Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trinidad de Cuba (Cuba) - In Another Minute (Week 313)

Trinidad de Cuba is a picturesque town on the Caribbean coast of central Cuba.

Trinidad de Cuba - In Another Minute (Week 313)

Since 1988, the entire town of Trinidad de Cuba has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's only a 15-minute Classic Car Taxi ride away from the beach Playa Ancón, where you can swim, snorkel, fish and sip cocktails on the beach to your heart's delight. With that combination, Trinidad de Cuba and Playa Ancón were Scott's and my natural choice as the "other place besides Havana" to visit during our first trip to Cuba.

Trinidad de Cuba was one of the original seven villages of Cuba, established by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in 1514. Its boom happened during the height of the local sugar industry in the early to mid 1800s. During this time, most of the beautiful colonial residences and churches were built along the cobblestone streets. These buildings are the main reason Trinidad is considered an outdoor museum, especially around Plaza Mayor.

But I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt more drawn to the colorful side streets where neighbors, school children, dogs and horses follow their everyday life without (hopefully) too much disturbance from all the tourists flocking to the more official attractions. I'm grateful to the Lonely Planet Cuba book, which offered a map with some of the more photogenic side streets away from the Plaza.

Because we tried to catch the Trinidad Bus that is supposed to connect Trinidad with Playa Ancón, Parque el Cubano and La Boca for only 4 CUC a day, I didn't get to see everything and didn't stick around for a night at the Casa Musica. However, that bus didn't show up anyway. Probably because it doesn't exist and is just a Lonely Planet myth. At least, I never got to see it - despite waiting for it on three different occasions for an hour each.

We did however enjoy a few Cristal beers Ruinas del Teatro Brunet (in the video) and Bodeguita Fando Brothers. Mmm cerveza frio!

To make a video only 1 minute long and for it not to be cut too fast, I could only include very few images of what I shot in Trinidad de Cuba. There may be a longer version of this video in the future - that will be up to my supporters' votes on Patreon. If you would like to vote on upcoming videos and receive exclusive content, please become a supporter of this series on Patreon.com/LuciWest.

My original plan was to also visit the Valle de los Ingenios with its abandoned sugar refineries. But then I figured out that with the limited time I had, I would only get to see the restored plantation homes (full-on tourist attractions) and not be able to freely roam the area to seek out truly abandoned buildings. So I opted for an exploration of the fishing village La Boca instead. I will share that video in the future... And I sincerely hope, I'll get to visit Cuba again to see even more...

Trinidad de Cuba
Cuba

The song in the video is "El Perro Loco" by Bruno Bassi of Los Hermanos, which I discovered via the royalty-free music website GoSoundtrack.com. Their collection is available via a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Later this week, I will publish photos of Trinidad de Cuba here on my blog and on Flickr. Patreon supporters will get a first look...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cobá Mayan Ruins (Mexico) - In Another Minute (312)

The Cobá Mayan ruins are the remains of an ancient Mayan city on the Yucatán Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico.


Cobá Mayan Ruins (Mexico) - In Another Minute (312)

Cobá is located just 27 miles (44 km) north-west of Tulum, which I consider the best vacation place. The city of Cobá was the center of many settlements connected by the Mayan world's largest network of stone causeways, called sacbes or sacbeob. Many of these roads still exist around the ruins. Riding a bike along them is one of the special perks of this site. Another attraction are the stalae, large stone slabs inscribed with drawings and glyphs that tell the stories of the Maya people.

Cobá was first settled between 50 BC and 100 AD - and by around 750 AD reached a population of 50,000. It is assumed that the inhabitants traded with people from as far away as Guatemala and Honduras. There was quite a rivalry between Cobá and the the Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, which today is the more famous tourist attraction on the Yucatán Peninsula.

There are several reasons why visiting the Cobá Mayan ruins is even better than visiting the Chichén Itzá Mayan ruins:
  1. The Cobá Mayan ruins are a lot, a lot, a lot less crowded than Chichén Itzá.
  2. Trees provide much needed shade and wonderful relaxing places to relax and contemplate Maya culture.
  3. You can rent a bike and ride on the ancient Maya roads.
  4. In Cobá, you can actually climb the tallest pyramid of the Yucatán: Nohoch Mul ("Large Hill").
  5. The Cobá Mayan ruins, unlike Chichén Itzá, are not overrun by sales people yelling cheapy cheapy or making jaguar sounds.
Of course, Chichén Itzá features one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World (the El Castillo pyramid) and has many more impressive buildings.

While I was super excited to climb a pyramid and made an honest attempt, I have to admit that I didn't make it all the way to the top. Scott bravely climbed up the 120 steps all the way to get me shots from the 137-feet high roof of the Nohoch Mul pyramid. Thank you, Scott, you're my hero. By the way, I felt less ashamed when I overheard several burly German men talk about not being able to get up there either due to fear of heights. It is fascinating how we can climb a staircase with a railing without a problem - even without holding on to it, but our instincts of fear kick in when it's an open "staircase" like a pyramid, especially if the steps are broken and crumbly.

The song featured in this video is “Mystic Force” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). It is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. Thank you, Kevin, for your extensive library of free music!

Nohoch Mul Pyramid
Cobá Mayan Ruins, Yucatán, Mexico

Monday, April 18, 2016

Favorite songs from the 1st 1/4 of 2016 (MusicMonday)

Here are my favorite songs from the 1st quarter of 2016 (January, February, March). As often with the first quarter of the year, some of the songs already came out towards the end of last year. But how could I not include the song "Here" by Alessia Cara? Despite it referring to being at a party, it pinpoints rather well how I feel about living in Fort Collins. ;-)

Cover and song list for the winter 2016 mix, featuring a photo I took in Florence, Colorado


1. Doing It To Death / The Kills
2. Wednesday Night Melody / Bleached  
3. Bad Habits / The Last Shadow Puppets     
4. West Texas / PWR BTTM                
5. Here / Alessia Cara                          
6. Formation / Beyoncé                        
7. Chasing Shadows / Santigold              
8. Borders / M.I.A.                        
9. Keep On Keepin' On / Bleached
10. Cuban Cigars / WALL            
11. Aviation / The Last Shadow Puppets
12. Get Out / Frightened Rabbit                
13. Hightimes / The Big Pink    
14. Take It There / Massive Attack, Tricky & 3D
15. Wide Open [ft. Beck] / The Chemical Brothers
16. How / Daughter                                          
17. Hypnos / Chelsea Wolfe    
 

Watch the videos for the songs on my Pinterest music board.

Listen to all of the songs as a playlist on Spotify.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Photos from the Greyrock Mountain Summit (Colorado)


A few photos from the shoot of the video "Greyrock (Part 2: The Summit) – In A Colorado Minute (Week 311)". For more information and to watch the video please check out the post on the Moving Postcard website.

You can look at even more photos from this shoot in the Greyrock Flickr album.

Yup, that's the trail up to Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Lower lake with the view towards Fort Collins
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Lower Lake
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Lower Lake
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Insider tip: the trail to the summit is to the left of the trail sign
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Whiskey Dog strolls along the mountaintop lake
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

View from the Greyrock summit down onto the Top Lake
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Mountain top plant "life"
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Hiking buddies: Lisa and Whiskey Dog
Greyrock Mountain, Colorado

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Greyrock (Part 2: The Summit) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 311)

The Greyrock Mountain summit must be the most rewarding summit in the vicinity of Fort Collins, Colorado. It not only offers views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and the big sky above the Great Plains, but also the wonderful treat of two small mountain lakes.


Greyrock (Part 2: The Summit) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 311)

To enjoy the rewards of the 7,600 feet Greyrock summit in the Laramie Mountains range, you have to work for it: a hike covering 2,040 feet of elevation. The Roosevelt National Forest trail starts right off Colorado Highway 14 (aka Poudre Canyon Road). After about 0.75 miles you have to choose between two trails: the mellower Greyrock Meadows Trail (2.6 miles) and the more recommended Greyrock Summit Trail (1.7 miles). I covered that first part of the hike in the video "Greyrock Summit Trail (Part 1) – In A Colorado Minute (Week 272)."

Both trails meet again at the base of the actual and quite grey Greyrock. That's the spot where this video starts. The remaining 3/4 mile is more rocky terrain that may require your hands to help you get up to the summit. It also requires you to keep your eyes open for clues where the actual trail may be, since a lot of it is just rock without any helpful signs of footprints. There is the random trail number marker to give you the confidence you're heading in the right direction. And then you get to see the first lake, surrounded by rocks and shady pine trees inviting you to stay awhile. Take a break and then keep on going...

Once you've passed the first lake, there are a few small signs with stylized hikers but without arrows indicating the correct direction. My new insider information: walk to the left of the signs, and you may just see another sign higher up in the rocks to aim for. Also helpful are the cairns (piles of rocks) that previous hikers have left to indicate the right direction to the very top.

You get to the second small lake, and then if you're ambitious (and come on, you made it this far), you can climb even higher to look down at the lake, the surrounding towns (Laporte, Fort Collins, Bellevue), other hills and Lake Watson and Horsetooth Reservoir. In the other direction you get your classic view of the high snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

If you want to do this hike, I recommend getting there early because parking is limited. Bring plenty of food and water. While there is a stream along the trail and then the lakes up top, the water is supposedly not save to drink even for dogs because of the possible presence of Giardia bacteria.

When my friend, artist and yoga instructor Lisa Eaton and I went up there this week, it took us just under 3 hours (with a long lunch break) to get up and about 1 1/2 hours to get back down. Lisa will be leading a yoga retreat up to the summit later this month. Be in touch if you're interested, and I'll connect you.

I highly recommend this hike!

The song in the video is “Folk Bed” by Jason Shaw of Audionautix. He has made this and many great tunes available via a CC BY 3.0 license. Thank you so much, Jason!

Lake and view at the top of Greyrock Mountain summit
Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Travel more with Moving Postcard!

Let's travel together! Let's talk to each other! Let's inspire one another! Let's share something beautiful!

I love to explore, create, share, and to interact with people. Since May 2010, I have been able to do all that through my weekly 1-minute video series, Moving Postcard.

And I want to keep going… with YOU! But making videos, especially travel videos, costs money, time and energy... So I'm asking you to support my video series on Patreon.com/LuciWest - for as low as $1 a month.




Why now? 

This year, I will shoot the third installment of the documentary "All's Well and Fair" - to build on the versions I shot in 1996 and 2006. This project will consume most of my resources (time, energy, money). The question is: can I continue making these weekly 1-minute videos about places and people? I know I want to - but I need your help. This is not just about acquiring the money to pay for website hosting, equipment, transportation, entry fees, etc... It's also about knowing that you want to keep watching and sharing these experiences with me and others.

Why Patreon? 

Patreon is a brilliant platform that enables you to support creators continuously through a monthly donation. It also gets you more ways of interacting and receiving exclusive content.

Although a one-time donation is great (and I would very much appreciate it), because Moving Postcard is about delivering a new video to you every week, continuous monthly support is more helpful.

Just as important is the way Patreon encourages us to communicate with each other. It's not just about me and what I'm doing, it's also about you being able to express yourself - your opinions, your travels, you creations. But fear not, you don't have to interact.

What do you get if you support me and Moving Postcard on Patreon?

- a new 1-minute video every week
- a chance to share your videos, photos, music and opinions with me and the community
- access to early and exclusive bonus content (more videos, more photos, more insider info)
- access to limited edition physical rewards (e.g., postcards, books)
- collaboration and feedback sessions
- support for me so I can keep creating the free videos
- quality time with me and others through monthly live online hangouts


I believe in trying to "make the world a better place" and I'm aware Moving Postcard isn't a life-saving social project, but it's my little attempt to capture and deliver something beautiful and inspiring to people. I believe a way of fighting the bad in the world is by doing something good. And sometimes a postcard is all it takes to brighten someone's day and inspire them to do something nice.

Please help me keep sending out these video postcards by becoming a "patron of the arts" via Patreon.com/LuciWest

Thank you!
Luci

Moving Postcard Trailer (2016)



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Photos of Land's End Baja California (Mexico)

Quite a few photos I took while shooting the video "Lands End Baja California (Mexico) – In Another Minute (310)" during the first week of March in Cabo San Lucas.

Divorce Beach seen from the Pacific Oceans
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Please check out the video post HERE for more information about Land's End, the most southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.

You can view even more photos from this location in the flickr album: In Another Minute 310 - Land's End (Mexico).

Fishing boats leaving for the Pacific at sunrise
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Land's End, Cabo San Lucas, seen from the mainland

Land's End, Cabo San Lucas, and a cruise ship seen from the Pacific

El Arco (The Arch) and one of the Friars (Cerro Blanco?)
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

El Arco (The Arch)
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

The Witch
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Natural color of rocks makes this formation look like Holy Mary
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Pacific Window where waves from the Pacific crash through into the Sea of Cortez - Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Neptune's Finger with Medano Beach in the background
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Sea lion on The Point aka The Pinnacle
Most southern rock of Land's End, Los Cabos

Sea lion on The Point aka The Pinnacle
Most southern rock of Land's End, Los Cabos


La Lobera - Sea Lion Colony
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Playa del Amor - Lovers' Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

View from Lovers' Beach towards Divorce Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Naturally carved out rocks on Lovers' Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Lovers' Beach rocks
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Divorce Beach rocks and sand and waves
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Divorce Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Divorce Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

No romantic solitude on Lovers' Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Hopping on and off water taxis at Lovers' Beach
Land's End, Cabo San Lucas

Monday, April 11, 2016

Plume Varia + Peter Murphy at Gothic Theatre, Denver (MusicMonday)

Saw an amazing show at the Gothic Theatre in Denver last night: Plume Varia and Peter Murphy. Even thought I had quite some other plans for a blog post today, I just have to share some impressions.

Peter Murphy
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Plume Varia is a Denver duo (Cherie Rae Cobbs and Shon Cobbs) whose music I'm not even going to attempt to describe - except that I think it's beautiful.

Plume Varia
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Peter Murphy is, well, Peter Murphy - the legend who gave voice to the band Bauhaus before recording several solo albums. I am happy to report: he still has the voice and his signature dramatic poses. Couldn't help but capture a few.
 
Emilio China, Peter Murphy and John Andrews
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Peter Murphy
Gothic Theatre, Denver

I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to see Peter Murphy on this unique acoustic tour (after having seen both him and Bauhaus with full instrumentation).

But just as exciting, to me personally, was seeing Plume Varia for the first time, and that at a milestone show for them. In somewhat unrelated news, Plume Varia just finished recording their first studio album, produced by David J (also of Bauhaus). The album should be out in November...

A few more photos and a few short video excerpts from the performances (I can neither not film at all, nor do I want to let my camera work keep me from dancing, even sit-down dancing as in this case)...

Plume Varia - Silver Fox - Gothic Theatre, Denver - April 10, 2016



Peter Murphy - Marlene's Favourite Poem - Gothic Denver - April 2016



Peter Murphy - All Night Long - Gothic Denver - April 2016



Peter Murphy - Never Fall Out - Gothic Denver - April 2016



Peter Murphy
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Peter Murphy
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Peter Murphy
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Plume Varia
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Plume Varia
Gothic Theatre, Denver

Gothic Peter Murphy
Denver - April 10, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lands End Baja California (Mexico) - In Another Minute (310)

Lands End Baja California is the most southern tip of the Peninsula Baja California, Mexico, that separates the Sea of Cortez (aka The Gulf of California) from the Pacific Ocean.


Lands End Baja California (Mexico) - In Another Minute (310)

Lands End Baja California is a stretch of granite rocks, also called The Friars, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The most famous rock formation is El Arco or The Arch of Cabo San Lucas. The most southern part of Lands End Baja California is a smaller rock jutting out of the sea that is often, as in this video, graced by a sea lion.

Another attraction of Lands End are the two beaches that can only be reached by boat, mainly glass-bottom water taxis.  Lovers' Beach is where the water taxi will drop you off and pick you back up. It's also where you can swim and snorkel and look back at Cabo San Lucas and the cruise ships and yachts. Divorce Beach is much larger and has one wicked undertow and crashing waves coming from the Pacific Ocean.

Lands End used to be frequented by pirates like Sir Frances Drake and Thomas Cavendish. There are even still some pirate caves in the rocks that sit directly in the water. It seemed that every rock formation and cave had a name and a fun story that I heard from the water taxi driver that gave us a tour around the tip before dropping us off on the beach. I think it's better to hear them in person told by a local than reading them from me. So I hope you get to go one day (if you haven't been already).

And if you go spend a few hours on Lovers' Beach and Divorce beach, beware that there is hardly any shade except right at the rocks and only if the sun is at an angle. Of course, as everywhere in Cabo, there are people selling drinks. But I'd advise to bring your own water (and beer), a hat and lots of sun screen.

The song featured in this video is “Beachfront Celebration” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). It is licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. Thank you, Kevin, for your big variety of free music!

Other videos from Cabo:
Cabo Sunrise (Mexico) – In Another Minute (Week 306)
Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) – In Another Minute (Week 307)
Los Cabos, Mexico – In Another Minute (Week 209)

I'd like to leave you with a quote from "The Log from the Sea of Cortez" by John Steinbeck (which I found on a post by Expeditions.com): “The tip of the Cape at San Lucas, with the huge gray Friars standing up on the end, has behind the rocks a little beach which is a small boy’s dream of pirates. It seems the perfect place to hide and from which to dart out in a pinnacle on the shipping of the world; a place to which to bring the gold bars and jewels and beautiful ladies, all of which are invariably carried by the shipping of the world. And this little beach must have so appealed to earlier men, for the names of the pirates are still in the rock, and the pirate ships did dart out of here and did come back.”

California Sea Lion at the southern tip of Lands End, Cabo