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when a camera fails to do the world justice

We got married mere weeks before packing out for our first Foreign Service tour. Knowing that we had been posted to Africa, where innumerable safari trips awaited, we made a wedding present to ourselves and invested in a quality SLR camera and complement of lenses. Long before we could afford nice photographic gear, we had been bitten by the travel bug and the love of travel photography that insatiable wanderlust spawns.

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View from Cotopaxi summit, 5897m (Ecuador)

We have been fortunate to do a fair amount of traveling in our first two assignments abroad with the State Department, but of late we have hit a dry spell. D is in the midst of his busiest work season and S also recently started a new job at the Embassy. Excluding D’s work trip to Tbilisi, we have not left Chisinau since our week-long vacation in Portugal in early January, and we have no major sightseeing tours on the horizon.

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Iguazu Falls (border between Argentina and Brazil)

Having long ago sorted through the pictures from our recent travels, D has undertaken a project to reorganize our old photographs, culling out the few standout images into a more easily viewable favorites folder. The exercise has been like taking a prolonged trip down memory lane — the best kind of alternative to actual travel.

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The real high life – Cordillera Huayhuash (Peru)

As soon as he started, several things became readily apparent. For one, not only were our first digital cameras terrible, but also our photography skills have improved vastly with time. It’s interesting to go back and look at the photos of which we were once so proud and note how a slight adjustment to angle, composition, or positioning relative to the light source would have made the image much more impactful or made the difference between a good photograph and the one we took. On the flip side, some of the places we visited are so stunning that even with a low-quality camera and poor photographic skills, it was impossible not to snap a few amazing shots.

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Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

Inspired by another Foreign Service couple we know, we recently bought a scratch map of the world. Much like a lotto ticket, it is covered with a gold foil layer that can be scratched off to reveal a colorful map of the world beneath. After some debate, we decided that in addition to the countries we have visited together, we would uncover those where we have both traveled individually.

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Quijos River — Site of the 2005 World Rafting Championship (Ecuador)

S did a fair amount of traveling in Western Africa, where she studied abroad during college. Similarly, D took advantage of his year abroad in Spain to backpack around Western Europe. Where our travels intersect the most is South America. S took an eight-month backpacking trip through the continent after college, which is how we met. After finishing his Peace Corps service in Ecuador, D followed suit the next year, spending five months traveling from Ecuador to Argentina.

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Porters ascending to the Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail (Peru)

Not only did we visit many of the same places, but in some instances, we even gave each other travel recommendations and stayed in the same hostels. Having spent the last four years blogging about our Foreign Service travels, we’d like to share a few of the highlights from the continent that brought us together, even though we explored it separately.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nice photo retrospective, S + D! Love hearing about your travels!

    May 13, 2015
    • Thanks, Whit! This was just a teaser. More to come shortly.

      May 13, 2015
  2. Kara Freedman #

    Sounds like good fun! You’re so right that there are some places that even the worst photographer could not ruin. Looking forward to seeing some South America pictures! Any from Peru (which is where I am now)?

    May 15, 2015
    • Hey Kara, where in Peru are you and how long are you there? We just posted a bunch of Ecuador travel suggestions, and a Peru post is in the works. Peru is a awesome – lots to see and do, both on and off the beaten path.

      May 15, 2015
      • Kara Freedman #

        I’m in northern Peru and I’ll be here until the end of December. I will definitely take note of your Ecuador and Peru suggestions, thanks!

        May 19, 2015
        • Working on a Peru post as we speak. Northern Peru has some cool stuff going on – all the ruins and relics around Chiclayo and Trujillo; the museum at Sipan is awesome; plus the beaches aren’t bad, though better if you’re into surfing than just casual hanging out.

          Until December – that’s a loooong time. What are you doing?

          May 19, 2015
          • Kara Freedman #

            I’m here for the academic year as an english teaching assistant. I visited Trujillo (and Chan Chan) though didn’t see any of its museums. I’ve heard great things about Chiclayo and it’s quite close to me so I’ll definitely have a chance to visit at some point!

            May 22, 2015
            • Chan Chan is such a trip. I think the huacas at Lambayeque were my favorite, not sure if I’m remembering right. Sechin, near Tortugas, has the warrior etchings. Avoid Chiclayo itself – unless you are really into the stench of fish processing, but the places around it are cool. Mancora was my favorite of the beaches up north. Have fun and hopefully you’ll get a chance to travel around.

              May 22, 2015

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