Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wildwood, NJ - town of glorious neon

Looks like 50's, 60's and 70's it was time when States was fun place and filed with cool big cars, funky roadside architecture, great movies and fun fashion. Cars rusted and was replaced with generic bubbles, fashion become trends and uniforms, plus ugly sweatshop made rags. Most period architecture still standing in California ( Palm Springs and surrounding area would be the best place to look).

On the East Coast, New Jersey has quite a few hidden gems. Wildwood, NJ working class sea resort is real museum. The place should be declared landmark and preserved. Here you see architectural manifestation of American imagination expressed in glorious neon, motel sign shapes and names. A whole town somehow managed survive. Really lasting experience and at the same time sad, all that beuty can be wiped away by developers any moment. Visit while is still here.

UFO in the desert

American Southwest is still one of most scenic and less explored places in the world. Just a short walk from the road is like step in time in 230 million years ago to Triassic Period. Blue-black desert sand is mixed with prehistoric sea shells and fossils. Area around Lake Powell on Arizona and Utah border was inland sea that covered the area. Wind shapes soft mountains formed from sand, clay and mud to the strangest surreal shapes. I spotted rock which looked like crashed and burnt down flying saucer. May it was real space ship, who knows.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tailor of Panama

Most of my trips partially inspired by films. Before I went to Panama I saw "Tailor of Panama".

I arrived to Panama City late at night. I was impressed by old Hotel Central on Plaza de la Independencia featured in the movie and wanted to spent some time here. Taxi driver said that hotel is closed, but I insisted to take me here. He was not very happy about my request. The moment we reached Casco Viejo ( old part of Panama City ) he crossed himself and cursed. Neiborghood looked seedy and dangerous at night. Atmosphere just like in the movie. Unfortunately taxi driver was right, hotel was closed. I revisited area at day time. Casco Viejo has a lot of character and feel of magic realism. It was quite dangerous place in 2001, things probably changed now. Panama City and country itself is on the fast track of gentrification. People was happy to get rid of Noriega. Looks like rare case when American intervention did something good for the country.

Beauties of Casco Viejo

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sticky camera

What camera is the best? For me is the one which sticks to my hand, becomes extension of my body, able to lay roots in my hand.

My favorite camera of all times is Yashica T4. It was was my main camera from 1996 to 2001. Nikon N90 was more back up camera. Then was Contax T3, great camera, but I still like feel of Yashica more. Liked Sony Mavica and CyberShot s75. Now I mostly shoot with Nikon D70, as sticky as SLR can get. I newer liked Canon. Total rejection. Tried Hasseldlad 503, love feel and shutter sound, but unfit for my shooting style. I wish I had Hasselblad Xpan. Wonderful camera, difficult to put down. I own Mamiya 7 instead. Can't tell much about this one yet, need more bonding time. Tried Rolleiflex and Yashica Mat. Sold the last one, but keeping Lubitel. Another Russian made - Gorizont panoramic camera crappy but still lovable. Holga can be fun. Lomo - waste of time and money.
The last acquisition Fuji Natura S Black, I have feeling that it might become my favorite camera.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Orinoco Delta

After Amazon, Orinoco River is considered one of the largest intact wetland areas left on Earth. The Orinoco delta is a vast, intricate labyrinth of waterways weaving through a simmering jungle to carry the waters of the Orinoco to the Atlantic Ocean. Area is home for Warao - "the boat people". They still maintain they own language and life style. Some of them migrate to the bigger cities where they not able adapt to city living and become homeless beggars. Venezuelan government provides monetary help and protection. Number of Cuban teachers and doctors works in the villages. That good, but handouts has some negative effect. People loosing any initiative to work, hunt or grow food. Most fertile land and water resources unused. In the villages built on the river almost hardly anybody fishes. Alcoholism is rampant. Orinoco delta is rich with still untaped oil fields. Soon more drilling and pumping coming to pristine rain forest. Can't expect anything good from that.

Venezuella still unspoiled by mass tourism, full charm and innocence. Looks like eco tourism to Orinoco Delta is picking up. All over I saw construction of jungle lodges. Every village have designated person who will take care of backpackers, show around and provide place to sleep.
Venezuelans are most warm, friendly and hospitable and generous people. I met by chance with area Mayor Selgio Ramírez (Alcalde Pedernales). Very nice and down to earth guy. If Venezuella has more politicians like him, country is in good hands. In general I have not heard any complains about Chavez and his politics. I think country has problem with high crime rate and total absence of police. Only army check posts reminds presence of authority. Military guys very friendly and helpful.