I'm going to try and keep up a practice of posting a picture of something nice every day, as a sort of analogy to the "gratitude list" exercise that is supposed to be one of the best happiness practices but can backfire really intensely on me. Not necessarily a picture from that day; it can also be an exercise in looking back fondly. I'll start in that spirit today, with a favourite view of Lake Michigan from last September: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/32685815498/in/album-72157699318915560/lightbox/
Daily photo #2.
Every 8 weeks I have to go to a clinic and get an IV infusion of TNF-α antibodies, to stop my faulty immune system from attacking my gut and generally making things terrible. I hate the drug dependency, and it's been made worse by the provider I was forced to switch to last year making the appointments take several hours. But it's a wonder drug that's given me back my quality of life, and the view from the infusion center can be some consolation.
Daily photo #3.
Lǎozǐ on the altar in the taiji studio.
I did get my view of Tahoma, and the tops of clouds
I took the 7 train to Chengdu for lunch. [CW food photo]
A Reliable Local Informant tells me it was more Taipei than Chengdu. Though come to think of it there was enough Korean on signs that perhaps it was somewhere in the Yellow Sea. Or maybe I've just pushed this metaphor a little too far.
Sunset over the city.
Our house is full of quilts made by mother-in-law. My cousin's husband is a potter, so their place is full of hand-made ceramics, mostly by him or people he knows. It's funny how much being surrounded by hand made things makes me feel at home.
Slight cheating here because for various reasons I'm not comfortable taking photos from the car going to and and from work. This is a place I pass on my morning commute: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsGUXiilPQK/
These are pretty representative shops: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEVTeagk2t/ https://www.instagram.com/p/BWsbv1eAPgY/
And this is public transport: https://www.instagram.com/p/BikePe8AfcV/ https://www.instagram.com/p/BsYZ8ozlMx2/ https://www.instagram.com/p/BorM31OFf3z/ https://www.instagram.com/p/BjVHCaBgD6C/ https://www.instagram.com/p/Bi4F7kthtxl/ (I've also seen goats riding on top)
I've tried to link to Haitian photographers who have generally interesting streams, so follow through for more images of Haïti. They do tend towards showing the nice side, or not commenting on the fact that the picturesque hillside in the background is also a roadless, sewerless shantytown that's toast in the next earthquake... but everything they're showing is also real, and I appreciate their pride in where they are.
I don't want to whitewash the poverty, though I am glad to already have some nicer things to show. This is very obviously the poorest country I've ever been in, and bear in mind that I already knew Turkey before its 1980s "economic miracle" had affected most peoples' lives, and was still visiting regularly after the 1991 Gulf War knocked that back hard.
My commute is 6 miles, but it can take a full hour, and every car that's not covered in visible damage has the insignia of an international aid organisation on it. In places the road is... basically cartographic fiction, and that's going up into what seems to be the poshest suburb. Many people, perhaps the majority, live without flush toilets, and a significant proportion don't have a water source at home, even in town. 1 in 12 has had cholera since the UN brought that to Haïti.
In the midst of all this, I see billboards for American poultry, and a hand-painted banner advertising English classes, "bitcoin accepted". And a lot of really great painting and ironwork, whether it's storefront murals and fixtures or artwork for sale. Life is so hard here that it's obvious even watching through the window of the SUV that USAID sends to pick me up each morning, but there are plenty of people able to make some beautiful even so.
That dynamic of the vehicle I'm in and how obviously I'm a privileged outsider is also why I'm not taking photos. Even when the subject is not the poverty, I don't see how anyone seeing me can not read the act as poverty tourism.
Day 9. Since I've had no time to take pictures here yet, have a motmot from exactly a year ago in Costa Rica. https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/albums/72157705319887944
Day 10. Another throwback to exactly a year ago: Osama the crocodile in Costa Rica. https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/albums/72157705319887944
Day 11. Hopefully the last throwback for a little while. A pair of screech owls snuggling. Again, exactly a year ago, in Costa Rica. https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/albums/72157705319887944
Day 12. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, first leader of independent Haïti.
A deeply problematic hero, to say the least, and these days he stands proud over a rather desolate park. But even so there was something powerful about seeing a black liberation leader as the subject of one of these grand horseback statues on a podium.
Day 13. Port-au-Prince from l'Observatoire de Boutilliers.
Day 14. La plaine du cul-de-sac (seriously, that's its name), its salt lakes, and the Dominican Republic's from part way up the Morne à Cabrits (Goat Mountain).
Day 15. A bougainvillea blossom.
Day 16. The team I've been in 🇭🇹 to train.
Day 17: the view from the back of the training centre. I spent almost all my time indoors since we were there with a job to do, but this was a nice spot for breaks.
Day 18. My last evening in 🇭🇹 (was actually Wednesday, but with a long travel day yesterday I'm still catching up with myself)
Day 20. The Too Many Adjectives Moon, a.k.a. that time I stood on the balcony for a while and just barely managed not to yell "WHY AREN'T YOU FOOLS LOOKING AT THE MOON?" at passersby. https://www.flickr.com/photos/eldan/albums/72157705931669315