This was going to be a post about the new airport terminal in Dublin and the irony that it will serve so many emigrants away from Ireland but frankly, I’ve just realised how. Incredibly. Boring. That story is.
So instead, I thought I’d share some photos by my favourite portrait photographer of all time.
Annie Leibovitz began her career at Rolling Stone magazine and quickly became noticed for her talent. Since then she has worked for many different fashion magazines, often shooting celebrities in a style that is beautiful and instantly recognisable. She photographed John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the day that he was shot, the Queen on the occasion of her state visit to the United States and every celebrity and fashion model you could think of. Her photographs are colourful and draw the spectator in like a magnet. I could look at her work for hours and hours.
If I could choose anybody to take photographs of me or my family, I would choose Leibovitz.
The last one, perhaps Leibovitz most famous image, caused quite a bit of a stir when it was first released as the cover photograph of Vanity Fair magazine, especially for the fact that there should have been a third actress in the shot who backed out of the plan at the last moment.
Have a picture-perfect day, readers!
(Oh, and here’s that airport terminal – it’s a beautiful ad)
I have arrived in Moshi, Tanzania where I will be interning with ChildReach International for the next few weeks with the purpose of recruiting new leaders.
The journey was a long one, from Gatwick to Dubai to Nairobi to Moshi. All in all, the trip took 48 hours. My Irish passport was charged $100 for a visa which was infuriating, but the fact that the roads from Nairobi to Moshi are much improved was some blessing.
Since I arrived yesterday evening, I’ve just been settling in Moshi, getting to know all the Mzungu (white man) hang outs and familiarising myself with the area. Moshi is a relatively small town of about 150,000 which lies on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. When the sky is clear, one can see Kili from the streets of Moshi town. The ChildReach offices are located centrally and thus I have easy access to the town on foot and should only need taxis etc at night.
My friend Vicki, well-connected as she is in this part of Tz, has hooked me up with Oscar, who works for the Really Wild Travel company based here in Moshi. He has been incredibly useful, showing me the best places to buy certain essentials, explaining local culture, politics etc. and introducing me to people who may prove to be useful to me later on.
Today I took a walk around the town and took some photos of my home for the next 5 weeks:
And here’s a look at my living quarters:
Some people are scared of monsters under their beds. I'm more worried about scorpions.
Last summer, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It is 5,895m high and the trek was probably one of the tougher challenges I’ve ever undertaken.
We took the Machame route up to the summit, but all routes eventually converge at Barafu – the final camp. Climbers summit at night, in order to arrive at the summit for sunrise. I suspect that this is also done so that the climbers don’t see what’s ahead of them, thus ensuring a higher summit rate. I’m fairly sure that I would have found the hellish experience even more unpleasant had I been able to see what horrendous gradients lay ahead of me.
The result of this business is that one sets out from Barafu camp on summit night with a head torch and no real idea where one is going. Ahead of you is this steep ascent – not that anyone can actually see it. All I could see was this snake-like figure made up of hundreds of little headtorches meandering its way up and up – until suddenly it connected with the stars. Whenever we stopped, which was very frequently, and I managed to get my breath back (sort of), I would take some time to marvel at the sky above. You just don’t get views like that in Europe.
This is a time-lapse video of Cotapaxi in Ecuador. I think it illustrates what I’m trying to describe beautifully. It also made me wish I could be back on the slopes of Kili, trekking to Uhuru.
‘Our journey to the foot of Mt Everest was spectacular in the extreme’. – Sir Edmund Hillary
On Thursday, we decided to make a night of it and bought vodka/mixers before settling down in the hotel garden for some drinking and chats with the other residents of the establishment, including Thor, a guitar-playing hippie from Denmark and Elle, a leggy blond biomed student from Belgium. Before heading out, we had consumed the majority of the drinks we needed for the night and then walked the short distance from Kathmandu Garden Hotel to the Reggae bar in Thamel. The Reggae bar apparently serves multiple purposes: that of European Club, of live music venue, of social rendez-vous point and scenario for pretty much every weed-related transaction in town. There’s a roof-top shisha bar – the smell of weed up there knocks you sideways.
There is also a downstairs nightclub which, needless to say, we made a bee-line for and began ordering drinks with the rest of the CRI people present (i.e. most of Newcastle and several Nottinghamians who hadn’t gone home yet). The night was warming up, and Aberdeen headed out onto the dance floor in order to drop some moves and basically make everyone else in the room look bad, when all of a sudden – the lights came on. All the Europeans in the place began looking around confused, wondering had there been some sort of electrical fault. Then, a man stood up and we watched in horror as he announced that clubs in Kathmandu close at half past twelve on a week night.
As the whole club spilled out onto the street, rickshaw drivers jockeyed for clients among the throng and several rather nasty fights broke out. In the noise and confusion, we somehow managed to organise ourselves. Aberdeen began to travel in convoy to Casino Nepal, where apparently everything was complimentary so long as we played. Deal!
The cocktails were lethal and I’ve never played roulette before but I managed to win a couple of hundred Rs. Sam and I had dinner/breakfast at about 5am before grabbing Marina and jumping in a taxi which clearly didn’t know where it was going, abandoning it and then traipsing through the monsoon rains to bed.
Some of you may have heard of/seen the Space Invaders street art mosaics which began to sweep across th streets of Paris and later France in 1998. They later began to appear in major cities across the world, placed across public spaces by the French street artist Invader.
I didn’t know much about the man until I saw the film Exit Through the Gift Shop, about his cousin Thierry Guetta and featuring interviews with many of the world’s most famous street artists including Banksy and Shepard Fairey .
Anyway, I was walking through Thamel today and guess what I found…
We eventually had to tear ourselves from the wonders of cheap booze, food and accommodation in Pokhara and return to smoky, noisy Kathmandu.
We arrived yesterday afer a 6 hour bumpy bus journey in an over-heated coach blasting insipid Indian music. We decided to economise and shoved 5 people into a standard sized KTM taxi (a Suzuki Maruti) which would generally struggle to accommodate 4 Nepalis let alone five tall white men:
Hey! A penny saved is a penny earned.
I was worried that, since I’m in a Third World country with very limited access to electronic communications, I might be missing out on important goings-on at home. Luckily, my friend Caelainn is sending me regular updates about the REALLY important stuff:
Caelainn’s working for a news channel in Kashmir at the moment, so with the resulting curfews, she has a lot of time on her hands, it would seem.