Cartagena, Colombia PART I

I am back on the road which means I am back.

I spent the last two weeks in Cartagena, Colombia and I am writing this airborne on my way to The Galápagos Islands. (I am posting this a week later as the internet in The Galápagos was near non existent).

There has always been something about being on the move, being up in the air, and in transit that sparks my inner glow. When I travel, I feel like I am everything— expanding at every passport stamp, every person I met, every story I share, every meal I digest.

Leading up to the trip, I was overwhelmed. Do I have everything? What will happen? Am I prepared? I powered through the weeks prior like a bullet train, leaving little room for anything but checklists. 

Once I landed in Cartagena, I could exhale. I felt like I was being reacquainted with a city as well as the nomadic part of me. I quickly dove into the reason why I was back- documenting the dance company Periferia for my VSCO Artist Initiative project

As I wandered the colorful streets and found pockets of life, I couldn’t help but realize that while traveling requires momentum, it somehow allows me to slow down. I stayed in the neighborhood Getsemaní and stumbled upon families sitting outside, doors open, music blaring, talking, sharing, eating, etc. Window scenes full of people playing cards, observing the streets, and engaging with each other. I realized that life in Cartagena allowed for time and community. I thought back to my weeks prior, or even months prior of constant hustling, and thought to myself, when was the last time I allowed for time to drip? I was working every day and yet I felt incredibly more calm. The quality of life felt noticeably different.

I thought back to the usual comments I get when I tell/told people that I was going to Colombia.

“Oh, be careful. It’s dangerous there,” or my least favorite response, “Why would you want to go there?” Little do they know what they are missing out on, too afraid to face something foreign to them. I chuckled on my cab ride from the airport as my driver asked me where I was from and when I said LA, his response was, “Oh, it’s dangerous there, no?” “It’s dangerous everywhere,” I replied. Fearing the unknown is natural, avoiding it is likely, but never testing bravery? THAT is dangerous. That is mortal. 

As I’m traveling again for myself, I am evermore sure of the importance of it. Driven to open the eyes of people that are teetering on fear and flying. If that is you, take the leap. It is the best thing you can do for yourself.

That’s my rant.

Let’s get to some good stuff. Like many things, cities, just like people fill a spectrum. There are objectively beautiful parts and subjectively beautiful parts. I’m going to break my next three posts into 1. Objectively beautiful parts 2. Subjectively beautiful parts (which I find most beautiful) and 3. An update on my VSCO project.

As a tourist you will most likely be visiting and spending most of your time in the old walled city of Cartagena. The colonial architecture, the vibrant walls, horse carriages, open air restaurants in plazas, and hanging balconies are incredibly romantic. There are photo opportunities at every corner. 

Intro to Travel Photography e-course on BRIT + CO

I'm excited to announce that my Intro to Travel Photography e-course has launched on Brit + Co.

I'll give you the skinny on the gear I bring, why THIS is the only camera bag I travel with, shooting tips when you are out in the field, how I edit photos, and how you can bring your adventures to life long after you've already returned home with the help of Artifact Uprising.

If you sign up by 3/22, the class is only $33! Also, Artifact Uprising is offering everyone who enrolls 25 free prints. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Tag me on instagram (@nomadic_habit) with your travel photos and tell me what you've learned!

2016

Hello 2016. You look good.

2015, you were a wild beast, so beautiful in your madness. I'm not sure if I spent more time in the country or out of the country but surely I know I was constantly moving. Constantly packing and unpacking, constantly slathering on bug spray, scratching mosquito bites, scratching my brain, boarding planes, getting my passport stamped, taking pictures, taking a breath, taking a moment, taking it all in, but it didn't quite feel like I was ever taking my time. I got swept up in momentum and the pace got to be too fast for me to keep up with Nomadic Habit and there were points that the momentum outpaced me. I began chasing myself. Reaching for my feet as to catch myself. Of course there were times that the momentum felt amazing, like I was riding a wave. Maybe I wasn't catching myself, but I was catching air, and in those moments, there was nothing better than that. I had thrown myself into El Camino, a travel company I had co-founded and I was committed to the hustle. Through it, in 2015, I traveled a lot, met amazing people, and learned so much about the industry and myself. The experience was incredible.

But as life shifted and priorities surfaced, I realized I desperately missed my own work, my own photography, my own words, and this blog. 2016 marks a new chapter for me as I will now be pursuing my own craft and will no longer be committed to El Camino. The decision wasn't an easy one, as many endings are bittersweet, but I feel excited to concentrate on my artistry and look forward to seeing El Camino continue on the path of success.

So with that being said, I can't wait to dive back into this blog. I am eager to share stories, photos, and words with you. 2016 is looking mighty bright. What's on tap?

Heading to Cartagena, Colombia in February to work on my VSCO Artist Initiative project, then it's off to adventure on a trek to Machu Picchu, an Amazon cruise in Peru, and then who knows where the wind will take me.

Where the wind will take me, I will take you.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for still following. Thanks for still believing.

THE IMPORTANCE OF JOURNALING

For as long as I can remember, I've had a journal, a space, pages upon pages where I could unleash anything that was living inside me. Journals acted as a secret world, a private canvas where I could fully express myself and then tuck it away for only my eyes. For any major creative project, I like to keep a journal to chronicle the path from start to finish. When VSCO announced I was a recipient of an Artist Initiative grant, I was gifted a journal which will now serve as my creative playground. Instead of keeping it private though, I'm making some of it public. Excitement, worry, doubts, responsibility, all of those feelings live here.

NOMAD feature // BRANDEN PEAK

When I started on my journey up the California coast to document a story of evolution (as seen on VSCO journal) my first stop was Ojai Rancho Inn of Shelter Social Club. Parked in the backyard was an extremely photogenic airstream trailer that I thought was part of the property. It exuded a sort of nostalgia and aesthetic that was fitting. 

Come to find out, it was fitting, just not deliberately part of Ojai Rancho Inn. Inside the lovely beauty, I found Branden Peak who has been traveling in his airstream for about two years. A fellow nomad who has really embraced the art of simple travel and simple living. A trip to Nicaragua spurred his quest to live a simpler life here in the states. 

Branden and I spent the evening chatting about our nomadic experiences and it was clear to me that he is thoughtful in his approach to living, brilliant in the way he sustains himself, and overall has a quality about him that is healing and inspiring to anyone who encounters him.

I sat down with him and spoke candidly about how and why he embraced this lifestyle, the surprises that have come along with it, and the fears that appear and disappear with this territory. Listen to our chat below. 

"Always what I craved was never isolation, it was always expansion." ~ BRANDEN PEAK

Even though Branden may lack the luxury of a walk in closet, he is surely not lacking style. Here he is decked out in TOPO DESIGNS.

Follow Branden along wherever the wind takes him on his instagram @spacetimetimespace


Familiar Faces

Remember mid way through my trip when I had posted this? My journey was plotted through family ties and after Finland I had completed photographing my mother's side. I left the trip, then headed back out to Indonesia and Australia to finish out my initial project to capture my entire family. I'm super late on editing the second part of my journey in regards to my family faces project but here are a few teasers.

My oh my, what beautiful people I share bloodlines with.

_MG_4147.jpg

THAW

Sometimes the greatest journeys we take are internal ones. This blog has been so much about external journeys, places my feet have taken me, and things I have seen, but sometimes it's the journeys within that are most potent.

So here, I explore my inner landscape of pain, vulnerability, heartache, and fear. While I have seen a lot, done a lot, and have been brave in many ways, at the end of the day, I am still human and I still don't have it all figured out.

I present to you...

Part video, part words, part images.

I guess it never gets easier. I guess life is about leaping from one ache to another. It’s about fragility and strength. Bending for both. It’s about breaking. Breaking patterns and breaking hearts and breaking down. And sometimes it feels impossible to do anything but. Sometimes strength feels like such a foreign concept. A distant memory or idea that you can’t find because you don’t remember what it looks like, you don’t remember what it feels like. Clarity becomes a blurry sensation. Wishing for eagle eyes but feeling blind as a bat. How to focus when optics don’t feel optimal? When life feels cruel, when hearts bleed? How to feel vulnerable and bare without committing soul suicide? How do we break down walls and lean on each other? Where do we put the damage? Hide the damage? Clean up the damage and then let go of it? We can never really separate ourselves from our experiences but how can we not let them destroy us? When we are raw, how do we thaw those frozen parts of us? Those cold parts of us? Are there ever really answers? Probably not. But I keep asking them nevertheless. Hoping that through the questions I’ll find that foreign concept of strength hidden between the lines, lodged in between words, and maybe through the pain, I might find a moment of clarity. Even if it’s just a moment.

View the entire gallery by clicking here.