What You Leave Behind - This American Girl

Ha Long Bay


For many of us the word travel is synonymous with escape.


Cat Ba Island


Abandoning the responsibilities of our daily lives for a week of pure pleasure.


Little Corn Island


Soaking in the sun.

Enjoying the sights.

Losing our inhibitions.


San Blas


Laying on a poolside lounger with an umbrella dressed drink.


Costa Rica Beach


Photographing castles, temples, and ruins.


Playa Blanca


Riding a camel in the desert, mounting an elephant in the jungle, swimming with dolphins in the sea.


San Blas


When the trip is over

we return to our homes, our jobs, our family and friends.


lan ha bay


We return to our comforts.

We return to our lives.


This American Girl


Our vacations become memorialized in blog posts, Facebook photos and tan lines.


Punta Uva Costa Rica


But what about the people

whose reality exists

within our escape?


Ha Long Bay


The people who actually live

in the place we call paradise?


Little Corn Island


How does our imprint

on their home

influence their lives?


Cat Ba Island


How does our desire

to experience a surreal utopia

affect a real place

with its flaws and all?


punta uva puerto viejo


Do our demands cause a struggling country

to please the white man with the money

no matter what the cost?


ha long bay


Does our fascination with exotic animals

create an industry that exploits, that endangers, that harms?


cat ba island


Does our excitement in photographing sacred spaces

transform them into spectacles?


Little Corn Island


Does our need to sleep along the sea

destroy and develop coastlines

uprooting natural homes?


Punta Uva Puerto Viejo


Does our curiosity

in a gentle Asian woman

or a sensual Latin man

a novelty, a story to later tell our friends


manuel antonio


create a culture

detached from connection

because everyone always leaves?


Cat Ba Island


When you explore new places

instead of coming as a tourist

could you enter as a guest?


San Blas


Honoring the privilege

to be welcome

into someone else’s home?


Puerto Viejo


Leaving the place


than it was

before you arrived?


Lan Ha Bay


Living as a nomad

I see myself

on both sides.


Lan ha bay cave


I am always moving.

I am always leaving others behind.


Little Corn Island


But unlike a tourist

the road is my home.


Traveling is my real life.


This American Girl


Perhaps to tourists

I am a novelty

that could not possibly

fit into their reality.


Puerto Viejo Costa Rica


For those on a journey

that ends with security


This American Girl


am I a fantasy while we are together

to be forgotten when they leave?


Lan Ha Bay


Or am I

like the beautiful places that I visit

a special, sacred memory


Lan Ha Bay


treasured in the moment

then respectfully let go


This American Girl


made truer, stronger, better

because of the people

that I’ve known.


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