Aloha! Is this Hell?

Big Island. At the end of a 4 mile hike on a pretty decent gravy road, there was the new lava outbreak. Walking on a new moon night among pitch black lava fields, seemed like quite being in the middle of nowhere, or maybe heading towards the land of darkness, fire and destruction! Annihilation!

Pele, the volcano goddess seemed to be quite angry those days… maybe another lover that turned her down? However, such a breathtaking anger! The lava was so close that you could touch it (or accidentally walk on it). The heat was also pretty intense… but that was a totally mesmerising view. New flows crawling from underground as bright liquid anger, slowly seeking revenge.

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Yucatán

Yucatán has more than resorts and beaches. Indeed, in our trip we did not even step the beach until the last day… Lagoons and cenotes are great places to swim, away from the all-included crowds.

Food is also amazing! Road taquerias are also a great alternative to the “traditional Mexican buffet” restaurants, packed with tour buses. Tacos are as affordable as $10. You just need to look for a place with plastic chairs. Inside, cooks are vigorously chopping bistek, cabeza and tripa.

By lucky coincidence, Valladolid just had started the regional festivities and the square of La Virgen de la Candelaria was full of cheerful dancers of La Jarana.

Last but not least, the Maya settlements are totally inspiring! One the one hand, Calakmul was a really personal experience. From the top of Structure 2, everything was surrounded by a sea of green. On the other hand, Chichen-Itzá was more of an attraction park combined with a shopping centre. However, I need to admit that the level of preservation of the pyramids is truly unique.

 

Each stone is a tale
silent words
washed by waves of time

 

 

Aloha! Is this the paradise?

This is what I thought after landing in Kona. Having the privilege of using two (Keck I and Keck II) of the state of the art telescopes in the World located in Hawaii… from Hawaii! A dream come true. Astronomy tastes better when mixed with jet-lagged afternoons on the beach, with turtles, dolphins and the smell of rotten mangoes.

Joshua Tree National Park

 

This National Park has a full “colony” of a very special kind of tree. Formerly known as yucca palm, now its widespread name is Joshua tree. In the mid-19th century, Mormons settlers gave it its name, as its shape reminded the biblical character Joshua, raising his hands towards the sky in a prayer. For a detailed historic explanation, check here.

Some parts of the park reminded me the geology of Montserrat, with its rounded shapes of solid rock. At sunset, there was a really beautiful panorama from Keys View.

Two months in Pasadena

Toc toc Penny?

Time runs fast. It seems it was yesterday that rainy day in Cambridge when I had my viva. My PhD was approved and there was a whole adventure waiting to be lived. A new start in a new place. Some nostalgic thoughts about family and beloved friends left behind. Other more exciting thoughts about living yet another adventure. If there is something to say about having a job in academia, is that it will never let yourself to get bored… even if you want to.

So well, with a suitcase and the promise of a good job and warmer lands than England, I landed in the country of the American Dream. Interestingly, recently I read the Death of a Salesman, which offers a critical view of this concept. However, illusion or not, seems that in USA there is still room for investment into science, which, worryingly enough, is missing in Spain.

It´s been two months I joined Caltech as a post doctoral researcher and I must say I like it here. California is special. Let´s see what the American Dream has in store for me here.

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Solar Eclipse from Queen’s University Belfast

Belfast does not seem to be the ideal place to catch some Sun, as to be judged from this suncream clearance I witnessed on my arrival here.

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So no wonder my expectations were rather low this morning when the rain started pattering against my window. However, as if some awesome magic performed by Teru teru bozu, the sky cleared out just before the ecplise, allowing to see it fully! Then after the maximum, the clouds appeared again allowing to take some pictures though the clouds as well.  In particular, I’m very grateful to David Stewart, from the Irish Astronomical Association, who allowed me to take a shot through his telescope! Amazingly cool stuff.

Nadia in Aussieland

Aussiland is not too far from being a true Wonderland. Amazing landscapes, strange animals but adorable people; birds that sing like UFO’s,  dangerous beaches and probably thousands of creatures that can kill you in some way… Well, regarding the dangerous beach and huge waves,  the BIG amount of free sea water swimming pools along the coast makes the deal I guess. And in case you managed to be stung, there’s a bottle of vinegar waiting for you just beside the beach…

Btw, did you know that female kangaroos have 3 vaginas? I was astonished to discover that these adorable marsupials had evolved into a parallel baby processing model.

Portraits of Morocco

Finally the moment has arrived. After a long break I finally can fulfill two wishes: create a new post and include some portraits in it. Natural parks are great, but personally I find people are the really motivating subject for me. However, it hasn’t been an easy task. Each time I travel to less favored countries outside Europe, I do face the same ethical contradiction. On one side, I’d love to portrait people in different context and basically in their everyday life, because their lives are so different to ours so that is a whole project on its own. On the other side, I can feel that in many cases my interest is not welcomed. I missed many pictures because of this contradiction. I could see in some people’s eyes a kind of resignation and blame. It’s understandable what they could be thinking about tourists: wealthy European / American / Australian and so on, travelling to their country just to take pictures of them as if they would be exotic animals in a zoo. I understand that every time that they see a tourist with a camera, chances are high that this person would just shoot a picture, without even asking them for permission, violating their privacy. It’s a hard decision sometimes, so I’m not sure if this is silly and I just had to ask for permission, but I really didn’t felt like. Probably the fact that I didn’t speak the language made it a bit harder.

Fortunately, I didn’t return totally empty of portraits. In some cases I felt a much warmer atmosphere with people, so I asked for permission. Children in generally where even eager to have their picture taken.

Regarding Morocco, I’d tell that is a fascinating country. Nature-wise is very varied. Different landscapes in just few kilometers. Being initially a naive tourist you have to learn how to deal with some situations. The key to enjoy it is to be firm in your behavior, but optimistic and friendly above all. Definitely a place to come back… with more time (and more street-wise experience).

Dartmoor National Park

OMG, just realise that it’s going to be my 4th post in a row on National Parks and nature. Well, I’m not obsessed with them (do I?), but things just come this way. I do certainly travel less than last year: lots of things to be done. Work is piling up, sports, social activities and other hobbies are gaining ground. Time seems to be shrinking in the same proportion as the things to do grow. Certainly I still do take pictures, but that mainly happens when I go on a trip. Pictures of buildings after a while end up being boring, and I don’t have any project on portrait photography (yet), but landscapes are always there. Beautiful. Fragile. Unique. It comes then that I get very emotional and my SD card starts to be filled with green and blue patches. So here we are. Yet another national park.

The Dartmoor National Park, in the South-West of UK is a peculiar place. Despite having a bit of oak forest, is almost all covered by bushes, and low height trees, stoically resisting the strong wind. Occasional sheep and hairy cows wondering around. Clouds and shiny spells casting some beautiful rainbows.

Snaefellsjokull national park

Snæfellsjökull is a stratovolcano (typical cone-shape one) on the peninsula of Snaefellsnes, West Iceland. The volcano became famous because of Jules Verne, who selected it to be as the starting point of his  Journey to the Center of the Earth. It is covered by a (melting) glacier and it can be seen from the coast (and some people say from Reykjavik in case of good weather). The hexagonal columns of volcanic origin create the characteristic coastline. Several bird colonies also inhabit those cliffs.

Again I decided to use black and white to enhance the shapes and contrasts of nature. Hope it works fine 🙂