38 Days of Peruvian Photos

Appreciate the work of a photo enthusiast. Buy a print and decorate your home or office. Make a difference to under privileged kids in Peru.

It’s just that simple to make a difference.

Leading up to the Peru Through the Lens Art Show & Fundraiser on May 25th (and continuing after), I will be posting one or two photos each day from the art show.

The show is on display from May 25 – June 25th (now extended until July 10th). Prints are available for purchase for $30 (cash). If you see a photo you would like to purchase, drop by The Adventure Travel Company to purchase (or order) your copy between May 25th and July 10th.

Net proceeds from the art show are being donated to The Planeterra Foundation and the House of the People of the Sun where we spent a day photographing under privileged youth while in Cuzco, Peru. Your support will help them have a better education, a warm meal each day and learn new skills to work and help support their families.

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Peru in Video

While we were in Peru, our G Adventures leader, Elard Aranibar captured some of our adventure on video. Although all of the moments in this video won’t mean something to the general public, it is still a really interesting look at the people and the culture and some fun memories for participants from the trip.

Check it out here:



Peru Through the Lens 2013 Art Show

Join us for a Saturday afternoon Art Show opening in celebration of travel, photography & giving back!

While in Peru the group spent a day photographing street children at The House of the People of the Sun in Cuzco, a project supported by The Planeterra Foundation.

“House of the People of the Sun” acts as a haven for 80 children and adolescents who live in extreme poverty. The home is open during the day, and is run by a staff of teachers and social workers. Children are given the opportunity to drop-in to receive help with homework, a warm meal, and participate in classes and workshops that teach them valuable skills, including jewelry making, leather working, sewing, cooking, music and English.”

Last year we raised over $900 for the Planeterra Foundation and we look forward to giving back again this year, with money earmarked directly for the House of the People of the Sun project.

Join us Saturday, May 25th to view & buy photos from Peru Through the Lens participants and help support street kids in Cuzco, Peru and maybe win yourself a little something from Peru or a voucher for your next trip with G Adventures!

There is no fee to attend the opening, but donations for Planeterra Foundation are appreciated and will be accepted at the door.

Opening Remarks will be from approximately 1:30 – 2:00pm.

Drop in anytime between 1pm and 4pm.

Show will continue to be displayed until June 25th, 2013.

Presented in Partnership with:

Shari Tucker Photography

The Adventure Travel Company

Henry’s

PTL 2013 Art Show

PTL 2013 Art Show

Casualties of a photo tour

It just wouldn’t be an adventure with Shari if a few things weren’t lost, broken or left behind along the way. It’s funny because I don’t consider myself particularly careless, but somehow I just have bad luck when it comes to travel.

Last year it was leaving my cell phone behind and then dropping a lens and breaking it before I ever went through security at the Halifax airport.

This year, my trip started with lost luggage in Lima. I thought that might be enough bad luck to hold me over for the entire trip, but no … that was only wishful thinking.

In case you didn’t read the Lost Luggage post, the gist of it is that I arrived in Lima with 11 of my 12 passengers on the morning of April 6th. All 11 of those folks had their luggage, but mine had decided to take the long route. Not a big deal … I had my camera, that’s what was most important!

Only a couple of days into the trip, one of our passengers dropped his glasses on the ground and they broke. It was several days later, as we got ready to do a little tour around the Puno market, that he found a little stand selling eye glasses. Lo and behold, he was able to replace them and despite dropping them a couple more times on the trip, they made the journey!

Next casualty of the trip was at Luquina Chico. Audrey brought a nice big Canadian flag with her and she pulled it out and we all gathered around for a group photo. What happens when a group photo gets taken? Everyone hands their cameras over to the person in charge of taking the photo, including me. So, we each handed our cameras over to Elard, our G leader who quickly took a group photo with each of all of our cameras and then handed it back. Mine was somewhere in the middle of the group of cameras. He handed mine back and we all continued to pose for the group photo.

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After all of the cameras were handed back, Clever gathered our attention to explain what was going to happen for the rest of the day.

And then ‘thud’

GASP

There it was, my 5D MK II, face down on the rocky beach …

Pretty much everyone in the group turned to look, and I’m pretty sure my face was white.
I picked it up off the ground and looked at the damage.

Broken Filter Photo by Elard Aranibar

Broken Filter
Photo by Elard Aranibar

After letting Clever know that he could continue explaining to the group, I half paid attention and half studied the damage. The entire filter was smashed. The question was, did the smashed glass from the filter hit the lens? A filter is $60-$100 to replace. The lens is about $1000 to replace.

I slowly and tentatively unscrewed the filter from the lens. I could hear the glass shifting and starting to come loose. I had no idea what I was going to find behind that filter. Would my lens be equally as shattered? Finally, when the filter was off, I could see the lens. It had not broken, which was a good start, but with the shards of glass and dust all over it, I couldn’t really see how much damage there was.

A little in shock, I decided to just ignore the damage for the time being, pay attention to the day’s plans and deal with it later.

When I reached my home stay (about an hour later), I took a closer look. I carefully used my blower & lens pen brush to dust the remaining glass off the lens and held it up in the sun light. Miraculously, the filter had sustained all of the damage and the lens came out perfectly fine. As far as I can tell, not even a scratch. Guess it was my lucky day!

The next day, I stayed back at Luquina Chico while most of the group went on a tour of nearby Taquille island. I loved the tour of Taquille that we did last year, but altitude was affecting me and I knew that I could not do the physical exertion needed for this particular tour. I was really disappointed because they were also taking a different route than I had the year before, so it would have been a new experience for me.

They docked at a lovely beach and then meandered their way up, up, up and around the hilly island to the top where the main square is. While they were stopped to take photos of the beach area, Elard borrowed one of the passenger’s converters. Now instead of having a 70-200 lens, it would be more like a 400mm lens. I wasn’t there to see it, but I think he was a little excited. He took off, up another hill to take photos from afar and give the converter a try. Unfortunately, when he got ready to take it all apart and head back down, he dropped his lens with the converter attached to it.
This time, the lens didn’t land face down, but instead the rocks bent and twisted the ring that attaches to the camera. Luckily, a few days later in Cuzco, Elard was able to get the converter fixed relatively inexpensively. The 70-200 (his own), however, is still awaiting repair.

Last, but not least …

It was the day of our night photography workshop. Everyone gathered around with their cameras, tripods and rain gear as we could hear thunder in the distance. We headed out to an area of Cuzco called San Blas to take some golden hour photos before day turned to night.

About half way to San Blas, the rain started to fall. And then, it started to pour. We quickly dashed into a little bar for drinks, hoping that the rain would quickly pass. Not the best night to be out finding ‘golden hour’ … more like ‘grey hour’. After about half an hour of chit chat and drinks, the rain had stopped and we continued on our way up the hill to San Blas. We arrived to see vendors setting up their street market areas again and the sun just starting to peak through the clouds. Maybe we’d be lucky and see the sun again before nightfall.

Everyone went their separate ways to find something interesting to photograph in this quaint little bohemian neighbourhood. After snapping a few photos in the main square area, Elard and I headed up, up, up higher where we could get an even better view of the city. I took this photo along the way, when I needed to stop and catch my breath.

San Blas, Cuzco

San Blas, Cuzco

At the top of the hill, we found a small common area, enclosed by glass and one of the participants was climbing up on the railing to take photos.

Paul in San Blas

Paul in San Blas

I set my tripod down to line up my photo of Paul. Took a few shots and then we headed back down the stairs to our meeting point for the group. Quite a few group members were standing around staring at this little spectacle where a huge dog was greeting people, squeezed through the rungs on a partial balcony. It was quite the commotion when two or three other little dogs decided to join him.

San Blas

San Blas

After taking pictures of this curious dog watching over all of us from above, I got ready to gather everyone up to leave when I realized that I was missing something. Where was my tripod? Had I given it to someone to hold? Had I set it down?

Damn it. I had left it at the top of the hill.

Elard looked at my sadly and I laughed and said ‘I don’t think I’m going back up there to get it!’ The next thing I knew, he was headed that direction. I stopped him and said I would go. I walked to the end of the street, took one look at how many stairs there were to the top, turned on my heel and marched right back to the group.

‘There’s not a chance in hell I’m doing those stairs again. My tripod just isn’t worth it.’

To that, a couple of the men from the trip offered to go back up and looked for it, but I argued that it really wasn’t worth it. The tripod had been at least seven or eight years old, only cost $30 and it really was broken. I had decided to bring it with me because my good tripod was too heavy and the part that was broken on this one, I could work around for the few shots that I would be taking with it.

“Don’t worry about it. It was cheap and partially broken. I don’t really care about it.”

The next thing I knew, someone was asking me questions about photography and then, out of the corner of my eye I see Elard sprinting up the street. I yelled for him not to bother, but he kept going. I really didn’t want him to go all the way back to the top for my broken tripod that may or may not be there, but there was no way I was running after him (at altitude) to try to stop him!

A few minutes later, Elard returned, breathless from hurrying up and down the stairs ….. no tripod to be found.

So, all I can do is hope that someone in need found the tripod and will sell it on the street or at a market somewhere and make enough money for a day or two of food for themselves and their family.

Good news out of all of this? One less thing to carry in my backpack. Five pounds lighter and easier to pack!

Oh, the casualties of a photo tour.

A Condor Photo Essay

As one of our Peru Through the Lens passengers had a particular fascination with birds, our G leader surprised us with a visit to an animal sanctuary in the Sacred Valley where there were condors. Not only were their condors, but ones that we could get within feet of. It was absolutely amazing.

After a short introduction to the sanctuary and meeting the llamas, pekuna, parrots and pumas, we got to the main event … the condors.

We entered into the large condor cage with a hill in the back and three monstrous condors sitting on their perches near the front of the cage.

Condor

Condor

Condors

Condors

After a few minutes of admiring the giant birds, the handlers led the birds to the top of the hill where the took flight swooping within only a couple of feet of our heads. One of our passengers squealed, Elard fell over and several of us ducked even though we were already kneeling. You could feel the power of their wings pushing the air around you, but yet they landed on their perches and paid no attention to us.

Before leaving the giant birds for their next visitors, we were given a few moments to pose with them. Look how close we could get!

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Don and the Condor

Don and the Condor

Overall, a pretty cool surprise. Amazing to see these giants up close!

A Picture is worth a thousand words

I was really excited to return to the community of Ccaccaccollo this year. Last year my photo group spent three days doing a home stay and portrait project for the Planeterra Foundation in this community. This year, we were returning only to visit the weaving community and have demonstrations on how the community operates.

Our G leader, Elard Aranibar, has been to the community many times and had taken a few photos of this elderly man while visiting in 2008. In 2011, the man passed away.

Ccaccaccollo elder

Ccaccaccollo elder
Photo by Elard Aranibar

Ccaccaccollo elder

Ccaccaccollo elder
Photo by Elard Aranibar

When we returned to the community this year, Elard was showing the photos to the man’s family. It was a very emotional moment and it reminded me of the power of photos, even more so for those who don’t have them as a regular part of their lives.

For us, photos are standard and help us remember our youth as well as the elderly in our lives. For many communities around the world, photos don’t exist and memories are only those in your mind. That is why the emotion behind these photos is so incredibly powerful.

Ccaccaccollo

Ccaccaccollo
Photo by Shari Tucker

Ccaccaccollo

Ccaccaccollo
Photo by Shari Tucker

Ccaccaccollo

Ccaccaccollo
Photo by Shari Tucker

Ccaccaccollo

Ccaccaccollo
Photo by Shari Tucker

Uros Islands Photo Essay

The Uros Islands are truly one of the most unique and amazing places that I have ever visited. They are located in Lake Titicaca, approximately a 20 minute boat ride from Puno. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in South America at approximately 13 000 feet.

The Uros islands are a group of approximately 79 floating islands hand-made of totora (reeds from Lake Titicaca). Totora is the staple of these islands. From actually building the islands on layers of reeds and blocks of roots, to eating the white part, to building all of their boats and homes from the reeds.

Reeds are regularly added to the islands on top of old layers as the old ones rot. Boats and houses are rebuilt approximately every six months for the same reason.

At one time the islands were moved amongst the reeds to hide from impending danger and strategically for war. Now, the islands are anchored in place with 3-5 families living on each island in small reed huts. There is a hospital, a school and a seventh day adventist church for the community.

A Machu Picchu Morning

Today was the big day, the most anticipated day of the Peru Through the Lens trip. We were all up at 5am and down for breakfast by 5:30am. By 5:45am we were out the door and on our way down the hill by foot to the bus station.

The bus takes about 10 minutes through town and then 20 or so minutes up a steep and very windy road to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The road is barely big enough for one bus, but somehow we squeezed by the first couple of buses that had already dropped off passengers and were on their way back down.

Once through the gates, we made our way to a look out point where everything was covered in fog. Within minutes, the fog swirled around and moved out of the way so that we could see the residential area of Machu Picchu below and beside us. Moments later, the fog swirled back in and covered it all again. The cat and mouse game continued for nearly an hour as we stayed in this one area and enjoyed the mystical and magical presence of being in the Lost City.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Lost Luggage

On April 5th at 6pm I checked my new North Face backpack in at the Halifax airport and went on my way to security and off to Peru! A couple of hours later, we touched down in Toronto and then shortly after, we were boarding again for Lima. With my luggage checked all the way through with Air Canada, I didn’t see it after it was dropped off in Halifax as I didn’t have to pick it up in Toronto.

When I arrived at the Lima airport after a long night of restless sleep, the group of 12 of us headed to pick up our baggage. One by one, each of my passengers hauled their luggage off the conveyor belt and loaded it on to a cart for easy transportation. Round and round the same bags went, not being picked up. A few of my participants had bags that were late getting on the conveyor belt, but they grabbed them and waited for me.

I got increasingly concerned as almost all of the passengers off the entire plane now had their bags and had left for immigration and customs.

Finally, with no more bags coming around the conveyor belt, I let my passengers know to go through customs without me and that I’d be through shortly.

Really? Everyone else got their luggage except for me?
Really? What are the chances that the group leader would be the one without luggage?

Yup … just my luck.

I headed to the baggage claim desk to fill out paperwork. I left my cell number, email and details of the hotel I would be at in Lima for the next couple of days. They said they would let me know when it was located … when that would be? Who knew.

So, off I headed through customs and out to the main area where our G Adventures guide was waiting with my group. He had expected to see me first, not last … and here I was with only one bag, containing my camera.

Thank goodness for having my camera and laptop as carry on as they were the most important part for the upcoming photo tour!

My luggage wasn’t on the plane and there was nothing I could do about it, so off we went to the hotel to settle in. Not exactly the way I was looking forward to starting the trip.

I knew that I wasn’t likely to hear from Air Canada that day as we were the only flight in from Toronto to Lima that day. And, did my luggage even make it to Toronto? Who knew!?

After dropping our stuff at the hotel we did a little city tour, had lunch and headed back to the hotel for nearly everyone who was headed on the optional City of Contrasts tour at 2pm.

I had planned on doing some preparations for the next day’s photo workshop, so I wasn’t headed out on the tour, but now, I had to stay back and make insurance arrangements.

I dug out my insurance information and discovered that the 1-800 numbers were all for within Canada or the US. The next numbers were to call collect to the US. So, I gave the front desk a call and asked them to help me make a collect call. Unfortunately they were not able to. They said it couldn’t be done. I was preparing to head out to a pay phone when I decided to do some internet research or see if I could contact my insurance company by internet.

After a little research on the good ol’ internet I discovered that if I called 108 I would get an international operator. Luckily the first time I called I got an operator who spoke English and she placed my collect call to the insurance company. When someone said hello, the call got disconnected. Go figure! I called back and my operator only spoke Spanish, so I struggled through asking her to place a collect call.

Finally, I was through to the insurance company (Bon Voyage). She explained that if my luggage was delayed by more than 12 hours I could spend $100 for emergency toiletries and clothing. So, as of 6pm that night I could officially go buy deodorant, a toothbrush, etc.

I called my other insurance company as well, but reached the emergency medical department who wasn’t able to help me out with anything related to cancellation and interruption. Then she told me that because it was the weekend I wouldn’t be able to reach anyone at all. That sucked. I never did reach them.

My biggest concern was that if my luggage didn’t arrive by the next day that I might not get it until I was in Lake Titicaca or later.

The next day, we headed out to do my photo workshop, without the cheat sheets and games that I had prepared. Unfortunately the paperwork was all in my luggage. Luckily it wasn’t a huge issue as my presentation was on my laptop, but it did put a little hitch in what I had planned for the day.

Late that afternoon, after all the teaching was done and people went their separate ways to practice and explore, my G Adventures leader took me shopping … That’s probably a blog post on it’s own.

When I returned to the hotel, I tried to contact Air Canada baggage at the number they gave me, but they weren’t open on the weekends. Now, not sure what good the number was going to do me when my luggage was lost on a Saturday and I was leaving Lima on a Monday. I called several Air Canada customer service numbers, the baggage claim, the Lima airport … all to get the same information, that it would be closed until Monday.

So, I took to email and twitter. I emailed explaining that I was leaving the next day and wasn’t sure how they would be able to deliver my luggage to Lake Titicaca at a homestay, so hoping to have it before then. Then I started tweeting to see if someone could get me in touch with anyone in the baggage claims department on the weekend. I really didn’t want to take off on the rest of my tour with only one pair of pants and a couple of t-shirts. I was still missing a lot of toiletries and the $100 wouldn’t go far if I had to survive one week off of it.

Air Canada was quick to respond on twitter, but didn’t offer much help, other than that they would get my luggage to me as quickly as possible. Unfortunately that wasn’t helping me find out where it was, when it would arrive or how it would be delivered.

Shortly after my twitter conversation, I received an email from baggage claims stating that my luggage had been found and would arrive in Lima by Tuesday. Unfortunately I was leaving early Monday morning, so I responded and explained the situation.

That evening, I showered and changed into my new clothes and we headed out for our city tour at night, including supper.

When we returned to the hotel at about 10pm that evening the girls at the front desk were excited to tell me that my luggage had arrived while we were out.

Phew! I wouldn’t be leaving Lima without it. What a relief!

Even better, I went upstairs to my room to check it and sure enough it had arrived with no damage and everything still packed away nicely.

Despite the fact that I had to take it to the airport again first thing the next morning, I sure was glad to have it back and have clean clothes, of my own!

Thank you

April 10, 2013

Five days into the 2013 Peru Through the lens trip and I already know that it has been worth it. Only an hour spent on the Uros Islands and at least two of my passengers have stopped to tell me how happy they are to be here, how wonderful the trip has been so far and what a fabulous day tour this has been. And, it’s only about 9:30am at this point.

Then we arrive at our homestay community of Luquina Chico. After listening to some of the local men play music for us and have a quick introducation to the community, one of the passengers comes to me with tears in her eyes and says ‘This is just so beautiful, Shari’ Needless to say, I welled up too and choked back tears.

Despite not feeling well myself, there hasn’t been a day on the trip that I didn’t step outside and say what a beautiful day, I’m so glad to be here. And it is true. It is beautiful and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to experience Peru for a second time.

I am so glad that I made the choice to bring this group to the community of Luquina Chico. It is such a unique experience here with so much to offer. One passenger’s heartfelt tears was all I needed to know that it was the right decision.

A few people had been concerned about the home stay experience, but it was clear once we arrived that the beauty overwhelmed them more than their concerns.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca