Jacmel, Haiti

The Fishing Boats of Jacmel

For some reason, I am absolutely fascinated with old fishing boats. Their peeling paint and worn down appearance make me so curious to learn their history. Who made them? Who owns them? What are they used for? All questions I would love to know but usually don’t find out due to language barriers when traveling.

When I was in Jacmel, on the southern coast of Haiti in February as part of my visit with Heart of Haiti (#Bloggers4Haiti), our hotel was located right on the sea with stunning views of the Caribbean. I noticed a collection of old fishing boats below on the beach and decided to walk down and explore.

The view from above on the verandah was so inviting it was hard to leave our hotel. But curiosity got the best of me. I’m an explorer at heart not one to sit on the beach.

Jacmel, Haiti

Jacmel, Haiti

Jacmel, Haiti

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Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Leaving the Andes

Saying goodbye to a trip is always hard. Over four months later I am still writing about Bolivia and today is the very last post. Life has been so busy that it all feels sometimes like a blur. That is what has been so rewarding about having this blog. It has been a way to remember special moments in time and relive that experience through pictures and words.

As we left the Condoriri Valley after two wonderful successful hikes, I felt a sense of pride. I made it and wasn’t so sure I would given a hip injury that had kept me from running. But I did make it and I felt great, physically and mentally. Even more important is I made it with my dad.

Condoriri Valley, Bolivia

Packing up our gear

Jacmel, Haiti

Fresh Fried Plantains on the Streets of Haiti

Last February, I was in Haiti as part of a #Bloggers4Haiti trip on behalf of Heart of Haiti, a “trade not aid program” developed by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Willa Shalit in partnership with Macy’s to promote sustainable income in the arts for Haitians. Our trip began in Port-au-Prince and took us to the southern coast to the lovely ocean side town of Jacmel which is known for its papier-mâché.

While touring the different papier-mâché studios, I looked outside the window and saw this woman. There she was seated alongside the street, making fresh friend plantains one of my most favorite treats! As my mouth started to water, I grabbed my camera to capture the process of making them street side. For less than a $1 we bought a bag to share and they were just as fresh and delicious as they looked.

Jacmel, Haiti

Street Art in New York City

Finding Street Art along the Walls of New York City

I was on the plane Friday morning heading to New York City when I opened my email to see that the weekly photo challenge was walls. Instantly I knew how I was going to spend my free afternoon in the city. A photo walk.

I did a google search and discovered that New York City has a tremendous wealth of street art along its walls, buildings and store fronts. I love street art and knew that it would be a great way to spend the afternoon exploring some of the back alleys and streets in the heart of Little Italy and NoLlta in search of street art.

I took the subway to Spring Street and got off with a map in hand and a few written notes of where to explore. It was a chilly early spring day yet the sun was shining strong and the city was alive as usual with activity. I could tell it was going to be a great afternoon.

Spring Street Subway stop

Spring Street subway stop offers my first look at urban wall art.

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The Color Orange: Photos from Around the World

There is no blue without yellow and without orange. –Vincent Van Gogh

As the dog days of winter draw to a close and daylight savings comes this weekend, it is a reminder that soon our colorless white landscape will come to an end. There is nothing more I crave this time of year than color. Any color except brown, black or white which have been the main hues here for months.

When I saw that this week’s photo challenge involves color, I was thrilled. I’ve felt so incredibly deprived these last few months that it was fun to go through my photos and search for anything the color orange. While going through my photos, I realized that I have relatively few photos that feature exclusively orange and not many more that have orange as a predominant color. That surprised me given my blog currently has over 10,000 photos stored.

It made me realize I need to search for more orange next time I’m out exploring the world. For orange is a color that invigorates, enlivens and brightens up the day. Here is a gallery of some of my favorite orange hues. Hope you enjoy!

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Carnival Port au Prince, Haiti 2015

The Women of Carnival

Last Sunday, I had the thrill of attending my first ever Carnival when I was in Haiti. It was a wild night like nothing I have ever experienced. Wall to wall people danced in the streets, while music blared and super-sized floats crept at a snail’s pace down the Champ de Mars in the heart of Port-au-Prince.

Thankfully we were able to get tickets to be in the Minister of Tourism’s stand or it most likely would not have been safe. Tragically the next night, one of the floats caught on fire spreading mass panic while 16 people got trampled to death and countless more were injured. It was more devastating news for a country still trying to rebuild after the near catastrophic earthquake five years ago.

It is even more tragic given the fact that Carnival is supposed to be a time of celebration and great joy. Even the protests over fuel prices (which almost canceled our trip) stopped the day before in honor of Carnival. Despite the numerous hardships most Haitians face, Carnival is a time to let go and have fun. To let the music mesmerize you and beauty of Carnival sweep you away.

Carnival Port au Prince, Haiti 2015

Cordillera Real Boliva

The Scale of the Bolivian Andes

The Andes are an incredible mountain range passing from north to south through seven countries making it the longest continental mountain range in the world. There is something about the Andes that is simply magical. The grandeur, scale and scope of the Andes is mind-boggling. Over 4,300 miles long (7,000 km) and at points up to 430 miles wide (700 km), the Andes are immense and are blessed with some of the highest volcanoes in the world and largest ice fields.

I have been lucky to have set foot on the Andes in Peru, Chile, Argentina and most recently, Bolivia. There is no way I can pick favorites as each place has been unique and special in its own way. A four-day visit to the Cordillera Real in the Altiplano of Bolivia gave me once again a feeling of the enormous scale of the Andes. There are over 600 snow-capped peaks in just the Cordillera Real and we only hiked two of them.

On the first day at our camp as the morning sun rose high above the Andes, I shot these photos of what was to come. Judging by the immense beauty, I knew that the Bolivian Andes offered something special.

Cordillera Real Boliva


The Depth of Me

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscape but in having new eyes”  – Marcel Proust 

I always love a good philosophical photo challenge and this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Depth” happens to just fit the bill. The host of this week’s challenge Ben Huberman discusses the many different angles and perceptions of depth whether it be in the depth of field, the depth of color or texture or the depth of someone close to you. I felt that depth also offers a reason to look deep within oneself and examine what we see.

Through the practice of yoga, I’ve really began exploring the issue of “self” and “self-reflection”. I’ve learned a lot through the power of using my breath and the strength and flexibility not only of my physical but also my mental self. I truly believe that this self-examination into the depth of my soul has made me a much more balanced, peaceful person that helps me be a better person, mom, spouse, friend and writer.

As personal as it can be, taking time to look deep within our souls can be quite healing. Not only does it bring about long known revelations about who we truly are, it also evoles into some kind of acceptance and peace. I believe everyone has something they can personally work on to make them truer to themselves. For me, it is trying to use all my positive energy for good and not let my type-A personality frazzle me. It is taking time to slow down and stop and smell the roses in life. Relax. Breathe. Embrace. And enjoy each and every moment.

Photography and writing is a way for me to express myself and reflect on my life. If I use the approach of diving deep down within my photo collection and digging out the pictures that most describe my heart and soul, here they are.

Street photography La Paz Bolivia

Daily Life in La Paz

The best place to get a feel for daily life in La Paz is to walk her chaotic, often serpentine streets and see it all for yourself. As the sun rises, the streets are relatively quiet save for the growing hum of the cars, vans and buses that transport people around. By nine o’clock, the streets begin to come alive as the street vendors open up the doors of their little green stalls, bringing a burst of riotous color to the scene. Children in uniforms walk to school while men and women move swiftly to get to work. Others pass their time lounging on the stoops of a building or on a bench in the park.

I found the best way to get a taste of daily life in La Paz was to capture as many different aspects of it as possible on film. I have already posted my street photography photos on street art, women, markets and vendors. Now it is time to take a look at how people express themselves in their daily lives.

Street photography La Paz Bolivia

Singing on the streets to earn a dime.

Street photography La Paz Bolivia

Eating breakfast outdoors before opening her stall for the day.

Street photography La Paz Bolivia

Relaxing in front of God’s house.

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Finding Yellow

One of my favorite things about Central America and Cuba are the gorgeous, bright colors that often surround you everywhere you go. Normally I head south during our winter here in Minnesota when the landscape is barren of color and blanketed in snow. I feel so deprived of color that when I arrive, I go crazy snapping photos of everything I see- from buildings, to flowers, to artwork and people – I search the vibrant colors my eyes are craving. Yellow is one of those colors that always makes me feel happy. It is bright, glowing and warm. It also is a common color found painted on buildings in Central America and Cuba, perhaps given the Spanish Colonial influence of when they were built.

As the world around me is painted white, I long for the brilliant and bright shades of yellow that make my heart sing. Here are some of my favorite yellows I’ve spied in Guatemala, Honduras, and Cuba.

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Woman in La Paz Bolivia

Bolivian Street Photography: The Twinkle in her eye

Bolivia has the largest indigenous population in South America with an estimated 60% of her population claiming indigenous descent. In La Paz, the most prominent indigenous culture is the Aymara who are known for their rich, highland culture and colorful handicrafts.

Walking down the streets of La Paz, the landscape is awash is brilliant colors of tapestries, handwoven scarves, hats and sweaters, and tiny little street side shops and stalls run by the local Aymara women. Cholitas dressed in wide, layered skirts, a brightly colored handwoven blanket along the back and an English-style brown bowler hat atop their head, line the streets waiting expectantly for a sale.

I saw her alone, seated next to a small street side shop and a bucket of colorful dolls. I knew I’d have to stop and say hello and maybe purchase a doll for my daughter.

Woman in La Paz, Bolivia

Freedom Tower NYC

Descending into the depths of humanity: A visit to the 9/11 Memorial

“May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance”.       – 9/11 Memorial

Descending down into the depths of humanity lies the unexplainable. Within the two footprints of the North and South Towers, cries almost three thousand tears of the innocent lives lost from a horrendous act against our freedom.

9/11 Memorial

The water rushing down into the foundation of the North Tower felt like the tears of those who died.

9/11 Memorial

Three thousand tears descend into the foundation of one of the Twin Towers.

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