Sunday, January 31, 2016

Angangueo,Michoacán, Mexico

The high-Gothic Church of the Immaculate Conception looms large over the small town of Angangueo. Where did the wealth come from to built it? From the gold, silver, and copper mines that went into production in the late 1700s. Now the mines are history, and the monarch butterflies don't pull in nearly as much treasure. [2008]

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain

Palm trees in stride,
By the side they abide,
Some shade they provide.
Their fronds do extendeth,
With blue sky they blendeth,
Yet someone need tendeth,
Lest they do offend us
With more brown than green,
Nuts dropping unseen.
Here's a trimming machine;
He'll restore their lost gleen. [2015]

Friday, January 29, 2016

Antwerp, Belgium

Digits = Fingers. So, the original digital education had nothing to do with keyboards and computers. It had everything to do with the real world of sensory learning. In schools today, there should be as much hands-on learning as there is virtual learning. Otherwise, students will find their disembodied fingers freezing to death in Cyberia. [2015]

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Niland, California, USA

Since its creator and caretaker passed away two years ago, Salvation Mountain, like all mountains, is succumbing to the elements. Despite its name, it should not be saved. Rather, it should be used as a demonstration of Biblical truth: "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." Recognize Ecclesiastes? [2015]

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Crown Fountain is at rest, but if you wait a minute his lips will pucker and a fount of water will issue forth. In fact, if you watch closely, his expression will change continuously thanks to light-emitting diodes: the mosaic tiles of the 21st century. Who is he? One of many Chicago residents whose visages now help entertain the masses. [2015]

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tampa, Florida, USA

Ybor City is the most historic neighborhood in Tampa, but these younglings aren't here for history. It looks like they are standing in line to buy tickets to a happening at the Ritz Ybor. But, they may also be wishing someone a happy birthday: "You go girl"! [2014]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Akhtala, Armenia

A 14th century Armenian Apostolic church is in the background. In the foreground is a pomegranate, one of the "seven spices," or staple foods, of Biblical times: wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, oil olive, and honey. What does the pomegranate have to do with the following lifespan command? Be fruitful and multiply. [2015]

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gaziantep, Turkey

Sweet red peppers and aubergines: Eat them fresh or dry them out, no refrigeration or freezing needed. They are delicious when stuffed, and folk cultures have long known what we seem to have only recently discovered: The brighter the colors, the better for your health. As for aubergines: We know them as eggplants. [2014]

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Genoa, Italy

Here's a marriage between palate and place. Have some Prosciutto di San Daniele. The association between prosciutto and the countryside of northern Italy is so strong that the marriage has been blessed by the European Union. More than half a dozen locations in Italy which have their own cured hams enjoy a PDO, or protected designation of origin. [2008]

Friday, January 22, 2016

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK

"Quality meats" from the butcher. That's all he does, so you know he has to deliver quality. His customers are local, so you also know he will be held accountable for his misjudgments. Worried about refrigeration? It is the middle of February and he is operating out of a food truck. [2015]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Clues: (1) edible, (2) high in vitamin C, (3) related to broccoli, (4) cooks like cauliflower, (5) originated in Italy, (6) perfectly fractal. What is it and why hasn't it come to the United States? [2015]

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Modern commerce blends with traditional folk culture all along the Baja's Transpeninsular Highway. Here a vendor has planted herself beside an Oxxo (Mexico's equivalent of 7-11). She's selling palm-sized piles of pork and chicken, wrapped in corn dough, and steamed inside corn-husk envelopes. What are these popular "wrapped things" called? [2016]

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cana, Israel

Here's a marriage between palate and place. What happened in Cana that makes it the perfect place for selling wine, especially wine for weddings? What other liquid refreshments are inseparable from their genius loci? [1999]

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tekamah, Nebraska, USA

Certain foods and certain drinks come with prefabricated narratives, especially when they are the focus of a tableau vivant like this early summer scene. What is she selling, what is she learning, what is she teaching? More importantly, what is the timeless message? [2007]

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New York, New York, USA

Some people see New York City as a collection of urban villages: often defined by ethnicity and always effusing a strong sense of place. Who lives here? How are they making Flushing taste like home? [2012]

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bowmansdale, Pennsylvania, USA

Customers trek out to orchard country to buy fresh produce at the farm (Bentzel's to be exact): peaches in late summer and apples as the season heads into fall. Yet, one state accounts for two-thirds of all commercial peaches in the country and a different state accounts for two-thirds of all apple production. Identify the states and account for their lead. [2015]

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Farmers bring their showiest produce to the city and sell it from boxes and baskets on make-shift tables. Is that what is going on here? Or is it all an illusion? What would tempt you to buy from this merchant? [2009]

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

If you buy groceries in Australia, you probably shop at Coles. From the original store in Tasmania, their supermarkets have spread all over the island continent. This one is in Adelaide's Central Market, where it competes with dozens of small-scale food vendors like Cactus Quality Fruit. What would tempt you to buy from these merchants? [2011]

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Havana, Cuba

Do you recognize a few tell-tale signs that suggest you are not in a market-driven economy? Neighborhood groceries in Havana offer the essentials, but the American concept of a bodega may not fit a shop like this. What would tempt you to buy from this merchant? [2014]

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Istanbul, Turkey

Snack food. Choose the nuts: they're perfect formulations of the macronutrients everyone needs on a daily basis. What are macronutrients? Protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Compare to snack foods in the United States. What would tempt you to buy from this merchant? [2015]

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tbilisi, Georgia

That's a candy, not a sausage! It's called churchkhela in Georgia. Thread walnuts onto a cord, dip it in grape mash thickened with flour, dry for several days, and sell on the street. It's the power bar of the Caucasus and is often regarded as the national sweet of Georgia. [2015]

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

This sea lion has broken away from the colony for a few hours to catch some sun by himself. Up the vertical face of the sea stack he climbed, and there he stuck himself to the rock as if held by Velcro. So, take that Cancun! Here's something else you can't see on Mexico's Caribbean coast. [2016]

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas: The sea arch at the very tip of the Baja peninsula is one of Mexico's signature landscapes. In fact, the three most prominent features of hard-rock coastlines are all visible here: caves, arches, and stacks. If your name is Lucas, this place is for you! [2016]

Friday, January 8, 2016

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Baja's Pacific beaches feature cold water and thundering surf. In fact, most of them are too thundering to be safe for swimming. To get to this one, you leave the paved road behind in Todos Santos and follow the dirt roads over over a series of arid hills and then through a green palm forest. Finally, the dunes appear, and then the ocean. [2016]

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Two skilled craftsmen keep a folk custom alive in the pueblo of Todos Santos, where so many roofs are made of Mexican fan palms. In fact, roofs like this are used to feed the sense of place for a fast-developing tourist market. In the past, the palm trees would also provide wood and rope. [2016]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The Gonzáles brothers sell the best tacos in La Paz, and they sell them from a food cart on the street. Their specialties are shrimp, octopus and marlin, all from the Sea of Cortes, a.k.a., the Gulf of California. The master chef today speaks perfect English. Why? Because he grew up in the other California. [2016]

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Right across the Bay of La Paz is a double-wide sand bar now populated by condos and a golf course. You can see it from the Malecon, where a plaque brags about the "islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California" being a World Heritage site. If ever there was a category of natural environments that needed protection, sand bars would be in it, but not here. [2016]

Monday, January 4, 2016

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

The Estero San José del Cabo is a lush green wetland at the very tip of the desert peninsula we call Baja California. For los pájaros it is an essential stopping point on their migratory journeys, and for the municipality of Los Cabos, it diversifies the tourism industry by appealing to ecotourists. Hundreds of species of birds use the marshes. What's this one? [2016]

Sunday, January 3, 2016

San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

A fire left seven families homeless in the town of Santa Rosalia just before Christmas. The bomberos of San José felt their pain and started to collect donations. As the New Year began, the donations were readied for the eight hour drive north. Here the firefighters are wrapping a basket for each of the seven families, and there was more to give in the station. [2016]

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Bath, England, UK

Is 'become a volunteer' on your list of resolutions this year? Volunteering is good not only for the community, but also for your health. It makes you happier! In England, 30 percent of the population volunteer at least once a month. That would include these men: dedicated to Help for Heroes, a veterans' charity, here getting ready to paramedic a bicycle race. [2015]

Friday, January 1, 2016

Whangarei, New Zealand

The year ahead is finally coming into focus, but a haze still envelopes everything but the very-near future. Who knows? Maybe the year will end in a haze, too. [2011]