Cuba travelogue: rush hour, Cuban style

From what I’m told, this is about as bad as traffic gets on Cuba’s Autopista Nacional (National Highway):

Rush hour, Cuban style

But this makes sense, when you consider that only about 2% of Cubans own a car. The Autopista was planned to span the length of Cuba, from Pinar del Rio on the west to Guantanamo on the East. Construction started in the 1970’s, but halted in 1990 when the Soviet bloc collapsed, and Cuba could not continue highway construction using only its own resources. As a result, the western end of the highway is largely complete, while its eastern end has two completed segments, and the central part consists of only plans.

In this view, we’re travelling west, toward Havana.

Beanrise

So it just now occurred to me that I took a huge number of photos on a trip to Chicago a few years back, and somehow neglected to get more than a handful out on the internet to date.

That being said, here’s a shot I took of a Chicago sunrise, partially reflected in the Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. “the bean”) in Millennium Park:

Beanrise

For those interested in visiting, I’ll be writing up a post in the next week or so with tips on photography of and with Cloud Gate; as public sculpture goes, it’s a particularly fun object to work with photographically.

Hanging on for dear life

We recently took a family “spring break” trip out to Washington D.C.  As part of a “behind the scenes” tour of the National Cathedral, I spotted this little gargoyle through a tiny window in a service door:

Hanging on for dear life

Even from just a few steps away from the door, it took 110mm of focal length (220 in full frame terms) to capture the little guy.

Love locks

A relatively new phenomenon (for Paris), the Pont des Arts bridge has gotten covered with “love locks” since about 2008.

Love locks

If you’re not familiar with the meme, the idea is that couples write their names on a padlock, lock it on the bridge, then toss the key into the Seine river as a show of their everlasting devotion.  The problem, though, is that the bridge wasn’t really designed to handle this kind of a load (it’s estimated that nearly a million locks, weighing 60+ metric tons, have been snapped onto the bridge).
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Unselective color

When we traveled to Iceland a few weeks back, we were primarily hoping to see the colors of the northern lights.  We inadvertently saw some more urban colors as well — this time, in Reykjavik:

Unselective color

Many of the more-traditional buildings in Reykjavik tend to be painted in fairly muted tones.  One swath of buildings near the harbor is dressed in a more modern fashion, with saturated solid colors.  This one apparently got a bit of help from some of the younger locals — its sky blue front was augmented at some point with a variety of colorful graffiti.  When we passed by, the interior appeared to be in the process of being rebuilt — into a shop, or restaurant, or whatever — hard to say.  Regardless, it was a welcome splash of semi-chaotic color on an otherwise drab day.

Governors, Turtles, and Tourists

A segment of a panorama from the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal — covering the Governor’s Palace (left) and the House of the Turtles (right), along with a few scattered tourists:

Governors, Turtles, and Tourists

I initially didn’t expect this image to be of much account. It’s part of a panorama I made for later reference, one of many I made at a number of sites on my last trip to the Yucatán, primarily so I can double-check the quality of the maps I draw for my eBooks.

But in the process, I discovered that a modern iPhone (!) can make surprisingly good panoramas.

Magically purple

This past autumn, when I returned to the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, I had the opportunity to spend a night in a nearby hotel and so could watch the evening light show at the ruins.  The main action takes place in the Nunnery Quadrangle, but as you can see here, the Pyramid of the Magician isn’t left out of the fun.

Magically purple

Granted, the colors can get a bit… garish… but the show as a whole is pretty impressive.  And if you know a little Spanish, you get to hear a concise history of the site while watching the colored lights splashing on various buildings.

In our case, as happens pretty regularly (I’m told), we also got drenched right after the part of the show in which recorded voices (portraying plaintive inhabitants during the site’s historic drought) chant the name of the Maya rain god Chaac.  Interesting coincidence, that…