Peru: Machu Picchu and other places; (Winnipeg Travel Photography)

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It had been my dream for a long time to go to Peru and this past month I made it happen, which goes to show you that dreams do come true.

Peru and Machu Picchu was everything I had thought it would be and more. As I said to our guide, Paul, the trip had exceeded my expectations. My favorite moment was when the clouds lifted the morning we were in Machu Picchu. A chorus of Hallelujah was playing in my head and there it was; the Inca village below us. Absolutely magical and worth the lost sleep and the sore muscles from climbing all those steps. I was blinking back tears.

 

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My other favorite spot was the village of Ollantayambo, which is an Inca village that was not destroyed by the Spaniards (as many were) and stands today the way it did in the 15th Century. Indigenous  people are living in these very small, stone dwellings as they did 500 years ago!

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We had a van and a driver and we saw a lot of the beautiful countryside.

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Guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru, so we stopped at a roadside kiosk to sample some. Personally, I found it bony and greasy.

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Lima was like day and night compared to the other places we had seen in Peru. We stayed in a modern part of Lima and enjoyed the food and the sea walk.
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We watched the sun go down on our last evening in Lima. It was a lovely ending to a very interesting trip.

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Barbados 2016

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My boyfriend, John and I just returned from our second trip to Barbados and I wanted to share some of the highlights of our trip.

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We stayed at a condo on the sea in Ginger Bay, which was amazing. The sun came up through our bedroom window at 6:00 a.m.and the sea breeze woke us up as it brushed against our skin. It was idyllic!

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Our intention on this visit was to do some exploring of the island and we did quite a bit of that. Barbados is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, so it isn’t a big island, but the roads on the East coast are very bad, so any driving is slow and bumpy; many times we felt as though we were on a roller coaster.  As John said, there was no attention paid to leveling!

My favorite place to photograph was Sam Lord’s Castle,(http://www.barbados.org/samlords.htm#.VspASpwrKUk) which was just down the road from us. Sam Lord’s Castle used to be a beautiful resort but it burned to the ground and the rubble that is remaining is like something out of a haunted movie. (There probably are ghosts in the castle and some of the buildings, but I didn’t see any in broad daylight!)

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Our next stop that day was an abandoned lighthouse. The sea was even rougher there and the rock formations more jagged. This is on the East coast.

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The English were the original settlers in Barbados and built a lot of beautiful churches; most of which are still standing. Here are a few of them.

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There is  huge difference in the houses that people live in, similar to the rest of the Caribbean; a very definite class system. Some people live in huge, beautiful houses and other live in what to us look like shacks. barbados 2 16 sm-119 barbados 2 16 sm-120 barbados 2 16 sm-121 barbados 2 16 sm-122

These were taken in Spieghtstown( http://barbados.org/spght.htm#.VspAG5wrKUk ) on the West coast. barbados 2 16 sm-123 barbados 2 16 sm-124 barbados 2 16 sm-125  FullSizeRender

Chickens, cows and goats are everywhere. There is no difference between land that is agricultural, rural or urban.

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We had a great time. As always, it is difficult to leave 28C for our cold, dreary days but Winnipeg is home and I would not like to live anywhere else.

Next stop is Peru in March; a trip that has been on my bucket list for years. Can’t wait!!

The Great Train Robbery! (Prairie Dog Central)

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Today was a blast from the past when my friend John and I went on the Prairie Dog Central for The Great Train Robbery. It was  a ton of fun even though it rained for more of the trip and was freezing cold outside. The train leaves Inkster Junction and travels at a very slow pace to Grosse Isle. We could see people in vehicles stopping all along the way to take pictures when they saw the train coming and some that took pictures while they were driving. The funniest thing was how the cows in the fields ran for their lives when the smoke came towards them.

I highly recommend this adventure. Here are some images from our day:

The robbers coming to get money from the unsuspecting passengers.

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Hands up!

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Handing money over at gunpoint.

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Waiting for his company of thieves to come back with the money.

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Scary bandit!

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Love the train with the autumn leaves around it. prairie dog 9 14 sm-6 prairie dog 9 14 sm-7 prairie dog 9 14 sm-8 prairie dog 9 14 sm-9

Shovelling coal

 

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John got to sit in the engineer’s seat.

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This is part of a movie set that is being shot in Grosse Isle.

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Amazing how much smoke filled the air.

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Calgary; May 2014 (Winnipeg Photographers)

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I’m in Calgary, my second home, right now. I come here a lot because my son and his family live here and I always have a blast while here! I always get out and take some pictures while here (besides the ones of family), and this time is no exception.

My son took me to the cars shown below a few years ago and we went back to them yesterday. The cars were originally from around the 1940s, meaning that they have probably been in the water for  70 to 80 years. I would love to know the story of how they got to this mountain location with no road access, where they were left to rust and fall apart; making them the perfect spot to get some interesting photos.

I’m sure it would be an intriguing story!

Here’s a few of the car photos that I took:

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The sun was out today and Annie, the dog and I wandered around on the hillside and found crocuses and a few other treasures!

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Calgary, Jan. 2014

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I love being here in Calgary with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson! It’s like having a second home. I always manage a trip to Edworthy Park, which is along the river, to take some pictures and today my son and their dog came along with me.

calgary 1 14-100smIt’s a lovely bright sunny day today in Calgary with barely any wind. There is a big of snow but the streets are clear and it’s warm. Here are some of my favourites:

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One more day here in Calgary. I’m thinking of going to the mountains and taking some pictures there.

New Landscape/Travel Website! (Winnipeg Photographers)

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I’ve been very busy lately working on websites. First my own; http://www.chrismcwilliamsphotography.com and then my landscape site http://www.21photo.ca and the camera club one (that one isn’t ready to go yet.)

Today, I am launching my new landscape/travel site: www.21photo.ca.

Have a look. I think it looks pretty awesome.

I’m toying with the idea of switching my main site to ww.21photo.ca. What do you think? It is a shorter and more catchy name. I wonder though how much work it would be and how efficient it would be to send people who go http://www.chrismcwilliamsphotography.com to a new website. I know I can have a forwarding page.

Your comments on my new site and also about the idea of changing my whole site to 21photo would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Here’s a screen shot of the new site.

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Cuba: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when going to Cuba. Most of the reviews that  I had read talked about  bad food and great beaches. The beaches were great; fine white sad and green water but the food was actually better than I had anticipated. Yes, there was some unappetizing stuff in the buffet, but there were also some great choices.

The weather was probably the biggest disappointment for us. Yes, it was warmer than Winnipeg but when you go to a tropical place in the winter you expect sunny, hot days. We had clouds and wind for half of our week. There is no WiFi in Cuba, which was something I missed a lot and would probably be the number one reason I wouldn’t go back. And then, my girlfriend and I also were sick for part of the week. I’ve done a fair bit of travelling and have never been sick on vacation before. That part was not fun!

These are a selection of photographs from my trip.

This first one was taken at our resort and shows how choppy the water was.

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The waves reminded me of the ocean in Life Of Pi and I took a ton of them.

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We found these ducks with strange head markings in a park in Varadaro.

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This was taken in Havana. I love the look the pigeons  give to this photo.

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Havana was the highlight of the trip for me. I loved the old cars and the beautiful architecture. To me, Havana seemed part old Shanghai and part Madrid.

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This is a pharmacy in Havana.

cuba 1 13-31This fellow had a good thing going. He posed for you and let you take his picture for a Peso.

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One of my favorite memories of this trip were my interactions with this man.

I saw him working in his butcher shop as we were walking down the street. The meat was sitting out on a window ledge and he was busy serving customers with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. I offered to give him 3 Pesos for taking his picture with a cigar in his  mouth. He was more than happy to oblige. His bloody, dirty hands were holding a cigar while he handling raw meat at the same time. Those things are unheard of here in Canada but very common in places like Cuba. This man was really happy to have me take his picture.

The really fun part was when my girlfriend and I were coming back from our walk and he was sitting outside his shop with another man. He was really excited to see me and wanted to show his friend the pictures that I had taken. I showed them on the back of my camera and at that moment wished that I could have given him some prints. He was a gem!

 

 

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The next few shots were taken inside our hotel in Havana; a wonderful place with the most amazing stained glass ceilings.

 

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I was surprised at all the stray dogs in Havana; dogs that were thin and often had sores on them. This particular one was also lame. That is contrast to my dog and his life of luxury.

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This is an example of the outside of a lot of the buildings; not pretty but certainly interesting to photograph.

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There are many plazas in Havana, where you find the most beautiful architecture.

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This lady and her friend were also happy to have me stop and take their pictures. Unfortunately, I only had my wide-angle lens with me on this day and so was not able to get in very close.

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The Havana waterfront.

 

 

 

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The sunsets were amazing on the beach.

 

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It was hard to narrow down my pictures of the waves. They were very impressive.

cuba 1 13-5We were entertained by these dancers on our first night at the resort. The girl in the first picture was totally amazing. Unfortunately, the entertainment on the other nights was a disappointment. These images were taken with a 50 mm lens at 2.2 and at 6400 iso. I was amazed at their quality!

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Costa Rica4: Samara Beach at Sunset

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I’ve been in Samara the last couple of days. Tomorrow, I’ll be going back to Liberia for my morning flight back home on Tuesday. The fall and resulting bruise have not ruined my holiday but have changed it. I’ve had to rest the arm and slow down the last couple of days. That’s not a bad thing unless you are like me and like to see and do everything when you’re in a new spot. But it’s been okay. Sometimes you just have to change your plans and adapt. The rain forest was my favorite part of this trip. I had never experienced anything like it; a truly amazing experience. Beaches are great and this is a lovely beach town but at the end of the day, a beach is a beach.  The rain forest is something you should see if you get a chance.

Here are some pictures from the sunset today. Unfortunately, the beach faces South, so the sun does not rise or set directly on the water.

Just wondering; do you have a favorite of the pictures that I’ve posted of Costa Rica? Let me know.

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This first image was taken at the Baldi Hot Springs and Hotel. I would have loved to have stayed at this place. It’s luxury personified. There are 32 pools with spring water and all of them are at different temperatures. The pool in this picture is actually a sauna as well. Too cool!

This next one was taken tonight at sunset down at the beach. Horses and dogs are welcome at the beach. Made for a neat picture, don’t you think?

Costa Rica2 (Winnipeg Travel Photographers)

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This trip has been totally out of this world amazing. Presently we are at the beach town of Samara, where the temperature is 39 and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Yes, it’s hot!

But it was the rain forest that was a new experience for me. I loved the lushness, the greenness and even the down pours that happened very regularly. We have down pours in Winnipeg but not like this. The rain came down fast but the drops themselves were tiny. And you could always count of the fact that the rain would stop in 10 minutes. It was around 33 degrees while we were there, so the rain felt refreshing as well.

We stayed at a place right in the rain forest called Green Lagoon Lodge. The road to get there was more like off roading in a car than driving on a road. I’ve never experienced roads like that, even in Mexico!

This was the view from our lodge. I haven’t done any photoshopping to this image. I can’t believe all the shades of green!

 

 

The places we saw while there, were the best photography opportunities I have ever had. One was the waterfall. WOW! We walked down 480 steps to get to it. Steep steps made of stone. We thought that was bad, but in comparison to the Green Lagoon hike, it was a walk in the park. I took a ton of pictures there, but here are a couple. The first is the waterfall up close and the second is the same waterfall from far away.

 

The hardest physical challenge I have ever in my life undertaken was the climb to the Green Lagoon. Shannon and I had no idea that it would be so difficult. It starts out easy enough with a climb on a grassy trail. We were warned ahead of time that there were poisonous snakes up there but we never saw any, although we did see a lot of snake holes. Anyways, after the grassy trails, things got more challenging because next were mud moguls. And the mud was wet as it rains all the time. The mud moguls were also very steep. But worse was to come. The moguls were still in the grassy area and the rain forest came next. The trail in the rain forest was made of stone steps, roots and logs to step on. Add wet mud to all of that and then also add the steepness of it. Top that off with how endless it was. OMG: I would never do it again, but the photos I got were amazing. Every once in a while, the rain would stop and a bit of sunlight would appear through the trees. It was magical! You could feel the aliveness of the forest. It was so lush and green and wet!  We climbed and climbed and then climbed some more, constantly thinking that the Green Lagoon must be around the next bend. It wasn’t. Climbers were coming down and telling us that there was no view at the top as it was so cloudy (we were in the clouds at this point),  and that in fact, the Green Lagoon was another 200 very steep steps down once you got to the top and since the clouds were so thick, you couldn’t see 3 feet in front of you; never mind seeing the greenness of the lagoon. We plodded on. At one point we saw a sign that said the lagoon was 1 km ahead; a cruel joke I think. Finally, we decided this was pointless and turned back. We were probably 5 steps from the top, but it didn’t matter. It was raining really hard and the mud was getting more and more wet and slippery. The way down was much easier. I did take one fall on the mud moguls but wasn’t hurt as it was more of a slide than a fall and the soft mud protected me. The bad fall would come later.

Here are a couple of the rain forest.

 

 

Yes, the FALL! Once we were done the mud moguls we sat down on some benches. After  I stood up again, I realized that my legs were wobbly. I took some time to get my legs back and finish the rest of the hike. We made it down in one piece. Our sneakers were covered in mud. My clothes were covered in mud from my mud slide. Best thing to do; have a shower. WRONG! Never go into the shower with wobbly legs. A lesson that I learned the hard way. When I came out of the shower I fell on the wet floor and bumped into the sink. I banged my arm and my ribs into the sink. Hard. I banged them very hard. The good news is that I didn’t bleed or break anything. The bad news is that I have a bruise that is like something out of horror movie. It goes from my elbow almost to my shoulder and is a deep blue colour. It hurts but my ribs hurt more. Apparently, this bruise will spread down my whole arm. Lovely! I’ve been taking pictures of it and sending them to my doctor friend, so no worries. I do have medical advice. Ice and Tylenol. BTW: Never believe a pharmacist in a a foreign country. I asked one about it and he said to take Celebrix;  which would increase bleeding! Bad idea. Even I knew that!

So I’m laying here typing with an ice pack on my arm and ribs trying to get comfortable. I didn’t write about the most amazing spa/hot springs ever. Maybe later. Tomorrow will be looking for some monkeys and other fun things to photograph!