A Silent Contemplation – The Łódź Jewish Cemetery

Why do I find such peace and mindfulness walking in cemeteries? Over the years I have learned that many people do. I also have my own favourites. Père Lachaise in Paris and Highgate in London. But since I visited The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, I have come to understand, that nowhere else you will find… that special mood.

Jewish Cemeteries have a beauty of their own. They are all abandoned, and speak of a deep sadness over the dead souls and over all sons and daughters lost. There is no one left to care for the graves.

Ivy clad and hidden – and the silence is complete.

The Łódź Jewish Cemetery, also known as the New Jewish Cemetery, was once the largest Jewish cemetery in Poland, and one of the largest in the world. It was opened in 1892 and occupies around 44 hectares of land.

According to Wikipedia, the cemetery contains from 180,000 to 230,000 marked graves, as well as mass graves of victims of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and the Holocaust.

Out in the open, the many names stood facing the sun. Maybe even more impressive seen in black, from behind.

From 1893 to 1896, the basic construction of the necropolis was completed by the well-known architect Adolf Zeligson.Today over a hundred of historical grave sites have been declared historical monuments and are in various stages of restoration. The cemetery also continues to function as a Jewish burial site.

The mausoleum of Izrael Poznański is perhaps the largest Jewish tombstone in the world and the only one containing decorative mosaic. It is towering like a white elephant over the old stones…

…But I prefer the little things…the ornate carvings and the rusty old fences…

And, the intense stillness and beauty. Thank you for walking with me.

 

Annonser

600 Years and More – of Wisdom and Beauty

They say oak trees grow for 300 years, and stay in their glory for another 300 years, and then decay and die their last 300 years.

One of my favourite places to meet a 600 years old friend, is Gökalv in Blekinge, Sweden.

We have many things to talk about, and I have learned so much about life from him. He may be rugged to touch, but his wrinkles are mild and forgiving.

I visited last week again, and found him standing there as usual, waiting for me. This time in splendid evening light.

His advice I always follow – stay true to yourself and help others to do the same. Be kind and helpful to all living beings on this earth. That is why we are here together.

When I looked at my photos, now uploaded…I realized his voice was not just in my head or in my mind –

 

 

Galápagos – Floreana, Santa Cruz – Dragon Hill

Floreana is best known for its colourful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts and early colonists. In fact our guide told us the most horrible stories of intrigues, mass murder and strange colonists…Hard to believe, but in fact the stories are true. At least three books were written about this, and I bought and read the one Juan preferred: The Galápagos Affair by John Treherne.

Galapagos 3 and 4 580_copyI really loved the Palo Santo trees. They seem to cover the whole island, making it look very arid – but also very beautiful, sculptural and silver shimmering.

Galapagos 3 and 4 654_copyThe shore line is very jagged, and even here the Palo Santo rules.

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The beach is full of shells and not that pleasant to walk on, but in the waters you will find Brown Pelicans swimming and diving, Blue Footed Boobies and also…

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…the endemic Galápagos Penguin, a smooth swimmer in the bay. Further inland, along the paths, we surprisingly found more colours – astonishing!

Galapagos 3 and 4 596_copyThe volcano has been long extinct, and is now eroding, supporting the vegetation with important nutrients.

Galapagos 3 and 4 609_copyThe Palo Santo would be all green in a couple of weeks…according to Juan, our guide. I loved these silvery trees, but it would be a dream to visit when they are green as well. Mimosa grows here too – just imagine everything here green and yellow!

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We had to stop at Post Office Bay, where whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. In fact the first post office in Ecuador. Here, the outbound ships would drop off letters and returning ships would pick them up and mail them. In fact people still do! Tourist ships let their passengers post letters and cards, and then bring home the mail possible to hand over when in your home country. We brought home one letter to a family on Gotland.

Next post will be the last one from these enigmatic islands: Santiago and Genovesa.

Landscapes of the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are of volcanic origin, and situated in the Pacific Ocean, about 100km east of mainland Ecuador. There are 19 larger islands, 42 islets and and numerous emerging rocks. Five of the islands are inhabited, and the population is around 25000.

Last December, we got the opportunity to visit 10 of these islands, and M/S Cachalote was our home for 8 days. I have posted about our journey on my blog Leya, so now I also want to show you some of the magnificent landscapes out here in the archipelago.

Let us start with Santa Cruz, where the giant tortoises live in the wild of the lush highlands. This island is the most populated island and Puerto Ayora a most charming town.

The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, as his observations and collections contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Charles Darwin Station has a Giant Tortoise and a Land Iguana breeding program, and also a program for saving the Mangrove Finch.

Next stop was two tiny islands uplifted from the sea – Islas Plazas. Here the landscape is rather flat, and the tall opuntias are impressive. The ground is covered in carpet weed, portulaca, castela and grabowskia. Iguanas eat opuntias and portulaca.

On the beach the big male rules his hareem of ladies…but there was also a Sea Lion bachelor colony where the young males slept lazily in the sun, only giving us a brief one eye glimpse…saying: ”not interesting at all”…

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More sunbathing – this giant male of Marine Iguana was really impressive. He had found a spectacular place to show off his dominance.

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Endemic species everywhere – and the next stop, Santa Fé, one of the smaller, older islands, is no exception.  Here the trail is steep and uneven, and you are surrounded by tall Opuntias, Palo Santo, salt bush, yellow cordia, thorn shrub and more. Mocking birds are different on each island, just like the lava lizards. The Galapagos Hawk was vigilant, but did not bother about us wanting him to lift and spread his wings.

After one more interesting day, we returned to Cachalote, patiently waiting in the lagoon. The crew taking care of us as if we were their children…

I wonder what tonight´s dinner will bring?

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Ziga, Baztan – Natural, Yet Sophisticated

In Navarra, Spain, there is a green valley of rolling hills where I left a piece of my heart.

We stayed a couple of days at Casa rural Zigako Etxezuria.

Everything here so neat and clean, rustic and authentic. Our hosts were genuinely kind and helpful with everything from sightseeing to choosing the right thing from the menu.The gastronomic traditions of Navarre makes eating a social event and all products come from the local farmers. Furthermore, Chefs from Navarre are among the most prestigious in the world of Nouvelle Cuisine.

After a delicious meal, it is time for a walk through the charming little village!

Navarra region is one of the regions with the highest quality of life indicators in Spain. And one of the greatest joys for me was all the farm animals – so many horses, cows, sheep, cats, dogs, hens and donkeys – and they were all well kept. Although some cats seemed to lead a rough life…

The last evening I had some difficulty in handling my feelings. Ziga and all its inhabitants had gone straight to my heart. I could live and die here. So I went out in the misty night to think.

Of all the places I have been to during my travelling years, I guess Ziga in Baztan, Navarre is the one that reminds me the most of my childhood at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s. All the animals I grew up with and the kindness and authenticity of the people. The landscape is of course even more beautiful here among the green hills, but still…

In the morning I waited for him to say goodbye…but I knew he would not come. I am glad we once met.

The Latvian Etnographic Open – Air Museum – an Island of Harmony

Lettlands Etnografiska Friluftsmuseum inrättades 1924 och är Lettlands motsvarighet till vårt svenska ”Skansen” – en av de tidigaste efterföljarna till vår stolthet. Området är stort, hela 88 ha, och det ligger naturskönt och avskilt från Riga stad. Genom åren har gamla hus och tillhörande byggnader flyttats hit, så att friluftsmuseet idag omfattar 118 olika byggnader. De äldsta från 1600-talet, de yngsta från 1930-talet. Hela Lettland speglas områdesvis på ett förtjänstfullt sätt.

The Ethnographic Museum of Latvia was established in 1924.118 folk architecture objects and more than 3000 household items from all Latvian historical and ethnographical regions (Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale) , evidence from life and culture of the rural population from the 17th century until the 1940´s. the museum researches, exhibits and promotes the monuments of traditional life, as well as educates and informs about Latvias cultural heritage.

Den protestantiska kyrkan från 1704, har en fantastiskt vacker interiör.

The Lutheran church (1704) is a silent beauty.

Fantastiskt träsnideriarbete i altare och predikstol, och ett lika fantastiskt bemålat tak. Här hålls gudstjänst varje söndag klockan tio.

Magnificent wood carvings and the ceiling in soft blue, white and golden brown. Service every Sunday at 10 a.m.

Lägg märke till att ljushållaren vid predikstolen är i form av en människoarm!

Holding the candle, to the left, is…a carving showing a human arm.

Silence and Serenity

På väg nerför backen står ett vägkrucifix från 1907, en katolsk företeelse som var vanlig på den tiden.

Riga med omnejd 2015 675_copyKorsen dekorerades med blommor, särskilt under festivaler. Man hade också som tradition att samlas vid korsen och sjunga psalmer under majkvällarna.

Den här mannen hade sin atelje/verkstad på en bondgård från 1850. Han svarvade skålar, men tillverkade också slevar och gamla tiders leksaker för hand, vilka han gärna demonstrerade och sålde.

This man worked at a farmstead from 1850. His bowls were for sale, as well as spoons and toys made according to old traditions. He was very good at showing visitors how they worked.

Många skolklasser besökte förstås – och förundrades över dåtidens leksaker.

Many school classes visited, of course, and wondered at the old time toys.

Vi kände igen alla leksaker från förr, bland annat snurra, ”helikoptervingar”, ”brumma” och slangbella.

We recognized all the old toys, like this one below, made swirling through a twist with your hands only.

Till gården hörde ett praktfullt boningshus med vasstak, en köksträdgård, ett magasin för spannmål och textilier, samt en badstuga.

The farmstead had a main building with reed roof, a kitchen garden, a storage house for cereals and textiles, and a bath cottage.

Det mest intressanta var biodlingen, mycket tack vare en besjälad idealist, Janis Snikvalds, som tillbringar en del av sin tid på friluftsmuseet för att informera och även sälja produkter. Vintertid jobbar han också med bin, men då handlar det om kontorsarbete.

The most interesting thing was the bee-keeping and the stories from the bee-keeper himself, Janis Snikvalds. A beautiful idealist and passionate bee-lover with a warm and loving heart. He works part time at the museum, informing about his work and selling healthy products from his bees.

Han berättade att hans far var biodlare, att han själv först var rädd för bin, men genom att hjälpa sin far vann intresset över rädslan. Den harmoni han känner när han arbetar med sina bin är svår att beskriva. ”Man måste älska bin för att kunna arbeta med dem.” Vi fick provsmaka tre fina honungssorter, varav en ljunghonung.

He told us about his fear of bees when he was a kid, how his father made him help out and how this made him develop a deep harmony in working with these interesting animals. ”You have to love bees to work with them”.

Sedan provade vi andra biprodukter (!), bland annat små pollenkulor som bina får med sig på bakbenen när de suger nektar, och ”bee bread”, som kommer från cellerna i honungskakan. Båda är erkända naturmediciner och är, precis som honung, välkänt verksamma mot bland annat inflammationer och förkylning. Janis berättade att man kommer till honom även från närliggande länder för att köpa. Vi köpte ett par pollenburkar med hem.

We tried both the pollen products and the bee bread – both recognized natural medicine working anti inflammatory and fighting infections. Janis told us that people came from neighbouring countries as well to buy these products. We brought home a couple of the pollen products – knowing from old that bees work magic. If you are interested – Janis Snikvalds is also on facebook. Go for ”Baltu Drava”, and find out more about him and his products.

Janis berättade också om hur kuporna transporteras med bil till t ex ljungområden för att kunna få ljunghonung. Biodlingen i världen är i kris, men Lettland är det land i världen som förlorat minst bin och samhällen.

Janis told us about the hives sometimes being moved to, for example areas with heather, in order to get heather honey. But, they were not like in for example the US, transported for days or weeks in big trailers, stressing the bees. These hives were only moved over one night and one day. Latvia is the only country in the world that is not in a critical situation of losing bees .

Han berättade också om de gamla bikupor som vi såg på många håll i friluftsmuseet. De är helt enkelt urholkade delar av trädstammar. Sådan har använts från 1500- till början av 1900-talet. De höll i 100 år. Från början placerades de vertikalt med trätak över, senare horisontellt med en lös bräda som lock. Han experimenterade själv med sådana i sin verksamhet idag.

Vi fortsatte sedan förbi en vävarstuga och ett hus med spinneri till en kvarn, som ligger längst bort i friluftsmuseet. Det är en vindmölla av holländsk typ, där övre delen vrids efter vinden. Den byggdes 1890, och var faktiskt i drift ända till 1950. Man satte segelduk på vingarna när den brukades.

A Dutch windmill – from about 1890. This one was working until 1950.

Rysk ortodox kyrka, tidigt 1900-tal.

Russian orthodox church, early 20th century.

Vi var många som stortrivdes här – mysfaktor hög. Alla katter och fina hus, vacker natur och tystnad – en underbar totalupplevelse av gamla tiders lugn.

We were many people – and animals – feeling good here. Not least the beautiful cats we met. A totally wonderful day in the harmony of olden days.