travel photography, photography, life

Big Island

For the first time since moving to Australia in 2013, I went home for Christmas these holidays just past. And by home, I mean somewhere I’ve never actually lived, to Vancouver where my sister and her family live.

On the way back to Melbourne, my partner Jason and I met up with my parents had a quick sojourn in Hawaii, in the Kailua-Kona area on the ‘Big Island.’ My parents love to avoid Canadian winter now that they’re both retired and have been to Hawaii several times, so they’re excellent tour guides and very knowledgeable about the tourist traps vs. the authentic Hawaiian experience. We only had 4 short days there, but I snapped heaps of photos and would like to share a few.

Directly across the road from where we were staying was a small rocky beach with excellent snorkelling. That was one thing that surprised me about the island of Hawaii - how rocky and desolate it is! When most people think of Hawaii, they think of Honolulu and Waikiki on the island of Oahu and the famous white sand beaches. Volcanoes, sure, but mostly beaches and palm trees and resorts. Driving around on the island of Hawaii you see fields and fields of crumbling, tumbling black and brown lava rock, and very little else.

On our second day, my parents took us for a drive down the coast to South Point, the southern most point of Hawaii and therefore the United States. We saw epic rocky coastlines, fishing operations, oddly placed pastures amongst the lava rock with grazing cattle, and a picturesque wind farm jutting out into the sea. There was also a strange field with satellite dishes and large white domes, reminiscent of the X-Files…

On the third day, on a local hot tip, we ventured to a snorkelling place known as Two Step because of the shelf of rocks that makes it relatively easy to get into the often rough waters. We snorkelled pretty much every day, but I don’t have a waterproof casing for my camera so unfortunately I can’t share the natural bounty we glimpsed underwater! Better to save some memories in the old brain anyhow…

After snorkelling at Two Step, we headed to the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, a sacred (kapu) site of ancient absolution rituals and a temple housing the bones of 23 chiefs (ali’i).

After that we headed to the famous St. Benedict Catholic Church, or ‘Painted Church’ as it’s more widely known. It’s a tiny little Gothic chapel on a hillside surrounded by an early 20th century cemetery, and the interior of the chapel is covered entirely in murals.

The next day my parents wanted to take us to see a lava tube, a naturally formed tunnel just chillin’ on the side of the highway. When molten lava flows, the top layer hardens and forms a crust, while the molten lava under its surface keeps flowing. In the case of this one, the lava flow had long since ceased (obviously) leaving a long hollow cave. In a few places the ceiling of the cave had collapsed, leaving ominous holes on the rock’s surface with a view into the tube below. It was VERY cool.

The rest of our time in Hawaii was spent lounging, strolling, eating, drinking, sampling Kona coffees and relaxing. It was so nice to spend some time with my parents and chill out before returning to the bustle of Australian summer with its weddings to photograph, its concerts and festivals and socialising.

Here are a few more random snaps from the trip. Thanks for reading!

photography, travel photography

Bolivia Solidarity Tour #01 - Lima & Pinife

I've been back from South America for a week now, so naturally people are bugging me to see photos. I don't even want to tell you how many photographs I took, and narrowing it down to a succinct representation of the adventure is a pretty huge endeavor.

We left Canada on February 17, 2012. I had to fly to Toronto first to meet my mom and some others from Halifax based organization Chalice, and from there we flew the 8 or so hours directly to Lima, Peru. Chalice sponsors over 45,000 children and elderly in 15 developing countries with 92.5% of spending going directly to programs, and in fact were rated the #1 International Aid Agency by MoneySense magazine 2 years in a row.

We got in late on Friday night/Saturday morning and stayed overnight at a hostel in Lima's Miraflores district. The next morning we got up and had breakfast on the beautiful rooftop terrace and made our plan for the day. (Click on the images in this blog post to enlarge them)


We had tons of luggage to take on to the several sponsor sites we were to visit (Note the bus filled to the windows with luggage - everyone was allowed to bring one extra suitcase full of clothing, school supplies, games and sports equipment to leave behind. Thanks Air Canada!) so we stopped at the Sisters of the Good Shepherd's beautiful retreat in the heart of Lima to store some of our things. We soon headed to a sponsor site called PINIFE, a sort of hillside slum village built into Cero el Pino - Pine Mountain. The Sisters run the sponsor site and focus on education, hygeine and nutrition, as well as providing them a venue for workshops, music and dance.


We hiked up the concrete steps in Cero el Pino to the PINIFE site where we were to spend the day. (I was the only one allowed to take pictures, the Peruvians were a little worried about us getting robbed in the slum.) On the way up we met a family whose sole source of income comes from picking through the garbage and finding useful or valuable items. It is a common occupation in Cero el Pino. Most people build their own houses from brick, concrete and things they find, and roofs and floors are often a luxury in this area.


Once we reached the top, we were acquainted with some of the sponsored families and children (and a confetti cannon). We had the pleasure of sitting in on a small church service, and then had lunch complete with a fancy pudding made by one of the PINIFE youth leaders who is studying to be a chef. Some members of our group even got to meet and dine with the children they sponsor.


After lunch everyone in our group participated in some kind of workshop. I had brought a bunch of acrylic & tempera paints that I don't use anymore to donate, so I was put in charge of a rock painting art activity. I had so much fun with the children despite the language barrier, even learned a lot of Spanish from the kids (well, mostly color names... rojo, amarillo, verde, azul...)


Later that afternoon we were treated to a smorgasbord of traditional foods to sample, and some songs and traditional Peruvian dances from the children. It was hard to leave, but we had to get back to the airport to leave for our flight into Bolivia that evening.


We got into Santa Cruz late in the evening in the midst of Carnivale. Exhausted, we collapsed at Casa Kolping which was a REALLY cool hotel. I snapped some photos in the morning before we left.

(Obligatory cat photo.)


From Santa Cruz we still had to drive the several hours to Yapacani, the next sponsor site and the bulk of our journey. I will be writing about our experiences in Yapacani and posting some photographs as soon as I can!

Until then...

Bolivia Solidarity Tour 2012

One month from today I will be embarking on a life changing trip to South America along with my mother and 13 others from across Canada. We will be traveling with Chalice, an internationally recognized aid and development agency whose work around the world supports over 45,000 children and aging in 15 countries.

The Bolivia Solidarity Tour 2012 will take us to Lima (Peru) and then on to Yapacani, La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol (Bolivia) over the course of 2 weeks (February 17 - March 1, 2012). I will be traveling as the group’s official photographer, but will also be participating in a community building project which will provide new housing, repairs to existing buildings and plumbing for families in Yapacani, Bolivia.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to experience South America for the first time, document it with my camera and also make the lives of people living in impoverished Bolivia just a little bit better. Our group has set some fundraising goals, which brings me to the purpose of this blog post. We want to find sponsors for at least 50 new children and raise at least $15,000 for the building project and others like it. Any little bit helps us to get closer to our goal.

For more information about the trip, building projects and the people we will be helping, please visit this page. From there, you can view a slide show about the families who have asked for assistance, donate money to the cause, and find out more about sponsoring a child through Chalice. I’ll also mention here that although Chalice operates with a strong Catholic focus, the purpose of this trip (for me) is humanitarian, not religious.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Anything you can do to help the cause, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated by myself and our sponsor families in Bolivia.