This is a static view of my travels on this one little blue planet. As I reflect on the pictures, I can clearly see my mental state during each photo and editing. Some are dark while others show the light. All of these shots were taking by me and even though the order may seem random, it is another reflection of exactly where I went and what I saw. None of it is planned.
Now enter, the largest pandemic in my generation. We haven't seen anything like it.
I called my grandparents thinking they would know what to do since they've been through similar difficult times. They are afraid. "Like nothing we have been through."
Massive Sell offs. Stock market closed.
No school, no events.
Government is infected
The United States is no longer a country but rather an economy. They don't care about the lay people who run the country day to day. In the wake of the recent pandemic with death tolls rising, the government has told the citizens to go back to work. The rest of the internet and world are saying the opposite. This will change.
Im back in the states mainly due to fear of boarders being closed. This is an old photo of a refinery in Southern California. The mood is perfect for the current situation. The United States should be on complete lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel COVID-19. The locals are one aspect that frustrates me the most when coming back. They're treating this virus as something to gossip about when the rest of the world is in lockdown.
When I arrived at LAX, I figured there would be a special test or screening for the virus. I was wrong. Nothing. Not even a question of how I felt. I was told to fill out a questionnaire in regards to my health, but it was like a broken pencil. It had no point. They didn't check.
Nyama Choma is basically a Kenyan type of bbq. Its traditionally served on a cutting board with salt. There was one famous location in Nairobi with many shops selling the same style. Most serve lamb, beef, and chicken but fish is also prevalent. Although Nairobi is 500kms from the coast, the shops says its fresh. After further inspection of the eyes, I didn't believe one word.
Mesmerized. She bought or donated a couple of messly Sri Lankan Rupees in exchange for a bracelet that will cure all of her problems. The "guru" behind the scene explained to her when to wear it and when to take it off.
The process of Mee Kiri is simple. Obtain buffalo milk. Add heat and old bacteria. Let sit in clay pots. The constant stirring is the difficult part. At first I was able to try, but quickly spilled a little and then gave back the stick with a plastic bucket attached.
From the dirt, to the polishing basement, this can be the finished product.
A gem cutting and polishing station. The room was hot, stuffy and filled with smoke from the curry shop next door.
Control is the one feeling we all want. The ability to control every aspect of our personal reality. When in reality the only thing we can control is our personality.
Captain hook and almost a peg leg.
Without a doubt, I will get plenty of stares when I pull out my camera. Its massive. Especially for this type of environment. Usually Im not afraid of it getting stolen out of my hands, at least not in this country. I did have an instance one in Costa Rica, and ever since then I am more cautious. I typically try to always be on the lookout for a shot and have my camera in my bag. When I see something interesting I will put my bag down and change the settings if need be and then take the shot.
Every capital city that I have visited I have stayed for a minimum of 2 weeks. Not Colombo. Somehow I have been here for almost 7 months, off and on. Thats not the strange part. Whenever I meet fellow travelers I like to inquire how long they have been in Sri Lanka and how they found Colombo. 80% say they didn’t stay more than 2 nights. 20% added they didn’t stay one night. Skipped it all together in search of the beach. I don’t blame them. Most of the people in Colombo don’t live here either. They commute. Everyday. Some commute 3 hours on the train. Work is from 8:30-5. 5:30 wake up and back at home by 8. 5 days a week. Theres no social life and usually their home is the same one they grew up in, with their parents.
The high country of Ella is where most of the tea and coffee is grown. One of the most amazing things I learned here is that the cost of the tea is only about 3%, the rest is in marketing and packaging. As well as export and shipping.
Some pictures are planned, others are spontaneous. This pure luck of a shot was captured on a moving train from Colombo to Kandy.
I plan to always be evolving and growing as a human being, the best way that I've found that has the most potential is traveling the world. This gives me the opportunity to see things that I can only imagine were true, but when I actually saw them first hand, I couldn't believe how real they were. For example the smells and commotion. Two things you'll never achieve from a book or a picture.
This is the epitome of the poor Sri Lankan diet. This would be acceptable at mid-day, except this was a morning market. It's currently 8am.
Acharu- spicy, salty and sometimes sweetened fruit. Always delicious.
I've seen gully cricket, or cricket that's played in the streets but this was the first time I've seen it played on the beach.
Poor snake. At least he wiped it off with a semi-clean cloth.
3 days in and I have the famous Delhi Belly. I found it. I thought I had a strong stomach. Never had food poising before. Almost any where else in the world and it would have been an easy time to rest. Not India. Loud, crazy, and one of the busiest cities in the world. Theres no escape in the city. I thought I had seen things in Morocco that shocked me. These smells were different. These streets were not the same. For some reason they love their honking and horns that imitate songs. I couldn’t stand it. The only thing I wanted was sleep and not be sick.
Lucknow is the capitol of Uttar Paradesh and they have a saying there, “Don’t worry you’re in Luck Now.” I had to laugh because the only thing I wanted to do was find a hospital and see if they had any travelers sickness pills. With two backpacks in hand the only thing I found was the train station. I didn’t stay one night in Lucknow. I went straight for the border to Nepal. The whole reason I went to India was because I knew I wanted to go to a meditation retreat in Nepal and the flights to New Dehli were cheaper than Kathmandu.
I was naive, looking for adventure. I stepped off the boat in Tangier not knowing what to expect. As usual, I didn’t confirm any accomidation in case I felt something different, I must have looked like a young child at his first day at elementary school. Giddy. Big over stuffed backpack and a smile, I was scammed by a simple piece of a paper and a story. He said he was from immigration and wanted to know if I had the paperwork to enter and return. I answered, ‘negative ghost rider, the pattern is full….”. Blank stare. “
“cmon, Ill show you around the old city and a nice place to stay. I even know of a place to get hash.”
We left for the old city of Tangier. As we walk through the narrow streets He kept asking question like what I wanted to see in Morocco and what I was interested in. I was the only white person but that didn’t bother me.
Usually I try to remember where my hostel/guest house was from memory. There was no way it was happening this time by following someone else. He grew up here. Saw it everyday.
The first shop we went to was his. No surprise there. ( 4 years later and I would have called his bluff right away.) Buy this, try this. “Maybe you need a souvenir for your family.” They were selling rugs and carpets and at the time I didn’t buy anything as a souvenir. Not even a post card.
It gets even more strange. I then tell him im hungry and want to enjoy the local food. “ I know a really good place, not too far and a bar we can go to after”.
“okay I guess, could be good”. When we rock up to the place, I was the only one. They even had to turn the lights on for me. Another bad sign. If I learned anything from my mother it was, don’t go to a restaurant if no one else is there. I gave in. Ate everything and even had leftovers. Paid way too much and eventually found my way back to my guest house. I was told to be quick and we would go out to the “NEW city” to have a drink. I paid for everything. The cab. Beers. and his “tip” at the end of the night. I put it in quotation because I didn’t know what to do when he stuck his hand out and muttered something about his kids and need to eat.
(this was also the first time that I was told that someone would break my camera if I took a picture of them)
This was my first time thinking, “Where the FUCK am I? and What am I doing here?” The streets stunk of feceses and urine. This was my first time in a third world country.
If they pick you, its usually a bad sign. But if you pick them then you should be fine.
I later saw and understood what was happening. I saw another backpacker being told the same story to buy this, and smoke that.