Book Review | Songs of the Baka and other discoveries : travels after age sixty-five by Dennis James

songs of the bakaIgnore the subtitle: though the protagonists are over 65, it has little to no bearing on the content of this book, which would appeal to readers of all ages. In Songs of the Baka, James provides instantly immersive tales from his travels (with his photographer wife Barbara Grossman) to diverse, off the beaten path destinations world-wide. James conveys their travel experiences in ten countries*, sharing insightful observations on various topics from transportation to indigenous cultural practices, architecture, art, politics, and beyond.

This is a great book. It is clear and concise, proceeds at a moderate pace and includes captivating color photographs. Chapters are of appropriate lengths with frequent breaks, making this book a quick read. Songs of the Baka would appeal to aspiring travelers, the well-traveled, people with anthropological or cultural interests, and possibly Fulbright applicants. I’ve recommended my local library purchase this title. Check it out from a library near you!

*Countries visited and included in this text: Papua New Guinea, Algeria, Nepal, Cameroon, Cuba, Mali, Iran, Venezuela, Palestine and Ethiopia. 

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Pictorials | Havana, Cuba – market month photo 10

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Entrevista con el vendedor de frutas / Interviewing the fruit vendor. 2015. Havana, Cuba.

Film Review | Una Noche (One Night) by Lucy Mulloy

una noche dvd coverInspired by a true story, Una Noche is a beautiful and moving film that takes place in Havana. Elio and Lila are twins and best friends. Their relationship changes when Elio meets Raul while working in a hotel kitchen. Lila sees Elio less often and suspects he may be up to something. When she follows him, she discovers that he is building a raft to head for Miami. Shocked that he would leave her, she convinces him to let her join. Sailing at first is smooth, but of course the winds change course.

Featuring Cuban rhythms and music and shots of Havana, Una Noche offers a view into present day life in Cuba. While the main event of the film is the escape on the raft, many other parts of day to day life and struggle are shown before departure. Lila mentions that the stores may be empty, but that everything in Havana is for sale if you just know where to get it. The acting is good, the relationships are realistic and the tension is palpable. It’s a good movie (only a few slow spots) that lets you visit Havana despite the travel ban.