10.25.14

Day #112

Leon, Nicaragua

 

Hey Gang,

 

I've said it a handful of times on this trip, but I could live in this place.  I haven't gotten a great vibe from the locals yet toward westerners, but I think thats justified. Every american here on the gringo-trail does nothing but drink rum (Flora de cana 7 year is $8 bucks a bottle, as a rum drinker I'm elated) and obnoxiously galavant around the city. Plus the whole 1970's thing probably hasn't been forgotten.

In the van its a little different. We swing through hostels for a shower and some reliable internet, but the party scene hasn't really been an element on this trip. We have our fun but we're usually asleep by 9 and up by 5. That is especially true here.  We found a camp spot on the beach about 15 min outside of town. I'm up and surfing by sun rise then we head into the city to run errands and email non-profits to potentially work with. 

We came here for a night when we first got into Nicaragua and don't have much of a plan to ship off yet. Before here, we were working for a few hostels and resorts to get beds and showers.  This is the perfect change of pace.  

From here the loose plan is to continue south, ultimately making it to Ecuador by Christmas. 

Heres a good collection of what the last few weeks have looked like (again in no particular order): 

  The market in Antigua, Guatemala was a square mile or so of endless stands.  You could find everything. Clothes, food, batteries, machetes, toys, live chickens. I got lost in there for hours the first day.

The market in Antigua, Guatemala was a square mile or so of endless stands.  You could find everything. Clothes, food, batteries, machetes, toys, live chickens. I got lost in there for hours the first day.

  These kids in the market made a game out of throwing fruit at the wandering American.

These kids in the market made a game out of throwing fruit at the wandering American.

  One of the delis in the market.

One of the delis in the market.

  The street market in San Pedro, Guatemala.  Not as big as the one in Antigua but right near a massive lake.  Another place we intended to stay at for a day and ended up leaving a week later.

The street market in San Pedro, Guatemala.  Not as big as the one in Antigua but right near a massive lake.  Another place we intended to stay at for a day and ended up leaving a week later.

  Apparently a few years back the water at lake Atitlan rose 8 or 9 feet. Because of that, abandoned shops and houses litter the waters edge around most of the lake.  

Apparently a few years back the water at lake Atitlan rose 8 or 9 feet. Because of that, abandoned shops and houses litter the waters edge around most of the lake.  

  Driving across the lake to work with Mayan-Families. and organization that feeds and runs language classes for the local Mayan population. 

Driving across the lake to work with Mayan-Families. and organization that feeds and runs language classes for the local Mayan population. 

  We worked with Mayan-Families for a day, delivering food and doing our project along side theirs. This is a woman I spent most of the day with. She didnt speak English, I dont speak Mayan, and neither of us spoke much Spanish but we had a really nice day together. On top is her reaction to a photograph we gave her of her grandson. 

We worked with Mayan-Families for a day, delivering food and doing our project along side theirs. This is a woman I spent most of the day with. She didnt speak English, I dont speak Mayan, and neither of us spoke much Spanish but we had a really nice day together. On top is her reaction to a photograph we gave her of her grandson. 

  A blind woman and her grandson that Mayan-Families takes care of.

A blind woman and her grandson that Mayan-Families takes care of.

  San Pedro La Laguna, The town we were mostly based out of on the lake.

San Pedro La Laguna, The town we were mostly based out of on the lake.

  Jungle exploring.

Jungle exploring.

 The welcoming crew when we passed into El Salvador.

The welcoming crew when we passed into El Salvador.

  El Salvador.  

El Salvador.  

  The town square in Leon

The town square in Leon

  Our first morning camping on the beach in Leon, Nicaragua. I got up to explore and photograph a bit. I later learned that cross is on the rock as a memorial piece for a group of kids who drowned there a few years ago.  

Our first morning camping on the beach in Leon, Nicaragua. I got up to explore and photograph a bit. I later learned that cross is on the rock as a memorial piece for a group of kids who drowned there a few years ago.  

 Leon, Nicaragua

Leon, Nicaragua

  Two more from our camp site.

Two more from our camp site.

9.29.14

Day #86

9.29.14

 

Hey Gang,

 

Enough with the weighty posts. I've been slacking on photos. Which is, after all, what I'm here for.  Since I last touched base I was in the Houston airport pondering what the next 12 hours could possibly look like. I was on a 10 hour layover coming back from a wedding, I had no way to get in touch with the van crew who were racing to pick me up in Cancun, and I was told, lovingly, by the check in lady in Hawaii that "You may be denied entrance into Mexico once you land" because I failed to have an exit flight from Mexico. 

Tensions were high. But, two weeks, and some clever white-lies on customs forms later, brings me here to Honduras. The crew picked me up in Mexico as planned and we crossed the border into Belize two days later. Since then things have been going great. 

We lapped through Guatemala to Honduras in order to catch Aidan's close friend who is working at a language school here. As of Wednesday, we'll be mobile again.  Backtracking up to Guatemala and back down through El Salvador and the west coast of Honduras. 

Enough talking. Here's what the last two weeks have looked like: 

(side bar, these are in no particular order)

 

  2 or 3 days after arriving in Belize we met Willow. She’s an English pub owner who recently bought an island seven miles off coast of Belize (for a very reasonable price). during breakfast one day we struck up a conversation and she invited the crew to her island to snap some photos. If budget allows, the building pictured here will soon be a hostel.

2 or 3 days after arriving in Belize we met Willow. She’s an English pub owner who recently bought an island seven miles off coast of Belize (for a very reasonable price). during breakfast one day we struck up a conversation and she invited the crew to her island to snap some photos. If budget allows, the building pictured here will soon be a hostel.

Our boat captain, Breeze, had a tendency to drink. He was a few deep when we first hopped on the 12 ft outboard that took us too the island. I asked one of the locals about Breeze they said "He loves the drink, the sign of a good captain" 


Another view of the Palapa 


Sunset at the Palapa

The neighbors.

Aidan printing off a portrait for a little girl in Belmopan, Belize's capital.

For $1.50 there was no way I wasn't gonna stock up on this rum heavy pre mixed gold. Turns out it tastes like rubbing alcohol and air-fresheners, it's worth every penny. 

A step outside of our home in Honduras. Gun-shots are commonly heard, local murder is a regularity, and corruption amongst government officials of any kind, is expected.  But damn if this country isn't, astoundingly, beautiful.


Looking up the hill in Cofradia, Honduras. 

A Local park in Cofradia,Honduras.  An official was fishing for votes during an upcoming election so he put a 40 ft strip of sidewalk down near this soccer field, promising more infrastructure in the city. Immediately following his nomination, construction was stopped. apparently no one here was surprised.  

While in Cofradia we had an opportunity to teach for a day at the Cofradia Bilingual School. Here's Madison showing the kids some photo tricks.   

Aidan and some 7th graders lining up a shot of me.

Some of the younger kids, CBS is a full K-8 school.

Showing the kids a webisode we put together.

I had to include on still from the wedding, Josh & Marie at their reception.  

Corozal, Belize.

This photo was taken on their 33rd independence day at 5 AM, I couldn't sleep so I went for a walk. There were already people in the streets partying.

 

Local guy who also happened to be up at 5 am. We watched fisherman leave the harbor as he told me about Belizian history. Lucky for me, english is everyones first language there.

Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins, Belize

 Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins, Belize

 Independence day parade.

Independence day parade.

 Parade. Hopkins, Belize

Parade. Hopkins, Belize

All for now, talk soon, 

Parker 

9.17.14

Vanajeros Day 74

Houston, Texas

Hey Gang,

“I’m going to let you board this plane” the Hawaiian, United Airlines attendant, said as she turned to put my newly checked bag on the carousel behind her.  “But you need to understand, that it is well within the Mexican customs abilities to deny you in Cancun”. 

I had left the Vanajeros once again for a wedding, the last official break I would have from our 6-8 month voyage to attend a wedding for close friends. The wedding took place on the west side of Kaua’i and although it was stressful to leave the van and a project myself, Aidan, Madison, and Joel have worked so hard to achieve, remaining stressed in Hawai’i with a gang of old friends was close to impossible. But as it often does after a vacation, life, and its twisted sense of humor, was reminding me I was never in control.  This reminder was coming in the form of potential country denial at the Cancun airport where the van, and its three other passengers, were patiently waiting for my return. 

Apparently, and this was news to me, if a passenger flew to a foreign country without a return ticket, they could be denied. No questions, denied entrance. 

As I stood at the ticket counter in Lihue International, coffee in hand, staring blankly at the ticket agent, trying to figure out which set of words to string together to make this sudden breaking news O.K. one of her co-workers chimed in from the neighboring counter. “board the plane, its an adventure”. 

Like a hard, quick, eye opening slap in the face it was all clear again.  I’ve waxed poetically in updates about the heartbreak of leaving new/old friends, or the excitement of life on the road, or the sense of achievement involved in this project. But, before piling all of that on, the root of it all was nailed on the freakin head by a ticket agent who was attempting to lighten the news that I could potentially getting stranded in a Mexican airport.  

It’s an adventure.  During the last two months thats been an easy bit to forget and sitting in the Houston airport awaiting my looming flight to Cancun its a phrase that quickly and unquestionably wakes up the kid in me. Whatever comes of this project, whatever relationships are created, whatever lies 4-6 months down the road, exist because at some point I had the presence of mind to think “this sounds like an adventure, I want in” and hopped on board.

There’s a fair amount I'm going to pull from this trip, as you do with most any trip.  The bits of knowledge that you attempt to apply to your everyday life after the return flight.  The bits that you cant help but think will better you as an individual.  The bits that define an experience. But I think one of the better bits I want to remember is to get on the freaking plane, it may seem risky but theres adventure afoot.

 

 

Parker

8.16.14

August 16th 2014

Vanajeros Day 44

Ensenada, Mexico

 

 

Hey Gang,

 

            Just as the clock ticked past 11 P.M. the last Domino was thrown down with a triumphant “Domino!” by Aidan as the last tile clanked down on our aluminum camp table. The night was wearing on and our limited supply of Pacifico’s was thinning but damnit, there was reason to celebrate.  After five weeks of trekking south through the states the van was finally sitting on the boarder. Geared up to cross into Mexico.  As we watched the cigarette smoke drift past the edges of our awning, ultimately fading against the stars, we couldn’t help but reflect on our journey and the people we spent time with during the first couple of weeks. 

            I’ve come to find that my favorite part of travel is that you’re always on the move, exploring new areas, tasting new things, and meeting new people.   Coincidentally, my least favorite part of travel is that you’re always on the move, never really leaving enough time to crack the surface of an area, allowing just enough time for a taste before you move on, and forming amazing relationships that are built on a fleeting ideal that although you may share time and perhaps some incredible experiences together the friendship is destined to part ways.

            Over the last five weeks all four of us have discovered new areas of new places and met and photographed some remarkable people in those places, only to sever those relationships with a packed van and a loosely configured twelve-hour itinerary. But on the other end of that departure there was always a new introduction, a new location and new friends. 

            That begs the question, is this mobile land-of-misfit-toys destined to be a series of warm greetings and heartbreaking departures? I guess a thought process like that really leads nowhere productive.  Any glance to our future pulls up inevitable worry.  Worry about the project, about our individual creative paths, about where we’ll sleep tomorrow, worries that have no immediate answer. In the present, In that moment, at the tail end of our beers as the last camp chairs were getting packed up none of those worries matted.  We’ve made it far from home and had a reason to enjoy the moment. 

            Low and behold I’m writing this just south of Ensenada, Mexico.  We found a place to sleep. It’s awesome.

 

Talk soon,

 

Parker

8.12.14

August 12th, 2014

San Diego, CA

Vanajeros-Day 38

 

 

Hey Gang,    

 

            Montana to San Diego by car, quick flight back to Montana for the wedding and now here I am sitting back in San Diego waiting for the van to cruise back around to pick me back up.  At this point I’ve left Montana, for good, four or five times and, damn it, I can’t seem to stay away from that place.

            The wedding went perfectly. Two very good friends of mine decided to get hitched and for one reason or another placed me at the helm.  After getting ordained by the “church of the latter-day dude” (I swear that’s a real thing, look it up) I wielded that power vested in me and helped them tie the knot.  Birds chirping, sun beaming through the trees, and tears of joy a-plenty it couldn’t have been a more beautiful ceremony. 

            Parting ways from the van for a period of time was strange.  After spending over a month making the van home and then leaving for five days felt a bit, odd.  But, I actually couldn’t be happier with it.  Leaving the van meant spending the better part of a week on the outside.  Looking over our Instagram, revisiting our initial mission statements, talking to a wide range of other photographers and travelers who all had really solid input on what we’re doing and how we’re presenting it, all great feedback that I can’t wait to bring back to the crew.

            That being said, they plan on being back in San Diego tomorrow and then after a quick break we head to the boarder.  Finally, Mexico bound.  

Talk soon,

Parker

7.29.14

7.29.14

Los Osos, CA

Vanajeros-Day 24

 

Hey Gang,

 

            As I’ve said in previous conversations this project has already proven to be an exercise in patience and teamwork.  Everything we plan or attempt to plan takes, on average, three times longer than expected.  When we initially rolled out of Montana I told my friends in San Diego to expect us in a week…that was 3 weeks ago, we’re still at least 6 days out. 

           That’s not intended to be a complaint.  Like I said, this is an exercise.  At first our pace bothered the hell out of me, I’m beginning to realize it bothered everyone a fair bit.  But as the days moved on and we began seeing and doing more, it clicked.  The pace is the reason we’re doing this the way we are.  We’re traveling in an old beat up van because it’s going to force us to take our time.  All four of us said that a thousand times over when we talked about the project but I suppose we never actually braced for it to happen, we’re going to have to slow down. 

            That being said I’m writing this from the lobby of GoWesty. We planned to be here on the 22nd, we got here on the 23rd.  We were planning on being out by the 25th, it’s now the 29th.  But the fact of the matter is that we’re having an unbelievable time here and meeting some incredible new people. I’m not going to be the one to try and hurry that along.

            So we’ve hunkered down, maybe leaving this afternoon…probably leaving tomorrow morning.  You would think that we would be digging for the silver lining while camping in a parking lot. But were making life-long friends and getting a fair amount of work for the project done. I haven’t heard anyone complain about that.

            If all goes accordingly we swing through Santa Barbara tonight and on to LA tomorrow morning for a few days. But, we move at the pace of the van.

 

Parker

7.16.14

7.16.14

Day 11

Waldport, OR

 

Hey Gang,

 

            This trip is already worlds different from my other solo adventures.  I think it’s a bit too early to describe how I feel about these differences but to put it in perspective; time that I did fill with meeting new people is now filled with finding time to wander by myself.  Being in the van for the majority of the day sparks an appetite for little bits of solitude. Although, all of us are super comfortable in the van. It smells most of the time and more often than not the jokes are hilariously unsavory. It’s a perfect reminder of home.

            We’ve split our time about 50/50 since my last update, camping and in bigger cities.  The other three seem to favor camping in order to regroup and re-asses what direction the project, and ultimately the van, are headed…that plus the added bonus of spending time in some incredible locations.  I can’t exactly say the same for myself.  The camping is unbelievable, I’m actually writing this from a beach on the Oregon coast and not at all upset about it.  But I’ve also had a great time exploring Seattle and Portland with friends I haven’t seen in years.

            The group dynamic so far is surprisingly fluid, leadership roles will ebb and flow and everyone seems to be ok with that.  Having always worked by myself or assisting a head photographer I’m getting used to the idea of handing over the reigns in creative situations.  The photo/video/writing part is actually the part where all of us shine, that’s where we’re comfortable and we have each other’s eye to critique.  It’s the planning and budgeting and teamwork that swings things a bit, that’s the part we’re figuring out.

            As far as the actual project goes we couldn’t be more on point.  Aidan and I are feeding off each other creatively and photographing a ton.  Madison is also photographing but just posted the first blog post of our trip, and Joel has been filming/editing a good amount in preparation for our first webisode that should be out sometime late next week. 

            From the Oregon coast we’re planning on continuing south through the redwoods, Arcada and St. Helena and breezing through SF in favor of Santa Cruise and Los Osos, where GoWesty is actually putting us up for a bit in order to do some work on the van.  Since we’ll probably be in Los Osos for a few days I’ll try and get another update out from there.

 

Talk soon,

Parker

7.5.18

7.5.14

Day 1

Just outside Bozeman, MT

 

 

Hey Gang,

           

            This message marks the opening of the sails.  With the 4th of July and our departure lining up, our friends threw together a river float/BBQ yesterday and lent a hand with all of the last minute repairs we had to tinker on today.  The wheels are finally turning and at 10 PM on July 5th I can official say that the Vanajeros project has started.  Between yesterday and tonight there was a fair amount of tears shed but we’re finally on the road. 

            Tonight’s leg of the trip will be a short one, Bozeman to Missoula, about three hours. It’s a late start but after so many delays and hold-ups I think we were all eager just to prove to ourselves that we could actually get the van packed and rolling.  It was a lively, light hearted first few miles but as the sun faded off behind the Bridger’s the radio was the only thing to be heard in these 80sq feet.  The reality of it all was starting to set in.

            As it stands we have Missoula tonight and Cour’d a Lane, Idaho tomorrow then off to the Hoh rainforest in Washington and a visit with a partner in Seattle for a day or two.  I’ll have my normal phone number and steady Internet access in the states so feel free to call/email.  Once we cross the boarder in a month or so that may be a different story.  I’m gonna try and send out an email like this every week or two with an update on our whereabouts and the happenings. Talk soon and welcome to #vanlife.

 

Parker