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.
Prayer flags in Ghyaru, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana to Ngawal, Nepal

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Architecture & Design
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

When shipowners from Reykjavik bought the Seydisfjordur fishing fleet, the village had to adapt. Today, it captures Dieter Roth's art disciples and other bohemian and creative souls.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Australia Day, Perth, Australian Flag
Ceremonies and Festivities
Perth, Australia

Australia Day: In Honor of the Foundation, Mourning for Invasion

26/1 is a controversial date in Australia. While British settlers celebrate it with barbecues and lots of beer, Aborigines celebrate the fact that they haven't been completely wiped out.
Camel Racing, Desert Festival, Sam Sam Dunes, Rajasthan, India
Jaisalmer, India

There's a Feast in the Thar Desert

As soon as the short winter breaks, Jaisalmer indulges in parades, camel races, and turban and mustache competitions. Its walls, alleys and surrounding dunes take on more color than ever. During the three days of the event, natives and outsiders watch, dazzled, as the vast and inhospitable Thar finally shines through.
Obese resident of Tupola Tapaau, a small island in Western Samoa.
Tonga, Western Samoa, Polynesia

XXL Pacific

For centuries, the natives of the Polynesian islands subsisted on land and sea. Until the intrusion of colonial powers and the subsequent introduction of fatty pieces of meat, fast food and sugary drinks have spawned a plague of diabetes and obesity. Today, while much of Tonga's national GDP, Western Samoa and neighbors is wasted on these “western poisons”, fishermen barely manage to sell their fish.
Tabatô, Guinea Bissau, tabanca Mandingo musicians. Baidi
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

The Tabanca of Mandinga Poets Musicians

In 1870, a community of traveling Mandingo musicians settled next to the current city of Bafatá. From the Tabatô they founded, their culture and, in particular, their prodigious balaphonists, dazzle the world.
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.
The Toy Train story
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Cape Town, South Africa, Nelson Mandela
Cape Town, South Africa

In the End: the Cape

The crossing of Cabo das Tormentas, led by Bartolomeu Dias, transformed this almost southern tip of Africa into an unavoidable scale. And, over time, in Cape Town, one of the meeting points of civilizations and monumental cities on the face of the Earth.
Ribeira Grande, Santo Antao
Ribeira Grande, Santo AntãoCape Verde

Santo Antão, Up the Ribeira Grande

Originally a tiny village, Ribeira Grande followed the course of its history. It became the village, later the city. It has become an eccentric and unavoidable junction on the island of Santo Antão.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
bangka, lake kayangan, coron, busuanga, philippines
Coron, Busuanga, Philippines

The Secret but Sunken Japanese Armada

In World War II, a Japanese fleet failed to hide off Busuanga and was sunk by US planes. Today, its underwater wreckage attract thousands of divers.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Walvis Bay, Namibia, bay, dunes
Natural Parks
Walvis Bay, Namíbia

The Outstanding Shoreline of Walvis Bay

From Namibia's largest coastal city to the edge of the Namib Desert of Sandwich Harbour, there is an unrivaled domain of ocean, dunes, fog and wildlife. Since 1790, the fruitful Walvis Bay has been its gateway.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
UNESCO World Heritage
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
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.
Passage, Tanna, Vanuatu to the West, Meet the Natives
Tanna, Vanuatu

From where Vanuatu Conquered the Western World

The TV show “Meet the Native” took Tanna's tribal representatives to visit Britain and the USA Visiting their island, we realized why nothing excited them more than returning home.
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.
Replacement of light bulbs, Itaipu watt hydroelectric plant, Brazil, Paraguay
Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Power Plant, Brazil

Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Power Plant: Watt Fever

In 1974, thousands of Brazilians and Paraguayans flocked to the construction zone of the then largest dam in the world. 30 years after completion, Itaipu generates 90% of Paraguay's energy and 20% of Brazil's.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Howler Monkey, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tortuguero: From the Flooded Jungle to the Caribbean Sea

After two days of impasse due to torrential rain, we set out to discover the Tortuguero National Park. Channel after channel, we marvel at the natural richness and exuberance of this Costa Rican fluvial marine ecosystem.
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.