Monday, May 28, 2012

Books Read - Book 22: The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto "Che" Guevara
Photo taken by SepilokFui

The Motorcycle Diaries is a memoir and travelogue written by Ernesto “Che” Guevara and an easy, enjoyable read about two young men’s experiences travelling through South America. 

The book was originally written in Spanish, but has been translated into English. 

If you are old enough, you will remember Che Guevara as an icon of the 60’s. The wall of every rebellious teenager’s bedroom had that very famous 1968 poster of Che Guevara by Jim Fitzpatrick, stylised from a photo by Alberto Korda, which you can see below. 

But The Motorcycle Diaries is not about Marxism nor revolutions. The diaries were written by the 23 year old Ernesto Guevera, long before he acquired any political leanings and a decade before he became known as “Che” Guevera, the marxist revolutionary and symbol of Castro’s Cuban revolution.

In January 1952 Ernesto decides to take a break from his medical studies and explore South America with his friend Alberto Granado, a biochemist. 

Together, they set off  on Alberto’s temperamental single cylinder 1939 Norton 500cc which they named La Poderosa (The  Mighty), and which gave up the ghost at some point on their travels, forcing them to resort to public transport, walking or hitching rides when they ran out of money, which seemed to be a regular occurence.  

The Motorcycle Diaries talks about their experiences during their journey through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Veneuela and Panama, including a stay of a few weeks at the San Pablo Leper Colony in the  Amazon rainforest in Peru.

As I read the book, I could sense Ernesto’s growing awareness of the plight of the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised, and this no doubt affected his later political ideologies. The last words of the book were:

“I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I will be with the people”

~ Ernesto “Che” Guevara ~

1968 Stylised image of Che Guevara by Jim Fitzpatrick
Souce: Wikipedia

Thursday, May 24, 2012

101 things in 1001 days – 1st Year milestone!

101 things in 1001 days – my 1 year milestone
Photo El Calafate, Argentine.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

~ Edmund Hilary, mountaineer and explorer. He and the nepalese climber, Tenzing Norgay, were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest ~

The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach

~Benjamin Mays ~

Where has the past year gone? It seems to have sneaked past when I was not looking!

Since I started the 101 things in 1001 days list, I have completed 21 things……not time for celebration yet as there is still a long way to go.

It’s not as much as I would have liked to achieve in a year, but it’s definitely a lot more than if I hadn’t made the 101 things list!

So far, I have:

Read 22 books
Made 16 drawings
Sewn 4 items
Written 1 story
Made more than 100 blog posts
Donated more than 100,000 grains of rice through
Registered to vote
Bought a new watch
Gone to South America, visited Machu Picchu

I am:

Living more creatively
Living (a little bit) more healthily
Going to bed earlier and waking earlier
Living more mindfully
Listening more and talking less

I need to:

Sew more!
Exercise regularly
Meditate every day
Organise my paperwork!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fashion Scrapbook: Andean Chullo Hats

Traditional Andean Chullo Hat (1)
Cuzco, Peru.
Apr 2012

The Chullo hat is a traditional Andean hat worn by men. When I was in the higher altitudes in Peru, I saw them being worn by local Quechua men, quite frequently under a more conventional-looking  broad-brimmed hat.

The Chullo hats were popular with the tourists too; I saw both men and women wearing them. With ear flaps, some with tasselled ties that could be secured under the chin, they keep the ears warm in the colder climes.

The Chullo’s in the photos were on display at the CasaSan Blas Boutique Hotel where we stayed in Cuzco. They seemed quite old and look like they could have been woven rather than knitted.  

Read on for more photo's.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Books Read - Book 21: The History of Love

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Books I have read

 “The History of Love” was a present from a friend. I read the first few pages then  put it on my shelf. I was in action-thriller mode at the time, and “The History of Love” got pushed into a corner of the shelf and there it stayed for quite a while, and almost forgotten.

It caught my eye on a last minute scan of my bookshelves for something to read on the 29 hour plane trip to Argentina I'm glad I picked it up. It kept me engrossed for the whole journey and more, so much so that my travel buddies asked me to tell them the story.

It’s a tough thing to describe the story in just a few sentences.  

In the beginning and for quite a while the story meanders through the lives of two people…one an old man and the other a young girl, but as you read on, you begin to glimpse a connection between them. This is infuriatingly  intriguing but I am glad I resisted the urge to peek into the last chapter.

Leo Gursky is an old man who once wrote a book about a love he lost, and has a fear of dying without anyone knowing, so he makes a point to go out every day and get someone to notice him.  He does things like go into a shoe shop and try numerous pairs of shoes without making a purchase, or dropping his change in the middle of the floor in a public area.

Alma is a teenager who was named for every girl in “The History of Love”, a book her father gave her mother when they first met. Alma has two pre-occupations:

1.      She wants to be a paleontologist, and
2.     She is on a mission to get her widowed mother remarried.

When her mother receives a letter from a mysterious man asking her to translate “The History of Love” from Spanish to English, Alma decides to take matters into her own hands and find out more about “The History of Love”, and in doing so uncovers a secret that has laid dormant for over half a century.

Reading “The History of Love” felt like a leisurely and enjoyable stroll through the woods….it’s beautiful, yet so much is hidden from view. At every turn of the path, you find something unexpected. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This Journey called "Life"

Estacion del fin del Mundo (the end of the World Station)
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. 
Apr 2012

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This is meant to be a "free and easy" adventure trip. Participants should be relatively fit, with a good sense of humor, and above all, have the right attitude for close travel with others through possibly some trying times. Most definitely, this is not a trip for prudes, whiners, fuss-pots, and other similarly assorted types! We had a couple of those before and it wasn't pleasant for us or them. Although every effort will be made to stick to the given itinerary, ground conditions may change and cause some disruption and/or deviation from the norm. Otherwise, have fun. 

~ Yongo Travel ~

The above "important notice" was posted on every itinerary page on the Yongo Travel website (yes, in red capital letters too!). I love it! 

And it's great advice for all of us travelling through the greatest of all adventures: Life.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To Do Someday .....Backpack Travel in South America #538

Image from

This will be item #538 on my Someday List (!)

Yongo Travel specializes in alternative travel for Malaysians. They do off-the-beaten track budget and backpack travel in small groups of 10 to 16 with a tour leader. Started by two brothers with a love for travel and many years of experience backpacking to exotic destinations, they now organise trips to the China Silk Road, India, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and......... South America!

My recent trip South America was not with travel companions were not the backpacking sort.....but I heard great things from friends who've been on their trips, so I checked out their website and they do a trip that covers Peru, Bolivia and Chile....the places I want to go to for my next South American adventure! 

Yes, I know I've just returned from Peru.....but I loved it there and there are just so many things I did not see, so I want to go back! 

Being a budget/backpack trip, the costs are much, much, much less than what I paid for my recent trip, so hopefully I won't have to count my pennies for that long to make the next trip with Yongo Travel : )

See the photos of my last trip on my travel journal here

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Merino Wool Knitwear Designs

Merino Wool Knitwear Designs in a Shop Window
El Calafate, Argentina
Apr 2012

Most visitors to El Calafate come for the Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier. But El Calafate has a long history, dating back to the early 20th Century, of being a wool trading centre. 

With a temperature range from 4 degrees in winter to 18 degrees Celsius in high summer, it's no surprise to find local shops stock a good variety of winter wear and knitwear.

This shop window display caught my eye with its innovative knitwear designs. They looked like a combination of weaving and knitting techniques and I really wanted to go inside to take a closer look, but the shop was not open.

And no matter how long I pressed my nose against their window, they remained closed. *sigh* 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sewing project for May: The Luncheon Dress

Printed Linen Mix Fabric
May 2012

I had a lunch with a group of my old classmates on Friday, and everyone was looking good and dressing well, with the exception of moi who was in her usual jeans and T-shirt.

I DID make an effort, was a dressier T-shirt than usual. 
But still......

While I still feel that twinge of shame for not making more of an effort, I am going to make a loose sheath dress in a printed fabric which shall, from henceforth,  be known as *drum roll*..... the luncheon dress. 

I thought this printed Linen Mix would be great in a simple sheath dress that wouldn't look out of place in a chic restaurant. I draped the fabric on Mandy (see pic, above right) and it does look rather good on her, don't you agree? 

Now to draft the pattern.......

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Someday - See a Sunset over an Ocean #426 - Completed!

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean, Lima, Peru. Apr 2012

I will be posting more photo's of Peru on my travel journal here

I live on the equator and our sunsets are vibrant splashes of reds, oranges and violets on a deep blue canvas while our sunrises are more mellow.

In Peru and Argentina, I found the opposite......the sky is streaked with brilliant shades at sunrise, while the sunsets are more sedate with subtle shimmering colours gradually fading to dark.

Someday - See the Sun Rise from the Beach #417 - Completed!

Puerto Madryn at dawn. Valdes Peninsula, Argentina.
Mar 2012

see more photo's of the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina here 

Someday - Travel to Argentina #479 - Completed!

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. 
Apr 2012

I will be posting more photos on my travel blog here

Even though "Explore South America" was on my 101 things to do in 1001 days, travelling to Argentina was on my "Someday" list.

Machu Picchu was my big item in South America, and so I had always thought I would go to Peru first and then hop over its borders to visit its neighbours......Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil; and see the other countries on another trip. 

But as things turned out, I ended up travelling to Argentina first, then Peru. 

The natural wonders in Argentina were amazing........the arid landscape and salt lakes of Patagonia with its unique flora and fauna, the beautiful Atlantic coast, the Punta Tombo penguin colony, Tierra del Fuego with its seal colony and islands, the scenic town of Ushiaia, the Perito Moreno ice fields and glacier, Iguazu Falls which is 20 times the size of Niagara Falls in North America, and of course, vibrant bustling Buenos Aires. There are still so many places in Argentina I haven't been to, and I hope  to return again one day. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Someday - Visit a museum (#274) - Completed!

Museo Inka. Cusco, Peru.
Apr 2012

I will be posting more photos of the Inca Museum on my travel blog
My "Someday" list is here

Tucked away in a corner of Cusco, at the junction of Tucuman and Ataud Streetit's easy to miss the Museo Inka. But it's worth making a visit there as it is the finest museum in Cusco on Inca history. 

The building itself is interesting and a fine example of a spanish colonial mansion. Like many buildings in Cusco, it was built on the foundations of an Inca palace in the 17th century. It's also called the Palacio del Admirante (Admiral's Palace);  Admiral Francisco Aldrete Maldonado being the first owner. 

As is typical of spanish colonial architecture, the building is 2-storey with rooms set around a central courtyard with a fountain.  In the courtyard, Inca women demonstrated traditional weaving using looms; and you can buy woven bags, hats and rugs. 

Walking through the series of rooms, we saw artifacts from the pre-Inca and Inca periods of Peru's history, and the spanish colonisation period.......ceramics, woodwork, jewellery, textiles, carvings.....and a collection of Inca mummies. 

The museum reputedly has the world's largest collection of qero's, Inca drinking vessels carved of wood. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Someday - Watch the Green Mile (#309) - Completed!

I guess sometimes the past just catches up with you, whether you want it to or not. Usually, death row was called "the last mile"; we called ours "the Green Mile" — the floor was the color of faded limes. We had the electric chair — "Old Sparky," we called it. Oh, I've lived a lot of years, Ellie, but 1935 — that takes the prize. That year, I had the worst urinary infection of my life, and that was also the year of John Coffey and the two dead girls.

~ The Green Mile ~

The Green Mile is based on a book of the same name by Stephen King. I had enjoyed reading the book and rate it as one of my Stephen King faves. So watching the movie was a definite must-do on my "Someday" list

The story is narrated  by Paul Edgecombe, formerly a prison supervisor in the Cold Mountain Penitentiary, and who is now an old man in a nursing home.

Paul's story is set on death row in Cold Mountain Penitentiary and tells of the interactions of the prisoners and the prison guards; and one pet mouse who could perform tricks. His owner, a convicted arsonist, rapist and murderer called Eduard "Del" Delacroix called him Mr Jingles. 

One of the prison guards, Percy Wetmore  liked to aggravate and antagonise the prisoners, but he got away with it because he was related to the governor's wife. 

Then one day, a huge black man is brought in for the brutal rape and murder of two little white girls. Contrary to what Paul expected, John Coffey turned out to be simple gentle giant who kept to himself. 

Eventually Paul notices that John is highly attuned to and affected by the thoughts and feelings of the people around him. When he revives Mr Jingles after  Percy Wetmore stomped on him, and heals Paul's urinary tract infection, Paul is convinced that John Coffey has unusual powers; and that John was actually trying to heal the two dead girls when he was found with the bodies........