First time ever, I returned to a city I’ve been before.
I had spend 4 weeks traveling through Colombia in 2009 for Wok the Dog and had captured some iconic photo for the series then.
This visit back to Bogota is some what impromptu, short and most importantly, I am leaving Wok the Dog behind during this trip.
Instead of the usual 50 liter backpack plus a day pack, I’m taking a small carry on suitcase and my laptop.
The Hasselblad 501 and XPan are left behind and the Nikon D200 is coming with me.
A new disguise for a new mission.
People often ask, what will be next? After Wok the Dog?
I don’t have a concrete answer. I only know certain perimeters that I am interested in.
I want the next big body of work to be international. Instead of traveling through so many countries documenting and discovering the same theme, I would like to stay in one or two countries for a while and dig. I want to really dig in to a place and find the buried treasures in the stories untold.
What is the story?
The story has not shown itself to me yet.
Bogota Redux in part, is the initial survey to see if it would be a good future dig site.
I asked around and got connected with friends of friends. I wanted a local fixer. I wanted to learn how to use the connections effectively, the way journalists do. I wanted a path beyond the gringo trail.
Ciudad Bolivar is a Barrio in Bogota a friend suggested that I visit. It is a city unto itself he says. But you need someone to go down there with you, you need an escort.
In Ciudad Bolivia, poverty is the obvious story during the day while gang violence rules the night (or so I’ve been told).
During my first cursory visit, I see the poverty but not the violence. I found texture but didn’t get a chance to uncover color and flavor. With out it, it is just a story on poverty and that is not interesting. I realized I needed time and a new persepctive from a new disguise.
To discover the color and flavor of any story, in Bogota or else where, I would need to give myself a lot of time. Time to peel back the layers, to wait and make connection, to map out what is know inorder to disover the unknown.
I often wish I was an explorer. To sail the unknown sea, cross the desert to undiscovered countries and scale mountain of impossible height to find the lost city. Yet the geographical world has been mapped. Great men before me and the satellite technology has made the unknown, known.
With this return trip to a place I’ve been before, with the exploratory trip into a new part of the city and the mindset of discovery, I realized I can be an explorer still.
There are still treasures abound in untold stories. The human story is the never ending frontier. I just have to learn to peel back the layers and find the heart of it.
A new disguise found, and a new story awaits.
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