I had a great opportunity recently to speak to the Wedding photographers in Sao Paulo, Brasil. They have a very high-end convention, similar to our WPPI in Las Vegas, but on a smaller scale. It was no less impressive, however, and I was quite honored to be a speaker there. After the convention, we spent a few more days visiting a photographer friend who lives in Manaus – basically the Amazon jungle.
The most epic discovery of the entire trip leaves me longing to return – baby sloths are the cutest animals on the planet.
Well, there were other discoveries too, but c'mon, have you ever seen something so adorable? I wonder if Petco carries them...
We also swam in waterfalls from the Amazon river and with wild dolphins who rubbed the bottoms of our feet as we floated in the deep green/brown waters. The natural beauty was amazing, but the most beautiful thing of all (besides the sloth, of course) was the people we met!
I have to preface this a bit. Before we embarked on our trip we had shared the plan with many friends and acquaintances. Almost without exception, every person concluded their personal congratulation and recommendations with, "...but be careful!" It seems it's no secret that Brazil is known for high crime rates. We were beginning to get a little discouraged about our upcoming adventure, at least until my sweet friend, Marianne – who actually lived there for a short time, gave me glowing praise and recommendations without a single negative warning. This gave us renewed enthusiasm. Thank you, Mari!
As fate would have it, we had a completely wonderful trip without ever feeling unsafe or unwelcome. The people we met, and even most strangers, were extremely friendly and hospitable. My photographer friend in Manaus, Daniele Cruz, invited us to stay at her home and gave us a truly local tour of the Amazon for a few days. We were so thankful for her hospitality!
While there is true beauty all over the world, I am reminded that the most beautiful places are so because of the beautiful people. The relationships we build with people form the strongest, and fondest, memories. When I reflect back on all my favorite adventures around the world, there is a common element to each one – a wonderful relationship or people experience.