chicks & ducks & geese better scurry

XoloitzcuintleBeyond art and tchotchkes, Senora Olmedo had a diverse interest in living animals, too, such as geese, ducks, and peacocks, which she collected and kept in the gardens of her museum. And who doesn’t love a pretty peacock? However what I found most fascinating was the handful of endangered Xoloitzcuintles, a 3,000-year old native breed of hairless dog considered sacred by the Aztecs. (They believed the dogs were needed by their masters’ souls to help them safely through the underworld.) Initially I thought I was looking at a group of sleek and sinuous statues – until they moved.
xoloitzcuintlepea hens

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mercado san juan

pitstop: ireland

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spoils of war

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video: zen & the art of oysters

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it’s too darn hot

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second thoughts

pony and trap

The first sight we see upon docking at Aegina is a line-up of pony and traps waiting to tramp tourists around the main town. Uh oh. Perhaps the proximity of the island to Athens makes it more of a tourist hub than originally anticipated. (Even though by all outward appearances there seems to be at most five identifiable tourists wandering the esplanade, and the klatsch of carriage drivers are too busy smoking and talking to pay us any heed.) We opt for ice cream – pistachio, natch – and a pause to look at our options.

pistachio ice cream

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chaos and claustrophobia, or the daily shop

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For sheer chaos and claustrophobia, it’s hard to beat the daily market in Siem Reap. (The smells, too, are something I’ll not soon forget.) Most of the meat and fish is killed and cleaned to order, so you know it’s all as fresh as it gets – if not exactly on par with Western standards of safe and sanitary. I left wondering what, if anything, might make these women – mostly barefoot in and among the blood and guts – squeamish.

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beware the giant cambodian spider

giant cambodian spider

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monkey see, monkey do

macaque monkeys

Exiting the south gate of Angkor Thom I came upon a posse of macaques along the side of the road. Obviously they’ve become habituated to humans by the steady stream of tourists: no sooner did I express an interest in them did they express an even greater interest in me – or, more specifically, my iPhone 5.

one inquisitive macaque

make that a very inquisitive macaque

no, you cannot have my iphone5

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live blog: disembarking

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live blog: hitching a ride

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just published: the walk of game

In a city known for its ribs, Anthony Petrina is something of an anomaly: a bird man. As duckmaster at Memphis’ stately Peabody Hotel, Petrina is responsible for the Peabody ducks, the quintet of waterfowl that parade daily, with great fanfare, from a well-appointed coop to the marble lobby fountain, just as their predecessors have done for the past 80 years. Read the full story HERE.

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baa, baa, brown sheep

As an aficionado of livestock, I naturally took great interest in the local Iona sheep. They have massive, deep-pile coats – the kind into which you just want to dig your fingers – and seem to roam unrestrained, though the greatest concentration of the wooly beasts are to be found at the northern tip of the island, where the turf – and the view – are more agreeable. There they also do something really curious: they burrow into cutouts between the grass and the sand, as though seeking shelter from the wind. The sight of it only serves to reinforce the anomaly of today’s calm skies and bright sunshine. It must be a wildly inhospitable environment when even the sheep are seen ducking for cover.

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