Sky Is The Limit – A Dream Ride Salar de Uyuni

When I was a kid, I remember looking through a plane window and wishing so strongly that I could just go and run in those puffy clouds. The idea seemed very feasible. Well, it never happened, and I got used to the thought that sky was the limit, which meant that there was no way on earth to reach to the sky. Yet nature astonished me again. There was a 6,500 miles stretch of salt flats in Bolivia called Salar de Uyuni.

Sky Is The Limit
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Few times a year during the rainy season, small amounts of water flood the plain, making it the world’s most perfect mirror. In fact, so perfect that NASA uses its surface to calibrate satellite orbits.

Chasing the Pink
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Looking through endless photos, where this amazing natural phenomenon made it appear like people were floating effortlessly in between the clouds, made me remember my childhood airplane dreaming. But also, it reminded me of that feeling on the bicycle, when you are going for a long ride and completely zone out at some point. It seems, sometimes, that the surrounding scenery blends altogether and all you see is the sky and a road that disappears in a skyline.

Yaroslav Popovytch in the Pink Desert
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Then, I imagined a dream ride in Salar de Uyuni. The whole peloton that only knows one way: straight ahead. The concept of a dream, that became an obsessive idea, over which one loses sleep, visually combined road cycling and the Bolivian salt flat phenomenon in my head.

img_6463

I created a series of paintings that depicted that imaginary race. To sum up the project, I am currently planning to go to Bolivia to cross the desert on my road bike and film the experience. The idea is to prove that even the sky is no limit. I will also do a live painting session in Salar de Uyuni and make a final presentation with an artist talk and discussion back in the US.

To see more art check out my Portfolio and follow me on Instagram: @Createdbymasha!

Cheers!

Masha

In Search Of The Earnings

“I need one more dollar.” Says a seven-year old boy.

“How much?” Asks him his grandmother.

“Just one more dollar.”

“Do you know what you have to give, in return?” Grandmother asks, then approaches her chick to the boy. He hesitates, bashfully.

“How much do you want it [a dollar]?”

The kid quickly gives a kiss and runs away holding the earned money towards the Italian Ice truck.

Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC.

Socialists continuously blamed capitalism for the entrepreneurial approach to life, and materialistic morality of the capitalists. However, regardless of the forms of payment and chosen priorities, everything has its price. This statement has been so often argued. Since the I millennium BC the exchange relationships have been turned into the trade, with the invention of money. International trade practices lead to the establishment of the banking system. Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC with its silver coins, that were quickly overpowering all the other Mediterranean currencies. In fact, accessibility via trade paths became a “match point” of a country’s prosperity. Between now and then, the only difference in the trade relationships is its ethics. With the progression of the mankind, the society has definitely gained humanity. One is no longer owned by another person (like during the slavery times). One is no longer obliged to work, and can not be imprisoned for the refusal to find a job (like in the USSR society).

However, we ended up in the prison of our own expectations and indulgences, attached to the socially globalized systems. The world’s progress is undoubtedly drastic. Especially with the contemporary physics, technology, and anatomical studies. It’s absolutely beautiful. Yet, while one is expecting the soon-to-be-delivered lab-grown, 3D-printed knee for the more and more affordable high-end surgery; another one is still struggling to provide food for the family. Juggling between the casual employment and hustling locally. Many decide to go abroad in search of the earnings.

Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for.

The two legal options are: immigration and temporary working (contractor’s) visas. Now, there is a vast difference not only for the person applying for the change of status (or visa), but also for the hosting country. In the first case, in addition to the extra competition, created on the job market and taken advantage of the social benefits, the country also gains a new citizen, that is seeking to assimilate, pay taxes, spend money on the local economy and hopefully contribute to the country’s prosperity. In the second case, the strict immigration policy in the majority of the developed countries, however, forces the people, seeking the earnings internationally, to apply for a temporary worker visa (or in many cases, when the legal process is still not accomplishable, due to the fees and background checking, – to try to cross the border illegally, risking their lives). A legal temporary worker is very welcomed both by the corporations and the government. Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for. On the contrary side, these allows the manufacturers to keep the minimum workers’ wage so low, due to the demand on it from the out-of-state workers. As a result, it takes the jobs from the potential local workers. Certainly, this is arguable in terms of the free market economy.

The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015.

In addition to this, the temporary workers create the huge cash outflow. After paying the lodging (which is usually very low, due to the sharing practices, where up to six people live in one room) and transportation expenses, the majority of the earnings is an immigrant remittance. One would be surprised by the dedication of such workers. Committed to providing for their children’s food and education, or saving money to start their own business back at home, the temporary workers would work from dusk till dawn, seven days a week, and won’t spend an extra cent on their own needs. These includes Latin American workers in the US and Eastern European (including my home-country Ukraine) workers in the both EU and US. The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015. According to the Pew Research Center survey: immigrants to Canada (mostly temporary foreign workers) send billion dollars per capita in remittances out of Canada. The top countries receiving Canadian remittances are: China (which receives $3.9 billion), India ($3.5 billion) and the Philippines ($2 billion). An estimated 582 billion U.S. dollars was sent by the contractors of the foreign origin from the USA to relatives in their home countries in 2015 (according to the Pew Research Center).

These contractors will choose the outrageous working conditions and separation from their families over the unemployment in their home countries. As long as the inflow of the foreign workers is legally processed (or at least looks legally enough), this system seems to satisfy the corporations and hence gets out of the hosting country’s governmental control. The point is, it keeps the production costs low, and selling prices competitive. Objectively, though, these kind of contract jobs are no different from the feudalism in the Middle Ages. The ultimate argument is: “They have an option to stay in the countries of their origin. Consider the pre-unions times in the industrial USA. Or the post war UK. Workers including children had to work on the factories and in the coal mines with no regulated work hours, or wages. And while at that time it was a rather necessity, due to the economical post war crisis; in the contemporary world it seems to simply be the toll to the global competition.

Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped.

While on one hand, there are rapidly increasing board closures (including Brexit; and the promises to build the wall on the South, between the US and Mexico, of the currently running for the US presidency, candidate Donald Trump), on the other hand, I run over more and more friends, who are already abroad or considering to be there soon. All seeking the earnings and simply better opportunities. Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped. They are young, know foreign languages, are proficient in modern technologies. Even though they might consider themselves the global citizens, in the end of the day it means you have no home. Foreigner both abroad and in your country of origin. Most of them look happy regardless. They say, as long as you know, what do you want. But when do you, truly?

These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part II)

Continuing the list (These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part I)), that so much aspires me make every new step… I just wanted to add that right after finishing the yesterday’s post on Iceland, I read an article on Werner Herzog’s film (that he shot last year in Iceland) Into The Inferno. It tells a story of a volcano eruption, braided into the local mythology. Its presence in Cannes and a notoriety of Herzog to be an exquisite romantic, makes The Inferno another must see.

Thinking back to the point I stopped the list makes all the dreams and pictures arise again. It is, as usual so close, yet so far. Just as far as a the airport. The next one is very special to me:

bison

Montana, USA

I remember I was 14. I was studying in the art school for teens in Kyiv, dreaming of establishing a sanctuary for wolves and becoming a movie director. Most of my friends lived in the neighborhood within walking distance. So I walked. I came to see my friend Ksusha. She was at home in her prolonged bedroom, at the far right corner of the apartment, her family lived at. A lot of defining moments of my life somehow happened there. She was reading a book, that I unfortunately can not remember. We decided to play a game, that was quite common for kids. You ask a question, open a book randomly, read a random passage. This was supposed to be an answer to your question. Usually, one would rather make up the connection between the actually words and the question, just keep it fun. Making text fit the question is quite easy. These time it was different enough to give me shivers. I remember asking a very cheesy question: “Where will I find happiness?”. The lines of the book said straight and clear: go buy the tickets, get on the plane and fly to Montana, USA. I wish I could quote. It was the end of the chapter. My friend and I got silent. No words needed.

Terry Badlands in Montana

I haven’t been to Montana yet. It almost feels like a reserve. In case, it got too unbearable – I would still have a dream to pursue and a place I was promised to find happiness.

Billings,_Montana_the_Yellowstone_River

Beautiful Downtown Neihart, MontanaMission_Mountains_National_Bison_Range_Montana

Montana is on the far north of the US. It shares a great national reserve with Wyoming and   Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500 sq. mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Montana is also a state, that is famous for its snowboarding. But mostly, it is a secluded place where vast territories make the size a very diluted extension. The Summer is short and the winter is longer, than in most parts of the US. The film Revenant was partly shot there. The movie production team noted, though, the unusually high temperatures and lack of snow that year. Hopefully Montana is still there when I need it. And hopefully that happiness is not covered in snow.

Another place to definitely be at is:

Norway

Oslo – the city of Edvard Munch, who painted the pre XX century icon Scream. Oslo is the capital of Norway, one of the most expensive and happiest countries in the world. If you don’t earn locally, a $20 pint of beer might be a bit too feisty. I can still remember the camping zones of Scandinavian football fans in Kyiv, Ukraine during UEFA Euro 2012. Hypnotized by the $1-2 for a half litter bottled beers, Swedish were countless times noticed by the grocery stores, dragging them by blocks. That followed the articles, that Swedish consumed all of the beer researves at the fan zones.

article-2159825-139FCE5F000005DC-485_634x422

Norway is also a very environmental friendly country. It reported to be moving towards banning the gas-burning cars by 2025. Great hiking. Plenty time to commit to it even for a full-time worker. Looks like a dream, on paper, at least to me.

Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Bergen_Sandviken,_Norway_at_night
Bergen Sandviken, Norway

norway-geirangerNorthern Lights near Tromsø, Norway

So far I only had a chance to visit Finland. It was a rather harsh experience. Granted I was pretty young kid. I remember a hotel that was promised to be right outside of Helsinki. Around an hour drive along the forest, in reality. I remember arriving on Sun just to realize, that nothing is open in Finland on Sundays, including the hotel reception. We found the keys in the mail box, along with a notion that we were the only visitors so far. After a few hours of struggle to find some signs of civilization, lost-in-translation issues, and false hopes to walk to a nearby town center, we managed to call a taxi. It took us to the only, still open bar. They obviously had no food, but alcohol and tea with sugar. A small gas station shop, with its heavenly cookies, was a save-of-the-day. As our further pre-travel research skill developed over time, this trip to Finland, I will never forget. There was the most gorgeous lake right in front of the hotel, surrounded with trees, bigger, than I could grasp. And that also was Finland.

Trollstigen Mountain Road in Norway
As I am watching today’s stage of Tour de France, the look at this photo makes me want to cycle there just too bad.

Lysebotn, Norway

There is much of the useful information for the future travelers, that made me very curious.

Norway landscapenorway

These places are the reason I wake up (part I)

It appears that I accumulated a solid amount of places, that are an absolute must see, while I was thinking on the bucket list. Their absolute beauty makes me ecstatic and motivates everyday to actually get out of bed, and do something, that can bring me closer to any of them. Here is just a few:

14863560864_602e1efcc6_b

Bolivia

I couldn’t recall what linked me to the country, but it’s picture of the sky reflected in the rainfall-covered desert was deeply curved in my imagination. I read about Salar de Uyuni. It is the world’s biggest salt flat. And just a few times a year, during the rain season in Bolivia, it gets covered by a few inches of water. This makes it the most perfect mirror on Earth. Scientists use it for the satellite calibration. While the local people enjoy its natural salt resources and tourist attraction, as their string to income.

I imagined the surrealism of the place. The infinity. I am obsessed with cycling. The road and the two wheels make me never want to stop, and so I often come back home exhausted and completely happy, laying on the cool floor right next to the dusted bike. I imagine cycling through that salt flat in Bolivia. I imagined the whole cycling competition there, like Tour de France or Giro. The never-ending snake of the peloton. How fascinating that would be? I painted it over and over again. And hope to experience it soon in the real life. If not a race,at least as my own challenge.

 

Chasing The Pink
Chasing The Pink 
Sky is The Limit
The Pink
Flat Tire In The Pink Desert
In the Pink Desert
Almost Emptiness
When Mountings Became Flat 2015
 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Iceland

I saw Iceland many times from the plane, during those hideous transcontinental flights. I saw it in one of my favorite movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. My friend  found a great reason to go to Iceland: Secret Solstice. It is a music festival, held in Reykjavík over the course of three days in the 24 hour midnight sun during the summer solstice. Iceland also seems to be a thrilling place to see Northern lights. I read a very picturesque description of how to accomplish it the best, in the blog, that was featured on CNN eventually.

Iceland Northern Lightsholidaysempire-laguna-blu-islanda-fly-and-driveIceland1

Iceland was very well described by William Morris:

…on Thursday morning about three Magniisson called me up to see Iceland I think I told you we were to go to Berufirth in the east first of all and we were just at the entrance to it now it is no use trying to describe it but it was quite up to my utmost expectations as to strangeness it is just like nothing else in the world it was a wild morning too very black out to sea and very bright sun under a sort of black canopy over Iceland. (William Morris: Journals of travel in Iceland. 1871. 1873)

  

Secret Solstice 2016.1
Secret Solstice 2016
The only party on Earth incide an ice glasier
The only party on Earth inside an ice glacier
Secret Solstice 2016
Inside an ice glacier
Secret Lagoon Party
Secret Lagoon Event