Where on Earth? Week 43 – Isla Negra, Chile

Where on Earth this week is the small beachside town of Isla Negra, 80km south of Valparaiso in Chile. This is one of three houses that Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda maintained in his home country. Up the road in Valpo, La Sebastiana cascades down the rugged hills of the port town, and further south in Santiago, La Chascona is a suitably bohemian and rambling abode in the arty suburb of Bellavista. And which of the three homes was reputedly Neruda’s favourite? Casa de Isla Negra of course…

Where on Earth? Week 43

And you thought your backyard was overgrown? This was one of three very different houses that a globe trotting Nobel Prize-winning poet maintained in his home country. Come back on Friday for the definitive answer.

Racking up Mullet-Miles

Love it or hate it, the erstwhile Mullet is the kind of haircut that’s hard to ignore, and now a mad Scotsman – unfortunately sans le Mullet – is making his way around the world to visit every place on the globe that’s got the word “mullet” as a place name.

He’s currently in New Zealand, visiting such out of the way places as Mullet Point and Mullet Creek. So far he’s racked up 12 Mullet-sites and is on track for a spectacular total of 29.

Truth be told, most of the Mullet-sites in New Zealand are probably named after the fish.

The haircut that time and taste forgot is unfortunately still pretty big down here, although nothing in comparison to the tonsorial tragedies you’re likely to uncover in Eastern Europe or in the southern states of the US.

Click here (if you’re brave enough) for shocking photographic evidence.

And click here to visit the website of Simon Varwell, mullet hunter extraordinaire.

Thanks to Mr Jaded on Flickr for the London Mullet

Why wait a year for your next New Year’s Eve?

How was New Year’s Eve in your neck of the woods?

If you were a little disappointed with how it turned out, don’t wait a full year before your next opportunity for end of year shenanigans. Just hop on a plane/train/taxi or chartered donkey and head overseas to intercept the coming of the new year in a different culture.

Chinese New Year kicks off on February 7 in 2008. Welcome to the Year of the Rat.

Around March 21, the Persian New Year or Nowruz is celebrated in Iran and across Central Asia. The traditional meal is Sabzi Polo Mahi, rice with green herbs and fish.

The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand celebrate Matariki or Maori New Year on June 5 2008. In the 21st century Matariki has been celebrated with renewed interest.

The Ethiopian New Year or Enkutatash falls on September 11. Because the Ethiopian calendar is seven years behind the western calendar, the Millennium was only celebrated in Ethiopia last year.

That’s by no means a definitive list. Let us know about other opportunities for celebrating the New Year in other cultures and countries.

Thanks to kenyaoa on Flickr for the pic of Times Square

Where have you spent Christmas overseas?

I’m spending Christmas in New Zealand with family this year, and Auckland’s weather has dawned fine so it promises to be a day of wearing shorts and flip-flops around the barbecue. For northern hemisphere readers that probably sounds pretty exotic, but down here it’s just what we’re used to.

More exotic have been a few other Christmases that I’ve spent on the road.

  1. In the Vietnamese port town of Nha Trang and attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the local Catholic cathedral – all the familiar carols like Silent Night but sung in Vietnamese
  2. In the Indian city of Panjim in Goa and being entertained on a karaoke disco riverboat cruise by scores of locals wearing fake Santa beards
  3. Christmas night in Penang in Malaysia, trying to find Fairytale of New York by The Pogues at a karaoke bar. The following morning we felt the earthquake that caused the Boxing Day tsunami and saw the wave roll into Penang’s beaches

What are your memories of Christmas in a foreign country?