The Terra Project is a travel writing and photography initiative that empowers people to experience a shared connection to other special places, people and cultures in this world through trues stories and raw photography.
Walking through the tall grass, stepping over arrowheads and pottery shards, breathing the fresh scent of juniper berries beginning to ripen, I imagine how many other people have walked where I now stand. History is engraved in these hills, both literally and figuratively. This land has seen many people come and go, many stories unfold, and has supported many a life.
Bones breaking, bones broken? Dizzy, definitely broken bones. Cold, so very cold… and hot, so very hot. The super typhoon made contact with the earth a few hundred miles away on a nearby island, grounding boat and air traffic. Hospitals were hundreds of miles away from me in my illusory state in a tiny, dingy town on a remote island in the Sulu Sea.
Amid the sea of chaos and movement that makes Tsukiji, there are fleeting moments of quiet and calm. The pot of tea whistling in the corner, the gloves tossed to the side, the woman's blade as it makes contact with the fish skin. These are the moments I sought to capture, as well as the hustle and bustle of market life.
For a moment, the shop fell silent and everyone gazed at the photo and the smiling ex-geisha in front of us, perhaps imagining, as I was, what it would have been like to be a geisha in the forties and fifties following World War II. No wonder she had so adamantly served us and entertained us by showing off her gorgeous kimono silks.
I kept moving with the crowd but the snow beneath my feet was turning to ice with every step due to the heat radiating from the raging fire and the pulse of a thousand bodies. The fire festival arena in the small mountain town of Nozawa Onsen, nestled high in the Japan Alps was packed with revelers. It was January 15th and the annual Dosojin fire festival was in full swing
“I think this is the right way, yes! it’s just past that cow…”. Our friends led us through a small wooden gate with a crooked sign that read ‘cheese’ in Montengrin. We had come upon a small family farm that was perched on the side of the rugged mountain that overlooked Kotor. To get there we had hiked a few hundred stairs, winded through a dilapidated castle, and a stone fortress, and trekked along the rocky mountainside. Our destination had become clear, our friends wanted us to try the “best cheese in Montenegro” and it was found here on this tiny mountainside family farm.
The salmon sizzled, spitting hot olive oil from the striations in its flesh. The fish was so fresh, you could not smell that it was fish, rather it smelled of salt water and cold—the way a deep breathe on a frosty morning smells. The small restaurant in Split, Croatia was abuzz with activity, plates being passed around, beers being imbibed. The heavy wooden front door locked out the chilly November air and the breathe of well-fed patrons fogged the small windows, blocking the view to the street.
The door closed and locked behind us shutting out the noise from the busy city street that now felt a world away. We were standing in a small bar lined with floor to ceiling bookcases filled with bottles of clear mezcal. The labels on the bottles looked like the old library cards that were used to check books in and out back in the eighties. It gave the bottles an appearance of having been shelved as though they were books in a library – each one an ode to a life’s work.
I recently had the opportunity to work alongside a group wildland firefighters on a controlled broadcast burn. As a forest ecologist this experience taught me a lot about fire behavior and how fire moves across a landscape. As a photographer, it was an amazing experience to be on the fireline equipped with a drip torch, hand tool and a camera. This is what I saw.
The jolly barman with large breasts sporting a red bikini merrily waved us in with a spatula as we nudged open the heavy wooden door to the bar. Laughter steamed the windows from the inside out on this chilly, early winter evening in Bled, Slovenia. The tiny bar was teeming with grimy, work-boot wearing men with missing teeth and large-bosomed, frolicsome women.
The sound of music floats from the piazzas and down the streets. Masked people are dancing in the rain, umbrellas long forgotten, boots entirely drenched. Some have escaped the downpour to attend opulent balls and theatrical performances, but the real celebration is here, in the streets where the heart of Carnevale beats among the thousands of revelers.
Encapsulated in cave-like darkness, La Piojera seems to suspends you in time, not just because after two terremotos you feel as if you are experiencing the very thing the drinks are named for, but because it is a place where making friends is as easy as breathing, and set away from the clamor of the city you can forget any and all responsibilities of life.
A valid understanding of a place transpires when you “meet” a city, especially one that has real character, like Manila the broken hearted woman, or Buenos Aires, the sultry lady, shy behind her beauty.
Malaysia stands out as a truly unique blend of cultures, foods, architecture and landscapes—a country teeming with the chaotic fusion of all things different, but unified. At the cultural heart of this fusion stands Georgetown, Penang. The Penang Story is the story of one flourishing city that can attract people from all walks of life, where each community can take pride in their heritage without demoralizing their neighbors, and where history is alive and tangible in the streets.
Despite long flights, natural disasters, expense, dangers and frustrations, travelers must travel. I realized this more than ever in a recent trip to the Philippines. On this trip my capacity for travel frustration was tested in almost every way, but I learned that with an open mind and a smile, sitting for four hours in Manila traffic or being bed ridden to dengue fever will have an upside—even if that upside comes in the most simple form.
Iceland is deemed the land of fire and ice, a juxtaposition that seems to be prevalent throughout the whole country. The harsh landscape, rugged terrain, and remote exclusion unique to its particular location have borne a people of resilience with a culture that is both charming and tenacious.
Explore Perú and you will find a country hungry for attention and rich with sensory experiences. South Perú truly is a fantastical landscape of high altitude desert—the driest in the world, immense canyons—the second deepest in the world, Pacific coast, and dense jungle, but it takes a little courage to step out of your comfort zone to find it.
Bari, a city located on the Adriatic Sea at the top of the heel of the boot in South Italy, is the epitome of what it looks like when antiquity meets modernity. It is a vulgar city, rough and unrefined, but it has escaped false distortions.
The far reaching spit of land in Northern Patagonia that protrudes one hundred kilometers into the South Atlantic supports several threatened or endangered species of animals that made this unique point their sanctuary.