For around a year now, Raul Valda has been taking beautiful photos of Bolivian street dogs.
He started the project in response to a rough period of his own: About 10 years ago, Valda, who lives in La Paz, was suffering his “first bipolarity crisis,” he says. “More than pills or therapy, my dogs — Amaru and Wara — got me through it.”
In 2013, after becoming a full time photographer and opening a studio, Valda thought it right to pay tribute to the canines who have helped him so much with a documentary project involving stray dogs in his hometown.
“The first photo was taken in April 2013, in El Alto, one the highest cities in the world at 13,620 feet,” Valda says. “As I took the pictures, I was overwhelmed by the number of dogs in the streets and their living conditions.”
He eventually decided to turn the series into a book “as an homage.”
Valda — whose images have been selected for a show of emerging Bolivian photographers — recently spoke with HuffPost about that homage. Both lovely and sad, it shows scenes of dogs doing things like eating from dumpsters, lit up and shot like fashion spreads.
The Huffington Post: Are there a lot of street dogs in Bolivia?
Raul Valda: There are different estimates, but according to the Ministry of Health, there are over 390,000 dogs in [La Paz and El Alto], of which 40 percent are street dogs with owners and two percent are considered ‘stray dogs’. They also claim the total number of dogs in the whole country grows 20 percent every year. From what I have seen, I’d say the statistics underestimate the number of stray dogs.
The situation is special: Many people leave their dogs in the street during the day and let them sleep in the garden or patio at night. Others just feed them and let their pets in the street day and night. Many buy puppies and, as they grow, abandon them. And of course, other dogs are born and die in the streets.
Luckily, many foundations to help these animals have been recently created.
What’s the attitude toward the dogs? Are they loved? Treated well? Treated poorly?
Again the situation is complex. I’m sure many pet owners who leave them in the street love their dogs, but simply prefer to leave them ”free” while they work. The problem, from my point of view, is that many of these animals progressively become stray, get sick or have puppies that are usually killed or abandoned. The cold climate and extreme geography of these cities don’t help.
A parasitic fly is creating what San Francisco State University researchers are calling zombie bees — and the details of infection are straight out of a horror movie.
San Francisco State University professor John Hafernik has been observing the peculiar behavior of what he calls “zombees” since publishing a study on them in 2012. His research into the phenomenon started when he noticed a few honey bees on the SFSU campus walking around in circles on the ground. He collected them in a vial to feed to his pet praying mantis but realized shortly after that the bees were hosts to the parasitic Phorid fly.
“I put them on my desk and forgot about them. When I came back in a week or so and looked at it, that vial was filled with just a large number of these little brown fly pupae,” Hafernik told KQED. “And that’s when I knew that those bees were parasitized.”
The tiny Phorid fly injects its eggs into the honey bee’s abdomen, where they hatch and begin to eat the bee alive from the inside. After death, the flies then crawl out of the bee’s neck. The visual is nauseating, but it’s the time between being parasitized and perishing — the “zombee” period — that Hafernik is trying to understand.
“The bees that are parasitized essentially get bee insomnia. They leave their hives at night, which is a really bad time for honey bees to be leaving their hives,” Hafernik explained. “Bees that fly away at night basically are on a flight of the living dead. They’re not coming back.”
From there, the parasitized bees congregate around a light source only to fly in senseless circles, and right before dying, begin exhibiting more curious behavior. Lead author of the study, Andrew Core, explained that most bees sit in one place and curl up before they die, but the “zombees” begin to lose control of their legs.
“They kept stretching them out and then falling over,” Core explained. “It really painted a picture of something like a zombie.”
Hafernik reports that nearly 80 percent of the hives his team has studied were currently or previously infected by the fly, a compelling statistic as researchers try to determine the cause of the honey bee’s mass decline, a major threat to agriculture reliant on the bees’ pollination.
If you follow any travel blogs or Instagram accounts, we can almost guarantee they’ve featured the Hawaiian island of Kauai a time or two. And we can’t blame them: Kauai is the ultimate destination in Hawaii.
The Garden Isle checks off every essential on any traveler’s bucket list: beaches, hikes, resorts, and then some. Not to mention it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth.
Below, 11 reasons you should visit the “Garden Island,” at least once. Trust us, it will be one of the most magical trips of your life.
1. Blissful Beaches
This one is 100 percent obvious, but it has to be said. Kauai’s beaches are everything you’ve ever wanted in a stretch of sea and sand. Sunbathe on the powdered shores, wade into the warm, unclouded water and enjoy the abundant coral and wildlife that find Kauai’s surrounding waters home. Tunnels Beach, Polihale State Park and Poipu Beach are all tried and true classics.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the toughest, albeit most worthwhile hikes in the Aloha State. Be prepared to work hard and sweat up a storm for the entire 22-mile roundtrip.
But rest assured: with all the hard work comes a major reward. Dramatic cliffs, breathtaking vistas and solitary beaches are worth making this grueling two-day hike. If you want to include the Kalalau in your vacation plans, however, you’ll need a permit. Train accordingly and come prepared ― you can’t wing this one.
3. Heavenly Hanalei Bay
Cradled by tall green cliffs, this popular bay is a perfect beach for kids. During the summertime, the gentle waves and incredible scenery make it a dead ringer for paradise. And don’t forget to bring a surfboard. Sunsets from the center of the bay are absolutely serene.
4. Undeniable Charm
One of the best parts of Kauai is its small town charm. With a population of about 70,000, the island has managed to maintain a sleepy town feel while still catering to large numbers of tourists each year.
Of the main Hawaiian islands, Kauai is the oldest ― and it has the geology to prove it.
To explore Kauai’s rich natural history, pay a visit to Makauwahi Cave, a large sinkhole that is teeming with fossils and artifacts. Within the cave, excavators have found various animal bones, pollen of extinct plants and geological evidence of past floods, hurricanes and a massive tsunami. It’s little-known, but Makauwahi Cave is one of Kauai’s coolest activities.
A photo posted by Lindsay Conway (@lindszbinz) on May 6, 2016 at 8:29pm PDT
6. The Grand Canyon Of The Pacific
Waimea Canyon is a natural marvel that completely lives up to its extravagant nickname, “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Its colorful dips and peaks are home to lush vegetation and towering waterfalls. But for the very best view, make a trip to the canyon’s lookout point and prepare to be blown away.
7. The Na Pali Coast
This dramatic coastline is perhaps Kauai’s most famous attraction. The vivid colors, sheer cliffs and unmatched views of the ocean make this coastline an absolute must-see on Kauai.
Kona Coffee from Hawaii’s Big Island might have name recognition going for it, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the coffee on the other islands. Visit Kauai Coffee Company to learn about the coffee-growing process, tour the grounds and, of course, sample some joe.
Though Kauai’s natural beauty is a major draw for island visitors, there is something to be said for throwing a bit of manmade luxury into the mix. Resorts like the St. Regis Princeville and the Grand Hyatt Kauai provide incredible pools, upscale restaurants and a level of relaxation and extravagance you just can’t find elsewhere.
A photo posted by St. Regis Princeville (@stregiskauai) on Nov 22, 2016 at 12:57pm PST
10. Wild Waterfalls
The Hawaiian islands are known for raging waterfalls, but Kauai is home to one of the wettest places on earth. Mount Waialeale has dozens of falls that pour into a deep canyon accessible via hike. Similarly, Wailua Falls, famous for its appearance in the opening credits of “Fantasy Island,” is an essential, easy-to-reach Kauai sight, and Waipoo Falls, located in Waimea Canyon, can be seen cascading 800 feet from various lookout points.
11. Contagious Relaxation
Kauai comes with plenty of excitement, but if you’re desperately seeking some peace and quiet, this sleepy island is the perfect place for that as well.
Set up a few beach chairs on an empty stretch of sand, plan to spend a day or two lounging by the pool and unplug from the outside world. There’s no better way to recharge and unwind than spending some quality time on an island in the middle of the Pacific.