Tuesday 31 May 2016

Travels through Morocco, Part 2 - The Rif Mountains

That day we departed around 11 o'clock and the next 7 hours were spent travelling with a car through the Rif Mountains in the northern parts of Morocco. The mountain range stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to Algeria and we crossed about half of the distance or roughly 350 km. Our goal was to reach Bni Bouayach, small village 15 km south of the bay of Hoceima and in the middle of the distance between Gibraltar and the Algerian border. The road in the beginning was pretty good even according the West European standards, but when we approached the higher and more mountainous parts it turned in the typical hole-ridden third world country-side roads that if not careful can break your car or even kill you. Getting out of Tangier and driving further away gave me the feeling I am leaving a western town and entering some proverbial poor country. Along the road can be seen many small villages, which look rather ghettos. Between the hastily and poorly built houses and barracks can be seen also here and there buildings that I'd call "mini-palaces". However later along the road in the less densely populated areas the landscape changed and was much more rustic and idyllic. The houses were very neat and well spaced with several hundred metres between each other and surrounded with well kept and cultivated farm land. The general rule was that in the centres of the villages were built few small blocks of flats with low quality and the further you get out the better looking and farm-like were the buildings.

Even more strange and impressive was the sight of people walking along the roads, in temperatures exceeding 45C and often 20-30 km from the closest human settlement. After offering to some of them a lift and they refused it, we learned that some of these people are locals who are going after their own jobs and tasks, but the majority were just homeless poor people, who were wandering aimlessly around the mountains. Normally they were wearing thick dirty clothes (or rather rags) and matching shoes. Also most of them had bindle-stiffs and tied big plastic bottles full with water. The only thing I couldn't find was why all of them walked under the Sun in midday, during the hottest hours, but seems it was not troubling them, or at least not enough to make them look for cover.

Talking about the heat, I have to mention that in the Rif Mountains one can often see men and women wearing the traditional Berber clothes, which superficially look like something designed for the cold of the winter and snow, but the protection from heath requires somewhat similar techniques and the final result is somewhat surprising. These costumes are composed of long hanging below the knees (or the ankle for women) light shirt, similar to these worn by the Arabs and aselham, long robe or coat-like garment with pointy hood, which is normally closed in front and is made from relatively thick and coarse material in drab colours. For work in the open normally people wear knit cap or scarf and on top of it the traditional broad-brim Berber straw hats, called "taraza" and specially in the case of the women's ones often decorated with colourful pompoms.  And as an conclusion now I am convinced that all this covers, hijabs, etc are rather due to the climate then some other cultural reason, because its not only the women, but also men who are completely covered as protection from the insane heath and burning sun rays. So, below you can see some of the pictures i took from this travel through the Rif Mountains, enjoy!

Getting out of Tangier
Small side roads, leading to farms around Tangier
Woman in traditional Berber costume and decorated taraza hat selling prickle pears on side of the road
The prickle pears (Opuntia ficus-indica) are in fact cactus fruits and are often sold 1-2 for 1 dirham and peeling them is included in the price 
I've got to try them in Morocco and they are nothing like these we are getting in Europe. Here are sold much bigger and sweeter fruits.
Typical houses in the centres of the small villages along the road in the Rif Mountains
View of the fields in the Rif Mountains
Another view of the fields
Farm land in Rif
Groups of conifer trees, some of them are endemic for the region
Rock formations in the Rif Mountains
Village in the Rif Mountain
Oak tree along the road. Some of the oak species are also typical for the region
Well watered fields in the Rif Mountain
Farmlands in Rif
Fields in Rif
Farms along the roads
Village in Rif 
There were a lot of people wearing traditional Berber clothes
Stalls along the main roads
Often can be seen these strange restaurant/BBQ places were you can bring your own meat to be roasted
These old Mercedes used often as taxis are another typical view for the country
Man with the Berber hooded robe, called "aselham"
A lot of tea houses can be seen everywhere and there are always a people in them
Typical view from a car window when passing village in the Rif Mountain
Another group of conifers
Single tree
Park in a village along the road through Rif
Valleys and scenic landscapes in the Rif Mountains
The higher parts of the Rif range
View from the road in the higher parts of the mountain
Typical haystacks along the road in Rif
Landscape - Rif
Roadhouse and grocery in the Rif Mountain
View of the road in Rif
Often can be seen children running around the road and selling stuff to the drivers, sometimes many miles from the closest settlement

Walk in the Garden of the Turia, January 2007 - Short clips

This video is collection of several short clips which I took while having a walk in the Garden of the Turia, January 2007. This was the very first time I used video recorder and while the quality is not great when looked in 2016, for that time it was one of the more expensive video cameras.

This video has rather "historical" then modern day entertaining value and shows what it was then, shortly after that part of the park was completed

Monday 30 May 2016

Healthy lifestyle basic concepts - avoiding monotony and repetition

In this video I talk about some basic concepts, which are part of more natural way of living. In short the idea is that it was unlikely that our ancestors had 3 square meals a day and they rather ate and exercised in unpredictable and chaotic way. So, to emulate as close as possible that lifestyle, for which we evolved, we should try to avoid repetition and routine.

Also the primitive human never knew when will come next meal (if it comes at all that day), what is going to be and what physical activity will be required to get it. In the same spirit we should try to surprise more often our bodies with the food we eat and exercises we do.

Below follows excerpt from the video:

"In this video I'll be talking about the rigidity of the life styles we'd like to maintain. First my core idea of whatever I do is to avoid the monotony and repetition. In the case of exercising for example I'll have one day one or two hours jogging, another day will be simply a long walk. Next day will be lifting weights in the gym. Another day will be wrestling, kick-boxing and so on. The general idea is to avoid repetition at any cost, because we are not designed and our body waste quite fast if we begin repeating the same physical motion again and again.

Same goes for the food. Despite having few core components, like meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts, what I'm trying to do is to avoid repeating the exact type of food that I'm eating. For example one day it could be meat, another day it could be fish. I recently tried elk meat, which was very tender and with much better taste then the cooked version. The berries that I normally eat can be swapped with grapes, apples, mango, orange, kiwi etc.

Also normally I eat some kind of onion. This could be swapped with garlic. Sometimes I eat row eggs but I try to eat as diverse as possible types of eggs. For example instead of the normal chicken egg I eat quail eggs. Also there are many, many types of nuts which all have different properties and different chemical components. I have hazelnuts, almonds, pecan nuts and so on, and so on.

Avoiding the monotony and trying to make my life style as diverse as possible goes up to the point that once a week for example is OK to completely skip the paleo food and eat just cheeseburgers or other very unhealthy food which essentially can't do any damage and likely will be beneficial if eaten rarely.

Another thing that I'm doing is sometimes maybe once a week or once biweekly I'm having one day when I'm skipping eating at all. This is not at all harmful and after a while we you can get used to it and it could gives you boost of energy the next day.

Another important thing is that the amount of food that we eat to be according to the energy spent. Despite of eating healthy food if we keep overeating we can get very obese and exercise is not going to help us as we can see in the case of sumo wrestlers.

The other site of the spectrum we can see people who eat very healthy but don't exercise at all. They have the kind of the aspect of dead fish. Humans have to maintain a certain level of physical activity a day and certain level of energy consumed in the form of food eaten."

A Walk in Lilla Bommen - April 2014

Today I'll post a few pictures taken during the spring of 2014 from a walk in Lilla Bommen, a guest harbour in Gothenburg, Sweden located on the shore of the Göta river. It offers mooring for temporary visiting boats.
West part of the Lilla Bommen square
One can see the Viking in the background

Göta river
Göta river
The Viking and The ''Lipstic''
This building popularly known as The ''Lipstic'' is a post-modern relatively tall structure. It is a red and white striped building located near The Viking. It's official name is Lilla Bommen, after it's location.

Its impossible to get in one frame the whole Viking from the side
Also in Lilla Bommen is moored The Viking. She is reported to be the biggest sailing ship ever built in Scandinavia. She was originally built as a sail training ship for the rapidly growing Danish merchant fleet. Viking came to Gothenburg, Sweden permanently in 1950, as a home for various shipping organisations, and later became a school of seamanship. Today she is moored in the Gothenburg guest harbour as hotel "Barken Viking".

Göta river is very pleasant place for afternoon walks
There are always many moored vessels 

The Gothenburg Opera can be seen on the west side of the square

Sunday 29 May 2016

Walk around the World - Essential gear check-list (minimalistic approach)

So, if we want to go on walk around the world, we can do it in a few ways. As seen in other cases people can do it in civilisation dependant way or like off-grid survival exercise. For example Jean Béliveau made something like long hike without really leaving behind the comfort of the civilisation, in sense he stated that he slept 1/3 of his time in randomly met families, another 1/3 in some kind of shelter like churches or mosques and about one third on his own, also for food and other essential needs he relied on help from other people like his wife. Currently I can't find examples of people doing around the world walk with really minimalistic set up, like finding food by himself, not accepting help, shelter and clothes, however it can be done like its demonstrated by many paleo-lifestyle and wilderness survival enthusiast. May be such way to complete the travel will teach us about the way the humanity spread around the world in ancient times, when I imagine we were all nomadic hunter-gatherers.

Let say we decide to do it with zero money and we have to relay only on what we can find and make for survival all this time. That is going to be good idea, because it will be proof of concept, for which I'll write more on separate post. On side note in our time minimalistic and cheaper probably means using some stuff like plastic and so on because its cheaper and much easier to access then the original materials supposed to be used like animal skins and so on. Sadly 21 century is time when the plastic is basically free and the animals are next to non-existent.

First task is to make list of all essential gear needed for survival on our own for indefinite amount of time. I found few lists and I'll try to compose my own. After completing the list I'll have to try to make it all fit in medium sized backpack not heavier then 10kg (22lbs) including food and water. After a few days spent in the wild by myself I came with this first draft of the list:
  1. Cell Phone (capable of radio reception)
  2. USB to miniUSB cable (in the survival tin)
  3. USB charger
  4. Memory stick with bootable Linux and important files, passwords, etc (in the survival tin)
  5. Solar charger
  6. Camera (best to have one action camera and one for photos with tripod)
  7. Sound recorder
  8. GPS 
  9. Compass (in the survival tin)
  10. Map
  11. Small notebook and pen and pencil
  12. Binoculars (I'll think more about that, it may be necessary)
  13. Water storage - Metal Canteen
  14. Water storage - Plastic several litres
  15. Condom (for back up water storage) (in the survival tin)
  16. Water filters and purification (in the survival tin)
  17. Straw or thin tube
  18. Plastic sheet for gathering water
  19. Longer walking stick (1.2-2m) that is, or can be converted to spear or tent pole
  20. Flash-light (in the survival tin)
  21. Mini multi-tool (in the survival tin, may need to be bought every time after airplane fly) 
  22. Pocket Knife (in the survival tin, may need to be bought every time after airplane fly)
  23. Small shovel (may need to be bought every time after airplane fly)
  24. Sharpening stone (small is enough) (in the survival tin)
  25. Cutting wire or better small saw or axe if possible (in the survival tin)
  26. Snare wire 2m (or other suitable thin strong metal wire) (in the survival tin)
  27. String (para-cord) tick and thin 
  28. Lighter (in the survival tin)
  29. Back up method for fire starting (magnesium block for example) (in the survival tin)
  30. Small candle (in the survival tin)
  31. Tinder (for fire starting)
  32. Portable Camping Stove
  33. Pepper or Bear Spray
  34. Projectile weapon, best some type of firearm (if possible)
  35. Slingshot and replacement bands
  36. Fishing line (also learn how to weave special blind basket) (in the survival tin)
  37. Fishing hooks (in the survival tin)
  38. Sunscreen
  39. Alcohol swabs (in the survival tin)
  40. Painkillers (in the survival tin)
  41. Antibiotics (doxycycline) (in the survival tin)
  42. Adhesive bandage (plaster) (in the survival tin)
  43. Soap
  44. Cotton ball (in the survival tin)
  45. Needles (in the survival tin)
  46. Several metres strong thin string (for sewing, tying, etc)  (in the survival tin)
  47. Tweezers (for removing ticks and thorns) (in the survival tin)
  48. Mirror (for self-examination for parasites, injuries, signaling, etc) (in the survival tin)
  49. Dust and chemical protection mask
  50. Gloves (thick and strong, pierce resistant)
  51. Insect repellent - spray
  52. Tarpaulin 2x3m sheet (to be used as hammock and rain-cape also)
  53. Blanket
  54. Survival reflective bag (to be used as sleeping bag if low temperature)
  55. Inflatable ground cover
  56. Mosquito net
  57. Rain poncho
  58. Eating and Cooking Utensils
  59. Small cooking pot
  60. Metal cup for making tea or coffee
  61. Salt
  62. Backpack
  63. Plastic bags (shopping)
  64. Small plastic bags - 5x10cm (for keeping things) (in the survival tin)
  65. Wide Brim Hat 
  66. Sunglasses 
  67. Shoes
  68. Flip flops
  69. Jeans
  70. T-shirt with long sleeves 
  71. Belt
  72. Underwear
  73. Socks
  74. Bath suit (short swimming pants)
  75. Small paper envelopes (for keeping seeds and plan specimens)
  76. Small box
  77. Small waist bag
  78. Carabiner 
  79. Money 
  80. Personal Identification Papers in waterproofed plastic bag or sleeve 
  81. Survival tin (part of the items from the list will fit inside)
This list is going to be tested further and updated soon

dailymail - 75 500km epic 11 year odyssey
6 travellers who walked around the world

Short video from a walk around Stora Delsjön

This is a short video from a walk around Stora Delsjön, lake located in eastern Gothenburg, Sweden. I went there on 04 Jan 2015 and it was lovely, the weather was warm with only light wind and the views from around the lake were very scenic. There is a path around the lake, which makes loop and can be walked in about 4 to 5 hours. If a visitor has to spend three days in Gothenburg, the first has to be visiting the main avenues, museums, restaurants, shops, etc, the second visiting Gothenburg Botanical GardenSlottsskogen and the river Göta älv, and the third day has to be spent on walk around Stora Delsjön. And the third day is going to be in the real Sweden, because it is a huge country with very few people and there are much more forests and lakes then cities and towns.

If you want to see pictures from the other lake nearby Gothenburg: A Walk In Wintry Swedish Forest - Bohusleden, Stora Mölnesjön

Saturday 28 May 2016

Rozhen Monastery, Bulgaria

The Rozhen Monastery in the Pirin Mountains in South-Western Bulgaria is a beautiful place. It is well preserved medieval monastery. Some evidence suggest that it existed in the 13th century. I visited that monastery July 2014 and while not secret and mysterious place waiting to be discovered, it is one of these things that we are better of seeing. We can get the impression how the people from the Balkans lived several centuries ago. Its interesting to see what types of building they had, what was the ambient. This is of course monastery and many of the things are specific for such building dedicated to the East Orthodox Christianity, but the general architecture, set up and positioning of the different parts of the structure as rooms, balconies, stairs, gardens, etc, the tools used by these people, the house items and many, many other things are still similar enough to what was the typical settlement in that time.
Interesting and somewhat startling are the wandering herds of cattle. Note, that while these animals are normally tame, one should be always careful around such beasts, because they still have the potential to injure or even kill 
The typical house architecture of 18th and 19th century is notable. 
The building material used for the stairs is wood. 
Stone covers the ground.

There is a beautiful inner garden and patio.
While there were not many tourists that day, one still could see some
Some clever designer planted a palm. This is very untypical for the region and never even seen in the country.

Very typical for the region vines spreading like ceiling

One could see some old wall art, depicting biblical scenes
Some of the vines were somewhat old