years. Roofs collapsed from the weight, the stench of sulphur was ever-present and as though they lived in an endless ash storm, locals waded through the settling mire with black-stained umbrellas. Nearby San Jose had to clear their streets with a snow plow.

The site of the toppled cathederal is known to locals as “Las Ruinas”. It is a gloomy place at the town’s centre. The windows are high and narrow and a great arching span of rock supports a precarious stairway within. It is far to fragile for human feet and so it is now only trodden by angels. The populous live close to their gods and miracles and divine intervention is an ever present fact of life.

The curious are kept from the cathedral’s gardened centre by bars across the entry portals. Ferns now grow from between well trodden paving stones within. We skirt the outer perimeter of this apparently impenetrable structure and find our most advantageous view beneath a large green bell. It would likely have rang out desperately as the earth shook and the roof tumbled inwards.

Along it’s streaked grey walls local teenagers gathered. Several girls in school uniform flirted with youths attired in the height of American fashion; baggy pants, hoods and runners. It is the Costa Rica “gangsta” look. My attempt to photograph the gathering was met with the characteristic modesty expected of young ladies. They turned their backs and walked away.

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