As the sun sets and the sweltering temperatures begin to subside, the dancers come out in Cartagena. The energetic drumming is like a siren call, ringing through the colonial streets, drawing onlookers from across the old city.
For a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the ancient wooden doors of Old Cartagena are each as exciting as a book cover – each awaiting to be opened to reveal the stories within, of traders, aristocrats and drug barons.
Mystery meat stalls are such an intrinsic part of travelling that it only seemed right to ask for a photograph of Thomas, with his corrugated aluminium kebab stall under the shade of the looming baobabs – and he was happy to oblige.
This photo means a lot to me today as it’s my final day in the job which has taken me across the globe and back during the last five years, and the end of almost exactly ten years of living and working around the world and there are many memories in these Pesos, Gourdes, Shillings, Dollars, Euros, Bolivianos, Birr and Balboas.
Oh, to be able to bring this scene to life with the noise, the heat, the humidity. The acrid smells of rotting crops and fly-covered meat, the sticky black floor. This photograph is strangely calm, its subject lit as if upon a stage by the Caribbean light penetrating the glorious, rusting, metal roof.
I bet that many stories have unravelled behind these battered windows. The light and heat and flies are banished by flimsy shutters with proud layers of new paint, by mesh screens, by pieces of wood sliced up to fit the frames. But people remain within, kept here by half-century-old laws.
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.
Namibia’s “Sand Sea” – the Namib Desert , has today been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The desert’s burning sun, unobstructed by clouds or trees, paints with light and shadow on the sloped surfaces – the rust red walls, the white clay floors, the dark, hardy camelthorn trees.
Juan hand-rolled the fat cigar in front of us in the little wooden hut. The leaves had been fermented for four months with honey, vanilla and just a little rum, and smelled delicious enough to eat. Juan took a small bundle of leaves, rolled them and held them in place with paper. Dark brown leaves from the inside of the plant were then rolled diagonally around it, and the classic form of the Cuban cigar appeared before my eyes.