The Flip Slide |
A year ago, I was able to recreate a handful of photos my grandfather had from the states. Having spent most of his career capturing scenes from other countries, any photos of this country are rare. As luck would have it, the few that he had were of San Francisco, my love and the city that we called home for so long.
“San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.” -Benjamin F. Taylor
Golden Gate Bridge
These are a group of photos from 1963 and 2015. The first set are taken by my grandfather in Panama City, Panama as he was traveling by sea on the Bergenfjord ship. The second set of photos are taken by me as I was traveling by foot through Panama City, Panama in April of 2015.
This is a glorious city. The old city is full of restored buildings, spanish colonial architecture, and culinary gems. The new part of the city is full of swanky, upscale buildings, innovative design, and new money. The old city seems to be functioning like it always has, lots of locals out and about, eating, drinking, listening to music, living the quintessential Panamanian lifestyle.
This is the Panama City that is captured in the photos. This is why I came here. This laid back, beautiful town is keeping its culture and vitality even with the onslaught of new money and foreigners. I hope it continues to evolve this way, keeping it’s unique history and charm. For me, being able to wake up each day inspired by the architecture, write overlooking beautiful plazas, explore the cobble stone streets, listen to jazz pipe out of bar windows, sip on rum, wine, etc, while basking in the sun is reason enough to feel an immediate connection to this city. I was excited, inspired, engaged, and at peace. My journey back can’t happen soon enough.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa Park
Plaza 5 de Mayo
El Panama Hotel
Bridge of the Americas
French Point/ View of Casco Viejo
11th Street, Colon, Panama
Many of these photos my grandfather took were from the vantage point of a ship. I do not have my sea legs and needed to adjust the vantage point. He was capturing the moments of him going through the locks on the ship, I standing at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center. The whole history of the Panama Canal is captivating and to be able to sail through and experience how the canal operates hands on, must have been thrilling.
Panama Canal, 1963
My grandfather’s photos taken from the ship going through the Panama Canal.
Panama Canal, 2015
My photos at Miraflores Locks, standing outside looking in on the Panama Canal.
I went downstairs to the lobby of the hotel to ask about my photos. Standing there was a bellboy. I showed him my grandfathers photos. The look on peoples faces who have grown up here, who’s parents have grown up here, who’s grandparents have grown up here are always priceless. He stared in disbelief. Often times, locals need to study the photos to figure out where they are, but this time, he was able to located all of the photos within seconds like they were the back of his hand. His eyes said it all as he said muy bonita. He said Panama is so different now, not like it was before. The more and more I travel to capture these photos, the realization sets in that in every part of the world growth and change are inevitable and a constant but that people cherish the past, they long for legacy, and they do everything they can to help preserve their history.
Plaza 5 de Mayo, 1963 vs. Plaza 5 de Mayo, 2015
“Panama is a strange destination. Part of it is the kind of Americanised non-place you’d flee to if you were pretending to be dead, part-transit zone and part-central American wilderness – making it a very compact place to visit for an all-in-one experience.”
There are moments when you arrive in a new country and within 10 minutes it takes your breath away. Today was one of those days. We have only been here for a few hours but the history and architecture is beyond words. I am always so blown away by the innovative style the Ace Hotel brand creates, especially with this newest addition in Panama. I know it may seem weird if tears come to my eyes when I get to stay in a beautiful place, but being surrounded by so much history and beautiful architecture and design makes me euphoric.
American Trade Hotel, Panama City, Panama
During our stay in the Philippines we were stationed in Manila and took two side trips to the beach. The first was about a 3 hour (or 6 hour Filipino time) drive NW of Manila to a region called Zambales.
We stayed in a small surfing village in San Narciso. It was a great getaway from the craziness of Manila. This small surf town was just that, small. It was quaint and was tourist free. The sand on the beach was black in color, due to the volcanic ash from years before. The waves were great for beginners. And the sun and ocean were a perfect place to relax all day long.
San Narciso, Zambales, Philippines
The second trip we took was to Boracay. This is a small island (one of many) South of Manila. We arrived to Boracay the day after Christmas, along with a lot of out of towers. The beaches were lined with local Filipinos and many tourists. This island has become a large vacation destination within the past 10 years. The water is crystal blue, crazy clear. And the sand is the finest, softest white sand I have ever seen. During the day we soaked up the sun (and pina colada’s) and at night we joined the masses for fun and shots, shots, shots on the beach.
We searched for many hours and days, sorted through thousands of slides to find the photos my grandfather took in the Manila and Naga, Philippines. Yet we came up empty. We think they might have been damaged or not developed. So in our attempt to keep the memory alive, we will be posting our own photos on this trip. Maybe one day someone will replicate these.
Manila Skyline 12/2014
Raffles Hotel (This lobby is no longer part of the hotel. It has been reconstructed back to the original structure)
Old and New (The original building has been torn down and reconstructed, like most buildings in this part of town)
Modern Apartment Building
Boat Quay (The most dramatic change. My favorite photo of the bunch)
Exactly six months ago to the day was when I left everything and took this leap to make my dream of seeing the world a reality. In that time, I have traveled to 11 countries and 25 cities/towns. People think that when you travel you leave reality behind. The truth is, it is when you see the real in everything. And these past months have been a true reality. They have been filled with real places, real people, real conversations, real moments, real feelings, real life. This reality has been one of the best in my life. I’ve seen things that I’ll never be able to describe. I’ve felt things that I’ll never be able to explain. I’ve met people that have changed my life. I’ve lived life extraordinarily well. Travel will change your life. It will make you appreciate what you have. And will make you work your ass off to do it again. To everyone I’ve met, thank you. I’m lucky to have you in my life. Until the next adventure…