Thursday, March 13, 2008
Colombia Photo Gallery
*CLICK TO ENTER GALLERY*
From January through March 2008, I traveled over 4,000 kilometers by car, bicycle and boat through Colombia--from coffee to coastline, the Andes to the Amazon. My mission was simple: to photographically document the country in its current state and to determine whether it is ready for western tourism. What I discovered shattered my expectations. This is a gallery of 40 of the 4,000 photos I took. The gallery will continue grow as I sift through my shots.
On my third day in Bogota, I was robbed of all of my professional camera equipment. This rattled my sense of security for the assignment. Why was I here again? Eventually, I had to surrender my trust to my Colombian friends--and set out to photograph their country with a simple digital pocket camera (which I had no idea how to use).
While there is no denying that Colombia has its share of social problems, the real story today, in 2008, is that Colombia is an emerging country, with a growing economy, and is on the verge of an epic cultural renaissance.
During the past decade, the government has used US-backed military force to secure almost all of the country's cities, villages and road networks, pushing the FARC, ELN and other Guerrilla organizations into the jungles and up against the bordering countries of Venezuala, Brasil, and Ecuador. Colombian people are eager to change their country’s global reputation of cocaine traffickers, leftists guerrillas, poverty and violence.
In rural towns and big cities alike, discotecas pump hip-shakingly vibrant tunes. In Medellin, people walk barefoot in modern city parks that showcase Latin-theater on open-air screens. All across the country, plazas are packed with weekend strollers, sampling fresh fruits, enjoying family time, people watching, or simply making up for lost time as they enjoy their newly found security blanket. All of this is happening while waves of tourists, mostly from Europe, plop down into the Colonial Caribbean city of Cartagena and then explore further afield to see what the fuss is all about.