Travelling within France nowadays

For the last two years, the pandemic has generated frustration among people all over the world. In a time where our planet suffers from global warming due to pollution, the question of travelling, especially during holidays, remains a burning issue. 

In France, most households are aware of the emergency, therefore question their own living styles. 

Owning a car has become a liability for many, due to the cost of maintenance, gas, parking spots, highway fees although some people see it as a means to escape and feel free from their daily routines. 

The general tendency is that people have voluntarily decided to opt for a more responsible way of travelling. 

First, travelling by train has become more accessible over the past few years, with attractive fees for a good seat, and the connection to many important cities. Yet, there is a lot to be improved in terms of connection, as most of the railways are centralised in Paris, as far as the bullet train (TGV) is concerned.

Smaller train lines also make it possible to easily access mountain resorts or seaside beaches. 

Then, carpooling, although quite commonplace for decades, enables those on a budget to go wherever, while enjoying the company of other passengers as well as their drivers : Blablacar, a company that developed in the early 2010s became one of the top traveling platforms for the French, which aim was to reduce traffic on the highways.

In big cities, it is now possible to ride one’s bike on cycling tracks, yet, the latter topic actually places France on an ambiguous place regarding its actual desires to cut out its carbon emissions – Taking the examples of Paris and Lyon, most roads with two driveways that were specifically designed for cars were recently transformed into cycling tracks, leaving only one driveway to cars, ambulances, firetrucks… 

Such transformations have significantly impacted the possibility to drive by bicycle, yet, it has increased carbon emissions, as such transformations led to more traffic jams in and out of the cities. It also made it more complicated for firemen and ambulances to cross these areas and act on time. 

For two years now, the French opt out for a more sustainable and responsible holiday scheme. Flying becoming more expensive with the price of gas and oil inflation, is now – for most – out of question. People have re-discovered France because of the travelling bans during the pandemic and they want to re-discover it still. 

It is no doubt that such a trend spread all over Europe. It all depends on the effects of the pandemic, the Ukrainian war and the inflation in the world’s economy. Indeed, it does mean people will stop flying, since looking at an interactive live flight map, the sky is crowded more than ever.

The concern that arises then is that for now, people abide by economical issues, but once it gets resolved, will people keep up with travelling responsibly?

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

The Descent: What is life

When entertaining questions of an existential quality, it often helps to look inward. You see, I love mountain biking; It is a rough sport that is both thrilling and dangerous. It can be horrible: Getting caught in the rain on a windy afternoon, or climbing a hill in extreme heat. There is so much struggle in it: choosing your line, wondering what is to come, riding it out when it gets rough, making hard decisions, and committing even when you get scared. It can also be beautiful: The birds in the mountains, the wind in the treetops from a 100 mile vista, or the relief felt when reaching the top of the mountain and riding down in an exciting blaze.

There are a thousand tiny thoughts and little moments contained in a single mountain biking trip, all of which reflect the human spirit. In these many moments there emerges a state of mind, where you forget about everything that isnt the next rock, root, or bend. Joy and pain melt away into nothing. The focus is so intense, you forget where you are, what you are doing, or that you are even alive

This state had been described as “flow.” When the million little moments and thoughts melt together into one, singular experience. In mountain biking, it’s desirable; To temporarily forget our problems, obligations, and the many things constantly on our minds can be a relief. It is a vacation from ourselves. Yet when it ends, we get off the bike and move on to the next experience.

In life, when the ride ends, it ends.

In these moments of “flow,” it’s clear that life is not what we want to believe it is. It is not our feelings, worries, hopes, dreams, or whatever else. When we step outside our emotions, we see that we are simply an object moving through space, going from one place to the next. Plants do not have feelings, worries, hopes, or dreams. They are bound by this yoke, the inexorable journey toward death. Bound to the truth of objects moving through space.

Yet this is our gift, to be able to experience our passage through space and time. It is also our curse, and in life our concern with small day-to-day inconveniences, fears, anxieties, hopes, etc, are very similar to the flow of mountain biking. We forget that we are all on a ride down the hill. We move through space, until one day we will move no more.

So while the message of my story is rather tired, it is important to remember that life is a ride down a mountain. We can choose to remain caught in the mindless descent, worried about things to come. Or we can choose to have a moment of clarity, and appreciate our lives for what they are.


It is known all over the world : most people consider it as a typical attribute attached to what defines a French. The baguette, an oblong piece of bread made up of flour, salt and yeast (or baking powder), is an essential product on a French table. It is generally eaten to accompany dishes with gravy, cheese or used as a base in street food, such as sandwiches. 

Most people don’t really know how this product was invented, even the French themselves, but three hypotheses, which are still debatable, could actually justify its existence.

The first possibility is that, an Austrian baker, in the 1830’s, brought his Viennese speciality from his home country to Paris. But critics say it is unlikely, as the baguette is not only soft from the inside like the Viennoiserie, but crispy and crusty on the outside.

The second possibility was that, during the Prussian War, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte would try to find a way to feed the soldiers, preventing them from carrying heavy rounded loaves of bread called “miches”, which used to be unpractical to carry and bring to the soldiers. Once more, such a justification did not seem to be completely accurate according to cooking critics Mr Loïc Bienassis and Mr Steven Kaplan. 

At last, the most possible explanation provided was that it was made while the Paris Metropolitan was being created and where local people from different reagions of France had to work together. These workers were equipped with knives to cut their food, but they were also used in many of their riots. Because of such an issue, the baguette was seen as a solution not to use knives while eating : people could cut it by hand. 

The baguette was in very high demand from people of all social backgrounds, and it became part of the three daily meals. 

With the confinement, lots of French people have explored many ways to make their own. Bakers use bread as a base to create a broad palette of various flavours to satisfy their hungry clients from all walks of life.

Written by Adélaïde Uppal

Note: This article was made with the use of reports from France Culture (gastronomy) and a report from France 2, released on January 23rd, 2021. 


Nada como perderse entre los estrechos callejones medievales del Barrio Gótico (Ciutat Vella en Catalán) una noche de verano cualquiera. Allí, entre pequeños balcones y senderos empedrados se contempla el pasado histórico de más de 2,000 años de la antigua ciudad de Barcelona o Barcino, en latín, como bien se le conocía cuando fue colonia del imperio romano. Como prueba de ello se encuentra La Vía Sepulcral Romana, una pequeña necrópolis al aire libre que forma parte del Museo de Historia de Barcelona, y que está ubicada en la Plaza de la Vila Madrid. A unos cuantos kilómetros de distancia, se erige oronda la Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia de Barcelona, la cual alberga en su interior un jardín con trece ocas blancas que según la leyenda simbolizan la purificación e inocencia de la patrona de Barcelona, Santa Eulalia, la edad en la que murió, y los trece martirios que le fueron impuestos por no renunciar a su fé cristiana. Los cimientos de este imponente edificio gótico fueron construidos sobre las ruinas de una basílica paleocristiana, de la cual aún se conservan algunas reliquias bajo tierra para el deleite de turistas y amantes de la arqueología. Hoy en día el Barrio Gótico alberga un sin fin de bares para poder disfrutar el sabor de un buen vermut, restaurantes internacionales, mercados y tiendas artesanales de talla mundial. Es un punto clave de la ciudad en el que convergen en perfecta armonía los vestigios del pasado con la multiculturalidad enérgica del presente.

Barcelona es sin duda una ciudad cosmopolita con más de un millón de habitantes, en un perímetro de 101.9 Km2,  que la hacen por excelencia un verdadero centro de intercambio cultural tanto en la península Ibérica como en el resto de Europa. Es así como marroquíes, paquistaníes, chinos, rusos, británicos, peruanos y franceses, entre muchos otros, conforman el perfil de los colectivos más numerosos de la ciudad, según las cifras actuales del Ayuntamiento de Barcelona y del Instituto Nacional de Estadística. El Raval es otro de los barrios más diversos e interesantes de esta ciudad polifacética. En él yace la iglesia y a la vez monasterio más antiguos de Barcelona, Sant Pau del Camp, que se remonta aproximadamente al año 980 y que en 1879 se le reconoció como Monumento Nacional por su valor histórico y riqueza arquitectónica. Otra perla cultural del Raval es el inconfundible mercado público de La Boqueria, un lugar perfecto que se puede acceder desde La Rambla, para degustar una gran variedad de platillos locales dispuestos a complacer a los paladares más exigentes. Con una ambiciosa selección que abarca desde frutas frescas, carnes, vegetales, mariscos, vino hasta nueces y dulces, La Boqueria es la prueba fehaciente de la versatilidad gastronómica propia de la cocina catalana y española. Tal es el caso de las mariscadas, el suquet de peix, esqueixada de bacallà, los chipirones a la andaluza, las patatas bravas y el jamón ibérico, entre otros tantos. 

Y es que no se puede seguir hablando de Barcelona sin tener que remontarnos una vez más a su legado cultural y arquitectónico, pues además cuenta con la basílica más alta del mundo católico que se haya construido jamás, La Sagrada Familia de Antonio Gaudí. Una obra de arte aún sin terminar, gran exponente del modernismo catalán y de la fusión orgánica entre el arte gótico y el Art Nouveau, que majestuosamente se impone sobre el paisaje urbano del barrio L’Eixample. Miles de turistas viajan cada año hasta Barcelona para apreciar el arte incomparable de esta obra arquitectónica y del genio artístico que fue y seguirá siendo Gaudí. La basílica tiene por fachada una serie de esculturas religiosas que relatan pasajes bíblicos específicos, desde el nacimiento de Jesús hasta su posterior crucifixión. Al interior, se simula un bosque custodiado por columnas colosales que emulan ser árboles iluminadas por múltiples vitrales que proyectan un prisma de colores otoñales sobre el ábside. Un lugar único que debe estar incluido en la lista de todo trotamundos al visitar Cataluña. El modernismo catalán de Gaudí también se encuentra entre los mosaicos de estructuras orgánicas y naturales del Park Güell, la Casa Batlló y la Casa Milà, más conocida como La Pedrera sobre el famoso Paseo de Gracia que conecta L’Eixample con la Plaza Cataluña, entre otras tantas joyas arquitectónicas que adornan la ciudad.

Pasemos ahora a hablar sobre los festivales y eventos culturales que se celebran cada año en Barcelona. Entre ellos se destaca el festival de Sant Jordi (San Jorge) que se realiza el 23 de abril y el cual es el equivalente al día de San Valentín pero con un toque más cultural porque también es el día mundial del libro que conmemora a dos grandes de la literatura universal, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra y William Shakespeare. Las calles de Barcelona se llenan de estantes cargados de libros y de rosas con moños de colores para que tanto parejas como amigos puedan intercambiar flores y literatura, en un acto simbólico de celebración al amor y la cultura.

La noche del 23 de junio se celebra la verbena de Sant Joan (San Juan) en donde se hacen celebraciones masivas al rededor de hogueras acompañadas por comparsas en donde diablos y bestias danzantes arrojan fuego por la boca mientras bailan y animan a los espectadores. La noche se cubre con bengalas por el brillo intenso de los fuegos pirotécnicos y las llamaradas ardientes de las fogatas. Una festividad que une a las comunidades locales e invita a los turistas a ser partícipes de un mismo sentimiento colectivo de festejo y alegría.

Estas celebraciones también se extienden hasta las playas de Barcelona, en donde la música, el fuego y la  amistad se funden con la serenidad del mar en medio de la noche. Quedan numerosos detalles por fuera de este artículo que solo pretende dar un ligero esbozo de lo que implica experimentar Barcelona a nivel cultural. Es una especie de abrebocas que pretende incitar la curiosidad de los viajeros para que incluyan a esta magnífica ciudad en sus travesías. Solo me bastaron unos cuantos meses para darme cuenta, desde mi experiencia personal, de que Barcelona es una ciudad que lo tiene todo y que añoro con ansias volver a vivir allí algún día. Por el momento me despido con el caluroso adéu de los catalanes, esperando compartir con ustedes más vivencias sobre viajes y cultura en un próximo artículo. 

Written by Carolina Camelo

DISILLUSIONMENT: US politics over the last twenty years

With the lowest voter turnout in twenty years in 2016, it is apparent that the people of the US have become disillusioned and apathetic towards politics. Owning undoubtedly to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness.

Despite the best intentions of many well meaning and intelligent Americans, those at the helm of government continue to act as embarassments for the people. Often creating a caricature of the US and its people, that does not accurately represent it by any standard.

The reasons for the current administration, the state of affairs, domestic, and foreign are overwhelmingly complex and entangled. There is no simple explanation. Some may say racism, while others say distrust for government; The truth defies such one dimensional analysis.

My aim in thereby is not to provide an explanation for any of these problems. Rather, explore some notable events over the last twenty years in the United States that could have influenced and helped create the current sense of hopelessness, distrust, and politcal depression.

Disillusionment typically refers to dissapointment upon the revelation that something is not as good as it was originally perceived. So to specify this into something more tangible, we will define it as the loss of trust, and the loss of enthusiasm. It is hard to quantify these terms exactly, however we can attempt. Voter turnout, approval ratings, and politcal participation are all good indicators.

Of course, no metric is perfect. Even if we had one, it might still lead us astray. Take for example George W. Bush and his approval ratings over the course of his two terms in office. When the United States was attacked on 9/11, following the Bush administration’s response, the presidential approval ratings spiked to 90%. Moreover, when the United States invaded Iraq his approval ratings saw another sharp spike up from around 58% to 70%. It is however, no secret that domestically and abroad, the Iraq War is viewed negatively. These approval ratings seem to be more the result of a wave of emotion, rather than a steadfast opinion or belief.

Given this fact, the following are some topical but notable events in US history that have undermined political enthusiasm and trust.

Starting with the event that would forever shape US foriegn and domestic security policy. In 2001, the world was shocked by the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York. The United States was reminded that it does not exist in a bubble. Thus began a period of American history with a much greater emphasis on security.

On a small scale, airports around the world will never be the same. On a large scale, the United States and many of its allies would engage in a type of warfare known as preventative warfare and became involved in foreign conflicts all over the world to prevent the rise of terrorism. This would change parts of the world forever.

In 2001 we would see the signing of No Child Left Behind, a notorious educational reform which sought to create a standardized metric of success (as decided and defined by each individual state.) This would in theory encourage schools to improve the quality of education. Among some of the theorized benefits were:

● Increases the quality of education by requiring schools to improve their performance
● Improves quality of instruction by requiring schools to implement “scientifically based research” practices in the classroom, parent involvement programs, and professional development activities for those students that are not encouraged or expected to attend college.
● Supports early literacy through the Early Reading First initiative.
● Emphasizes reading, language arts, mathematics and science achievement as “core academic subjects.”

What happened instead was widespread manipulation of test results and the reclassification of students to avoid unfavorable results in the eyes of the program. In a twist of fate, leaving many children behind, and seeing the loss of funding for schools across America. This left the general US public more discouraged in their own education system as a whole, as well as creating a generation of adults with a profound distrust and distaste for education in the US.

Still in 2001, the signing of the Patriot Act, which later would permit the NSA to create a monitoring system to spy on citizens in order to combat global terrorism.

In 2002, the US began Operation Enduring Freedom which saw widespread deployment of US troops and resources in Afghanistan, The Phillipines, The Horn of Africa, The Trans-Sahara, the Carribean and Central America, and Kyrgistan.

The Afghanistan war is sometimes known as the Forever war. To express a sentiment that the US will always be fighting there. It has been nineteen years and the war still carries on. All this contributes to what is known as “war-weariness.” Operation enduring freedom marks the beginning of the United States eventual disinterest and distaste for foreign intervention and war.

As of 2020, the estimated death toll in Afghanistan was 111,000 people. This is just the Afghan people, including soldiers, militants, and civilians. A number which weighs heavy on the people of the world. No doubt, even if an American doesnt know the number exactly, they feel it.

Continuing in 2002, another result of the war on terror, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistical Missile Treaty. A thirty year old treaty that restricted the signatory nations use of nuclear weapons/WOMD. A major reason for the withdrawal was to permit the United States to create a missile defense network to protect against attack from rogue states. The unintended, although arguably foreseeable consequence was the open[1] reignition of the Cold War. Evident by the fact that, after the US withdrew, Russia began growing and developing its nuclear weapons program to “counterbalance” the United States. All this opening an old wound and allowing old fear to flow again.

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom under the false pretense of chemical weapons, and weapons of mass destruction[2] . This would be an eight year long war, adding to the war-weariness already felt by the US population.

Jumping forward to 2008 the United States enters the recession, the effects of which are felt to this day. It is no mystery how economic hardship can affect the attitude and shape opinion for many years to come.

In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed that the US government and the 5 eyes[3] have been spying on its own citizens. Further engendering distrust in the government.

And the list goes on.

The list is also arbitrary. Though the point remains, each item has undeniably had its effect on the world. This is why many problems in the present defy simple explanations.

Although this oversight has been simplistic and reductive, it could help indicate why Americans feel the way they do. Why they would allow what has come to pass. Is it apathy? Is it spite? It’s hard to say. Yet the feeling on the ground is bleak. It is undeniable; there is an uncomfortable pointlessness in the air. As young men and women, we feel this pain.

Facing the coming elections, will we see the list of disappointments stretch into the foreseeable future?

Written by Rye Pankoski

1 It is believed that Russia had been developing destabilizing weapons for close to a decade, in violation of the treaty.
2 The United States did not invade Iraq for oil. This is a populous myth. Politcal theorists believe that the motivation for its invasion was a mixture of overthrowing the tyrannical and barbarous rule of Hussein, and installing a US friendly democracy in the middle east.
3 The five eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

1 Dean, Dwight G. (1965-01-01). “Powerlessness and Political Apathy”. Social Science . 40 (4): 208–213. JSTOR 41885108.
2 Cashman, Greg (2013). What Causes War?: An Introduction to Theories of International Conflict . Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 234–235. ISBN 0742566528.
3 Lee Rainie, Scott Keeter And Andrew Perrin. “Americans’ Trust in Government, Each Other, Leaders.” Pew Research Center – U.S. Politics & Policy , Pew Research Center, 18 Sept. 2020,
4 “Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council (FIORC)”.
5 “Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems”. Bureau of Arms Control . United States Department of State. 26 May 1972.
6 “OEF | Afghanistan | Fatalities By Month”. iCasualties. 2010-05-28. Archived from the original on 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
7 Crawford, Neta (August 2016). “Update on the Human Costs of War for Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001 to mid-2016” (PDF).
8 “About DHS”. Homeland Security. June 29, 2016.
9 Public Law Pub.L. 107–56
10 The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (The No Child Left Behind Act of 2004)


 As we enter Autumn and the cold season, cheese is a star among ingredients. French people enjoy sharing an evening with friends having a “raclette” (a dish in which people use a machine to melt cheese before pouring it onto meats and vegetables in their plates), or “tartiflette” (a dish in which the main ingredients are potatoes, bacon, cream, onions and reblochon cheese), or “Fondue Savoyarde” (a delicacy that involves melted cheese in a pot with garlic and white wine mixed up, that you eat with a piece of bread on a special fork). Along with such dishes, a nice bottle of red wine must be associated to red meat dishes, while white wines are to be served with chicken or fish dishes. Chocolate in all forms is much enjoyed, be it a “fondant au chocolat“, or a mousse, or if not chocolate, apple or pear pies delicately end the festivities up. 

Written by Adélaïde Uppal


Related post: KoKo’s Mexico Photo Gallery

YouTube by Keisuke Hirasawa (365 days of KeisukeJapon)
Introduction by Takeshi Inagawa

Our new member, Keisuke Hirasawa, has a YouTube Channel “365 days of KeisukeJapon” containing Drone aerial shooting and 4K high-definision movies. Below we posted five movies from Latin America: Nicaragua, Cuba and Bolivia.

YouTube Channel 365 days of KeisukeJapon:

YouTube: Patrimonio Mundial “Catedral de León” – World Heritage (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: Zoológico Nacional De Nicaragua (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: Lago de Lava, Volcán Masaya – vol.1 – (1080/60p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: CUBA Trip – Musica de CUBA “Chan Chan” from Buena Vista Social Club (720/30p)
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon
YouTube: BOLIVIA РPapa Chu̱o
Copyright © 365 days of KeisukeJapon

🇲🇽 KoKo’s Mexico Photo Gallery

Related post: Latin America’s YouTube Channel

Photo by Kotomi Kobayashi
Introducion by Takeshi Inagawa

A friend of mine, Kotomi Kobayashi (KoKo) – the owner of KoKo Hair Design in Mexico City, posted a photo gallery below to introduce Mexico’s beautiful nature and culture. We are Yoga friends, while she is a strict vegetarian and turnes her beauty salon into an organic and sustainable business. As a mother of three kids, she teaches them how to be environment-friendly and susutainable in their daily lives. Later she will post photos from Oaxaca, the center of Aztec tradition along outstanding landscapes.