Travel blog: Panama Canal

early morning we wake to find ourselves waiting in Gatun Lake. Passengers on shore excursions are gone by 8.30 and will rejoin the ship on the Pacific side. It’s a sparkly day, clear skies and tropical colours. Canadian made tugs shepherd us to and from the locks. Red channel markers lead the way …

Our large ships just fits the lock. There is a windsock and “mules” on the rails, guide us through: see yellow bumpers. Buildings painted blue and white. Now owned by Chinese, I last passed through under American ownership.

Random UK drawings

Travel journals can record historic places, overnight stays and driving routes; they can also hold memories of personal significance, instantly recalling quiet moments.

My cousin once lived in a house/trailer in a beautifully designed park setting called West Moors. Owned by the original farmers who developed their land, it was a friendly, well tended place and this was the view from her front windows. In time, the place was sold and the new owner dropped new places into every available spot. Luckily, by then my cousin was going blind so could not see the new surrounding. I remember this sketch with pleasure.
quirky details are often caught by my pen … a cottage with enormous chimneys, the way an arch is formed is formed from selected large stones, the walls filled with smaller pebbles
Red brick detail creating a simple harmonious design with pebble walls, thatch roof with straw birds sculpted in, and simple scallop shapes in wood providing simple detail. And not forgetting the Celtic magic of slow growing and long lasting yew trees.

Travels in Salta … cont.

We descend from the harsh heights above Purmamarca, into a softer friendlier area, leading to Salinas. Wild donkeys live here, happily grazing, descendants of burros set free by the Spanish army drove mule trains, following the edge of the Andes south. They graze here as Salinas is pure salt, refreshed every year by rains washing fresh salt to evaporate here. The land can literally blind one. The road cuts straight across.

Salinas, with
sun is so bright, it blinds. Land is shades of grey as a result.

Travels in Salta … cont

Bajo la luz y se llevo todo.” The light dimmed and everything was swept away … when a storm washed out the road to Tilcara. The intense reds and ochre are complimented by the greens, make the land sing. Yet as I celebrate these colours, I am told this is a harsh, challenging place to live.

We climbed up from Purmamarca: Purma atop – marca is settlement. Mesas here are eroded into gothic cathedral-like shapes. They are bare of animals, we are told. Ines is sitting quietly in the back. At the summit, I ask how she is doing. OK, she smiles but she has a touch of siroche. Selfishly I feel fine.

Travels in Salta … cont.

As I settled into the Salta journey, no day felt complete without a sketch. Words also had to be included, such as Sandwicheria: a mesh of Anglo Spanish.

Sugar cane in Salta is used for sugar. In Tucuman it is also used for alcohol and paper as it is of poorer quality. Or so I was told in Salta!

We drove along the fertile valley of the Rio Grande and I drew the little houses with their water tanks jauntily on high.

travels in Salta, Argentina

Returning to Argentina is always special; travels with my school friend Ines, even more so. I had never been to Salta before this trip. The landscape, so filled with colour, amazed me. I sketched something every day!

We spent a night at Los Los, an old tobacco farm, overlooking the Andes, soaring birds and puffy clouds.

For this trip I had a small handmade book from my friend JA. It is seven inches by five, a double page: 7x 9.5″. Small notes evoke huge memories. I can hear the birds, water bubbling past, and smell herbs wafting in the evening air.

I can hear

Travel Blog: Bananas

Fascinating day learning how bananas grow.

When travelling the westcoast of South America with my father, I watched bananas being loaded onto our cargo ship and heard stories about workers being bitten by nasty spiders or other hazardous insects. Now bananas are grown in perforated plastic bags, keeping insects out. Each tree shows the life span:Dead old tree on right, new adult in centre, teenaged tree on left. Each new shoot produces one bunch up to 3 feet long. A flower grows into an early bunch. See below:

As the flower petals die off, the baby bananas are revealed and curl around the inner stem.