Monumento a La Revolucion in Mexico City

When people think of traveling to Mexico, they probably consider the warm sandy beaches of the Mayan Riviera or the historical landscape of Oaxaca before they consider Mexico City. I like those places too, but I really find this city fascinating. It is a megalópolis of 20+ million people and there are so many things to do that you need a couple of weeks to see most of the attractions. It is filled with great museums, restaurants, plazas and many historical areas going back about 600 or 700 years. Heck, there are Aztec ruins right smack in the middle of the city.

This is the Monument to the Revolution that was re-opened to the public in 2010 after a 30 year (ahem) renovation. It commemorates the Mexican Revolution and is also a mausoleum housing the remains of many revolutionary figures including Pancho Villa*, Francisco Madero & Venustiano Carranza. The renovation was completed in time for the national bicentennial celebrations. You can take an elevator to the top and get a great panoramic view of this modern city once known as Tenochtitlan. And when you are done exploring and enlightening yourself with so much Mexican culture, just head over to the nearest taco stand and order up a few carne asada tacos and a soda. You will fit right in among the 20 million.

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*There is debate as to whether Pancho Villa’s remains are actually his. Some believe that the body was switched out and the remains are those of a female. Now if his remains are actually there, one thing is certain. His head is not. After he was assassinated, someone dug up his corpse and chopped off his head. It was never found. Now who would want to own that? Yuck!

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Beyond the Bay in San Francisco

I climbed up to the Battery Spencer lookout point to photograph the iconic Golden Gate Bridge right after sunset. As I was setting up, I looked west towards the Marin Headlands beyond the ocean and saw the last glimpse of the setting sun. This was a particularly cloudy evening (shocking!) in San Francisco. Still, the sun’s rays struggled to break through the clouds one more time before it departed for the night.

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Nadya's Side Of The RoadMarch 26, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Wow! What a picture! I love San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge. And I have so many pictures of the bridge, but I never thought to take a picture behind that bridge. Fantastic shot!

PixamundoMarch 27, 2013 - 8:23 am

Thanks, Nadya. It’s a great spot to photograph the bridge & the sunset. Have you posted your SF photos?

The Magical Beaches of Tulum

I don’t know about you, but I am a beach person. And my favorite beaches are in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. And my favorite beach there is in the town of Tulum. Most people are aware of Tulum for its famous Mayan ruins, but once they visit they keep coming back for the beach. I’ve been going for close to 20 years and it still looks as blue and pristine as the first time I laid eyes on it.

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This is the quintessential postcard shot of Tulum. It’s taken from inside the Tulum Archeological Zone. You can tour the Mayan ruins for a couple hours and when your done, enjoy a nice swim in the turquoise water.

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I found this boat, Lourdes, while walking along the beach just as the sun was about to set. I was actually looking to hire a boat captain to take me to the Mayan Ruins at dawn so I could capture the ruins facing the rising sun. Yes, I was trying to break into a historical landmark. I had an artistic vision I was trying to fulfill. Well, my plan didn’t work. None of the boat captains would dare be my accomplice. I ended up getting in line to the ruins at 9 a.m. just like the tourists do. As my niece would say, “Fail!”

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Yes, it really does look like that in person. Can’t wait to return one day to this magical beach.

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Josette BaumertDecember 4, 2013 - 11:54 pm

superbe

Christmas Time at the Mission Inn

This historical hotel in Riverside, California is a great place to visit during the holidays. They put on one of the most popular festival of lights shows in Southern California and thousands of people descend to participate and enjoy the festivities. The hotel is completely decorated inside and out to reflect the Christmas holidays including lights, music, and falling snow. Oh, and if you are lucky you will see Santa’s reindeer make an appearance.

Merry Christmas…Feliz Navidad…Joyeux Noël

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Nadya's Side Of The RoadFebruary 27, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Beautiful! I think I need to consider my next Christmas over there : ).

PixamundoFebruary 27, 2013 - 4:44 pm

Thanks, Nadya. Christmas in SoCal is actually quite nice. There are outdoor skating rinks, christmas lights, and holiday tunes everywhere. All without the freezing weather.

Cuban Girl in A Fedora

The cobblestone streets of Old Havana are very photogenic and full of activity. You will find artisans selling their paintings, clothes, or just plain souvenirs. And the architecture is so colorful and eye catching. I was walking around taking photos when this pretty girl peaked out of her souvenir shop. I had been taking photos of the street and took one of her while I was at it, hoping she wouldn’t mind. On the contrary, she began posing for the camera. I don’t think I could get away with that in other parts of the world. In other Latin American countries, people would probably cover their face and giggle. In the USA they would probably throw a cup of hot coffee at me. But this girl just began looking off into the distance with her big sad eyes while playing with her hair. Maybe she saw the big fancy camera and thought I was some kind of hot-shot fashion photographer who was on the verge of discovering her. Well, I didn’t want to disappoint her. I only took 2 shots, smiled and turned to leave. She didn’t really acknowledge me. She just went back into the shop and continued to offer her souvenirs to passing tourists, just as before.

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Mayan Stela on the Road to Coba

On the road between Tulum and Merida, in the Yucatan peninsula, are the Mayan ruins of Coba. It’s a long lonely road with miles and miles of dense jungle surrounding your venture. Along the way you will find small local towns where you can stop for a cold drink or a bite to eat, but not much else. On my last trip there, I stopped in the town of Francisco Uh May and visited a local artisan, 81 year old Alfredo Gonzalez. Alfredo spends his days recreating classic Mayan art. He has his workshop by the side of the road where you can visit and appreciate his constant artistic output.

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This Mayan stella was right on the road as I drove through. It’s a reproduction of “Dintel 26 de Yaxchilan” which is in the National Anthropology museum in Mexico City. The original dates from 755 AD and is part of a series of stella usually relating a significant event in the leader’s life. This one shows “Escudo Jaguar” and his wife and relates his ascension to power. The Mayans were great visual storytellers and the detail in their glyphs are amazing.

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Mr. Alfredo creates many beautiful masks and figures within his shop. I really appreciated his attention to fine detail in all his work. People visit him all day long and he even conducts mini-workshops so you too can learn how to create art like this. I passed on his offer. It would probably take me more than one lesson just to learn how to mix the plaster.

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This Mayan warrior is one of Alfredo’s creations. I like how he stands guard on the side of the road contemplating the Yucatan sunset.

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I’m not sure what this poor fellow did to be tied up that way, but I am going to assume it was not a pleasant end. Maybe he was the one who predicted the end of the world in 2012 and his superiors didn’t appreciate his practical joke on future generations.

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When he is not creating masks or figurines, Alfredo likes to enlighten you on his vast knowledge of Mayan culture. He is quite the Mayan historian. His humble shop is littered with obscure books about the great Mayan civilization and their history. The multi-lingual professor knows his stuff. He even worked for the government back in the day as a musuem director in Mexico CIty but now he spends his days creating art and entertaining Mayan history aficionados. And get this…he even speaks Hebrew! I was not expecting that. Till next time, Professor Alfredo. Shalom!

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Marcia KirbyFebruary 14, 2013 - 8:41 am

Fabulous, Rafael! You are so awesome!

Balta Catherwood StephensFebruary 14, 2013 - 9:19 am

Good Job Rafael!

Marcia KirbyFebruary 14, 2013 - 6:02 pm

I will always treasure our time together @[100002764706369:2048:Balta Catherwood Stephens]! We enjoyed a very special day with Maestro Alfredo and Glenn at Arte Maya Tulum. We we blessed to have great company too, @[100000504385379:2048:Robert Crader], @[100001062073786:2048:Nubia Balam] and @[707526591:2048:Rafael Bautista].

Nadya's Side Of The RoadFebruary 26, 2013 - 9:19 pm

Outstanding!

Sherri Redline MusserMarch 23, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Miss you! and your amazingness!

Jeanine KitchelMarch 24, 2014 - 11:36 pm

Was his son Glen there, too? Glen used to do most of the work… have several of his art pieces.

Cabañas Tulum & Ziggy BeachSeptember 8, 2014 - 3:09 pm

Thanks for great information

Christmas at the Americana

I always get a kick visiting the shopping malls during the Christmas Holidays. The lights, music and decorations are a always a nice site. This is the Americana mall in Glendale, California. It’s one of those outdoor malls with fountains and gardens to go along with the Apple store and Starbucks. And then in the evening, the clock rings out like a church bell and suddenly it starts snowing. Kind of reminds of being at Disneyland minus the expensive entrance fee.

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I took various photos of the fountain show. If you have seen the fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, this is the same thing but on a much smaller scale. But the kids like it and the photos come out pretty.

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A Day in the Life

Whenever people ask me what it’s like to visit Havana, I’ll probably just show them this photo. It best represents how the city attacks your visual senses. If you look closely, this photo sums up a typical day in Havana. There is the obligatory classic Chevy that you’ll see driving throughout the city. All around are crumbling, yet architecturally beautiful, buildings from another era. And over there are the two “Compais” enjoying a beer and discussing baseball (trust me, they’re talking about baseball). The State Capitolio building in the distance represents the ever present government. The ladies leaning out the upper floor balcony calling out to their kids down below. And you’ll always see someone selling fruits and vegetable on a street corner out of a wooden crate. Oh, and how about that crain and pulley they use to send up the produce? Now there are some things missing (like the boys who always play baseball in the streets or the pretty Cuban girls gossiping about) but this pretty much covers it. A day in the life in Havana. Oh, and look up there…someone’s pink underwear.

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dj münchenMay 5, 2013 - 4:01 am

…i love it !

A Boy and his Birdcage

When I visited Trinidad, Cuba, I would always go for a morning walk and see what I would run into in this picturesque town. Like the classic American cars still driving through the streets or farmers on their horse carriages selling their produce on corner markets. Or this little guy. He was standing in the middle of the cobblestone street admiring his pet bird inside a cage. I thought it was such a quaint scene and snapped a quick photo. He looked at me a little embarrassed and ran off to hide behind his Mom who was standing nearby. I asked if I could have another photo and he bashfully declined as his Mom encouraged him on to allow me to take his picture. I thanked them both anyway and went on my way. Still, I quite enjoyed the way this photo came out. Makes me want to know what is the story behind the boy and the bird. I guess we’ll never know.

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The Illuminated Fountain at Grand Park

Every city has its share of iconic locations to photograph. In LA there is the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, Sunset Blvd., Santa Monica pier, and the downtown skyline to name a few. Well now we can add one more. This fountain, along with Grand Park, was unveiled just last year and it’s part of Downtown LA’s continuous reinvention. A nice touch was that the City Hall building was lit up in bright blue. The city of LA lights it up every September as part of Prostate Cancer awareness month. Last year, I also photographed the City Hall in blue. Check it out.

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