miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

The Door To Tomorrow

What is that old saying?  I can just hear Julia Andrews in The Sound of Music - when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.  So often I find myself stumped, considering the future, laying out all of the possibilities before me.  It is always so hard to decide when there is so much unknown, so much at risk.  So often I find myself pleading internally for the door to just open that I don't think, or can't bring myself, to knock.  Knock and maybe someone will tell you the answer, solve all your problems.

I guess that would be the ideal situation... but in my experience they tend to just open more windows, adding to the array of possibilities already spread out before me, none of them markedly any better from those already there.  And at this point in time, having just finished my studies (for a while), I already have so many options before me... along with an apparent lack of decisiveness...  All I need is one door to open.  Maybe I should just relax, take a break from life, right?

Taking these photos, of course, I was not thinking so philosophically.  In the street in Trinidad, Cuba, I was more worried about standing on the road, in full blast of the sun's rays, and looking like a fool while I waited.  This fear of standing out, of drawing attention to myself, is deeply tied to my desperate want to avoid attracting the jineteros for which Cuba is also sadly famous.  I had already attracted them in Trinidad, being pounced on as soon as I arrived and followed around town for a while.  I waited slightly ill at ease, and after a moment the door to open for the lady, allowing her to enter with her groceries.  A door opened for her, why wouldn't one open for me too?

lunes, 14 de octubre de 2013

La Quinceañera del Parque

This photo always makes me giggle.  The quinceañera: Mexico at its most extravagant and ridiculous.  I didn't even know that dresses like this actually existed in real life before I arrived in Mexico.  Walking through the streets of Mexico City, I passed a store that sold quinceañera dresses.  I couldn't help but stare they were so... flamboyant.  Shaking my head, I told myself that it had just been some kind of fancy dress shop.  I managed to go on believing this for about three weeks, until in Guadalajara I found myself walking around "that part of town".  All up, there were about twenty stores selling these outrageous dresses, each one seeming crazier than the last.  There were all kinds of ornamentation: wings, leopard print, sparkles, but mostly there was plenty of poof.  This was when I knew that it was probably not just your average fancy dress.

It turns out the quinceañera is a girl celebrating her fifteenth birthday, when she is seen to go from being a kid to a woman.  Just like that, a flick of the switch.  Of course, this idea in itself is not so strange, after all in Australia we have debutantes.  I just love the idea of the quinceañera so much because it does the typical Mexican; it takes what is a fairly normal custom and then seems to have taken a step back, asking itself - but how can I make it more.... jazzy?  The result is a ritual which combines the church and community with a bursting forth of exuberance that seems to hit you over the head, leaving you wondering where it came from?

The quinceañeras are one of my favourite parts of Mexico; they pop up from nowhere when you least expect it.  For instance, this photo was taken on a casual picnic in the park; but I've also seen the girls posing in front of fountains and even once on a roundabout.  That they can just appear, so unexpectedly, is what I love about Mexico.  It takes the extreme, the extraordinary, the ridiculous and makes it the everyday.  Life in Mexico is really quite dream-like: dramatic, colourful, startling and sometimes scary things happen, but no one misses a beat, everything just keeps going on.  - Did you see the girl in the giant purple dress lying on the grass with people attending her skirts?  - Oh, what? The quinceañera? Yeah, I think so.

viernes, 11 de octubre de 2013


Serenity.  That's all I can think of when I see this photo, everything seems still.  We reached this lake in the Peruvian Amazon by canoe.  The jungle had been dense either side of the river, giving a sense of being boxed in by walls made of plants.  Casting shadows on the dark water, the morning sun stretched to touch the far side of the watercourse.  As we steered into the lake the world seemed to open up, leaving me with the conflicted feelings of being liberated from the confines of the jungle while also being very aware of how exposed I was.

We had made the trip to the lake in the hope of seeing some wildlife.  Sadly, no one was home.  While there was a far-off sloth, he didn't seem very enthusiastic about seeing us.  We paddled further around the edge of the lake, following its banks.  A loud holler erupted from our guide, shattering the silence and stillness of the lake.  He was calling out to the monkeys that were often around the lake.  They answered him, a distant call ringing back through the trees.  He offered to lure them down to the bank for us, coaxing them with offers of bread or some other treats.  We barely considered this before declining it: we were in the Amazon, not a petting zoo.  Bribing wild animals would sap all of the magic out of a place so unknown and so mystical.  Better to leave the place with some of its power.

miércoles, 9 de octubre de 2013

The Clouds of Change

Clouds always make me think about time and change.  They're so fleeting.  By the time you've pointed it out to your friend you can't even be sure that what you saw in it is still there, and by the time you explain it to them it probably won't be.  Isn't it strange how quickly things pass before you when you're not paying attention, but as soon as you have a goal, something to look forward to, time seems to slow.  Instead of seeing sand pour through your fingers, you can see it pass through grain by grain.  Maybe time isn't as objective as they say.  Maybe time is spiteful.  Maybe time slows down because it thinks at those times we are most interesting.  I don't know... maybe I just feel the need to blame someone.

In other news: what strange weather we've being having in Melbourne!