This gorgeous bookstore in a Toronto neighborhood (the Bloor West Village) shut down over the weekend. The building used to be a theatre (built in 1927) and the bookstore, for the most part, preserved the original structure and interiors. Granted, this was a Chapters branch, and I am generally a fan of small local bookstores rather than larger chains, but this store was definitely special. Now it’s going to be either a Loblaws (a large grocery store chain in Canada) or a Shoppers Drugmart (a large drug store in Canada). The whole thing is tragic.
The one small flicker of hope is the fact that apparently, when the bookstore was originally going to take over the lease for the building, community members were opposed to it, thinking that the store would not preserve the building. As one can see from the photographs below, Chapters did, however, make quite an effort to preserve the building’s beauty and character. So perhaps, just maybe, Loblaws/Shoppers may find a way to do the same.
In a previous post about Panama I wrote about Isla Grande- this beautiful island in the Caribbean. When it was time to leave Isla Grande, we took a boat to the coast (to La Guaira) and then got on an another quintessentially Panamanian bus to Portobelo. Portobelo is a picturesque, sleepy, colourful (literally) town in Colon Province. See how brightly coloured the houses are:
It’s also full of adorable little dogs:
But what it’s really famous for are the following:
– The Black Christ
– Gold; and
1. The Black Christ
A famous statue of the black christ or El Cristo Negro is housed in a church called Iglesia de San Felipe in Portobelo.
Legend has it that the statue of the black christ was carved in Spain and was being taken to Colombia, but the crew decided to leave it behind in Portobelo because it was bringing them bad luck. Portobelo is now the site of an annual festival called the Black Christ Festival.
Apparently, one third of all the gold in the world passed through Portobelo. All this gold was processed in this spanish customs house built in 1630:
Because there was gold, obviously there were pirates! Apparently, Portobelo was attacked repeatedly by pirates. The most famous one to attack and sack the town was Captain Morgan! As a result, the Spanish fortified the port. The beautiful forts are now in ruins.
Now, I’ve seen plenty of forts in India and Europe, but I found two things to be particularly striking about these forts. First, dead coral was used in the walls!
The other thing that was absolutely magical about these forts was the unparalleled beauty of the Caribbean; I’ve never seen a more gorgeous backdrop to a fort in my life! Here are some of the vistas I am talking about:
What made the forts absolutely gorgeous in my eyes was the contrast between the coral and the Caribbean blue-green; the ocean was such a striking and wonderful backdrop to the textured off-white of the coral walls of the forts.
I can honestly say that Portobelo is one of the cutest, prettiest, sleepiest little towns that I have ever been to. As I said, it was indeed full of beautiful colours.