Volunteering in Oaxaca for Fundacion En Via

I had the great fortune to volunteer as a photographer for Fundación En Vía while I was in Oaxaca. En Vía provides interest-free microloans to women entrepreneurs in the villages surrounding Oaxaca. It’s extremely important that these loans are interest-free since the going interest rate for a microloan in Mexico is 50-200% (I know, ridiculous!). In addition to the loans, En Vía sponsors business classes as well as English classes in the villages so that eventually the women in the villages can become independent. My job there was to photograph the purchases made by each woman with their new loans. It was a really amazing opportunity to visit the villages surrounding Oaxaca as well as see the many different business that these women started. Every woman was amazingly welcoming and I basically was given delicious snacks every day I was photographing. Below are some of my favorite photos from my time there. If you have some time to spare, I recommend volunteering with En Via. By doing so, you meet the wonderful people who work at En Via as well as get the chance to explore the surrounding villages. If you only have a short time in Oaxaca thought, definitely take one of En Vía’s tours if you’re interested in learning more/supporting their work or to get off the beaten track in Oaxaca.

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Touring Tenganan in Bali with JED Ecotours

I went to Bali expecting to hang out on the beach but the beaches turned out to be the worst part of the trip. Instead, the highlights of Bali for me were actually getting away from the coast and going inland with JED tours. Though if you are staying on the coast, I suggest a stop at Naughty Nuri’s in Seminyak for ribs and fried duck (bebek goreng). Addresses in Bali make no sense so just remember the name and ask someone where to go.
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Coffee and Rainforest in the Central Valley

We tried to see the crater at the top of Poas Volcano but to no avail; the clouds stayed throughout the day. If you plan on trying to see it, I recommend staying at the Altura Hotel (it’s beautifully designed and has every comfort you could want while being about 7 minutes drive from the park entrance.) and checking the Poas cam (if you see grey, that’s not it not loading, that’s the actual current condition of clouds covering everything). After our attempt, we drove from Poas to the Sarapiqui area, this drive is absolutely beautiful; there are waterfalls and green rainforest in all directions.

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View from the road between Poas and Sarapiqui

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Dance of the Little Devils in the Boruca village

We had the opportunity to visit the Boruca people during the Dance of the Little Devils (Baile de los Diablitos). It’s celebrated between December 31st and January 2nd. We visited at the end of the festival on January 2nd. The festival is a reenactment of a battle between Boruca warriors (the Diablitos) and Spain (a big bull). Throughout the battle, the Boruca warriors gain in numbers and tease the bull but eventually the bull gains in strength and wins the battle. It’s not over, however, as the Boruca warriors rise from the dead and end the battle by burning the bull. It’s amazing to see the intricacies of the wooden masks carved by the Borucas. They are beautiful but also a little bit scary. The warriors remain hydrated throughout the hot day by drinking Chicha (a beer made from corn) and there are multiple breaks to fix masks or eat lunch. You get the sense that the entire community is enjoying themselves and really supporting each other.

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The Beaches near Ojochal

Ojochal is pretty much one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been. It is close to beautiful deserted beaches, delicious food, and amazing wildlife. We stayed at the Villas de Oros and it was a great base for exploring the region. The entire property is built into the canopy of the jungle so you have prime views of animals in hopping around the trees from your balcony. We saw toucans, white-faced capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, and howler monkeys. The balcony is also home to a small kitchen area with a sink, fridge, and induction stove so you can cook your own meals if you like. Vikki, the owner, is also super willing to help and will book any tours you like for you.

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A Howler Monkey at Villas de Oros

The area surrounding Ojochal has amazing beaches. The four we went to were Playa Ballena, Playa Pinuelas, Playa Ventanas, and Playa Tortuga. The sand at these beaches is extremely fine and one is often only one of a few people on the entire beach.

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I’m very excited to be at Playa Tortuga

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Beaches and Ruins and Turtles in Tulum!

Tulum is an extremely beautiful beach town 2 hours south of Cancun. It’s off the grid so all hotels there are small. The sand is white and as soft as flour and the water is clear and calm most days. Pelicans fly overheard and you can often spot them diving into the ocean to eat a fish in the morning. It’s perfectly easy to spend days just laying on the beach and jumping into the water whenever you feel like it.

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Weaving, Hiking, and Boating in Peru

As part of the tour, GAdventures brought us to Ccaccaccollo to visit a weaving community and see how alpaca textiles are made. The products at this community seemed much better than what we found in Cusco so we bought loads of scarves and sweaters. We spent the night in Ollantaytambo before heading to Km 82 to begin our trek.

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