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Local Peruvian Child with hat

Guia and horse on Salkantay trek

Peruvian children looking through glass

Honey vendors in Huaraz, Peru

table at market in Cuzco, Peru

Wild Flowers in Peru

Peruvian Women dancing near Colca Canyon

Guia on Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu

Peruvian woman on Inca Trail

Peruvian woman spinning wool in Cuzco, Peru

Chicken feet in local market in Cuzco, Peru

Sunset on Alpamayo Mountain in Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Climbing to Alpamayo Mountain in Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Mountains on the Huayhuash Trail

Hat maker in Ecuador

High on the Huayhuash Trail-Circuit

Chopicalqui Mountain in Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Guia to the Lost City, Columbia

Basket in market in Ecuador

South America and One Year

In 2009, I took a year off of work to live and travel in South America. Friends and family often asked me “why?” Why would you do that? To be honest, I didn’t have a great answer. I felt trapped in a job that wasn’t providing the adventure or creative outlet that I needed, and traveling felt right.

It’s silly, but I thought that I was unique for listening to my heart and throwing caution to the wind by traveling in South America. Yeeaa, turns out I wasn’t alone. There were numerous men and women I met traveling who were experiencing the same sense of dissatisfaction with their job and life in general. They all needed the adventure, experiences, and growth as much as I did.

After arriving, my first goal was to learn Spanish as fast as possible. I saw the language as a barrier, and I needed to learn Spanish so that I could have meaningful interactions with the locals. The faster I could learn Spanish, the better photographs I could take. Everyday I would practice my horrible Spanish on the poor locals, and I often got weird looks (especially in the beginning). Eventually my Spanish did become passable after 5 to 6 months, but it was some work.

I also worked hard to climb as many mountains as possible in the Cordillera Blanca range. Anytime I wasn’t learning or practicing Spanish, I spent time planning my next mountain adventure. Mountains are beautiful to photograph and dangerous – the quintessential adventure.

And throughout it all, I took photos. Some days I was frustrated with my ridiculously heavy camera, and other days I marveled at how easily it was to capture what I was seeing. Regardless, it was all beautiful and new to me. I loved it. I can’t wait to go back.

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