The Amazon rainforest is a place so utterly bursting with life that as the sun sets and the temperature drops, it’s as if you can actually see the forest breathing. A thick snake of fog slithers its way along the rivers, while the canopy exhales steam which glows gold in the fading sunlight.
Cuba’s classic 1950s American cars all mark the point at which time apparently stopped in this Caribbean island, when the revolution severed it from the rest of the world. But time didn’t stop, of course – hence the rust, and the decay, and the peeling paint and crumbling concrete. The 50-year-old ideology feels old now, the people are weary, and the island prison is like its cars: a beautiful relic from the outside, but falling to pieces within.
Some shots are a result of being in the right place at the right time – and this was one of them. But in getting to “the right place” required rather a lot of time, patience and knowledge. This is a desert-adapted elephant found in the bleak expanse of northwestern Namibia, and we had spent the morning tracking them, following footprints and droppings up and down dried-up riverbeds.
La Nomadita has a “Lord of the Flies” moment with the boy hunters of the Choco rainforest, Ecuador
It’s appropriate that reaching the Himba involves such an arduous journey across Namibia. Arriving at the settlement, I realised life here was as far removed from my own as I could imagine, and the punishing journey was first test at leaving my comfortable, western lifestyle to enter another, more primal world, where human movements are dictated by nature, and not the other way around.
This woman belongs to the Himba tribe of the Kunene, an arid, rocky wasteland in northwestern Namibia. Her temporary hut is simple, hastily constructed from poles of wood and plastered earth, as red on the inside as the woman herself. Aside from her plentiful jewellery, crafted from leather and metal, she wears only a goatskin skirt, smeared ochre over time.
Three days in a rickety jeep. Three sleepless, aching nights; three icy dawns with the wonder of the sun rising over the widest horizons I’d ever see, watching as my own skinny shadow stretched to the distant mountains. A world composed of salt and volcanoes and boiling water and dust, that made me ache for the sight of a green leaf, a blade of grass, a drop of rain. Life.
The Afroecuadorians of Esmeraldas are descendants of West African slaves brought here five centuries ago. Some of their ancestors escaped slavery, some were freed from the mines. Others dodged slavery altogether when their ship was wrecked in the rough Pacific watersc, and they managed to swim to shore to create a new life for themselves in the South American jungle.
Juan hand-rolled the fat cigar in front of us in the little wooden hut. The leaves had been fermented for four months with honey, vanilla and just a little rum, and smelled delicious enough to eat. Juan took a small bundle of leaves, rolled them and held them in place with paper. Dark brown leaves from the inside of the plant were then rolled diagonally around it, and the classic form of the Cuban cigar appeared before my eyes.
A safari is normally characterised by trying to get nearer – tracking something down, pursuing it, getting the long lenses out. But a flying safari is about being just far enough away to make out the horizon beyond the mountains, to watch the coastal fog creeping up behind the dunes, to observe the earth becoming an abstract artwork of shadow and light, the known and the unknown.