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This is the second post of photos that lay neglected for years in my “photo of the day” file. During years of travel, taking thousands of photos, inevitably there were photos that didn’t make the cut. However every now and then I’d see a photo that had something – not enough to include it in a post, but not dire enough to discard it outright. They were consigned to a “photo of the day” file with the idea that I might use them someday. I’ve used quite a few of them. Others, poor abandoned orphans, have been languishing there since 2012-2014. I’ve recently been inspired to start editing them. The first post focused on Southeast Asia. This post roams all over the world.

Guelaguetza Festival, Oaxaca, Mexico:
For ten days we were immersed in the dancing and music of Guelaguetza, a festival of the indigenous people of Oaxaca. They present their traditional dances, music, costumes and food. It’s a wild party where their cultural traditions are affirmed, deepened, shown to each other and the world, and madly celebrated. It’s about maintaining and sharing their traditions, and about gifting. After every dance performance gifts are thrown to the crowd, ranging from tiny woven corn-sheaf artifacts, to traditional pastries, to small plastic bottles of mescal, to pineapples. In only one day at this festival I took 1200 photos. I’ve shared a lot of them, but it was so hard to choose so here’s a few more (including the opening shot).

Vancouver, Canada:
Autumn, a time of change on so many levels: the days getting shorter, leaves showing their last brilliant hurrah,

and the final fading days of a double-headed sunflower.

San Telmo Fair, Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Of course we went to the Sunday market at San Telmo, a charming barrio of cobblestone streets dating back to the 1800’s, and full of antique stores. It’s listed as one of the top places to see in BA and on Sundays it comes alive with street stalls and musicians. Some people on Tripadvisor complain that it’s touristy and there are no longer any real antiques there. They may be right. Whatever. It was lively and colourful and alive and full of incredibly creative crafts for sale, and musicians, and tango dancers, and this street performer. It was fun. We loved it.

Antofagasta, Chile:
It’s a working-class town with a rough edge to it, a regular downtown core, and a small beach; an unremarkable mining town in the Atacama Desert in the far north of Chile. On a hot day the beach is the best place in town for family fun. It’s busy, alive, a place of freedom, a place for kids to play, a place for community. And this kid, who I caught looking back at the others he was playing with.

Chinchero, Peru:
Chinchero is a small Andean village about 30 kilometres from Cusco. The market is held every day, but Sunday is the best and busiest day. The main road through Chinchero from Cusco takes you through an ordinary, somewhat unattractive, fairly typical Peruvian rural town. Not someplace you’d bother to stop really. But head along a side street and up the hill and things change. You start to get into the narrow cobblestone streets and adobe buildings of an earlier time, but which are still very much in use today, and quickly come to the famous market. It’s a local market in the truest sense and there are very few tourists.There are many women in traditional dress. Some are dressed that way for tourists, most simply because that is the way they’ve always dressed.

Pano and Kato Lefkara, Cyprus:
Pano (upper) and Kato (lower) Lefkara are two enchanting independent but inter-related villages located on the southern slopes of the Troödos Mountains. What a sweet discovery. We spend the day exploring the two stone-and-cobblestone towns. Although the villages existed long before, most of the houses are about three hundred years old.

All Greek Orthodox churches have an iconostasis, a moveable wall of religious icons usually placed to separate the nave from the sanctuary, which contains the altar. We are endlessly charmed by their golden gorgeousness. This one is in the village of Kato Lefkara.

Paphos, Cyprus
We were wandering down towards the busy harbour one day when we were stopped by dancing. We had lucked into a performance of traditional dancing taking place on an outdoor stage. There were about twenty dancers and half a dozen musicians performing the traditional dances of Cyprus. The Greek influence is unmistakable, but the dances have their own Cypriot flavour that has developed over centuries. We watched entranced as the men and then the women danced. There was the feeling that this kind of dancing traditionally takes place in a bar, or a barn, or at a wedding, with tables set up for those not dancing.

Troödos Mountains, Cyprus
Historically there was always turmoil on Cyprus, especially in the coastal cities and towns, year after year for centuries. It’s no wonder that people took to the hills. And from the 11th to the 16th centuries in the rugged and beautiful Troödos Mountains, the central massif of the island, they built their churches – tiny remote barn-like churches, some hidden in forests, some in tiny villages. These churches, still in use today, display some of the most exquisite Byzantine and post-Byzantine religious art ever produced. Just outside Kakopetria is the church of St Nicholas of the Roof. The interior is covered in unrestored religious frescoes about 1000 years old. On the exterior wall we find a much younger decoration.

Burnaby, Canada:
In Burnaby we housesit in a beautiful house that backs onto a kilometre-long forested green space established to protect a salmon spawning stream. The boundary of the back garden of the house is formed by the deep presence of tall strong trees, abiding silent custodians of the land, and home for countless birds. Following the habit of the homeowners we keep the hummingbird feeder filled, and daily put out a handful of peanuts on the deck for the blue jays. The jays swoop in stuffing their gullets with peanuts, frequently snatching up as many as three at a time before they fly off again.

Hawaii, USA:
Taking the Kahekili Highway north we arrive at the Byodo-In Temple, a non-practicing Buddhist temple established in 1968 to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. We are completely charmed by this place, by the traditional Japanese building, by the giant gold Buddha inside the pavilion, by the beautiful koi pond, by the swarming hungry koi, by the swans, and zebra doves and other birds, and by the beautiful gardens.

We are on the small island of Manono, a twenty-minute boat ride from the west side of Upolu, the main island of Samoa. You can walk around Manono in two and a half hours. We are slowed by talking with people, by taking in our surroundings including the beautiful tropical flowers,

and by photographing all the enthusiastic children who push to be in front of the camera. It takes us four joyous hours.

The Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria, Puno, Peru:
Each year, high in the Andes the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria takes place during the first two weeks of February, and rivals Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival in size, scope and brilliance. The sheer size of Candelaria is staggering: fifty thousand dancers and fifteen thousand musicians. And in an astonishing piece of good luck we get press credentials giving us “front row seats” to all of it. Like Guelaguetza I took thousands of photos and it was really hard to choose so here’s a few more.

Next post: It’s the dead of winter here in Vancouver; there’s nothing to do but embrace it. By snowshoeing. Cypress Mountain adventures coming up.

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2022.