Toribío, Colombia 

As many may already know (thank you novelas that overshadow the much more abundant history of Colombia), the Colombian drug war has been anything but “cool.” The violence is often embellished in the latest trending Netflix series, stuffed with rad tactics, and incredibly action-packed scenes. But in reality, the war has truly been a divisive tragedy that affects every single civilian in the country. The situation has led politicians to satiate their gluttony with money birthed from the narcotics, intermingling in their pockets with the money of the people and the cartel. Complicating the corruption, the FARC, for some time, protected farmers who grew coca, in exchange for a large portion of their income. These same farmers would later be displaced from their homes, ambulating into traffic packed cities, whose job market could not match the ever-growing migrant’s population. In fact, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “a shocking 5,840,590 people were registered as being internally displaced in Colombia” in 2014.

But in 2016, two extremely important events occurred in Colombia:

  • After 52 years of the insistent civil war many had been born into, the FARC neared ending talks to sign a peace treaty with the Colombian government to lay down their weapons. The peace treaty became official in 2017. 
  • Marijuana was legalized for medicinal purposes.  

Both decisions have been met with traditionalist opposition: Peace treaty? Those criminals should be sent to jail to pay for their crimes! Marijuana? Now you’ll have a bunch of addicts meandering the streets.

Whatever the opinions of others may be, I have an anecdote to share about post-civil war, post-legalization, from the little town of Toribío.  Continue reading “Toribío, Colombia “

Faces: Mazunte, Mexico

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Only a relatively short but seemingly extended journey from Puerto Escondido lies a quiet beach town stitched together by one main road. Often described as being bohemian and laid back, Mazunte thrives on the curiosity of tourists and its fame for being a Pueblo Magico. Its waves are ravenous and immediately hemmed to its long dusty road which offers no shade or solace from the blinding sun. In this road, is where I found Cesar, a gentleman whose persistent energy keeps him bouncing on his toes and moving to and fro. Despite our foul attitude fueled by the exhausting sun and aching hunger, Cesar maintained a very friendly demeanor with my parents and me, offering freshly caught fish at prices that could be bargained and a genuinely kind smile. It is after our picky ordering that Cesar, for reasons attributed to the friendliness prevalent in Latin America, sat down with us to chat. One shortened conversation led to a deeper discussion, one that Cesar spilled even more by the minute. Here, I share his story, his brave retelling of an incredibly difficult journey pending an ending.

Original interview in Spanish, but I have translated the interview into English too.  

Cesar, 28, Mexican. 

Continue reading “Faces: Mazunte, Mexico”

In light of the recent sexual assault victims bravely coming forth with their traumas, I have a little something for you men, who haven’t physically assaulted a woman but daily harass with your unwanted “compliments” or looks. 

I am a woman

The strongest being that withstands much more than any man could ever comprehend.  

On a daily basis. 

And my struggles are not imagined but rather imposed by a society that attempts to fit, in the newsstands, a variety of body shapes into one prototype:

a 26-inch size waist, voluptuous breasts and bums, with hair iridescently shiny. 

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And what about the rest of us? 

When we are constantly pressured to believe these standards are the wanted ones and our bodies are the wrong puzzle pieces. 

How do we love ourselves then? 

Many of us have managed to slowly remove the gangrenous roots out of our pretty little heads, 

to begin accepting what a unique genetic composition we are.  

To go against all beauty lessons we were taught.

And it isn’t easy, there are fallbacks

There are moments where a slight frigid comment regresses our progress to our brainwashed state of mind.  

But for the sake of time, let’s say we’ve moved on.  Continue reading

Faces: Mexico

As I continue on my trip, which has been both a constant thrill and a gargantuan challenge, I have planned to improve one of my hobbies/interest/skill very dear to my person: photography. And though nowadays it seems that anyone with an apt camera device can be a photographer, I certainly believe it takes more than just pointing, shooting, and filter. For countless years I have more than enjoyed capturing images and through those years I have certainly developed a style, composition, and a color palette preference. Therefore, right this minute, I believe it is the time I proclaim myself a photographer (how strange to actually express the title). Before my trip, I began this series, with the purpose of showing the world the faces that come and go around me. To further expand my street photography interest, I present to you, the many Faces of Mexico. 

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Post-earthquake a few friends and I visited nearby towns in Morelos. Here, I capture a sincere smile to a passing boy who was more than ecstatic for juice. 
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Recounting his personal earthquake experience.

Continue reading “Faces: Mexico”