travel

Nicaragua and it's colonial gem - Granada

A few years ago I started taking trips at the end of the year and it has since become a tradition.  The trip that started it all was a birthday trip to Hawaii and since I've decided that spending one's birthday in a strange place with people you don't know is actually really great.  Don't get me wrong I miss my friends during the big day but I also feel like being away from home on that day makes me even more grateful for the comforts of home.   It's no coincidence that my trips are during the Bay Area's "winter" months.   The short days and the lack of sunshine pretty much drive me mad.... so I tend to head somewhere very warm and very sunny to load up on as much vitamin D as I can!  

This year was one of those milestone birthdays so I wanted to do something special.... a week long all women surf camp in Nicaragua was just the thing!  After not surfing in warm water for the last 2 years I was more than excited about the prospect of going into the ocean without being wrapped in a large piece of rubber (AKA wetsuit).  So after booking my surf camp adventure I figured I would take some time to explore Nicaragua's other offerings.  

First on the list was the town of Granada.  Granada is about 2 hours north of San Juan Del Sur and is a little colonial gem.  The town is still developing but has lots of great things to discover.  It's easy to enjoy the colorful buildings while you stroll along the cobblestone streets.   There are also some great spots to stop for authentic handicrafts: Tio Antonio's is a hammock shop where you can watch local artisans whip you up your very own hammock to take home. They even take special orders so you can choose the colors you like!

 

Desert Magic in La Guajira

Colombia is a magical country.  It has so much to offer any traveler;  jungles, cities, snow capped mountains,  architectural gems and amazing food!.  I recently spent 6 weeks traveling in this wonderful place. Colombia is my birthplace and this was my first time visiting since leaving when I was about 2 years old! 

When initially started researching my trip my mother told me of a region called La Guajira…. A quick search on Google produced an array of stunning images of this desert region.   I was hooked.   I knew that I would hit all the usual suspects like Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena during my visit but La Guajira would be the crown jewel of my trip.   Perhaps I was drawn by it’s remoteness and stark beauty.    I had to get there.

While staying a hostel near Tayrona Park I met two fellow travelers; a Frenchman and a Dutchman.  We had all read about the fabled La Guajira (I suspect that Lonely Planet had a hand in that).  We quickly decided that we would make the journey together.  So we departed early on a Friday morning not quite sure how to arrive to the Northern most tip of South America.   Getting there is probably just as you imagine it in your minds eye…. There was a bus, a cab and a 4wd vehicle involved and 8 hours of bumpy, dusty, hot roads.    The final destination was worth ever bit of effort.

La Guajira is a travelers dream. It’s the kind of place that reminds you of why you travel. There is open sky as far as the eye can see. The colors of the golden sand set against the jewel tones of it’s salty sea form an impossible contrast. As you drive through it’s expansive landscape you see small house used by the native Wayuu people. Their colorful dresses dot the landscape like desert flowers. Wayuu Children are so curious about strangers.  The set up “candy” Road blocks for your car as you travel through the desert.

 

The northern most point of the region, Punta Gallinas, is a place where giant sand dunes lead to warm aqua blue ocean waters. Bring some cardboard and you could slide down the dunes right into the ocean!

 

This place is for a certain kind of traveler…. if you like the idea of sitting undisturbed with nothing but the blue ocean and a good book while eating fresh caught lobster…. this is the kind of place you will enjoy. It truly is the end of the earth.

Homecoming ...

You know that moment when people ask you where you are from ?  I have to confess that I'm never quite sure how to respond.   I think when I was younger I used to just tell people that I was from Florida because it seemed like the easiest thing to say.  However over the last few years that response started to seem really weird.  I think it must have happened when I was in grad school.  During all those moments of wondering if I had made the right choice to leave my cushy corporate job to follow this crazy photography dream,  I began to question other things .... mostly related to identity and roots.    It was the first time in my life I really sort of began wonder about the place my parents had left behind when the emigrated to the United States all those years ago.   I knew it was time to finally make a trip back to Colombia.  

It took a couple of years to actually make the trip happen but this past January I finally went "home" for the first time in 36 years.  I traveled for 6 weeks why my family, by myself and friends I met along the way.   The trip was truly life changing.   There were relatives that I hadn't seen since I was 12 and there were ones I had never met.   There were things that I never knew about our family ; my grandfather had been a coffee farmer, my 80 year old uncle still has a ranch and rides horses everyday,  my mom and her sisters used to get in trouble for playing in piles of coffee beans!   My aunt Amanda (who I lovingly call the midget because she is a very tiny woman) is 70 years old and an unstoppable force of nature who wears heals no matter where she goes (even on hikes up a mountain).   She was my tour guide for the majority of my family time and she left very few stones unturned in an effort to show me every corner of Colombia.

I returned with close to 5000 images (and that was after some initial editing!)  I wasn't quite sure where to start with editing so I turned to Wonderful Machine and together we came up with the Down South gallery.    The gallery contains images from all over Colombia including Medellin, Cartagena,  Villa de Leyva,  Santa Fe de Antiquioa,  Cali, Salento  and the remote desert region of La Guajira (one of my personal favorites... check out the blog entry specifically about that part of the adventure)

My trip with unforgettable!  I really wish I could pack all my friends on a plane and take everyone together.  In the meantime,  I will have to share the good ole fashioned way... photographs!

 






As Darkness Falls

Ocean_Beach-686 There is a creative voice inside every artist that guides us to create the work we do. I find that often I don't honor that voice and instead I worry about work that I "should be" making. This year I promise to listen to that voice, to that intuition and see where it leads me. I've been asking myself what inspires me, what do I love shooting? Nature is one of my favorite subject matters. Especially the sea with all her many moods and faces. I think of the seashore as a representation of what it means to be human. There are days when the waves pound the shore with so much force it feels as if the entire beach will be carried away in the turbulent waters. Then there are days when the ocean lazily washes her water onto land almost as an invitation to come and play. There are days the sunsets are filled with the colors of peaches and tangerines and days of steely blue skies filled with menace. I love these cold steely sunsets as much as the others. I find them beautiful for all their mystery. The blue hours are my favorite time of day. It's those moments when the world is shrouded in hues of blue. I feel they are a prelude to what is to come with the next sunrise.