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Africa In Photos La Reunion The Nomadic Life

Photo Gallery: Quirky Street Art in La Reunion

Jace Graffiti La Reunion

“You can always tell the kind of personality a place has by the way they treat graffiti,” – My little brother.

If that’s the case, then I’d call La Reunion quirky, cartoonish, and welcome to the burst of color graffiti adds to its streets. Most of the graffiti I took photos of ended up being by an artist named Jace (I’m sort of in love with his yellow-man character and the different situations he winds up in), but not all of it. Anyways, I ended up with so many photos of graffiti from La Reunion — and there’s a surprising amount for such a small chunk of land — that I decided to devote a whole post to it.

Enjoy!

In Saint-Pierre; By Jace

Jace Graffiti La ReunionIn Saint-Pierre; Unknown artist

Peuf Graffiti La ReunionIn Saint-Pierre; Unknown artist

Stencil Street Art La Reunion

In Saint-Pierre; Unknown artist

Old Man Graffiti La Reunion

In Saint-Pierre; Unknown artist

Spraypaint Hand La Reunion

In Cilaos; By Jace

Jace Street Art La Reunion

What has been your favorite travel destination for street art?

Categories
Africa In Photos Madagascar The Nomadic Life Travel

Photo-Frenzied in Morondava’s Avenue de Baobabs

Seven

I went to Madagascar’s most iconic and photographed site, and I didn’t bring my camera.

Just kidding. Though I did think about it for the purpose of writing a piece on how photography distracts from being present and the importance of absorbing and interacting with a place rather than documenting it. Maybe I should have done just that, but I selfishly wanted my postcard snapshot of the Avenue de Baobabs at sunset too. They’re just so damn photogenic.

I wasn’t alone in this. Car after car full of tourists rolled in, parking at the entrance closest to the road back to Morondava town or pausing for a few seconds to drop off groups returning from the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, so they could lazily walk the several yards of baobab-lined path back to their private four-by-fours just in time to get dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large concentration of tourists in Madagascar in my whole two years of living here (although Isalo came close).

As we made our way down the sandy path, a group of small children ran up to us with chameleons on sticks. They knew from experience that basically every visitor would have a camera and demanded we take photos then give them small change. “Madame, photo! Madame, photo!”

It made me a little uncomfortable but one of my friends was impressed they had figured out they could make money off of this. They would have made a cute photo, but I was more interested in chatting with them. I asked one of the little girls her name in Malagasy. When I couldn’t pronounce it quite right she got pouty and stomped her feet “NO! Boon-BOO-na!” I laughed. I love it when kids step out of their robotic “oh, madame-o, please give me something” and let their personality escape.

I snuck a photo of her from behind, and she snapped her head around, obviously in recognition of the shutter’s ‘cliiick’ and was back to berating me with ‘madame, photo!’ I feigned ignorance. I told another group of boys near her I didn’t want to take their photo because they were dirty. They were amused. I was serious.

Four

In the end, my seven friends and I all joined the photo-snapping frenzy, but I could tell that all of us still felt somewhat separate from the tourists passing through. We were observing them and their habits the same way they were observing the trees and cooing over cute little African children holding chameleons on a stick. Even with our cameras, we were putting our Madagascar-acquired habits to good use by simply standing in the middle of the road, chatting and staring, moving slowly and not worrying about time.

After we put away our cameras and piled into our taxis to head back to town for pizza, the cool night breeze forcing me to put on a sweater, I felt reminded of why I love travel — for these moments of absolute beauty and tranquility. For being separated from ‘the rest of the world’ but in such a way that isn’t anxious, but peaceful. I felt absolutely content to be where I was in that moment, but at the same time excited for the adventures to come once I’m off this island (which is soon…)

Oh yeah, and those photos:

Avenue de Baobabs

Baobab

two Canoe Morondava

Rasta Bar

Photos: (1) Entrance to the Avenue of Baobabs (2) Bobona and her chameleon (3)  The kids in front of the baobabs (4) Baobab from the bottom of the trunk (5)  A woman on the road to the Avenue de Baobabs (6) A traditional canoe called a ‘lakana’ on Morondava’s beach (7) Musicians in the ‘Rasta Bar’ in Morondava

Categories
Africa In Photos Madagascar The Nomadic Life

Photos From Inside an African Market

Malagasy girl eating riceI hate to say it, but I’ve gotten used to the Antsirabe market’s smell. It’s a weird combination of muck and old produce, rice being cooked, and charcoal. The meat section has a totally different stench. Even after two years, I scrunch my face and try not to breathe it in as a walk quickly past. Once past the meat and surrounded by piles and piles of vegetables, (the women, because the overwhelming majority of people selling goods in the market are women), shout out the names of vegetables they think I want. “Citron! Citron!” one woman carrying a basket of limes calls out “Les tomates, madam, les tomates!” another says from her perch on a table covered in various vegetables, holding one up for me to see. It catches me off guard on the rare occasion they ask in Malagasy, and I wonder “if I were a tourist, would I have even noticed?”

The place is dark and dingy. Although it has no walls, the stalls of various vendors lined up at the entrance to the covered market and sectioned off with sheets of plastic, make it seem as if they do. The whole place is ensconced with a brick-tiled roof. I’m pretty sure several birds and bats have made homes in the rafters. The floor is no better. I keep my eyes to the ground to make sure I don’t step on a chicken, a small child playing with a cardboard box, or any other mysterious, liquidy substances.

On the other side of the produce market, sit rows of tiled lunch counters. Behind each one, people tend to giant metal pots over charcoal flames, cooking rice and loaka — the thing that accompanies the rice, (pork, beans, cow tongue) — coffee, or frying different sorts of bread in hot oil. Off in the far corner, I notice all of the street kids have gathered at one of these counters, being fed rice and chicken by the owners.

“Hey look, they’re doing their dishes when they finish,” one of my friends notices.

“I guess that’s a fair trade for free food, right?” I reply.

In that moment, I’m still finishing up my own plate of rice, beans, and cucumber salad when one of the older kids ambles up to beg for money, still munching on a chicken bone.

“Sorry kid,” I say, “but you can have the rest of my rice.”

“Sure,” he replies, and dumps the rice into a plastic bag. (This is one thing I love about Madagascar, how little is wasted. If I can’t finish my food, which I rarely can when it’s rice, there’s always someone else who’ll eat it — even if it’s just the cat that hangs around the hotely)

We finish and leave the dark, weird-smelling, half-open market and step out into the street. I’m startled by the sunshine, but also on some level how normal sitting in a dingy market eating rice has become.

Chickens and Bananas

ChickensBasket SellerStreet kid eating chicken boneWashing ShoesBag vendorPhotos: (all were taken near Antsenakely, Antsirabe)

(1) Small child eating rice (it would have been cuter if she hadn’t made that weird face just as my friend Amy snapped the photo!) (2) Women selling chicken, bananas, and brooms (3) Chickens… duh (4) Woman selling woven rafia baskets and hats that are common in Madagascar (5) The street kid I gave my rice to… he’s making a funny face because he was in the middle of eating a chicken bone, but I think the photo is kind of hilarious (so did he) (6) Shoe vendors washing their shoes just outside Antsirabe’s small market (7) Tangerines, bananas, and bags

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In Photos Switzerland The Nomadic Life

A Skipped Beat: Tuesday Travel Snapshot in Lugano, Switzerland

Bringing you a travel snapshot from the Beat Nomad archives each and every Tuesday…

Lugano, Switzerland… except for last Tuesday because I was having some internet problems. To continue with today’s post:

I wish I had better pictures of Lugano, Switzerland. Even though I’ve ended up in the tiny Swiss town just north of Milan several times, I have disparagingly few. I’d like to say it’s because I was too busy drooling over cobblestone streets and bugging my friend to drink espresso or climb a castle with me… so we’ll blame it on that. This photo is a view of Lugano from a nearby mountain (but really just a hill in comparison to the Alps that hover in the distance).

Favorite part about Lugano: Stumbling upon a violin-cello duet around the corner from the Louis-Vuitton store, performing with sheet music and all (even the street musicians have class)

Least favorite part about Lugano: It’s retardedly expensive and a Swiss couple judged me for climbing that mountain in Toms

Categories
Africa In Photos Madagascar The Nomadic Life

A Skipped Beat: Tuesday Travel Snapshot in Diego, Madagascar

Bringing you a travel snapshot from Beat Nomad’s travel archives each and every Tuesday

Diego SuarezI recently found a blog describing Diego Suarez (the northernmost city in Madagascar, known as Antsiranana in Malagasy) as a “small fishing village”. It made me giggle a little, but then again, everything is relative. It’s small by western standards and most well known for it’s Portuguese-founded port, but tell someone from Diego that they are from a village and they’ll likely tell you off. Within Madagascar, it’s a hub of cosmopolitanism in the north. The city boasts a couple of night clubs, banks, a university, round the clock electricity (which says nothing of its reliability), and an airport. And then, there’s this semi-cryptic graffiti all over the place — a style of art I’ve always associated with urbanism. Through the Peace Corps rumor mill I heard that a French volunteer, not a local, is responsible for the graffiti, but of course that should be taken with a grain of salt.

Best part about Diego Suarez: The nearby Ankarana national park, the retardedly beautiful Emerald Sea, and all the fresh seafood and coconut rice we could handle.

Worst part about Diego Suarez: A surprising lack of cheap Malagasy food options and a not so surprising abundance of prostitutes (the seedier side of Diego: it’s a sex tourist destination, though still not as bad as Nosy Be)

Categories
Asia In Photos Thailand The Nomadic Life

A Skipped Beat in Krabi, Thailand: Tuesday Travel Snapshot

Bringing you a travel snapshot from Beat Nomad’s archives each and every Tuesday:

Thai Street FoodI had a serious space-cadet moment when I was in Ko yao noi, a small island about an hour’s boat ride from Krabi, while traveling around Thailand last September. I said goodbye to my friends, packed up my bag, got on a boat, all ready to fly back to Madagascar and realized “wait — it’s Wednesday, not Thursday… I still have a whole other day in Thailand!” How did I spend it? Eating, of course. Sushi, iced coffee, and noodles were all obsessions of mine while traveling there, but don’t judge me for also getting overly-excited at a packet of freeze-dried raspberries in a 7-11. (RASPBERRIES! NO WAY! I haven’t eaten these in over a year!)

Anyways, this photo was taken at Krabi’s nighttime street food market, right on the ocean. I suspect that most of the food here is a mysterious meat-on-a-stick sort of thing — one of Thailand’s food options that never struck my palate much, but I always gravitated towards for their colorful displays.

Favorite part about Krabi: Oh, besides the food? The night market (not the one shown here) and its overload of sensory experiences, and all the super rad climbing spots (which I didn’t climb) nearby.

Least favorite part about Krabi: This really awkward Barbie-pink pedicure I got because it was raining and I couldn’t think of anything else to do — awkward because of the language barrier and uncomfortable chair.

Categories
In Photos North America The Nomadic Life The United States

A Skipped Beat: Tuesday Travel Snapshot [Washington]

Bringing you a travel snapshot from Beat Nomad’s archives each and every Tuesday.

Crescent Lake

This photo was taken at Lake Crescent on a trip to the Olympic National Park shortly after I moved to Seattle. A couple of medical students from Arkansas that I met at a hostel and I were staying at Lake Crescent Lodge, and this was the view of the lake and it’s canoes right when we woke up. Being here in Madagascar, I seriously miss the Pacific Northwest.

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Africa In Photos Madagascar

A Skipped Beat: Tuesday Travel Snapshot [Fianaratsoa]

Bringing you a travel snapshot from Beat Nomad’s archives each and every Tuesday.

Betsileo

This week’s photo was taken on the RN7 just south of Fianaratsoa, somewhere near Anja National Park, in the wine-making region of Madagascar (although, trust me, it’s terrible — I once got drunk after drinking an entire bottle because I was convinced it was just weird tasting grape juice and it couldn’t possibly be actual alcoholic wine. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when I stood up). Anyways, I took this at the end of a two-day bus journey back from Fort Dauphin, when, just a few hours away from our destination our bus got a flat tire right in front of a wine stand. So naturally, we bought a bottle of wine and sat down in a gazebo, where immediately after this group of party-people (yeaaah, they’re looking lively here…) sat down and joined us. Since they were all Betsileo, it would have been rude of us not to offer our wine, and (begrudgingly) went from five to ten people sharing one bottle. Also characteristic of the region is the way the man front and center has a blanket draped over himself, and the man next to him had a tall stick. Fancy, right?

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In Photos

A Skipped Beat: Tuesday Travel Snapshot [Florida]

This week I’ve decided to finally start doing a weekly post featuring a forgotten or archived photo that, for whatever reason, never made it on to Beat Nomad before now. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile and I’m excited to at long last make the idea a reality. I’m also excited about the name (which my friend, Sally Bull, helped me come up with. Thanks Sally!) So, from now on you can expect a photo each Tuesday from past travels.

Today’s Photo

Florida Motel
This photo was taken around New Years, 2011 in St. Augustine, Florida, while I was visiting a friend I met traveling around Nicaragua. The deserted motel at sunset reminded me of a scene out of a mid-20th century novel where the characters were road-tripping along America’s open highways (On The Road, Lolita…). I loved the sense of Americana it evoked.

Categories
Asia In Photos Thailand Travel

Scenes from a Beaten Path: Thailand

Girly, Tropical Drink

The humidity felt like a second skin as my new friend and I sat collecting “Chang” and “Leo” cans on a hostel porch. A strange distant sound interrupted our conversation.

“What was that?”
“It sounded like an elephant…”
“Impossible, we’re in a city.”

Twenty minutes later two men passed in front of our porch, leading a baby elephant by with a blinking red bike light attached to it’s tail.

“I suppose it was an elephant.” One of us said, and immediately the mood felt lighter, as though we had just created our first and only inside joke with each other, that we had just experienced one of those anecdotes no backpacker in Thailand leaves without. It reminded us that we were far from home. Reminded me that I was far from my home away from home. When would either of us ever have our conversations interrupted by a baby elephant in America, Switzerland… or even Madagascar? (And for those of you wondering, no, there are no elephants in Madagascar.) Thailand may have been part of a well-worn backpackers route, and I may love to stick my nose up at the throngs of tourists in Paris, Costa Rica, or Thailand from my seriously un-visited small town in Madagascar, but I’ll be honest: I had a damn good time and took photographs to prove it.

Suhkhothai WatBoardwalk SunsetMangrove ForestKoh Yao NoiFood Stall in Krabi

Photos: (1) Girly drink at a bar (2) Sukhothai Wat (3) Boardwalk Sunset in Koh Yao Noi (4) Signs in the Mangrove Forest (5) Women collecting crabs at low tide (6) Nighttime food stalls in Krabi

Categories
Africa Madagascar The Nomadic Life Travel

Soaking in Sails and Street Art in Diego, Madagascar

SailExploring Diego and Emerald Bay

When we finally arrived at the northern-most point in our journey in Antsiranana (Diego), Madagascar the air was heavy and threatening thunderstorms. Rainy season was arriving late this year, but it seemed as though we hadn’t missed it completely.

Wandering through the streets of Diego felt like I had been transported to a totally different country. The French colonial architecture, unmaintained and now decaying, stood side by side with the brightly colored concrete houses and bamboo fences. We passed a medley of faces, skin colors, and dress while walking up and down the main stretch of road that felt at the same time Western and African. And finally, eerie, black portraits of men with chaotic expressions dotted walls throughout the city — some of the first graffiti I’ve seen in Madagascar.

While camped out in Diego, we made a side trip off to Emerald Bay — roughly 45 minutes by boat — which gets its name from the color of the ocean there. Although the bay is popular enough to drag in a whole army of sailboats full of French, Comoran, and American tourists every day, I can’t exactly object to a day spent splashing in calm, clear ocean, snorkeling, and gorging out on freshly caught fish and crab. On our way back to shore in our wooden sailboat, the waters turned rough as dark clouds rolled in over the bay, and we ended our adventure soaked and shivering but still giddy from the excitement of bouncing through the sea in rough waters.

..

Diego Sailor

Emerald BayDiego MopedSandwich Seller in DiegoDiego Street ArtDiego Graffiti
Photos: / 1 / Our boat’s sail / 2 / Sail boat captains / 3 / Approaching Emerald Bay / 4 / Women selling noodle-sandwiches on New Year Day / 5 / A couple driving their moped back from church / 6 + 7 / Diego street art