Friday, February 25, 2011

July 2010

Spent almost the whole month of July with Emil, Jackie and Michaela. Catalogued a bunch of Emil's photo's. I stayed in the guest house below the house. As part of our agreement I helped cook a meal every two days to share the expenses and work.I cooked mostly Asian fusion food since that is what I am used to cooking at home. It was the first time I had cooked in a long time. So itwas nice to be in a kitchen and be able to cook. I used to cook all the time at home in Hawaii but since going abroad I cooked maybe once a month. Emil taught me his work flow and I learned how to tweak photo's using luminosity masks. They allow more control in editing photo's since you are tweaking parts of the photos that are feathered. It makes for a much more professional finish to a photo. Emil helped me find a Stock photo Agency online that he uses so I could start putting photo's out there to sell. I have a few photos on there now its called Alamy. I took some photo's while I was there. We went to the park one day, took photo's outside of a Praying Mantis, and went for a sunrise shoot at Durban harbor. Emil tried to teach me as much as he could in the time given. But he's been doing photography for 15+ years. I only just started taking photography seriously about 2 years ago. So I have a lot of catching up to do. Emil had a few jobs while I was there. I helped in a photography class at uMhlangha wherehe did a low light workshop. Another job I helped on was what we called the Industrial Job. An engineering company had hired Emil to do photo's of a piece of Machinery used for sugar cane. This was one of my favorite times since I saw from beginning to end from the biddingfor the job to the meetings for the job to the shooting and final product of the job. It was a great experience. During my time at Emil's I kept in contact with Alanna eventually I asked her out, we started dating in July. Didn't know how it would work out but why not try a long distance relationship. I also found an overland trip with in my budget going from Cape Town to Cairo. I talked with my parents and decided this would be an amazing once in a lifetime experience(hopefully not once in a life time. It was that good.). So I booked the 16 week adventure with African Trails. The only thing is that the trip doesn't start till the 18th of August so I had some time to kill. So I was looking to going to another country. I didn't have enough time to apply for a visa extension so I decided to jump over the border for a bit. It was between Madagascar and Namibia. Since both of these countries the overland wouldn't go through. So I checked out Flights/alternative transportation to Madagascar.It was going to cost ~$1000 fora round trip ticket. There isn't much boat traffic. Basically it would be a hastle with the time and money I have. So I said good by to the Von Maltitz family and headed to Namibia. It was a two day trip from Durban to Windhoek via Jo'burg. I stayed at the Cardboard box Backpackers. Emil had told me about Sossusvlei. So I looked into booking into a tour there. I booked it and went to Sossusvlei. It was amazing to see all the dunes and to climb some of them.
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Praying Mantis found in garden of Emil's house.
Everlasting flower in a Durban Park
Despite what you see this was taken at night and that is the moon. Taken during low light Class
Industrial Shoot
Petrified trees in Sossusvlei, Namibia

June 2010

Start of June I was in Swaziland. I wasn't sure if Alanna was going to come to Swaziland so the day after I arrived there I headed to Maputo, Mozambique. Though its a Portuguese speaking country it was nice to try and use my Spanish. They could sort of understand me which was good since they predominantly didn't speak English. I stayed at a place called The Base. Its a nice hostel and I met some travelers from Europe and went to the fish market with them. Had some amazing seafood.The next few days were spent trying to find out if Alanna was going to go to Swaziland. She said she was, so I went back to Swaziland Backpackers to wait. My South Africa prepaid number doesn't work. So I was forced to rely on Facebook to communicate with Alanna. So I called the night before just to check in and find out if they were coming. I had used the receptions phone and added air time so I could use his phone. She said it would take around 4 hours. So They would arrive around 12 or so. So I waited at the hostel for I think it was 2 hours. I was worried since they had rented a car. By they I mean Alanna, Martijn, and Caroline. They showed up shortly later. It was nice to see them again. We spent the weekend hanging out. Went quad biking and Caroline drove us around a Game park. So the game park was quite awesome. I'm surprised the car survived how many times we bottomed out. At one point me and Martijn got out to guide the car. The wheels had to straddle a whole. lol. Good fun. A young Elephant acted like it was going to charge the car. It was a very good weekend. I was very sad to see them leave it was a hard goodbye. I met two travelers at Swaziland Backpackers, Kendall and Matt. We traveled to Tofo, Mozambique where we relaxed on the beach. Kendall and I went snorkeling with Whale Sharks which was awesome. I must say when a 10 meter Shark comes up less then a meter from you even though you know it eats krill and plankton I was still very much afraid. Met some cool people there at the hostel called Fatima's Nest. Stayed at their other hostel in Maputo which was very dirty. I recommend the Base. Anyways saw the first of the games of the World Cup here in Dino's. Saw the England vs USA game. Lets just say there might have been 4 Americans and like 40 English. Americans are very under represented when it comes to traveling outside of Europe and North America.I left Tofo on the 13th spent the 14th in Maputo spent the 15th at Swaziland Backpackers then arrived in Durban at Emil's on the 16th. That weekend went to the Eastern Cape where Emil was running a workshop. Spent the next few days learning Emil's system of Keywording and editing photos to put online for stock agencies. Watched the Soccer games. I kept an eye on Gumtree which is SA's equivalent of Craigslist or an online classifieds. I hadn't bought tickets prior to being in SA because I had no idea where I would be. Finished up the month interning at Emil's in Durban.
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Alanna in Swaziland during our ATV trip.
Fresh Prawns(shrimp) from Maputo fish market
Whale shark in Tofo, Mozambique
Me relaxing at Condor Colony Eastern Cape, South Africa
Landscape Eastern Cape

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

May 2010

I arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 30th of April. I had been talking with one of the guys from the volluntourism project I had organized to do in St. Lucia. So we weregoing to catch a Rugby game in Ellis Park. I had just arrived in Jo'burg and didn't know my way around. The lady at reception told me to take the public tuk tuk's into town and she gave me directions on how to get to the Apartheid Museum where I was meeting up with Lee. Lets just say I ended up in the worst part of Jo'burg. I only know this because two guys on the street asked if I was lost and refused to leave my side because they were afraid for my safety. I hadn't even noticed that I was the only white person and I hadn't seen another in a hour. Eventually I made it to the Apartheid Museum and waited for Lee to come out of the Museum. We left for the rugby game where we saw the Lions and I think it was the Stormers play. I had never watched a full game of rugby in my life. I love sports and since I am traveling for the next few years. I need to keep an open mind to different cultures. Lee was awesome though explaining how the game worked and the penalties. I very much enjoy rugby now. We had a drink after the game near Lee's place before I went home. Flew to Richards bay where I was picked up and brought back to the Vollunteer house. Got to meet all the volunteers and staff. Met Sean who will be our leader for the Photography Conservation Project. There are 3 projects that base them selves here at the house. One is the Photography, then there is the Medical and lastly is the community. We all share the same house. There were about 18 of us I think. The organization that this belongs to is called African Impact. I spent the next month at this house with the 5 others on the Photo project. Lee from England Judy and Kyle from the US, Akshay from the US, and Aliona from Spain. The first three days of the project wasspent doing an introduction to Photography with a Professional Photographer Emil von Maltitz from Durban. We did exercises in the field as well as instruction in classroom setting. I met my now girl friend here at the project. For the record she kind of annoyed me and I responded to that by acting childish my self. I cant explain all the little things that had happened during that month. It was an amazing time spent with friends taking photo's learning to push our photography to be better. Seeing Hippo's walk down the street and inthe water to seeing zebras and Giraffes for the first time. Then going to the Drakensberg at the end of the 3rd week changed things. For one I got a brand new camera which I joked was my new girlfriend. A Cannon 7-D. Love this camera. Next thing that changed was I had mentioned to Emil that I was looking to intern with a Professional and if he needed any help to let me know. He got back to me at the Drakensberg and told me that yes he did. Next thing that changed was mine and Alanna's first kiss was on the last night at the Drakensberg. We had been hanging out and ended up kissing. Finished up the month there in St. Lucia. Where I said goodbye to those on the projects. Alanna and I had a hard time saying goodbye we spent a lot of time together the last week I was there. Alanna still had 2 more weeks till she was going home. So we made loose plans to meet up in Swaziland. Emil's guest house wouldn't be ready for a couple weeks so I decided to go to Swaziland and Mozambique. So I took the Bazbus from St. Lucia to Mbabane.
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Hula hoop assignment. Take pictures in around and out not leaving the hula Hoop.
Photog's shadows at Eastern Shore
Courtesy of Akshay me taking pics of Crocodiles
Jumping pic in Amphitheater Drakensberg.

April 2010

April 2nd I was in Machu Picchu I know this because my niece Naomi was born that day. After coming back from Machu Picchu I spent a few days in Cusco hanging out with Chu and others from the trip. I had enquired prior to going to Machu Picchu about a tour into the Manu Biosphere Reserve. The tour didn't leave for a few days so I hung out in Cusco trying to get refunded my money from theTour Agency. No luck with that though. I spent 8 days in the Biosphere it was amazing. I like to call it my South American Safari. We saw over 150 species of birds, 10 species of Monkeys, 4 species of Frogs, 4 species of snakes, Tapir, Giant river otters, Capybara, and both black and White Caiman. It was definitely the most abundant wildlife I have ever seen. The only other tourist that were on my trip was a couple from Australia. They were great travel companions and I have made contact with them since coming to Australia to catch up withthem. Upon finishing with the tour of the biosphere I headed towards Bolivia. I made a stop at Lake Titicaca where I paid $135 to enter Bolivia. I didn't know I needed to pay this so I had to change back all the money that I had in Sol's and Bolivianos so I could pay to get in. To make it worse Copacabana doesn't have an ATM so I had to stay on very small budget for the 3 daysI was there. Took a boat out to Isla del Sol and spent 2 nights out there exploring the island. Walking on the trails. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. I took a bus to La Paz the capital of Bolivia to figure out what I was going to do in the country. I stayed at a hostel that a friend of a friends family owned. It was a nice hostel. But any one who has back packed with Israeli's knows that they like to party. So that made for an interesting few nights. I randomly ran into John, Maz, and Sophie who I had done the Salkantay trek with. So went and had drinks with them the night before I did the "world's deadliest road" which I do got to say was pretty dangerous. On the paved High section we were passing cars going down. The speed limit was 45kmh I believe so it was pretty awesome. So I have to explain that this road is really dangerous people do die. There was an Israeli girl who had died a week before. The reason its so dangerous is: its a two way road one side is the face of the mountain the other is a sheer drop. So onone of thesecorners a car surprised us coming around a corner. The tour guide got by alright I lost some traction/skidded a bit but put my feet down to steady myself. But one of the other guys wasn't so lucky he wasn't able tobreak in time and luckily jumped off his bike and grabbed the side of the road. The bike landed about 5 meters below on some trees and he fell only a few feet.The craziest part was his birthday. Well he survived. We did the whole hill 2 hours faster then what people usually take. So we were flying it down the hill. That nightI left for Uyuni. I wanted to jump on one of the tours through the Salt Flats I had heard great things. A tour company had told me that there was a little bit of trouble with miners but everything should be fine. Got down to Uyuni and spent 4 ours trying to organize a tour. It took forever. So the miners are blockading the roads so they aren't letting the tourist through. I was lucky enough to get on a Land Cruiser that was going. So headed out and got blockaded after lunch where we ate at the Salt Hotel. We waited a few hours. 10 vehicles backed up. The drivers decided to wait for night fall and go around the blockade. Got lost which is quite easy in the worlds largest Salt flat in the world. Eventually some vehicles gave up we ended up going to a little town to stay at a hostel. There was no space there so we spent a night in an empty building. Sleeping on the stone. Next morning left at 6 am and continued on our way. Got blockaded again this time I was taken in the miners vehicle as an "insurance" that we wouldn't leave. lol. I was the one since when I had looked around the vehicle I was the youngest none female person there. After some good negotiation by our driver we were on our way. It only cost us about 4 or so hours of our day. The rest of the trip went fine. It is a beautiful place. I must note that what the miner's were doing was justified. I would have done the same in their position. No water and electricity in their cities by the mines. I have no problem what so ever of being held against my will for a cause that I think was just. No harm no foul. I ended thistour at the border of Chile/Bolivia. Where 4 of us got off and took a van to San Pedro de Atacama. Time is ticking for me. I need to be in South Africa on the 2nd of May so my flight is on the 29th or April. I have a going away party to go to for Nicole on the 27th so I have little timeleft. So I went sand boarding in the Death Valley. Really good fun I'm really surprised I didn't break my back with as many wipeouts as I had. Don't let the sand fool you. It's a lot harder then snow and its less forgiving. Left Chile and headed for Argentina. I was going to spend time in La Salta and Jujuy but time was running out. I also had planned on cutting across Paraguay to Iguazu but time and money wasn't on my side. It would cost me $135 to enter Paraguay. So that didn't make sense considering I would be there only a day. So I went around Paraguay to Iguazú National Park. This is an amazing waterfalls. I happened to be there while it was raining heavily so they had to close the devils throat walk way. It was being overflowed with water. I had only 2 days at the falls then I left for Buenos Aires. Where I picked up some stuff that I had left at my host families house and went out to dinner with Nicole and her friends. It was nice to see familiar faces. I had no luck with fixing my camera it was going to cost more to fix then it was worth. So I am going to have to use the Cannon 350D that I had bought at the pawn shop when I was here before I had left for Peru. I left South America on the 29th of April knowing I will return some day.

Top to Bottom:
Ben Larissa and I at Manu in front of a huge tree.
Me in my Protective clothing getting ready for the Deadliest road.
Me jumping with the Salar de Uyuni in the Background.
Me sandboarding in San Pedro de Atacama.
Iguazú falls.

Monday, February 21, 2011

March 2010

Started March in El Chalten Hiking Fitz Roy in the Glacier National park. I bought a sleeping bag here and decided to go camping at the Laguna Torre. Little did I know I what I was in for. This was the coldest night I've ever had while camping. When I woke to go take pictures at the lake at 5:30 in the morning I discovered frost on my tent. I had spent the night shivering wearing all my clothes. lol. Another lesson learned. Even though my sleeping bag said 0 degrees C. That didn't mean it would be comfortable then. Anyways while in Ushuaia I had booked a ferry called the Navimag that would take me through the fjords of Patagonia Chile. It left in about a week so thats why I decided to go to El Chalten and then to Puerto Natales where I went to another park. This one is more famous and is called Torres del Paine. Here I did the "W" going up to glacier grey then into the french valley and lastly the three towers. I only had 2 nights thoughto make sure I was back in Puerto Natales to go on the ferry so I didn't go all the way to Glacier Grey I only went 2 hours in so I could see it then turned around and went to the camp in the French Valley. I ran into Aiofe and Adam who I had met on the Antarctic Dream while going up the French Valley to take pictures. I met up with them later at the base of the three towers(tres de torres).Left Puerto Natales for Puerto Mont via the fjords. It was a beautiful relaxing way to go up the coast. It was a 4 night affair but I had two friends to keep me company. Also met someother people too. Ended up traveling with them after we arrived in Puerto Mont. An Aussie, a canadian aDutch and another American. We split the costs of a car and went to Chiloe which is a little island just south of Puerto Mont. It was a great time minus the fact that my worst case of food poisoning was a result of an Empenada that I got there. It was good though. Went with John and Steven to Bariloche. Slowly lost people to other places. I had broke my DSLR on the boat so I had a bought a Point and shoot when I had arrived in Puerto Mont. Santiago and Buenos Aires are the two places where I could get my camera fixed so I flew to Buenos Aires. I stayed with Nicole a friend I had met while in Ushuaia at the hostel. Met up also with another girl who I had met down there. Went to La Bamba. Which is a percussion show. Very good. Hung out with Antoinette and Nicole for the days I was there. Then flew to Cusco, Peru. So In January there had been some major landslides going on so they had closed down Machu Picchu. So its supposed to be opening soon. So on my way from the airport I got hustled into buying a tour called the Salkantay Trek. Well it left 5 days later. So I got a feel for Cusco. I went and saw some of the Inca ruins around the city like the sacred valley. I hiked the trail with 19 other people. There was a mixture of us. I shared tents with a guy from the States named Chu. Chu and I had an epic trip. Not only did we encounter landslides on the way there but me and Chu got screwed by our travel companies. Me especially. I had to pay an extra $60 for my entrance ticket into Machu Picchu and I had no train ticket back. Lets just say I will shop around a lot more when booking a tour. But we survived.

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Me with Fitz Roy in the background.
Sunrise at Laguna Torre
Me in the French Valley in Torres Del Paine
Jumping pic at Machu Picchu

February 2010

Ended my Spanish classes near the beginning of the month. Booked my flight to Ushuaia. I had some extra time so I went over to Uruguay. Took the ferry over on the Buquebus. Spent a week in Montevideo got to see the Carnival. Though it isn't as big as the Rio one it still impressed me. I had a great time in Montevideo walking around the old parts of town drinking Mate with fisherman and going swimming in the ocean. Took a bus up the coast to Punta Este. Punta Este is one of the many places that the Porteño's like to go for vacation. My host family had said it is very beautiful place. So I spent 3 days at the beach there mingling with them. Around the 11th got back to Buenos Aires via Colonia. Left the next day for Ushuaia. In Ushuaia(Fin del mundo) I went hiking in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Spent a few days looking for supplies for my Expedition Cruise that I booked through a company called Antarctica Ushuaia Tourismo. My sales associate who was very helpful through out my 3 weeks of contact is named Daniela. I definitely recommend her. Anyways picked up some ski Gloves and a neck warmer. The company provided boots, waterproof pants, and a Parka. Which was nice not having to buy these. I booked a last minute cruise which was half the price of the listed price. I met a few people at the hostel I was staying at(La Posta) spent some time hanging out with them(met up with them later in Buenos Aires). I left on the Antarctic Dream on the 18th of February on my 11 day expedition to Antarctica and the South Shetland Islands. I can not convey how amazing this experience was. Not only was the place amazing but the crew and passengers were awesome. I had an amazing time. So much so I would like to go again. We saw Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins, Humpbacks, Minke whales, and Orcas. Saw many types of birds including the Wandering Albatross. Saw seals such as the Antarctic Fur, Elephant, Leopard, Weddel seals. I took close to 10,000 photos in those 11 days. Swam in the Antarctic Ocean and stepped foot on the Antarctic Continent. The Saddest part of the trip was upon arrival back in Ushuaia the Chilean crew found out that just the morning prior the catastrophic earthquake hit Concepción. There was no word on how the families of the crew were. The hardest part for them was they had another trip leaving the next day. That must have been the hardest trip of the season. I ended February on the bus to El Chalten. My bunk mate Yui had told me how there was some very cool trails most notably Fitz Roy which is part of the Parque Nacional los Glaciares.

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Chinstrap Penguins(Pygoscelis antarcticus)
Me with Ushuaia Harbor in the background
Sunset in Montevideo, Uruguay
Me on one of the South Shetland Islands with the Antarctic Dream and Antarctic continent in the Background.

January 2010

I landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 9th of January. I had booked a months worth of spanish classes through a company called RealGap I booked a home stay with them. But when I got there I was slightly dissapointed that I was in a hostel and that there was no plan to move me in with a family. So the company that Realgap does its courses through is called Expanish. I now know that I should have just booked through Expanish it would have saved me a lot of money but thats a lesson learned. Anyways I spent the month taking Spanish classes. I have to say I learned a lot of Spanish in that month more than I did in my two years in high school. Since there was very little to no English spoken in class it forced me to learn Spanish quickly. Also being in the home stay with a family that didn't speak English greatly helped me. I highly recommend taking a Foreign language abroad. It's so much more practical. One of the guys that was in the class with me turned me on to the idea of booking a last minute deal to Antarctica. This sounded like such a cool and exotic thing to do. So I researched it and contacted the company that he had used. I finished my classes in Early February and had some time to kill before the boat was going to leave from Ushuaia, Argentina.

Top:Me at La Boca vs River game in Mar del Plata. Organized by Expanish as a culture tour.
Bottom:Tres De Febrero park in Palermo. My favorite place to go and relax and do homework.