Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Playa El Palmar

Throwback Thursday (on Tuesday, what can I say, I'm an overachiever).  A quick look into my 24th birthday trip to Panama...

Surfing. That was the whole point of our trip. I had never tried it, but my sister had. Unbeknownst to me, she actually had a horrible first experience and didn’t really want to try again! She knew it was my dream though, so she came along anyway (what a great sister). At this point I can’t even remember how exactly I stumbled upon Panama Surf School – probably Google.  I’d researched so many places and there are tons of options in the Caribbean and South America.  I think what got me hooked on Panama Surf School was that it was founded/owned by a women named Flor.  Girl power!!  Plus, airfare to Panama was relatively cheap and…well, I made our reservations in October and started working out.  No really, I did.  I was determined to succeed at surfing if at all possible, so I upped my workouts and added lots more “upper-body strength” focused work.  Who knows if it helped with the surfing, but it knowing we were going surfing in December certainly helped me stay motivated in my workouts…. 

So, on December 7th we headed to a small town in Panama called San Carlos that is located along El Palmar beach. The landscape is beautiful -tropical vegetation, rocky cliffs and beaches with a mixture of white and black sand. Our surf instructor said the black sand (from a volcanic eruption) is actually magnetic. If we ever go back we’re taking a magnet to test that out… We stood out like sore thumbs – which we’re actually getting used to at this point in our travelling careers. They’ were all so tan, and there we were: pale flesh that hadn’t seen sunshine in months and doesn’t even tan when it does. Needless to say, we slathered on our sunscreen before heading out for our first lesson. We had so much fun and both stood up on the board on our first or second try! We had expected it to be much hard than it was – but I think Ricardo made it easy for us (well as easy as one can without being able to control the waves). Catching a wave by yourself and having the locals cheer you on is such a great feeling. We still have lots to learn, but we definitely got a great foundation. We had our share of board rash and drank our share of saltwater - but it was all worth it. For me, there’s just nothing quite like being on the ocean, whether it’s on a surf board or a boogie board. Sitting on my board just staring out into the seemingly endless ocean waiting for a wave – words just don’t describe it.   Here’s a favorite travel quote with a shot of the San Carlos coastline…

Quick Tip:  If you've got short arms, don't even try
to carry the learner board any other way.
On your head is the way to go :)

Surf (noun)
1.  the swell of the sea that breaks upon a shore or upon shoals.
2.  the mass or line of foamy water caused by the breaking of the sea upon a shore,  
     especially a shallow or sloping shore.
verb (used without object)
3.  to ride a surfboard.
4. to float on the crest of a wave toward shore.
5. to swim, play, or bathe in the surf.
6. to search haphazardly, as for information on a computer network or an interesting
    program on television.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fresco Appreciation

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King
I can't remember who had the post on facebook, but a friend had recommend this book to someone else and I thought it sounded sort of interesting.  Wow - such a fascinating book!  Here's a quick overview from the Barnes & Noble site so you don't have to go searching:
"In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. With little experience as a painter (though famed for his sculpture David), Michelangelo was reluctant to begin the massive project. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, the pope's impatience, and a bitter rivalry with the brilliant young painter Raphael, Michelangelo created scenes so beautiful that they are considered to be among the greatest masterpieces of all time. A panorama of illustrious figures converged around the creation of this magnificent work -- from the great Dutch scholar Erasmus to the young Martin Luther -- and Ross King skillfully weaves them through his compelling historical narrative, offering uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history."

As I was reading the book I couldn't help but think of my field trips to Rome & Florence with Saints Bible Institute.  I remember seeing the Sistine Chapel, but I definitely didn't have a deep appreciation for it.  I never truly even understood what a fresco was, let alone how extremely difficult they are to create.  What I love best is how informative it is without feeling like you're reading a textbook.  I took art history the semester after I came home from Italy, but didn't find it nearly as fascinating as this book.  King does an excellent job of weaving lots of relevant history into the story of Michelangelo's project, while also explaining how impressive and talented so many of the artists of that time period truly were. I knew they were talented because they're famous (*duh*) - but didn't really understand what about their artwork make them famous.

For anyone with plans to travel to Italy I would strongly recommend this book. I'm definitely longing to return now just to take some time to appreciate the artwork a bit more.  Has anyone read any of King's other books?  I'm contemplating reading the one about Bruneschelli's Dome....

Fresco (noun)

1.  Also called buon fresco, true fresco. the art or technique of painting on a moist, plaster surface with colors ground up in water or a limewater mixture. Compare fresco secco.
2.  a picture or design so painted.