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

Back to Paradise

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05.03.11

At the airport in Cancun, I made friends with a Virgin American crew member and a fellow traveler from Norway… perhaps we’ll be in touch.

I took a shuttle from the airport to the bus station in the center of town. I felt so “at home” again, yet felt my spirit hadn’t quite released LA yet…

Perla came with her boyfriend Mario and picked me up from the station. I shrieked with joy when I saw her…

Benny met us shortly thereafter and we made a beeline for greasy, yummy Mexican food. Guacamole, chorizo tacos, carne asada, frijoles… ala ¡Que Rico!

Benny is beyond words. He’s so pure.

We picked up Benny’s budding flame… Karina. She and I are one in the same… she possesses a true zest for life!

Ruben and Victor meet us for drinks. Back in tropical paradise, sipping a pina coloda with old, cherished friends… ahem ¡QUE RICO!

It all felt surreal… being surrounded by so many people I love again. Each and every one is so dear and special to me.

05.04.11

I slept in… I haven’t done that since I decided to return to Latin America. Still… sleeping in here is waking up early in LA… so maybe I didn’t sleep in after all.

After working and connecting with my client, I leave for the beach. My friends are at work and it’s just me…

I go to Playa Marlin, where I used to live. I lived in an apartment that had a beautiful view of the sea. The very waves that I so clearly remember lulling me to sleep crashed in a soft greeting of “welcome back.” When I bathed in the sea my senses began to reawaken. Little by little, I felt myself reconnecting

I busted out the blender when I got back to my friend’s apartment. Now I can liquefy my own fresh, tropical bliss!

Sushi for dinner… catching up with Perla.

Inspired to shoot a special shot… sipping wine poolside under the cozy night sky my spirit makes the final shift… finally, I am reconnected.

At One

aerialplmBy Laura Rico

I am at one with the energy here
my spirit opens
my soul sings
the silent trance calms me…

beneath the quiet
a glorious celestial choir
bursting forth from love…

the wind tickles my skin
the tropical air warm and moist
fluttering fronds of a palm
sweetly caressing my face
shivers of ecstasy course through my being
oh joy!

I am so elated to feel “me” again!

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!!

Flying Through the Caribbean Breeze

A little video of me clinging to some sort of wind swing thing that whips me around like a rag doll off the coast of the Riviera Maya (Cancun, MX, spring 2010):

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Here’s one where we cruised around the inlets in little toy speedboats before spilling out into the sea and jumping overboard to snorkel:

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The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.

Yesterday marked my 6th month anniversary in Los Angeles… already? That was fast…

I woke today with a familiar energy; eyes popping wide open. I’ve been logging deep sleep but not long hours. Too much buzz coursing through my body. In fact, the past three mornings have been the same. Getting to bed around 1 a.m. Flashing awake by 7 a.m.

The last time I felt so much energy was while I was living in Playa del Carmen, MX…

Huh. A good sign, I mused to myself… noting the new boost. Exited, I thought: Okay, perhaps LA is really going to come together for me. Perhaps this IS where I’m supposed to be.

HA!

Okay. Prepare yourself now. I’ll be pouring the “wine” for the next few paragraphs. So do yourself a favor and go grab some cheese.

I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with L.A. My nickname for the “city of angels” is “the slum of smoke and mirrors.” In all honesty, there are gems here. But you really have to dig to find them. At least, that’s my experience. And, I certainly love digging up the treasure buried amidst the trash, but the absolute truth is… I’m negligibly inspired here. That’s a far cry from my norm. Usually, I’m brimming over with inspiration, adventure, discovery, joy, love… the list of sappy, fairytale wonderland adjectives goes on. But here? There’s something here… beyond the surface even… that, more alarming than leaving me uninspired, downright disturbs me. I can’t quite put into words what it is, but if I did I would have to borrow the lyrics from the Big Yellow Taxi from the Counting Crow Hard Candy album (and really they borrowed the lyrics from Joni Mitchell):

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot… They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put em up in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them.”

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What’s worse… it seems like everyone believes it’s paradise. The black top of tar is what everyone exclaims is paradise. “They” all squabble over the slightest centimeter of it… charging a millionaire’s salary for one little sq cm. You, ahem, may think I’m exaggerating… I’m not. I just passed a complex on my walk home from the semi-ritzy neighborhood of Brentwood to the partially-ritzy, partially student, partially Asian neighborhood of Westwood, where I now “live” (getting to why I was walking not biking in a minute). A two-bedroom loft in an ‘eh decent enough’ building choked by cement blocks on all sides goes for… drum roll please… not $300,000, not $400,000… can we get a $550,000 dollars please!! Oh yes, centimeters here are damn expensive. Please, pardon my French…
Continue reading “The Itch, The Fever Call It What You May But I’ve Got to Go Far and Away & The Truth About L.A.”

Foto Flashback: The Ancient Artists of Angkor Wat

Daybreak at the Angkor Wat ruins. Awe.

The shifting hues of morning silhouetting an ancient world. The Khmer reigned this exotic kingdom 1700 years ago. Can you fathom that?

As the light slowly crept into the intricate crevices of this ancient realm, sweet memories of childhood came flooding back to me.

Sea. Sand. Beach. Drizzly sand-castles.

I chuckled as I thought how, from afar, these Tomb Raider ruins reminded me of the drizzly sand-castles my mom taught me to make at the sea’s edge.

Creeping closer to the ruins though, I gasped. It seemed as if every centimeter of the ruins was covered in delicate, hand-carved detail. A far cry from a drizzly sand-castle, this was a masterpiece of epic scale. Not only an expression of order and civilization, but also one of art and expression. The walls of this ancient kingdom really could speak. They told of the seductive Aspara, the ancient Khmer goddesses. Warriors reenacted great battles.

The tales of the Khmer were spun with rock.

Such an intricately ornate creation is lost to our modern world of towering skyscrapers. A quiet melancholy washed over me as I knew that the humans of our fast-paced world would never dedicate such time and expertise to their own walls of civilization. And to think these now dilapidated chambers and crumbling halls were carved by slaves. They should be remembered as artists.

You can own prints of these photos as well as many other photos that appear on this site. Please visit my Fine Photography page to learn more about adding one of my images to your photo collection.

Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance

Lately, I feel as if I’m caught up in a never-ending game of pin the tail on the donkey…

The nearly non-existent trickle of income is my blindfold. Short on funds, the hunt for a decent wage is a constant distraction from my true goals. I can’t seem to see past the “no cash” dilemma. So I focus on trying to make ends meet, instead of focusing on what my heart calls me to do. And that’s the irony. The more I allow myself to stray away from my true heart’s desires… the less success I find. The more I give away my time, energy and talents to outside aims, the more I find them used, abused and under-valued. I’m so eager to help. But in my eagerness, I’m learning, that “take advantage” seems to be the law of the land. I must be more wary of where I decide to invest. Lately, it feels as if my “investments” have only been sucking me dry.

It is the mysterious adventure of life that is constantly spinning me, whirling me, sending me in somersaults. I LOVE it. I LOVE the commotion. I LOVE the thrill. I LOVE her, life. But, at times, when I come up for air, I end up dizzy and confused. I know what’s written upon my heart… but which way was it that I needed to go? Which way is forward and which way is backward again? What step is the right step toward achieving my goals?

The hope? Despite the blindfold and the dizzy dance, the donkey – representative of the longings of my heart – is still there, whether I see her or not. Grasping at capital can momentarily obscure my vision. Life and her wondrous, thrilling adventure can disorient me. Yet, nothing can rob me of what lies upon my heart.

So, with the naivety of a child, I still believe and I will still try… to pin that tail on the donkey!

A quiet moment with myself: Let the dizziness clear. Realize the blindfold is a blessing in disguise. Use not the eyes of illusion to make out the way, but the inner eye of faith, wisdom and intuition.
Continue reading “Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance”