Travel Letters

Jews of Morocco



May 4, 2013 

The history of Jewish migration and settlement in Morocco goes back to Roman times after the Romans conquered Jerusalem in 70 AD. * 

In the Middle Ages, the Jewish population in Morocco exploded as the result of the their expulsion from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497). 

By the middle of the 20th Century, 248,000 Jews were citizens of Morocco.  Beginning in 1948 when the State of Israel was born, almost all of Jewish population of Morocco departed.  Now, only a few thousand remain.  Moroccan Jews are one of the largest ethnic groups in Israel. 

During my three week trip to Morocco, I visited just three of the many Jewish sites.

Machala: The Petrified Forest Puyango



October 21, 2013

We New Yorkers are not timid.  We confront.  We question. 

 So, long, long, long ago when my Fifth Grade primary school class traveled from the Bronx to Manhattan to the Museum of Natural History and stood before the skeletal recreation of Tyrannosaurus Rex, it should come as no surprise to anyone when I challenged the tour guide, “Doesn’t this display contradict what we read in The Bible?”  (Imagine the chutzpah of that ten year old boy!)   The docent gave some inane response and we proceeded on to the diorama of Neanderthal Man.

For some reason, I recalled that museum incident during my stroll through El Bosque Petrificado Puyango (Petrified Forest) in the south of Ecuador.  Once again we are confronted with a remarkable natural process: How in the world is organic material transformed into inorganic material – tree trunks to solid rock!  And how does a fossil of an ancient sea creature end up a mile high in the mountains?

Nara: Daibutsu


(pop 369,000)



The Daibutsu beckons the pilgrim to Nara.  

Daibutsu or Great Buddha sits quietly in the Todai-ji Temple, his right hand raised in the position of protection, reassurance and blessing, 

The Buddha is surrounded by respectful throngs of travelers, tour groups and children who converge on Nara – a large city about thirty minutes by train from Kyoto. 

Lijiang: The Old Town and Market


Yunnan Province

People’s Republic of China

Elevation 2400m 7900 ft.

June 2, 2014

Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers,

I can never resist a market.  Can you?  Always lively, colorful and surprising, the market is a core element of daily life.  What is more essential than food, clothing and household goods?   And what is more fun? 

So after our early morning stroll through the Old Town of Lijiang that included an invitation to a tea ceremony, my guide Illian and I head over to the main market.  I took about “a thousand” photos, and finally stocked up on a half kilo of fresh, sweet green plums for the ride ahead.

Shaxi: Ancient Tea Horse Road


Yunnan Province


June 6, 2014

Dear Friends,

During my brief visit to the livestock market in Shaxi, I recalled the ditty “Mules” that I learned at Boy Scout Camp.   As I trod the grounds among horses, cows, bulls and other assorted browsers, I paid strict attention to the lyric.*

Shaxi is an historic town along the Ancient Tea Horse Road that connects China to Burma to Tibet to India.  But Shaxi is unlike Lijiang, another caravan stop to the northth.  Lijiang boasts an airport that dismounts herds of visitors.  Shaxi retains an “ancient” atmosphere.

Bangkok: Punk Rock Girl



June 20, 2014

Today I participated in the “Punk Rock Girl Shoot.”

Along with eight other amateur photographers and our leader, professional photographer Dennie Cody, we spent three hours this afternoon photographing the unique model Tanya, the Punk Rock Girl. *

The shoot took place at a vacant lot/playground/graffiti park at Ratchathewi in downtown Bangkok.

Tanya changed her outfit four times.   She was creative, emotional and beautiful.

Please see for yourself.