Because Father’s Day was yesterday, this image is for my pops. When he was a kid, he had a dog named Cesar. Caesar was a boxer and I have heard so many stories about what a great dog he was. Anytime I see a boxer, I can’t help but think about him. Like the day I met this guy. His name is Reggie and he’s the shop dog at a local rock store in Utah. Good dog, and nice enough to let me lay on the ground to take his photo.
I hope everyone had a great weekend! As a gesture of respect, wherever I travel I always try to learn how to say “May I take your photograph” in the native language. In Spanish, it’s ‘puedo tomar su photo’. Although, traveling in the Yucatan, you might need to learn Mayan as well. Twelve percent of the population is pure-blooded Mayan and many of them continue to speak the language. From my experience, I have found the Mayan people to be a very proud and stoic people. When I ask to take their photo, they all assume a very similar pose to the gentleman pictured here. If you ever have a chance to speak with someone of Mayan descent, take advantage of it. You’ll be in awe of the beauty of their stories.
Did you know Belize has a national chess club (check out their facebook page)? I didn’t either until I stumbled upon the West Cayo District team training one Saturday afternoon. Being a fan of the game, I asked their coach if I could take a few photos. He said, “sure…would you like to play a game?”. You don’t have to ask me twice. Instantly I was surrounded by kids yelling, “The camera man plays chess! The camera man plays chess!” I settled into a game, and thought I should probably go easy on the young man pictured here. Was I ever wrong. While eating nachos and chatting on the phone he put in me in checkmate after decimating my pieces. No question, he was ready for district championships the next week.
I share these images and stories with you hoping that on your next trip, you might open yourself up to new experiences and meeting new people. I’m guessing you already do. I’ve found that the folks that visit here on a regular basis are pretty open to the world around them. However, if you’re not or you’re a bit shy, just give it try. The lesson here, one that I have tried to share this week, is simple. Whether it is a distant country or a neighboring town, travel isn’t about seeing…its about experiencing. Although there is something to be said for standing alone, in the presence of a grandscape, it’s also just as rewarding to play a game of chess with a total stranger.
Photographer’s Note - Yep, another image from one of my favorites…the Nikon 24mm 1.4g.
Folks in tourism never know what to make of us. People normally ask, “Where should we go? What’s worth checking out?”…inevitably they suggest a beach or some other tourist trap. You probably know by now, I’m not the ‘swim up bar’ type. To avoid this, I like to ask…”Where do YOU go, where do YOU like to hang out?”. If you want to learn about the world, you don’t learn about it through landscapes (well, if you’re a geologist you might) you learn about it through people. Those are the places you want to go. On this day, we politely asked the woman below for directions. An hour later we had walked with her to the local market, shopped for produce with her, had lunch together and exchanged contact information. I shot the above photo in the local market she took us to. During our visit we learned she was a retired school teacher in the town of San Ignacio. This information would serve us later when we were stopped and questioned by the police….no kidding, we told the officer we had lunch with what turned out to be his school teacher. At that point we were friends and the city was ours to explore (complete with a police escort if we so desired..we didn’t, the town of San Ignacio is a comfortable place to walk around).
As I always say, the world is far too small to be a jerk (normally, I use another word) and this just goes to prove it!
Photographer’s Note – As you know, the Nikon 24mm 1.4g has become my storytelling lens of choice over the last year. This is just another reason why I love it so much. The image was converted to B&W via Nik SEP 2.
Our adventure into the heart of Belize continues today with the World’s Most Interesting Man. The Dos Euqis guys is a fraud compared to Henri Dunster. Mr. Dunster is an Englishman whose father was a personal gardner for the Queen of England. He left England in the 70s to pursue his fascination with the Mayan civilization. Trained as an industrial artist, he brought his skill set to document the art of the Mayan’s. For 40 years he has accurately recorded all the Mayan ruins in Central America and produced over 200 works. Because of erosion and exposure, his work is the only record that remains of these incredible people. Needless to say, Mr. Dunster had more than a few stories to tell about his 40 year Mayan adventure. I’ll let him do the storytelling, just make sure to catch one of his presentations at the Sleeping Giant.
Click Here to read more about his life’s work and order prints