Local friends are made when I connect with them as travel helpers to aid me during a trip. I have written about this before, and the more I travel the more I find that it holds up. These aren't people I know before I get there, but they often become someone who I would really like to go back and visit with again. I write about these people sometimes, but today I'm being sentimental as it is my first Father's day as a new father and I'm thinking about when I will get to pay some of these people a visit and take my new son with me.
Wait a minute, what does this have to do with photography? Photography is the way that I experience the world and share it with other people. That doesn't happen in a vacuum. My travel and photography affect my family whether they are at home or on the road with me. I don't plan to make this discussion a regular part of my travel journal, but I do think it's important to talk about how personal endeavors impact family life. I do my best to ensure they exist together in a good way. Understanding the world and the people and cultures in it isn't just a luxury anymore, and being in it is the best way to understand it. I don't know when my son and I will make our first international trip together, but you can bet it's on my mind.
These are some people who have helped me to navigate their country, understand their way of life, and invited me into their life in some way. And for this post, these are all fathers. I am always careful who to trust when I'm in a strange country. That's a two way street of course as they have to trust me as well. I hope to someday be able to see each of these people again.
Fendi in Banyuwangi Indonesia invited me into his home and spent two days driving me around his village and the surrounding mountainsides.
Antonio is warmhearted and generous with his own family and with the family of his friends. I spent a weekend with his family in Pillaro Ecuador. They served me amazing food and coffee, introduced me to delicious Cuy (roasted Guinea Pig) and forced me to speak Spanish in their home; which I did very poorly.
Captain Arthur in Roatan Honduras rented me his car to get around the island for a week. I ran into him and his sons several times including this afternoon at the market. If you are ever in Roatan, ask for Captain Arthur to tour the island, find a place to stay, rent a car, and to spend a day fishing (and catching) at the best fishing spots on the Honduras Bay Islands.
Damian in Havana Cuba drove me to Viñales and back. I didn't know Damian before I arrived in Cuba, but he introduced me to friends, found me places to stay, and took me to some amazing spots to make some photos in Viñales. Damian is the one in the checkered hoodie carefully watching his daughter on the scooter.
And in Jordan I spent a few days with Khaled. He met me at the border and I hired him as my taxi driver and guide. On the night that I was planning to cross back into Israel from Jordan we made it to the border crossing after it had closed. Instead of dropping me at a hotel, Khaled insisted that I stay at his home. I met the whole family including Mom, Dad, brother, sisters, wife, sons and daughters. It really was an honor to be invited into their homes.
I know I'm being a little cheesy today, but I only have my first father's day once right. Would it be possible to visit these places without interacting with any of these people? Sure, but I can't imagine that I would have enjoyed those countries nearly as much without having met these generous people.