Monday, February 25, 2013

Cape Verde

So far this year, I really seem to be on a role... getting postcards that don't count from countries that would have otherwise been new additions to my collection! Nauru a few weeks ago, Paraguay before the weekend, and now this lovely card from Cape Verde that was sadly sent from France. Not that I'm not appreciative, of course, of every single card that people take time to send me. It's just a bit of a crestfall to get a new country and then have to manage expectations after flipping it over. But, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Card show "Pistol Mouth" Harbour in the fishing village of Ponta do Sol, on the northwestern island of Santo Antão.

Previously featured green Mariane leaf stamps.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Postcard from Paraguay showing a traditional dancer wearing ñandutí, Paraguayan embroidered lace. The name means "spider web" in Guaraní, the official, indigenous language of Paraguay. My many thanks to Devin for sending me this card. Devin, a Peace Corps volunteer, explains that the the money from sales of this postcard go to fund a photography programme for Paraguayan youth. Some of their work can be seen here.

Postcard did not come with a normal stamp but rather a "Taxe perçue" postage paid stamp and what I assume to be the postmark. Perhaps the post office had ran out of stamps that day. My hunt for a stamped card sent from Paraguay continues!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dominican Republic

Postcard of Conde Street in the city centre of the capital, Santo Domingo. Part of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo World Heritage site. The street was one of the main streets in Santo Domingo during the colonial era and houses the first city hall and first cathedral built in the Americas. Santo Domingo is actually the oldest permanent European settlement in the New World.

Many thanks and much appreciation to friends Sarah who overcame many obstacles to get me this card. ¡Gracias, guapa!

Stamp commemorating Juan Pablo Duarte y Díez, a Dominican intellectual, poet and writer and one of the founding fathers of the country.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


A card from the tiny, isolated South Pacific country of Nauru, the world's third smallest and second least populated country. The country is famous, or more aptly infamous, for the terrible environmental impact phosphate mining has wrought on the small coral island. Phosphate was strip mined from the centre of the island, leaving behind a scorched and lifeless moonscape that can barely support the 9000 people who call Nauru their home. Seen here are the cantilevers used to deliver phosphate to cargo ships.

Many thanks to Hsiang-chi who very kindly agreed to swap cards with me. 謝謝你!

No stamp on this postage prepaid postcard, so unfortunately my hunt for a stamped card send from Nauru continues. Coat of arms of Nauru is shown, with the alchemical symbol for phosphate in the upper section.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Indonesia IV

A recent card from Indonesia in honour of my imminent departure there is afternoon for a short holiday. Card shows Tangkuban Perahu, a volcano in central Java that last erupted in 1983. "Tangkuban Perahu" means "overturned boat" in the local Sundanese language, owing to the legend of the mountain's creation, which can be read here.

Thanks to James who was in Indonesia for work.

One interesting thing about collecting things from around the world, is that you get to learn about differing national perspectives on historical events. Stamp here is from a 2011 set of four commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Operation Trikora. When the rest of the Indonesia became independent from the Netherlands, the Dutch retained sovereignty over western New Guinea, and took steps to prepare it for independence as a separate country, as it was culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of Indonesia. Indonesia wasn't too happy about this and announced its intention to invade, launching Operation Trikora following a failure to get UN support for their cause. Once numerically superior Indonesian forces started to move in in 1962, the Dutch government recognised the Indonesians' resolve to take Western New Guinea and, not wanting to engage in a protracted conflict involving jungle warfare on the other side of the world, agreed to a UN transitional government that would be followed by a referendum on the future of the territory. The highly flawed referendum, conducted by the Indonesian government, allowed only 1025 military-selected men to vote – less than one per cent of the eligible population – and diplomatic cables widely speculate that those men were coerced to vote in favour of integration with Indonesia. To my mind, this shady episode of Indonesia history would be better suited as a skeleton in the closet rather than celebrated in a stamp series, but therein lies the interest in seeing things from different perspectives!

You can read more about the Free Papua Movement here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pitcairn Islands

Postcard from the very remote Pitcairn Island, located in the southeast Pacific Ocean between Tahiti and the South American mainland. The island is famously inhabited by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them. With only about 67 inhabitants, Pitcairn is the least populous jurisdiction in the world. Seen here are the Saint Paul Rocks which form a natural pool, protecting swimmers from ocean swells.

Stamps from a 2009 set of two on the coconut crab, Birgus latro, a species of terrestrial hermit crab that lives in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Weighing in at an average of over four kilos, they are the largest land-living arthropod in the world. They are increasingly be threatened by human activity, having been extirpated from most areas of its range with a significant human population, including mainland Australia and Madagascar.