July 2017- Baja California Mexico, Desert Expedition

Oh how time flies. It has been a year since my desert expedition in Baja California Mexico. This was one of the most incredible desert landscapes I had the opportunity to explore. My colleague and I started off in San Jose del Cabo, then driving a couple of hundred miles north looking for some rare and elusive plants of this region. Some days reached a high 100 plus degrees. It was an interesting transition because I was in Jamaica for a month previous to this trip. 

 

Antiquarian Book Store

On July 5th, I met with my botanical colleague/mentor in Manhattan NYC. During this time we visited an very small and unique book store called " Cookbooks". Owned by Joanne Hendricks, this store sells out of print, antiquarian, and unusual books. Found many gems amongst her collection. Located on 488 Greenwich Street, NYC.

Later during that day we also met with a women named Gilberta, who I met during my expeditions in the country of Armenia. Time well spent.  

 

Midnite During Sunset

I had the opportunity to starting off the month July at the International African Arts Festival in Commodore Barry park Brooklyn, NY. Vaughn Benjamin of the band Midnite preformed for the crowd, a majestic scene with musical chants filling the air while the sun was setting behind the buildings of downtown manhattan. 

More Blog post to come, Follow the lens. 

 

Film Projects Brewing

I haven't posted since my return from my Mexico trip. Over the past seven months I have been looking at gear upgrades, as well as conceptualizing future projects, and working to make these concepts a reality. More soon. 

Mexico City to New York City.

A bus ticket to Ciudad de Mexico and flight to NYC. Made my way back to the U.S a month earlier then I planned on. Will continue to share stories from my Mexican trip.  

Through the eye of a Juan Carlos.

After a long night I slept in the home of the family where the quinceañera was held. The next morning having to walk two hours back to my dwellings with along with the family I have been staying with. I have a habit of letting children hold my camera and photograph what ever they like, setting the exposure and letting them shoot away. Its always fascinating to see what and how they decide to shoot. During this sestion I was the subject of 9 year old Juan Carlos. 

Photos by Juan Carlos Cruz Lopez.

Quinceañera in Mexico.

On an early sunday afternoon I hop in the back of a pickup truck for a two hour ride to a family quinceañera.

Garcinia Fruits.

During my time here I have befriended a group of local kids. One day they ask if I would like to go pick some "lemoncello", so we walked up to a top of a hill where this fruit tree was growing and two of them climb to the top and begin to drop the fruit down to me. What seems to be a Garcinia sp. that I have not identified, one of the tastiest fruits I have had in a while.

Names from left to right. Diego, Juan Carlos, Luis, Octavio. 

 

Watch Out They Bite!

While walking through these thick jungles there is a high probability of being bitten by the deadly poisonous snakes that inhabit these areas which will stop your heart in less then an hour. We have seen a few just in the first fews hours, deadly and beautiful. The locals kill the snakes on sight, its quite sad to see them killed but they insist it must be done because its in the path we need to exit. 

Virgin Jungle, Miguel Hidalgo Catemaco, Mexico. 

About 4 hours into virgin jungle, I am in awe of the wild life and plant diversity. Torrential rains are frequent coming going about every 30 minutes as thick storm clouds pass over drenching us with water and then revealing the bright sun shining through the creases of the thick canopy. Exotic birds & insects are seen in every step, at one point we all came to a sudden stop after hearing the howls of monkeys shaking the trees above our heads.

Amazing. 

Foggy Mountain Pastures.  

Salomon & I are led on a jungle expedition by a 24 year old local man by the name of Carlos. He takes the lead because he know these jungles very well and there are deadly snakes that are scattered throughout the thick virgin jungles that we will be exploring. We start our journey walking through high mountain pastures on a early foggy morning. 

Annona Breakfast. 

Today we prepare for a trek into virgin jungle. This is a sweet smelling annona species called Annona purpurea which for sometime I wanted to taste, and now I have one for breakfast. 

Not rare but exocitic looking. 

Braulio & his mule Maruchan. 

About two days has passed and I have become aquatinted with most of the locals in the area. One early morning a man named Braulio was heading about an hours walk up into a mountain area where he keeps his mule, and asked me If I would like to join him for the trek. This was a good opportunity to become familiar with surrounding jungles. Massive waterfalls, jungles mountains and exotic birds in the air was a breathtaking scene. Exiting the thick jungle we entered open sky and pasture, which he explained has been cleared for the passed 50 years for grazing animals. After capturing his mule I asked what his name was and he said Maruchan, which he named after the Japanese brand of instant ramen noodles.

Arrived in Miguel Hidalgo, Catemaco, Ver. 

After spending the first few days in Catemaco Salomon and I decide to retreat to a remote countryside town called Miguel Hidalgo. So we hitched a ride on the back of a truck that collects passengers, and for the next hour rode thought the mountainous jungles areas surrounding Laguna de Catemaco. Only 563 people inhabit this area with very few outsiders passing through, so for the next two weeks I'm sure I will be turning some heads.

Sunrise in Catemaco, Mexico. 

Catemaco 6:00 AM. I am awakened by the sound of a flock of birds in the trees surrounding the bus terminal I just slept in for the past five hours. I walk out and stroll over to an angelic view of Laguna de Catemaco, and begin to photograph the world around me come to life as the sun began to rise. The morning sky garnished with the sight of flocking birds and the waters with early rising fishermen. Along side my friend and botanical colleague Salomon, I will be exploring the surrounding area for the next week hoping to come across some interesting plants. 

Heavy rains daily here...