Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nicosia, Cyprus

If you were a farmer in Cyprus, in jars like this you would store your wine, oil, water, and flour. Pithari have been used since ancient times, but there is only one village, Kornos, in Cyprus where they are still made (and now largely used for decoration). One more thousand-year-old craft may soon disappear from the civilization it helped shape. [2004]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

She's a geographer in the making: so young, but perfectly comfortable holding the whole world in her lap. That is what studying geography does for you. It makes you feel at home: whether on your own back porch or on your own planet earth. [1992]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

York, Pennsylvania, USA

Thousands of American flags spill down the hillside at Prospect Hill Cemetery. They honor those who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Along the street, the story is given a human face. Those Killed in Action from York County are honored with a Fallen Hero banner. Among them are Nathaniel Nyren and Jeffrey Blanton. [2010]

Monday, May 28, 2012

York, Pennsylvania, USA

Between 2003 and 2011, 4,427 American lives were lost in Iraq. For each death, a flag was added to the memorial at York's Prospect Hill Cemetery. The Iraq War Flag Memorial deserves a patriot's award for helping us visualize valor. Deaths in Afghanistan are also flagged. Now, there are plans for a permanent memorial on the site. [2010]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Orange, Massachusetts, USA

Dear Nubble: You Were the Light of My Life. Love, Horton. This Bay Stater must have spent many happy hours on the coast of Maine. If you want to see evidence of topophilia ("place loving"), visit any modern cemetery. [2009]

Saturday, May 26, 2012

York, Maine, USA

That's Nubble Light on a mailbox. Now, you see the place as an island, and you wonder what it might have been like to be the keeper, or one of his children. Extraterrestrials may wonder the same thing about the island we call Earth. In 1977, NASA launched Voyager. On board is an image of Nubble Light, one of 115 selected to teach geography to worlds beyond ours. [2009]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cape Neddick, Maine, USA

Look but do not touch. But the look is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. Nubble Light is on an island, inaccessible from the parking lot at the tip of Cape Neddick. Located in York, Maine's gateway to the coast, 'the Nubble' welcomes, inspires, and promises a fabulous week of lighthouse hunting. [2008]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Wood carvings are a speciality of Taiwan. All over the island, you find ateliers like this. Here in Kaohsiung, work just spills out onto the sidewalk, where every passer-by can witness the birth pangs of fine art, and a bit of history, too. [2011]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

London, England, UK

Is that Peter Paul Rubens reduced to the role of a busker? Rather, it's a talented copy artist reaching back to the seventeenth century for good ideas that continue to make people happy. Rubens, it seems, can still draw a crowd, whether on the pavement in London or hanging in the Louvre. [2009]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

To market, to market, to buy leafy greens. Home again, home again, without the beans. Artichoke, artichoke, good substitute. In fact, even better. They don't make you toot. [2011]

Monday, May 21, 2012

Koper, Slovenia

Imagine being able to travel around an entire continent by bus, train, and pedal power (in the original sense of that term). Europeans make travel so easy for everyone. In comparison, the United States looks like a less developed country. Things are changing, though. But, as we become more like Europe, Europe becomes more like US. [2008]

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hillsboro Beach, Florida, USA

The Hillsboro Lighthouse is young by lighthouse standards: barely a centenarian (and barely clad, as well). Just across the inlet is Pompano Beach, a favorite of young, barely clad kitesurfers and their kites. [2007]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beaufort, South Carolina, USA

Hunting lighthouses is a such a great hobby, and Hunting Island is such an appropriate place to find one. When the CCC turned this part of the island into a state park in the 1930s, South Carolina began recognizing the potential of coastal tourism. Guess what the island was used for previously. Need a clue? Place names are great history teachers. [2009]

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hampton, Virginia, USA

The Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, along with the keeper's quarters, moved a little closer to center stage last November when Fort Monroe, which you can see in the background, became a National Monument. Hampton braced for BRAC, then faced the future, and re-purposed history. [1995]

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

When you look at a map, can you conjure up the landscape as it would appear at street level?  If not, 'sky cow' can teach you a bit of geography, but it will require a walk through Barcelona's Eixample district at night.  If you stray too far from home, you will find a Metro map at hand and utterly convenient to use.  Look close. [2005]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

The vaca invasion reached Barcelona in 2005 with 46 cows on parade, many on Avinguda de Pau Casals (a.k.a., Pablo Casals Avenue). They brought out the city's creative class and introduced a new idea to the world: we might be able to breed a cow that gives cola (calcium-fortified, of course) instead of milk. [2005]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

A menagerie of public art ushered in the 21st century.  Colorful cows, then other species, started showing up in towns and cities around the world.  Barcelona's Vaca Mundi, or 'cow world,' both entertains (the bovine projection?) and makes you think (the Africa-Europe divorce?).  Joan Miró would approve.  Right?  [2005]

Monday, May 14, 2012

San Juan, Puerto Rico

It won't be long til this rock-a-bye baby outgrows the cradle she has made for herself in the treetop.  But, she'll continue climbing trees: trees whose branches lead ever upward. May those boughs never break. And, may she forever embrace life, just like the tree of childhood embraced her. [2009]

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lisbon, Portugal

Every waterfront tourist precinct needs a lighthouse, especially Belém, historic home of the Portuguese royals. One of those royals, a Portuguese Prince, led Europe onto the world ocean in the 1400s, shining the light of discovery on shores near and far. The knowledge acquired illuminated the home continent. Feel free to provide a post-colonial critique. [2009]

Saturday, May 12, 2012

St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia

St. Kilda's Marina built a lighthouse of its own in 1965. Its height and white make it an important day marker for boats out on Port Philip Bay. In 2008, innovation found a home atop the tower: A web cam was installed. Boaters can now check the weather to decide whether they want to spend the day astray. [2011]

Friday, May 11, 2012

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


The Bulwer Island Lighthouse got a second lease on life when it was moved to the Queensland Maritime Museum in 1983. When structures are moved, history divides from geography, and authenticity is lost. Bulwer's original home, however, was not far away. It was an island at the mouth of the Brisbane River. [2006]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Malacca, Malaysia

Rickshaws pulled by human beings (in the stance of draft animals) used to be a fixture of all Malay cities. Today, men on foot have been replaced by men on bikes in the form of cycle rickshaws. But, they are mainly confined to tourist precincts. [2011]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Luxor, Egypt

These two granite Goliaths are called the Colossi of Memnon, but they are really statues of the pharaoh Amenhotep III. They are all that remains of his mortuary temple. Their location on the Nile's flood plain is a mystery since most ancient tombs and temples were situated in the desert where they remained untouched by the universal solvent, water. [2000]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

How do you make gasoline available to the scooters that skip all over central Patong?  You sell it roadside for about $1.30 a bottle.  It's far less space-consuming than a whole service station.  Far more interesting than gasoline, however, is the linguistic landscape and what it tells you about Phuket Island.  [2011]

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ankara, Turkey

The old name of Ankara was Angora. From Angora came the goat. From the Angora Goat came the fleece. From the Angora fleece came mohair. From mohair came clothes and carpets. From the citadel of Angora came warm and lustrous products that captured a world market. [1998]

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lubec, Maine, USA

Stand here on the eastern-most point of land in the United States and you have the whole country backing you up. Plus you have the West Quoddy Head Light as a companion: Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! And, let it pretend to be a flag, too. Just count the stripes: as many as on the Star Spangled Banner. What symbolism for the spirit of '76. [1976]

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bristol, Maine, USA

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, the pride of Maine, sits like the crown jewel atop a geologic diadem. How do you know it's the pride of Maine? Just check your change: You might find a Maine state quarter from 2003. If so, you have Pemaquid Point rattling around in your pocket. [2008]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA

Even though the sun is low on the horizon and snow is snuggling into rocky crevices for another cold night, the Portland Head Light just glows with an inviting metallic warmth. Dozens of lighthouses dot the coast of Maine, but this is one of the most photographed. Need you ask why? [1987]

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Toledo, Castile-LaMancha, Spain

Although Toledo's fortress, the Alcazar, goes back to Roman times, this incarnation dates from the 1500s when Spain was at the peak of its imperial glory and Toledo was the imperial capital. The Alcazar was once the palace precinct, but now it's a museum. And, there goes another bus load of tourists heading into a time warp. [2009]

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Der Ezor, Syria

The north Syrian plain is a land of rain-fed agriculture supplemented by irrigation. The availability of water makes of northern Syria a breadbasket. There is a downside, however: salination. When halite crystals take over, the land is ruined. No, it's not the remains of a spring snow; it's salt. Corners of fields, poorly drained, are especially vulnerable. [1993]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

In times past, 'May Day' marked the beginning of summer. Now, in Taiwan and around the world, it is a day off work to celebrate doing work. In America, however, the first of May means nothing. Its unredeemed pagan roots and appropriation by the Communists as International Labor Day negated any value it had. [2011]