Photo essay – Delhi Pride Parade 2014

Hundreds of Delhiites marched together on Sunday, the 30th of November to participate in the city’s seventh LGBTQ pride parade. Stuti Bhattacharya was there. 


By Stuti Bhattacharya, 8th December, 2014 

The Delhi Queer Pride Parade is an annual event that has been held in New Delhi every year since 2007. The parade is a festive event meant to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, while protesting unequal treatment by law and society.

In India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises sexual activities “against the act of nature”, which is defined in a manner that effectively criminalises homosexuality (it also criminalises certain consensual heterosexual acts). The Delhi High Court declared this section to be unconstitutional in 2009. This judgment, however, was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court maintained that only the parliament can repeal Section 377. That is unlikely to happen in the near future as the new government in India is led by the BJP, which is a right-wing conservative party. The BJP has explicitly spoken out against homosexuality.

This is the first pride parade since the Supreme Court verdict and since the new government took office.

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Fear and Loathing in the Magic Valley of Malana, India’s Cannabis Country

Satellite mapping by the authorities forces India’s famous cannabis growers deeper into the bush. 


By Shweta Desai, 10th January 2014 (Republished with permission) 

Deep in India’s Himalayas, in the remote and isolated Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, is the quiet village of Malana. When autumn arrives each year, Malana is enveloped in what was once a hopeful air brought on by the new harvest, as lanky cannabis trees bloom wild in panoramic fields and against scattered houses. Farmers and villagers begin cultivating in late September, rubbing the buds of fully bloomed plants between their palms to extract the brown hashish resin known mystically as Malana’s crème. Today this time of year carries with it the dark pall of police interference.

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Colourful Challenges: Street Art from the Middle East

The author looks at Street Art in the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Palestine). He draws attention to how in some parts it became an apparent means for protest, while in others it is more widely used to endorse the current regime.


By Dallin Van Leuven, 13th October, 2013

The Arab Spring brought far more than a change of leadership to nations in the Middle East and North Africa.  Its political upheaval introduced a marked increase in the freedom of speech, as well as a challenge to the definition of public space.  At the intersection of these two currents lies street art.  Street art – rather than graffiti – is an appropriate term, with vibrant, poignant expressions of free speech capturing the attention of both residents and passers-by. Continue reading

Photoessay: 2013 Kumbh Mela, India

InPEC presents a photo essay of the “Kumbh Mela” in India by Hemley Gonzalez, a Cuban-American activist who runs the Responsible Charity in the city of Kolkata.

By Hemley Gonzalez, 21st February, 2013

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious pilgrimage that takes place every twelve years at one of four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik in India. More than 100 million people will attend the 2013 Kumbha mela.

The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the Ganga river. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized.

Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter. Continue reading

Photo Essay: Tradition and the Sahel

The Sahel is in the headlines.  As the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya is linked to pan-Sahelian terrorist organisations and terrorism in Nigeria and Mali drifts further towards the front pages of western newspapers there is a need to look at some of the stories emerging from the region.  This collection of photos, taken by Jack Hamilton, looks at the changing nature of tradition in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

By Jack Hamilton, 4th October, 2012 Continue reading

Photo reportage: 10+1 photographs of Nicaragüa

In this photo reportage, the author explores part of Nicaragüa’s beauty.

For more on Nicaragüan politics follow this link: Quo Vadis, America?

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By David J. Franco, 27 Jan, 2012

Introduction

Few places have captivated me more than Nicaragüa, the largest country in Central America, famous for its Sandinista revolution, its colonial cities Granada and León, Rubén Darío’s poetry, and the twin volcanos, Maderas and Concepción, located in that tiny island called Isla de Ometepe, in the middle of the Lake Nicaragüa. True, not all in Nicaragüa is as mystic as I’ve just portrayed. Life and drama coexist in this Central American country: politics is a corrupt matter and poverty, drugs, and crime continue to force many Nicaraguans to cross the Southern border in search for a better life in Costa Rica. Two unfortunate recent events have brought Nicaragüa back to the international stage: its 2010 military incursion into the Río San Juan, and José Ortega’s victory in the 2011 presidential elections amidst claims of fraud.

Good thing though about sharing personal experiences is that one can choose which side of the story is worth telling, and which side of the story is better left untold. In this case, I will not share with you photographs of piles of litter in the roadsides, or photographs of that place where a young lady got kidnapped one night, or photographs of the chaos reigning in border posts. Instead, I will limit this series to show you some of the beauty of Nicaragüa. Because, unfortunately, it is her beauty that is often left untold.

1.School Buses

I want to start this series of photographs by showing you the interior of one of the many old decommissioned yellow US school buses that populate Nicaragüan geography. These are usually packed and not very comfortable for long distance trips (they were initially meant for US kids with short legs, not for adults carrying luggage). There is however something unique about crossing the country in these buses: their decoration is colourful, and at every stop women take the opportunity to get on the bus to try and sell all sorts of produces: from water contained in small plastic bags, to fried plantains.

2. Granada, Iglesia de la Merced

Granada is beautiful, it is silent, it is lonely. It is like many of Spain’s old cities but without the buzz. From the top of this bell tower, I could see Nicaragüa’s lake. Still, quiet, paused. It felt good, it felt as if time had been put on hold.

3. Daily life in Granada

No traffic lights, no street names. Only coloured houses with the typical Spanish tyled-roof. When you ask for directions, don’t be surprised if you get the following answer: ‘walk a hundred meters down the road, then turn right, walk fifty meters and you will see the post-office. It’s ten meters after the post-office’. Skinny, hungry horses pulling old carts are a common sight.

4. Social Centre Tío Antonio

Located in the old colonial city of Granada, this social centre was founded in 2007 by Antonio Prieto, known locally as Tío Antonio. When I got there with a Costa Rican friend I was caught by the slogan of a sign governing the place: ‘Take a rest by helping others’. Though the most touristic city in Nicaragua, Granada has a large population living unde poverty line. In this photograph, impaired boys and girls knit hammocks that will later be sold to finance shelter, education, and other social programmes.

5. León, Museo de la Revolución

The city of León is fascinating. Compaired to Granada, it is much more chaotic and noisy. It is also more decadent and the home of the Sandinista revolution. In this photograph, two former guerrilla fighters pose at the Museum of the Revolution holding the flag of the Frente Sandinista, leaders of the 1979 revolution that ended more than four decades of ruling by the Somoza family. Upon entering the Museum I saw a big cardboard sign reading ‘No Weapons Allowed’. The gentlemen in the photograph treated me very well and even took me to the roof of the building from which we could see the Cathedral of León.

6. León, Casa Museo de Rubén Darío

Rubén Darío is one of the greatest Latin American poets of the nineteenth century, known for initiating the literary movement of modernism. Like the magnificient Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Darío combined his literary work and passion with a diplomatic career that took him to several posts outside his Nicaragüan borders. Poets are said to be solitary souls. If Darío was as solitary as the house where he died in 1916, surely poetry must have been his ultimate refuge.

7. San Juan del Sur

Very close to Costa Rica’s border of Peñas Blancas is San Juan del Sur, a town of fishermen that every year sees the arrival of hundreds of backpackers in search of sun, sea, and surf. Locals are very nice and usually very discreet, they mind their business yet are very friendly. After all, tourism is one of their main sources of income.

8. Beaches near San Juan del Sur

I stayed a few days in San Juan del Sur but instead of practising surf I spent every morning fishing when the tyde is low: I only caught two catfish and one of them sank its spine well into my finger. While not very tasty, catfish is good for making soup. The photograph above shows a beautiful, wild beach near San Juan del Sur where some friends and I spent the day surfing and fishing. It is also, with Playa Maderas, the scenery chosen by different TV programs to shoot reality shows.

9. Isla de Ometepe

I never thought there could be something like a twin volcano island in the middle of a lake. Until I saw Isla Ometepe, home to the twin volcanoes Concepción (1610 metres) and Maderas (1394 metres), right in the middle of Lake Nicaragüa.

10. Finca Magdalena

When arriving at Isla Ometepe, I suggest you take a local bus to Finca Magdalena, a 350-hectare organic farm and agricultural cooperative stretching along the foothills of Volcán Maderas. The place is fantastic and well kept. Wake up at dawn and hike up the volcano, When you get to the top after some three to four hours, enjoy the view as the crater is inundated with rain water. You can even take a swim, if you dare… Unfortunately for hiking lovers, Volcán Concepción (above) is currently active.

Conclusion

Little else needs be said, The above are only snapshots of some of Nicaragüa’s Eastern spots. Many more places are left unexplored by this series of photographs. As the kids in the opening photograph show us, Nicaragüa can also be all smiles.

Photo Essay: Stories from Kabul, Afghanistan – Part II

By Abhishek Srivastava, 16 Jan, 2012

As part of a USAID project, Abhishek Srivastava worked in Kabul, Afghanistan on AMDEP (Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Program). The principal goal of the project is to train and assist Afghan journalists and students of Kabul University on the nuances of reporting. Abhishek tells us stories of people and places in Kabul using his photos as a medium. This is the second in a series of photo-essays on Kabul.

Part I can be accessed here: Stories from Kabul – Part I

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1. The Projection Room

The projection room of Park Cinema in Sher-e-Naw, Kabul

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2. Cinema Paradiso

The distorted sounds and scratched prints of Bollywood films mostly, plays in this cinema hall.

In 1996, Taliban banned cinema halls in Afghanistan, but after they were outsed in 2001, the cinema halls were back in ‘action’, playing Bollywood action flicks.  This picture was shot during the screening of  ‘Jimmy‘, Mahakshay Chakraborty’s (Mithun‘s son) debut film.

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3. Made in Russia

The film projectors are from the Russian era. I think that ‘war’ has been a major part of Russian cinema. It must have been part of spreading communism.

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4. Afghanistan’s Starbucks

Afghanistan’s very own green tea.

A common sight on the streets of Kabul is of people – with their friends and families – sharing endless conversations over cups of hot green tea.  The smell of cardamon in the air arrests you, and attracts you to these smoke emitting aluminium containers, which contain the boiling tea leaves.

In Afghanistan, the tea drinking tradition is part of life.

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5. Afghanistan’s National Sport – Buzkashi

Afghanistan’s National Sport is the brutal Buzkashi. Traditionally, horse riders would fight over the carcass of an animal, usually a goat. This one, however, was being played with a sand bag. The Taliban does not approve of this game, and has targeted such games with several suicide attacks in the past. As a rule, women are not allowed to watch this game.

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6. A Tourist in Afghanistan

Meet Ibrahim, a tourist visiting the town of Kabul.

At the time of the civil war, when the warlords could not handle free Afghanistan, they left the country in shambles. A young man, Naveed, migrated to Karachi, Pakistan, where he fell in love with a Kashmiri woman and married her.

After eighteen years, their son, Ibrahim, visited the land of his father to trace their footsteps and learn the history that forced them out of this country.

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7. Street Cricket

Although football is the most popular game amongst the kids, street cricket is a common sight on Fridays (Jumma).

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8. The Birth Lottery

Being born in Afghanistan can indeed be difficult. Imagine the trauma of war that these innocent minds have to grow up with.

Only a quarter of the children get to start their school education, that too at the age of 7, while the others are found ragged on most of the streets tapping on the car window, begging for money. They sometimes ask for specific dollar amounts, or swirl cans of burning charcoal to rid your life of evil spirits. Unfortunately, the war has been brutal and several children often get killed in drone attacks.

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9. Forgotten Waistlands

Belts, circa late 1980’s. The Russian army had invaded Afghanistan and were in a war with Afghanistan’s Mujhahidin fighters.

Mujhahidin fighters, with the help of Americans, brutally defeated the Russians. Some 15,000 Russian soldiers died fighting the war, many of them killed by American surface-to-air-missiles.
Today, in 2012, an antique shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, sells dozens of belts of those dead Russian soldiers, for American dollars.

This, to me, is symbolic of the intention of every American intervention.

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10. Mellifluous Markets

One of the oldest quarters of the Afghan capital, where a bazaar that caters especially to bird-keepers is located. The bazaar is known as Ka Farushi – the “Hay Market”.

The entry to the market is very small, so no vehicle can enter. Hence the air of the bird market – housing some of the world’s most sonorous birds such as canaries – is filled with the melodious sounds of birdsong.

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The copyright of all photos are with Abhishek Srivastava. Please do not reprint without permission.

Photo Essay: Stories from Kabul, Afghanistan

As part of a USAID project, Abhishek Srivastava worked in Kabul, Afghanistan on AMDEP (Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Program). The principal goal of the project is to train and assist Afghan journalists and students of Kabul University on the nuances of reporting. Abhishek tells us stories of people and places in Kabul using his photos as a medium. This is the first in a series of photo-essays on Kabul.

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By Abhishek Srivastava, 23 Dec, 2011

1. The remains of the Darul Aman Palace

Built in 1920s by King Amanullah Khan to modernize Afghanistan, is this Darul Aman Palace. Well, not any more.

Located just ten miles from the main city of Kabul, the building was set on fire during the Communist coup of 1978. It was damaged again as rival Mujahideen factions fought for control of Kabul during the early 1990s. Heavy shelling by the Mujahideen after the end of the Soviet invasion left the building a gutted ruin.

The building tells a story of the times the country has withered.

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2. Women – Power and powerlessness 

One of woman MPs in Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghanistan parliament. The women MPs – elected via reservations – are not encouraged to be in a position of power.

This takes me to a few conversations I had in Kabul.

I once asked a male Member of Parliament, ‘how come none of the women nominate themselves for the post of the speaker?’ He replied, ‘who will vote for a woman?’

Another time, I went to an Afghan journalist friend’s home where he, another local Afghan journalist and I ended up watching an old Bollywood film by Sanjeev Kumar, starring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz. The film was about the husband (Rajesh Khanna) doubting his wife (Mumtaz) for having an affair with his friend (Sanjeev Kumar). As the plot develops, so does the husband’s doubt. However, his doubt is shown not to have any substance and the allegations he makes are not true. Eventually, the husband slaps the wife and they separate.

The moment the man slaps the wife, both of my journalist friends show no end to their joy and erupt with this immense reassurance in the idea of ‘ideal manhood’. I ask them, ‘what makes you so happy?’ They reply, ‘the woman deserves this’. I say, ‘but why, she has done nothing wrong. The husband is just being an ass!’ They say, ‘we know, but she should be careful of her husband’s doubts and feelings: it’s her duty to imagine all this!’

And these are two well educated journalists of Afghanistan!

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3. The people

Meet Haji Rasool, a carpet dealer in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is originally from Uzbekistan, a neighboring country.

Afghanistan largely has four tribes, Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazras and Uzbeks.
Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, is a Tajik.

Pashtoons are Pathans and claim to be original Afghans. They are in the majority. Tajiks are from Tajakistan, Uzbeks from Uzbekistan and Hazras come from this province called Bamian. The Bamian province is infamous for the bombing of the Buddha statue by the Taliban.

Hazras and Uzbeks are direct descendants of Ghengiz Khan and the Mongolian clan. Afghanistan fell into the southern part of the silk route, that crosses the high mountains, passed through northern Pakistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains, and into Afghanistan, rejoining the northern route near Merv. The Uzbeks and Hazras are hence a part of the famous Han Dynasty of the traditional Chinese civilization.

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4. The Qarga Lake

The Qarga Lake is situated 10kms from the city. It is set in the barren hills, north-west Kabul. This artificial lake was created in the late 50’s by President Daoud as a recreation facility.

I felt blissful entering this serene area with clear air, just a 20 minutes drive from the dusty confines of Kabul. This area is also home to the Kabul Golf Course.

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5. Maintaining a vigil

Meet Jameel, a night guard.

This is the city where the Taliban suicide bombers force themselves in and first fire indiscriminately. When they exhaust all their ammunation, they blow themselves up. Guards such as Jameel have to face such threats with nothing more than courage and an inadequate firearm.

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6. The skies

If not a bird, you will definitely spot a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk in Kabul. The sky is flooded with them, mostly transporting NATO officials/soldiers, VVIPs, and UN officials from one point to other. Travelling on road is not a safe option for them.

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7. Evenings in Kabul

Kabul at 6 in the evening. The city works between 8am-4pm. Offices close by 4pm, and shops by 6.30pm. I have not seen the concept of street lights in Kabul. In fact, the photo above is from one of the most posh areas in Kabul, called Sher-e-Naw.

The vibrant colorful shops keep the city alive and glimmer the roads till about 7pm. No one is seen venturing out into the city after 8pm. After that, it is only the beautiful dark blue sky to give you company.

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8. Trees

The streets in Kabul give a very dry look, pretty much like the climate here. The trees are leafless because of the weather. In the winter, snow takes the place of the leaves, beautifully forming a white layer on the branches.

Kabul in winters appears like a desert; a cold one. It used to have a lot more trees, but the Soviets cut down most of them for security reasons (the mujahadeen hid in them to snipe at the Soviets).

After the Soviets left and the warlords fell to fighting one another, the city was shelled for almost three straight years from 1993 to 1996, destroying or damaging more trees. Then when the Taliban was in power, they paid little attention to planting new trees.

With no Taliban now, trees are being planted, but at a slow pace. At the same time, existing trees are being cut for firewood. If the outer portions of the trees run out, people go for the roots!

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9. The Kabul Bread Factory

The famous Kabul Bread Factory was built by the Soviet 40th Army.

This old barren structure standing tall was once feeding mostly the soldiers fighting the civil war. It used to process and grind 141,000 tons of wheat and was used to cook 40,000 tons of food items such as bread, cookies and spaghetti before the wars. However, it was completely destroyed during the wars and all its machinery was looted.

Knowing its history, it felt surreal to look at this structure and feel its stillness.

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10. Education

This young boy I met wanted a biscuit. It was a time in the day when he should have been in school.

Afghanistan suffers from a broken education system. It has been particularly bad for girls. The lack of schools in minority villages, long distances of schools from some areas, and cultural traditions have prevented girls from going to school. Where there are no schools, most of the children work in the fields.

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The copyright of all photos are with Abhishek Srivastava. Please do not reprint without permission. 

Photo Reportage: A Taste of Costa Rican Culture

In this post, the author shares photographs taken during a trip to Costa Rica in summer 2010.


By David Franco, 16 Dec, 2011

Located between Nicaragüa and Panamá and flanked by the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica proclaimed its independence from Spain in 1821 and gained full sovereignty in 1838. Today, Costa Rica is Central America’s most prosperous country and one of the few nations in the world to have voluntarily given up its army. The country is known for its rich natural resources and agricultural products (including coffee, sugar, bananas, and beans), an impressive biodiversity, and a very friendly indigenous population. Its rapid industrial development and specialisation in microprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, and plastic products make it a very attractive economy for foreign investors. I know it sounds a bit of a cliche, but two words define this fantastic country: Pura Vida.

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1. Ticos in San José

Costa Ricans are known as Ticos and are extremely friendly and approachable. Wherever you go they welcome you with a big smile and wish you Pura Vida, an expression that perfectly exemplifies their attitude towards life. Of approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, it is estimated that between half a million and a million have Nicaraguan origin as many left Nicaragua following the 1979 Sandinista Revolution against the Somoza regime and the subsequent economic struggles during the nineties. Usually known as a peaceful and accepting nation, Nicaraguans are nonetheless often the subject of racist comments from local population. However, it is fair to say that generally speaking Ticos and Nicaraguans coexist peacefully as the photograph above illustrates (the gentleman in the right is of Nicaraguan origin).


2. Mercado Central, San José

San José is Costa Rica’s capital and home to the Central Market or Mercado Central. For a first-time visitor, the Mercado Central is a perfect introduction to Costa Rica’s culture and cuisine. Populated with infinite numerous family-owned eateries and small stands covered with piled fruits of all sorts, it is the capital’s little treasure and a must if you find yourself wandering the streets of San José. Walk around, interact with the locals, take a typical Costa Rican meal at one of the numerous sodas, and round it all up with a cup of coffee made from the finest Costa Rican beans.


3. Parque Nacional de Tortuguero

Literally meaning “Turtle Place”, Tortuguero is a small village located in the Northeast, 31,187-hectare costal National Park of Tortuguero and approximately 50 miles north of Puerto Limon. Both town and park owe their name to the hundreds of Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill Sea Turtles that nest every year alongside the wide shorelines. Witnessing the turtles nest at night under the light of a white, round moon is a brief but enduring experience. Unfortunately, turtles are an endangered species as centuries of hunt have led to a worrying decrease in their numbers. And although Costa Rican legislation has toughened in that respect, many still worry that clandestine hunting is still common practice. Be that as it may, Tortuguero is a realm of peace as the photograph above crystallises: all you need to do is jump on a canoe, paddle your way through the canals and spend the morning fishing. Locals will then help you cook a delicious soup called Rondón.


4. Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is unique in itself. Located in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline, Puerto Viejo is home to a mixture of Jamaican, European, and Afro-Caribbean cultures. Everywhere you go you can listen to locals speaking some sort of Creole English. Surf, fishing, night life, and a rich cuisine can easily turn this place into a trap as many Europeans who came for a few days yet stayed for years will happily testify. I could have chosen a photograph of a local surfing the acclaimed Salsa Brava but I prefer the above picture as it reflects the best of that magical place: when the sun goes down, take a swim and let the warmth of the Caribbean wash away all your burdens. Puerto Viejo really is the place to experience and on top of all that it is very close to Manzanillo and Cahuita.


5. Imperial

Any reportage on Costa Rican culture and society needs to cover the country’s beer Imperial. Not that I like beer myself as I am allergic to barley, but a reference to the preferred beer of the majority of Ticos is necessary as the entire Costa Rican landscape is populated with signs showing the Imperial Eagle. Born in 1924 at the Ortega family-owned brewery, Imperial combined German beer tradition with the taste of Costa Ricans. In 1957 the Ortega brewery was acquired by the Jamaican FIFCO (Florida Ice & Farm Co), owner also since 1912 of the Traube brewery and Costa Rica’s second most popular beer Pilsen, and soon after Imperial became a national emblem. In the words of FIFCO, throughout history Imperial has traditionally reflected the character of ticos: cheerful, kind, sociable, popular, and proud of their country. By the way, today Imperial announced that it has finally set a date in 2012 for its popular annual Music Festival after four years of absence.


6. Cahuita, the sea, and the sloth sanctuary

Cahuita also deserves a mention of its own. Surprisingly small and located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline between Limon and Costa Rica’s border post of Sixaola, Cahuita hides a real treasure: a long, desert white-sanded beach flanked by an Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary where some two hundred baby, orphan sloths are looked after and rehabilitated before being returned to the wild. The town is magical but incredibly small, and the transparency of its waters as well as the sloths’ almost invisible presence is definitely worth the effort of travelling to that remote place of the world.


7. Costa Rica: A life full of colour

My last chosen photograph has a clear purpose: in addition to all the green and blue of Costa Rica’s natural parks and sea, the country is full of live colours deriving directly from its home grown agricultural products. Wherever you go, towns are always filled with street markets selling a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Their colour is so powerful that it inevitably cheers you up. Apart from the Mercado Central mentioned above, one cannot miss out on this market located in San Isidro de El General, a rapidly growing town located some 120 km Southeast of San Jose and 30 km North of Dominical in the Puntarenas Province.

Conclusion

As the title of this entry indicates, the above is meant to be a brief taste of Costa Rican culture. Geographically, it provides snapshots of the center and East coast of the country leaving aside the West coast for a very simple reason: the entire country is amazing but my preference lies with the east coast as it is, in my view, less Americanised and more authentic (these are generalisations and of course there is a bit of both everywhere). The reportage also leaves unexplored some other fantastic areas located in the heart of the land either because I was not able to cover these due to shortage of time or because I do not keep photographs of some of the places I went to, such as El Arenal or La Fortuna. The reportage also leaves aside other less attractive aspects of Costa Rica such as poverty, crime, and drug trafficking in Limón, for example. This, too, is the result of a conscious decision as is the focus on culture and not on politics.