Thursday, December 31, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 30

One of our favorite trips in 2009 was to Panama, and more specifically to the Panama canal. It is impossible to describe just how fascinating it is to watch mammoth cargo and cruise ships go through the canal, especially when you consider the technology is essentially the same as when the canal was first opened in 1914. The canal operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can accommodate an average of 35 ships a day. A ship is charged based on it's passenger capacity or the number of cargo containers on board. A few weeks before our visit, the most expensive ship ever to use the canal paid over $400,000 in fees. Many of the vessels that pass through the canal are called Panamax (yes, it's a real word) ships, meaning they are the maximum size (965 feet long by 106 feet wide) the canal can manage. Plans are underway to expand the canal for even larger ("New Panamax") ships. Caleb and Isaac loved watching the boats pass through so we visited the canal twice in 3 days.

locks swinging open to let a ship pass through

a cruise ship before the water is let out from the second lock
same cruise ship after the water level has dropped 28 feet;
now the main deck is at ground level
these locks are as tall as a 7 storey building

this causeway was built only using dirt/rock removed during the building of the canal
The Bridge of the Americas marks entry to the Pacific Ocean after ships have completed their passage through the canal

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 29

Just outside of Caracas there are several large deposits of very high quality silica. For this reason several glass producers have made their home in Venezuela where they produce intricate and beautiful creations for distribution all over the world. World famous Italian glass maker Murano is one such company and we were lucky enough to be able to see some of their craftsmen in action. There is also a show room with items for display and sale at a fraction of what they would cost in Italy.
the factory
a glob of molten glass becomes...
a delicate, yet still fiery hot, horse right before our very eyes
the showroom

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 28

Isaac loves limes. Any time I am using them in a recipe he snatches one and takes off running. I flip flop between thinking it's okay if he ruins the enamel on his baby teeth and not wanting him to get in the habit and cause damage to his permanent teeth. But, his expressions when he eats limes are so delicious, sometimes I just can't resist letting him have his fill.

going in with gusto

wow, that's sour

but, sooooo good!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 27

On the North side of Caracas, is a mountain called El Avila. It it over 9,000 feet high and separates Caracas from the Caribbean Sea. There are several ways to summit El Avila, the most enjoyable of which, in my opinion, is via the teleferico, or cable car. As our children love all things mechanical, particularly the ones they can be passengers in, we knew this would be a popular outing. At the top of El Avila is a restaurant, a now defunct hotel, a sometimes in operation ice rink, and vendors selling all manner of cold weather delights. Why cold weather? Well, because it is much, much colder atop the mountain than in the valley thereby necessitating the need to have endless amounts of canned fruits, winter gear and hot beverages on hand. We were surrounded by locals clad in winter apparel, and were definitely out of place in our shorts. On a clear day, you can see the Caribbean Sea from the top of the mountain, and if you're lucky, and we were, airplanes taking off and landing from the airport that serves Caracas.

In the cable car on the way up with Caracas behind us
At the top -- it's hard to distinguish, but that slightly
darker blue in the background really is the Caribbean Sea

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 26

In May, we visited my parents in London. We were there for 2 weeks and had a glorious time. We had both been to London before, though not together, and, of course, it was a first time visit for Caleb and Isaac. They won't remember our visit, but we took lots of pictures so they can't say we never take them anywhere. Below is just a sampling of pictures from of our jam-packed vacation.
watching the Royal Horse Guards' daily exercises
standing on the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich
the Tower of London
the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War rooms
inside the London Eye
fun at the London zoo
reading sonnets at Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford
the world's largest trebuchet at Warwick Castle
the grounds of Blenheim Palace

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 25

Merry Christmas

Love, Kenny, Linsey, Caleb and Isaac

Friday, December 25, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 24

In the Spring of this year we visited the town of Colonia Tovar a couple of hours from Caracas. Colonia Tovar was founded in 1843 by German settlers and remained isolated from the rest of Venezuela and the world for over 100 years. As a result, the residents of Colonia Tovar developed their own language and did not keep up with most technological advances happening around the world. Today, this town of about 6000 people is best known for its strawberry fields, sausage and Bavarian influence, most visible in the local architecture and attire. We went during a local festival and enjoyed dining on bratwurst, sauerkraut and strawberries and cream.

Colonia Tovar is fairly high in the mountains and most of the roads were fairly steep; all the red awnings were vendors selling sausages, handicrafts and, of course, strawberries

a parade of locals
delicious jams, jellies and preserved fruits for sale

typical architecture
fields and fields of strawberries
there were stands everywhere selling locally grown strawberries
mixed with real whipped cream - YUM YUM!!
local "artwork" displayed along the way from Caracas to Colonia Tovar
we always feel so welcome living in Venezuela

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 23

Over Thanksgiving we visited Cartagena, Columbia. Cartagena is divided into two parts, the colonial/old walled city (another UNESCO World Heritage site) and the modern city which has become a big tourist draw for the Caribbean region. We stayed in the colonial part of Cartagena and, despite the oppressive heat and humidity, really enjoyed our visit. The Columbian people are very warm and welcoming, something we have missed living in Venezuela. There were vendors everywhere selling mango, watermelon, fresh made rolls, coffee and Columbian candies. A favorite local sweet is made from shredded coconut and condensed milk and then mixed with fruit like guava, pineapple, lime, and papaya. It is very sweet, but also delicious.

Every evening in colonial Cartagena the streets teem with horse drawn carriages. The drivers give you a 40 minute tour of the old city pointing out important sites like the seven former convents and Mel Gibson's vacation home. There isn't a lot to do in Cartagena, but that is what makes it a perfect vacation destination. You see one of the sites, visit an emerald factory, or the beach in the morning and then go back to your air conditioned hotel room to nap during the hottest part of the day. You emerge at dusk to enjoy the cool of the evening and whatever cuisine you desire. We ate everything from Hard Rock Cafe hamburgers to grilled fish caught the same day. Then after dinner you stroll around the old city or stop in one of several plazas to people watch and relax.

along the perimeter of the old city, these former prison cells have been
transformed into small stores where one can buy all manner of local handicrafts
typical architecture in the old city
the traveling coffee shop -- these guys were everywhere in Cartagena,
many with up to 8 thermoses full of traditional Columbian coffee
outside of a very grand hotel this man was decorating
for Christmas by painting the tree white
a view of the wall that encircles colonial Cartagena
in November there is a contest to determine the most beautiful balcony in the city
the Castillo de San Felipe, a fortress built by the Spaniards in the 15th century,
beneath the fort is a system of tunnels totaling over 2000 meters
Isaac enjoying the Caribbean Sea
Caleb at the beach
Cartagena by carriage
traditional Columbian dancing -- they jumped and kicked
and shimmied so fast, I was exhausted just watching them
a blender vendor
happy travelers

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photo of the Day: Day 22

No matter where we go in the world, we are always on the lookout for chances for Caleb and Isaac to interact with animals. They love them and if we give them time to feed, touch, or look at some sort of animal we can usually manage to squeeze in something else very adult and not at all interesting to them.
feeding ponies,
watching roosters,
and petting goats at Mary Arden's farm in Stratford-upon-Avon
feeding pigeons in Panama
touching a very scary looking anaconda in Venezuela
feeding fish in Panama
the fish, waiting for more crumbs
chasing pigeons in Cartagena
feeding ducks in Stratford-upon-Avon
watching horses go on a mail run at the Royal Mews in London
enthralled by monkeys in Caracas


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