5 Questions from Elite Travel Blog

I have recently been asked to participate in a series with Elite Travel Blog where they invite travel bloggers to share their favourite memories. Below you can find my responses, but you should stop by their site and get some inspiration from many of the other bloggers who participated!

Why do you love travel?

My love of travel was born out of a fear of planes. In 1997 I survived a plane crash in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I got on a plane shortly after the crash, which was a horrible decision and then I did not fly again for 11 years. Eventually, I decided that the world was too amazing to be missed. From that point on, I stepped cautiously into the travel world and a few years later, here I am making my way around the world!

For me, travel is such an interesting mix of emotions. The flights are still difficult for me nearly 20 years after my plane crash and can still cause me anxiety, but to not be able to experience the world in all of it’s wonders would feel like I hadn’t really lived.

It’s like opening presents everyday of the year because there is always something new and exciting to do. For the same reasons, it can be equally as exhausting when your brain is always taking in new things and never has a routine. With all of its ups and downs, I love travel because it has opened my mind to new ways of thinking. Through travel I have overcome challenges, learned when to be independent and when not to be.

For me, travel is: empowering, frightening, overwhelming and beautiful. Travel is the air that I breathe that gives me life and purpose.

What destination is top of your bucket list? 

As with any travel blogger, narrowing it down to just one place at the top of my bucket list is very difficult. So, I’ll choose the over 7000 islands of the Philippines (I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow!). With Chocolate hills, swimming with whale sharks, kite surfing and festivals galore, my heart beats faster just thinking about it. Yes, I think it is time for me to float, swim, eat and dance my way through the Philippines.

Where is your most favourite place you have travelled to? 

I’ve traveled to 27 countries, most of them in the past seven years. I truly have amazing memories of every single one of them. Of course, some will always stand out more than others. When I traveled to Turkey in September 2015 with Experta Tours  and The Gallipolli Artist, I expected the chaos of Istanbul but what I didn’t expect was the welcoming, friendly hospitality of the locals throughout the country. That hospitality was expanded 100% when I landed in Cappadocia, land of fairy chimneys and some of the greatest landscapes that I have ever laid eyes (and camera) on. From the charm, art and history of the family-run Sofa Hotel to the pure serenity of my sunrise hot air balloon ride over Love Valley. It was a land of dreams come true and place where a piece of my calm heart will forever reside.

What is your most favourite memory or experience whilst travelling?

My favorite memories from travel seem to be when I find serenity and learn something profound. Or is it that serenity finds me and therefore it teaches me something profound?

As a professional photographer who was interested in travel, what could be better than leading photo tours to far away places? In 2012, with the culmination of much hard work and great support from my friends at G Adventures and the Planeterra Foundation, I led my first photo tour to beautiful Peru. My small group of eight passengers made our way to a small village in the Andes mountains called Ccaccaccollo where we organized a portrait day for the families who had never had family portraits taken before. It was a heart-warming experience, despite the language challenges and primitive homes. We photographed as many children, families and elderly as we could and then arranged to have the photos sent back to them to keep. We were greeted with excitement and welcomed like family. Some people wanted their pictures taken with their favorite cat, while others proudly posed by their llama or cattle. It was a life altering experience when many of us really learned that money can not not buy happiness.

A couple of days later, we traveled together to Machu Picchu and sat in the great Lost City surrounded by thick fog. Our leader asked us to take a few moments to sit and enjoy the peacefulness. Some of my group did yoga or meditation, others just sat in awe and some continued about their business taking photos. For me, I will never forget the tears that I shed at the beauty of this magical place. I will never forget the clearness of my mind and the profound changes that Machu Picchu inspired me to make in my life. Forever, the Lost City will be where I found myself.

What is your favourite photo from your travels?

Hot air Ballooning over Love Valley in Cappadocia

Hot air Ballooning over Love Valley in Cappadocia

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Starting to plan the Unplan

The Unplan has always been that I would get 100% debt free before making any decisions about where / when I would travel, with the ‘loose’ idea of Central / South America this coming fall / winter. As you can see, that’s not much of a plan at all, hence calling it the Unplan.

Now that I am officially debt free. (Can I get a whoop! whoop!?) It is really time for me to buckle down and start making some slightly more firm plans about my upcoming travels. So, here’s take one at my plans for the fall and how they came to be.

Before I went to Vietnam to lead the photo tour in April 2014 I found out about a FAM (familiarization) tour with Intrepid Travel for Chile and Argentina. These are trips sponsored by a supplier for travel agents only to experience a new destination and their products. This was a great fit for me. I was planning on heading to South America in the fall sometime, I’ve never travelled with Intrepid and I’ve never visited Chile and Argentina. BINGO!

I sent my application in to Intrepid, and sadly, was told that this particular trip was already full. boo. I was really disappointed, but I knew there would be more opportunities.

I went away to Asia for three weeks and lead my Vietnam: Through the Lens Photo Tour which was a great success. A few days after my return to work I noticed that Intrepid had posted on their internal Facebook group that there were still spots on the Chile & Argentina tour. I immediately wrote to our rep to ask if it was a mistake, or if someone had cancelled.

Sure enough, there had been one cancellation. My heart started racing and I got super excited. There was room for me and I was sure it was meant to be! So, I re-submitted my application, waited a couple of days and then received confirmation that I had been accepted on the trip.

Yipee! These were the only travel plans I was willing to commit to prior to the closing of my house. After all, it was a trip to Chile & Argentina for free (+ cost of flights). Even if something fell through with my house, I was pretty sure I could find the money I needed to cover my flights to get there. So very little risk in taking on this awesome opportunity.

So, Nov 16 – 23 I’ll be doing a tour similar to this one, with other Intrepid staff and travel agents.

That decision was made back in May (seems sooooo long ago) and since then, I’ve been flirting with all kinds of ideas around it.

Next up is my next Photo Tour. I decided as soon as I came back from Vietnam that is was time to do another PERU: Through the Lens trip. I immediately put plans in place, created an itinerary and got it off to marketing. Dates were decided for Oct 18 – 28th and I am currently looking for a minimum of eight people to take part, maximum 15. I already have a couple of spots sold on the trip and am looking forward to finding the last few that are required to guarantee it. Deposits are due by July 18th, so I’m down to about three weeks to find six more people. If you are interested in coming along for a great combination of photography and tourism, get in touch and book soon!

Now, with the photo tour up in the air (needing 8 people to guarantee departure), I can’t make any specific plans until after deposit date (July 18th). So, everything else at this time is tentative and I’ll do another update mid July to see what has changed.

Through connections, I have been introduced to a tour operator in Turkey. Through discussions, we’ve discovered that we have a lot in common. He is working on arts tours of Turkey; photography, painting, drawing, weaving, pottery etc. Of course, I’m interested in the photography section of it. So, he’s offered to host me for 7-9 days in Turkey this fall so that I can check out the products that he offers and see the great country. How could I possibly pass up that opportunity??

It definitely comes with a small hitch though … the only time he can host me is in October. And my Peru photo tour is also in October. What this means is that I will have to go to Turkey for a week and then almost immediately head to Lima, Peru for the beginning of my photo tour.

Yuck! I only say yuck because it is a 17 – 24 hour travel time from Europe to South America. I’m looking at a few other options though. And, with this whole fall travel thing I’ve been trying to make plans so that I have time to rest and continue my travel agency work. I don’t want to be on the go all the time or I’ll burn out. The last thing I want to do is burn out early on in the trip! I need some stamina to get through everything that I’m looking forward to.

I have decided that I will take the opportunity in Turkey. I can’t pass it up. It is just a matter of arranging carefully for travel so that I don’t have to rush or get too tired.

Having said that, who goes all the way to Turkey for one week? Not me! With a great opportunity in Turkey, all I can say is that since I have to pay for my flights there anyway, I might as well make it worth while. Which brings me to the next part of my plans.

With Turkey tentatively scheduled for the first two weeks of October, I’ve been thinking about heading to Europe in late September to take in some of the other countries that I want to see. Mainly, Croatia where I have been considering doing a photo tour. So, I’ve begun researching options for Croatia. Do I do it in a small group tour? By land? By sail boat? By small 7-8 person sail boat? By larger 100 person sail boat? Do I do JUST Croatia or do I tie it in to the Balkans including Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Hertzagovina? And do I try to fit Greece in for a few days too seeing as it sits between Croatia and Turkey? Phew! How’s that for a lot of decisions to make?

I’m looking at the following tours for this section of my trip:

G Adventures
Western Balkans Adventure – Sept 19 – 30 – $2999 – Croatia / Bosnia / Montenegro

Sailing Croatia – Split to Dubrovnik – Sept 20 – 27 – $1499

Bamba
Croatia Ways – Zagreb to Dubrovnik – $494 USD – Hop on Hop off – This is a totally different experience than the others. It is transportation and a few activities included, but is independent travel and hotels are not included. Can start any day as long as my travel is complete by Sept 30th. And schedule is flexible so I can spend more time in some areas than others. Suggested 14 days.

Split to Athens – $989 USD – Suggested 18 days – Hop on Hop off

Dubrovnik to Athens – Podgorica Ways – $769 USD – Suggested 14 days – Hop on Hop Off

Croatia to Greece Road Trip – $925 USD – 6 day Adventure Trip – Departs Dubrovnik Saturdays only

Intrepid
Balkan Adventure – Sept 13 – 27 (1 spot left) – Bosnia & Herzegovina , Croatia , Hungary , Montenegro , Serbia – $2615

Dubrovnik to Santorini – Sept 13 – Oct 4 (1 spot left) – Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece from Dubrovnik to Santorini

Sail Trogir to Dubrovnik – Sept 20 – 27 – Croatia – $1478

Dubrovnik to Athens – Sept 13 – 27 – $3225 – Albania , Croatia , Greece , Macedonia , Montenegro

Star Clippers
Croatia & Montenegro (Venice to Venice) – Sept 20 – 27 -Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia. Sadly, I expect that this option is going to be too expensive for me to do on my own. If you want to be my travel partner … drop me a note!

Departing Halifax sometime between September 11 (at the earliest) and 19th ish – Seems kind of crazy. Don’t know I’m ready for that. It’s only 12 weeks away!

So here’s an overview of what I’m considering … tentatively ….

Sept 13 / 20 – October 1 – Croatia / The Balkans / Greece – undecided exactly where yet.

Oct 1 – 12 (ish) – Instanbul / Cappadocia, Turkey (possibly Gallipoli / Troy & the Mediterranean coast by Gulet boat)

Oct 12 / 13 – Fly from Istanbul to South America – possibly stopping back in Canada or US depending on flight routing.

Oct 14 – 17 – Relax in Lima, Peru prior to the start of the Peru: Through the Lens trip

Oct 18 – 28 – PERU: Through the Lens (Lima / Cuzco / Sacred Valley / Machu Picchu)

Oct 28 – Nov 15 – Not sure what to do in this time yet, but likely will be a combination of a few places that I haven’t seen in Peru + settling down for a week or more at an apartment somewhere new where I can relax, explore and concentrate a full week on working. I have to continue to sell travel while I’m away – that is my job. So, if you are planning to travel, you can support me by contacting me to book your travel. It will help me immensely!

Nov 15 – By this day, I need to be in Santiago, Chile where I will start my next tour on Nov 16th.

Nov 16 – 23 – Intrepid FAM (Santiago / Mendoza / Buenos Aires)

On Nov 23rd, I will end all of the organized portions of my trip and will be in Buenos Aires.

Nov 23 – Dec 15 (ish) – Undecided

Dec 15 (ish) – Jan 30 – Dominican Republic – In an apartment, not traveling around much, except that I want to get to Samana, as well as visiting friends in Punta Cana / Santo Domingo. Those are weekend trips though! And, if I find some friends to travel with, I might want to get to the lesser visited parks throughout the country. I’m photographing a friend’s wedding on Dec 28th near Cabarete in the Dominican. This is the same area where I studied Spanish for seven weeks in 2012 and I CANNOT wait to return!

Between Nov 23rd and approximately Dec 15 I have the following options (or combination of these):

Return home to Canada for a couple of weeks (although not sure where I would stay … parent’s in Fredericton? Maybe my sister’s?) And, flight wise, it is probably the most expensive option. South America to Dominican Republic should be much cheaper than South America to Halifax to Dominican Republic.
Settle down in Buenos Aires; many people have told me I will love it there.
Do a short trip to Iguazu Falls – on my bucket list.
Explore Patagonia (southern tip of Argentina & Chile) – this is the one I’m leaning toward.
Fly to Colombia and spend a few weeks exploring or studying Spanish, as it is an area I think I’d like to spend a longer period of time in.

Then, come the end of January I will have to decide if I want to stay longer in the Dominican or if I am ready to start moving around again. I love the Dominican and it feels like home to me, so staying is easy. It is a busy time of year for the travel industry so I will need to be somewhere with good internet and that I don’t feel the need to go out and explore every day. However, I am considering possibly heading to Nicaragua or Colombia for February and March.

Honestly … after traveling for four and a half months (mid-September to January), I don’t think there is any chance that I’m going to WANT to come back to Nova Scotia in the middle of winter. So, I might as well make the best of it and see a couple more places … Right?

The Unplan – Life Changing Decisions – Part 10

For the last couple of years I’ve certainly had wanderlust. Since I first got back on a plane after surviving a plane crash in December 1997, I’ve gotten stronger and stronger and have wanted to explore further and further.

First, a trip to Bermuda to see if I would lose it completely on a plane. (2008)
I didn’t.

Then a trip to New York to celebrate turning 30 and that I didn’t lose it on a plane! (2008)

Then on to Costa Rica and Nicaragua – a whole new continent for me. Also the first time that I started thinking about studying Spanish.(2009)

Next thing I knew I was traveling to photograph destination weddings. (2010)

And then another new continent as I flew to Germany and Poland to photograph Coalition for Kids International, granting wishes to terminally ill children in Poland. (2011)

My little wings that had been weakened by 11 years of non-use, were getting stronger.

Why not take it further and create Photo Tours in far away places like Peru and Vietnam? (2012 – 2014)

With all of those great destinations under my belt, a lot of take offs and landings and no further plane crashes … I decided it was time to really take a leap and off to Southeast Asia I went with my longest flight being 12 hours and 50 minutes from Narita, Japan to Chicago, USA.

Looking back, it’s incredible to see that all of this (and much much more) has happened in the past seven years.

So, it really shouldn’t be any big surprise to anyone what I’m about to tell you …

I’m sure if you’ve been reading my series of Life Changing Decisions, you are starting to put it together.

1. Decision to get debt free.
2. Work at a job that can be done anywhere in the world (or confirm that your current job can)
3. Do renovations & put condo on the market
4. Dream of travel

What do you get when those things all come together?

You get the UNPLAN! (and a really happy Shari)

In my head, and to my close friends and family, my plan since the beginning of this was not really to have a plan at all, hence the UNPLAN.

What exactly does the UNPLAN look like?

Like a leaf in the wind (or a paper airplane), I can go wherever the wind takes me. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Well, it’s a semi-calculated type of crazy if that makes it any better!

I am setting my life up to be debt free and with fewer commitments. This will allow me to travel when and where I want and discover our amazing world. I don’t want to live my life waiting 12 months for my next vacation. I don’t want to be on vacation all the time, but I do want to live my life to the fullest and for me, a big part of that is seeing this amazing, vast, beautiful world we live in.

The UNPLAN has always been somewhat calculated. I’m not jumping off a cliff without checking for a soft landing. From the beginning, although extremely hard for other people to understand, I have made very few decisions about where / when / how long I would travel for. I would tell people I’m getting debt free so I can travel and they would of course ask ‘Where are you going to go?’ Although I had narrowed it down to a starting point of Central and South America, that’s as much as I was willing to commit to. When they asked me ‘How long are you going for?’ My answer has always been ‘I’m not sure. An undetermined amount of time. I’m not debt free yet.’

I have flitted back and forth between ideas such as a year-long around the world trip, a SWAP working holiday in New Zealand, settling in for a couple (or several) months somewhere in Central or South America, or simply living in Nova Scotia and traveling whenever I possibly can. These are big, amazing options. Don’t you dare say I’m ‘lucky’ to have these choices. This has nothing to do with luck folks, I am making these choices, they aren’t just magically happening.

You see, there are doers and dreamers in this world. I’m a doer. Yes, I have big dreams but I don’t sit and daydream unless I’m actually going to make something happen. So, being realistic about it all, I absolutely, flat out refuse to make any travel decisions until I become debt free. (with one exception – see below)

Although I still dream of where I want to visit, where I might like to stay for a little while and what great adventures are out there waiting for me, until I achieve my first, and most important goal of being debt free, I can’t move forward with achieving this undetermined amount of travel. This is a calculated UNPLAN!

I’m designing my own life. I’m making choices for me, based on my passions, what’s important in my life and how I can find happiness. Isn’t the true meaning of life to live it to it’s fullest?

So, let me give you the big announcement(s) …

1. Knock on wood, my condo has sold. Barring any complications with the condo financials, it is a done deal with a mid-June closing date. It was on the market for less than one month. I got reasonably close to asking price. I got slightly more than I needed in order to get completely debt free, set aside my down payment for my next home purchase and set aside a bit of money for travel. I think the universe is encouraging me to continue with the UNPLAN!

2. I confirmed a long time ago that I would be able to continue to be a travel agent, but work from anywhere in the world with my current employer, The Adventure Travel Company. Today, May 15th is my last day working in the office and as of tomorrow I will be working remotely. I’ll post a blog about this transition in a couple of days, but for now, all you need to know is that I am still a full service travel agent, specializing in adventure travel. I am affiliated with the amazing Adventure Travel Company and I hope you’ll support me by trusting me to help you plan YOUR next adventure. You can email me at stucker@atcadventure.com

3. I have been accepted on a travel agent familiarization tour with Intrepid Travel for one week in Chile and Argentina in November. This is the one concrete travel plan that I allowed myself to make before all of my other plans came together. I knew that once the condo sold, I would likely head to Central or South America, so this was a natural fit and gave me dates to work with when I would already be in that part of the world. This trip is free (except airfare) and gives me the opportunity to experience these two countries with a great supplier. I knew that even if my condo did not sell, that I would be able to either find the money for the flights or I have enough Aeroplan points to get me there. There were too many benefits for me to pass up. I had originally applied but it was full. A couple of months later, someone had to cancel and one little spot opened up. It had my name all over it! I applied within minutes of finding out a spot had opened up.

4. Having confirmed that I would be heading to South America in November, I shortly thereafter made the decision to launch a new Peru: Through the Lens Photo Tour. I’ve just released details to my photo email list and full details will go public next week. On my first day to announce the new tour, I already have the first person signed up! Tour dates are Oct 18 – 28, 2014. If you’d like more information, please contact me, or sign up for my photo tour newsletter.

There it is folks …

My condo has sold.
I start work as a home-based travel agent on May 16th, but remain under the umbrella of The Adventure Travel Company.
I have a tour booked to Chile and Argentina in November, so if nothing else, I know where I’m headed in late fall.
I am about to go full force promoting my next Peru: Through the Lens photo tour for October 2014.

My UNPLAN is starting to shape up.

Now, of course, in the spirit of an UNPLAN, I have not decided how long I am going for or what other countries I will visit. And, as with everything else, those decisions all depend on many variables. My condo sale still needs to finalize and all of my debts must be completely cleared. I need to find a place to live for the summer and early fall. I must find at least eight people to travel with me on the Peru: Through the Lens photo tour. And, let’s not forget that nice man who walked into my life back in February (see Part 8 of this series). I can’t leave him behind for a year while I go gallivanting around. And no, sadly he can’t come gallivant around with me for a year due to commitments here! It’s still new and early, but it wouldn’t be fair to him or me ignore him in all of this!

Like I said … it is still an UNPLAN with many choices and decisions yet to be made and too many variables still lurking around. Don’t worry, I’ll be blogging about it all along the way!

Now that the big news is out there … let the questions begin! Feel free to post questions and comments below on this post … share with your friends … send it to other people you know who are currently on extended travels or those who dream of doing so …

I’ll be posting updates about my struggles, preparations, decisions and triumphs until departure day (whenever that may be). After that, I’ll transition into sharing my travel adventures of whatever fantastic countries I visit. Some will be exciting, inspirational and likely funny. Others will be boring and simply there for me to keep track of my thought process. I invite you to sign up for my blog updates (top right of my blog) and follow along as often (or not) as you wish.

The first five months of 2014 have certainly been filled with amazing challenges, laughter, tears and some of the biggest decisions of my life so far … but wait … at least all of those things are my choice … so really, how bad can it be?

Just like a leaf in the wind … I’m about to go on a crazy ride.

I hope its a warm, southern wind not a Nor easter!

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.

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.

9767_ShariTucker

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!

0043_ShariTucker

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.