Tag Archives: culture

Feria de Abril de Sevilla

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Sometimes when you travel you happen upon magical moments which is precisely where I found myself on a recent trip to Seville. Once we arrived I noticed many of the women walking around town in gorgeous traditional Spanish dress. One thing led to another and here we were, standing in the middle of Seville’s “Feria de Abril“, Seville’s April Fair.

Lasting for six days these rows of “casetas” are built on the fairgrounds in which a parade of decorated carriages and riders trot back in forth in front of. Casetas, which are elaborately decorated tents, are each individually owned by families, groups of friends, prominent businesses, or political parties where inside Spaniards enjoy live music, traditional dance, rebjuito, and tapas.

It was a magical transition stepping into a world I’d never known or experienced, so rich in tradition and culture. I was an invisible witness as I wondered through with my camera, smiling the entire way.

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Cusco, Peru

A journey down to South America to visit the city of Cusco, Peru.

I could barely sleep on the overnight Lan Airlines flight down to Peru on our next leg of #OnlyInSouthAmerica adventure. Machu Picchu has been on my travel wish list since I fist learned about it in elementary school but before we could make the main trek we started out in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire before the Spaniards conquered it in the 1500s. You can see the layers and layers of history and culture – the original Inca walls resting under European style architecture. You discover a city that is more rich and mystical than what meets the eye  as you learn about the centuries of battles, a lost culture, a mixture indigenous roots and Spanish influence and a strong connection to the earth. Mostly in Cusco, I enjoyed walking the little narrow streets, up and down the corridors, looking at the women in their amazing hats as they went about their day.

Most people ask me first about altitude sickness. I did not get sick, however, I would get winded on the first day walking up hill and just overall felt tired I think from lack of oxygen. By my 3rd day in Peru I was totally back to normal. It also made the effect of one pisco sour feel like you had ten… which I kind of loved. I also loved the flavor and effect of coca tea which was offered everywhere we went as a way to help ease altitude sickness… mostly for me it was like drinking ten cups of coffee.

Other things about Cusco I loved: the ceviche game here is STRONG. I have yet to have a ceviche as good since. The San Pedro market was amazing to see. An aisle for meat, an aisle for flowers, an aisle for cheese, an aisle for potatoes, it was endless and so rich with culture. Also, fruit smoothie with beer in it– game changer. Cacao tea, who knew! Wandering through all the little shops tucked away in courtyards to hunt down the perfect alpaca sweater or hand made pottery bowl was also very fun and with a very friendly exchange rate.

As a place that has such a strong unique culture there are exotic things you can try such as chicha beer (it was purple!) made from corn or the most popular dinner dish for locals- guinea pig… both things I’m glad I tried but I’ll leave those (and the frog juice to cure headaches!) to the locals.

If I ever find myself on the way to Cusco again I’ll look forward to the way the city transports you not only to a different place but what feels like a different time…

A journey down to South America to visit the city of Cusco, Peru. A journey down to South America to visit the city of Cusco, Peru. A journey down to South America to visit the city of Cusco, Peru.

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NAGA

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You can’t help but be overcome by the romance of the NAGA story. All over Bali we kept seeing the face of the lovesick dragon in temples, as carvings and in the landscapes of the fable. As the story goes…

There is an ancient story of a dragon known as the Naga. He lives on the volcano peaks of Bali, but at night will descend into the ocean to see his true love, the Pearl. In the morning, the Naga rises up from the water and flies back to his peak. Water drips from his scales as he goes, nourishing the rice fields of Bali. During the day he keeps watch over the island, protecting Bali and its people, before returning to the ocean each night. Because of this routine, the Naga represents eternal love, prosperity, and protection to the Balinese people.

John Hardy’s Naga Collection takes this fable and brings it to life through dragon imagery: the scales along his body, his expressive face, and sometimes, glowing eyes. You can wear a Naga piece differently to mean different things – if you orient his head so it faces toward you, it represents eternal love and prosperity. Away from you, it means protection (this has to be my favorite application of a story to something wearable!)

Since the mythic dragon lives between volcanoes, we paid a visit to Mount Batur to hike up this active volcano which most recently erupted in 1963. Through volcanic activity over the centuries, a lake has formed from a collapsed crater. The visible activity of the volcano is a network of vents releasing hot gases – at the source, hot enough to warm food (in the case of our trek it was hot bananas!) It was my first experience on the top of a volcano, feeling its hot gases wrap around me as if Naga was watching the sun set, preparing his descent into the ocean to be with the one he loves….

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Weaving Life on Bali

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Bali is built on tradition and community, two aspects that permeate everything on the island from artisan’s work to religious practices and ceremonies. There is a rich heritage on the island of artisans, from jewelry making to weaving, and it is easy to see how these skills appear not only in the beautiful work made but also in the offerings presented at their temples.

Chain weaving, for example, has been going on for thousands of years in Bali. Women will work together, taking on different parts of the creation process to ultimately create a beautiful and intricate piece. This is mirrored in woven offerings, created with young coconut leaves by a number of women to make a detailed and gorgeous gift for the gods.

We had the most amazing peaceful experience on morning with our friends at John Hardy who wanted us to see the importance of tradition and community Bali is built around and how that influences the John Hardy designs, in this particular instance with Classic Chain. We rose before the sun to be dressed in traditional temple outfits and arrived at Pura Tirtha Empul, meaning The Holy Water Temple. People say it was built by Indra, a god of protection, and boasts pools of natural spring water for rituals. Water is the source of life and the Balinese use lots of holy water for blessing, drinking, and purifying – and you can even take it home with you! The temple is the biggest in Bali and people will come if something bad is happening to purify oneself or home.

Hinduism states that there are five elements of the body: water, fire, earth, wind and earth. Everything comes back to these elements in customs and rituals. In the ceremonies these elements are represented through the use of items such as incense and fire, which you see above in our offering the ladies created for us and below for the blessing ceremony.

The artisans at work in the ancient chain weaving manor:

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Just like women come together to weave the leaves into baskets for ceremonies, the community does the same with John Hardy’s approach to jewelry making and the classic chain weaving process. Like I mentioned before, John Hardy has a program where single mothers can work from home in their own communities in order to both make a living at their craft and raise their children.

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Below, the chains are later passed to another set of hands, continuing the creation process from one person to another, all working toward the finished product together.

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Community, ancient chain-weaving and ceremonies.

Below we witnessed the community of women working together on making the traditional offerings. These same type of techniques are passed down from generation to generation , showing up in spiritual practices, craft and trade and even as art pieces like some of the textile weaves we learned about from Threads of Life.

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