Hey! Little girl! Wanna pat my snake? Castle Hill, Sydney, Australia

On the way home from flying our kite today, my wife and I saw a frog and reptile show being advertised from the roadside at the Castle Hill Showground so we thought we’d have a look. Basically it was a sort of trade fair for frogs and reptiles. There were plenty of cold blooded animals on display and for sale. Both my wife and I iound the experience quite odd. It had never occured to me that there was a whole industry built around frogs and reptiles. There were snake handling displays and places where you could handle snakes if you wanted to.

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The little girl is patting a “Centralian Carpet Python” Morelia bredli. The amazing thing, besides the girl’s total lack of fear, was how docile the snake was considering how warm the temperature was. I got within about 10cm (approximately 4″) of the snake to take the picture below, with flash, and it didn’t move a muscle.

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The snake was so exquisite that I found it easy to understand why people wanted to be near them. It was like a living jewel.

There was a teen aged guy minding the snake and I asked him about feeding the snake and if it was difficult to buy live food for them. I was told one could train most snakes to eat dead mice or rats that could be bought frozen from select pet suppliers. Sure enough there was even a stand that had bags of frozen mice and rats for sale.

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Who would’ve thought? Goes to show what a diverse world we live in.

Double star kite at Mona Vale Headland, Sydney, Australia

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The kite is a 2M (about 6ft) diameter double star. The panorama below shows “Engogirl” with the kite waiting for some wind.

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We made the kite just before Easter and we’ve been keen to fly it but the wind hasn’t been strong enough ever since (typical!). The wind still wasn’t very strong today but at least we got the kite to fly out the whole length of our kite line (100m or about 300ft).

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Unfortunately the wind kept on dropping and at one stage I wasn’t able to reel in the kite fast enough and it fell over the cliff wall. We had had a few panicky moments at the kite got snagged on a bush we couldn’t see over the edge of the cliff. We couldn’t get near the edge of the cliff because the edge was at a steep angle and covered with loose rock. Even though the kite took about 50 hours to make we weren’t going to risk our lives for it. I eventually walked to the end of the headland, to a point where I could see the kite snagged in a bush half way up the cliff. Fortunately the braided kite line is very strong and I was able to drag the kite out of the bush using some “brute force and ignorance” to get it back up over the cliff edge.

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The kite is made of ripstop nylon and carbon fibre rods making it quite strong and it wasn’t damaged by the cliff incident. The wind picked up a little later on and we were able to get the kite up once more.

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For plans to make this kite click here

Florists as cultural barometers in Morocco

When I was in morocco back in 1982 I was struck by the broad cultural differences there were in the population. There were some Moroccans that looked like they’d just stepped from the medieval period through some kind of time warp into the present and there were others that were thoroughly modern and urbane, with every variation in between.

The florists seemed to be more in the “modern” camp, probably because of the French colonisation and the market that the French decorative taste created. Even the florists had their differences in how much they embraced the more modern western lifestyle.

These pictures reflect, to a small degree, how Morocco is in transition culturally. This first pciture was taken in Fez which is a traditional city and although the florist is wearing a western style jacket his is also wearing a turban and slippers.

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This next photo was taken in Casablanca and it shows a more utilitarian approach to western dress.

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This last image was taken in Rabat which is the capital and by far the most western of the cities in Morocco. The guy in this shot isn’t just wearing western clothing to be modern, he actually exhibits some bold style. He looks like he’d fit right in, on the Côte d’Azur.

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It seems strange to me to think how much cultural diversity there was in Morocco considering it is a basically monocultural country (in comparison to multicultural Australia for instance). Here in the west, people seem to living fairly homogeneous modern lives without much thought about the past, whereas in Morocco there is still some sense of the past still being manifest in the way how some people dress. I guess one of the big issues in some of these emerging countries is how much to westernise and how much of the old culture to keep.

As for me, I like to see some diversity and I don’t want to see the whole planet becoming totally homogeneous and bland.