Sunday, January 17, 2021

Footloose in Buga (Colombia 06)

Guadalajara de Buga, in the Valle del Caucais department, is a mid-size city in the central valley north of Cali. It is one of the oldest cities in Colombia, having been founded in 1555 by Giraldo Gil de Estupiñán. 
Roughing it with croissants and coffee, Hotel Guadalajara Buga

We stayed a night after descending from birding in the coastal mountains. The rest of the group left at 06:00 to look at birds in the reservoir and wetlands, but we decided to enjoy a luxurious breakfast and explore the city. The Hotel Guadalajara Buga, a historic hotel from 1954, was really nice - I like roughing it like this.

Gentlemen of Buga
We walked downtown along Carrera 14 towards the Parque, Jose Maria Cabal. This is a busy place! Folks were out enjoying the good weather, chatting, eating, sharing stories, and just hanging around.
Of course, there were plenty of vendors with produce of various sorts.
Mid-morning, quick, what do you do? Drink a Colombian espresso, of course.
Calle 8, Buga
Calle 7a, Buga
Carrera 13, Buga
This town is bustling with commercial activity. But stay off the street when the motor-scooters are buzzing towards you! I almost got smushed once.
Basilica Del Señor de los Milagros, Buga
The Basilica of The Lord of the Miracles is an impressive pink complex of buildings and church. It receives 3 million pilgrims every year. We walked around and looked at the crypts. 
When most of you read this, it will be winter in North America and Europe. You will not be seeing a fruit and vegetable stand like this for a long time. Savor and think about the flavors of ripe produce. 

I love exploring thriving towns like this. And I like to see all the street activity. 

Most of the photographs are from Fuji Acros 100 film, exposed through my Leica M2 camera with 35mm and 50mm Summicron lenses. I use a Gossen Luna Pro Digital light meter in the field to measure exposure. The fruit vendor is Kodak Ektar 100 color film from a Yashica Electro 35CC camera. Click and photograph to expand to 1600 pixels on the long dimension.

Stand by for more Colombia photographs.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Footloose in Cali (Colombia 05)

Downtown Cali

Santiago de Cali (sanˈtjaɣo ðe ˈkali], or Cali, the capital of the Valle del Cauca department, is a bustling city in southern Colombia. We only spent a couple of days there before heading into the mountains, but I took advantage of the time to wander around and check out the scene. 

The Rio Cali flows through the center of the city and offers walking paths and a venue for the famous las novies del gato ("the cat's girlfriends") art park. 

We were warned not to walk along the river at night, but the scene in daytime was pretty mellow. In the Parque Simón Bolívar Cali, people walk, bike, skateboard, read, and feed the pigeons. It was reasonably clean and well maintained. Nice spot, but not much water flow when I was there.

Waiting, ad waiting, and waiting...
Oddly, a large municipal office building complex is in the park, the Subdirección de Catastro Municipal. People were lined up in what looked like very frustrating lines. I wonder if some of them hire line-standers?
Contract typist
The men with old-fashioned manual typewriters interested me greatly. Citizens with multi-page forms hire a typist to complete these forms. Then the citizens can submit them to the appropriate office in the municipal building. Some of the typists were using carbon paper to make duplicates (do some of you "mature" Urban Decay readers remember carbon paper?). I have seen similar typists in Cuba and Tanzania. And decades ago, I remember letter-writing professionals outside of post offices in Turkey. People who could not write hired a professional and then immediately mailed their letter at the post office.
Avienda 40 oeste - just get out of the way
Yes, the traffic is dense. But the drivers were very observant of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. And I think the street condition was better than in many American cities.
At the Centenario office complex and mall
Heading back to the hotel, what to do? Stop for a coffee, of course. The Centario Mall had a nice sitting area in the atrium.

Cristo Rey

Selfie at the Cristo Rey. Great hats!
Professional portrait at the Cristo Rey
Cheerful portrait 

I am sure every tourist is taken to see the 26-m statue of Cristo Rey (Christ the King), located west of Cali on the Cerro de los Cristales in the village of Los Andes. It is a steep ascent past nice suburban neighborhoods and shantytowns. According to Wikipedia,

On Sunday October 25, 1953, the statue was inaugurated at its summit an image of Christ in celebration of the fifty years following the end of the War of a Thousand Days. It is made of iron and concrete, with a mass of 464 tons and a height of 26 m, of which 5m belong to the pedestal.

More exploration to follow. For articles 01 to 04, please type "Colombia" in the search box.

These photographs are from Fuji Acros 100 film exposed with my Leica M2 camera with 35mm and 50mm Summicron lenses. I scanned the negatives with a Plustek 7600i film scanner.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Organized Chaos at the Galeria Alameda, Cali (Colombia 04)

Dear Readers, 2020, a truly horrifying year, for which we Americans should be overwhelmingly ashamed and contrite, is behind us. The presidential freak show will be over by late January, and maybe the MAGA malignancy will fade, like a pestilence that has run its course through a population or a toxic scum that sinks back into the cesspool. 
Let us start a new and more hopeful year with a colorful food market. As you Urban Decay readers know, farmers' or food markets are always fun. They are colorful, odoriferous, noisy, cheerful, and full of photographic opportunities. The Galeria Alameda between Carrera 24 and 26 in Cali, Colombia, is a good one. The Cali Adventurer summarizes it as 
"It’s organized chaos. Imagine a place where buyers and sellers of herbs, flowers, exotic fruits, veggies, meat and fish mingle and haggle. A place where a pound of cow eyes are just as likely to be sold as a bag of potatoes. A place where indigenous women sell hand-woven baskets next to “snake oil salesmen” selling alternative medicines." 
I am not sure about the chaos part. Compared to markets I have visited in Africa and Asia, this one looked pretty clean and sanitary, but don't let that make you think it was boring, by any means. 

Note, these photographs are from January 2019, obviously pre-virus; it seems like another lifetime.
Want to test a pepper? Snacking available; have some ice water available to cool off your tongue.
 Some of these goodies were wrapped in banana or plantain leaves.
 The cheese vendor checking his phone. Everyone in Colombia checks their phone....
The chickens were refrigerated and trimmed - no live ones running around. And this employee was already wearing her mask.
Lunchtime! Our charming guide, Vivian, knew exactly where to eat and knew the staff at the cafeteria. The serving gents in the orange shirts were pleased to have some foreigners chowing out. Top it off with a strong Colombian coffee - it does not get much better than this.

These photographs are from Kodak Ektar 100 film from my little Yashica Electro 35CC camera. I used it on auto-exposure, and the little electric eye calculated most exposures as well as I would with a hand-held meter. The color balance was a bit funny with various types of lighting, but that is one downside of film as opposed to digital. I scanned these negatives on a Plustek 7600i film scanner.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - Monroe to Ruston, Louisiana (LA-07)

Monroe is the Big City of north central Louisiana. I did not find it very inspiring architecturally, but it is busy, with plenty of commercial activity and lots of traffic. Much of the architecture where US 80 comes through town is strip America of the ugliest nature. I did not spend much time in Monroe and need to explore more in the future. I would like to visit the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum as well as the cypress swamps of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge (north of the city). Antique Alley in West Monroe (west of the Ouachita River) would also be interesting.
Former car dealer, 2901 US80, Monroe, Louisiana (Kodak Tri-X film, Hasselblad 501CM camera, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens)
Yes, it is strip America. Maybe I should do an article on the ugliest strips I can find.
West Prong Young's Bayou from Washington Street, Monroe (Tri-X film)
This bayou must be part of a drainage system for storm water and who knows what other effluent. I wonder if there are any alligators during high water?

Heading west, US 80 runs north of I-20 for a spell then crosses and runs south of I-20. Many of the neighborhoods west of West Monroe are converting into McMansion developments, often gated, but remnants of older farm houses as well as plenty of trailers remain. 
I stopped at this old house in Claiborne. There are likely more like this in between the new developments.
Mount Zion Cemetery, US 80, Calhoun, Louisiana (Fuji X-E1 digital image)
The Mmunt Zion Cemetery in Calhoun, just north of where 80 crosses I-20, was peaceful and shaded by mighty trees. 
No more food here, Calhoun, Louisiana
The crossing at Interstate 20 consists of truck stops a Dollar store, and a couple of dead restaurants. Not too inspiring.
US 80 view east, Calhoun, Louisiana
Calhoun is an unincorporated community in Ouachita Parish; a quiet little place. I continued west.
Fixer-upper house, US 80, Choudrant, Louisiana (Tri-X film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 EBC Fujinon lens)
Masonic Hall, Elm Street, Choudrant, Louisiana (Tri-X film)
Choudrant is a village in Lincoln Parish. The village's web page advertises "Louisiana's Front Porch." Here I saw a surprising number of older homes in various states of repair. The former Masonic Hall on Elm Street was intact but am not sure who uses it.
In progress, 123 Allen Street, Choudrant (Tri-X film, Fuji GW690II camera)
Not being repaired, 147 Allen Street, Choudrant
Being dismantled? 153 Allen Street, Choudrant
Choudrant proved to be reasonably interesting. I did not see many people about. 

This was the end of my US 80 exploration on this outing. I continued west towards Ruston, which is a nice college town, hosting Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana Delta Community College. It will be worth a revisit some other day. Thank you for riding along on the Dixie Overland Highway.

The photographs above are a mixture of Kodak Tri-X 400 film exposed with a Hasselblad 501 CM camera, Tri-X from a Fuji GW690II camera, and digital images from a Fuji X-E1 digital camera.

Personal Note. Dear readers, I hope you were all well and healthy this past year (2020), horrifying as it was regarding the virus, our national incompetence in taking medical precautions seriously and intelligently, and our continued descent into a third-world banana republic politically and socially. 2021 should be better in almost all respects. Stay strong, explore your world, comfort and support your relatives and loved ones, believe science and data, and stay optimistic. Happy New Year to y'awl!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

On the Dixie Overland Highway, Historic US 80 - Girard and Start, Louisiana (LA-06)

We continue on our exploration westward on historic US 80 through rural Louisiana.
4554 US 80 Girard, Louisiana (Fuji X-E1 digital file, 18mm ƒ/2 lens)
Girard is an unincorporated community in Richland Parish, Louisiana, on the west side of the Boeuf River. Originally, the town could ship merchandise to other markets via the river. But starting in the mid-1800s (before the Civil War), the railroad became the prime means of shipping agricultural products. This is now solely a bedroom community, with houses and a few stores.
The Easy Pickins' Thrifty Sales store is in a nicely-restored old grocery at 5144 US 80. It was open and quite interesting. I asked about old cameras, but the owner only had some old Kodak box cameras and Polaroids. There are always Polaroid cameras at these types of stores, but the lack of most types of instant film makes them useless today.
US 80, view east, Start, Louisiana
Start is another unincorporated community along US 80, this one in Richland Parish, Louisiana. It consists of an unused (?) gin, big gas station, and some homes. 
The buildings of the C.W. Earle Gin, address 5947 US 80, are a short distance south of the highway. Some of the equipment and siding was quite rusted, and I could not tell if this is a going concern or not. 
Texaco, US 80 view west, Start, Louisiana
This is all the excitement in Start. The next community west is Monroe, the "big city" of central Louisiana. We will continue our trip on US 80 in the next article. Thanks for riding along.

These digital images are from a Fuji X-E1 compact camera with the 18mm ƒ/2 Fuji lens.