It had been a long week. The days were filled with preparing, and distributing Love Packs (personal hygiene items, toys and stuffed animals for the kids, and a bag of holiday treats) through south central Mexico to many who most likely would not receive anything otherwise. We had traveled from village to village winding precariously through arduous driving conditions. The group was growing weary. Only the joy and challenge of working with the kids in each village, made it well worth it every time we headed out. Our small band of strangers from all over the United States and Mexico had become a tight knit Love Pack distributing machine, and more importantly we had melted into a family unit. The village on Paso de Piedras was our final stop on the trip. As much as we were sad that our time together was coming to a close, there was a bit of relief that we were accomplishing a task that seemed so large when we started.
We bounced over the washboard trails that led to the small quiet fishing village. For forty minutes we dodged and swerved continuously trying to miss the barrage of neverending potholes but at times it felt like we hit them all regardless of our efforts. Battered and tired we arrived at the village. After we set up, we had some time to kill so we went to go see the presa, or lake, that the village was seated on. It was a beautiful sight, but we didn’t have time to take all its majesty. We could hear the music trickling out of the village up on the hillside, so we new it was time to head back. We were about to start our final distribution.
This entire week we had been working with a group of orphans who were traveling with us. In each village they worked with the kids of the village. It was the orphans that taught them songs, played games with them, and helped distribute Love Packs to those who had less than them. Each time it was so humbling to watch these children of whom were at one point abandoned, give so much love to other children they didn’t even know. That so eclipsed any sacrifice I might have thought I was making by being so far away from home. Those who had at one time been deemed of no value by those who should have cherished them, were cherishing strangers by giving value to them.
After the festivities of the Love Pack distribution were over the pastor of the local church prepared a meal for us. It was a god send. I remember the weather was warm with a refreshing cool breeze coming off the lake. Feasting on ceviche (the best I have ever had) and fried fish (cooked to perfection), we sat in our plastic Corona brand beer chairs on the hilltop and enjoyed the serene views of the lake. Like little diamonds in the sun the lake reflected through the palm, plantain, and papaya trees. There was something magical, more like spiritual about that moment.
I bet that if you close your eyes, you go there for a moment. Can you hear the lake lapping gently against the boats tethered to the shore? Feel the laughter reverberate in your chest from great conversation with friends new and old. The aroma of fresh fried fish and tortillas on an open flame fill your nostrils and your very being. All of your senses are experiencing something so fulfilling and joyful, it carries over to something that is palatable to the soul. Now open your eyes.
It is the golden hour. My photographer spidey-sense is going off. Great photos are to be had on the shore right now. I convince my party to join be. With full stomachs and hearts we hike and laugh our way to the lake once more. Upon arrival, the laughter stops. Silent awe overtakes our merry tribe. The bright blue skies had turned to gold and red. Mountains now were overtaking the sun on the horizon, shooting their bold silhouettes across the lake while simultaneously piercing shafts of light emanated from the setting sun. The sky filled with birds of all types were coming home in droves to roost for the night. Pods of pelicans splash down right in front of us. We are surrounded by motion, yet all is peaceful and calming. For a moment, I forgot that I was a photographer. It was only us connected to each other, together connected to creation and the maker of it all.
I snapped awake from an internal transcendental moment and raised my camera and began snapping. Now I was determined to capture this warmth, this holy moment for myself and to share with others. Several photos became my favorite from this set, partially because of their context and partially because the environment was ripe for great photos. Planar Avionics one of those photos. One bird place perfectly on a matte of fire and sky. This photo represents a mission accomplished, a family forged, and how humbled I was just to be a part of it all.
Planar Avionics, December 31,2016
Paso de Piedras, Veracruz, Mexico
Canon 5D MKiii
70-300mm Canon lens
1.4x Tamron teleconverter