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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.