Cuernavaca – la ciudad eternal primavera: The Eternal Spring

Since the 80’s, I have had a serious love affair with Mexico. From Acapulco (let’s forget about the tequila incident though) to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, La Paz, Guadalajara, Isla de Mujeres, Zihuatenejo, Ixtapa, Oaxaca to Mexico City.  My last sojourn and adventure was to Cuernavaca, Mexico, a place I can count on for culture with artists like Frida Kahlo, yummy food, kindness from strangers, caring and big hearts.

Beautiful boy in Cuernavaca

Without incident, I have traveled to each and every place.  A dear friend whom I’ve known for nearly three decades offered me their family home pre-covid in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos state.  Amongst the reports of danger that the U.S. consistently feeds us a steady diet, I told my friend that I can’t and don’t live in fear and it was perfectly safe to travel there.

The kindness in her eyes brings a smile to my face.

A mere 3 hour and 10 minute flight from Los Angeles, and voila, there I was in Mexico City Airport. Always looking for signs from the universe so finding a 50 peso bill on the exit from the airport seemed like a good omen to me. The Pullman Morelos direct bus to Cuernavaca couldn’t have been simpler to find and my window view included the passing of tall pine trees, various green bushes, green mountains, fields of lush greens, corn fields, Disponible (available) signs, towns with small restaurants one after another, rocks that seem as if they were artfully placed in piles and less than 2 hours later, I was in the Casino de la Selva bus station of Cuernavaca.  A ten minute taxi ride and I was brought to an open floor plan home complete with 2 cats including Paquito, who was instantly welcoming and slept in each and every corner of the house as if the entire house was made for him, to Mabel, the second cat, who was convinced I was going to bring her harm and ran from me at every turn. And, Juana, a gentle soul with an open heart who kept the house clean.

Self portrait with Rolleiflex in my bedroom. Cuernavaca, Mexico
Self portrait with Rolleiflex in bedroom. Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Breakfast in Cuernavaca made with Rolleiflex.
Paquito and I became friends.

John Wayne, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton & actress Brigitte Bardot all had love affairs with balmy Cuernavaca. Walking the undulating hills to the colonial city center to see where Cortez made his home was straight out of a fairy tale of ancient lands.

Here is Paquito at home. Rolleiflex 2.8F

Backyard view made with Rolleiflex 2.8F
Cuernavaca, Mexico
Juana, the best part of Cuernavaca, Mexico.
I want to go back for no other reason than to see Juana again.

From its colonial charm with 16th-century architecture and narrow, cobblestone streets to street merchants selling corn on the cob smeared with fiery spices, to the periodic rain storms, I was smitten with Cuernavaca.

Woman at Catedral de Cuernavaca.
Band in Cuernavaca. Made with Rolleiflex 2.8F

In the nineteenth century Alexander von Humboldt nicknamed Cuernavaca “la ciudad eternal primavera” “City of Eternal Spring” because of its warm, stable climate. It’s basically constant in the 70’s. Foreign princes, archdukes, and other nobles have been attracted to this place because of its flowers, sun, fruits, fresh-water springs and waterfalls.  Even Bauhaus designer Michael van Beuren had a home here while fleeing the rise of Nazi Germany where he studied and practiced his profession and a colony of Bauhaus designers grew in the city during World War II. Many Mexican residents maintain homes in Cuernavaca and many students go to study the Spanish language.  Interestingly, another place that I fell in love with decades ago, Guatemala is also nicknamed “The Eternal Spring.”

Woman selling flowers in Cuernavaca
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Entrance to Catedral de Cuernavaca

Another interesting part of history is Timothy Leary tried psilocybin mushrooms in Cuernavaca for the first time in the summer of 1960 and returned regularly to repeat them. Erich Fromm founded the Sociedad Mexicana de Psicoanálisis from his home in Cuernavaca and helped promote new ideas in psychiatry, even incorporating Zen Buddhism.  This attracted many artists and counterculture types.

Woman selling nuts Cuernavaca
Family in Cuernavaca Center

Each city has a main square or zócolo.  After settling into my room, I made my way out to restaurant Casa Hidalgo.  With multiple levels to choose from, I went straight up to the top balcony and was given a view of the Palacio de Cortés and the zócolo. I ordered chili relleno, which arrived with arroz, frijoles, con queso a tortillas. (rice, beans with cheese and tortillas.) Part of what I love about Mexico is the attention to details and the ambiance everywhere.

Casa Higalgo in Cuernavaca, Mexico
History of Casa Hidalgo

Cuernavaca is mas tranquilo, mas agradable y major ambiente de DF (more tranquil, nicer, better atmosphere) than Mexico City. The primavera pajaros (Spring birds) make such a happy, chirpy sound when they’re singing.  Juana asked me why no one in the family had visited their home and she said “No pasa nada de estar aqui, todo es tranquilo, fresco, muy agradable.” “Nothing will happen here, everything is tranquil, cool and very nice.”

I’ve learned not to hit the ground running after a full day of airline/bus travel so I spent the next day exploring the four bedroom home and enjoying my breakfast of mango and Mexican coffee with milk and toast with butter. That evening I made my way to La India Bonita, the oldest restaurant in Cuernavaca with full Mexican décor whose name came from Emperor Maximilian’s lover.  From the smile I was greeted with by the hostess to the lush courtyard, I was smiling. I ordered chile en nogada –poblano pepper in walnut sauce.

After feeling rested from a good night’s sleep, I hired an Uber to bring me on a 45 minute drive to Xochicalco. Any UNESCO World Heritage Site is always on my list of first destinations wherever I travel. Even though the initial bus ride was a breeze, I wasn’t quite ready yet to tackle another one quite yet.

Xochicalco

The name Xochicalco means “the place of the house of flowers” in Nahuatl, but it’s more like the empire of the flowers. This was a vast walled city-state, a mighty urban metropolis from A.D. 700-900.  Its rise to power occurred right after the fall of Teotihuacán.  Historians aren’t completely sure why Xochicalco fell but the prevailing theory is that it was destroyed from within.

Xochicalco with Rolleiflex 2.8F

My first stop is always a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What made this such a quieting  experience is it’s large enough to make the drive worthwhile from Cuernavaca but not so big that it is overrun with tourists like the pyramids of Teotihuacan outside Mexico City.

Xochicalco pyramid

As I walked around the site, I tried to imagine what this must have looked like during its zenith. As fascinating as it is today, it must have been formidable in its time. And, only about 15 percent of the ruins have been excavated.  What was even better is after visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacán outside Mexico City, which is swarming with tourists, the pyramids of Xochicalco are a quieting experience, not overrun with tourists. I’m glad I saw the pyramids of Teotihuacán first.

Xochicalco pyramid

Diego Rivera lived in a home around the corner from where I am staying so a 15 minute walk down Calle Ruffino Tamayo and there I smiled seeing the plaque ‘Diego Rivera lived here from 1951-1957’.  An Italian restaurant that was recommended to me, Sapori, is also on the same street. My Bolognese pasta was excellent and tasted as if I was back in Bologna, Italy, where it’s nearly impossible to get a bad meal.

Diego Rivera house – Cuernavaca, Mexico

Mercado Adolfo Lopez Mateos –  Adolfo Lopez Mateos Market

It was time to buy groceries for my extended stay, so off Juana and I headed to the bus station to make our way to experience Mercado Adolfo Lopez Mateos. Everything imaginable is for sale here from exotic fruits like lychee, dragon fruit, star fruit to various meats, a large bunch of Astro Melia flowers for 25 MXN and smoked chilies. It’s sprawling and if not for Juana, I would surely have been lost inside the maze as my sense of direction is no bueno.  Here is a bowl of fruit I bought for 200 MXN, about $10 US.

Bowl of fruit we bought at local market in Cuernavaca central

Catedral de Cuernavaca, the fortress-cathedral built at Cortes’s request.  It was easy to spend 4 hours strolling through this wonder with its fortress-like style that served a purpose to impress, intimidate and defend against the natives.

Catedral de Cuernavaca, Mexico

Jardin Borda – quiet, leafy sanctuary built in 1700’s inspired by Versailles.  There are paths, steps and fountains laid out in a series of terraces.  I love the typical colonial style where the buildings are arranged around courtyards.

Museo Casa Robert Brady – 16th century Franciscan convent.  He spent his life traveling around the world collecting art he loved and lived in Cuernavaca for twenty-four years.

Museo Robert Brady – Cuernavaca, Mexico

Parque Ecológico  Chapultepec –  Definitely worth a visit to see people, waterfalls, a butterfly sanctuary,  ducks, a running stream throughout fed by waterfalls and lined with a lush jungle, large trees, a pair of crocodiles basking in the sun, peafowl and a way to experience lush Cuernavaca.

Woman at Parque Ecológico

Tepoztlán

There is a tourist initiative called Pueblos Mágicos, or Magical Towns. These are designations given to small towns around the country that provide tourists with an otherwordly experience either through culture, environment or history.  In other words, an authentic traditional environment.

This family was waiting in the bus station in Cuernavaca as I was leaving for Tepoztlán.
Young girl on the street in Tepoztlán, Mexico.
Woman selling pottery in Tepoztlán, Mexico.
Blue tortillas in the market of Tepoztlán.
Corn in the market at Tepoztlán
Selling vegetables in the market at Tepoztlán, Mexico.

Tepoztlán is the only pueblo mágico in Morelos. There is an ancient temple set high atop a cliff, a 16th-century former convent. Amongst gorgeous mountain scenery, and winding cobblestone streets nestled in a green valley, it has a mystical quality and a charm.  I found the zócola filled with people selling clothing, and a natural products store where I bought shampoo made with rosemary, eucalyptus, aloe vera, basil, avocado bone, nopal, jojoba, verbana, royal jelly, mint and not one chemical in it. En route to Tepoztlán, I commented to a girl sitting next to me how pretty the bread was in the basket of mixed types and styles. She offered to open it for me, to which I politely declined not just because I wasn’t hungry but I didn’t want her to break open her lovely bread basket for me.

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Basket of bread on the bus to Tepoztlán

Woman at market in Tepoztlán, Mexico.
Young woman in Tepoztlán, Mexico.
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Woman selling limes in the market at Tepoztlán.
Ex-Convento de La Natividad, another World Heritage Site. Tepoztlán, Mexico

Taxco

Taxco- Another bus ride, this time from Terminal Estrella Blanco.  I was speaking to a girl on the bus and asked her about how to get to the Zócalo. Google Maps had me going in circles more than once and I knew Taxco would probably confuse Google Maps and me endlessly. She walked me all the way to the center. The kindness I found at every turn in Cuernavaca was the norm, it was consistent.

Meat vendor with two woman. Taxco, Mexico
On the street in Taxco, Mexico.
Woman selling coconuts in Taxco, Mexico.
I love her face, so strong and proud.
Her eyes were filled with kindness.
Woman selling apricots. Taxco, Mexico.
Woman selling jewelery. Taxco, Mexico.
Woman with child, Taxco, Mexico.
Taxco, Mexico view from the restaurant
Woman selling flowers Taxco, Mexico.

As I sat on the bus from Cuernava back to Mexico City, the bus driver waved at every bus coming the other way. Waved and smiled. “Que la vaya bien”  “May you be well” said the girl to me in the bus station central in CD as we both tried to figure out where to meet our respective Uber drivers.  I heard “para sirvele” “I’m here to serve you” over and over throughout my stay in Mexico.

Between the ruins of UNESCO World Heritage sites, walks into the city center, colors of red, orange and blues and smells of tortillas unique to Mexico, churches, gardens and museums I visited, Cuernavaca was a soul enriching experience. More than any aspect of my stay in Cuernavaca, was the care I was given by Juana. It wasn’t just that she made each and every meal so pretty to look at with hand made doilies that she had created and beautiful ceramics to eat out of, it was the actual care and affection from a complete stranger, from someone who wanted absolutely nothing from me and gave from her heart. There were heart-centered angels throughout my journey to Cuernavaca.  “Agradezco”  “I appreciate it”, Juana said when she opened the card I left for her, thanking her for her care and leaving her a gift.  More than just courteous, I find the people of Mexico angeles centrado en el corazón, “heart centered angels.”  Even as I leave Cuernavaca, I am dreaming of when I shall be able to return.

I’ve been wandering early and late.
Self Portrait en route to Taxco with Rolleiflex.
Self Portrait in front of map. Made with Rolleiflex. 
Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Untethered in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

 

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Self Portrait – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala @ Hotel Posada del Angel

Feeling the need to recharge myself and go within, I decided to head to Guatemala.  It’s a place that connects me to my family of origin as my mother is from Guatemala, to the indigenous Mayan people and to the Spanish language that I love. I choose Lake Atitlan and made my decision to try Yoga Forest for the first time.  After a quick stop in Guatemala City’s La Aurora airport, I made my way to the colonial city of Antigua.
 

Antigua’s churches remind me of wonderfully decorated wedding cakes, with white details on a pastel yellow background. Wandering on the cobblestone streets I passed colorful, colonial churches, crumbling ruins, and terra cotta roofs with red and orange bougainvillea trailing down the sides of walls. My first day and night were spent at the luxurious, intimate boutique Hotel Posada del Angel in Antigua on a quiet cobblestone street, where every detail has been curated by local connoisseurs who want to share Antigua’s Maya and Spanish heritages.  Even the little soaps are designed by a local alchemist who created a signature scent called “Semana Santa” from frankincense, orange, myrrh, clove and cinnamon.  Raw honey comes from San Cristobal el Alto, coconut oil from Belize, palm oil and cocoa butter from Guatemala.

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Hotel Posada del Angel

 

 

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Hotel Posada del Angel
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Hotel Posada del Angel –
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This woman was selling the typical Guatemalan dolls that look like the ones my mother had as a little girl so I bought one from her. Her face is wonderful.
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Three brothers – Antigua, Guatemala.
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Man in Antigua, Guatemala speaking of his beliefs in a higher power.

 

I headed out on the Carretera Panamericana also known as Centroamérica 1 – the Panamerican Highwayto Lake Atitlan.  A three hour drive on a collective brought me to Lake Panachajel, where I hopped on a boat (lancha) to San Marcos La Laguna, my peaceful, spiritual spot to escape the world.

 

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Local Mayan woman – San Marcos La Laguna – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

 

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Two sisters – San Marcos La Laguna – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

 

 

 

© hannah kozak
Local Mayan woman heading down the route from The Yoga Forest

 

Lago de Atitlan is one of the most inspiring places I have ever visited.  Nestled between three volcanos that loom over the entire landscape, (Volcán Yolimán, Volcán Atitlean and Volcán San Pedro) at an altitude of 5,125 feet, it’s the deepest lake in Central America.  As far as I can see are the deep blue waters that inspired Aldous Huxley to write. Viewing the lake in silence is a true recharge while being surrounded by jogate and mango trees.

 

A young boy came running up to me, asking if he could carry my bags and I let him because I wanted to give him work. As he lugged my bags to Circles Café, I began to see the familiar signs in San Marcos that I love. Mayan women selling basketfuls of avocados, children running up and down the main path, the smell of tortillas cooking as I passed shady coffee plants near the lakeshore.

 

It’s a twenty-minute hike up a steep hill to get to Yoga Forest and it’s worth it.   If you are looking to disconnect, here is the place. No wi-fi without a twenty-minute hike back to the pueblo, no electricity in your room and a compost toilet. After living on a kibbutz on Israel, I learned that I needed very little stuff everyday to be content.

 

Henry Ward Beecher once said, “The first hour is the rudder of the day.”  By committing not to turn on technology first thing in the morning, I received so many benefits including going inside for all my answers.  It required discipline to power off all electronics but the benefits are a much fuller life. At night I lay in bed listening to the sound of the crickets, birds and animals singing to their heart’s content.  Solitude helps us ground to the world around us. Stillness and quiet is required to evaluate our lives and reflect on the messages our intuition sends us.

 

Off the grid, three local woman lovingly prepared meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh blue tortillas, oatmeal, and pancakes. Even the coconut to sprinkle on our food was freshly grated.  These women embody my belief of “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”  Even when it’s not the easiest response, it’s always the answer.

© hannah kozak
Maria at The Yoga Forest – San Marcos La Laguna
 © hannah kozak
Magda at The Yoga Forest – San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala.
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Magda cooking vegetables – The Yoga Forest – San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala.
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Magda cooking tortillas at The Yoga Forest – San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala.

 

The view from the top of the mountain of the volcanoes is the best scenery in all of Central America. Jungle foliage and trees were medicine to my heart.  The highland Indians’ colorful clothes that they make themselves, their traditional way of life of farming, their local markets, and the art they create, are all like stepping back in time before all our modern ways.  Add in the Mayan culture and it’s a place that comforts and speaks to my soul.

© hannah kozak
Shooting nearly my entire visit in film made the photos even more magical for me.

One terribly upsetting factor in San Marcos — and all of Central America for that matter —  is all the stray dogs running around.  One morning I saw a dog with a bloodied ear that had flies covering the wound.  I found the only pet food store in San Marcos and waited an hour and a half for a mobile vet that was due to arrive. He never came but I exchanged contact with the girl who worked at the pet store.  When I returned home I contacted her and a great big smile was on my face when she told me that not only had she found the owner of the dog but also that treatment to heal its ear had started.

© hannah kozak
Micaela Pichilla – the girl who helped me find the owner of the dog in San Marcos.
© hannah kozak
Micaela Pichilla at the pet food store she works at in San Marcos La Laguna.

There is so much to do once you’ve settled in at the lake. Exploring other villages by boat, studying Spanish,seeing the weaving and arts created by locals and of course, yoga and meditation.  Not to be missed is Las Pirámides meditation center on the path heading inland from Posada Schumann, where you can have a massage, practice yoga in the morning and early evening, and come to study metaphysical and meditation courses. Lake Atitlan is not a place just to travel to, it’s a place to come and live for an extended period.  After moving to Israel when I was twenty years old, I developed a serious case of wanderlust and I have never stopped exploring. Part of why I travel is to have no regrets at the end of my days, because I will have explored places out of my comfort zone, traveled alone at times and had serious adventures. Not to mention getting out of my comfort zone taps into parts of my brain that create new synapses that stir creative thought. Not everyone has traveled to a place like Lake Atitlan as it requires work and an adventurous spirit to arrive there. It’s a promise that you will never forget the beauty and sounds at the lake, the smell of fresh tortillas being cooked, and will return home with peacefulness from being surrounded by the beauty of not only the lake’s water but also the indigenous people with the warmth and kindness in their hearts.

© hannah kozak
Girl playing near Lake Atitlan.
© hannah kozak
One of the yoga teachers adopted Mala and brought him back home to Berlin.
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Self Portrait – Lush in San Marcos La Laguna

The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico

The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico

From the moment my plane landed in the tiny airport of Oaxaca, I knew I was in for an adventure. Oaxaca is a magical concoction of sights, smells, and sounds. With a combination of ancient and modern sites, the small city is full of fantastic restaurants and can easily be covered by foot.

Its official name, Oaxaca de Juárez, embodies the bundle of contrasts that is modern Mexico. Oaxaca has it all: a lovely colonial city, the ruins of Mitla, craft and food markets, churches, forest covered mountains, and my favorite place of all—Monte Albán, which makes sense as I run towards any world heritage site.

© hannah kozak
Monte Albán, Mexico

Built by the Zapotecs, the temples of Monte Albán are perched atop a large mesa. Seeing the massive ancient metropolis is a mystical and spiritual experience. Monte Albán is one of the most important ruins in Mexico. To get a sense of its importance, it is said that 30,000 Zapotecs lived in Monte Albán at one time.

© hannah kozak
Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Zapotec capital of Monte Albán overlooks Oaxaca. Here’s my POV:

© hannah kozak
View of Oaxaca, Mexico from Monte Albán.

I find myself with many questions about Monte Albán because only 10 percent of the site has been uncovered. Did the Zapotecs abandon the city gradually or suddenly? It was founded toward the end of the Middle Formative period around 500 BC and by 1000 AD it was empty. What was it like living in Monte Alban?

For this trip I used my Rolleiflex 2.8F and my Fujifilm X-T2 along with the Fujifilm 16-55mm 2.8 lens. In other words, a combo of film and digital photography.

When I travel, I use my camera to get to know people. I’ll approach strangers and ask if I may make a photo of them. With that one question, we establish a sort of trust. If I am shooting digitally, I will show them the photo on playback and I usually get big smiles in response.

© hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico
 © hannah kozak
Couple in their vegetable and fruit stand in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico
 © hannah kozak
Children in Tlacolula Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

I like to write down their address and sometimes surprise them with the photo in the mail a month or two later. Sharing my photography is important to me, and I love being able to give the gift of a portrait.

© hannah kozak
Frutas y Verduras – Teotitlan Market Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Eugenia Zoila Hernande at La Olla Restaurant making corn tortillas – Oaxaca, Mexico
©hannah kozak
Man selling on street in Oaxaca, Mexico

Whether I’m taking pictures or not, traveling through Mexico is always a unique experience. From the Spanish language (la lengua), to the food (la comida), people (la gente), and culture (la cultura). There is a lot of fear-based advice about traveling to various states of Mexico coming from the U.S. that I have never paid attention to. I find all the fear propaganda unwarranted.

I have met beautiful people around the world in my travels, warm kind hearted strangers especially in Mexico. Their warmth and kindness shines through where I meet them in every market, street corner, restaurant, and ancient site.

 © hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Woman in Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Woman – Teotitlan Market
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Woman – Teotitlan Market in Oaxaca, Mexico
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Woman – Teotitlan Market – Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico gifted me with enriching, heart breaking, beautiful sights and though it left me tired, I felt new life running through my veins.

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Skeletons – Oaxaca, Mexico
© hannah kozak
Self Portrait – Oaxaca Cemetery
Self Portrait plus one
Self Portrait plus one: No trip is complete without a visit to the local cemetery.
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The Magic of Oaxaca, Mexico

Reflections at Weissensee Cemetary – Berlin, Germany

Reflections at Weissensee Cemetery-Berlin, Germany

© hannah kozak
Stunning architecture at Weissensee Cemetary.

Weißensee Cemetery – I seek out Jewish cemeteries when I travel or cemeteries in general as I find them quieting, peaceful and meditative. Between my love of World War II history and because of my Jewish ancestry I knew I had to spend time at Weissensee Cemetary. I made my way to the Friedrichstraße main station and caught Train S7 in the direction of Ahrensfelde Bhf and got off on the first stop at S Hackescher Market in the direction of Falkenberg. From there, it was 10 stops to Albertinenstr. From that tram, I figured out which direction to walk on Herbert-Baum Strasse and came upon the largest Jewish cemetery in all of Europe.

© hannah kozak

The fact that this cemetery survived during the Third Reich is a miracle in itself. Approximately 115,000 graves are set in over one hundred acres. Crunching leaves rustled beneath my feet as I walked through the graveyard filled with a mix of Italian renaissance and Art Nouveau styles. I viewed sunken gravestones tucked under trees as the rain started and stopped, adding a quiet soundtrack to my much needed solitude. Towards the end of my walk, I sat in a tomb from the 11th century and saw tiny stones and notes, similar to those tucked into the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The entire experience was humbling and offered me time to think and reflect about how temporary our lives are.

© hannah kozak

My first stop was Herbert Baum’s grave. Baum was a Jewish member of the German resistance against National Socialism. He organized meetings, along with his wife, to deal with the threat of Nazism. Baum became the personification of Jewish resistance against the Nazis in Germany. Just like my father, Baum was forced into slave labor. He was at Siemens-Schuckertwerke, which today is Siemens AG. He was at the helm of a group of Jewish laborers at the plant who went into the Berlin underground, to escape being deported to the concentration camps. He organized an arson attack on May 18, 1942. This anticommunist and anti-Semitic propaganda exhibition was prepared by Joseph Goebbels at the Berliner Lustgarten. Because the attack was not a full success, meaning Baum only partially destroyed “The Soviet Paradise” exhibit, he was arrested, along with his wife and other members of his group. Baum was tortured to death as was his wife Marianne.

© hannah kozak
Herbert Baum’s grave

I continued wandering and paused at the outstanding beauty including stunning craftsmanship of wrought iron, mosaics and stone. The early tablets erected before World War I are Silesian Marble or Saxon Sandstone and younger ones were made of Scandinavian dark hard rock or even artificial stone in the 40’s. I was pleased simply to have found German-Jewish painter and printmaker Max Liebermann’s grave.

 © hannah kozak

The Department of History of Architecture and Urban Design of the Berlin Institute of Technology, the Berlin State Office for the Preservation of Historic Monuments and the Centrum Judaicum cooperated on a comprehensive project from 2010 to 2012 to document the entirety of the 134 burial fields. I’ve read that there are aims to make this cemetery a UNESCO World Heritage site. Because it suffered almost no damage during The Third Reich, it forms one of the most important and best-preserved Jewish monuments in Germany.

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Perhaps because all of my father’s family (mother, father, three sisters, two brothers) were killed at Auschwitz and one brother died in Treblinka during the uprising, and because my family from Poland have no graves at all, I find these graves remarkably beautiful. I see tiny stones resting atop gravestones where people have visited someone from their past and I find beauty in that dignity.

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Being at the Weissensee Cemetary offered me a quiet place to take a long walk, a journey into the past. Even if one doesn’t have family there it is a special sacred place to walk, wander, remember and wonder.

 © hannah kozak

The photos I’ve made remind me to enjoy the present while I still have my inhale and exhale and to breath in deeply and profoundly as we enter into the Age of Aquarius. We have such a short amount of time here. I hope that these images will remind every one of us to stay present to what’s in front of us, to embrace our changing consciousness in humanity, and remember that we are all going to the same place where death is the great equalizer.

© hannah kozak

© hannah kozak

Reflections at Weissensee Cemetary-Berlin, Germany

Finding my way around Berlin, Germany

Finding my way around Berlin, Germany

I traveled to Berlin for the opening of the Berlin Foto Biennial 2016, where I am part of the Second Generation Holocaust photographers exhibit with a triptych from my seven year, ongoing series called Survivor, a study on my father’s survival of eight Nazi forced labor camps.

© hannah kozak

Another reason for Berlin’s appeal for me is its volatility, its traumatic history. I feel a Berlin traumatized by its historical suffering, its emotional past. There is almost a haunting aspect to the city. A city where Hitler came to power in 1933, the site of the infamous Olympic games in 1936, Kristallnacht – where Jewish properties were attacked and set on fire in 1938, Hitler’s headquarters–and the place where the Führer took his last breath & World War II from 1938 to 1945. A historic, reunited capital where a 96.2 miles long wall divided family and friends for 28 years, the only border fortification in history built to keep people from leaving rather than to protect them. Berlin is a capital that has been the most powerful and also fallen to the lowest of lows. Yet Berlin is also a city of tolerance, liberalism, a center of the arts and truly a cutting edge cultural center of Europe.

© hannah kozak
The remains of the Wall. It was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall.” Built overnight starting 13 August 1961. The wall completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany until it was opened in November 1989. (The actual demolition did not begin until the summer of 1990 and was completed in 1992.)

I spent time years ago in Frankfurt, when I was working in the publishing world and attended the annual Frankfurt Book Fair but Frankfurt does not hold the appeal for me that Berlin does. Berlin is tucked away in the north-eastern area of Germany and is only 49.7 miles from another favorite place I love–Poland.

As I walk along Friedrichstrasse, I think about the great German artist Käthe Kollwitz, regarded as the most important German artist of the twentieth century who worked with drawing, etching, lithography, woodcuts, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Käthe Kollwitz captured the hardships suffered by the working class in drawings, paintings, and prints. She went to Munich to study at the Women’s Art School. She didn’t want to be controlled by her father and also wanted freedom as a married woman.

The death of her youngest son in battle in 1914 profoundly affected her, and she expressed her grief in another cycle of prints that treat the themes of a mother protecting her children and of a mother with a dead child. Kollwitz lost her husband in 1940, her grandson during WWII in 1942. She created timeless art works after suffering a life of great sorrow and heartache believing that art not only can but should change the world. Kollwitz created art that stirred emotions, incited action and served the people.For twelve years; from 1924 to 1932 Kollwitz also worked on a granite monument for her son, which depicted her husband and herself as grieving parents. In 1932 it was erected as a memorial in a cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. Her art did not serve the state thus Hitler hated what she created. In 1936 she was barred by the Nazis from exhibiting, her art classified as degenerate and was removed from galleries. Kollwitz said “All my work hides within in life itself, and it is with life that I contend through my work.”

Käthe Kollwitz-Woman w/dead child - 1903.
Käthe Kollwitz-Woman w/dead child – 1903.

I also think of The Berlin Trilogy–David Bowie’s creative apex where he wrote three consecutively released studio albums that Bowie referred to as his DNA: Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979). Bowie moved to Berlin to escape the drug scene in Los Angeles (yet fell back on his bad habits initially). Berlin became Bowie’s sanctuary because he could be more anonymous there than in Los Angeles. His genius was his constant desire to reinvent himself. Low and Heroes were both recorded at Hansa Studios, known then as “Hansa by the Wall” because the Berlin Wall could be seen from the control room. I loved Lodger, a concept album about a homeless traveler. I can still hear the lyrics from Breaking Glass on the Low album. “You’re such a wonderful person, but you got problems.” I always loved Bowie because he rejected conformity, truly he was out of the box.

David Bowie - Low
David Bowie – Low – Released 14 January 1977
David Bowie - Heroes
David Bowie – Heroes – Released 14 October 1977
David Bowie - Lodger
David Bowie – Lodger – Released 14 January 1979

The nights were cold and windy and often rainy yet I feel invigorated coming from the recent relentless heat and two hour daily commutes in Los Angeles. Instead of sitting in a car for hours of traffic, I am free to roam about walking from trains to trams to underground travel.

© hannah kozak
Oranienburg Straße ( a street in central Berlin located in the borough of Mitte, north of the River Spree and runs south-east) & Friedrichstraße.) A major culture and shopping street in central Berlin, which forms the core of the Friedrichstraße neighborhood. It runs from the Northern part of the old Mitte district.

I chose the Melia Berlin Hotel for multiple reasons but mainly for the location along the river Spree, on the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Am Weidendamn and only 100 meters from Friedrichstraße Station which provided me with great underground, city rail, and tram links to all parts of Berlin. Not to mention their restaurant with an extensive menu of Spanish tapas which is one of my favorite ways to eat in the world. I ended up never eating at the tapas bar because I was enjoying the German food so much.

© hannah kozak
Meliá Berlin Hotel adjacent to the River Spree on Friedrichstraße 103.

S-Bahnhof Friedrichstraße Station used to be the border station between East and West Berlin. Built in 1882 to a design by Johannes Vollmer, a roof was added in 1925 that covers the hall and & the platforms. The only remaining structure from the original station is the special pavilion once used as a waiting room by those waiting for emigration clearance. The nickname of “Palace of Tears” refers to Berliners from different sides of the city would say goodbye to each other after a visit.

© hannah kozak
Friedrichstrasse Main Station – It is located on the Friedrichstraße, a major north-south street in the Mitte district of Berlin, adjacent to the point where the street crosses the Spree river

I ventured out in the rain (it is a venture because of my cameras) to find the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th century neoclassical monument and symbol of European unity and peace. The site of major historical events, it is considered a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany. It is truly the quintessential symbol of Berlin and one of the few remaining historic city gates. I had the bonus of being there during Berlin’s Festival of Lights– famous landmarks beautifully lit up by lights.

© hannah kozak
Brandenburg Tor – Lit up for the Festival of Lights 2016

The gate is one block south to the Holocaust Memorial or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; a truly radical concept for a memorial. The construction of this memorial for the Jews killed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 began April 1, 2003 and was finished December 15, 2004. Designed by US architect Peter Eisenmann, it covers 205,000 square feet. It’s above ground, an undulating field of 2,711 visible, graffiti-resistant coating concrete slabs which you can enter from all sides and walk through. They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew. The memorial leaves you to contemplate the meaning of the design. I returned multiple times during the day and the evening. Rain slowly flowing down the slabs looked like tears to me.

© hannah kozak
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
© hannah kozak
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (also known as the Holocaust Memorial) created by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. Building began 1 April 2003, and finished 15 December 2004. Designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere.
I made this photo with my Rolleiflex,and included the green tree to show that even though millions of Jews were murdered including all my father’s family, we always stand tall again.

Around the corner is the Hotel Adlon, which opened its doors in 1907. It was largely destroyed in 1945, in the closing days of World War II. The new building is a design largely inspired by the original, other sources say only loosely inspired by the original. Only a two minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate and three minutes from the Berlin Wall, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin stayed here but my real reason for wanting to view it was because Michael Jackson stayed in the presidential suite. On Tuesday, Nov 19, 2002, he was caught up in the moment and showed his baby nicknamed Blanket to the fans waving below his balcony.

Here are some photos I made my first day and night wandering the streets in Berlin.

© hannah kozak
En route to the Brandenburg Gate.
© hannah kozak
I love birds and their shadows.
© hannah kozak
Vaporetto Restaurant- A dear friend introduced me to this Italian restaurant on Albrechtstraße 12.
© hannah kozak
Heading back to my hotel from Vaporetto Restaurant.
© hannah kozak
Wandering the streets en route to the Spree River.
© hannah kozak
Rainy night in Berlin
© hannah kozak
The River Spree

“Berlin -The greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”
David Bowie

Finding my way around Berlin, Germany

Warsaw in Winter part two

Warsaw in Winter part two

Photography is a meditation for me. After spending time working on set surrounded by a crew of nearly one hundred people twelve hours a day, for months, I find that photography allows me quiet to recharge my soul. I cannot tidy up my father’s past: I am in Poland to continue my project on the eight forced labor camps he was in. But, before I begin my work, I allow myself to wander about Warsaw; one of my favorite cities in Europe.

© hannah kozak
Old Town in Warsaw, Poland
1/280 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800 23.4mm
© hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 16mm,
1/280 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 16 mm
1/125 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 16mm
1/125 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 16mm
1/450 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 16mm
1/450 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 17mm
1/600 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
Fuji X-T1, 35.3 mm 1/450 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800
Fuji X-T1, 35.3 mm
1/450 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 800

The oldest part of Warsaw is Old Town; bounded by the bank of the Vistula river along with Grodzka, Mostowa, and Podwale Streets. I made these photos while wandering through the heart of the area which is Old Town Market Place. From the surrounding streets I saw medieval architecture while the area is full of restaurants, cafes and shops. And, wherever I travel, I plan on visiting UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites; and Warsaw is one of them. More than 85% of Old Town was deliberately destroyed by Nazi troops during the war. Warsaw is a near-total reconstruction of a span of history from the 13th to the 20th century. I love watching people while walking around.

@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 17.6 mm
1/250 sec @ f 2.8, ISO 6400
@ hannah kozak
Fuji X-T1, 24.2mm
1/15 sec @ f 6.4, ISO 400

The Holocaust committed by the Nazis turned this country, where most of the European Jews used to live and where their culture used to flourish, into a massive grave. This is why initiatives to revive Jewish culture in Poland is so important.

Marek Belka

Warsaw in Winter part two

Warsaw in Winter

Warsaw in Winter

Traveling to Poland for Christmas was a decision I made for a few distinct reasons. One, it was a postmortem readjustment to my father’s death. I had been to Poland before, both times in the spring, in May but I wanted to have the winter light in my photos on this trip. I wanted to feel the deathly cold winter of Poland, like my father did.

I went to Poland to continue my documentary on my father, a survivor of eight Nazi forced labor camps. Because my father passed away on Christmas, I wanted to awaken in his country, on the third anniversary of his death, to help me deal with a grief too deep for tears while simultaneously feeling a near-umbilical attachment to this country I love, a country with a past filled with too much sadness to ever understand.

© hannah kozak

I arrived on Christmas Eve. After a Polish man kindly helped me figure out how to buy a bus ticket from the ticket booth (I’m not a fan of cabs) I sat on my bus seat, staring out of the windows for a familiar site. When I exited at Warsaw University, I had the surprise of seeing purple and white holiday decorations– instead of the customary red and green in Los Angeles– leading into Old Town, where I like to stay. The location opening on Castle Square overlooked the Vistula River and granted a stunning view of Old Town. I heard the bell chimes of the Royal Castle, which was rebuilt only thirty years ago after being destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. In my small, quiet hotel room, I have a desk to write at as well as two bay windows to look out of where I photographed the view of the Vistula River and the changing light, throughout the day and night.

© hannah kozak
Krakowskie Przedmiescie & Plac Pilsudskiego, Warsaw
© hannah kozak
View of Vistula River in Old Town
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR
© hannah kozak
Old Town – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR

I was in so much anguish on this third trip to Poland. My cat Jackson died suddenly three days after I arrived in Warsaw and I was alone in my hotel room. “No! No! No!” I screamed, in part because I was in shock and in part because I thought I could undue it all. I didn’t want to leave my hotel room yet I also needed the freezing cold air of Warsaw to help me breathe as I avoided making eye contact with strangers. I felt so useless to Jackson that all I could do was chant. I had left him at the vet and that was the last time I saw him. I was processing regret at leaving my companion with a specialist that I didn’t know but who said he would heal my little friend. My pain was profoundly humbling. The only thing I could come up with to self soothe was mantra so I played it nightly.

The state of grief continued as I traveled through Poland, seeing and experiencing Poland, in that emotional state. Something about the death of Jackson helped me get in touch with my father’s tremendous losses. Grief is grief and it colors everything.

© hannah kozak
Jackson – 3 days before he passed.

Jackson brought me infinite joy. I loved the sound of his paws hitting the hard wood floors in the morning as he and his brother ran to the kitchen, eager for breakfast. He used to plead with me to let him go outside and only liked being hugged on the futon in the television room. He’s gone but the memories of him will stay with me like a faded photograph.

@ hannah kozak
Michael & Jackson – 1 Nov 2011
@ hannah kozak
M & J – 17 Nov 2011
© hannah kozak
M & J – 16 April 2012
© hannah kozak
Michael and Jackson – 22 May 2012
© hannah kozak
Jackson & Michael – 4 Jan 2013

I experienced grief and joy simultaneously at retracing my father’s footsteps through war torn Poland as I mourned the loss of my friend and didn’t sleep well for eight nights.

Prior to World War II, Warsaw was the leading center of secular Jewish culture in Eastern Europe. At one time, only New York had a larger Jewish population. I could imagine the diverse vitality of Jewish life here. From Warsaw’s turbulent history to the beauty of the rebuilt city, I was inspired. From the hot bowls of soup served with fresh baguettes to the sound of the language I don’t understand but resonate with, to the architecture of Gothic buildings made of brick and to cathedrals made of stone and Romanesque architecture and the kindness from strangers I am repeatedly impressed with, Poland has a piece of my tired and hurting heart.

On a side note, I was able to put the Fuji XT1 to use. This is a photographer’s camera and one of many cool features, it is weather resistant, which helped a lot in the cold of Poland. It’s responsive and I’m impressed with this mirrorless camera. There was no giant learning curve, it’s as intuitive as my Nikon FM from back in the 1980’s. No more lugging around DSLR’s.

© hannah kozak
Old Town, Warsaw
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/16-55mmF2.8 LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
@ hannah kozak
My favorite restaurant for soup and bread.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
@ hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
 © hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
I love getting around Poland via buses & trains.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Dusk in Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Directly outside Old Town in Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
 © hannah kozak
Fantastic walking guides in Warsaw, Poland.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Children in Old Town; Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F 2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF16-55 mm
F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Self Portrait en route to Museum of the History of Polish Jews – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Old Town – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Warsaw, Poland.
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR
@ hannah kozak
Self Portrait at my favorite place to stay in Warsaw: Dom Literatury.
Fuji XT 1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55 mm F2.8 R LM WR
© hannah kozak
Old City – Warsaw, Poland
Fuji XT1 w/Fujinon XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR

It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph.
Henryk Sienkiewicz

Warsaw in Winter

Magical Budapest

Magical Budapest

Budapest has been on my sights for a long time. Despite modern development, Budapest retains magic and old charm around every corner. Buda and Pest were separate towns on opposite banks of the Danube River until 1873, when they were merged. They developed independently and the result is two unique regions; both exquisite.

@ hannah kozak
Danube River – Budapest, Hungary

I stayed on the Buda side of the Danube River, on a recommendation by a friend from Budapest. The area was calm, peaceful and filled with the beauty of green and trees all around me. I traveled daily to catch either the tram, trolley and metro depending on where I wanted to explore. A ten minute stroll and I was in the Castle District and there, I spent the day walking the streets, feeling as if I have traveled back in time to a quiet, peaceful world where I see Baroque residential homes next to ancient Roman stones.

@ hannah kozak
Trams on Buda side
@ hannah kozak
Cat on Buda side
@ hannah kozak
Man on street with cigarette

Here is Mathais Church, which is over 700 years old. The colorful character of the church is the manifestation of the cultural interchange on the borderline between East and West. It’s a unique interior created at the end of the 19th century by Bertalan Székely – the leading painter of the age and Frigyes Schuliek – architect.

© Hannah Kozak
Mathias Church in Budapest, Hungary

The Jewish Quarter, where I went back twice to spend time at the Great Synagogue, the largest Jewish house of worship in Europe. It was built in 1859 and has both Moorish and romantic elements.

© hannah kozak
The Great Synagogue Budapest, Hungary

© hannah kozak
The Great Synagogue
Budapest, Hungary

© hannah kozak
The Great Synagogue
Budapest, Hungary

© hannah kozak
Star of David @ The Great Synagogue
© hannah kozak
Star of David – The Great Synagogue

I spent time at the Holocaust Memorial’s metal “tree of life”, designed by Imre Varga in 1991. If you look closely, you can see family names of some of the hundreds of thousands of victims.

© hannah kozak
The Tree of Life
Budapest, Hungary

Made my way into a building inside the Great Synagogue and asked to see this antique book:

© hannah kozak
Register of Jewish Survivors in Budapest

Wandering the streets on the Pest side.

© hannah kozak
Budapest
© hannah kozak
@hannah kozak- Budapest, Hungary
 © hannah kozak
Budapest street
© hannah kozak
Budapest Street Art 2

In Belváros, the inner city of the historical old town of Pest is Rumbach Street Synagogue, located in the eastern section of Budapest.

The synagogue in Rumbach Street was built in 1872 to the design of the Viennese architect Otto Wagner. It served the Status Quo Ante community. It was built not as an exact replica of, but as an homage to the style of the octagonal, domed Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

© hannah kozak
Rumbach Street Synagogue -Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Rumbach Street Synagogue 2 – Budapest, Hungary
@ hannah kozak
Hannah Kozak-Self Portrait Rumbach Synagogue
© hannah kozak
Rumbach Street Synagogue – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Two men at Rumbach Street Synagogue – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Door on Pest Side
Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
© hannah kozak
Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Man on street – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Boy on Street – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Man in Coffee Shop – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Metro Station – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Wandering through Budapest
© hannah kozak
Girls in Deli at hotel where MJ stayed – Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Jewish Quarter – Pest Side,
Budapest, Hungary
I love the detailed tiles on this building
© hannah kozak
© hannah kozak

Always on the look out for wandering cubs and I lucked out when I found this dog who loved to play catch. I’ve never seen a dog leap so high!

© hannah kozak
Leaping dog in Budapest
© hannah kozak
Leaping Dog in Budapest 2
© hannah kozak
Leaping Dog 3 in Budapest, Hungary
© hannah kozak
Little Leaping Dog in Budapest
© hannah kozak
Women On Street – Budapest, Hungary

Magical Budapest

Grand Canary Islands:Mogan, Spain

Grand Canary Islands: Mogan, Spain

Off the coast of Africa and southwest of Spain are the Canary Islands. Grand Canary Islands is a miniature continent due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines and picturesque villages. I especially love that a third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

@ hannah kozak
Grand Canary Island, España

Part of the reason I wanted to visit Grand Canary is its tropical, steady climate all year round. In the winter it’s normally 72 degrees F, and usually 85 degrees F in the summer. It’s sunny in the coast nearly all the time. I loved the feeling of the sea breeze and the trade winds helped when it became too warm. I visited the southern part of the island which is warm and sunny. The north tends to be cooler. The east coast of the island is flat, dotted with beaches while the western coast is rockier and mountainous.

Mogán is a town and a municipality in the southwestern part of the island of Gran Canaria, which is one of the three main islands making up the Province of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, Spain. A network of canals gives the town the nickname of “Little Venice”.

Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Self portrait - Mogán, Spain
Self portrait – Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogán, Spain
Mogån, Spain
Mogån, Spain
Who's your mom?
Who’s your mom?
And, who's your mom?
And, who’s your mom?
@ hannah kozak
Grand Canary Island

And, Olivia the Artist joined me on this trip.

@ hannah kozak
Olivia in Grand Canary Islands

Grand Canary Islands: Mogan, Spain

Wandering through Málaga, Spain

Wandering through Málaga, Spain

It is a bucolic Málaga afternoon spent wandering through the pedestrianized center filled with restaurants, tapas bars, ice cream shops, hotels, museums. Easily located near the Hotel Molina Lario I walk into the Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica. I am overwhelmed with emotion when I see the beauty of its interior. Sensitive and easily susceptible to emotions and especially tired from traveling, I wonder if I’m experiencing The Stendhal Syndrome. Who knows why but sublime beauty can make me weep. Not only does travel recharge my photographic battery but it always forces me to rethink our place in the world.

Santa Iglesia Catedral Basilíca - Málaga, Spain
Santa Iglesia Catedral Basilíca – Málaga, Spain
Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica - Málaga, Spain
Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica – Málaga, Spain
Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica - Málaga, Spain
Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica – Málaga, Spain

Hannah Kozak _Málaga_1098

Next stop is the vast Alcazaba, a castle built into the ramparts of the Moorish city, built between the 8th and 11th centuries on the site of a Roman fortress. There are massive fortified gates, complete with curtain walls and watchtowers surrounded by patios, gardens and pools. I’m especially drawn to the many variations of tile patterns. After walking through the partially excavated Roman amphitheatre, I sat and felt the stillness on a hot September day.

Alcazaba - Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba – Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba - Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba – Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba - Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba – Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba - Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba – Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba - Málaga, Spain
Alcazaba – Málaga, Spain

The yummy Mediterranean gives the area three hundred days of sunshine per year and even when it’s hot, it’s bearable as the winds are refreshing and Málaga enjoys a subtropical-mediterranean climate. Pablo Picasso, a rule breaker I love, was born here in Málaga. Even though Picasso’s relationship with his native city was distant, his nostalgia for his birth place remained. I visited his childhood home as well as the current exhibition.

Picasso in Málaga, Spain
Picasso in Málaga, Spain
Near Picasso's birthplace
Near Picasso’s birthplace
Málaga, Spain
Málaga, Spain
Who is your mom?  Malaga cat wandering.
Who is your mom?
Malaga cat wandering.

I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn.
Pablo Picasso

Picasso

Wandering through Málaga, Spain