Long Beach Airport Taxi

 So what is it about taxis? 2012 has been a good year for us…except for taxis! The general assumption when hailing a cab is that the driver:

  • Has a license to drive his (her) taxi

Is a local person who knows the area

Is an honest person not ready to take you to Tim Buck Two (spelling?)

Can at least understand sign language

Can read a map!

Well it happened again. We flew into Long Beach Airport (which has a beautiful new terminal) and hailed a cab to take us to the “World Cruise Terminal” to catch our cruise ship.


We weren’t particularly fond of the $45 flat rate. Now if you have any knowledge of Long Beach, you know that San Pedro is a major shipping (as in ocean) center. It is also the destination and departure for hundreds of cruise ships every year.


This seemed to have eluded our taxi driver in the day, week, month that he had been a taxi driver. Training? NO Written test for local knowledge? NO Can speak English (well we lucked out on this one. He did speak English).


It seems he needed an address to put into his GPS! Well, now we know why he was hired to drive a cab. He new the local language AND knew hoe to operated a GPS.


Luckily, we were not in a hurry. It took him nearly five minutes to:


  • Ask us for an address (of the friggin’ WORLD CRUISE TERMINAL FGSakes!)

So I pull out my trusty Iphone and search the internet FOR HIM! ARG…

  • Input the address (which is in a community called Wilmington, California for cryin’ out loud)

Of course he is trying to enter the address while he is driving down the road. So I have to ask him to pull over while he fiddles with his GPS. Again, lucky for us the traffic around Long Beach Airport is light!

FINALY he has it programmed and we are ready to go.

Now, mind you, the meter is running all the while he is doing this. At this point, I didn’t trust his initial cost estimate of $45 flat. I make a mental not that if he charges us more than $45, I would complain that it took him $3.73 worth of wait time to program his damn GPS!

Well, the gods were on our side. When we finally arrived, we only had to pay $45. Lucky us, huh? Zenetta paid the tab, and would you believe it, gave him a 15% tip to boot!


What a wonderful world we live in, eh! (The “eh” is for our Canadian friends). Later…

San Miguel de Allende has a slower pace of life

This blog is good for me as I have difficulty writing on a regular basis. Fortunately I have two readers who remind my “esposa” when I have been lazy with my posts.


It seems that here in San Miguel de Allende I have absorbed the local pace of life. Not rushed and enjoying every day. It is a very relaxing place rain or shine. I am also expanding my “media” lessons by trying my hand at video (very time consuming. That’s my story and I’m…you know)


As I write this, it is Sunday (Domingo) August (Agosto) 19th . We have been in Mexico for 18 days.

It is difficult to describe the feeling here. The people are welcoming, the architecture is Spanish colonial and the food is excellent. The light takes on a warm feeling as most of the building are painted with adobe red, mustard or one of the seven approved colors. For a photographer, it is heaven. The refracted light is usually warm and it extends the “golden time” that we like in our shots.


There is a strong community of artists.. Many have decided to live here year round or at least 9 months out of the year. The community supports the arts with festivals, music concerts, recitals and art shows.

The bibliateca (library) is the second largest bilingual libraries in Mexico. It gets no money from the government and is totally supported by volunteers. The home and garden show and the Cafe Santa Anna are excellent ways to contribute to the library support. Also three levels of membership provide additional support. The monies beyond the costs of maintenance and operations, contribute to scholarships awarded to deserving young Mexican students.


The community also has a senior citizen food program and a school lunch contribution program, both of which feed thousands of seniors and students.


I can see why ex pats consider this area to retire or to develop their arts. As a tourist, I am absorbing as much as I can in the month we have here. I know now that I will be back, if only to study Spanish in a welcoming environment.


More photos to come (I promise). I am trying my hand at video. I have a great deal to learn.




The Jardin and La Parroquia

Anxious to try the light here in San Miguel de Allende (there is a quality of light here that is good for photos), I got up @ 5:00am and showered. Sunrise was scheduled for 7:15. Truth is, I did not sleep well as my body is still on Pacific Daylight Time. Fortunately for me, I arrived at the Jardin near La Parroquia church and it was still dark. The coffee shop was not open yet, so I started taking pictures of the church.

This square is the center of the town and dates back to the Colonial Period of Mexican history. I was taking some test shots using my “old” Nikkor 200mm 1.4 prime lens. I did not bring my entire backpack of lenses and gear. With a 200mm non zoom manual lens, it is difficult to get more than detail shots on a large building. (I like to shoot manually occasionally to “brush up” on my skills, especially if I put the camera away for awhile).

Well, this was my lucky day. At around 6:30am, I noticed a photographer and model shooting in front of the statue of Fr.Juan Miguel. The exterior church lights were on. The photographer was shooting the entire church with a model wearing a hat. He would pose her and then shoot another frme. I could tell they were pros, so I sat down to observe them.

Photography is like fishing in that, when some one is in a spot that you want to try, it is customary (and polite) to let them finish. I had plenty of time before the sunrise. After watching them, I went closer to listen to the photographer give instructions to the model. He had a very particular series of shots he want to accomplish.

They finished up, and to my surprise, the photographer asked me if I wanted to look. It turned out that he was shooting pictures for an advertisement to promote tourism. He mentioned that it would appear in a national magazine. They both spoke perfect English (although the posing directions were in Spanish) and they both were very cordial to me.



The photographer is Carlos A. Garcia Mora. http://guacamoleproject.com. 

I hope Carlos will send me the link to the publication. Thank you both for making my morning special!



24 hrs in SMA

Took this photo last night. That is a full moon (not a lamp post). Today we took a walking tour of of the “centro” district. Lots-o-shopping and many good places to eat. Had lunch @ El Tomato (Argentine cuisine). Also went to “Liverpool” (not England but a shopping center) for groceries. Lots more on a fun first day.

San Miguel Allende

Arrived in San Miguel Allende after a “red-eye” flight from SF through LA. After breakfast and a nap we had a great dinner @ Cafe Monet. More exploration due today as we take a walking tour of the downtown area.

Enjoy the shot of one of the churches here in SMA. Buenos Noches.


Arrival in San Francisco

San Francisco Open Your Golden Gate

March 19th, 2012


We had sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge three times before. Unfortunately, the tide tables scheduled this time for 5:00 am. Zenetta decided to get her sleep. I wanted to take pictures.


I got up at 4:30am and grabbed my camera. I was not alone. There must have been 500 people up early to view our arrival. IT WAS COLD. The temperature was around 40ºF but the ocean was calm. The wind was around 15 knots from the north. We were already on the shelf  (the ocean approach to the Golden Gate is not as deep as the ocean beyond the Farallon Islands. Before the glaciers started to melt, there was a river extending out through the “gate” until it met the ocean where the shelf ended).


The bridge was lighted and the crescent moon was on the horizon. The night provided a challenge for photography.


We cleared the bridge by what looked like 10 feet and it was another 45 minutes to get to Pier 35.

I took about 200 shots but eventually I kept only 26. San Francisco at night is a jewel.


I felt good about being home. After clearing customs and meeting our ride, we arrived home at 1:00pm.


It was a marvelous trip with many memorable experiences. We visited 11 countries of which 9 were firsts for us.


I hope you enjoyed Marks South American Adventure through this blog. It is the first time I have tried writing about a trip, so I hope to improve as I get more experience..


So long for now. Check from time to time as I will be posting the Saouth American pictures and changing other pictures on this site.