Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Now available on Amazon, Travels in India — the e-book! It’s the illustrated full story of my adventures in India, most of which is  material that has never appeared on the website. The blog has more photos than the e-book, but the e-book has all the details.

Travels in India gives a blow-by-blow description of my month long road trip in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in March of 2011. As you know if you’ve followed the blog, I visited the major tourist attractions in Delhi, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodphur, Udaipur, Jaipur and Agra. I also visited a few places that were off the beaten path. But more than that, the e-book tells the stories of the people I met, some of them wonderful, some fun and some irritating.

This travelogue has lots of detail about eating, drinking, getting sick and bathroom facilities. It’s what everyone wants to know but is afraid to ask, particularly women. If you find that too much information, perhaps you might like another travelogue better.

If you want to know what it’s like for a woman to travel alone in India who’s not a college-aged backpacker, this book might be helpful. This is not a guide book, it’s the experiences of a traveler. Most of all, if you want to be immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of India and be entertained, Travels in India is for you!


Read Full Post »

A dear friend has passed away. Steve Sardeson, resident of Baraboo, Wisconsin, who liked to call himself The Genuine Tourist,  succumbed to cancer at the age of 62 in November.  I only learned of his passing yesterday.

I met Steve online a few years ago. We were both exploring the idea of retiring in Mexico. He and his wife Pat had traveled there many times and loved the country and the people.  Steve and I bumped into each other on an online forum, which sparked a flurry of correspondence.

I introduced Steve to the world of blogging, and he took to it like a bullfrog to a pond. A passionate photographer and an enthusiastic traveler, Steve populated several blogs* with stories about his trips. He loved Mexico and wanted to share the joy.

Two years ago, my first trip to Mexico coincided with one of Steve and Pat’s. We were all going to be in Xalapa at the same time, so Steve graciously offered me the use of the spare bedroom in the house that he and his wife had rented for their month-long stay.  I would stay with them for the one week I would be in town.

This was the first time — and, sadly, the only time — we would meet face to face. Steve and Pat were such a delight to be around. They were upbeat and up for anything. We explored towns off the beaten path, some of which didn’t even have a path!

Steve Sardeson, the tireless Genuine Tourist,
hard at work, performing community outreach.

Steve was a tireless and very talented photographer. After I thought I’d exhausted all the angles from a scene, Steve would still be clicking away. He was drawn to people and not shy about taking photos of strangers. In one town he had taken some photos of a couple of young boys who had been curiously following us. When I turned around, I saw Steve showing the boys their photo on his camera display. I quickly got a shot of that. It’s one of my favorite pictures of him.  Being around Steve and watching him interact with people encouraged me to try to get past my shyness about photographing strangers.

Steve, The Genuine Tourist, was the best kind of tourist you could be. He didn’t buy into the whole pretentious traveler vs. tourist debate.  He knew, as long as he wasn’t a full-time expat, that he was a tourist. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Steve did his research. He made an effort to learn the history of each place he went. When he and Pat made any of their three-month trips to Mexico, they blended into the community as much as possible. They shopped at local markets, ate where the locals ate, did what the locals did. They loved the culture and immersed themselves in it.

Steve wasn’t fluent in Spanish, but his sincerity, his genuineness, carried him through when words failed. On our way to the Xalapa Anthropological Museum, he had an enthusiastic conversation with the taxi driver in both fractured Spanish and English. He didn’t speak Spanish well, but he never stopped trying to communicate in any way he could. The cabbie responded to Steve with a great deal of warmth and told us a little about himself and how he came to own the cab. It was one of those great little moments in traveling — and touristing.

Steve and Pat didn’t travel just for enjoyment. A portion of each trip included such things as bringing school supplies to children or volunteering at local dental clinics. They also sponsored a needy child in Haiti. Steve was a social worker and Pat a dental technician in their nontourist lives. They always wanted to give back.

We kept in touch after the Mexico trip, updating each other on our lives and plans for upcoming trips. Although our friendship was mostly long distance and online, it was as meaningful as any I’ve had.

Steve, you will be greatly missed.


*Steve’s blogs include:





My Mexico blog, including the week at Xalapa with Steve and Pat:


Read Full Post »

I love photography, and as a travel junkie, I love looking at travel photography. But even though a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words, pictures can’t  tell the whole story.

It’s frustrating to page through images on Photobucket, PBase, Flickr or somebody’s travel blog and not know enough about what you’re looking at. And that’s why, if I’m given a link to someone’s travel photos on a photo sharing site, I only give them a cursory glance, if I look at them at all.

I want to read an informative blog so I’ll know the story behind the pictures.  I want to know how you came to meet the stranger with the beautiful smile or the lady with the beautiful scarf, what you said to him and what they said to you.  There are many photos and photo collections which can stand alone without explanation.  But even if they’re hanging in a museum, there’ll be a little card next to them with a few words on it.

Whether you go to an exotic, off-the-beaten-path location or visit Paris, there’ll always be scenes that warrant a bit of explanation.  There’ll be things about your images that you, the traveler, will know but the reader who hasn’t been there won’t have a clue.  What does that sign in a foreign language say?  What about the body language of the person in the photo?  Sometimes even what a person is wearing has meaning in another culture. These are the mysteries in the photos that need to be revealed in words.

No matter how beautiful the images, I lose interest much  more quickly if there’s no story to accompany them.

On the other hand, don’t go overboard. When travel blogs turn into history essays, I also lose interest. A little historical background is good. If I want to know more, I know where Google is.

What I really want to know is your travel experience:   what you felt, who you met, what you ate, what occurred.  And, of course, I expect photos to illustrate each and every one of these things!

Read Full Post »