Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta interests. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta interests. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 21 de julio de 2016

Safari

   A photographic safari works the same way a normal safari would, except no animals are killed in the process. Instead, people take pictures of the creatures they want to see or they take as many as they can and make it kind of a contest. The one with the most types of animals in pictures could win something especial, whether it comes rom it fellow safari goers, the company that organizes the trip or himself/herself.

 Olive was one such person. She had dreamt for many years to go Africa and do a proper safari with the help of her best camera. She had been an amateur photographer for a long time and was looking forward to test herself with the weather and the creatures in a continent she regarded as wild and beautiful.

 In the plane towards her destination, she started take pictures and documenting her journey in a smaller camera, doing videos she could later edit into bigger ones and then upload them online. The idea was that people could follow her progress over a week and make it something that would not only change her life but also the life of people that may want to know more about where she was going and the reasons she had to do it. She was an animal passionate, a real defender of nature and wanted to take the best pictures to show her respect for the true magnificence of it.

 The first day was full of movement. She didn’t see any animals in Nairobi, as the city was not really a proper place to see wild animals. But she was picked up by a nice man called Arthur and taken to a hotel in the middle of a close by natural park. It was the afternoon and Olive hated herself for having no other option than to choose the flight that made her arrive so late but it was the one she could afford with her salary.

 As she crossed the gates of the small hotel, she took her first picture: it was a couple of giraffes feeding off a very tall tree. The sun was setting so the animas in the pictures could only be identified for their large necks against a beautiful orange sunset in the background. She took several pictures of the same subject; afraid she was not using her camera well.  She even changed the angle and wouldn’t go inside her room until she felt she had gotten it right.

 Arthur told her he had been living in the area for a long time and that some of the animals would not be as easy going as the giraffes. Some of them really did not like to be filmed and photographed. Furthermore, they would have to go out at night in order to take pictures of every single animal if that’s what she wanted. Of course, Olive got worried because she wasn’t experienced in nocturnal photography and she also felt she wasn’t fast enough, taking too much time to achieve a single shot.

 The next day, she posted her best picture of the giraffe series on her blog and had breakfast very early in order for Arthur to take her deeper into the natural park to take more pictures. But they weren’t going to go there alone. Other guests of the hotel also wanted to attend the safari. Most had very professional cameras ready and only a couple only had very basic machines because they did not come to take pictures but to experience the real Africa first hand.

 The first creatures they saw were zebras. Again, Olive took several pictures and realized she was nervous because of the amount of pictures she took of a single specimen. She was clearly worried that she wouldn’t be able to get the perfect shot and she had to let that go in order not only to achieve her goals but to actually have some fun doing the safari. She had to realize they were competing in this one so she could relax and just try to enjoy it for what it was.

 The next animal was a rhino. Arthur said it was very uncommon to encounter one so early in the safari but, apparently, the creature had needed to refresh his body first, before running away from the cameras. It was deep into the mud, barely moving, ignoring them completely or simply thinking that if he didn’t move no one would see him. Olive didn’t like those pictures at all because it was hard to recognize the rhino’s head. She tired to take some more but the jeep moved along.

 They saw a big flock of long legged birds and Arthur also stopped next to a rotting tree in order for his passengers to check it out for insects. There were many beautiful and large ones, having really bright colors and curious shapes. Some of the other women were scared, squeaking like a mouse every time a big insect moved. But Olive was very busy taking pictures to be scared. She managed to get some very interesting angles and was pleased with herself for the first time that day.

 They so more giraffes on the way back to the hotel, as they were going to have a break for lunch. Olive was not interested in eating too much but she did have to attend and stand the silly conversations that broke out between the various people of the tour.

She had always felt very different in large groups. That wasn’t a very large one only about eight people were there, but she knew what she had come for and she didn’t like to make small talk or to pretend she was there to make friends instead of taking pictures and getting better at it. She almost didn’t have a bite and decided to be the first in the jeep for the afternoon ride, getting away from the chatter and the silly laughter.

 Arthur was the first one to walk up to the jeep and he asked her if she was ok. At first, Olive didn’t understand the question. She only instinctively moved her head affirmatively because she didn’t wanted to talk, to busy checking her pictures in her camera. That night, she would recall that moment and feel stupid. It was obvious Arthur was actually concerned about her but she had dismissed him in a second, as she often did when people tried to be nice to her.

 The first creatures of the afternoon were elephants. A rather large group of them was resting under a very big tree, so big it was able to cast a big enough shadow for a group of ten elephants. They looked so peaceful and wise somehow that everyone in the jeep decided not to make a single noise. The engine of the machine was turned off and the tourists were able to stare at the creatures for a long time. They were resting and didn’t care about humans.

 As Olive took pictures, Arthur got close to her and told her in very low register that she could go closer if she wanted, but not too far away from the vehicle. She nodded and immediately jumped off the jeep, landing very hard on her ankles. Olive tried to ignore the pain and got the camera ready to shoot the best pictures yet. A couple of the other tourists stepped down from the jeep too but they didn’t walk too far way from it, just a couple of steps.

 She got as close as she felt was safe and then she started to take more and more pictures. Of the big elephant that was “sitting” on the floor, with a similar expression a king would have on his throne. Also of the three little elephants that were taken care of big the larger ones in the group, probably their mothers. Olive tired to move in silence but she was too excited to do it properly. She couldn’t realize what was happening because of that excitement but the creatures were getting anxious.

 As she was kneeling to take a better group shot, one of the elephants suddenly turned around and charged towards her, as fast as it could. It took her a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and her first thought was not to run towards the jeep. That proved to be a mistake because there was no other place in that savannah to hide from an elephant.

 A gunshot then scared the elephants away, including the one chasing Olive. It had been very close to tackle her with its tusks and crush her with its weight but fortunately Arthur had a rifle in the jeep and was able to shoot at the sky when necessary. Yet, Olive had not gone unpunished from the experience. In the run, she had dropped her camera and it now laid destroyed on the savannah floor, stepped on by an insulted elephant.


 Olive felt she was done. That accident meant she just wasn’t fit to be there, to pretend she was someone she wasn’t.

lunes, 26 de octubre de 2015

Tea with Deb

   She puts five drops of lemon juice on her tea and then tastes it, to know if it’s the proper amount. It is: combined with the sugar and the quality of the tea, the beverage is perfect. She asks for a napkin and sips even more tea, as she watches out for her guest to make an arrival. The café is quite filled with different kinds of people but she would notice someone that shouldn’t be there or at least felt awkward, in a moment. She gives one, two and three sips, still waiting. She even eats some of the pastry she had asked for, instead of waiting to share it with someone else. She has never being very good at patience and it shows: she moves her leg, posed over her other leg, with a rhythmic movement that would put any dog nearby into a deep hypnosis.

 Finally her guest arrives. She’s a young woman called Gaby, the daughter of her late husband. Since he died, they haven’t really seen each other, partly because their relationship was never very good. Not minding that, she waves to the young woman who doesn’t respond but has obviously seen her too, as she walks towards the table. She arrives and tries to smile but fails, instead sitting down and receiving the menu from a waiter that has appears out of nowhere. The woman tells her what’s good in this café, what kind of beverages they have and what to eat, but Gaby is not very focused or doesn’t seem to be at least. She breathes in slowly and lets out air through her nose in the loudest and most annoying way. The woman drinks more tea to calm her nerves.

 Gaby then puts the menu aside and asks her why she asked to meet her.  The young woman is obviously not comfortable, grabbing her purse as if she was afraid someone might steal it away right there. The woman sips a bit more tea and waits a few seconds to answer the question; meanwhile Gaby pierces her with her sight. She then declares she missed her and that since the death of her husband, six years ago, she has been trying to put her life together. She realized, or so she says, that she never really gave Gaby a chance when they lived together, not even trying to form some kind of relationship of any kind. She says she only wants for them to be friends and to be united by the memory or their beloved Peter.

 But the young one doesn’t look very impressed by the words of her former stepmother. She just looks at her and, finally, sighs and smiles saying: “You kill me, Deb. You do.” Deborah, a name she had forbidden Gaby to use when in her presence, has shrills all over her body and turns around instinctively to know if someone has heard the comment. No one is looking at them, actually many customers have left the café, as lunchtime is now over. She sips more tea, which runs out and calls, with a trembling hand, another waiter and asks him for more tea. When she looks at Gaby, the girl is still smiling.

 Gaby asks the waiter for a cappuccino and a croissant filled with chocolate. He leaves, not without looking at the horrified face of Deborah. Her expression has contorted into an awful grin and all because she has begun remembering the past. A past where she hated her husband Peter and had only wanted to marry him for the money but in the transaction she never thought she would have to put up with a little kid, he’s annoying daughter who was in that age when they just look at you and seem to know everything about your life and accomplishments. She was a pretty girl, but annoying like any other kid and Deb knew she had to make Peter realized she was the important one in his life and that’s why she planned getaways together, that didn’t include Gaby.

 The girl, now twenty years old, just smiles. She knows what Deb has on her mind and she loves that the woman is now regretting of have a small reunion with the stepdaughter she never wanted. When the cappuccino and the croissant arrive, she starts eating and drinking loudly, only to annoy her stock up companion across the table. Deb is annoyed, extremely annoyed, as her life has always been one when she faked to be someone that she wasn’t. She had always preferred etiquette and glamour to many other things in life like honesty and hard work. Gaby knew her father was her third husband and that she had now divorced number five. She was what many people would call “a gold-digger”.

 Gaby said it out loud and it had the expected reaction: Deb smashed her fist against the table, spilling her tea and dropping some sugar cubes to the floor. A waiter, apparently someone that had know her for a while, came in fast and helped her clean up and pick up what had fallen to the floor. She stood up and Gaby was hopeful she would leave first, humiliated. But she didn’t, she just dusted off the sugar and some tea and sat down again, with more rage in her eyes that she had ever seen. She remembered then the time she had seen him drink like a sailor because her father hadn’t arrived from a trip and she “needed” him urgently. Of course, the real reason was that she needed money.

 To be honest, the girl didn’t understand how it was that a woman that had been married so many times had no idea of keeping money. One would think a person in that line of business would know to save a little for the future, as looks vaporizes fast and life is more and more expensive each day. She still kept her good looks, her nice dresses and her appointments to the beauty salon, but she was very late in her rent payments, she couldn’t get a job and a former lover had come to her, with wishes to blackmail her, thinking she had money but she had none. He didn’t believe it and kept asking for money.

 Gaby did not know this and Deb wouldn’t tell her. Breathing slowly, Deb told the girl she had not been a great stepmother but that was precisely the reason why she had decided to make contact again; in the hope they could be friends. To the sound of the word, Gaby started laughing, again attracting the attention of the restaurant’s staff and of the few customers. But she didn’t mind, she kept laughing, authentically crying because she had found Deb choice of words extremely funny. She smiled to her and just couldn’t reply back because she found the situation so ridiculous and out of every context. She finally got serious and asked Deb how much money she needed and why she needed it. Deb, of course, started acting confused and offended but it obviously didn’t work.

 Still smiling, the former stepdaughter told her she knew what moved her and what had made her marry her dad. Faking been horrified or something like that would not work, as she had known her much better than her father. Deborah attempted to talk but Gaby continued, reminding her that only she knew about the lovers she had back then and about the amount of money she spend on useless things. She was a shameless whore who just wanted money and a place to feel safe but Gaby wouldn’t be the person to provide for her. She had to find someone else to believe her, to buy into her trap of a femme fatale in distress, a performance for which she was growing older and older, becoming a comedic role.

 This hit Deb right in her pride. Suddenly her facial expression changed as well as her body language. The red in her face did not go away but it was obvious the real her had finally come out. She approached Gaby over the table and, in a really low register, told her that what her life was like and what she had done with it, was her problem. Who she was a result of a series of things that had happened to her and that a spoiled brat like her would never understand. She pitied her for being so blinded by her youth and by her morals, which she would never think were wrong. She said, before pulling away, that she had done what she had to and that she wasn’t sorry.


 It was Gaby who stood up first, grab a bill from her purse and put it on the table. She looked at Deb, not angry but with disgust. She told her that women like her were just poison and that she was just scum, not only for marrying old timers for their money but because she had the nerve to ask her for money, because she knew that’s what she wanted. She had no shame and she pitied her. Gaby turned around and left in a huff, leaving Deb drinking her tea, trembling because of all the rage inside of her. She picture every single one of those men and those lives she had lived through in the past and the only thing she could to was to throw her blessed tea cup across the room and smash it against a wall.

viernes, 8 de mayo de 2015

Local politics

  As Marina walked to her polling station, she repeated in her head the names of all the candidates or, at least, the names of the ones she knew about. This time there were so many names. She liked it more when it was between three or four people. But this time there were almost ten and that just seemed too much for a race for a mayoral post.

 Nevertheless, it was the most important mayoral post in the country. Some people even called it the second most important political figure in the country after the president. And that wasn’t surprising when you realized how really useless was a job like the one of the vice-president. Marina thought that office should disappear and pass their responsibilities to other hands. Most people in the country didn’t know who their vice-president once, except maybe this time around because it was well known he was going after the presidential seat in a few years time.

 But anyway, today was about the city. Marina had been born thee in a middle class neighborhood and had grown up there. She had never moved, except after college when she decided to leave the country to learn another language but that was it. She could say she knew every street, every corner of her neighborhood and also the whole city to be honest. After all, as a  girl who had worked as a delivery person in a pizza place, she had to know addresses and a good chunk of the city.

 Her district had grown through the years. When it first appeared on maps, some seventy years ago, the neighborhood was on the edge of the city and was home of the wealthy. Their house, beautifully constructed Victorian buildings still stood on every street of the district but wealthy people had long been gone. Many of them now lived in country houses or large apartments overlooking the city from the hills, which were the tallest geographical feature. Now her district was middle class and very diverse.

 Marina had seen change before her eyes, because her neighborhood had also attracted, over the years, a very diverse group of people. From people from other regions that had come to the capital for a better life to artists and intellectuals who made the Victorian houses their homes or cultural centers for the whole city. Many of them had been converted to dancing schools, acting schools, music conservatories and other uses. And maybe because of this, it was becoming rare to see big families leaving in the neighborhood. Instead there were a lot of “new” families coming such as homosexual couples and many singles and students.

 When she got to the polling station, Marina was already sure of her choice. It wasn’t difficult after all because there was only one person that would seek to preserve the past but also embrace the present, exactly what her district was all about and what she honestly loved about her neighborhood. Marina voted for a woman, one of only two women there, because she was the one most vocal to embrace the “new” city instead of going back to the old, ragged politics.

 In another part of town, more exactly near the hills that watched over the shallow valley were the city sat, Albert was stepping out of his polling station. He didn’t really put much thought about his vote as he had decided many months ago, since the candidates had become public.

 Albert was almost fifty years old, had a lovely wife, two kids and worked in the city’s stock market. It was a difficult job but one he loved because he had always been fond of numbers and, to be honest, of money. He made a lot of money in that job, more than he could have ever imagined and with his savings he had bought a large apartment, two cars and a flat by the beach, which they visited at least once a year.

 The truth was that, different than Marina, Albert wasn’t really in loved with this city. Yes, he had been born there but from a young age he had travelled around the world because of his father’s work and had learned how much better it could be for everyone. People in other countries could be financially better and be able to live an “easier” life. In this country, the differences between the rich and the poor were abysmal but the rich were not that rich to begin with.

 Besides all this, he was tired of the mayor’s policies to forbid him to use his cars as he wanted, the taxes went up every year so he could help pay what the poor spent in water and power and he thought that the city was mixing too much for his taste. As an example, in his neighborhood many people that used to live in other parts of the city had begun arriving recently. Some were foreigners hired by multinationals but some others were just people that made his district look bad.

 At work and around his family members, he would always try to convince them to vote like he did. He told them that the mayor had to be someone that worked the same way the government worked in the good years for the economy so the city could grow to make a better life for all of its inhabitants. As a proof of sorts of what he said about the current mayor, he told everyone he could hold on to for more than five minutes that he was thinking of moving to the countryside, to another jurisdiction, because he thought smaller towns knew exactly what to offer to people like him.

 So after he voted, he took his wife voting too and after that left the city to their beach flat where they would check the results o f the voting.

 Another person that was leaving the city was Juan. Juan had arrived to the city some two years ago, when looking for a university where he could study to become a designer. He worked very hard in his classes and always tried to innovate and be the one the teachers looked at. After all, his family had gone through great challenges in order to send him to another city to live and study. At the same time that Albert, Juan was leaving the city to visit his family back in his hometown after going to vote early.

 He preferred to do it really early so the voting station would be almost empty. It was well known that in the capital very few people voted earlier than midday and besides he had to be at the airport so he didn’t have much choice either. And talking about choices, his was a really difficult one. He had arrived to the city fairly recently but was able to vote because he had registered his ID in a polling station near his knew home.

 Juan lived a few blocks away from Marina but was only learning about the diversity in the district. He had grown in another kind of town, where people were less open and much more predictable in their voting ways. His parents had always voted for exactly the same party since they could remember but he didn’t want to be like that. He wanted to be the one of the few people that voted after thoroughly reading every single one of the proposals of every candidate.

 Some of them promised better transport, others better health other more security and so on. They seemed to be agreeing on several things but the truth was, when reading between the lines, that the same things meant different ways to get there for each candidate. One of them thought better transport was just having more buses and another thought it was all about the subway. Some declared security depended on education; other announced they would increase the number of cops in every part of the city. Two offered more hospitals, others more housing for the poor and one of them, funny enough, offered to reform the whole administrative division of the city to make it more realistic.

 It was a hard decision to make for Juan as this one was the first time he voted in the city and he planned to stay there long after he finished his studies. After all, this city offered more work opportunities and a lifestyle with more options than any other towns in the country. Yeah, of course everything was globalized now and things where changing even in the most traditional towns, but he felt that this city had a potential, had the capacity to be so much more than it was and he wanted to be a participant in that new era for the city.


 So when he went to cast his vote that morning, he decided to vote for the one candidate that had convinced him in most issues. He knew the man wasn’t going to win, if the polls were right, but he felt at ease thinking he had spoken his mind and had made the right choice, staying true to what he thought the city should be all about.