Salsa for Haiti

21 01 2010

As though the rush of the dance and the addicting beat of the music weren’t enough, another reason I love salsa so much: the community. I already had amazing friends in New York, but through salsa I’ve become part of a whole other community, a family really. There’s a sort of indescribable bond that comes along with this passion for Latin dance, something only others who are as passionate can truly understand.

It’s also, equally amazingly, a community of doers. Which is why I’m so happy to be attending the Haiti Relief Effort fundraiser at International Food House this Saturday. The band Orquesta Dee Jay will be on hand with live music, and the $10 entrance fee plus half of all food sales will go to the Red Cross Haiti Relief. Can’t beat fun for a good cause.

Saturday, January 23

6-10 pm

International Food House

240 W 35th St (btw 7th and 8th Ave)

$10 admission (also gets your free admission to Sangria Saturdays at Iguanas)





Help for Haiti

16 01 2010

Like everyone else, I have been following the travesty of Haiti’s earthquake, more sick to my stomach with each new detail about the devastation and more near tears with each new image of hungry, thirsty, exhausted people. I want to go there and help myself, but since I can’t currently, some thoughts on how those of us left at home can help:





Washington Square’s Latest “Ghost”

5 11 2009

All this talk of ghost stories and history seems to be (pardon the pun) haunting me. After thinking, just two days ago, upon the literal layers of a historic house in New Hope, this morning I read in New York Magazine about the headstone unearthed last week in Washington Square Park. It’s no secret that the lively park has had many incarnations in its long history, one of which as a “potter’s field.” Last year, the first phase of a renovation project led to the discovery of intact skeletons.

The second phase is now under way, and last week a neighborhood resident reported seeing a crew dusting off a headstone. The stone dates back to 1799 and marked the grave of James Jackson, a grocer who died at the age of 28. Now the quest is on to figure out who James Jackson was. Given that the park was a Potter’s Field, there would not have been headstones in it, but there was also a church cemetery in the park at one time, or, as this blog suggests, some rare yellow fever victims did have tombstones.

Whatever the case, I will be following it, not only because it’s a fascinating sliver of New York history, but because, yet again, it underlines my vision of the city as palimpsest (which, it turns out, is not a vision unique to me), where life and stories are layered upon one another, like the paint covering John Pickett’s landscapes in New Hope or the park covering a former resting place for the city’s poor.

 

 





Where Travel Writing Is Headed?

16 10 2009

Can a satellite view of the world change the world? It may just be able to change the travel publishing industry. Today MediaBistro published this post about John Higham, whose recent book 360 Degrees Longitude—which chronicles his family’s year-long adventure traveling the world—includes Google Earth links to some of the places visited. A wave of the travel future? It looks that way.

Though I am definitely an old-fashioned gal when it comes to my love of underlining and curled up pages of traditional books (though terribly outdated, my very shabby and much loved copy of Let’s Go Western Europe still inhabits a place of honor on the book shelf) the traveler in me thrills at the prospect of seeing a satellite view of some wondrous place I’m visiting while I’m visiting…





Those About To Die… Photos

17 08 2009

It’s even better than I imagined it. Special thanks to photographer Jason Geller who gave me permission to share some of his photos.Check out his album here.





Tweet on Travel?

21 04 2009

I like to think of myself as rather up on the latest technologies, though I know this is a total fallacy. In fact, though I consider myself “hip to tech,” I instead tend to be nearly the opposite. I don’t have an iPhone (my phone, at that, is a piddly, very old model, my iPod even older), it took me forever to start blogging, though I am on Facebook, I’m rather resistant (have never written a status update, don’t search for people I know there…) and the list goes on. Meaning that basically my tech savvy lies in knowing HTML and using the internet for all things efficient.

Which is why I have yet to join the ranks of the latest technology, which seems to me far from efficient. Yes, I have a Twitter account. I actually signed up long ago, before it was as huge as it is now, which places me on the forefront of the Twitter revolution, right? Wrong, if you consider that I have not tweeted a single thing in the months I’ve been signed up. I do, however, have 25 followers, and counting, none of whom know (at least not from Twitter) when I’m enjoying the sunshine, or in a contemplative mood or, for that matter, filing my nails.

Which brings me to Twitter and travel. The Twitter-obsessed, it seems, Tweet all the time, everywhere. While I recognize that Twitter is fun and that there is definitely value to certain updates, for the most part I feel it also has the tendency of making the mundane ubiquitous, and of being a total time suck.

The other day, when I saw a BootsnAll article about Twitter while traveling, I was intrigued. The article responds to a World Hum advice column piece by Rolf Potts, who answered the question, “Should I update friends and family by Tweeting while traveling?” with a decisive “no,” which was, predictably, followed up by countless responses, comments on Rolf’s own piece. World Hum then placated those tweeting travelers with a response giving tips from travelers who do like to Tweet. The BootsnAll article I came across that dragged me into this fray was essentially ad “live and let live” response to all the responses

I find the whole thing rather fascinating. First, there’s this main, overarching point of technology itself, since here is all this online discussion of the decision to “online discuss.” And here I am adding yet another voice to it all. In some senses, it is heartening, a sense of community in a way. Even though the opinions on the subject differ, it makes for interesting reading and interesting conversation on a topic that is, well, topical right now. It’s yet another means of making opinions and information ubiquitous.

As for the whole, Tweet during travel debate, though, I think I have to agree with Potts. While I do enjoy blogging while traveling, which some might argue is the same thing, I feel like there is a difference. A blog is like a mass communication, like sending a semi-descriptive missive to all those at home who want to know what’s happening with me and what sorts of adventures (or misadventures) I’m experiencing. While in theory Twitter does the same, there isn’t much one can convey in one line of text, so I’d guess it takes away from the experience without adding to much to those not experiencing, while a blog or an email is a way to relive certain aspects of the trip, almost a form of public journaling. And, since Tweeting is more immediate and shorter, I’d guess there is the risk of doing it more often, which means attention is focused on Tweeting about the experience rather than actually experiencing it (while with a blog or email, that time is explicitly focused on said task and on recalling, an experience, rather than relating it while it happens). Potts also mentions my favorite form of communication while traveling: the oft-overlooked postcard, the original travel communication and a memory in itself, which merits its own later post.

Ultimately, I agree that Ms. Spiegel of BootsnAll has a point: there are, in fact, all kinds, and what’s right for me isn’t going to be right for the next person. I travel far differently than my sister does. Likewise, she has 300+ Facebook friends while I have barely 70. It all comes down to what you like and what you do. But for me, I’d go with Potts and advise all those Tweeters out there to strongly consider resting their fingers over the course of their travels to fully immerse themselves into the experience, without the cocern of sending minute by minute updates home. Not that they asked me in the first place…





Mother Earth Love

20 04 2009

Cool article shout out. Yesterday in the Daily News was this cool article about eco-friendly travel. It’s got some great tips, such as free lodging in Ithaca for hybrid drivers, plus other deals throughout the Northeast and the rest of the country. Looks like I’m not the only one with Earth Day fever.





And Then Again…

17 04 2009

I’m still thinking on this eco-tourism dilemma. Antarctica, yes, it’s a different story, and I agree that regulations should be put in place to protect it. Regulations should be put in place for any area that might be endangered by excessive tourism, for that matter.

On the other hand, such activities as listed by the Berkeley study (hiking, etc.), while they may endanger the areas visited, they also serve to promote awareness. What is nature, that is, if not to be enjoyed. And the more we enjoy it, the more we want to save it, right? So in this way, it seems to me, eco-tourism can actually be a good thing.

The Nature Conservancy, a conservation organization that works to protect ecologically important lands and waters worldwide, seems to believe that we should enjoy the nature we help to save. To that end, the Conservancy has a a feature on its website, Visit a Preserve, an interactive map of the preserves the conservancy helps to protect, which means wherever you are you can visit a preserve. Perhaps said visits will inspire folks to do even more to help. And so, eco-tourism is in fact a good thing, in moderation. (At least that’s my thought for the day.)





I’m Obesessed With: The Daily Green

16 04 2009

Since April is Earth Month, it’s only fitting that I’m feeling more focused than ever on eco-everything. With that in mind, I’ve been spending a lot of time on The Daily Green lately. Not only do the color scheme (a soft blue and green “globe” palette) and design have a relaxing “Zen-ish” quality, but the site is packed with easy tips and great newsy items that are not only easy to read but to put into action. A few of my recent favorites:

  • Obama’s High Speed Light Rail Plan: Just when you think the man couldn’t get any better, he comes up with this energy-efficient (and all-around efficient) way to boost the economy, save fuel, and travel. It’s about time we caught up with Eurail.
  • Earth Month Diet Tips: Easy tips to greenify your diet (and life).
  • Spring Recipes: Easy, healthy, and tasty recipes that make use of spring produce.

I could go on all day. It’s one of those sites that you get sucked into, and then suddenly realize you’ve spent far longer there than was your original intent. For that reason, perhaps, I should hate it. But I simply can’t.





Can We Love Nature Too Much?

16 04 2009

A couple days ago the New York Times ran this article about a recent conference in Washington focused on protecting the fragile Arctic and Antarctic regions. In her keynote address, secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed U.S. concern over tourism to Antarctica, both for the safety of the region and of the tourists themselves. Tourism to the region has become rather popular over the course of the past decade or so, and the effect on the area has been somewhat questionable. The article cites concerns over fuel spills and over the tourism industry in general being responsible for “about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The article questions tourism’s effect on nature closer to home than the poles as well, discussing a recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, which went so far as to surmise that “even ‘quiet, non-consumptive recreation’ — defined as things like hiking, biking and horseback riding…still led to a steep decline in the density of native carnivores.”

The irony, it seems, is that as the world gets more eco-minded, travelers are more likely to choose “nature-based tourism, and yet it seems that this increase in demand (which, it should be noted, seems to signify an increase in awareness) is also putting some of these ecosystems at further risk. The question, then, is where to draw the line. Is eco-tourism, while excellent in concept, in fact part of the problem? I’ve got no answer, but I’m hoping people will weigh in…