Spinning Prayers . . . The Whirling Dervishes of Turkey

LisaBrockman_20140902_Cappadocia_1844-2The Whirling Dervish, or Semazen, an icon of Turkey, whirling in respect of and for God. The ceremony, called Sema, represents not only Turkish culture and history but primarily derives from the Sufi faith. The whirling mirrors the natural revolution of all life – from the revolution of atoms to the cycle of life returning to the earth, to the revolution of the Earth itself.

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The Sema is, in a sense, a prayer. I am not going to try to describe the stages of the Sema as it would require a far greater understanding than I have. In very simple terms, the way I understand it, when the dervish begins and ends each stage with his arms crossed over his chest to his shoulders, he represents man’s oneness with God. With his arms raised and open during the whirling, his right hand is directed to the sky, ready to receive God; his left is turned toward the earth as a way of conveying God’s gifts to the people. The revolving is always from right to left, around the heart, and embracing all of humankind.

While in Cappadocia, Turkey, a few friends and I had the privilege of spending some time with the Whirling Dervishes who perform at the Saruhan Carevanserai.  It was really great to witness the ritual up close and without the crowds.  Enjoy the images . . . Lisa

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Posted in Photography, Travel, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Wandering the Streets of Santa Clara, Cuba

LisaBrockman_20140323_CUBA_1283-EditTwo days in Santa Clara . . . each day spent wandering around the town center – an area of about  24 sq blocks – meeting people, making friends.   People out at all hours of the morning and evening – living their lives on the front porches and the streets to escape the heat inside.  Friendly.  Calling me over to practice their English or wanting to pose for an image – or just to ask why we were there with our cameras.  Most had a smile for us – and a laugh. I’ve included in this post portraits made during those two very special days. Enjoy, Lisa LisaBrockman_20140323_CUBA_1246-Edit

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The Morning Paper with Fermin

LisaBrockman_20140323_CUBA_1422-EditI met Fermin while wandering one morning through the town of Santa Clara, Cuba.  Sitting on his stoop, hunched over the morning paper, reading through his cracked eyeglasses.  Stopping to chat a bit, I asked him if I could make a few images – he happily agreed.  The whole time telling me quite animatedly of the events in his paper.  Honestly, my Spanish is not very good – so I’ve really no idea what he was telling me – but he was enjoying the telling of it.  And I was quite happy to listen.  The simple joys of travel . . . . Lisa

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Trinidad, Cuba – An Afternoon with Eusebio and Flora

LisaBrockman_20140326_CUBA_5145-EditWalking through the streets of Trinidad with my friend Liz, away from the typical tourist sections, we heard the sounds of bongo drums being beaten not so rhythmically. And a soft guitar accompanied by an aged melodic voice. We aproached quietly so as not to disturb them and found a young boy and his grandfather making soft music in the front room of their home.  The guitar and voice belong to Eusebio . . . the  elderly Cuban gentleman who immediately welcomed us into his home as they played.

LisaBrockman_20140325_CUBA_4864-EditLisaBrockman_20140325_CUBA_4527-EditEusebio, kind and softspoken – until he told us his name which he enthusiastically said EUSEBIO!  He introduced us to his wife, the lovely Flora.  Flora, beautiful and bent with age and no doubt, a life of hard work, beamed at us.  As we all listened to Eusebio play and sing, Flora’s eyes and entire face  lit up as she watched Eusebio.  She looked at him in pure love  – truly the love of a long life spent together.  It was beautiful to see.

Children from the neighborhood soon crowded into the windows and doorway of Eusebio and Flora’s home – they had also come to hear the music (and frankly, to check out the foreigners being entertained).  We stayed and listened and made a few images.  I think we would have stayed the whole day but it was clear that Eusebio was tiring.  So we said our goodbyes, thinking we would not see Eusebio and Flora again.

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As it turned out, our trip leader Jeremy knew Eusebio and having seen him earlier in the day, arranged for Liz’s husband, an accomplished musician, to play with Eusebio later.  Whahoo!  back we went that evening.  We found Eusebio just as he was earlier, guitar in hand.  Flora, fresh from a bath, smelled of roses and lavender.    Their daughter returned home from work to pick up sticks and tap out the rhythm with Neil and Eusebio.   Of course, the young grandson appeared to join in on the bongos.

Neil played with Eusebio and his family, Rob danced with lovely Flora (her eyes lit up then too!) and Liz and Jeremy and I watched and listened . . .

Spectacular.  I can think of no better to way spend an afternoon . . . Lisa

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Posted in Cuba, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Boxeo en Cuba, Part Two

LisaBrockman_20140326_CUBA_6903-EditOne more look at the Rafael Trejo Gimnasio in Havana . . . this time with the youngsters.  Every bit as intense as their adult comrades, but with a lot of hamming it up for cameras.  A really fun time, for sure!

Enjoy

Lisa

April 2014

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Posted in Cuba, Photography, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

I Did Not Come Here to Lose – Boxeo in Cuba

Three years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Rafael Trejo Gimnasio in Havana, Cuba during the morning workout.  I met the most amazing men – so incredibly determined and fierce.  Last month, I was able to return and was thrilled to find one of those gentlemen at the gym and working just as hard. And, as his shirt attests, he did not come there to lose!

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Again, the boxers and their coach, Papa Nardo Mestre, were kind enough to let me hang around and document their workout.   I sure hope I get the chance to get back there again.

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Enjoy their hard work!

Lisa

April 2014

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Posted in Cuba, Photography, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sri Lanka – The Pinnawala Elephants

LisaBrockman_20130810_Kandy_818Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, in the hills of Sri Lanka near Kandy, is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants. With close to 100 elephants, nestled in 25 acres of coconut forest, Pinnawalla has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Originally established by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation to care for orphaned unweaned wild elephants.

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On a daily basis (at scheduled times) the females and calves are herded together by the mahouts and walked right through the center of the village from the sanctuary to the Oya River where they bathe and hang out for a few hours before being herded back to the Sanctuary. It is quite the tourist attraction, complete with snack bars and viewing areas – and lots of tourists. That said, if you wander off to the edges where there are no human-creature comforts, you can be rewarded with some up-close, highly entertaining fun with the elephants – especially the youngsters who are all about rolling around in the water and are quite curious about the humans watching them.

LisaBrockman_20130810_Kandy_562I have mixed feelings about the orphanage. I started to write more here and have finally decided not to. If you are interested in the issue, there’s lots of info available on the internet to help you come to your own conclusions. For now, I will just share some images taken in the Oya River. Enjoy the elies . . . .

Lisa

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Posted in Photography, Sri Lanka, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments