The ancient mysteries behind Nazca lines

Alien intelligence or ancient science?

The mysterious lines stretched across the Atacama desert in southern Peru had been analyzed by the archaeologists and scientists from all around the Planet for the past 80 years but nobody could explain with certainty its origin or significance.
The enigmatic geoglyphs have been spotted for the first time in 1939 by a pilot flying over Nazca and since that time many people have tried unsuccessfully to discover its meaning: ancient highways, astronomical calendars or perhaps runways for alien spacecraft?
I am about to find out even though I have to pay a high price…400$ plus an experience which will bring me close to death.

Nazca, a town located 400 km south of Lima

After almost 8 hours drive from the capital Lima through the driest desert on Earth I finally reach the small town of Nazca, together with my friend Georgiana, ready to discover one of the biggest mystery left behind by the Incas.

I am about to regret my decision straight away, as soon as I noticed the poor condition of the airport: no air conditioning, tired pilots stretching their legs on uncomfortable seats between long flying hours, old aircrafts with doubtful maintenance and low security system.
Like real cabin crew we prepared for the flight in advanced following some useful advices found on internet: no food or alcohol as the flight might be quite bumpy, coca tea for nausea, an air sickness bag and lot of courage. What nobody ever told us is that we will need a passport or any other form of identification (which makes lot of sense now being the fact that we are about to board a plane). Luckily, a copy of the passport sent by the hotel’s receptionist on WhatsApp together with a warm smile was enough to open the check in gates for us but don’t rely on the good will of the authorities when you plan your trip to Nazca.
The pilots approached us and the others passengers (a family with 2 kids) instructing the group to follow them outside on the tarmac, appearing friendly and professional while we walked towards the aircraft. The weather is nice with clear sky and high visibility. What can go wrong?

The flying nightmare

We board the small plane being assigned the seats right behind the pilots when I realize that I am about to do the biggest mistake of my life. The aircraft is visibly old and poorly maintained, the Captain having some troubles with his door which needed a strong kick from the outside in order to be close for departure.

Before take off we receive a map with the Nazca figures (12 drawings in total) and a pair of headsets while the pilot explain us how the aircraft will be tilt on both sides (right and left) for all the passengers to have a complete view over the lines. The tips are also advisable and soon I will be willing to give away the 2000$ that I am carrying in my bag just to have my feet safely back on ground.

I am totally aware that flying a 6 seats plane will not offer the same comfort like a commercial jet but I never anticipated what was about to happen. Once in the air strong desert currents flip the aircraft back and forward and for few seconds the pilots seem to lose the total control of the plane, rapidly decreasing in altitude for what seemed to me like a few hundred feet.
I am terrified thinking that I might lose my life in this far away place on Earth in the most silly way possible while the passengers behind us are screaming, vomiting or just telling their prayers silently.

The pilots continue the flight without any explanation about the terrifying incident, rolling the plane right and left, pointing towards the figures which now more than ever don’t make any sense to any of us while we are counting impatiently the last minutes of our 20 minutes horror journey.
The most visible and interesting lines that we were able to see are by far:
  • The Condor

  • The spider

  • The tree and the bird

  • The Hummingbird

  • The monkey

From simple lines and geometrical figures to more distinct shapes such as monkey, spider or birds, the 800 Nazca lines survived untouched for the past 2000 years. Alien intelligence or simply man power? The evidence seems to be quite clear on that, the modern researchers creating similar drawings by scratching the sand of Nazca desert with basic tools but will them last throughout the time?

The “witch” of the desert

Used for religious purposes such as ceremonies performed to obtain water and fertility of the crops, to invoke rain, predict astronomical events or just to praise a superior force, the geoglyphs remained a mystery until today even though numerous scientists have dedicated their entire life studying the enigma behind the lines. The best example in this sense is the german mathematician Maria Reiche who was known as the “lady of the lines” making the incas drawings famous worldwide after 40 years research. In her book entitled “The mystery of the desert” ms. Reiche expressed her astonishment about the complex knowledge of mathematics and geometry demonstrated by the ancient Nazca civilization.

**pictures from Pinterest

She was so deeply passionate about the lines that she built herself a house in the middle of the desert trying to preserve and protect the geoglyphs from any attempt to destroy it. Not once she was observed cleaning the lines with a broom to remove the dust and make it more accessible to the view, being called the “witch of Nazca desert” and subject of rumors and jokes throughout the time.

Driving over the lines

Since the lines are almost impossible to be detected from ground level, a truck driver decided in the beginning of the year (January 2018) to plow into the ancient site damaging three of the geoglyphs with his act. Genuine mistake or simple curiosity? The Peruvian authorities lacked evidences and decided to free the truck driver in exchange of a 1500$ fine.

Choose wisely

While flying offers the tourists the best view over the enigmatic lines, the safety concerns raised in the past few years are truly alarming with an increase number of crashes resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities. Upon deep investigations it has been discovered that the planes are often flying on half filled tanks, using inferior fuel or gliding with the engines off in a desperate attempt of saving cost. Most of the airlines were left without a license but it didn’t stop them from operating the right next day under a brand new logo.
That’s why is very important to perform a thoroughly research before you choose your airline and not accept blindly the first overpriced and unsafe offer which comes into your hand, same as we did. To be honest, if I would have the chance to take a decision again I would never pass through this traumatic experience and I would not advise anyone to try it as the lines viewed from the sky are really not impressive.

Final approach

When the pilot announced the end of the journey we all breath relaxed, without knowing yet that we are about to make a last turn before touching down the runway: the water wells.
With an unique spiral design the wells were built as a sophisticated hydraulic system serving not only for agriculture, but also for irrigation and domestic purposes in one of the most arid places in the world. Basically the ancient Nazca civilization was able to retrieve water from the underground aquifers in order to irrigate and cultivate the surrounding desert.

We finally reached the runway unharmed in what was the worst landing in my life (after 4 years of flying) and my whole body is still shacking long after I disembark the aircraft, while the other passengers are either pale, holding bags full of vomit or just running towards the airport trying to end up this nightmare as soon as possible.
Do not understand me wrong…the pilots were truly amazing and skilled but this kind of adventure should be classified as extreme sport and the travel agencies should advise the tourists in advance about the risks that might be taken into consideration when deciding to fly over Nazca. The kids and people with cardiac history should not be allowed on the flight.
Even if flying is part of my daily life, after this experience I did develop a trauma materialized through continues nightmares and a big fear of flying.

Candelabra of the Andes

A safer and way more beautiful alternative of Nazca lines is represented by the Chandelier. The interesting design belonging to the Paracas culture (200BC) is 595 feet tall and can be seen from the safety and comfort of a boat. More details about its symbolism will be shared in a new travel story.

Secrets of the Sacred valley

It’s 8 am and the sky of Cusco is covered by a tick blanket of cloudes like any other typical morning of the raining season. An old, tiny man with a huge umbrella its waiting in front of the hotel, ready to accompany us to the bus station, the starting point of our new adventure. When we requested “pick up from the hotel” I never imagined that the tour agent will actually show up with no car but I guess this is what you get for 60 soles (20$) trip. In fact I was about to regret my commodity straight way, when I realized that the man has a problem with his leg which made the walking even more difficult.

Altitude sickness

After 2 hours drive we reach the main attraction of our journey, the famous Sacred valley of the Incas where the struggle with the altitude its still taking place but on a lower level (2900 meters). I am experiencing difficulties in breathing and chest pain while my friend condition is even worse and we are worried that she might need medical care during our stay.
Altitude sickness is a real concern that has to be taken into consideration when planing your trip to Cusco as this might led to possible complication like hypoxia and even death. A good physical preparation, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol, drinking plenty of coca tea and requesting for oxygen when needed will help you acclimatize much easier.

Pisaq

Dressed in colorful ponchos bought from a local handicraft market, we enter the town of Pisac, where is located one of the most beautiful archeological site left behind by the Incas.

The stars

The entire Sacred valley was built as a reflection of the Milky Way, being not only a home for the sons of the Sun but literally the heaven on earth, where the living, the dead and the gods lived peacefully together.

The food

Incas were not only masters of astrology but they could also predict and use the weather in their advantage especially for agriculture purposes, ensuring the main source of food for the vast empire.
Hundred agriculture terraces arranged in a shape of a Condor are still being used today by the locals who are trying to rebuild the complex irrigation system and advanced techniques used by their ancestors in an attempt of saving water and increase production.

We continue to climb the difficult terrain, following Marco’s instructions, who is not only an experienced tour guide but also professor of Astrology and a real passionate of Inca’s culture. Concerned for our safety, Marco instruct us not to stop in the areas marked with a red or orange flag as this might put our life in danger.

Two Chinese ladies decide to leave the group and explore the site by themselves and I am keep thinking how fortunate I am to understand both languages (Spanish and English) being able to learn an interesting history lesson in the best classroom that one can have: surrounded by the nature and well preserved ruins of a lost era.

The dead

In the same spot its located an well known Inca cemetery carved in a rock wall and containing more than 3000 burials. Here, the Inca used to bury people who have no family while the other ones, more fortunate were mummified and cared for as they were still alive: their family would change their clothes periodically, invite them for dinner and even take their mummified body out for a “walk”.

**Inca cemetery digged in a rock wall

But dying of natural cause or in war was not the only way of loosing your life in Inca’s time.
The modern archeological discoveries shown an increased number of human sacrificed in so called “sacred rituals” in order to obtain the Gods favor or simply just to prove the mortals gratitude in front of the divinity. And what can be more pure and precious than the life of a child? The kids, usually born in peasant families were given drugs and alcohol in their final moments to ensure their compliance, being left to die.
The rituals were performed on top of a sacrificial stone, hundreds still being preserved today across Peru.

What would be an enormous tragedy for a modern family was considered as a great honor for that time, the parents of the sacrificed child being blessed by the Gods and envied by the people.

**Incas mummies buried with their child

Ollantaytambo

We are heading to Ollantaytambo, a 15th century Inca’s town built on cobblestoned streets and well preserved adobe buildings, a marvel of engineering and architecture, being both fortress and complex city in the same time.
The name of the town its associated with a pre-columbian love story not often mentioned to the tourists, a romantic tragedy where the Ollantay, the most brave warrior and trusted general of Pachacutec felt in love with the daughter emperor, who gave birth to a child in secret. Their love was forbidden by the emperor and after 10 years in exile Cusi Coyllur was forgiven by her father and reunited with her beloved Ollantay.

Across the ancient city, separated by a huge stone gate is located one of the Inca’s most sacred place: the temple hill.
The fortress, originally built for religious purposes was the site of a major battle, one of the few when Incas defeated the Spanish conquistadors, a great role in the victory being played by the high location from where the Incas could monitor the approach of the enemy.

The temple of the Sun

We are trying to keep up the rhythm of climbing with Marco but our guide even if he is much older than us seems to be more fit and most of the time we are left breathless, behind the group. When we finally manage to reach the top of the hill Marco is taking out his famous notebook, like a real teacher, pointing over a pile of stones in front of us: The temple of the sun, the most important construction in the region.

Built out of 6 massive “lazy” stones (piedras cansadas), each of them weighting more than 50 tones, the unfinished temple was used as a calendar by the Incas especially during summer and winter solstice, reasons of great celebration for the living and the dead on both sides. How the Incas managed to carry those huge stones up to the hill remains a mystery for the modern archaeologists and architects.

The God

Like any other civilization, Incas believed in a powerful, universal presence who taught their ancestors agriculture and many other useful arts, an old man with a long white beard, known by the name of Wiracocha. He was the creator of the entire universe, the time and the civilizations and was represented wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain.

The Incas worshiped their God dedicating him numerous temples, festivals and even a carved portrait facing the Temple hill of Ollantaytambo which like any other construction made by the Incas was built in close correlation with the alignment of the stars.

The Gate

Marco stops again and like a real teacher, trying to test the knowledge of his students is asking us to identify the massive structure made out of stone. Nobody knows the answer but the crowed its about to queue for pictures as soon as they find out that are standing right in front of an energetic gate. Since the old times humans believed to have found 7 energetic gates to another dimensions, two of them being located in Peru (Sacred valley and Titikaka lake).
A white rope is keeping the curious away from the entrance and nobody seems brave enough to break through the other side. Stepping on another dimension or just a myth? Probably the humans of the present will never find out the answer as its hard to believe that we posses the energy level necessary to unlock ancient secrets.

The alignment

Thanks to the modern systems of global positioning, it is now known that Ollantayntambo together with many others sites (Nazca, Easter island, Pyramids of Giza, Petra) are aligned on a single circle with a far grater meaning that we are aware of. The mysterious invisible line connecting the most ancient cultures and civilizations across the world is passing right thorough this stone, which is believed to have great recharging and healing powers.
I place my hand on the miraculous stone, taking advantage of the crowed who seems hypnotized by Marco’s stories about ancient civilizations, trying to feel something more than a cold piece of rock but it seems that the energy of the place had faded over the time.
We thank the professor for the wonderful informations shared throughout the day and we return to the bus tired but excited for the new adventure which is waiting for us early in the morning:the famous Machu Pichu.
Two sisters, wearing colorful traditional clothes are greeting the tourists in the parking area ready to win few coins with their sweet smile and the cute Alpca carried in their arms. Even though I know they should be at school and not out on the streets, I decide to enjoy the beautiful encounter and end up the day with a nice holiday souvenir.

Cusco and the failed Shaman experience

Our short flight from the capital Lima just landed in Cusco where we are greeted by a totally unfriendly weather with heavy rain and wind and by the invisible enemy called high altitude which will constantly remind us that breathing might require more concentration and effort than before.

Coca leaves

The touristic town of Cusco is located 3400 meters above the sea level where the air is thinner and the pressure low, making not only each breath more difficult but draining the last drop of energy from our body when doing simple activities like walking or talking. Even locals seems to encounter similar symptoms related to the altitude being always tired and breathing heavily reason why they are restlessly chewing Coca leaves, a natural medicine which fight against the altitude sickness.

As you might have guessed already, Coca leaves are the raw material used to produce the drug Cocaine and while the hallucinogen powder is illegal everywhere in the world, the Coca leaves remain the most wide spread medicine and herbal tea in the Andes region, totally safe and…legal.
This being said, in the airport next to the carrousel bag a big basket of Coca leaves is inviting the tourists to taste the bitter plant (3 leaves for free) and even if I am not fan of weird “experiences” I grab the complimentary plant before I would have changed my mind. I am waiting patiently for my brain to go in a state of hallucination ready to meet the dragons and flying monsters deep hidden inside of my head but after few minutes I realize that none of this is ever going to happen.

Same as I mentioned before, Coca leaf is not a drug but a medicine used to suppress hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain and overcome altitude sickness. It can be found raw, as main ingredient of caramels and candies or as capsules in pharmacies. However you decide to try it don’t forget that Coca is prohibited outside of Peru and taking it to your home country might put you in serious trouble. Beside that, if you have a job which require periodically drug tests (aviation, army, police) you might want to stop the Coca ingestion at least 36 hours prior your duty as it might mark you positive for drugs. Explanation as “I just got back from Peru where Coca is legal” wont help you much.

Cusco is nothing compared to the beautiful capital of Peru, Lima, but a small town in the mountainous region of the Andes, very popular for the tourists interested in ancient history and backpackers hiking the difficult terrains, all of them chasing the same goal…to explore one of the most beautiful wonders of the modern world…Machu Pichu.
The altitude continue to trouble us even if we had the wrong idea that working as cabin crew would help our body to adapt much easier with the low air pressure so we decide to spend first and last day of our trip in Cusco, experiencing the andean cuisine and the esoteric rituals so famous in this part of the world.
The travel brochures advice no heavy meals and no alcohol and trying to follow strictly the instructions we choose an organic restaurant recommended by a colleague Chef and well rated on trip advisor: Organika.

5 stars restaurant for 2 stars bill

The restaurant does’t impress by its design and our first thought was that we are in the wrong place but once the plates were brought to our table we didn’t regret the choice we’ve made.

The food was not only healthy but absolutely delicious and plated with passion and attention for details by the 5 chefs who were working together in the open kitchen. Beautiful edible flowers were used to decorate the meals making it even more appealing to the guests. Faced with the entire frenzy of taste and colors we couldn’t resist the temptation of pairing our main course with a glass of Cusquena, one of Peru’s most popular beer. Travelers vs Altitude sickness 1-0.

**Quinoa salad, Grilled fish with sweet potatoes, Warm chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet.

The girl in charge with our table noticed the delight on our face and suggested that we should try their newly open restaurant “Rucula” based on same concept of delicious organic food meticulously selected by their chefs. And that was definitely a great choice for dinner. Best food quality in a casual environment and affordable prices (20 euro for 2 persons), all that we need after a failed shaman experience.

** Shrimps and avocado salad, Carpaccio, Lasagna and Carrot cake.

WARNING!!!

Now we are going to enter into the “dark” details of our trip and if you are not into esoteric, spiritual stuff you better stop reading like now.

Chasing the coca ritual

My friend G. came up with the weird idea of reading our future in Coca leaves (thats how I found out another benefit not so well know of the Coca) and I knew that whatever argument I will bring against it she wouldn’t change her mind so I decide to follow up with the plan. Like the Tarot and other similar scams, this art is not normally practiced in plain street view but having no clue where to find a proper fortune teller we started by asking every street vendor for details. This is how we end up in a bad famed neighborhood of Cusco called Calle Nueva (New street) full of beggars and people engaged in doubtful activities.
We were about to give up and leave when we noticed a tiny old lady displaying a bag of Coca leaves and some playing cards on a street corner. “There she is” we thought full of excitement while giggling and waiting impatiently for the old lady to finish the casserole of rice served for lunch. We approached her confidently, greeting her in Spanish, well aware that English wont be familiar to a person of her age. Surprisingly she wasn’t speaking Spanish also and the only way to communicate with our fortune teller was in Quechua (the Inca language spoken only by 25% of Peru population). Its time to give up, said my friend never and while we continue our journey on the obscure streets of Calle Nueva we decide to involve the new technology in search of old habits.
After a detailed research on Google we found ourselves ringing the bell of one of the most popular Shaman house in Cusco, willing to pay the 100$ tax for an accurate reading of our future. The website advertise professional expertise of one’s life from a real Shaman plus translator from Quechua to English so why not to try?

Do not fall in the trap of fake shamans

The whole ritual was a total scam from the beginning to the end. We were invited to enter the “consultation room” one by one and while G. entered first I continued my research online still questioning the veracity of their prophecies.
When my turn came, I entered the big room simple decorated with an old rug in the center while the Shaman wearing a funny colorful hat and a poncho was waiting for me.

(Google picture from the same place just for you to have an idea what I am talking about when I mention “funny” clothes)

He immediately start invoking his ancestors or bullshiting something in Quechua which was totally incompressible to me. The lady who was assisting him was responsible with the translation but it looked like she didn’t pass the basic English test at school (if she ever attended one). The Shaman was keep blowing on his leaves “A ver, A ver” (let’s see, let’s see) was whispering the whole time but either the Coca leaves were deaf or the Shaman an impostor because nothing of what he tried to guess didn’t apply to my current life situation.
When I was about to lose my faith in the Shaman magical powers (which I never had in the first place) the floor start shaking violently under me and I thought “that’s the end of this story…some ugly demons will come out of the floor ready to punish me for my skepticism”. Fortunately it was just an earthquake so common in this region as Peru is located in a seismic zone between Nazca and South America tectonic plates and little tremors can happen on daily basis.
In the end, the Shaman tried to convince me that I have some issue with the Chakras located on my stomach which require an urgent healing session. I said “No thank you, I like my stomach the way it is” and I rushed to the entrance door ready to leave this charlatan behind, angry and with few dollars gap in my budget.

**Making some extra money with overpriced clothing

Surprisingly….or not…my friend was all excited and convinced that she needs a new ritual meant to cure her life of bad luck and negativity, performed on another floor by the same “gifted” Shamans.
Pachamama or the Mother earth ritual is performed every year on early August (but doesn’t matter for our experienced Shamans that we are only few months earlier-March) and basically represent the concept of giving back to Earth whatever we took from it. Different offerings are blessed and buried in order to show the gratitude and obtain even more goodies in the future. The whole ritual was performed under the close supervision of a stuffed Alpaca which made the whole situation even more hilarious.

Ayahuasca retreat

I thanked God when we finally finished the whole masquerade but rushing to the exit I bumped into two young men who just finished the so told “Ayahuasca retreat”, looking a little high and having a weird glow in their eyes.
The ceremony involves drinking the hallucinatory mix of plants under the guidance of a Shaman and expect a whole new set of feelings which are unique and personal for each and everyone.
Some people describe it as an out of body experience, indescribable happiness, encounter with the divine while others more unlucky never come back alive from this journey.
Whoever have the curiosity/courage to experience the “wisdom plant” must know that this is a truly life changing and transformative experience which require a serious process of purification through fasting, deep cleaning and a trustworthy Shaman.

Around the city

Outside, the life continues its normal cycle: locals trying to sell their handicraft, tourists gathering on the tiny streets, colorful decorated Alpacas waiting patiently their moment of glory.
And for us its just the right time to explore some of the beautiful architecture left behind by the Spanish conquistadors laughing about our failed experience with the fake shamans and trying to plan a better handling of our savings for the future.

Letter for a friend

Before I came to Abu dhabi, exactly 4  years ago, this little guy was my friend. Everyday he would just come outside the window and look at me throughout the glass.
I made a habit in feeding him so he would return every day. I cant imagine his disappointment when, one day he came for his daily food but nobody was there anymore.
My poor little bird, I keep wondering what has become of you?
I wish you can just fly away and find me here in this warm beautiful country, far away from the grey communist buildings and the grey sky of the winter. Even though, every place has his disadvantage, and here you would be probably starving or just hit up with a stone by the naughty kids who are rarely teached to respect a tiny creature like you.
My dear friend I hope you found someone who is looking after you the same way I did.

Arab heritage in the heart of Singapore

I am back to Singapore for the 3rd time this month, ready to follow up with my sightseeing plan even though I know already that will be difficult to find a colleague ready to join my new adventure.

Exactly how I predicted, once I disclosed my little secret, my work mates start laughing and nobody seemed to take me seriously enough: “Arab street? You came all this way to see the Arab street? Are you not tired of arabs?”
I decided to ignore the sarcastic comments and wearing my pink dress that I brought special for this occasion I am rushing down to the lobby excited to start a day full of colors and creativity.
Surprisingly, on the last moment three other colleagues showed interested in my plan, curious or maybe out of ideas while in Singapore, waiting for me downstairs, ready to discover a culture so familiar to them but placed in a different context, in the heart of the Asian world.

Arab quarter located in the heart of Singapore

First thing that welcomes us once we step out of the taxi is the beautiful Masjid Sultan Mosque, which gives the place a magical touch.

A bunch of muslims (arabs, turks, indians and singaporian) are gathered outside of the mosque waiting for the daily prayer, united not by nationality, appearance nor even by the same language but by the common beliefs and divinity.
For the tourists, the 200 years old mosque framed by palm trees impress by its size and beautiful design, taking them in the mystical journey of middle eastern tales of Scheherazade, Aladdin and other fictional characters.

The shops around the mosque display a wide variety of brightly colored fabrics and Persian carpets but despite the fairy tales, the rugs dont seems to master any supernatural powers and disappointed I am forced to continue my journey by feet and not floating around on top of a magical carpet.

In contrast with the other areas of Singapore, the Arab neighborhood seems a little bit messy and unattended with hundred waste bins aligned on the tiny colorful streets and beggars trying to win some coins so essential for survival.
Shocking discovery for a country where chewing gum or smoking on the street is totally prohibited and the economy its in full blossom.

Two of my colleagues returned to the hotel immediately, probably regreting their decision to accompany me in a place which cant compete with the fame of the marvelous Marina Bay sands and its gardens, being rarely included in the “must see” list of the regular tourists.

I am not giving up just yet, having a little bit more sense of adventure and curiosity, I continue my sightseeing with the graffitis covering the walls of restaurants and shops, the main point of attractions and the perfect background for some good Instagram pictures.

Fancy manicure, a place to “die for” or just a fresh fish in the Mad sailors restaurant? That’s the perfect place!

Buy me coffee…Make me coffee…Be coffee

By far my favorite art mural is a huge creation hidden somewhere behind a parking lot, describing a busy day of an Arabic coffee shop and the perfect formula used to create the aromatic liquid which my life depends on a daily basis.

Western food and beers on Arab territory

Not long after, we stop for a quick dinner and I have a hard time choosing something from the menu, Singaporean food being the last on my preference list, always tasteless, weird and overpriced. I exhale relaxed when I find few western options and I order the buffalo chicken wings but I am about to regret my choice with the first bite, the wings being covered not in a buffalo sauce but with a tick layer of bbq ketchup.
All the restaurants in the area are serving alcohol which is a little bit surprising being the fact that we are on an Arab “territory” where the alcohol is considered “haram” (big sin). I am not complaining thought and without thinking twice I am ordering a Corona to help me extinguish the unpleasant taste of my meal.

On the other side of the road, beautiful decorated restaurants with oriental motifs are inviting the costumers to taste delicious arabic and turkish delights and I can never say NO to a warm, creamy plate of Kunafeh and a strong black tea.

Singapore, the international hub of love, respect and acceptance

Singapore managed to develop one of the most harmonious society of the world, where people with different nationality, religion and belifs have learned to live in peace, exchange customs, ideas and learn from one another.
Little India and China town are just few steps away from the Arab quarter and once again this beautiful open minded country is proving that acceptance and integration between different comunities strengthens personal identities, making the world a better place.

Louvre Abu dhabi, a place beyond imagination

UAE government came out with the brilliant idea of opening a replica of the most famous museum of the world, Louvre, right in the middle of the desert. With a final cost of 2 billion dollars and 24.000 square meters in size, Abu dhabi invites the art passionate from all over the world to visit the largest and the most luxurious art museum ever built in the Arabian peninsula.
The museum’s design combine the elegance of the past with the luxury of the present, representing a floating dome with an web pattern which allows the sun to filter inside the inner courtyard, resembling rays of sunlight passing through date palm leaves in an oasis.

Taking advantage of my friend’s visit in town, I decided to surprise them, spending the weekend not in a coffee shop or a mall but in the middle of impressive masterpieces of contemporary and modern design, divided chronologically from prehistory to the present in 12 art galleries.

“Everything you imagine is real”~Picasso

After skipping the line with our online tickets (60dh per person) we step on the “world stone carpet” covering the floor of the first Art gallery, chamber which illustrate the great importance that humanity always showed to the most cruel stage of existance: Death.

Gold funerary masks, houses of the dead and other burial objects were used by the mankind since the oldest time trying to obtain their immortality when faced with death.
Today, after more than 3000 years, the humans seems to not have changed much, still trying to buy their after life comfort either by building imposing graves or by taking with them gold coins or other objects which will guarantee the necessary bribe for what may come after life.

“Does gold confer eternal life liberating our existence from the finite realm? Gold glows in the gloom of tombs but only bones have been found behind these masks.”

The greatest symbolism regarding the after life is found with no doubt in the ancient Egyptian culture were dead bodies were mummified and prepared for their journey to the afterworld, trip considered full of dangers.
Henuttawy(950-900BC), one of the Egyptian queens found her eternal peace in a beautiful sarcophagi, imprinted with symbols and holy decorations which may have not confer her immortality but definitely brought her lot of fame and admirers under the roof of the Louvre museum.

The great statues of Ramses II and the stale of Tutankhamun representing his offerings to the god Osiris are attracting the visitors like a magnet captivating with their mystery and customs even the most advanced civilization of the modern world.

~Ramses II~

~Stale of Tutankamun~~Osiris, God of the underworld~

“The world doesnt make any sense so why should I paint pictures that do?”~Picasso

Leaving the land of dead behind we approach the Victorian era when drama was a developing form of art and the great artists maintained their own “immortality” over the time, through their great creations.
One of the most admired painting covering the walls of the Louvre brings a smile on the visitors face when associated with the famous comedy show “Mister Bean” in which Whistler’s mother lost her face in a terrible incident.

Now the atmosphere inside of the museum is more relaxed as we are stepping inside the Modern art gallery much more abstract but closer to our understanding. Let’s be honest, 90% of the Louvre visitors are young people with no clue about art but with a high enthusiasm in discovering new things and shoot some great instagram pictures.

“There is only one difference between art and science. In science, the Universe is in control. In Art, you are.” Harry Kroto, Nobel prize in chemistry

Distancing themselves from the academic conventions, the modern artists implemented a more creative approach to express their artistic view over the life, using powerful mix of colors and abstract patterns. The talent is being replaced by creativity and the result may be disappointing for the traditional art critics but this form of art is getting more and more popularity among the young population being more affordable than any Picasso or Rembrandt and easier to assimilate.
I have no clue what the artists were trying to recreate in those modern paintings but my “professional eye” suggest that we are talking about….
• a great DNA sample from a mosquito battlefield
• a couple sitting naked on a bench on a first date
• a cricket playing his ballad in a metro station
• a group of drunk aliens taking a selfie

My friends found another funny meanings for each painting and laughing out loud we are moving forward to the main point of attraction, “The fountain of light”. The chandelier was created in 2016 by the artist Ai Weiwei from China using steel and glass crystals.
Oh God, It would look so good in my living room even though I doubt the authenticity of Chinese stones (hey Weiwei, I was just kidding).
We are rushing towards the inner courtyard where warm rays of winter sun are penetrating the web ceiling, creating one of the most beautiful painting of all, a game of shadows and rain of light. Since the opening, the visitors tried to find the most appropriate description for the 180 meters canopy which covers the museum; some would say it resemble a dome, a cupola, a space frame or even a bird nest while others would find a more powerful meanings, “a fingerprint which touches water”.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life”~Picasso

We end up this amazing visit with a photoshoot session outside of the museum, in the beautiful park with a magnetic view over the city.
Everything about Lovre impress; from the imposing architecture created by Jean Nouvel, the extensive collection of mix culture, the cocktail of ancient and modern believes until the perfect location chosen right in the middle of an artificial island, surrounded by sea, palm trees and modern skyscrapers.
The perfect way to purify your mind and soul!

Mornings above the…fog

It was an agitated week for the residents of the UAE but also for the tourists who had the “opportunity” to experience one of the most weird meteorological phenomenon of this region.

The country was shrouded in a white dense veil of fog which lasted from late in the night until midday, creating lot of troubles on ground such as condensed traffic but mostly in the sky, a high number of flights being canceled or diverted to the neighbor airports.

The fog in UAE cant be compared with anything that you might have encountered before…its tick, bright and very humid but its also an amazing experience which should not be missed.

I managed to shoot some pictures in the morning right before the nasty cloud wrapped in his mysterious arms the skyscrapers which seemed to be untouchable before.

Who said the fog can’t be beautiful?

Sunset in fog