Category Archives: Travel musings

10 Tips for Better Holiday Photos

These are 10 tips that anyone can use to take better pictures on holiday. We’d like to acknowledge the inspiration of our friend, John Warburton-Lee, who is an outstanding photographer as you’ll see on his website.

The photos are all taken by us and show just some of our handmade holidays in Spain & Latin America. If you like what you read, please spread the word.

1 The rule of thirds

Imagine dividing the image into three equal columns and three equal rows to make a 3×3 grid.

Instead of placing your subject dead-centre, put it at one of the intersections.

You’ll see this image of Christ the Redeemer in Rio quite neatly illustrates the point.

Which intersection to use depends on the subject, the background and what’s going on of course.

If you’re not sure, try all four in your viewfinder and see which one works best.

Try it. Position your subject right in the middle of the frame then take other pictures with the subject at those intersections.

You should see a remarkable difference.

These three photos of Boipeba island in Brazil’s Bahia region are cropped differently to show you the effect.

The first image is half beach and half sky. It’s not really clear what we’re meant to look at here. Though obviously a fairly pretty place, the overall effect is underwhelming, slightly dull.

 

 

 

The next one is 2:1 in favour of the sky and is more obvious for our eye to ‘read’ and a little more pleasing. The third one is 2:1 in favour of the beach and is obviously about the wide open pristine beach.

2 Movement to the middle

With a moving subject, position it so that it’s moving into (or out of) the middle of your picture.

Place it using the Rule of Thirds and so that it’s moving towards the middle. This suggests the movement much better than having the subject bang in the middle since viewers’ eyes will anticipate the subject’s movement.

In this photo of walkers approaching Glacier Grey in “Chile’s”:/holidays/chile-holidays Torres del Paine National Park, our eye is drawn from the left, along the line of walkers to the centre of the picture and where they are walking towards.

3 What’s your story?

 

A good photo tells a story.

What’s yours about?

Once you know, you should know what your subject is, how you want to lead viewers’ eyes to it, what context to give it, etc.

In the top picture, we use our subject (the person) to illustrate our story which is about the scale and rugged beauty of the Picos de Europa mountains in summer.

In this case our picture is all about the context and the subject places (and scales) us in it.

Landscapes are very hard to do well: a really pretty view is rarely sufficient. Give the scene a subject (as in the picture above) and it’ll be a lot more appealing.

If your subject is nearby, don’t have them facing the camera, especially if they’re grinning. Have them face the scene and position them to one side, so that your picture shows them and what they’re looking at.

In the lower picture, we only need enough context (the snow) to place our happy young subject on a ski piste, in this case Cerler in the Spanish Pyrenees.

The picture is obviously all about his happiness.

4 Focus just on your subject

Remove all extraneous objects. A photo of a market is a tricky thing to get right, largely because there are so many things going on simultaneously. In this photo, taken by Linda Biggers in Logrono’s Abastos market in Spain’s Rioja region, she’s focused in on the rich red colours of the jamon, peppers, sausages, etc.

Instead of trying to take a general shot of the market, she has picked a corner to shoot. The handwritten labels tell us it’s a market, probably in Spain, so the photo can focus on the food and make us wish we were there.

5 Get rid of clutter

Move things if you have to. Pick up litter.

Move yourself to get a clear shot. Move closer. Try a different angle to get better light or avoid distractions in the background.

Whatever it takes, make your subject stand out.

The next two tips are also about reducing clutter and distraction from your subject.

6 Blur the background

One of the best ways to remove distractions from photos of people or other nearby subjects is to have them in focus and the background blurred out of focus.

Imagine you want to take a picture of a person standing in a busy marketplace. If everything’s in focus, then it’ll be really hard to work out what the picture’s about, since everything will be clear. If only the subject is in focus but all around is blurred, then it’ll be much easier to understand the picture.

If you have an aperture control on your camera (most do but you’ll have to enter the scary world of Manual controls), then open the aperture as wide as possible choosing the lowest possible f-number.

That’ll probably be something like f4.2 or f2.8 or lower if you’re lucky. Perversely the lower the number the wider the aperture.

This weaver on Taquile island in Peru is a gift for a wide aperture photo.

As is the image below of a meal at La Venta de Moncalvillo in La Rioja. Notice how the clutter of the table is a blur.

The wider the aperture the shorter the range of distances from you that’ll be in focus (known as the _depth of field_) so you have a better chance of getting your subject in sharp focus and the background that you’re not interested in to be blurred.

If that sounds too scary (or your camera really doesn’t want to play ball) then you can achieve much the same effect by getting as close as you can to your subject.

Don’t use the zoom for this: you need to be close and the zoom as far out as it’ll go.

 

7 Move yourself

Not everything interesting happens at eye level. Move around: crouch down, lie down, climb up on things to vary your viewpoint.

The most mundane things can become quite intriguing from the right angle.

I love this photo of a penguin taken by Pura’s Sarah Wightman in March 2009 in Antarctica. It’s not often you see the top of their heads!

This photo of drummers in the Brazilian city of Salvador is taken side-on at drum height to accentuate the movement of the drumsticks.

Varying your position also means that you can get greater contrast in your photos.

So many photos that we see of the wildlife in the Galapagos Islands are quite dull. Since the islands are basically formed of lava if you take a photo of a marine iguana from eye height, you’ll have a photo of a black lizard against a black background.

Get down low, however, and you can often find a much more interesting background (sea or sky) to give you contrast or you can lose the grey background out of focus as we have here.

 

8 Portrait isn’t just for portraits

Don’t forget to turn your camera round.

There are many photos which will work really well portrait orientation (tall and narrow) but look rubbish landscape (wide and short).

If you apply the rule of thirds to your pictures then usually there will be a natural choice as to whether to compose portrait or landscape.

If in doubt, however, take both and delete the ones that don’t work later.

This picture was taken on one of our Pyrenees Family Adventure holidays.

9 Use light wisely


We all know that taking a picture with the light behind the subject is probably just going to wreath the subject’s face in shadows, making a terrible picture.

Doing the opposite is just as bad. Light striking the subject front-on risks three things: the subject will be harsh, washed out, with little contrast the subject will probably be squinting, and you may well have your own shadow in the picture.

Light coming from either side (in front or behind) will usually produce the most pleasing contrasts, shadows and colours.

That’s why the prettiest light is usually during the first and last hours of sunlight when the sun is low in the sky. If you can take pictures at these times, then you’ll be working with the best light of the day.

The lower photo of the Picos mountains by Pura’s Katie Edwards shows that you don’t need bright sunshine to take a wonderful photo. The light is dramatic and that’s what matters.

10 Change the card every day

Having gone to the effort of taking all of those lovely photos, you don’t want to lose them. So…

Take lots of memory cards with you.

Swap the card in the camera each day so that if you lose your camera, you will only lose the pictures from that day.

Keep the used cards somewhere safe.

Lower capacity memory cards are much cheaper than the highest capacity ones, and usually have plenty of room for a day’s photos.

At the time of writing, you can buy 2GB SD memory cards for around 2 pounds while a single 16GB version will cost around 32 pounds. Since a 2GB card will typically hold several hundred photos, it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot on one or two high capacity cards that put all of your eggs in one basket.

Just don’t wait until the airport to stock up on spare cards: even duty free the high street retailers can be 10 times as expensive (literally – I’ve just checked – it’s outrageous) as buying online.

We hope that our Top 10 Tips are useful and help you take even better photos.

If you have any suggestions for things we should add or change, or just want to comment, please contact us here.

 

Learning to love Lima

 

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Lima’s a city most visitors to Peru don’t like. Or they rattle on through without so much as a backward glance. It’s not surprising, like many large Latin American cities, Lima isn’t a place which invites you to fall in love with it. It’s chaotic, busy, gritty, noisy and for much of the year it’s swathed in a coastal mist, or is it smog? However, with a little effort and the right introduction, Lima proves to be a genuinely great city.

I think it was around the sixth time I came to Lima that I actually enjoyed it for the first time. Previously I had always been getting ready to move onto more exciting pastures, or making a brief stop before heading home, and it had never really convinced me it was something more than a sprawling mass of grey concrete, (matching the endless grey skies). The sixth time was different, and I had a lot more fun. This may have been in part due to the accidental coincidence of the Copa America final taking place – it’s not every day you get to watch Brazil play Argentina for less than £20 – and in part due to the fact a friend from Cusco was there, and he knew all the best bars in Barranco… Subsequent visits had seen me uncover great restaurants and museums, so I knew there were more than a few hidden gems. With just the one full day this time around, and as it was my wife’s first time in Peru, it seemed sensible to spend the day with someone who really knew Lima’s secrets.

We started off with a stroll through Miraflores, the wealthy suburb which hosts the majority of Lima’s visitors with its comfortable hotels and superb restaurants. As it was Sunday, some streets were closed for cycling, rollerblading, and an eye catching free-for-all Zumba class, which had a genuinely diverse blend of participants: everyone from little girls to gentlemen who must have qualified for their pension some time ago. They didn’t quite all match the pace of the miked-up young man leading the class, but everyone seemed to be having a great time.

We learned about the history of Miraflores as we walked, one of many former agricultural areas in the Rimac river valley, a place of haciendas and crops, before it became the haunt of summer homes for Lima’s elite, and eventually blended into another suburb of the metropolitan area. The loose theme of our day would be Lima’s development and people, and our guide was keen to show us it was a story with many more layers than just its well-known evolution under the Spanish colonial rule. That said, the Plaza de Armas is still one of the finest examples in the country, and we headed here to take in the fine buildings, though not before visiting a local market in Surquillo, whose stalls groaned with tropical fruits, all parts of cow, and a fair number of the several thousand types of potato grown in Peru.

After admiring the beautiful facades of the cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace, it was time to head off into a less well-trodden area of the city.  Barrios Altos may not be an obvious port of call for a visitor, but it holds some intriguing glimpses into the city’s past. We stopped off in a small church, where you can buy alfajores from the nuns behind a screen, as you have been able to do for several hundred years. From the mural of Lima’s most famous Pena singer, to the rococo facade of an Italian mansion, (whose owner got rich thanks to the import of indentured labour from China following the abolition of slavery), each nugget told another story. Lima, even more than many capitals, is a melting pot of peoples – indigenous, European, African and Asian. Circling back into the historic centre, we rewarded our scholarly efforts with a stop in a fine old hotel, credited with the creation of the pisco sour, Peru’s national drink. It seemed only right that we sampled the famous cocktail as a welcome aperitivo prior to heading off to our next port of call, Lince.

The diversity of Lima’s inhabitants is matched by the diversity of Peru’s cuisine, widely known as the Next Big Thing in world dining. In the quirkily commercial area of Lince, within a couple of minutes’ stroll of each other, lies a cluster of restaurants showcasing some of this variety. From the sierra to the selva, we undid all the good work from our walk in short order, with the shrimp chowder from Arequipa a particular highlight. Well, they said it was shrimp, the thing was more like a mid-sized lobster… Coffee beckoned, so we made one last jump to another district, Barranco (of the excellent bars), and found ourselves in a charming cafe with comfy sofas, art books, and some absolutely first rate espresso. Long gone, it seems, are the days of when I first came to Peru: when even in smart restaurants ‘el cafe’ amounted to no more than a tub of Nescafé on the table. Excellent coffee, great bars, and some lovely art galleries certainly make Barranco a charming spot to while away an afternoon before heading back to Miraflores for a seafront stroll, and the chance to sample some of Peru’s finest dining. All in all, the day confirmed to both of us, that Lima is full of intriguing hidden pockets, and with the right person in charge, a varied, intriguing and tasty day here is a must for any visitor to Peru.

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Tempted? Let us take you to Peru on one of our tailor made journeys.

San Fermin festival Pamplona – the encierro or running of the bulls

You’ve almost certainly seen images of Pamplona’s running of the bulls. You may have read the descriptions in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” but perhaps you don’t know about the whys and the wherefores of this most famous event. Here’s a quick guide to the things which perhaps are not obvious at first glance.

First of all, San Fermin is the patron saint of Pamplona so this whole event is in honour of him. Sort of. He was an early convert to Christianity, from Pamplona, who became a bishop and was martyred in Amiens, France. His actual saints day is in October so that’s when the religious festivities were until 1591 when someone decided that it would be better to have the fiesta when the weather’s nicer. So it was that the San Fermines were brought forward to coincide with the summer livestock fair in July.

There’s much more to the San Fermines than just the running of the bulls but that’s a tale for another day, for now I just want to talk about the Encierro.

Every morning between the 7th and 14th of July bulls are set off through the streets of Pamplona. Well, not quite, it’s a very specific route leading up from the corral (encierro) to the bull ring. A route of exactly 825m.

Part of any fiesta or festival in Spain was, still is often, that they have bull fights each afternoon. That’s still the case in Pamplona so those bulls running up through the streets are the six bulls that will be in the bullring again later that day facing the torero.

In addition to the six bulls, they also release some bullocks a short while afterwards to run up the hill and gather up any strays and get all the animals into the bullring at which point they are coaxed over and into the corrals.

ABOUT THE BULLS
The bulls are the fighting bulls. Because it’s a festival, the city will have invested a great deal of money in these bulls. Whatever your thoughts on bull fighting, it is a two sided equation. The bull fighters and the bulls. You need highly skilled bull fighters and well bred bulls to create the best corridas. Bulls are never trained, in fact they have very little human interaction at all.

The characteristics of the bull are bred into them via the female line. That is to say that a particular breeder will be known to have bulls which fein one way before charging the other. That’s because they have selected to breed that characteristic in. They will pull out females at a year old or so and take them into the tiny bullrings they have on these ranches (most of them being in Andalucia & Extremadura regions of Spain). The females which display the desired characteristics are the ones which are then used for breeding.

A true aficionado of the bullfight (corrida) will take every bit as much interest in the bulls as they will in the bull fighter. They will know that the bulls from A.Martinez’s ranch are known for being large, strong and aggressive with a tendency to bear right (for instance).

The point being that people running the encierro are not running in front of some tame dairy cows, these are effectively 500kg + wild animals who are frankly very disorientated and scared. They will stay together if they can. When they do stay together, what tends to happen is that they run the 825m course, a load of people sprinting ahead of them until they get into the bullring and there they are peeled off and penned up again.

It’s important to remember that they aren’t really charging at people, they are just going forwards to get out of this madness, that’s why you will see people running alongside the bulls quite happily. It’s not as if the bull is going to immediately attack anyone it sees. Unless it gets scared. The bulls get very scared if/when they get separated from the other bulls. And that’s when things get very dangerous for the runners.

There have been 16 deaths in recent times, the last one in 2009 I believe. A young man from Alcala de Henares (near Madrid). Before that a young American tourist lost his life. I think it’s fair to say that locals know enough, generally, to treat the bulls with the respect they deserve.

ABOUT THE RUNNERS
The traditional dress of the people of Pamplona is all in white with the red kerchief. People, anyone, gathers down by the encierro by 7.30 am each morning. At 7.55 the runners raise their rolled up newspapers (of which more later) towards the image of San Fermín set in a recess of the street nearby. They chant: ”A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición. Entzun arren San Fermin zu zaitugu patroi zuzendu gure oinak entzierro hontan otoi.” We ask San Fermín, being our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run and give us his blessing (in Spanish and then in Euskera (Basque). They do this again at 7.57 and 7.59….

Then at 8, two rockets are fired from the corral and it’s off we go!

And here’s the bit they don’t really tell you. First of all, it’s actually not that hard to escape harm in the encierro, just be near the front and keep running. There will be many hundreds of people between you and the bulls. However, you will be roundly jeered by the enormous crowds of onlookers.

Let’s not forget too that most of the onlookers, the locals at least, have been up all night – the encierro is effectively their nightcap! The crowds can therefore be, shall we say, rowdy? I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the runners have at least some Dutch courage on board too though anyone smart knows to treat the event, the bulls, with respect so don’t turn up drunk.

For this same reason, if anyone tries to climb up the thick plank walls erected along the course, before they are in imminent danger, they will likely get shoved back down onto the course.

For the true runners, the object is not to escape the bulls but instead to get close enough to them to tap them on the nose with your rolled up newspaper (yep, that’s the deal with the newspapers). Now if you can run solo with a bull close enough to tap his nose, then you’re getting a round of drinks tonight! You know that on the straight, the bulls will outrun you but there are various sharp corners along the route which the bulls have to take more slowly.

Once the last bull is inside the bullring, a third rocket is fired to say that the encierro is over for another day.

In truth most injuries happen at the narrow entrance to the bullring. It’s here that people tend to slip, trip and then pile up. I can’t remember seeing a better photo than this one to illustrate the point:

Notice the man in the yellow t-shirt going for the photo shot of his life. The one in blue is cool enough to be posing for the photographer. The one in the green hat seems to think that if he squeezes his eyes really tight shut, it doesn’t matter that his head is sticking right up! Note too the blue gloves of the paramedic standing comfortingly by on the right hand side of the shot.

It is also an illustration though that the bulls will generally do what they can to not cause damage to other animals – that’s quite a moment of show jumping for a bull!

So, that’s hopefully a slightly sideways look at the encierro. When you next see it, perhaps notice the ones with the rolled up newspapers in their hands, notice the bulls that have become separated and notice the entrance to the bullring!

Of course, there is much more to the San Fermines than just the Encierro. There’s also a lot more to Pamplona than just the San Fermines. Remember that Bilbao and the Guggenheim museum are only about an hour away from Pamplona…the vineyards of La Rioja also about an hour away…the stunning mountains of Ordesa National Park a couple of hours away…and the Camino de Santiago passes right through town. Be sure to call us on 01273 676 712 if you fancy a visit to this and other parts of the Pyrenees.

The changing face of Cusco

KFC restaurant on the Plaza Mayor in Cusco

It’s more subtle than usual but it’s still a KFC on Cusco’s Plaza Mayor.

This email arrived from a good client of ours today, he goes every year with a large group of people so is uniquely well placed to observe the changes being wrought by mass tourism on this, Peru’s most important tourist hub:

“Cusco continues to change dramatically but even more so in the last two years than i noted on previous occasions. The centre is now very sophisticated and it seems very americanised in their approach to tourists with a vastly enhanced tipping culture in restaurants, service charges added automatically to large groups, drink prices that now match Brisbane and very sophisticated restaurants as well as Starbucks and KFC  to join McDonalds in the Plaza. Not sure I like it as much in that it seems to have lost a little of its original charm in  the process. I guess that’s progress but I still have a soft spot for the Cusco of the 80s when I first visited.”

So that’s it, we’ve got to the point where Cusco, the navel of the world, the heart of the mighty Empire of the Incas, has Starbucks, McDonalds & KFC all side by side in the central square.

I don’t pretend that this is anything other than depressing. Just last night I was at a Peruvian cookery class here in Brighton being taught how to make the most delicious ceviche. What does the West send in return for this delicious treat? Fried chicken, microwaved burgers and 1,000 calorie cups of coffee. You give us Machu Picchu and the culture, architecture & history of the Inca, we’ll give you heart disease. And cash. And that’s the thing, if I were scratching a living out in the dry terrain around Cusco growing potatoes when suddenly a job at McDonalds appeared, I’d take it. It would feed my family and any moral qualms can go hang.

So I don’t have issue with the supply side of this particular equation. I do have a huge issue with the demand side.

Now I’m perfectly sure that plenty of those customers, at least in McDonalds & KFC are Cusquenos and not tourists (not so sure about Starbucks), but Cusco managed for many, many years without them. Their appearance coincides with the growth in foreign visitor numbers. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that these ‘restaurants’ would not be there without the demand brought in by the visitors.

And this is the crux of the matter. If you are intellectually curious enough to travel somewhere far away like Peru, then what the hell are you doing eating this stuff and not discovering Peruvian food? Food and eating are a crucial part of any culture, what we eat, how we eat it, where we shop, the flavours, the ingredients, where they come from….it’s all part of the tapestry of a place, it’s people. What are you going to learn about Peru sitting inside McDonalds on Cusco’s main square?

Nothing.

And if you aren’t there to learn, you’re just there to look. And if you are just there to look, why not save your money, stay and home and watch a video of Cusco & Machu Picchu?

Travel has the power to enrich us all. Last night I watched as a handful of Brightonians tasted ceviche and pisco sours for the first time. As they did so, Peru became a real place, three dimensional, a place of interest – food of interest. For those of us lucky enough to have experienced the sensation of arriving at the Sun Gate having walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, those of us who have stood in the afternoon sun looking down on this most familiar of places and realised that it’s nothing like the pictures, it’s a thousand times more dramatic and beautiful. For those of us who have played a game of football with a child on a floating reed island on Lake Titicaca, laughing like drains as our feet get tangled up in the knotted ground beneath us and kicked the ball out of play – far out into the lake. For those of us who have hungrily anticipated our first mouthful of freshly sliced papaya in the Amazon dawn only to have it stolen from ours plates by a fearless scarlet macaw. For those of us who believe that we go to Peru, or anywhere else, as guests. To receive, to enrich ourselves, to learn and to appreciate.  For us, Peru is a place of fabulous richness. For us, the sight of Starbucks in Cusco is a source of shame and embarrassment.

For me, it’s also a source of pride though, pride that we stand for a different sort of tourism. Travel which enriches. It makes me, it make us all, more determined than ever to keep unearthing the richness of these places. We’ll keep walking the Inca Trail half a day behind everyone else in order that our guests get to have their moment at the Sun Gate. We’ll keep going to the real communities in Lake Titicaca where children are playing. We’ll keep taking you deeper into the jungle to get this close to the wildlife. Because if we aren’t travelling to open our minds, to enrich our lives then why are we leaving home in the first place?

You can see our range of tailor made trips to Peru here, unless you are a ‘box ticker’, in which case there are plenty of other people who will get you to Peru and not be so opinionated so probably best look elsewhere! And if you want to learn how to make a really good ceviche, here’s a link to Martin Morales’ new recipe book.

And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m not normally so opinionated, at least not in public, but this is how we feel about what we do. It would be great to know if you agree or disagree, or anything in between.

Nuestra casa es nuestra casa (Our house is our house)

 

Hopefully Mr Obama will get round to reading his copy a little more swiftly! ©www.guardian.co.uk

Hopefully Mr Obama will manage to read his copy a little more swiftly!     © www.guardian.co.uk

I’ve been thinking about a few matters recently, which I’ve mentally filed under the euphemistic title of, ‘vested external interests in Latin America.’ Now, it may be that I’m highly suggestible, but my Marxist hackles were definitely raised when I read about a US legal battle to determine whether gold coins recovered from a sunken ship by a US-based exploration team should be handed over to Spain. There’s no doubt that the debate on the discovery location and which ship they came from is an interesting one. However, the irony that the coins were originally mined and minted in Peru (under the Spanish Conquest) seems to have gone almost unnoticed. Given the historical circumstances of the extraction of Peruvian gold, one might have thought that in the 21st Century, a stronger case would have been made for the coins to return to Peru as part of its cultural heritage. One might even venture to suggest that perhaps there is enough Peruvian gold in the museums and churches of Spain…

I say that I might be suggestible, as I saw this shortly after I’d finally got round (15 years after my first visit to Ecuador) to ploughing through Open Veins of Latin America. Eduardo Galeano’s renowned polemic on the systematic plundering and destruction of Latin America’s resources, and indeed people, is not very easy reading: at least it certainly doesn’t make one feel proud to be British. It’s even more uncomfortable if you happen to be from Spain or the US, and have a conscience regarding your ancestors’ actions.

Except that, particularly in the case of the US, it’s not just those who came before us who should be held accountable. Without delving into Galeano’s stinging indictments of US trading impropriety / manipulation / bullying in the region (I’m no economist), the events in question happen well within living memory. It certainly seems safe to say that negative repercussions of US fiscal policy and enterprise continue to be felt in Latin America, if they aren’t still being generated (and that’s up for debate).

One other area where US intervention and its repercussions are very much in evidence is in the long-running ‘War On Drugs.’ (I’m not sure why so many US leaders seem to feel the need to be constantly at war with something or someone). The political background of the WOD is pretty well known, as is the fallout from it. Crop eradication and its effects have been analysed by people far more qualified than I. I think there’s little doubt however, that the war’s not working from the point of view of cutting supply to the US, and that it makes harsh lives ever harsher on the ground in Latin America.

Which is why it was refreshing to read about the Organisation of America States report, commissioned by President Obama, which aims to put an end to, or at least reduce, the tragic human cost of the WOD in Latin America. The report highlights a number of alternative strategies to the punitive, prohibition approach, exploring community, legislative and health-focused avenues instead. Importantly, these steps towards changing times are being driven by Latin American leaders, for example the open letter of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy, whose signatories include former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Chile. It is to be hoped that this signals a general tendency towards stronger leadership within Latin America, and a move away from other countries imposing their will and policies in the region, as that’s been going on long enough.