Two Paradises: Tayrona & Minca, Colombia

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In the slideshow above are some photos I took in two different paradises.  The first, Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, is a well-known protected nature area on the Northern coast of Colombia. The jungle on the Caribbean is frequented by a thousand or two tourists a day. The most famous beach is Cabo San Juan, which is a place of surpassing beauty, and everyone with a backpack in Colombia knows about it. Getting there takes two and a half hours hiking through humid jungle, and people pay lots of money to sleep on the ground in sweltering tents or in crowded huts full of hammocks. Every threadbare hammock within earshot of the beach is booked. The toilets are rare and adorned with lines of dancing people in the morning. Few complain. 

Nearby is the second paradise I visited, Minca, a charming village set inland and above the stifling heat of the jungle. About one thousand locals live clustered in the picturesque town located 20 km south from the coastal hub of Santa Marta and 0.75 km up in elevation from the sea. Its beauty and tranquility attract backpackers looking to get off the beaten path and take bone shaking rides up unpaved roads to untended guesthouses. The climate and peaceful surroundings are becoming well-known beyond the gringos and birdwatchers that currently augment the quiet community. The locals are aware and capitalizing. Along every passable dirt and rock road there are new guesthouses being slung up, the entrepreneurial residents ignoring the impotent signage of local noise restrictions aimed at protecting the extraordinary wildlife that cohabit this valley with the people seeking a more prosperous life. My guess is that when it becomes easy to get there, it will have changed.



“We have one option, but your bags won’t be coming with you, you need to decide right now, and you have to run to the gate, the plane is waiting just for you.” My trip to Colombia started with a half mile run through terminal 4, followed up six hours later with two aborted landing attempts in a thunderstorm over Medellin, a few hours transferring in Cali, then into the tropical air of Cartagena with nothing but a wallet, passport, camera and sketchpad.

Colombia is a country whose varied climates and rich culture feel as magical as the exchange rate. This set of images was taken in Cartagena, a major Caribbean port town founded in 1533 as an early foothold of the Spanish empire. It is a place soaking in history and culture, colonialism and liberation, pirates and graffiti, public art and nightlife.

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The door knockers of Cartagena add to the unique charm of the city’s streets. They used to hold meaning, each one representing the profession of the house, fish for fishermen, lions for soldiers, hands for clergy, but now they’re adornments reflecting the tastes of the wealthy owners.  Here’s a bit more at Atlas Obscura: door-knockers-of-cartagena.

More coming soon…

If facebook was a bar…

If facebook was a bar, I wouldn’t go.

The bar would make money by lining the walls with LED billboards for things that are tangentially related to the places I was at before coming to the bar. The bar would be the only one that would have my friends and acquaintances, having years ago put all the other bars out of business. It would use that unique advantage to sell my presence to other interests.

They would only serves drinks that were based on other drinks I have had before.

Everytime I spoke it would be mic’d so the whole bar could hear. There is almost nothing I have to say that I want everyone I know to hear. Most form squads of silent judges.

This bar would be the sole arbiter of identification processes for other public places. When other shops and venues needed to verify who I am, they would promise not to put anything on my tab at the bar.

When something goes terribly wrong near where we live, it would become custom to check into the bar just to let everyone know we were ok, and that we’d be back at the bar soon.

If facebook was a bar, it would be so carefully designed that I feel compelled to check in even when I was just there. I would stop by in between all my other errands. There would always be another friend offering another drink.

Bars are great places to speak freely, to be uncomfortably honest in a zone of limited collective memory, to stand down our guards, and to be among those who will forgive our peculiarities and our faults. If facebook was a bar, I wouldn’t go.



Why I started accepting digital currency for my artwork

A week ago I posted this on my facebook page:

There’s a fun new addition to my website. I now accept Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) for art purchases. Most of my new work costs about 0.055 BTC or 0.95 ETH.

The comments were entirely sarcastic, “What about Monopoly money?”

My response, “I’ll have to check the exchange rate.”

Which made me ask, could I reasonable accept Monopoly money? Here was my response:

OK, so i checked it out. Monopoly retails for roughly $25, and each set comes with 15,140 MM (Monopoly Money), so each 1 MM is worth about 0.00165 USD. My new work would cost about 605,600 MM or 40 full banks of Monopoly Money. Logistically this is too burdensome, so at this time I can not accept Monopoly Money, and have no plans to do so in the future.

Theoretically, I could accept full monopoly sets as payment, with a premium to cover the cost it would take to resell them.  The issue comes down to this:  I don’t have a passion for selling board games.  Anything of value that distracts me from my core goals has no value to me.
I could accept anything that is valuable to me under those terms in exchange for my art.  I have bartered with fellow artist friends to trade works. Their work is valuable to me. In almost every case I think I’m getting a deal because I can literally create my work from a pile of materials, but I can not make theirs.
Purchasing my art in digital currency is closer to bartering art for art. It is payment that comes in a form that overlaps with my interests. I doubt I would even withdraw from the digital currency market into USD, that would be like trying to sell my freinds art as soon as we traded. Doing that misses the point.
This prompts a fun thought experiment. What other valuable and easily transferable things could I trade for art? I love cooking, but the quantities involved are likely too burdensome, and there is the issue of spoilage. Truffles are overrated clods of dirt. Cheese comes closest to feasibility, but becomes rather horrible in large quantities. Spices last fairly well but few of them are valuable enough.  I can’t imagine holding on to fifty pounds of cumin for a painting.
And then it hits me:  I can accept payment in saffron for my art.