July 27, 2014

1167 BULGARIA (Blagoevgrad) - A woman from Gotse Delchev with traditional headdress

I wrote here a little about the bulgarian traditional clothes, and about the main bulgarian ethnographic regions, so I don't insist for now. The woman in the postcard is from Gotse Delchev, in the south-west of the country. Prior to the 20th century, for weddings the hair was arranged in complex styles formed with multiple plaits; in the north and southwest, brides wore a specific headband made of decorative metal chains forming a crown. Married women covered their heads with scarves of colored silk or cotton (which could be square, triangular or rectangular, small or large), sometimes worn over a small hat. Bridal headdresses usually had a large square headscarf or scarf (mesal) 2m to 3m long and decorated with embroidery and long fringes on both ends. The headscarf was worn over cylinder or cone shape low hats. It were folded in the middle and placed on head, or could be worn over a pad, with the ends hanging loose at back. The style of jewelry worn with Bulgarian ethnic dress was strongly influenced by Ottoman fashions but with certain ancient elements, such as the over-the-ear pendants. During the period of national revival, workshops in the prosperous towns made earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings of silver filigree or cast copper or silver, often decorated with enamel.

1163-1166 ARUBA - California Lighthouse

Located near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of Aruba, in the area known as Hudishibana, California Lighthouse was named for the British wooden steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891, after sailing from Liverpool toward Central America. On board, passengers were partying hard when the wreck occurred. Meanwhile, the crew was more practical, tossing cargo overboard as the sinking vessel hit the coast so the merchandise could be sold in Oranjestad - or so the story goes.

Two decades later, a French architect designed the striking edifice that came to be known as the California Lighthouse. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1914 and took two years to complete. The tower was built using stone blocks quarried in the area. Meanwhile, the top - which stands at 30m high - was made of metal to house the mood-altering light that shines onto the landscape today. It is conical, but has an octagonal base and it is unpainted (sand coloured). Around the lighthouse are acres of stoned-filled flat land, and a area called California White Sand Dunes.

It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse. Now it is a major tourist attraction, because any time of day or night is a great time to visit the lighthouse for a 360 degree view, but the sunset is hands down the right time of day to be there as the big orange ball of fire gently dips into the Caribbean Sea. Right next to the California Lighthouse is a very good Italian restaurant named La Trattoria El Faro Blanco (The White Lighthouse Restaurant).

July 26, 2014

1162 UNITED STATES (Georgia) - The map of State of Georgia

Located in the southeastern United States, on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, between Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina, Georgia, also known as Peach State, was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. Named after King George II of Great Britain, it was the fourth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, but also one of the original seven Confederate states, and the last one to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. The state's capital and its most populous city is Atlanta, built in 1840 as Terminus, the "zero milepost" of  Western and Atlantic Railroad. The northern part of the state is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mountain range in the Appalachian Mountain system. The central Piedmont extends from the foothills to the fall line, where the rivers cascade down in elevation to the continental coastal plain of the southern part of the state. If Georgia were a stand-alone country, it would be the 28th largest economy in the world. The state symbols are Brown Thrasher, Cherokee Rose and White Oak, its motto is "Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation", and its song is Georgia on my mind.

July 25, 2014

1161 BANGLADESH (Dhaka) - National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar

Located at about 35km northwest of Dhaka, the capital city of the country, Jatiyo Smriti Soudho, the National Monument for the Martyrs of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 (which brought independence and separated Bangladesh from Pakistan) was designed by Syed Mainul Hossain and inaugurated at 16 December, 1982. The monument is composed of 7 isosceles triangular pyramid shaped structures, with the middle one being the tallest. The highest point of the monument is 50m. There is an artificial lake, and several mass graves in front of the main monument. From the main gate one can see the monument axially, but to reach there one has to walk through different levels of red pavements and cross a lake - all these representing the struggle for independence.

1160 CAMBODIA (Siem Reap) - Traditional Apsara dancer

Apsaras are female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, assimilated to some extent with nymphs from european mythology. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing, being associated with fertility rites. They are often the wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra. They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men. They are said to be able to change their shape at will, and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling. Apsaras represent an important motif in the stone bas-reliefs of the Angkorian temples in Cambodia, about which I wrote here.

July 23, 2014

1159 MARTINIQUE - Woman dressed into traditional Creole clothes

Located in Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, Martinique, as also Guadeloupe, is an overseas region of France, so its culture blends French and Caribbean influences. The city of Saint-Pierre was often referred to as the "Paris of the Lesser Antilles". Most of Martinique's population is descended from enslaved Africans brought to work on sugar plantations during the colonial era, generally mixed with some French, Amerindian (Carib people), Indian (Tamil), Lebanese or Chinese ancestry. Many Martinicans speak, in addition to French (official), Martiniquan Creole, a subdivision of Antillean Creole that is virtually identical to the varieties spoken in Saint Lucia and Dominica.

July 22, 2014

1158 MADAGASCAR - Les baobabs amoureux in Morondava

Once upon a time, a young man and a young woman of two nearby villages fell in love from each other. Unfortunately both had already an assigned partner and had to marry separately in their respective villages. However, the impossible couple dreamed of a common eternity life and having a child together and secretly asked help to their god. Both baobabs were born and now live they for eternity as one as the couple always wished. So says the legend that appeared the two baobabs known as Les baobabs amoureux (the Lovers baobabs), located at 7km to the northwest of the famous Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs, a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Along the 260m of the avenue are 20-25 trees about 30m in height, known locally as renala (Malagasy for "mother of the forest"), a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar.

July 21, 2014

1157 POLAND - The map and the flag of the country

Located between Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) and Lithuania, Poland is an almost unbroken plain reaching from the Baltic Sea in the north, to the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains in the south. Within that plain, terrain variations run in bands east to west. The Baltic coast has two natural harbors (Gdańsk Bay and Bay of Pomerania), and the northeastern region, with more than 2,000 lakes, is densely wooded and sparsely populated. Its capital and largest city is Warsaw, established on the Vistula River at about 1300 by the Płock prince Bolesław II of Masovia, known as the city of palaces, royal gardens and grand parks.

July 20, 2014

1155, 1156 UNITED STATES (South Dakota) - Presidents and Founding Fathers

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (Lakota Sioux name: Six Grandfathers) near Keystone. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, it features 18 m sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). Historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of this sculpture, in order to promote tourism in the region. Construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum's death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941.

Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876. Members of the American Indian Movement led an occupation of the monument in 1971, naming it Mount Crazy Horse. In 2004, the first Native American superintendent of the park was appointed. Gerard Baker has stated that he will open up more "avenues of interpretation", and that the four presidents are "only one avenue and only one focus." The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate the famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds.

1152-1154 ARUBA - The map of the country

Located about 1,600km west of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea and 27km north of the coast of Venezuela, Aruba forms, together with Bonaire and Curaçao, a group referred to as the ABC islands. On the other hand, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Caribbean. It is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands (which comprises not only the European land, but also Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba), Curaçao and Sint Maarten. A generally flat, it lies outside the hurricane belt, and, unlike much of the Caribbean region, has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. It has white sandy beaches on the western and southern coasts of the island, relatively sheltered from fierce ocean currents.


Aruba's first inhabitants were Caquetíos Amerinds from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela, and Europeans first learned of it following the explorations by Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda. Because it had low rainfall, it was not considered profitable for the plantation system and the economics of the slave trade. Since 1636, it has been under Dutch administration, which left the Arawaks to farm and graze livestock, and used the island as a source of meat for other Dutch possessions in the Caribbean. The population is estimated to be 80% mixed Black/White/Caribbean Amerindian and 20% other ethnicities, and the Arawak heritage is stronger on Aruba than on most Caribbean islands. The official languages are Dutch and - since 2003 - Papiamento, a language derived from African and Portuguese languages with some influences from American Indian languages, English, Dutch and Spanish.

Aruba has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean region, its economy being dominated by tourism, gold mining, phosphate mining, aloe export, and petroleum refining. About three quarters of its gross national product is earned through tourism or related activities. The capital and largest city of Aruba is Oranjestad (Orange Town), located on the southern coast near the western end of the island. The town was built around Fort Zoutman shortly after it was built in 1796, and was named in 1820 after the first King Willem van Oranje-Nassau (William of Orange-Nassau) - the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange.