May 16, 2010 – 7:30 pm Forget everything I said before. This place is not romantic. It’s deadly, unforgiving, and miserable. Full of pain and agony. Okay, maybe not that bad, but right now Laura and I are in low spirits. We’re tired. We ran out of mineral water, and can’t help but remember how Rashid carelessly drank some, and used some more for dishes and washing on our first day. Rashid can drink the well water, but we can’t for legitimate fear that the bacteria and microbes will make us sick. We’ve put some treatment pills in a bottle of well water, but have to wait two hours for them to do their work. We’re very thirsty, and have aches and pains throughout our bodies. Rashid said it would be an hour from our lunch spot, but it’s actually been about three, and the heat is the harshest we…Continue Reading
May 16, 2010 – Midday The nights out here have been wonderful. Not only do we get to rest while things cool off considerably and Rashid sets to work on the evening meal, but we also get to enjoy the type of clear, starry sky you can only find in a dry environment far from city lights, in the desert or the arctic. The company we paid to arrange this trek is called Caravane Mille Etoiles, the Caravan of the Thousand Stars, and the name is apt. The only thing they should work on is actually telling people that it is not a camel ride into the desert so much as a relentless death march in the baking sun. The dunes themselves have also been enjoyable, even though we have only been camping among relatively small ones (maybe 50m tall). Burying one’s sore feet in the still-warm sand and watching…Continue Reading
May 16, 2010 – Midday No entry for yesterday. Just too damned hot. Figured I’d make the effort today, despite my fatigue, before time and distance dissipate my memories like a camel fart in the desert. I’m not a religious man, but “prayer” is the closest thing to what was going through my mind as we struggled up and then crested each successive rise this morning only to discover yet another scrubby valley to cross—prayer that each one would be the last, that we would finally see the dunes and scattered trees that might provide enough shade for our mid-day break. But valley after valley was the same baked hardpan. All we saw was more desert. Another shadeless expanse to cross. Another few kilometers before yet another rise and the hope that this might be it. We crossed about eight of these valleys this morning alone, and the temperature is…Continue Reading
May 14, 2010 There is only an hour or two between the previous entry and this one. Since I wrote the last bit, we have eaten the day’s lunch. Rashid prepared and served us what he called “Berber Omelette,” an egg and tomato dish with peppers, onions and the usual spices that was remarkably like Turkish menemen. The camels are nearby, contented from the water we drew from a well right before lunch, and feeding on scraggly shrubs. Rashid is washing the dishes, which generally involves splashing some untreated well-water on everything and sloshing it around a basin. I try not to think that it’s the same basin the camels have drank out of, or that Rashid washed his feet in, or that Laura and I have also used to wash. Desert hygiene is not city hygiene. At least he’s using soap. Laura and I are actually feeling spoiled and…Continue Reading
May 14, 2010 The dusty streets of Zagora feel very far away and very long ago. It’s hard to believe it was only yesterday. The contrast between the desert and even a small town like Zagora couldn’t be more pronounced. When the wind dies down out here, it is perfectly still. Perfectly quiet. We are about six to ten kilometers from the camp where we spent last night. It is about 30 degrees Celsius in the shade right now, and we are passing the hottest part of the day under a desert tree. Our young guide, Rashid, 28, tells us it is called Tamarist in French, “Lit-luh” in Arabic, and “Tashwoodth” in Berber. He doesn’t know the English name. Rashid is himself Berber, descended from the desert nomads who once lived off the land in this area, but who have mostly settled down in nearby communities since Rashid’s grandfather’s time.…Continue Reading
This is the first part of a six-part series on our camel trek in the Moroccan Sahara. The additional entries will be posted each day over the next week. After that, you can see all six here. May 13, 2010 As I write this we’re only about two hours into our great Sahara adventure and it’s already the highlight of our Morocco trip. We’re in the back of a grand taxi—one of Morocco’s intercity shared taxis—speeding toward the small village of Tamegroute, where we will hopefully meet our desert guide and hop into a 4WD to head into the dunes. After scouring the overpriced tours available in Marrakesh, we decided to simply head to the desert on our own in the hopes of arranging something on the ground. That has proven to be a good decision. In Marrakesh we found several travel agents, who practiced varying-intensity versions of the hard…Continue Reading
Mrika and I.
I know I can speak for Laura as well when I say that we found it difficult to leave Lanciano. As I write this, we’re speeding north in a cozy train compartment toward Piacenza, Italy to see our friend Christine. Laura is napping on the seats across from me, lines of sunlight and shadow moving lazily across her face as the train rounds a bend. The view is a blur of green, with olive groves, wineries, and distinctly Italian villas giving way periodically to sleepy towns of squat, graffiti-clad concrete buildings and ancient looking stone houses. Across the aisle I see nothing but blue sky and the slowly lapping waves of the Adriatic Sea. I know I should be excited to be back on the road, but I can’t help but feel like we’re leaving something behind that’s not easily found. Or replaced. Cris met us this morning at the…Continue Reading
Easter is of course huge for Italy’s Catholic population. In Lanciano, where we have been staying for the past week or so, Easter is a week long affair filled with socializing, shared meals, picnics, and religious processions through the streets, replete with religious artifacts, costumes and marching bands. On Thursday night before the Easter weekend, the Churches open their doors to display “Sepulchre,” or artistic displays of Christ coming off the cross. Thursday night also kicked off a weekend of processions with a hooded march through the old districts of the city. The mood was sombre, if not a little eery, with a marching band droning in a minor key. These shots were from that night. The interior shots were from a particularly well-done Sepulchre, and the rest are of the hooded procession.  
I hate when people ask me if I’m a photographer. Sometimes it’s the gear that prompts this. They see the expensive looking camera, or maybe pick up my kit for a moment and are taken aback by how heavy it is. “Whoa! You must be a photographer.” Maybe it’s the final shots that have them whoa-ing, but the gear still takes centre-stage: “You’re camera takes great pictures!” But no, the reason I hate when people ask me if I’m a photographer is because I’m not sure what to say. On the one hand, I most certainly am. I’ve shot weddings, portraiture, and used my photography as the foundation of several paid graphic design projects. I’ve been paid money to shoot. Simple. But on the other hand, I feel like I’m not really a photographer at all. To date, photography has only been a small part of what I do, and after…Continue Reading
Laura and I are killing a few hours here in Rome before catching a bus to Lanciano. We had about a day to take in a few sights and pasta dishes here. After almost 2 months in Turkey, the food here has been a huge delight for us. Pizaa, pasta, beef steak! And the pork! (as a Muslim nation, pork products simply don’t exist in Turkey) Delicious! Don’t get me wrong, Turkish cuisine is great, but any food will get tiresome after eating nothing but for two months. Rest assured, we will be resting and regrouping here in Italy and will catch up on our blog posts, so expect more photos and stories from Turkey as well as the 3rd and probably final instalment of the Turkish food series. Here are a few shots from beautiful Roma. I have several more street photography shots from one day in Rome, but…Continue Reading
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For the past few days I’ve been working far more furiously than you would think someone who is technically unemployed would be. But working for yourself on a freelance basis can be like that and I’m happy to have the work. I also have a couple of other projects to wrap-up, so I’m not out of it yet. But, earlier tonight I did finish the major phase of a web design project I’ve been doing for a client of mine (who’s also become a friend), and if you’re checking out this site you should check his out too. Allan Gallant will be billing himself the Airplane Guy, offering a range of school outreach programs to students right in the classroom. He’s been involved in aviation and aviation education for virtually his entire life, most recently having been in charge of education programs at the Calgary Aerospace Museum. Laura and I…Continue Reading