Monday, November 12, 2012

Canada is like a bird, it likes to soar freely

I often post about the natural beauty and exotic spots of foreign countries, forgetting that nothing can beat the natural wonders of my home country, Canada. Whether its the red-soil cliffs in Prince Edward Island, the Great White North of Kelowna, British Columbia, or Chirchill Manitoba...aka the Polar Bear Capital of the world, we are blessed to be living here. One of my ultimate bucket list is to visit every city and town in each province and territory God willing.

Few weeks back I went on a short trip with my colleagues to Blue Mountain, an alpine ski resort in Ontario, Canada, just north of Collingwood. Even though we were there for a conference and the weather was too warm for skiing, it was a wonderful opportunity to explore this beautiful small town that reminded me of old Europe. Here are few of the pictures that I took whenever I could get a chance to explore and speak with the locals.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Boston serpents whistle at the cold

I love this quote by Robert Lowell. The first time I went to Boston, I was a freshman representing my university to participate at Harvard Model UN debate. It took me another 7 years to visit this amazing city again when my best friend got into Harvard as a fellowship candidate. This time around I behaved more like a tourist, meeting up with friends and getting to know a bit more about Boston's rich history, amazing architect and museums. Without any particular order, we explored as much as we could from Freedom Trail Granary Burying Ground to Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. Here are some of the pictures I took few months back.

 Harvard Yard

Friday, August 31, 2012

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life

These words by Charles Darwin speaks to my chaotic life at the moment. Sometimes taking a break from blogging and prioritizing what is important is necessary, specially when school and work is involved. Anyway, let's move from the boring stuff and get to more pictures from my recent travels.

When I travel, I tend to gravitate to my favorite things in the world, the 3 FAF: Art, food and fashion. So, when I was vacationing in St. Lucia and St. Kitts Islands, I discovered some of the most renowned artists and designers in the Caribbean, if not the world live there. In St. Lucia, we went to visit Eudovic's Art Studio, owned and operated by Internationally renowned master carver, Vincent Joseph Eudovic. His studio is a beautiful display of his wood carvings, I think I kept asking 20 different questions and taking a picture every second. Sadly, we did not get the chance to meet him in person, but we did speak with his son and few of his apprentices. Here are some of the pictures I took inside of the studio:

 Vincent Joseph Eudovic son, Jallim Eudovic.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How sweet I roamed from field to field, and tasted all the summer's pride.

Could not agree more with William Blake. Here are the 3rd installment of my Caribbean tour, this time the Island of St. Maarten/Sint Maarten. I found it fascinating how the Island plays into the caricature of its history. The French side clings to its European roots, while the Dutch side plays up its Caribbean vibe.

I have to say thou, out of the seven Islands my friend and I have been to, St. Martin was my least favorite. Partly because the taxi we rented for the day was just awful and did not want to take us to all the destination we wanted to check on both sides of the Island. Nevertheless, I loved the Dutch side more and would like to explore the whole Island longer in the future.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Live out of your imagination, not your history

Wise words by Stephen R. Covey, to live beyond the condition of your history and find an appreciation for all that surrounds you. When I was in St. Kitt's and St. Lucia, I felt the people that I encountered from the taxi driver to the seller in the market have adopted such principle in the love they have for their country and the healthy skepticism about the ever growing tourism industry. St. Kitts and Nevis in particular are in the unique position of having the longest written histories in the Caribbean, both islands being among Europe's first colonies. These 2 Islands combine mountainous beaches with the remnant of Great Britain military footprint and the legacy of the sugar plantations; friendly local people and pulsing soca music. In some part of St. Kitt's you feel like you stepped into old Europe, while other parts are very much what you will expect from a Caribbean Island.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

Monday, May 21, 2012

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you better stay at home.

Beautifully stated by James A. Michener, a prolific author and a world traveler. No one can tell a story about a nation and its unique history better than him. I'm neither a savvy traveler nor a historian, but I've learned the value of getting to know the local people, exploring places far away from tourist destination and enjoying the beauty beyond resort and hotel spots, which always enriches my journey. In the words of Moslih Eddin Saadi, "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings."

When I decided to tour few Caribbean Islands with my friend, some of the places I wanted to desperately visit were St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Barbados. St. Lucia in particular have been my top choice because this mountainous Island has so much to offer beyond the usual sensuous beaches that the Caribbean is famous for. Whether you want to explore it on foot, on a horseback or suspended from a zip line, the Island will definitely leave an impact on you. One of the first places I wanted to check were the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, build in 1897 and Derek Walcott Square, a quit park surrounded by 19th century wooden building and the Cathedral. And of course, ending my long tiring day at the beach, preferably a spot known to the locals and less to tourists. I hate crowded beaches, so I always make sure to mark at lease 2-3 beaches that is far from most tourist destination and St. Lucia has so many amazing locations to unwind, swim and enjoy water sport.

 Derek Walcott Square

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Merchants and Pirates were for a long period one and the same

Indeed, even in today's Wall Street corporate mindset, its nothing but a refinement of a piratical morality. On the other hand, there is something fascinating and exciting about the concept of being a pirate on the open sea, well if one forgets the short lived danger and murderous business of being an actual pirate. 

When I was touring some of my favorite Caribbean Islands this year, one thing that stood out for me was its deep rooted history of pirates. After all, many of these Islands are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, an international trade center and port calls. One Island in particular, St. Thomas, US Virgin Island, seems to host one of the most notorious pirates in recorded history, Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch, who inspired the creation of Johnny Depp's character, in Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Romanticized stories of piracy on St. Thomas are common; stories of Blackbeard and Bluebeard pirates are the most well known.

Blackbeard knew how to inspire fear: in battles, he would put smoking fuses in his long black hair and beard.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

I feel guilty neglecting this new little blog of mine, work has consumed my life. I'll be a better blogger after April and will update with more new pictures from Latin America and the Caribbean. Now about this beautiful quotes by Gilbert K. Chesterton, which speaks to me in more ways than one. Whenever I'm traveling somewhere, I pay special attention to places of worship and the mythologies/stories often told about whom we choice to worship or document in history books and display in museums.So during my visit to Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace Museum, in Istanbul, Turkey, what captured my attention the most is how early Christianity and Islamic architect, paintings and writings intersect in a harmonious, yet powerful ways. I'm always fascinated about those periods we often romanticize or look on through the lens of a believer and wonder how we would feel if time travel existed and we can experience it even for a day. In the words of Khalil Gibran, "I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit." 

Some of these historical pieces on display at the museum are hard to authenticate, such as the The Ark of the Covenant of Moses (PBUH), or foot print of Prophet Mohamed (SAW) so to speak. Regardless, here are some of the pictures I captured on camera and few send to me by the security guard at the Topkapi Museum (out of the blue he volunteered to email me some of the more sensitive images) since we were not allowed to flash our camera on some of these ancient pieces.

Topkapi Palace Museum pre & post Christ 

The Ark of the Covenant of Moses
The Sword of David with Torah quotes engraved on it

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Africa is poor because its investors and its creditors are unspeakably rich

This quote is attributed to one of my favorite author Naomi Klein.  I understand where she is coming from and what she is speaking about, but I would disagree with her. Africa as a continent is profoundly complex, rich in its diverse cultures and intellectual contribution, not to mention its breathtaking natural beauty. I remember the first time I visited my parents home countries, I was apprehensive and excited. I did not know what to expect and who I would encounter and the reception I would receive. I have yet to cover most countries in Africa, but Kenya and Somaliland were the best introduction one can hope for. Right after graduation, I decided to live and work in Africa for a year and what a blessing it was. Thanks to Youth Internship Program via the federal government, most of us Canadians right out of uni or college can work on various projects around the world and Nairobi was my choice. The buzzing Masai market, the fast and furious Matatu  (aka public transportation, or as I called it daily suicide mission), amazing night life and of course working with fellow Kenyans and South Sudanese youth have enriched my life in more ways than one. Sadly, most of the pictures I took are either personal or work related and not for public consumption. Don't fret thou, here are some amazing glimpses into Kenya, captured by Alix, thecherryblossomgirl  & SafariKenya and what a beautiful presentation of both country and its people.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer

I have what some might call fear and loathing for the dead silence and stark loneliness that can only come with winter. Whenever I'm back home, it always coincides with the freezing wind that feels like a cutting knife against your skin, the icy slippery ground and the endless rain followed by the uninvited snow storm. Even thou this year the gray winter hasn't reared its ugly head yet, I still suffer the blues over it. So, to compensate for being stuck in this weather for a little while longer (other than staring out the window and waiting for spring), I reminiscent over my travel pictures where the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the grass is green, to remind myself this winter will pass, if only with a bit more perseverance. Anyway, enough of my rant, here are some of my favorites moments this past year:

100 years old church @ Manitoulin Island - Wikwemikong 
(The tour guide explained to us even though they are Catholic, they do not believe in Trinity, rather that Jesus as a prophet and God as one entity.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things

I live by such motto since everything we do in life is part and parcel of our personal journey on earth. By the way, happy new year to everyone, hopefully this year will be a blessing and an opportunity to achieve all we want and envision for our life. One of my new year goal is to cover more of Africa, visit more countries in the continent and explore the diverse, rich, historical and just fascinating birth place of my parents. One of the exotic spots I plan to vacation in is Mauritius, the beautiful island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent. Here are some amazing pictures from L'ilot Mauritius, found on the lagoon of the North-East coast of Mauritius.