Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustav Flaubert

On September 7th of last year, I left the US to begin my backpacking trip around the world. That was a year ago, yesterday. Art Model, @Kayci.Lee accompanied me for that first month flying into Nicaragua. We traveled north up into Guatemala and in early Feb, she flew back to the States. Me…well, I found a home for 6 months in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

@Kayci.Lee and I traveled fast to many places trying to maximize time to shoot throughout the month of January. After she left, I sprouted roots. I rented an apartment and settled down in the cold mountains. My beautiful apartment was just what I needed and people were put in my path that definitely helped me along the way.

When did you ever get horse lessons while naked?
Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

In no way has this been all glorious fun filled days, but its definitely been an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about traveling and even more about myself. I’ve had fabulous escapades as well as sudden pitfalls, but its hard to complain about any of it. I still hear somebody tell me at least once a month that I am living their dream or that they wish they could live my life. Granted… I know they can’t be serious because they don’t know my life, but I get what they are trying to say. I just don’t take them literally or let any of it go to my head. I don’t fool myself, at least not in that regard.

I’m glad I didn’t start my trip alone, but rather eased into it. It took some getting used to, I can assure you of that and the process wasn’t immediate by any stretch of the imagination. My first lesson was simply trying to relax and not feel like I needed to have something scheduled every day. Along with that, I realized that I didn’t have to feel guilty about chilling out or not doing something somebody else expected me to do (or not do). Next has been finding the “OVERALL” purpose and goals for this trip. I’ve still got to be about my business and that starts now.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

2018 has been a trial period. And for that reason, I say my 5-year stint starts now. I don’t count 2018 as part of that. It was a year for acclamation and, as I call it, just learning to breathe easy. Granted I’m still working on that, but I have a much better mindset about it and a more clearer direction. I’m refining and making adjustments as I go. The plan was initially to zig zag my way down through South America. Now, I think its better to hop down as far south as you can go and make my way up again. Its going to be winter there by June, so I’d rather bounce on down there and head back up before the freeze sets in. After South America, I think I will head to either somewhere in the South Pacific or New Zealand instead of Vietnam. I’ll see Vietnam now after I cover the South Pacific and come up through Indonesia.

Then, its just keep heading west as the flow takes me. But here’s one thing that I’ve learned and it continues to be reinforced. People are the same. Families here are just like families stateside. Parents love their children. They want the best for them just like us. In Mompiche, Ecuador  during Christmas, a predominantly black family came by the beach house rolling in about 25 to 30 strong. I sat with them and drank a whiskey mixed with coconut water straight out of the tree. Do I need to specify that only the coconut water came out of a tree…not whiskey? Surely not… I digress. When we ran out of coconuts, somebody got 4 or 5 more of the tree and filled the pitcher back up.

Yep. She’s in church.
Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

I even saw the same characters just like one of my family reunions. There was my cousin Sheila cracking jokes and laughing the loudest. My Mama was there as well as my uncle Ulice Ray. There was one brother who brought his white wife, who in this case she happened to be Cuban, but looked white. They had a girl that looked just like my daughter…no kidding, with that. And a son, named Jeremy…no kidding there either. The only and I repeat… ONLY difference is that they spoke Spanish. Well, that and they were mixing whiskey with coconut water. But we are all the same. Its been the same with all the Latin families I’ve come to know. I could still identify the same characters in my family with them.

I’m learning much more about black people. Not just African-AMERICANS, but black people from Colombia, Ecuador, Belize, and all over Central and South America. Its been quite the enlightening experience. I’ll be talking more on this in the future, but its helping me learn a little more about myself, as well. But back to my point, Americans are no different than Ecuadorians, or Guatemalans, or Canadians. We just have different cultures and languages. Outside of that, we are the same.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

In each country I find the poor, as well as the well-off. Same in America. Opportunities are better in some countries than others. But I wish like FUCK crazy that we Americans stop looking down on other countries, particularly countries with people of color. Travel definitely helps one’s perspective in this. I’m not talking about a trip to Cancun where you get off a plane, travel THROUGH the country to an enclosed all-inclusive resort. So if you listened to that public address from the White House Tuesday night, about the “dangerous people”, I’m really hoping you can… damn people …you can literally Google the facts yourselves. But if you want to believe the racist con man, I guess that’s you. But YOU tell me what decent trustworthy human being has ever had his foundation shut down and then gets barred by the courts (along with his family) from running a charitable organization for the next ten years? That’s what a CON-ARTIST literally gets busted for. Preying on charity cases! Same thing happened to his “University” just last year for fraud. Racist people market fear. Its like a standard bullet item for them. Stop friggin’ giving life to the lies.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, © 2018 Terrell Neasley

As for me, I’m going to try my best to get better at photography. Getting my shots is, like…Goal number 1. Outside of that, its experiencing new people, cultures, and landscapes. And that doesn’t always involve a camera, but rather just experiencing and appreciating life. Today is the first full day of my two month Peruvian experience. I pray God continues to bless me with great people along my path.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain