The history of Hagia Sophia seems significant right now, as it is a symbol of the different cultures, religions and governments that have ruled this country. Even its names tell stories of its multicultural past – Hagia Sophia is Greek, while Aya Sofya is Turkish – and the city where it stands straddles two continents.
Cuba’s classic 1950s American cars all mark the point at which time apparently stopped in this Caribbean island, when the revolution severed it from the rest of the world. But time didn’t stop, of course – hence the rust, and the decay, and the peeling paint and crumbling concrete. The 50-year-old ideology feels old now, the people are weary, and the island prison is like its cars: a beautiful relic from the outside, but falling to pieces within.
The Batwa – Uganda’s “first people” – were nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed advanced hunting and trapping methods. Their profound knowledge of the forest allowed them to harvest honey, fruit and roots to use produce food, medicine and shelter. But when the forest became a national park, the Batwa were moved out. Now, the Batwa Trail is their only chance to return to their ancestral home.
La Nomadita has a “Lord of the Flies” moment with the boy hunters of the Choco rainforest, Ecuador
It’s appropriate that reaching the Himba involves such an arduous journey across Namibia. Arriving at the settlement, I realised life here was as far removed from my own as I could imagine, and the punishing journey was first test at leaving my comfortable, western lifestyle to enter another, more primal world, where human movements are dictated by nature, and not the other way around.
This woman belongs to the Himba tribe of the Kunene, an arid, rocky wasteland in northwestern Namibia. Her temporary hut is simple, hastily constructed from poles of wood and plastered earth, as red on the inside as the woman herself. Aside from her plentiful jewellery, crafted from leather and metal, she wears only a goatskin skirt, smeared ochre over time.
The Afroecuadorians of Esmeraldas are descendants of West African slaves brought here five centuries ago. Some of their ancestors escaped slavery, some were freed from the mines. Others dodged slavery altogether when their ship was wrecked in the rough Pacific watersc, and they managed to swim to shore to create a new life for themselves in the South American jungle.
After three days in Florence, I’d visited none of the museums and ventured into just one small church. I’d done no shopping and seen none of the world-class galleries. I’d stepped inside the cathedral, but not made it up the famed Duomo. Yet as the high-speed train pulled out of Santa Maria Novella station, I felt content, knowing that I had, truly, experienced Florence.