New Zealand, Los Angeles, New York, and Lots of Food

In today’s tight-lipped update, I’ll say that I’m still exhausted from weeks of hiking in New Zealand, eating in Los Angeles, and working in New York. Apparently I only travel to dual word places. Anyhow, I literally was on boats, buses, trains, planes, cars, and armadillos in the past 31 days. Minus the armadillos. I was only piggyback riding on one. It was full of so much food (the good food in LA, not NZ…puhlease), and some great hiking, and many stories. Did I mention I went to Cirque du Soleil, too? Well, I’ve got some tight deadlines but will post a few photos from this month’s adventures.

 

Advertisements

Travel Haiku from Tropical Islands

 

Lizard

For that fateful day

When my world turned upside down

Oh, that was just you

_________________________

 

Farmer’s market

Sign: “Legalize NOW!”

Who knew Rastafarians

Were also Jewish?

________________

 

Close

I think this must mean

I almost won yet again

Play Here Win Here Fail

________________

 

1940s, 1950s?

Oats, I never knew

You were so old school in dress

Is Quick more current?

_____________________

 

Squid

You are beautiful

In New York, we just eat you

I’ll hold off while here

____________________

 

Reflection

The terrorists came

They left their mark, and then some

Threats, using mirrors

____________________

 

Gangs

So many darn rules

And yet, with all that, it seems

Gangs themselves are coo’

____________________

 

Parking

How is this legal?

My words fall upon deaf ears

HOW IS THIS LEGAL?

___________________

 

Ray

It’s just not polite

To give someone the stank eye

Adjust your ‘tude, dude

_____________________

 

Sewage

A cute skunk mascot

25 years of feces

Poop jokes never fail

______________

 


Trunk Bay

Work on your image

Only Photoshop will save

A wasteland like you

 

*Please excuse the (mostly) poor (largely) camera phone photos

**All photos were taken in the U.S. Virgin Islands

***Yes, haiku is the plural of haiku

Working as an NGO Photographer in Africa [and How to Not Contract Ebola]

1I8A3034logo

There are few things I love more than traveling, photographing remote areas of the world, helping others, and not contracting Ebola. Luckily I was able to fulfill all four of those dreams on my recent work trip as a travel photographer to Africa.

I was able to spend my time getting sunburned in a couple of African countries, but my work was all done in The Gambia. It’s a small sliver of a country that’s smaller than the state of Connecticut. The Gambia is sandwiched smack in the middle of Senegal and rhymes with Zambia, but has a pretentious official article in front.

I worked for Penny Appeal, a UK-based nonprofit operating in more than 30 countries around the world. They provide emergency relief, house and educate orphans, build wells, and more. They have dozens of locals working in their own villages. They’re awesome people. They also happen to be a British Muslim organization.

While many I know have issues with this religion and way of life, I felt fine 99% of the time. Seeing little kids memorize the Qur’an doesn’t really make sense to me, but then again, I’m no Muslim. Yes, I am a pretty devout Christian—or spiritual, as might be more appropriate—but I saw no reason not to work with these folks. While I find many of their practices odd and limiting—and oftentimes sexist—I’m quite sure they feel similarly confused about me. Given this particular group’s comments on my clothing (I wore proper attire while working in the field, of course, but shorts when at the “resort”—like the men and holiday-goers), they likely think that females wearing shorts are a sign of physical and moral indecency. But we talked about these issues quite a bit, and I did my best to learn as much as I could. Besides, I’m friends with Muslims in several different countries around the world, and know that just like Jews, Catholics, Christians, and virtually every other religion, interpretations of religion and practices vary widely.

But why does any of this matter? It doesn’t, unless you’re stuck in times of the past or choose to group everyone of a religion into one category. What matters is that these were the nicest, most delightful folks I’ve worked with, and if I can participate in helping orphans, villagers, and needy people, why shouldn’t I—whether I agree with the religion or not? The group does wonderful work, and they’re great people, so I was delighted to work with them for the first of what I hope is many times. I now consider many of them my good friends–they were that awesome.

While photographing the poverty, well projects, orphans, school systems, and more in West Africa, I heard about quite a few ways to not contract Ebola. Tips include:

– Don’t shake hands, as this spreads germs. || In certain villages—or when meeting entire orphanages, we’d shake hands with 40 different kids and adults in the span of just a few minutes.

– Don’t make out with the locals or foreigners while in West Africa. || Though many tried getting me to stay (I was married off over half a dozen times, but I don’t think any of the marriages stuck), I avoided official wedlock—and therefore did not kiss anyone while there.

– Resist making out with any water buffalo. || I already made this mistake somewhere in Asia*, hence why I came back sick years ago.   *This is not actually true.

– Don’t go to West Africa. || Whoops.

– Avoid contacts with bats and nonhuman primates, as well as their raw meat. || I really wish someone had told me this before I ate all that ape. But seriously, they eat rat in The Gambia (huge, HUGE rats), because it apparently helps lower blood pressure. No, that’s not really related.

– Don’t be a doctor treating patients in West Africa. || Shirley you can’t be serious.

Now that you know how to stay Ebola free, I’ve included some non-Ebola photos from my trip. Check back soon for another update, where I’ll be ranting about husbands in Gambia, Moroccan tea, and so much more.

 

Hidden Signs in Photos

Img_1005ps2logos
An In-Depth Look at What’s Lurking in the Background of Your Photos

Do you ever get home, look at your photos for the first time on a large computer screen, and then notice details you never before saw? What’s that in the background? What is he motioning? How could she be…OH my GO–! I know I see odd things upon closer inspection, and I wanted to clue you in on exactly what I found. Throughout my thousands of photos taken throughout 9 different countries in 2012, you can imagine that photobombs were so tame in the scheme of things, they didn’t even make the cut. 

Let’s start off with a fairly normal photo (and you can read through and then click to enlarge the photos, running through a slideshow all at once) so you can be as shocked and awed as I was. 

Take a look here (below). Can’t see much except a sand hill, right? Wrong, naturally. 

Img_3261pssq

Let’s look closer (below):

Yeah, weird…I didn’t know Mr. Revere was even still alive! Or that he visited India! So honored though.

IMG_3261hahasq

Let’s take a glance at a new photo (below) from Nepal:

Img_4852

Big whoop, you say. A guy is asking for directions. But look closer now (below).

Holy eep, man

IMG_4852haha2

And this was one of the small riots, too. Naturally someone was killed here later that afternoon, but I was safe and long gone by that time.

Okay okay, let’s get a bit more light-hearted. Here’s a photo I took of the incredible mountains of Thailand (below):

Img_4050pslogo

And now, with the details you missed or perhaps weren’t even aware of!

IMG_4050ps2haha3

Oh, that’s…hmm. Maybe not so light-hearted.

You get the idea now. Since I know you’ve caught on, I’ll only include just the labeled photos for your viewing convenience. And because you’re probably still wondering about this post’s photo header (you weren’t), here’s the “background” on that one (below) too:

IMG_1005haha

Thanks for warmly welcoming me to India, ma’am.

Here’s a guy who went out of his way to welcome me to India (below):

IMG_3016haha

Thank you. I know I’m laughing in the photo but I was so, so frightened. Trauma? You bet your bottom dollar!
Moving on to a treasure hunt in Singapore (below):
IMG_3629haha
And now back to a sign in the mountains of Nepal (below):
IMG_3186haha3
Oops.
Oh, you’ll like this one. Rad motorcycle tricks by a student of mine and his bro in India, bro (below)!
IMG_3316hahasq
 
And another typical scene from my second Indian apartment’s front yard (below):
IMG_4306haha
Just commenting, people, not judging. Calm down.
Nothing odd about this one, actually (below):
IMG_6388haha
And while we’re on the animal theme…here I am in northern Nepal (below):
IMG_5145haha2
I, too, am saddened by this photo. And I thought being called a pig was an upgrade over heifer.
Last but not least, here I am during a huge conference of ours in India. I didn’t know what I was getting into when asked to pose for a photo (below).
IMG_5185haha
Needless to say, I had to weed guys out and only ended up with 4 of ’em.
So I urge you, citizens of the world…go back through your photos. Look closely, examine, and see what’s under the surface. I’m sure you’ll be dismayed at your findings; I certainly was. Enjoy!
Coop