Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A few words first: Shibam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because it is said to be home to the world's oldest skyscrapers. It is a walled city and the first known example of urban planning based on vertical construction, and has been called the Manhattan of the desert. Some of these buildings, made of mud brick and up to eleven stories tall, are over half a millennium old. Shibam itself is over 1700 years old.
The economy of the region of Hadramaut is largely agrarian. Cities exist mainly as a place to sell and distribute goods produced on farms. The region is home to the Arab ethnic group the Hadhrami, which has its own Arab dialect. The Hadhrami have diaspora communities around the globe, particularly in Singapore, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Please enjoy the video, I really did!
Posted by Katie Hocevar at 5:39 PM
Friday, June 4, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Turkey has many folk dances, and the one featured here is called the horon. The name comes from the Turkish word "horom," which refers to a line of six or seven corn stalks tied together to form a lattice. From a distance, it appears to be a line of people joining hands with their arms raised. The horon is the most well-known dance of the Black Sea region (and is also performed in other countries located on the Black Sea, such as Bulgaria), and is meant to suggest the actions of fishermen, the swimming fish, and the sea. It features alert and tense shivering movements and sudden squatting. The horon is traditionally performed by a line of either men or women, but generally not both at the same time, except in rare cases called "rahat horon," or "comfortable horon." In these cases, the dance is slower, simpler, and more relaxed. (source: University of Florida website) The people of the Black Sea region live in fertile, isolated valleys, and are known for their merriness and their lack of inhibition. They remind me of Mediterranean peoples of Greece, and probably their culture was influenced by similar forces.
I've found another interesting website describing the people of Turkey's Black Sea region. As you know, it's important not to stereotype groups of people or consider them to be "all the same." However, it can be useful to determine typical traits. This is how a man of the Black Sea (or a "Laz") is described:
"He sports a majestic nose and speaks Turkish with an outrageous accent. His diet consists of hamsi (Black Sea anchovies), cooked to the legendary one hundred recipes that include hamsi bread and hamsi jam, with corn bread and dark cabbage to accompany. He dances a wild horon to the syncopated, manic tunes of his kemençe (bowed instrument that sounds like a fiddle). His oddball sense of humor makes him the butt of an entire genre of jokes. To a certain extent these jokes correspond to those of the Polish, Scottish, Marsilian or Basque variety, but they lack the crude ridicule that characterizes some of the latter. In most stories he either pursues an altogether wacky idea, or responds to situations with an insane non-sequitur. The best ones contain a hint of self-mockery, and it is not really clear who the joke is on. Inevitably the most brilliant Laz jokes are invented and circulated by the Laz themselves." (source: Kara Lahana)
I'd like to share this wonderful video (from what looks like 1971 or so) showing the horon in a very rustic village performed by a little old lady in all black.
Now watch this more modern and complicated version of the horon. It gets better and better starting at the 1:20 mark, so stick with it, it'll be worth it, trust me.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
My sincerest condolences to the nation of Poland over the terrible loss of President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and other government officials. My heart is full of sadness for you all, and could not imagine withstanding such a terrible loss myself.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Continuing our journey through Germany, we've hopped on a train in Cologne and now we're on our way to Bremen, three hours northeast of Cologne. Bremen is located in North Germany, and the city has been shaped by its close relationship with sea trade and the Hanseatic League. You can enjoy an interesting overview of the city at Bremen in 3 minutes. Important stops on our visit to Bremen will be the Bremen Town Musicians statue (a story by the Grimm Brothers, seen on the card to the left), the statue of Roland, Bremen's protector erected in 1404, and the Bremen Town Hall. We can wander through the Schnoor quarter, Bremen's oldest with houses dating to the 15th century. After wandering a while, we can stop at the new Universum, a hands-on science museum with about 250 exhibits.
After a day in Bremen, we're going to spend a day in Bremerhaven, about 40 minutes north of Bremen, and situated on the North Sea. We'll take a boat ride down the River Weser to get from Bremen to Bremerhaven, and then perhaps we'll head to the Klimahaus, which you can tour in 360 panorama. The Klimahaus takes the visitor on a journey along the 8th line of longitude, through the many different climates of the world. After the Klimahaus we'll go to the German Emigration Center, which details the history of German emigration to many countries. After our day in sunny Bremerhaven, we'll head back to Bremen to hop on a train to our final destination... which we'll visit in my next post!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
As part of the Make Me Smile Round Robin I started several months ago, I started an experimental group called "I need a vacation," where the participants plan an itinerary for one another on the backs of three postcards. I am so excited with the results! Anjaaustel sent me on a wonderful trip through north Germany, complete with directions on which trains to take and what sights to see! So I thought I'd take you along with me. You can see her own text below; I'm just reiterating her own itinerary. I've spent a bit of time investigating many of these places, so I encourage you to click each of the links to get the most out of your virtual travel experience!
Our plane will land in Frankfurt, and then we'll take the hour-long ICE train to Cologne. When the train crosses the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine, which you can see in the postcard image, we'll see the Cologne Cathedral for the first time. The train drops us right in front of the cathedral. Click here for your virtual tour of the interior.
After thoroughly exploring the cathedral, we're off the explore the Roman-German Museum next door. Cologne was founded as a Roman settlement, and the museum was built over an existing Roman mosaic.
Next we head down the stairs to walk along the Rhine for a while. We head into town a few blocks to visit the Chocolate museum and the Olympics and Sports Museum, and maybe take a break to have a pint of Kölsch, the local brew (and also the local dialect).
We continue our stroll around town and head to the Kölner Zoo, one of the best in Germany. We'll take our time here, because it's our last stop in Cologne. Tomorrow we'll head to another destination, a post which I'll share with you... tomorrow. ;)
Sunday, February 21, 2010
"Whirling dervish" just seems like an exotic, mysterious thing, doesn't it? I never knew quite what it was, but when I received this postcard in the mail from one of my favorite Postcrossers, pinuccia, I decided it was time to learn more about it. As my repeat readers will know, I have two favorite posting themes - dances and food. Today, it's a dance.
From what I gather, the Mevlevi sect was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the monasteries were converted to museums. Decades later, the brotherhood was revived by the Turkish government as a "cultural association" - mainly for tourism reasons, I suspect. Now the brotherhood tours the world performing the ceremony.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Are you enjoying watching the Olympics? I know I am. Here's a postcard showing the beautiful Eden that is the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. You can read more about the site of the 2010 Olympics by reading my blog post from December 1.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
To celebrate my first blizzard since moving to Pittsburgh three years ago, I thought I would post a collection of beautiful winter postcards I've received through Postcrossing. Here in Pittsburgh, the world is white, and the city is completely shut down. (In order these cards show: Utrecht, Netherlands; Bavaria, Germany; St. Petersburg, Russia; Kinderdijk, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; Norway; Germany; and Tallin, Estonia.)
Monday, February 1, 2010
This Buddha statue is located at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. His official name is the Tian Tan Buddha, and he was constructed out of bronze in 1993. The rest of the info comes almost directly from Wikipedia:
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
So, it's no secret that I'm a big Twilight fan - love the books, love the movies. I've read them and watched them over and over again, and I have a hard time explaining why. I mostly take comfort in the fact that about a billion other women (and a few men) feel exactly like I do.