Monday, May 30, 2011

Gorillas in the Zoo

I know you are all waiting for some Gorilla photos so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite photos of them in captivity at the Bronx and Los Angeles Zoo.  Both zoo's are working hard on important conservation efforts to protect gorillas in Africa.  One of the most important parts of conservation is education so check out your local zoo and see if they have gorillas and go down there with a friend and see these amazing apes for yourself and learn a little more about them!  Click on the zoo's name for more information about conservation efforts by the Bronx Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wooden Clogs, Amsterdam

Holland is famous for their wooden shoes.  Not quite sure how these came about since they are SO uncomfortable, but you see them all over the city being sold to tourists.  Some of them can be quite beautiful hand painted and some are just cheap touristy buys.  I love shoes so much I have developed the nick name Imelda Marcos amongst friends and family who know me well, but I refrained from buying these wooden ones, but they sure are fun to look at!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Warme Wafels, Amsterdam

One of my favorite treats in Amsterdam are their warm waffles.  They are sold from many street stands and are covered in powdered sugar or your choice of chocolate or fruit topping and then smothered in whipped cream.  They are absolutely delicious and in the cold winter are a wonderful treat.  On a cold night there is nothing like walking around with your yummy hot waffle.  Just be careful of the whipped cream when you're walking- Ashley and I were very sad when our whipped cream fell off our waffle.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Amsterdam Flower Market

The world famous Amsterdam Flower Market is the only floating flower market in the world.  It is wonderfully fragrant and eye-catching all year round as it displays in season flowers.  The flower stalls stand on houseboats on the canals.  If tulips is what you are after (Amsterdam's most famous flower_ you can buy the bulbs ready for export so you can take them home with you.  Spring and Christmas are two of the most beautiful times because in Spring all the tulips are in full bloom and at Christmas the market is done up with thousands of Christmas decorations and trees.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Amsterdam

Because of flight schedules on my way to Rwanda I had an overnight in Amsterdam.  Last time I was in Holland was with my friend Ashley during our junior year abroad in Paris.  I haven't sorted/edited through pictures yet from my overnight yet so I thought I'd share with you some pictures from my last visit.

Amsterdam is a pretty awesomely diverse city.  While it is probably most famous for its legalization of marijuana and prostitution there is so much more to the city than its many head shops and red light district brothels.  The city has an amazing history and there are so many cultural things to see and do like taking a boat ride down the canals, biking through the cobblestone streets, seeing the Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum, seeing contemporary photographers at Foam, visiting Ann Frank's House, smelling the flowers in the Flower Market, or simply wandering the streets checking out the cool architecture and maybe a stop or two in the cannabis coffee houses.  Ashley and I visited during December and the weather was horrible, snowing almost the entire three days we were there.  That limited our activities to mostly indoors and we went to almost every museum in the city, but there are a plethora of museums ranging from old masters to contemporary art, a Jewish cultural museum, a diamond museum and one of my favorites a museum of bags and purses!
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back to Africa

After 5 months back in the states my travel bug has led me back on a transatlantic flight on my way back to Africa.  My first trip to Africa began last July when I visited Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.  I  had dreamed of going to Africa all my life and had spent years reading and studying about the people, the politics and my greatest love- the animals!  You can watch millions of documentaries and view stunning wildlife images, but there is nothing like being there.  I take images to encourage people to help protect the animals and promote conservation in the hopes that they one day too can make it there themselves and see the majesty of the continent where life on this planet started.  This time I am headed to new countries- specifically Rwanda and Uganda.  This trip is incredibly special to me, because this time not only am I going to see wonderful wildlife (including my first time seeing Gorillas in the wild) but I am also going to get to see some amazing humanitarian work being done in Rwanda.  The first week in Rwanda will be spent with UNICEF on a field visit getting to see first hand the amazing life changing work they are doing in the country.  I have been lucky enough to get to learn more about UNICEF through my dads involvement with the US Fund for UNICEF and have been so impressed by them and can't wait to see them in action.  I will write more when I get back and hopefully have some amazing photographs to share with you.

The next two weeks will be spent on a gorilla safari with Volcanoes Safaris in Rwanda and Uganda.  Gorillas are an extremely endangered and can only be found in the East African countries of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Those three countries have had extremely volatile pasts and are still experiencing violent conflict.  Properly conserving an animal in a western country is difficult enough, but conserving wildlife in a country torn by warfare is nearly impossible.  However there are motions being put in place including guards, sanctuaries and national wildlife areas.  I will talk much more about conservation efforts in East Africa to protect the great apes when I get back and have photos to share!

I am particularly excited about this trip because I get to experience both some time out in the jungle with wildlife and some time in the cities with the locals.  Many westerners try and separate conservation issues from humanitarian issues in Africa, but they are intrinsically linked.  I've talked about this many times before in my posts on conservation in third world countries- the only way to get conservation to truly work is to get the locals involved and passionate about it.  Poaching and human encroachment are the biggest threats to the great apes so one of the most important steps to their survival is education and stability in country.  If a new generation of children are raised having their most basic needs met and learning to be proud of protecting their countries natural resources the plight of the ape will soon decrease.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A day at the beach

A couple of weekends ago I went out with my dad to visit some family friends at the beach and their two adorable kids.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I had a blast playing with them in the sand.  It's funny how universal certain sibling behavior is.  Watching them play together and throw sand at each other so reminded me of my sister and I when we were that age.  My favorite part about spending time with them is watching how creative they are.  A simple pile of sand can be a fortress or a robot or a fairytale creature lurking beneath the surface of the sand.  When do we lose that ability to see so much wonder and adventure in the world?  I guess that's why I love photography.  For me it is how I find my way back to seeing adventure and wonderment all around.

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