If the film is good you get to move to through the next equally tedious steps of enlarging and printing in a room lit only by a dull red bulb. Of which I won’t go into but my point is this: I am thankful for digital photography, but I often think about this introduction to photography through film and I’m ever so thankful for it. So I thought I’d pay it its long overdue homage.
Unfortunately I don’t have any digitals copies of my film photography from back then, I believe some copies may survive in my mom's basement. But looking through my archives I found some old photos from when I fist switched to digital and naturally they are styled to look like film. I thought I'd add a little more to the origin story of TNT and share them with you now.
Don't be alarmed. In the end, things worked out for the better. I got a new extended visa for Peru, I didn't have to pay the entrance fee, and I learned about the boarder crossing protocol for US citizens, and how easy it may be to visit Bolivia in the future. I plan on returning to Bolivia in June for a proper visit, not just a boarder run as I am eager to visit the place and realize that the boarder regulations does't necessarily represent the sentiment of the general populace.
The clouds swirled ‘round as the sun tried to pierce through them. Heading out of Fure, this time high above the river along a trail with an appreciated gentle grade we were walking once more. Bert, our new canine friend ran ahead, guiding the way.
It had rained during the night and we were eager to get out of the dark and misty valley, hoping for some afternoon sunshine. We packed up camp while everything was soaking wet, my pack now weighing noticeably more due to all the extra water weight. But as there was nothing else to do we just kept walking and little by little the sky began to show signs of clearing.
The early sun’s rays just began to lick the tops of the mountains across the valley. It was chilly but not cold. It was a perfect morning for trekking and my mind floated with pleasant thoughts as we walked through the plaza and fields behind, past the abandoned fútbol pitch and out to the canyon rim. From here we descended down and down and down even more, almost a thousand meters to a bridge over the Colca River. In the back of my mind I new the rule of canyon hiking: what goes down must come up.
But any thoughts of the return trip up were quickly whisked away with breathtaking vistas and the simple pleasures of being on the trail. As morning turned to day, clouds began to collect along the rim on the canyon offering some relief from the piercing sun, but also harbingers of the afternoon thunderstorms yet to come....
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From Lima to Paracas. I suddenly find myself staying at a hotel with ‘backpackers’ in the name and as I sit on an air-conditioned bus on a tour to the reserve I can no longer keep any plausible deniability of being a tourist.
Although I’ve been in Peru for over three months, on a tourist visa and by many definitions as a tourist, I haven’t participated much in tourism. A few dabbles here and there but mostly I was trying to avoid it, trying to live a semi-ordinary life abroad in Cusco. But now, here I am and things are much different. As I continue my swing through the South of Peru along a well-defined tourism trail I will be facing the challenge of being ok with calling myself a tourist.
With that being said I must clarify that I am having fun and quite a bit of it; staying just a block from the Ocean in Paracas, eating fresh ceviche from a comedor, visiting the Paracas National Reserve, drinking concoctions from a rooftop terrace and letting the waves wash over me at La Mina Beach. I recognize that sometimes organized tours are the only way to do something, and on rare occasion they the are cheapest way. Just some of many activities to come…
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From my vantage point above the city I sit and contemplate the red tile roofed city, and all the people and happenings below. As a traveler I pass through many places but every so often I stop for a while and test my patience with a sedentary life. It has been three months since I first landed in Cusco, the Imperial City of the Incas, and even after such a long while, by traveler’s standards, I find myself going back and forth with mixed and wide spectrum feelings towards it.
Sometimes I love it: the street activity and the unconstrained "festivales de San Alguien", purposely getting lost in the winding cobble stone lanes of the San Blas neighborhood, climbing up to one of the many vantage points, witnessing the epic clash of cultures, erect catholic cathedrals build on Incan lain stone foundations. The history is here and lives into modernity, in this, the cultural heart of Peru.
Sometimes I’m tried of it: the dirty trash riddled streets, the choking smog of the lower city, the constant harassment of street hawkers, the dubiousness of the tourism industry and the blatant and outright commodification of culture.
But most of the time it is a compromise between these two realities. It depends where in the city and what frame of mind I find myself in. As the barrios of Cusco are remarkably diverse with their variance and as I venture around on various mini missions I find that there are several cities contained within one greater urbanize valley. Cusco is certainly not unique in this aspect but being aware and looking out with fresh observant eyes at its stark and divided configuration into this interweaving tale of many cities.
Coming back into the moment and into myself, high above the city I continue to look, continue to ponder and draw only temporal conclusions about the contents below. Everything indeed looks beautiful from far away and as day turns to night, and the red roofs turn slowly into twinkling constellations of city lights I am still at a loss of what to think about this place, maybe only time and rumination in retrospect can tell.