Valdez, Alaska

On the Black Gold Route

ice tunnel
Marco C. Pereira inside an iceberg of Glacier Valdez.
Meares glacier
The Meares glacier behind a forested meander.
Prince William Sound
Prince William Sound coniferous forests.
Sea lions
Sea lions on the shore of a fjord near Valdez.
Mini Alaska
Tiny islet in the vicinity of Valdez.
Stern talk
Passengers chat and contemplate the grandiose backdrops of Prince William Sound.
of escape
Puffin flees from the sudden approach of a vessel.
Port of Valdez
Vessels in the port of Valdez
under the blue
Asian travelers maneuver a kayak under an ice tunnel of the Valdez glacier.
summer ice
Ice fragments in the vicinity of the Meares glacier.
anticipation play
Young passenger holds a stuffed sea lion, shortly after spotting several colonies of these animals in earnest.
Lu Lu Belle
A boat leaves the port of Valdez to show visitors to the region the extreme scenery of Prince William Sound.
frigid alaska
Small icebergs released by the huge Columbia Glacier, possibly similar to those that caused the break in "Exxon Valdez".
Explorer friends prepare to kayak in a lake fed by the Valdez glacier.
oil terminal
Tanks at the Valdez oil terminal, safe from tsunamis.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker caused a massive environmental disaster. The vessel stopped plying the seas, but the victim city that gave it its name continues on the path of crude oil from the Arctic Ocean.

Rainier personifies and stars in genuine Alaskan life, so complex and open that it leaves no room for criticism or repair.

He comes to meet us at the port of Valdez, on a workday that is more troublesome than the rest.

“Chinese's son of a bitch, vent shamelessly.” Just today, I had to put up with that”. "The boyfriend left him and now he looks like an out-of-control child who's been taken away from all the toys."

Gerry laughs quietly. He tries to calm her down: “It's okay dear. You don't have to go back there anymore today”. And they kiss for the fiftieth time.

We followed Rainier's jeep to a trailer parked in a trailer park near the local airport. Upon arrival, he informs us without ceremony: “It's here. I live in a villa with my husband.

Port Valdez, Ships, Boats, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

Vessels in the port of Valdez

Rainier, Gerry and Chris: Valdez's Fascinating Trio-Amoroso:

This trailer, I use it to be with Gerry.” "Feel free. I'll be right back. I have to go tell Chris they're already here. He is full of desire to meet you.”

Gerry is a distributor and salesperson for the Dr. Pepper brand of soft drinks, Chris is one of those responsible for the security of Alyesca Pipeline, the company that operates the pipeline that brings Alaskan oil from the distant Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Alaska.

Only Rainier and Valdez have in common. Gerry was once a co-worker at Pepe's bar, a greedy and ill-regarded Spaniard with shady deals that would shine in any Almodovar movie. Gerry is the current boyfriend. Chris is Rainier's unofficially separated husband and father to Forest, their daughter.

Conversation leads to conversation, the prosperity of Valdez, granted by the black gold of the Alaska Sea, comes to the fore. Rainier responds motivated to impress us.

“Well, if that arouses your curiosity, even more interesting you will find my ex-husband. He knows almost everything about Alaskan oil.”

We continue the meal on the trailer with enthusiasm until the good-natured Chris appears with dried salmon, pieces of moose and seal, these, soaked in their fat, in addition to different sweets of wild fruits, thus renewing the relationship in the way of the ancestors.

Inupiaq Roots and Chris's Anti-Eskimo Testimonies

We tasted the delicacies and admired some of their sculptures in baculum penile bones of seals, walruses and male sea lions (oosik in various native dialects).

Ice Tunnel, Iceberg, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA

Marco C. Pereira inside an iceberg of Glacier Valdez.

Chris explains to us its unlikely Hellenic-Inupiaq origin and the ethnic logics of Alaska: as, as a rule, the Athabaskan ethnic group – dispersed throughout the south of the territory and over most of the country. Lower 48 – is the one that the “true” Alaskan Indians are most squeamish about.

As the term Eskimo makes no sense to either your Inupiaq ethnic group or any other. Then the conversation changes course. Chris has a twin brother, Joe, who is considered the Top Cop of Alaska, the subject of reports in major local publications.

Oil Prosperity Guaranteed by Alyeska Pipelines

He, in turn, has long worked for the Alyeska Pipelines Service Company, a company in the multimillion-dollar Alyeska consortium (big land, in the archaic Aleut dialect) formed by the companies that own the Trans-Alaska pipeline system that explore and market the oil of the 49th US state.

Valdez Oil Terminal, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA

Tanks at the Valdez oil terminal, safe from tsunamis.

“One of the main conditions for the native authorities to authorize the construction of the conduit system on their lands was a certain quota of indigenous employees in the service. I am just one of many.

I reached a high position and earn well (he confesses to us that an average of $120.000 a year) but I have a responsibility to match.

The Latent Threat of Conduct at Alyeska Pipelines

The pipeline is 1300km long. When they're not frustrated owners, they're irrational, radical environmentalists or some kind of nutcase. There's always someone interested in damaging or sabotaging that pipe.” From what he adds, we learn that Yankee paranoia has spread to the farthest reaches of the nation and contributes to a permanent state of turmoil.

”On 11 September 2011, it was spread throughout Valdez that the terrorists were going to crash one of the last hijacked planes on the city's reservoirs or pipeline. It was agony live until everyone landed.”

At the time, the small town came out unscathed. In 1989, he was not so lucky. The calamity of that time came from the sea.

Three years earlier, the National Steel and Shipbuilding company of San Diego, California had built two twin ships with disparate histories. The USNS Mercy was adopted as a hospital ship by the Red Cross for the purpose of assisting humanitarian missions all over the world.

The Exxon Valdez would be scheduled to secure the transportation of crude between Alaska and California. As the name on the keel suggested, Valdez would be one of the two mandatory stops on the routes.

Upon completion of the crude oil exploration project off the north coast of Alaska, the conclusion was confirmed that the ice there would impede a smooth and safe flow of oil tankers, no matter how strong.

Columbia Glacier, Icebergs, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

Small icebergs released by the huge Columbia Glacier, possibly similar to those that caused the break in “Exxon Valdez”.

The alternative was to build a pipeline to cross all of Alaska from north to south and find, at a lower latitude, a port free of compact ice. Sheltered in one of the various fjords of the Prince William Sound, Valdez proved to be the chosen location to host this terminal and the current 18 tanks.

The economy of the city, like that of the state, accelerated at the pace of fuel transport carried out by an average of 3 to 5 tankers per week. He would become a victim of negligence.

Exxon Valdez's Announced Environmental Disaster

On March 23, at 9.12 pm, the Exxon Valdez set sail for a refinery in Long Beach. A port pilot guided him through the Valdez straits before returning the maneuvers to the captain.

This diverted the tanker from the normal shipping lane to avoid icebergs floating off the Columbia Glacier.

Meares Glacier, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

The Meares glacier behind a forested meander.

Shortly thereafter, he handed over the commands to two other crew members who were in charge of the bridge. It is said that, by mistake, the boat was put on autopilot. Soon after, the commander obtained a new authorization to reject the exit lane – still obstructed by floating ice – and remain in the entrance lane.

At 12.04 am on March 24, the Exxon Valdez was on an erroneous course and collided with Bligh Reef. The vessel's hull was simple rather than reinforced, and it did not hold up.

Much thanks to the late response of the Exxon company – which infuriated the local population and environmentalists in general – it spilled and spread through the fjords and canals of the Prince William Sound and over 2000km, a minimum of 41 million of the 200 million of liters on board, in what was considered the biggest ecological disaster recorded in Alaska.

Prince William Sound and Alaska Ecosystem Damage

The impact on nature proved brutal. Thousands of animals lost their lives: between 250.000 and 500.000 seabirds, more than 1000 otters, 300 seals, 250 ospreys and 22 orcas not to mention the billions of salmon and herring eggs then deposited in the waters and the plankton that was the base of the region's food chain.

Valdez, most of the towns in the Prince William Sound and Alaska in general suffered and saw the lives of its affected populations to varying degrees. A few years later, the area seemed to have recovered, at least on the surface as much crude oil remains as polluting underground sediment from the coast and seabed.

Sea Lions, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

Sea lions on the shore of a fjord near Valdez.

Rainier and Chris were co-workers, raising their newborn daughter Forest, and thriving.

Like Meares, one of several shipping companies that allow us to take the final fateful journey of Exxon Valdez to the sound of a narrative of tragedy and be dazzled by the “responsible” glacier Columbia, with others imposing glaciers and icebergs and competing natural wonders nearby.

Despite the lasting environmental scars, the recovery benefited the entire city. Soon, many thousands of liters of crude would pass through Valdez again.

And tourists like Henry Kissinger or King Olav V of Norway, the most famous participants of excursions who visited the curious or emblematic points of the conduct.

Prince William Sound Forest Coniferas Black Gold Route Valdez Alaska USA

Prince William Sound coniferous forests.

Alaska Indigenous Social and Economic Bi-Polarity

These are the looks in which Alaskan Indians grow up, who, as Rainier summarized, fall into two classes: those who manage to study and be employed by Alyesca Pipeline (like Chris).

And those who can't and indulge in alcohol, or at best, undergo the arduous life provided by fishing and fish processing companies like Peter Pan Seafoods that employ hundreds of Sugpiacs, Yupiks, Tananas, Haidas and the “ rivals” from the Lower 48, the Athabascans.

The Valdez and Prince William Sound region has fully recovered from the environmental trauma.

Puffin, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

Puffin flees from the sudden approach of a vessel.

It attracts more visitors than ever, as soon as the summer starts, thousands of other seasonal workers join the permanent workers who, for three months, make the city's businesses work.

The Valdez Summer Refuge to Immigrants from all over the world

We find, in Valdez, Turks, Russians, Polynesians from Tonga e Samoa and, of course, younger or poorer Americans who migrate from Oregon, Washington, Montana, from the two Dakotas and even from Northern California, attracted by the big bucks, little or nothing taxed.

With all legal disputes over, the parent company, Exxon, paid more than 600 million euros in damages. Exxon Valdez, that one, was banned from returning to the vicinity.

After the repairs, it changed its name and areas of action several times.

In 2010, already in Asia, called Dong Fang Ocean and registered in Panama, it collided in the South China Sea with a Maltese freighter. Both ships were heavily damaged.

Last March, it was bought for scrap and, after a complex court battle, ended up on the muddy beaches of Gujarat (Indian region) to be dismantled in the surreal shipyard of Alang, already under the somewhat euphemistic name of Oriental Nicety.

Boat, Prince William Sound, Black Gold Route, Valdez, Alaska, USA.

A boat leaves the port of Valdez to show visitors to the region the extreme scenery of Prince William Sound.

Rainier and Chris' relationship also sailed through rough waters and ended up sinking under numerous marital hardships. It has been re-established in a mysterious and dynamic triptych version.

For the time being, he enjoys a calm that allows the two of them to coexist with Jerry.

It's up to time to decide the course of their lives in Alaska, like Valdez's lucrative but shaky future.

Key West, USA

The Tropical Wild West of the USA

We've come to the end of the Overseas Highway and the ultimate stronghold of propagandism Florida Keys. The continental United States here they surrender to a dazzling turquoise emerald marine vastness. And to a southern reverie fueled by a kind of Caribbean spell.
Ketchikan, Alaska

Here begins Alaska

The reality goes unnoticed in most of the world, but there are two Alaskas. In urban terms, the state is inaugurated in the south of its hidden frying pan handle, a strip of land separated from the contiguous USA along the west coast of Canada. Ketchikan, is the southernmost of Alaskan cities, its Rain Capital and the Salmon Capital of the World.
Anchorage to Homer, USA

Journey to the End of the Alaskan Road

If Anchorage became the great city of the 49th US state, Homer, 350km away, is its most famous dead end. Veterans of these parts consider this strange tongue of land sacred ground. They also venerate the fact that, from there, they cannot continue anywhere.
Mount Denali, Alaska

The Sacred Ceiling of North America

The Athabascan Indians called him Denali, or the Great, and they revered his haughtiness. This stunning mountain has aroused the greed of climbers and a long succession of record-breaking climbs.

icy blue planet

They form at high latitudes and/or altitudes. In Alaska or New Zealand, Argentina or Chile, rivers of ice are always stunning visions of an Earth as frigid as it is inhospitable.
sitka, Alaska

Sitka: Journey through a once Russian Alaska

In 1867, Tsar Alexander II had to sell Russian Alaska to the United States. In the small town of Sitka, we find the Russian legacy but also the Tlingit natives who fought them.
Juneau, Alaska

The Little Capital of Greater Alaska

From June to August, Juneau disappears behind cruise ships that dock at its dockside. Even so, it is in this small capital that the fate of the 49th American state is decided.
Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna's Alaska-Style Life

Once a mere mining outpost, Talkeetna rejuvenated in 1950 to serve Mt. McKinley climbers. The town is by far the most alternative and most captivating town between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Prince William Sound, Alaska

Journey through a Glacial Alaska

Nestled against the Chugach Mountains, Prince William Sound is home to some of Alaska's stunning scenery. Neither powerful earthquakes nor a devastating oil spill affected its natural splendor.
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Bertie in jalopy, Napier, New Zealand
Architecture & Design
Napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s

Devastated by an earthquake, Napier was rebuilt in an almost ground-floor Art Deco and lives pretending to stop in the Thirties. Its visitors surrender to the Great Gatsby atmosphere that the city enacts.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Naghol: Bungee Jumping without Modern Touches

At Pentecost, in their late teens, young people launch themselves from a tower with only lianas tied to their ankles. Bungee cords and harnesses are inappropriate fussiness from initiation to adulthood.
patpong, go go bar, bangkok, one thousand and one nights, thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

One Thousand and One Lost Nights

In 1984, Murray Head sang the nighttime magic and bipolarity of the Thai capital in "One night in bangkok". Several years, coups d'etat, and demonstrations later, Bangkok remains sleepless.
young saleswoman, nation, bread, uzbekistan
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
Gothic couple

Matarraña to Alcanar, Spain (España)

A Medieval Spain

Traveling through the lands of Aragon and Valencia, we come across towers and detached battlements of houses that fill the slopes. Mile after kilometer, these visions prove to be as anachronistic as they are fascinating.

Swimming, Western Australia, Aussie Style, Sun rising in the eyes
Busselton, Australia

2000 meters in Aussie Style

In 1853, Busselton was equipped with one of the longest pontoons in the world. World. When the structure collapsed, the residents decided to turn the problem around. Since 1996 they have been doing it every year. Swimming.
Bark Europa, Beagle Channel, Evolution, Darwin, Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego
Beagle Channel, Argentina

Darwin and the Beagle Channel: on the Theory of the Evolution Route

In 1833, Charles Darwin sailed aboard the "Beagle" through the channels of Tierra del Fuego. His passage through these southern confines shaped the revolutionary theory he formulated of the Earth and its species
Christmas scene, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Shillong, India

A Christmas Selfiestan at an India Christian Stronghold

December arrives. With a largely Christian population, the state of Meghalaya synchronizes its Nativity with that of the West and clashes with the overcrowded Hindu and Muslim subcontinent. Shillong, the capital, shines with faith, happiness, jingle bells and bright lighting. To dazzle Indian holidaymakers from other parts and creeds.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
scarlet summer

Valencia to Xativa, Spain (España)

Across Iberia

Leaving aside the modernity of Valencia, we explore the natural and historical settings that the "community" shares with the Mediterranean. The more we travel, the more its bright life seduces us.

Moorea aerial view
Moorea, French Polynesia

The Polynesian Sister Any Island Would Like to Have

A mere 17km from Tahiti, Moorea does not have a single city and is home to a tenth of its inhabitants. Tahitians have long watched the sun go down and transform the island next door into a misty silhouette, only to return to its exuberant colors and shapes hours later. For those who visit these remote parts of the Pacific, getting to know Moorea is a double privilege.
ala juumajarvi lake, oulanka national park, finland
Winter White
Kuusamo ao PN Oulanka, Finland

Under the Arctic's Icy Spell

We are at 66º North and at the gates of Lapland. In these parts, the white landscape belongs to everyone and to no one like the snow-covered trees, the atrocious cold and the endless night.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Monteverde, Costa Rica, Quakers, Bosque Nuboso Biological Reserve, hikers
Natural Parks
Monteverde, Costa Rica

The Ecological Refuge the Quakers Bequeathed the World

Disillusioned with the US military propensity, a group of 44 Quakers migrated to Costa Rica, the nation that had abolished the army. Farmers, cattle raisers, became conservationists. They made possible one of the most revered natural strongholds in Central America.
Women at Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan, India.
UNESCO World Heritage
Jaisalmer, India

The Life Withstanding in the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer

The Jaisalmer fortress was erected from 1156 onwards by order of Rawal Jaisal, ruler of a powerful clan from the now Indian reaches of the Thar Desert. More than eight centuries later, despite continued pressure from tourism, they share the vast and intricate interior of the last of India's inhabited forts, almost four thousand descendants of the original inhabitants.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.
Cable car connecting Puerto Plata to the top of PN Isabel de Torres
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Home Silver

Puerto Plata resulted from the abandonment of La Isabela, the second attempt at a Hispanic colony in the Americas. Almost half a millennium after Columbus's landing, it inaugurated the nation's inexorable tourist phenomenon. In a lightning passage through the province, we see how the sea, the mountains, the people and the Caribbean sun keep it shining.
Ice cream, Moriones Festival, Marinduque, Philippines
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.