world holiday ornamentAs a fiction author I love to weave  unique cultural gems into the plot. Most of the time I draw on my own world travels and experiences living in Mexico and Central America.

In these Friday Fiesta posts I highlight cultural stories worth celebrating. The unique, the odd, the thought-provoking. Enjoy and share to make the world a little smaller today.

Join the Virtual Safari

National Geographic’s Andrew Evans is on the move again, this time on safari in Tanzania. He is documenting his trip with a series of blog posts, photographs and short videos, as well as tweeting his way through some tense moments with skittish wildlife. Evans is a great communicator, managing to keep us on the edge as he tweets his adventures. His longer blog posts provide more thought-provoking reports on conservation and the beauties of Africa. Follow him @WheresAndrew.

Let it snow

Images of the winter wonderland that is Zurich, Switzerland were featured on Anisha Shah’s website this week. The photos are beautiful, showing gentle blankets of snow tucked around iconic European motifs. The result is a Christmas feast for the eyes, a gentle, dreamy fairytale digital experience. Everybody who is looking forward to a snow-less holiday season, like me here in the tropics, should spend a moment savoring these images. I especially loved the swan amid the snowflakes.

Glasgow transformed

My perceptions of Glasgow, Scotland, have been shaped a little too firmly by Ian Rankin’s novels, which are set in the seemingly much-preferred Edinburgh, so I was intrigued by artist Claire Biddles’ article in the online edition of UK’s Guardian talking about the transformation of the city into a “culture city.” According to Biddles, “The role that artist-run spaces have had in Glasgow’s reinvention as a creative city cannot be underestimated, and as long as the artistic community continues to develop, this image will be sustained – attracting artists and art lovers alike to the city.” The article describes several of the art spaces in Glasgow, painting a picture (pun intended) of a vibrant and effective effort to enrich the city “culturally and economically.” Tourists and travelers take note; there’s more to Glasgow than ever before.

Films to Inspire

Roman Coppola, son of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, teamed with W Hotels to offer a film competition: screenwriters had to submit screenplays with two ingredients: location is a W Hotel and there’s an Intel Ultrabook somewhere in it. The winners produced four short films which were recently featured on the Gadling website. The films take place at W Hotels in Doha, Qatar; Mexico City, Mexico; Washington, DC; and the Maldives. The website said, “The results are quirky, touching, and sometimes eerie, but most of all great ways to inspire travel and help emerging talent get their feet off the ground.” I agree. With the help of sponsors like W Hotels and Intel, this is a great way to showcase locations, open doors to a new culture, and give wanna-be filmmakers a chance to do what they love!

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