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With the tropics behind us, we headed north to the tundra’s bitter winter temperatures — for the warmth of home. High above the horizon, we looked downward and eastward — for a view of a stunning sunset. A reminder that origins and destinations are relevant. We come and we go. Traveling, like breathing, involves both an inhaling of the new and wondrous, and exhaling to expire the past and prepare for the next.

So in exhaling from this last trip, I am reminded of some direction that helps me to breathe in and appreciate the experience.

Meet Local

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We were so fortunate on this trip to be hosted by family, locals who grew up and live in Colombia. Within the walls of the ancient city, we were embraced.

Speak Local

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It is said that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. Within common language limitations, there was effortless communication with smiles, laughs, cheers and dance to celebrate the new year. And when at restaurants, avoiding the temptation to refer to the English menu and ordering in the local language. Trying goes a long way to not be seen as the obnoxious tourist. Si?

Drink Local

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Dah. Also, not pictured, tried the local national drink Aguardiente. That gained some smiles from locals.

Eat Local

20160103-Cartagena-at_sea-0016Local flavors. Is there a better reason to travel? Sometimes packing a little Cipro or Immodium, just in case.

Remove the Blinders

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It’s all too easy to try to stay on the path more traveled, go from one place to another, to try to not get lost. But an important part of being for me is getting a sense of place, including gaining context. And to do that, I find exploring, stretching the barriers a fun way to better enjoy the whole experience.

Get Down

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We danced in the street for New Year. And how could I turn down the invitation by Ivan (at right) to do some kind of knee shake dance that had me limping the next day.

Get Up Early

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Getting out and about before the bustle of the day. That’s when those who live here are doing what they do everyday. These are the times when context of a visit are so rich.

Stay Up Late

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Lighting conditions are most challenging for photography, but it’s so much fun to experience life when it’s late. In Colombia, that’s a bit more challenging. Our host explained some people don’t leave their homes until after 5pm any day to do anything. And when we arrived at restaurants for 8pm dinner reservations that meant being seated next to families with children. Most nightlife doesn’t begin until, tomorrow. But on days when not attempting to “Get Up Early”, it’s worth its wait.

Appreciate Others’ Joy

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We each have our own perspective. We each have our own truth. I enjoy taking notice of how others experience and enjoy the very same space we are sharing.

Reach for Authentic Connections

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When doing street photography, I feel there’s a fine line between connecting with locals and exploiting them. I am very uncomfortable with doing the later. There’s a fine line between a posed shot and one that captures the person who you meet for a fleeting moment. But when that authentic connection is made, you can feel it and the photos will show it.

Leave with a Happy Exhale

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I love getting an inside joke. A good laugh is a healthy way to exhale at the end of a trip, clearing the pipes for the breadth of a new day, wherever that may be.

Warm thanks to our wonderful hosts and those who made this trip so wonderfully memorable.

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