I close the door of my room and walk down Broadway, a mythical name. I turn on the left and carry on the pavement of the 5th, then Madison Avenue, mythical as well. A few steps further, that's a kaleidoscope of colours which livens Times Square. I start again walking, squeeze between the New Yorkers in a hurry to reach the financial district located at the south of Manhattan island. I tread alongside Wall Street before heading north towards the barren area where the twin towers of the World Trade Center rised 8 years ago. Because of the world economic crisis, the winter sales exceptionally began before Christmas in order to boost the household consumption. One of the stores displays a « Recession Special » sign and sells suits for 60$. New York, it's a state within the state. Extremes cross at each other in the total ignorance. The golden boy who handles big money and the homeless who fights against the cold of the winter. My feet are next to the yellow taxis and my eyes slip onto the endless lines of the skyscrapers. New York is also a symbol of heterogeneous communities who live together. No less than 80 languages are spoken here and by crossing the street I pass from Little Italy to Chinatown.
To announce the Christmas holidays and suddenly cut my 6-month life with a swim suit and a pair of flip flops, the snow invited itself. Some light snowflakes fall down by the thousands and cover Central Park. During this trip, there are cities I gladly fled just after a few hours and there are others, like this one, where I didn't stay enough. I have the impression of having flown over the streets and dashed off my experience. But that's probably the quintessence of the big cities which attract so many people and we would like to discover for a longer time. My round-the-world trip ends in the impersonality of a megalopolis. I become again “the man in the street” with this little twinge of sadness because I lived a hell of a wonderful adventure.
Keyword - in another world -
Saturday 20 December 2008
Sunday 14 December 2008
One of the greatest ever-built human works lies at about ten kilometers from Panama City. Started by a French company and ended by the Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, it's more than 200 millions tons of rock which were excavated to build the Panama canal. We may pay tribute to the workers, mainly coming from the West Indies, without whom, the achievement of this Pharaonic project would be remained in the head of some megalomaniac leaders.
The canal counts 2 lanes of 3 giant locks. And to go through, the hull of the ship must respect the Panamax norm that is to say about 300 meters long and 30 meters wide. A size which seemed unreachable when the canal was opened, almost one century ago. But the elements changed and the Panamanian government, who took back the sovereignty over the canal on the 1st of January 2000, plans to invest several billions of dollars in its extension in order to double the capacity of container ships and to make sheep's eyes at the shipowners to cross the country.
Today, a cruise liner gets into the first lock, the Miraflores lock. No less than 2500 people on board and a lot of onlookers appreciate the play of the sluice gates which makes the sea colossus go up and down. A relatively short stop which will cost the modest sum of 275 000 $. A drop of water into an ocean like the land immensity that surrounds the canal.
Tuesday 9 December 2008
At first sight, the name of the Pacaya volcano doesn't make us think about something awesome and seems insignificant besides the prestigious Stromboli, Etna, Kilauea or Krakatau. Unfortunately for the latter, the safety laws of the countries prevent the average visitor to get to the bedside of the molten magma. Some people will shout for foolhardiness but with the Pacaya, we can go to the lava up to get the skin burned. The outing starts in a minivan, departure from Antigua up to the entrance of the park. We get off the shuttle for a short trek which goes through a sparse forest and opens out onto a lookout where the dark cone of the mount Agua shatters the horizon line. The grass rarefies and big volcanic grains pile up on the access side of the volcano. Following the example of a sand dune, our feet sink, the ascent gets harder and the balance begins staggering. We step on the still-hot flow of the previous day. Some translucent filaments extend the glistening- and purplish-hued rock. The heat increases up to become unbearable. The lava flows at a few meters away. A magmatic torrent gets out of the volcano and goes dying at its feet. According to the draught, the atrocious heat burns our faces. Natural sauna session before heading back into the more refreshing atmosphere of Antigua.
A red façade replaced with a yellow section before turning pastel blue. The streets of Antigua revive the thoughts tarnished by the tasteless streets of Guatemala city. The whole historic center of Antigua is on the Unesco World Heritage List. The division into blocks, typical to the cities of the “New World”, don't infringe, but the painters gave the finishing touches to the streets. And the result attracts, encourages to the consumption of covering another block to watch what happens at the next corner. An invigorating urban stroll.
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