Charmed in Playa del Carmen

When I arrived in Playa del Carmen, America and Pauloko greeted me at the local bus station right on 5th avenue. We swung by America’s apartment to drop off my things before heading toward a hostel to help prep for the birthday celebration of one of America’s friends. So much familiarity, yet so much change. Playa del Carmen is currently ranked as THE fastest growing city in the world…

Fortunately, the coastal charm of a smaller seaside village continues to thrive in Playa. The highway that runs along the coast of the Riviera Maya slices through Playa nearer to the shore. Most of the city’s growth extends out from the other side of the highway… away from the sea. Thus, the highway helps preserve the more intimate nucleus of the city. Walk just about a dozen blocks from sea and you’ve already reached the highway.

The infamous 5th avenue, which marks the second block from the coast, is lined with cafes, gelaterias, boutiques, art galleries and quaint hotels. I popped out of the hostel just one block up from 5th avenue to indulge in one of my favorite treats – a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie!

Soon the techno house music led us on highs and lows that reflected the rhythm of the waves at sea. Party-goers began to arrive and drink chelas (beer) at the rooftop bar and dip into the rooftop pool. I began to slip back into a familiar bliss. I socialized with friends, but so easily I would lose myself in the music, my heart and soul turned toward the sea, completely mesmerized by her opal, turquoise, azure and sapphire hues. And my precious moon began to emerge, shining bright and bold… as dusk turned to darkness. When night fell I escaped, padding my way down the cobbled road toward the water’s edge. Stepping out of my clothes I slipped right into the cool, dark waters. Home.

I quickly fell into my old morning routine greeting the day with a morning run along the shore and cooling down with a leisurely swim. I would playfully roll around in the soft waves then drift on my back… utterly content… just me and the sea.

By 8:30 I was sitting upright and erect, ready for an energizing Vinyasa flow yoga class with Ellen at Yoga By the Way

Insatiable Wanderlust

A silly photo Sebastián took of me at Gladstones in LA. I'm ready to sail off and conquer the world!

I laugh at myself. On the move yet again. Back to Mexico and Guatemala. Just about an hour until I take off from LAX…

I could no longer bear how much I missed my friends, so Riveria Maya and La Antigua here I come! I’ll spend about two weeks on the Yucatan Peninsula before I head back to Guatemala. I can’t believe it has been more than a year and half since I last lived in the “land of eternal spring.” Memories from both Mexico and Guatemala have been flooding my consciousness lately. I have begun dreaming in Spanish again. I woke up just the other morning in mid-sentence… speaking Spanish. Again, I laugh. I remember how it took a couple weeks for me to adjust to speaking English again when I arrived in LA. It looks like the transition back to Spanish will go more smoothly. Of course, I’ve been using my Spanish at every possible opportunity…

Ah, such is the life of the restless wanderer – the nomad, the gypsy, the “mystic” as the Italian-American puts it. And I love it. I love living with the fluidity of the wind and the beloved sea…

You can read more about my goals for my trip back to Mexico on my new website fotofatal.com. Please see fotofatál: Mobilized for Mexico. No, I am not replacing this website. Giramonda.com will still represent my personal blog. However, as I have previously alluded, I have been working extremely hard on launching a proper professional website for my photography. The site is now up and I feel quite proud. I will still be uploading many more images to add to my photo galleries, but I already have enough images uploaded to accurately showcase my work. I’ll also be offering the sales of prints and digital downloads through fotofatal.com very soon. I’ve developed the concept to match my lifestyle. I am developing a virtual brand of photography that I can take with me anywhere. I envision fotofatal becoming a centralized source online for commissioning and deploying photographers for projects, events, etc… anywhere around the world:

We envision fotofatál as a worldwide photography force poised to meet any photographic endeavor anywhere around the globe. Wedding or war, family or fashion, community or commercial, humanity or nature – no assignment is too great or too small for fotofatál.

Work with us and become a part of something bigger…

For now, it starts with me. 🙂

I used Moo for my custom business cards. I’m very excited about how they turned out. I’ve been getting great responses. Now, I’m just kicking myself for not printing more. I have a hunch I’ll have to replenish the pack quite soon.

So, just to claim it and own it: World, I am so ready to for my commissioned photography assignments located around the world. Travel, wedding, editorial, commercial, lifestlye… bring it on! It’s time for fotofatál!

I’m also working on revamping this website. Please bear with me as I give giramonda.com a face lift.

Also, I’ll be launching another website very soon. This business concept will be an extension of my photography, but it will also be heavily committed to giving back to charities and aid organizations. I plan to invite other photographers to participate in the project. Stay tuned…

So yes, I’ve been a busy little worker bee. That fact is reflected in my bland writing. My sincerest apologies. As I get all these concepts organized and running I will be committing to writing more regularly again. I sorely miss writing for myself. I loved blogging about my adventures through Europe and SE Asia. My travels through Latin America and LA were chronicled less due to constantly writing for everyone else and, now, all this work in setting up my business concepts. Soon I will be sharing my heart and soul again through both the written word and the lens…

I have already lived an extremely rich and blessed life – a life overstuffed with the experiences of ten lives. And yet, I have an exciting feeling that the best is only just beginning.

I want to give a special thanks to Clara, Gabriel, Dustin, Sebastian, Kristelle, Perla and Jen. Each of these beautiful souls truly enriched my experience in LA and I’m extremely grateful to have their invaluable friendship and support. I love each and every one of you very much.

Time to let life work its wily magic…

Ala ¡¡Que Rico!!

Midnight Muse

A late night visit turned into an impromptu photo shoot. My new business partner captured these images using a single Chinese ball lantern from Ikea:

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Art Walk in the LA Fashion District

My spirit is soaring upon the wings of inspiration after an absolutely enchanting evening at the March 2011 LA Fashion District Art Walk. I kept my camera stowed away in the car because I wanted to appreciate the art instead becoming consumed by the insatiable urge to create my own. The artists who spoke to my heart through their own work are too many to name all at once. But, hopefully I’ll be able to feature each one in separate blogs to come…

Eventually succumbing to the overwhelming urge to create, I did pull out my camera at the very end to capture a few images:

Glowing grafiti in the LA Fashion District. © Laura McNamara
LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
Intersection in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
The Cecil Hotel in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara
Brambalito Mezcal drink at Las Perlas in the LA Fashion District © Laura McNamara

Fig Jam: The Key to Life

Brimming.

Precisely how I would describe today.

First, false courtesy from she who has offered me a roof. She and a friend leave for brunch with no invitation or inclination to include me. An obvious move to make an obvious statement. Certainly not the first time I’ve experienced this, so the disturbance is measured in ripples that spread through the shallows. But, beyond the surface, the calculated move bears no real penetration. Just merely skips off the periphery. My only concern is, after so many years of developing an intuition to avoid such superficial relationships, how did I let this one develop? How did I let this one slip through the cracks? Is it a weakness in my foundation? Or, was meeting me a necessity in the development of hers? My hunch is a little of both…

Moving on. The Italian-American takes me to the Beverly Hills farmers market. He collects blood “red” oranges, imported cheeses, cilantro basil pesto and a small purple orchid, which he gives to me. I love orchids. They are exquisite in their feminine delicacy. This one is petite, yet lavish with blossoms. Ten blossoms blushing with pink, speckled with a richer plum. Five more blossoms on the way. For me, her beauty is yet more striking in this realm thirsting for authentic refinement. Quickly, I find myself attached, jumping at her every shimmer and sway…. fussing over her blossoms like a mother fusses over a newborn.

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The Doheny Mansion. He’s right. Only tourists with guide books delight in this peaceful escape. Would be an ideal location for lifestyle photography. Too bad you need a license to shoot anywhere in this city. It seems everything is marked with bureaucratic, bourgeois tape. Basically, anything worth anything has already been pissed on, marked by the dogs, 100 times over. Common grounds for the public? Dream on. The smell of rain-soaked lavender, so refreshing and soothing, softens my edge and lulls me to a calm…

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A hidden trail finally leads up back to where we started, a small Coy pond…

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Next we pass the Beverly Hills witch house. It looks as if it’s straight out of a Brother’s Grimm tale.

Another Beverly Hills oddity… this one a house inspired by Gaudi:

Quickly, we breeze through Santa Monica just after the rains, strolling along the broad boulevard as the sun begins to break through the clouds…

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Venice… Despite six months in this city, this is the first time I’ve explored her charm. Wow… so there is hope. A far cry from so many of the hidden escapes I’ve come to adore, yet finally some true character! Bohemian flair, a few small canals that survived the city-wide larson, eclectic shops, sophisticated galleries. I will have to find a haven here if I shall make it for any length of time in this city. It’s so wonderful to breathe in the salty sea air… always she calls to me, the sea.

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Ducking into the Ritz Carlton, we seek a quick reprieve from the rainy weather and sip a glass of wine before the crackling fire.

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Winding upwards to the tip top of the Pacific Palisades. We pass clearance and an automatic gate lets us into the clifftop mansion, home to the inventor of Sony PlayStation’s Crash Bandicoot. Fine wine. Homemade pizza after homemade pizza spill from the outside oven, barely hitting the granite counter top before we scarf them down. Imported cheeses, truffle oil, a bountiful selection of savory sauces, fig jam… the list of toppings seems endless. I hand toss, hand roll my first ever homemade pizza. Pesto sauce, chunky slices of Parmesan cheese imported from Italy, red onion, gobs of rictotta, drizzle of honey, crushed black pepper all sent to the outdoor oven. We dress the pizza with buffala, balsamic must and top quality olive oil before serving. The general consensus: mmmMMMMM. The pink panther is my friend’s creation. Can’t remember all the ingredients but wine saturated Manchego cheese, dates and fig jam were key ingredients. He has discovered that fig jam is the key to life.

Gelato to finish us off. Pistachio mixed with chocolate my favorite.

Throughout the night, my friend’s stories, impersonations and jokes carried the delightful evening and roused bouts of laughter. He, as well, a refreshing encounter with true character.

With simple ease, he revealed many of LA’s gems…