• 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.

  • Colombian Carnival Parades

    I was lucky enough to attend and photograph two days of Carnival in Colombia in the city of Barranquilla. The Battle of the Flowers parade took place on Saturday and the Grand Parade took place on Sunday. Dance troupes work all year preparing elaborate floats and colorful costumes for the parades.

    We had great seats in the bleachers on the front row for a perfect view of the parades where I made dozens of new friends happy to celebrate Carnival together. Each parade lasts five hours with thousands of participants from all over the country.

  • Barranquilla Carnival

    On Saturday the major parade of Carnival took place in Barranquilla with the Battle of the Flowers in the afternoon. The celebration included large floats, many celebrities and dancers for 5 hours. We arrived early while people in the troupes were getting ready for the festivities so we were able to get a behind the scenes glimpse of the performers.

    The performers dressed in the traditional colorful costumes that they make throughout the year for the competition. They prepared for the celebration by applying festive makeup for the parade. The performers and dance troupes walked with their clubs for miles on the hot sunny afternoon along a parade route lined with hundreds of thousands of fans. This is the second largest Carnival in South America behind Rio.

  • School Visit in Palenque de San Basilio Village

    The village of Palenque de San Basilio has a population of about 3,500 inhabitants and is located in the foothills of the Montes de María, southeast of the regional capital, Cartagena. The village is inhabited mainly by Afro-Colombians, which are direct descendants of African slaves brought by the Europeans during the Colonization of the Americas.

    The descendants have preserved their ancestral traditions and have developed also their own language; Palenquero. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the Palenque de San Basilio village Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

    We were fortunate to be able to visit a local school in the village to meet the students. It is always amazing to meet students studying around the world. Girls in the village are known for their creative, fun hair designs.

  • Palenque de San Basilio

    Spaniards introduced kidnapped African slaves in South America through the Magdalena River Valley. Its mouth is close to the important port of Cartagena de Indias where ships full of Africans arrived. Some Africans escaped and set up Palenque de San Basilio. They became the first freed slaves in the Americas. They then tried to free all African slaves arriving at Cartagena and were quite successful.

    The village has become a Unesco World Heritage Site and African dance traditions are still preserved in the village today through classes and performances passed down through generations. We were able to attend and photograph a performance at the local dance school.

  • Traditional Colombian Dancers

    Cumbia is a music style that originated in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region. Cumbia began as a courtship dance practiced among the African slave population that was later mixed with European instruments and musical characteristics.

    Every afternoon dance troupes perform to Cumbia music in town plazas throughout the city of Cartagena, Colombia. These dances are passed down through family tradition and mastered through hours of practice. Each troupe makes vibrant colorful matching costumes that stand out against the traditional Spanish colonial architecture.

  • Cartagena Sunset

    My first stop on my Colombia adventure was Cartagena. Colombia is an easy destination for US travelers with direct flight from NYC and Miami lasting only 4-5 hours.

    Upon arrival we checked into the beautiful Movich Hotel in the city center. The hotel is located centrally with a short walk to shops and a city plaza where local dancers perform daily from 5:30-9 PM in their colorful dresses.

    The Movich has a wonderful rooftop bar where you can see amazing sunset views of the city while enjoying the perfect Mojito.

  • Patagonia Horseback Ride

    One of my most memorable travel days took place in Patagonia at Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. I stayed on a local ranch called Estancia Alice to photograph ranch life in the region. The ranch itself had idealistic views that looked like it was straight out of the pages of a Conde Nast magazine.

    I have always loved to ride horses but rarely get the chance since I live in the city. One of the gauchos working on the farm offered to take us on a horseback ride in the late afternoon and no one else was interested but I hopped at the chance.  The “short” ride ended up turning into a three-hour journey riding around the ranch through a local river and ending up seeing the most spectacular view of a glacier. It proves that some of the best travel experiences happen off the beaten path if you are willing to say yes to an adventure.

  • Machu Picchu

    Peru changed everything. In 2006, I decided to take my first vacation focused on photography with the Mentor Series sponsored by Popular Photography Magazine. Before this time I had traveled a lot of miles but not really focused on more than casual snapshot photos during my trips. My husband Bryan had taken an interest in photography so I thought it would be good to learn from professionals like Dave Black who acted as mentors on the trip. As we traveled throughout Peru, I learned a lesson to conduct a little research before I set off on these journeys across the globe. I didn’t realize that it would take planes, trains and buses to get to the jungle to see Machu Picchu reaching altitudes of 12000 feet above sea level along the way. I still have no idea how Hiram Bingham found the place.

    I showed up on the trip with my trusty $200 Fuji E-900 point and shoot camera that I carried around my wrist while almost everyone else hiked around the ruins with thousands of dollars in professional gear strapped to their backs. I only took 300 pictures on the ten day trip which is a slight regret since now when I travel I would have taken 10,000 images for almost any trip. A few of the photos ended up becoming very important in my photo career.

    This is one of the images that I presented at the final slide show of the trip. After feedback, I realized that my images could actually turn out ok even with a small camera and that I really enjoyed taking travel images to try to capture the essence of a place. I have to thank Mirjam Evers (www.mirjamevers.com), our fearless tour leader and wonderful photographer, for providing encouragement throughout the trip when I was intimidated by all the large cameras around me. Mirjam has become a great friend who I still travel and shoot with on a regular basis.

    This photo was taken just after sunrise on the last morning at the ruins. When we returned home, we decided to upload and sell a few of my images from the trip through a stock agency and this image became very popular appearing in magazines, websites and travel guides.  Finding the photo when traveling still provides a thrill and shows me there is interest in my images and point of view. I was hooked and an addiction began in those mountains of Peru.