Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 26, 2013. El Tunco

I have never seen so many surfers before, but even in the small country of El Salvador most of them were white.
We drove down to El Tunco, a beach with round stones and nice waves. I was really looking forward to eating seafood, something I had fond memories of in El Salvador yet for some odd reason most of the seaside restaurants sold meat and hamburgers, and what there was of seafood didn't seem fresh. We ended up having pizza for dinner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 22, 2013. Knowing

The kind grandfather of a friend who's family we visited, quiet but friendly. I knew I couldn't leave that day without his solemn expression in a portrait.
There is no portrait like that of an elderly man, with his eyes of knowing and experience, understanding and time. I'm very grateful he allowed me to take his photo.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 20, 2013. Moonrise

Many of us have awoken early to observe the sunrise, an incomparably beautiful event filled with calmness and color. Well this was not that, but my first moonrise. We had come out to see the stars in a sky free from contamination and light pollution and were surprised by a rising moon minutes later. The wind was strong and caused the clouds to streak with the long exposure, and the white lines in the sky are brief star trails. This was the night's entertainment.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 19, 2013. Wrinkles of The Earth

Depending on your screen and how well you can see with the resolution of this picture, but from way up above we could see at least 7 lines of mountains crossing themselves in the distance. Up and down big rocks and dirt, I took a fall traveling these roads but you cross some of the most amazing sights ever, sights that make you pause and go, wow, is this really Guatemala? Like wrinkles of the Earth, deep cracks from ages of natural accidents, a planetary equivalent to stress. Some things can only come with years, and the lines that run the sides of our eyes grow with time into majestic mountain ranges with experiences to each unique. So why do we try so much to run from our ages if they make us great? Like the great Guatemalan musician Ricardo Arjona sang to all 40-year-old women: "Don't lift years from your life, place life into your years."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 18, 2013. Toys

Walking down the town of Antigua, with it's colonial windows and walls preserved, was a blue toy store.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 15, 2013. Wooden

I love the outdoors, I love hiking, I love strange plants and insects, clean air and wild animals. Yet I'm definitely a city person, too accustomed to modern luxuries like running water and electricity. Going to the other side of the world to Korea was a shocking realization to the radically different lifestyle people live over there, but then if I think about it, only a few kilometers away from where I live people also have radically different lives. I don't wake up at 4 am to take care of cows, milk them and make cheese. I don't do regular amounts of manual labor. I don't spend most of my time outside of four hard walls, or even away from a glowing screen.
There are so many people, far and near, who's lives I will probably never come near to understanding or relating to, and that intrigues me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 14, 2013. Scissors, Knifes and Swords.

Taking a little break off the photos from the last trip, here's a portrait of a family friend. "Paisano" is a word used to refer to someone hailing from the same race or country, and is how my dad and Victor Jo (above) like to refer to each other, being Chinese men living in Guatemala. Victor owns a hairdressing salon but also likes to ride motorcycles, cook and play ping pong. He spontaneously invited us over for homemade sushi at his house and it ended up being a mix of that, pizza, dumplings and a good time. As an intriguing character I wanted to take his portrait before we left and he happened to have that sword at hand (which he gifted to us). I didn't ask him to pose with it, but I'm glad he did.
Oh and also, he has pet flying squirrels. How awesome is that?

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 13, 2013. High Red

Up high in the valleys between the mountains of Huehuetenango I had planned out a location for the day's sunset.
Well I never found the location again later, up there where it's all rocks and small trees it's easy to get lost, but on my trail I came across this view. I set up (unknowingly in a pile of goat poo) and waited for the right time, hoping no angry dogs would come my way. (One had already chased me a long ways while I was driving the bike out.) Nothing happened, and I even got a friendly neighbor stop by to say hello.
Up that high, the air is clear and cold and clouds are sparse because of the altitude. It's dry and the sun hits hard, and the people up here brave harsh conditions for their way of life. Their skin is dark and taut, their cheeks deep red and purple from all of the exposure. Temperatures fall below zero at night and mornings rise with a crystal frost that quickly disappears when the sun hits. It's harsh, and it's beautiful.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 10, 2013. Doña Jacinta

There were 11 of us and they made sure we were well fed. Doña Jacinta has 7 children and we see her here with her mother. Her husband is quiet but she could entertain all of us. Generous and happy to take guests, it was a pleasant time as she told us about life in the town of Nebaj and her home. Some great local soup and a ton of tamales later, we were happy and grateful.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 9, 2013. Children of Wood

It doesn't take much to make a child happy. In fact, I'd say many parents make their children unhappy by trying to show them how to be happy. These children in the mud remind me of my parents telling me about how as a little kid during Christmas once, I had more fun with the cardboard box a gift came in than the gift itself.
I did not pose these kids, nor did I ask them to smile. They were there and they were happy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 8, 2013. C'mon Boy!

I aimed my camera and he turned right before I snapped. I don't know why he turned, why he started running in the first place, or if he was really looking at me at that moment, but it was a good moment.
Acul was not short of children with machetes, but don't take it the wrong way. As people from the city we stood out like a sore toe which brought a few stares but all it took was a friendly hello to get a smile from the locals. Only a few blocks in size, people here live simpler lives and depend on the land, and they need all the labor they can get. However this isn't Industrial Revolution-type child labor, but a way of life. Everyone here helps out, and everyone is happy to do so too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 7, 2013. Land Above

We woke at 4:30 am to catch the sunrise up in the Cuchumatanes mountain range. The mirador is way above the clouds and when the sun rises they pick up a golden-orange tone that blankets the town of Huehue tenango. One hill poked its way through like a little island in the sky to greet the cold January morning.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 6, 2013. Cold and Clear

On the last stay of our trip through Guatemala, near the town of Acul, Quiché, a crystal clear river flows. We went in barefoot and numbness sets in quickly, but it was worth it. Throughout the days I will be posting photos of the trip as I put them up here one-by-one.