Here is Boyana's aunt, catching a swarm of wild bees. They were all gathered on the tree branch, so she rubbed the inside of that basket thing with lemon verbena, which they love. You hit the branch with a stick, the bees are dislodged and fall into the basket. They stay in there, I guess, until you put them into the hive.
We spent the day helping them gather honey from Boyana's grandmother's hives, which was both interesting and very informative.
Got out of the city today, and went up to a popular working monastery. (We saw a miraculous icon! We don't know what it did, but it was miraculous!) After visiting the church and whatnot, we went for a walk on the nature trail through the neighboring hills and woods. It was gorgeous.
We saw a lot of these red and white bracelets tied to the trees and bushes. I think they must be for prayers, but I'll ask around and keep you updated!
A lovely church tower in the old town of Plovdiv, with a wedding party gathering for a photo. I don't think you can see her here, but the bride was wearing a tight white miniskirt dress with only one sleeve. Oh yeah.
Back in Bulgaria, in an historical city called Plovdiv. There are lots of very nicely restored Ottoman houses here, but unlike the ones in Turkey, these are all different bright colors, and are often decorated with intricate designs above the doors and windows.
Our Serbian friends told us these little fliers are only seen in Serbia, although we have seen them in Bulgaria as well. A Balkan tradition, perhaps.
When someone dies, their family puts up these notices of their death on their door, near the church, and around town. They aren't taken down until maybe when they're faded and dirty. So poles and doors and bulletin boards here are full of little memorials, like an extension of the graveyard.
I guess that here in Sofia it's cheaper to renovate a basement apartment than it is to buy a kiosk or storefront, so lots of people just open up little stores like this. All over the city you can see locals bending over to buy cigarettes, beer, phone cards, pastries, who knows what else.
Coolest thing ever. Ryan and I visited a lokum (Turkish delight) factory today! The guys were really friendly, and showed us all around. They demonstrated all of the steps of making Turkish delight, and gave us a ton of samples (too many, if truth be told. I like Turkish delight, but one bite a day will do me.)
Here he's cutting some saffron flavored delight with pistachios.
Ryan and I are spending a couple of days in Safranbolu, which is an absolutely gorgeous little town a few hours from Istanbul (making us very glad it's not summer just yet . . .). The whole town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is so well preserved. There are hundreds of original Ottoman houses here, as well as some nice mosques, a caravansarai, and a hamam.
We've been doing a lot of couchsurfing, which means staying with local people who have an extra room or space on their couch. We set it up through a website called couchsurfing.com.
Our host here in Ankara took us to a concert tonight, of one of the biggest rock bands in Turkey. It was a surprisingly fun night (I normally hate loud concerts) - here's me having fun not being able to take a picture of the band.
This is what I have on my trip. Some clothes, books, a medicine kit, electronics bag, some gifts and souvenirs, a few miscellaneous items. It all goes on my back - the big bag weighs about 15 kilos. (I wish I could pack a bit lighter, but ah well!)
Ryan and I were both terribly sick with food poisoning today, and did not leave our beds. So, here is a photo of a normal (if rather nice) neighborhood mosque.
You can see all the individual spaces on the carpet, one for each man to kneel on. (The women are always in a separate room, or, like in this mosque, in a balcony area.) The niche tells in which direction Mecca can be found. That big staircase there is the minbar, where the imam stands to give his sermon on Friday.
I began taking a photo each day on the day I moved to Buenos Aires in August 2006. It's been over five years now, through normal working life in Argentina, a trip all around South America, a long visit home to the US, teaching in Taiwan, traveling around the Middle East, living in Vancouver, and traveling around Canada.
I have a few lapses, but I decided that it was better to feel good about the blog instead of feeling like a slave to it.
These photos are the things that I see - things that are common or interesting or odd or delicious or beautiful or terrible - things that catch my eye in some way. This blog is a way for me to keep in touch with family and friends so very very far away, an extended photography lesson, and a kind of daily journal of my own impressions of places both new and well-known.