• March for Our Lives

    I made a very last minute decision at 9 PM on Friday night to buy a plane ticket and go to Washington DC at 6 AM on Saturday morning to photograph and join the March for Our Lives protest in front of the U.S. Capitol. I would typically attend these type of political events to photograph the musicians and celebrities for news coverage, but not this time. This time I was there to support the kids.

    My first stop was the Capitol Building where I saw a group of teens standing with signs. I met students from Guilford High School in Connecticut who traveled to attend the rally. Claire Keanna is pictured above with the sign #NeverAgain one of the strong mottos for the march.

    The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida have rallied a nation of concerned pupils, parents, teachers and citizens in a united effort to make legislative changes to make schools safe for children and teens. They lived through a tragedy and are now standing up and making a revolution happen. No child or teen should have to stand up in front of a crowd in Washington and talk about how they lost friends and beloved family to gun violence.

    It was a beautiful day in DC and I was in awe of the scene upon arrival as people were marching toward Pennsylvania Avenue by the thousands to join the protest. Handmade signs and t-shirts could be seen all around. I know this is not just a “gun issue” and mental health plays a huge part in the conversation but nowhere else in the developed world do students get gunned down while going to school to get an education. Something needs to change in our system.

    I was very proud to stand with 800,000 other Americans to support these kids in their efforts for change. I can only hope the youth of America will be inspired to VOTE in the future and fully participate in our political process. It’s hopeful to see what the future holds.

  • Sunday in New Orleans

    I love to walk around the French Quarter in New Orleans on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The weekend crowds are trickling out of the city and it gets quiet late in the day. Today was the perfect spring day after the rain cleared from the area to see the sights of the city.

    As I turned the corner onto Bourbon Street a second line parade approached and quickly got the tourists to fall in line for the march down the historic street. Every day there is something to celebrate in New Orleans.

  • New Orleans Museum of Art

    I spent International Women’s Day at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The current exhibit celebrates women. A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes is open through May 28 and is a must see for visitors coming to the city.

    The exhibit includes: experimental gowns, headpieces, and jewelry by avant-garde fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Iris van Herpen investigate symbols of womanhood and expand the theme of fashion as art. More than 100 articles of daring fashion are presented in a dramatic gallery design that explores seven archetypal personality types, including Sage, Magician, Enchantress, Explorer, Mother Earth, Heroine, and Thespian.

  • New Orleans Sculpture Garden

    There is a hidden gem behind the New Orleans Museum of Art in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden that occupies approximately five acres in City Park adjacent to the museum. The sculpture garden is open and free to the public seven days a week. There is even a free audio tour that can be accessed through visitor’s cell phones.

    The garden is divided by a pond on tree lined paths and is a beautiful place to visit and see over 64 sculptures from artists like Fernando Botero, Antoine Bourdelle, Arman, Henry Moore, Deborah Butterfield and many more.

    I spent some time in the garden before my visit to the museum today after an Uber driver insisted I take a walk through it before I visited the museum. New Orleans has some of the friendliest Uber drivers I have ever come across and they are always happy to recommend a great restaurant or place to visit to see the sites of the city.

  • Botero

    Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian figurative artist and sculptor. Born in Medellín, his signature style, also known as “Boterismo”, depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered one of the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America.

    I visited the city landmarks and photographed the famous Botero statues that line the city streets in Botero Plaza near Museo de Botero. This is a must see stop if you visit the city.

  • An Evening With Roberto Escobar

    Sometimes opportunities come up while traveling that are unexpected. This was the case while visiting the city of Medellin in Colombia. My friends and I were given the unique opportunity to spend an evening with Roberto Escobar at one of Pablo Escobar’s houses in the city. It was definitely a stand out evening in my travels that I will never forget.

    Roberto is Pablo Escobar’s brother and was the accountant in the Medellin Cartel. At one point he was wanted with his brother on the FBI Most Wanted List for a $10 Million reward. There are photos in the house of their FBI posters and he spoke about being in Washington DC in front of the White House the day the poster came out. He said they even visited the FBI museum.

    He told stories of his brother always in a positive light highlighting the Robin Hood effect he had on the city of Medellin building hospitals, schools and soccer clubs for the city. The family provided housing to all low-income families in the city and provided scholarships to college for hundreds of children.

    Escobar’s home is situated on a hillside in Medellin with views of the airport from the terrace so Pablo could see his shipments of cash arriving by plane from the US. The house is almost setup like a museum of Pablo Escobar’s history. It has cars that belonged to the drug lord and photographs of both of the brothers throughout their years in the cartel. The photos and stories highlight how outrageous the lifestyle was in the 1980’s at the height of their business.

    Roberto Escobar also spoke about being always paranoid during that time and showed safe rooms in the house equipped with oxygen tanks to hide out for long periods if needed. I even tried out the safe room behind the living room fireplace.

    This house is also the site of the attempted kidnapping of Roberto Escobar in 2006 and still has bullet holes in the walls.

    Escobar told stories of meeting politicians, world leaders and entertainers. He spoke about spending time with Frank Sinatra, Fidel Castro and a 3AM visit from Madonna. He was open to answering all of our questions during the evening. When I asked him who the most interesting person he had ever met was, he wouldn’t say because he said they were still alive and maybe wouldn’t like the association.

  • Art in District 13 – Medellin

    District 13 (Comuna 13), the notorious neighborhood in Medellin history, has transformed itself from a dangerous place where residents were afraid to leave their homes into a vibrant center for arts and hip hop dance in the city.

    The area is home to the enormous 384m orange-roofed outdoor escalator, connecting Comuna 13 (located high on the hillside) to the rest of Medellín. A journey that once took residents a strenuous 35-minute hike up the hill has now been transformed into a six-minute trip. The escalator, completed in 2011, is divided into six sections allowing people living on different levels of the hillside to access at different points. It has improved life in Comuna 13 where people now feel more connected to the rest of the city.

    Along the way through the escalator stops you can see vibrant street art that lines the city walls with colorful graphics from amazing graffiti artists in the city.

    Community centers and the Library Park have also opened to provide services to women and children in the area to further education and financial independence.

  • Medellin, Colombia

    After the parades of Carnival were finished, we flew to the city of Medellin. Once considered the most dangerous city in the world because of the notorious Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar, this city is now the center of commerce in Colombia and safer than many cities in the US.

    It is beautiful in landscape in the middle of the Andes Mountains and a stark contrast to the beach city of Cartagena. During the trip to the city we visited District 13 or Comuna 13. This neighborhood has the most tumultuous history in the city with its history of violence surrounding guns, drugs and money. In the 1980’s the neighborhood was controlled by those loyal to drug lord Pablo Escobar.

    Today this area of the city is safe and a major tourist attraction to see graffiti street art projects lining the sidewalks of the neighborhood.

  • Relaxing on Islas del Rosario

    On Friday we took a speedboat to the Islas del Rosario for a relaxing beach day. The ride was about an hour through bright blue ocean waters to reach one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. There are few things I enjoy more than being on the water on a perfect summer day listening to loud music and singing with friends.

    These islands have many places to stop off for a drink and a major party but we docked and spent the day at the fabulous Agua Azul Beach Resort, a private beach club. We were able to take in the sun and the sand while drinking some amazing pina coladas away from the crowds. I rented a jet ski for an hour to explore further and see the beautiful landscapes of the islands.

  • After the Carnival Parade

    After the parade is finished and the participants have walked miles, the real party begins in the neighborhood at the end of the parade route. Bars are pouring drinks freely, barbeques are smoking, and children are playing with cans of silly string, a carnival tradition.

    The best part of my Colombian experience was meeting the amazing people that have so much pride in their families and communities. It was truly one of my favorite travel experiences.