The Restrepo Man


I am re-blogging this piece I wrote three years ago, after viewing the incredibly moving HBO documentary “Restrepo.” Today is the third anniversary of the death of Tim Hetherington, the photo-journalist who co-directed the film, in Misrata, Libya. An American colleague, Chris Hondros, was mortally wounded alongside him. These brilliant, brave men risk their lives every day to bring us the dramatic footage we see on our newscasts every evening. Let us not forget Tim and Chris.

Originally posted on Petchary's Blog:

There have been so many powerful stories lately, it is hard to catch up on them.  But one that resonated with the Petchary recently was the death of Tim Hetherington – photojournalist and filmmaker.  Tim was buried in London yesterday, May 13.  He died covering the conflict in Libya on April 20.

The first documentary film he ever directed, “Restrepo,” has aired recently on HBO.  I could not leave the television set for one moment until it ended.  I was immediately drawn into the lives of a platoon of fifteen U.S. soldiers, holding out in an area of Afghanistan called the Korengal Valley, a lonely place of dry, empty hills.  The place is considered one of the most dangerous postings anywhere, with attacks coming in from all directions, and the soldiers named it after an army medic, Private First Class Juan Restrepo, who had been 

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25 Abandoned Futuristic Monuments in Ex-Yugoslavia


These are huge concrete memorials from the days of the “Iron Curtain.” I thought I would share these extraordinary photographs with you, dear readers, from former Yugoslavia. There is something haunting about them, lost in beautiful but lonely landscapes…

Originally posted on the dancing rest:


These monuments were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place.  In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, but after the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned.



Petrova Gora




Ilirska Bistrica


Sanski Most

















via [darlin]

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Technical Issues, But My Posts Are Still There!

Dearest readers:

My apologies… For reasons unknown the right hand side of my blog disappeared yesterday evening – it went for a walk and reappeared in the wrong place. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page you will find it hiding down there!

And if you click on any of my posts prior to yesterday, the right panel will come up.

Strange and puzzling… But just to let you know that I am working on it and hope to have it fixed very soon.

Thanks for your patience!


Editorial Note

My dear and faithful readers:

There always seems to be so much to write about from a whole, eventful week on our little island. Amazing, really. So, on the advice of a good friend, supporter and fellow writer, I have decided to split my weekly review into two shorter, more digestible pieces. I am aiming to put out one report on Wednesdays and the second on Sundays, as usual.

Let’s see how this works!

Once again, many thanks for your patience and thanks for reading (and for your interesting comments!)

I leave you with some photographs from the Alternative Energy Expo currently running at Kingston’s Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. If you are in town, it is well worth a visit and chock-full of information on energy-saving devices, solar and wind power, etc. And don’t forget, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica’s Earth Day event will take place at Hope Zoo in Kingston this Friday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission free.

I met Andrew from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica at their booth. (My photo)

I met Andrew from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica at their booth. (My photo)

I met Shemore (left) and Phillip from Greater Portmore Primary School - two budding scientists. (My photo)

I met Shemore (left) and Phillip from Greater Portmore Primary School – two budding scientists. (My photo)

Let there be light... Customers crowd one solar lighting booth. (My photo)

Let there be light… Customers crowd one solar lighting booth. (My photo)


Yesterday was the first International Day of Forests – I did not have a chance to focus on it, but do take a look at my recent photos of St. Thomas and the awesome cotton tree in Somerset. Our forests are precious. I wanted to share this lovely post from the Rainforest Alliance with you… Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Frog Blog: US & Canada:

We thought the International Day of Forests was the perfect excuse to share a few beautiful photos of these biodiverse wonders.

Mediterranean forests are characterized by a short growing season and a mix of hard and soft wood trees. They can be found along the coasts of the Mediterranean, California, Chile and Western Australia.

Mediterranean forests have a short growing season and a mix of hard and soft wood trees. They can be found along the coasts of California, Chile, Western Australia and (you guessed it) the Mediterranean.

Temperate forests—located in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and eastern Europe--typically feature a combination of coniferous and deciduous evergreens.

Temperate forests—located in eastern North America, northeastern Asia, and western and eastern Europe–typically feature a combination of coniferous and deciduous evergreens.

Most of the precipitation in cloud forests (also known as montane forests) comes from a mist that rises up from the lowlands. These forests can be found in tropical, subtropical and temperate zones.

Most of the precipitation in cloud forests (also known as montane forests) comes from a mist that rises up from the lowlands. These forests can be found in tropical, subtropical and temperate zones.

Plantation forests—covering more than TK acres of land around the globe—produce around 40 percent of all industrial wood.

Plantation forests—covering more than 345 million acres of land around the globe—produce around 40 percent of all industrial wood.

Found near the equator, tropical forests are characterized by year-round high temperatures, plentiful rainfall and thick, lush growth.

Found near the equator, tropical forests are characterized by year-round high temperatures, plentiful rainfall and thick, lush growth.

Discover the Rainforest Alliance’s work…

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It’s a day late for International Women’s Day, but I thought I would share this blog post with beautiful faces of Latin American women from a blog that I follow. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Zeebra Designs & Destinations:

"Oh, to be 90!"  What a serene smile!  (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

“Oh, to be 90!” What a serene smile! (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

In honor of Internationsl Women’s Day, I present to you a sampler of humble-yet-noble women that I’ve met along the way!  Enjoy!  Z

Republic of Panama

Republic of Panama – Home of the Kuna Indians and their lovely mola textiles.

faces P1340771 MARIA profile LIGHT AND SHADOW

Maria – Jama Ecuador – She doesn’t know her special beauty!

faces P1340752 sombero laughs

The Datura Lady - Charapoto Ecuador

The Datura Lady – Charapoto Ecuador – I once stopped and asked for a cutting of the datura that towered over the fence. Unfortunately the goats ate the datura!

ecuador jama window moments

What Life’s All About! Uninhibited comfort in one’s skin – or window!

Cecilia - Pueblo Nuevo-Islita Costa Rica

Salt of the Earth Cecilia – Pueblo Nuevo-Islita Costa Rica

faces00 park benefit P1080071 san miguel

Young beauty! Playa San Miguel Costa Rica

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Elegant Elisa – San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Jama Ecuador

Another hard-working Maria! – Jama Ecuador

Cuenca Ecuador

How can one not love this beautiful woman?! – Cuenca Ecuador

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua The Tortilla Lady – San Juan…

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Thank you and congratulations!

Just a quick note to thank all of you dear readers and supporters for your votes and support during the Jamaica Blog Awards!

Petchary’s Blog won in the Best Jamaica-focused Blog category, and I feel honored.

Warmest congratulations, too, to all the nominees and winners! I will post a list of the names and links in due course, when they are available… So that you can expand your reading and enjoyr more Jamaican blogs!

Thank you again. I particularly appreciated all the comments on the Blog Awards website.

And now, I promise not to bother you all again for the rest of the year!


Everyday Courage: Please vote for this post in UNICEF Jamaica’s #HashCon Blogger Advocacy Challenge!

I wrote this article on November 29, 2012. It is an entry in UNICEF Jamaica’s #HashCon Blogger Advocacy Challenge. 

PLEASE VOTE for my entry at, This is the same website where you can also vote for my blog in its entirety in four categories: Best Lifestyle Blog, Best News/Current Affairs Blog, Best Jamaica -Focused Blog, and Best Writing in a Blog.

You can vote EVERY DAY. The competition closes on January 14, as do the Blog Awards votes.

I would greatly appreciate your support, You might also enjoy reading a post I wrote just before Christmas about an event where I met up with Keisha again and had the opportunity to hug her and her little girl. Keisha seemed focused, calm and happy. Her daughter was running around and having fun, like little girls do!

Here is the Christmas article:

Thank you, again, for your support – and please stay tuned! Much more to follow!

Last month, around the time of National Heroes Day in Jamaica, I was turning the concept of “heroes” around in my head. I had some conversations with a few young Jamaicans in the social media. Two things occurred to me: firstly, that Jamaica seems to be badly in need of heroes. And secondly, that a hero is not someone who has simply done well in his/her field of influence. Winning elections, or selling millions of records, is praiseworthy; but not heroic.

I also do believe, in an old-fashioned way, that a hero must have the following qualities: strength, resilience, vision, determination, courage, seeking always to do better in his/her life. This spills over into the lives of others. He/she inspires others. And that inspiration may come from someone who, at some point, seemed weak, helpless, a victim of fate. The most unlikely hero or SHEro.

So where do we find our 21st century (s)heroes, here in Jamaica? Why, they are all around us, living among us.

Keisha* never saw herself as a SHEro. She still doesn’t. But I think she is.

Keisha is 24 years old. She has two children, a five-year-old daughter and a son aged two years old. She is HIV-positive. Her children are not.

Keisha loved the father of her youngest child; but he did not disclose his HIV status to her. After she was diagnosed in 2009, she was shocked, depressed, stressed - and very angry. She felt betrayed, and also broken-hearted; she loved her son’s father. The hurt was unbearable. Her hopes of a stable home life and a happy and loving relationship broke into small pieces, like shards of glass. “I neglected myself,” says Keisha. Why should she care? A young woman in her twenties has powerful dreams of the future. But her own future had disappeared – she could not imagine it. Depression, by the way, is twice as common among people living with HIV as it is in the general public.

Keisha stumbled through life.“I was like a walking zombie,” she says. And she told no one about her status. She did not even tell her mother, who could not understand the dramatic change in her daughter. “She wanted to send me to Bellevue,” Keisha says with a wry laugh. (Bellevue is Kingston‘s hospital for the mentally ill).

And still Keisha fought on, alone, without telling anyone her status. Then,the clinic she attended after the birth of her son in 2010 referred her to a Kingston-based non-governmental organisation called Eve for Life.

You will find many smiling faces on the pages of Eve for Life’s website. No sob stories. And this was the point in our story where Keisha’s life began to return to love - that little thing that seemed to have gone from her young life. Talking to Keisha, you are struck by a sense that this was the beginning of her spiritual transformation. It started with the need to disclose her status, and her preparing to do so. This was the first step. “They told us what to say, how to respond,” Keisha tells me. “We used role play for this.” With her mother, the revelation came in stages. “First of all, I told her my boyfriend ‘did something bad,’” she said. Her mother responded, “Did he hit you?” No, she said, but it was something very, very bad. In the end, she told her mother everything. She understood. “She has been very supportive up to this day,” says Keisha.

Keisha is not someone who goes to church every Sunday, but she does go. And she knows the power of forgiveness. She has forgiven her boyfriend. She still loves him, but she has let go. “Life does go on,” she says. Forgiving was a very important part of her healing. And it takes great courage to forgive, to release that bitterness.

And so, Keisha’s positive status has not condemned her to a life of despair; in fact, it has opened up possibilities that she never knew existed. Her diagnosis was not the end of the world”; far from it. Attending an event at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston was an extraordinary experience for her. And so is her ongoing and growing involvement with Eve for Life. She is now a trainee facilitator and peer educator for newly diagnosed HIV-positive mothers. She is giving of herself to other young Jamaican women who are struggling to overcome her challenges. She is helping to lift them up out of that dark despair she herself once felt.

Keisha sees something now evolving from her weakness: it is strength, it is empowerment. “Everything happens for a reason… Down the line you will see a purpose,” she observes quietly. She now believes that her HIV status has turned her life around in the most unexpected way: “It has given me opportunities…The opportunity to help others.”

Now she is training for a diploma in Practical Nursing at the Garmex HEART Academy. She has two more tests this week. It is a challenge, but she is determined to see it through.  She will graduate in 2014, and she has already obtained high marks in her core subject as well as in Language and Communications. The only tricky one is Mathematics, but she is confident she will pass that too. While she is studying, her mother looks after her children.

Keisha believes – she knows – she will be a better mother. She looks forward to her children growing up. She wants them to be anything they want to be – a doctor, a lawyer. She has hope, she has plans for them. A good education, university. “I will guide them,” she says. She will talk to them in a way that her mother never spoke to her – about relationships, about sex, about love, about life. She will hide nothing from them. She hopes to be a grandmother, one day. She giggles. 

How does Keisha see her own future? “It gets better and better each day,” she says. She and her peer group at Eve for Life have their “ups and downs,” like any family. And they are family to her. They encourage and motivate each other, and help each other solve everyday life problems.”

Because that is what it is all about. Heroism is not just about the limelight, the dramatic gesture, the applause, the awards. Our Jamaican SHEroes are here, with us. They are HIV positive; they get up and they carry on, every day.

And they are looking to the future, and to creating a stronger, more resilient, AIDS-free generation.

The future looks bright.

* not her real name

Members of Eve for Life join their voices to a call for children’s rights during a Child Month demonstration in Kingston, Jamaica in May of this year.


This blog post is dedicated to little Hope Divine. She is four years old, she is feisty, she has loving adoptive parents, she is going to school.


Petchary’s Blog: 2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s my annual report, with my most popular blog posts – rather surprising results, and some of those posts go back a little ways.

Dear readers: What would YOU like to see me write about in 2013? Feedback is more than welcome… Do let me know, and do browse some of my older blog posts too. I intend to step up the “African Postman” series to at least once per week, too. Tomorrow, I will dig back in the archives a little way, and share a few links to posts you might have missed during 2012…

Thank you for following me! Where would I be without you all! Please continue to comment and share with others, and I thank you for your support in 2012!

The Petchary

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 94,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

50 50 Reflections Conference Starts Today (August 20)


This important conference starts TODAY at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. ADMISSION IS FREE. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! Starting with: Discussions on Sports in Jamaica and the Role of the Private Sector in Jamaica’s Development (with Christine Cummings and Professor Trevor Munroe, respectively) begin at 3:00 p.m. TODAY (August 20, 2012). Come and join the discussion as we seek the way forward for the NEXT fifty years!

Originally posted on Petchary's Blog:

Jamaica’s fiftieth anniversary (Jamaica 50) celebration has not been a smooth, gentle glide to the August 6 finish line. In fact, it has been fraught with political niggling, confusing press statements and slick marketing jargon, (with the local media trying to make sense of it all) and apparently rising levels of frustration and irritation on the part of the Jamaican populace. Amidst the confusion, it seems we are all searching for meaning. Surely, we cry, Jamaica 50 is not just about signature songs and parties and Jamaica 50 sunglasses, cute as they may be. Recriminations have been heaped on the head of an overburdened Culture Minister who is valiantly seeking to create something coherent. According to a Gleaner article this week, the youth of Jamaica – those who will take over for the next half-century – believe that “the true essence of Jamaica 50 is lost on the masses.”…

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