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Images I Shared this week on Social Media

MARCH 10 - 16, 2019
I was going through images this week, I shared on social media. I always try not to repost images I have shared before, so that we are always putting out something new. The thing about social media is, images are lost in time. The speed of news and storytelling is always so fast, especially on Facebook, that most images never get seen. So, I thought I would try something new this weekend and share the images here in a blog.

Well not ALL the images I posted, but just the ones from this week’s stuff. March 10 - 16 to be exact. And just the header images, since I change them out, sometimes daily. Anyway, hopefully you will enjoy this and the short stories that went with capturing the images as well. As always my friends, thank you for reading and viewing my content.


SAIL

SAIL

This capture was from our December trip. I was trying get a different angle of Patches (the great hammerhead). I love this species, their dorsal fins are so impressive. This was the first day we had her on the trip, and it during our morning dive. The thing was, we had crap weather the day before, so there was a lot of debris and sand flying around still. So the images I captured were just coming out horrible. I loved the image, but when I went to process it in photoshop, it was just coming out blah, so I decided to try playing with it in black and white, and it seemed to work. Sometimes, when you think an image is lost, try a little creativity and you never know.

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This was taken on the same day, later in the afternoon when the currents and the dust settled. We were in a very shallow spot, maybe 18 feet deep, and I was coming up at the end of the dive. I was hanging on the down line, after I believe, over an hour long dive and Patches was swimming around. Because of the earlier currents, and the previous days bad weather, the ocean floor was laid out in a beautiful perfect looking pattern. I saw her swimming below and swam out to snap this image of her from above, while she slowly swam by.

Dirty Girl

Dirty Girl

Keeping with the shark theme right now, this is Dirty Girl, one of the larger tigers hanging around tiger beach. The first season, we met her she was a very fiesty girl. Normally the tigers are just fiesty around the feeders, but she was very aggressive around the guests as well. I had to keep a very close eye on her when she would swim in. I later learned, due to the way she was behaving, that she was in season and was maybe lashing out at everyone, believing they were trying to mate with her. And if you ask, how do I know she was in season? There is something tigers do, when they are in season which is super unique, that is hard to explain without video…and she repeatedly did it.

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I am pretty sure I have shared this top image of a mom and calf in the past, however, I think I had shared in on one of my pages, and not all three. Yes I have three FB social media pages, one personal, one for our company, SDM adventures, and one for my photography, Eli Martinez. If you are not following those pages, it is a must… for awesome content, news, stories and a devastatingly handsome photographer! AND NO… I am not biased at all when I say that last bit. lol. Anyway, back to reality and my story…

Visiting Tonga and seeing first hand the relationship between mothers and calves is something you will never forget… you can feel the love in the water. The babies are babies, playing around, dancing, and sometimes breaching. The mothers are normally resting below. The babies need more air then the mothers, so they come up quite often, play for a couple of minutes then return down to her, touching her, getting reassuring nudges from her, and when they rise up together, they are constantly touching and bonding all the way up. It is so damn beautiful.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

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This was a shot from our April 2018 visit to Machu Picchu in Peru. Still one of the coolest places I have ever visited. The magic of this place is indescribable. I wish I had done more homework when we planned the original trip, because there are nearby rainforests that I could of visited for shots at birds, monkeys and bears. Next time… we are planning a return trip to the area, possibly even organizing a trip for it. Between the rainforests and Machu Picchu, it is an epic trip.

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One of my most favorite days in the water. We encountered a pod of spotted dolphins off Bimini. This was during a trip we run for them. We had to cancel this season’s trip, there was not a lot of interest in it. Not sure why? It’s an awesome trip. Anyway, we had a pod of very friendly dolphin’s hanging around for over an hour with us. Super social, some were mating, which I captured with stills. I was on fire about that. This group of dolphins swam up to me and went through me. Of course, I WISH, they would of done that with the sun on my back, instead of in front of me, because it yellowed out this image badly. So if they had done this with the sun on my back I would of had amazingly beautiful blue water, with these dolphins, instead I had this greenish looking tint in the background.

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I tried to get as low as possible when I photographed this giant river otter in the Pantanal, Brazil. It is difficult when you are in a moving boat, trying to photograph a fast moving subject. But with a high shutter speed and ridiculous amounts of sunlight (It was freaking hot and VERY sunny when we encountered these guys), I managed to capture a few images. This was captured while these guys were hunting.

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Macro photography is new to me, but I fell instantly in love with it, when I decided to practice in my backyard, on this tiny guy. This orchard spider is no bigger than a mosquito, but I was blown away with how much color it had. LIKE WHY? Why is an animal so tiny and so colorful, it just didn’t make sense to me. So since this first session, I have gone on a crazed spider kick and will be posting a blog this week on some of my macro images I captured of this tiny predatory animals. The next level for me will be stacking images. I still have a lot to learn about it, but can’t wait to get into it. I know this is different for me, but as I travel on this photography journey of mine, learning how to shoot anything and everything when it comes to wildlife is a must, if I am ever going to be able to help someone improve their photography, especially when they are with us on our travels. I want our guests to have the best experience possible.

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I saved the craziest for last. I went through my crocodile images and found one I hadn’t shared yet from our 2018 expedition. Crocodiles are such amazing photo subjects and are a must for all big animal photographers. They are big and scary looking, mostly slow moving, and will hang around for hours, giving you plenty of opportunities to capture some unique images or behaviors. I absolutely LOVE photographing them. You can do no wrong with these guys.

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So there you go… a few of my images from this weeks posts. Hopefully you like what you see and will comment, share it, or at least give it a thumbs up. Thanks for visiting our website.

Hugs and I will hopefully see you out in the world.
- Eli

Norway Adventure Photo Gallery

So I finally got around to editing the majority of the images from our Norway trip and cut together an album I am happy with. I do admit, I really miss the crazy cold conditions we had while visiting Norway. I miss the crunching of the snow, the beautiful white powder everywhere, I miss photographing wildlife while the snow fell, and especially the tension that was building every time we all walked together with our group in the snow. Someone was always looking over their shoulder, for fear that a snowball fight might ensue. Lol, but I do miss the fun we had with our amazing group out there. Anyway, here is the album I cut together from the trip, I hope you enjoy.

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My BEST and WORST Day at Tiger Beach!

Totally Gutted!
January 29, 2019, - So I dropped down for a feed on our second dive of the day and we had Patches the great hammerhead and a hand full of lemons buzzing around. No tigers. There was one lemon who was buzzing me pretty close that caught my attention. Her skin had a few wart looking spots on her and a crack on the left side of her gills. I started calling her Cracks. Just the name that came to mind. 

Anyway, Cracks approached close on her passes, and so I started giving her a nose rub. She really enjoyed it and came back for more. Before I knew it, Cracks came in for the rub and once I started, she would stop swimming and drop her tail onto the sand... Like, completely stop swimming. Of course Patches, would come in and push her off, but I really enjoyed this interaction with Cracks. So, every time she would swim up to me, I would rub her, and each time, she would drop. 

During one interaction, when she dropped, I just sort of stretched her out and allowed her to drop all the way down to lay down in front of me. This was the first time a swimming lemon shark, swam up to me, where I would rub her nose and she went completely still and drop down into the sand for me. It was one of the most amazing moments of my career. I was on fire. In all the years of working with lemon sharks, this had never happened before. It was a new behavior and I couldn’t be happier that I got to be a part of this magic.  A few people were around me with cameras and I couldnt wait to go up and check out what they captured. This moment, and this interaction, is the stuff I dream about when I think of sharks. 

THEN, reality hit my ass…  NO ONE had captured it on video, my heart sank. A few stills here and there and my buddy / safety diver Houston, got a short piece of it on video, but not the entire interactions, I was gutted. They all thought this was normal and didn’t think much of it. I saw everyone filming, so I assumed it was being filmed, but nope! Something, I need to make sure doesn’t happen next time. I will beg someone to capture it. Of course, if there is a next time?

Easily the COOLEST lemon shark interaction I have EVER had in my entire career diving at Tiger Beach, and sadly I don’t have the entire video to share with the world. I have it in my heart and mind, but showing people what is possible with these amazing animals is lost this time. Hopefully, I will get another opportunity with Cracks, but it is so rare that we do not have tiger sharks on our dives, I do not think that opportunity will happen again. The moment is with me forever, but I really would of loved to share that moment with you all.

Thank you for reading…

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The Making of a National Geographic Photographer

Hey guys, so here is the latest episode of SDM adventures. We were invited by our friends at Big River Brewery to present our daughter Sophia’s photography work. She was nervous and excited and totally up for the challenge of putting herself out there to showcase her work. She is such a fun kid and full of energy. Super proud of her accomplishments and her passion for wildlife photography…hope you enjoy.

Tiger Shark Madness in the Bahamas

Hey guys, just wanted to share our latest and the first episode of our new weekly Youtube series, entitled, SDM Adventures. We started our Youtube channel back in 2011, but it has been off and on for new shows through the years, with no real direction. So I decided to commit to creating a series that shares our adventures, the highs and the lows of this crazy life we are living. So with no further ado, here it is.

A little back ground on this episode; we visited Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, last week to kick off the winter tiger shark season. October is when all the big females return to these waters to breed, socialize and fatten up a little before they leave to give birth. We spent five days here and dove 16 times during the week. On our second dive of the trip we had two tiger sharks show up and on the second to the last dive, we had 9 tiger sharks show up. It was one hell of a week.

In this episode I take you through our week, hope you enjoy…

Thank you for watching, if you like what you see, please share this video. Truly would appreciate that. Again we will be posting a weekly episode so please subscribe to our channel to check out more episodes.

6 tiger sharks on our 4th day of diving.

6 tiger sharks on our 4th day of diving.

Final Trip of the 2017 Season.

Our December Tiger Shark trip has been a crazy, scary, fun ride so far. It is only day 3 and I have had several gut checks. The tigers have been on fire. This morning we had 6 players come in. Emma, Freckles, Maui, Tequila, a new big shark we haven't named yet and  of course our freaking pain in the ass, Jitterbug. 

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Jitterbug is turning out to be a real nightmare of a shark. I was hoping she would of settled down by now, but she hasn’t. The thing is, she is not just a jerk to the feeders, she is also a pain to the other tigers and lemons. Today she bit one of the lemons on the dorsal fin and I watched the lemon turn and slam her on her side, pushing JB, up and away. I am Hopeful as she gets older, she will settle down. But, I highly doubt it... She is just a crazy shark.

Jitterbug and a bull shark

Jitterbug and a bull shark

It has been a great week for species. When we arrived at Fish Tales yesterday, we had 4 bull sharks hanging around, which is a new thing. We normally do not have bull sharks here. But the way these sharks are behaving, it looks like the bulls are here to stay. So we will see what that turns into. Often when a few bulls show up, it won’t be long before they invite a bunch of their friends here and long term, that will be a bad thing. 

We also had Patches the great hammerhead show up here today. Which was awesome. She is one of the Bimini hammerheads, but has decided she likes it here at TB, so she has returned again for  second season. I do hope she stays, it always makes for better dives. If she decides to hang out permanently, and with the addition of bull sharks, Tiger Beach will have easily become, the all time greatest shark dive in the world. 3 marquee species on one dive... Just incredible.

Patches the Great Hammerhead. Image by Victor Osipov

Patches the Great Hammerhead. Image by Victor Osipov

We finished up the trip with time spent at Bimini, seeking out great hammerheads. Over a three day period we had five different hammerheads visit us. Two of them I recognized from previous trips, the others were new to me. One of the hammerheads had a badly broken jaw (fishermen). It did a quick pass, so I didn’t get a really good look at it. The only thing I could confirm was that it was a male shark. I was hoping it was not Spartacus, a shark I have known for a while. It was hard to tell from the distance, but it had dark brown skin, like Spartacus. The other male we frequently see here, Anchor, has more of a buck skin color to him.  

Over all, it was an amazing trip and an amazing way to end the 2017 season. I was excited to see my old friends, Emma and Tequila back at Tiger Beach. They safely made it through another season. We still have not seen Princess or Hook yet, which makes me worry, they are really late to arrive. If they show up together in January, it will sort of reinforce my theory that tigers travel in twos, and that Hook and Princess are travel partners. More importantly than that, I just want to know these two beauties make it back safely to Tiger Beach. 


Photo Gallery

Pelagic Expedition Trip Report

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It is always a nerve racking thing organizing pelagic expeditions, because you have no idea what to expect. You plan it during a time of year when you know the animals normally run through the area, but ultimately, it is left up to nature and the ocean what you will see out there. For this trip, we were after marlin feeding on baitballs. We were also hoping to see other open oceans animals like; whales, mola molas, turtles, sharks and the big O! There is a resident pod of orcas that frequently visits the area and we were hoping for a shot at seeing them as well.

During the month of November the pelagic activity is extremely good around Puerto San Carlos off Baja, Mexico. And after a few years of watching and waiting, I pulled the trigger in February of this year and organized our first trip out to the area to find those fish…at least I hoped we would.

A week before we arrived, there were reports of marlin baitball activity. That’s exactly what you hope to hear, marlin was our main goal of this trip. But that was a week before our trip. Anything can happen in a week. I was a nervous wreck. Which is typical of me on any trip I run.

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On the first day of the expedition, expectations were high. We headed out to the area where they had been seeing the baitballs…and nothing! There was no bird activity, which is what helps us find the baitballs. No birds, meant, no sardines and sadly no marlin. We searched the area for a couple of hours. We found a small school of young mahi mahi that we jumped in with for a few minutes. But other than that we had zero signs of life, so we opted for plan B. Plan B was to cut the motors, drop some chum and hang baits and wait for sharks to show up. After 3 hours, we decided to call it a day. No sharks either. Day one was a bust. I was worried but not gutted, We still had 4 more days to find them. Which is why you plan these types of expeditions over several days, to give you the best opportunities to succeed. 

We finished the day with a visit to the shark fishing camp. It is never fun, but it is always good to see what is happening out there. After seeing all the sharks they brought in, it was not hard to wonder why our chum slick was left unanswered. 

When we got back, we heard reports that the marlin had moved on to another area, which was about 45 miles away from where they originally were. The following morning, we woke to clear and sunny skies. The weather was favoring us, and so we buckled in for a long ride out to the area where they had been spotting them. 

Image by Marty Wolff

Image by Marty Wolff

As we were heading out, we spotted some porpoising dolphins in the bay. The dolphins were feeding on sardines and they were joined by tens of thousands of pelican, sea gulls and cormorants. This was easily one of the coolest natural predation events I have ever witnessed. The pelicans were dive bombing the ocean, Gulls were trying to steal away the sardines, the cormorants were diving down to prey on the sardines. We were surrounded by birds. It was an insane spectacle. 

Bird baitball...Image by Marty Wolff

Bird baitball...Image by Marty Wolff

We left the birds and continued to motor out. After a couple hours we found the spot. There was several sport fishing boats in the area, some with marlin on their lines. But still no birds? The marlin were here, but we had no visible signs of birds trying to feed on the sardines that the marlin round up. I was worried that we were in for a second day of skunking. 

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We motored around for a little while with no luck. Finally we ran into one of our captain Gabino’s local fishing buddy. He asked if they had seen any baitballs. They said, “oh yea, there are thousands of them over there.” Pointing to an area about a half mile away. We motored over to the area, scanning the skies but still no birds. However as we looked at the ocean’s surface it was boiling over with activity. There were marlin jumping, chasing sardines all over the place. We found an oasis! Strangely there was no birds out there taking advantage of these baitballs, so we had to find them the old fashion way, which is normally really hard to do. Thankfully, because there were so many baitballs everywhere, that made it easy to do.

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We jumped in, photographed and filmed baitball after batiball. It was insane. The marlin were on fire and so were we. We even had some bottlenose dolphin join in for a couple of passes. It was such a great day and everything we had hoped for. During the ride home, I sat back with a huge relief washing through me. I was grateful the fishermen were out there, it would of been very hard for us to find them without there help. It was so weird that there were no birds. Frigate birds are how we normally find these types of feeding activities. Yet, they were not around?

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Day three. We headed out for more marlin.  This time the frigate birds were around, making it much easier to find the baitballs. Again, we spent an amazing day with the marlin. 

Towards the end we were all pretty tired, to the point where we skipped turns in the water. We were about to call it a day, when a brydes whale broke the surface  nearby to catch a breath of air. We motored over to where we saw it drop. We cut the motors and scanned the area. It broke the surface about fifty yards away from our boat and was swimming in our direction. We geared up as quickly as we could and silently slid in the water for a shot at seeing the whale. It was diving down and I swam toward it snapping away. There is no greater feeling in the world than when you get to share the water with one of these animals. They are just massive and so breathtakingly beautiful.

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Sadly the weather changed and for our last two days, we were not able to get out to the area where the marlins were, so we stayed local to see what we could find. We chummed again, but no sharks showed up. We ended up spending some time in the bay, checking out the bird action. There are so many birds here, it is unreal. We also set up a photo session with the pelicans which was a lot of fun. 

The trip ended for us and I am so damn happy to report that everyone left happy. The marlin performed like rock stars and if the weather hadn’t turned on us, we would of been able to spend all week with them. We only spent two days with them, but it was enough time for everyone to leave the trip satisfied with the week they spent here in San Carlos. For me the trip was amazing. The ocean life, the birds, the people. It is everything I want from an adventure. I am already excited about next season and the unknown surprises it will bring us. Hopefully, it will be with more marlin, more whales, more birds, lots of sharks and that pod of orcas we so dreamily hope to encounter?

Until then...


Trip Photo Gallery


Birding Images from the Trip

The Photography BUG!

October 30 - So I am taking you all on my wildlife journey with me. I know, I was supposed to video blog my entire 2017 dive travel season, but damn - that become really hard to do, when you are a one man band. By one man band, I am referring to; shooting video and stills, recording blogs, editing stills for social media, editing the videos for our video channels. All the while, hosting our friends, managing trips, as well as, marketing and planning for future trips. It just got really hard to do. Maybe one day, I will have the budget to get it done proper, but until that day comes…going to continue to wear the different hats to keep the circus going.

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Also, right now, I am on a big wildlife photography kick. I truly enjoy shooting stills. For the past 10 years my entire focus has been shooting video, but I think burn out set in and somewhere in 2014 I started trying to shoot less video and more stills. The bug hit me hard this year and I am on a full on kick right now, trying to improve my photography. I still shoot video, because I believe that video tells a way better story. But it is not my main focus. I am enjoying the process right now and this journey that I am on. So videos and video blogs will be few and far between.

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For those of you that have been following my story, (I have been writing blogs since 2005), my journey is always ever evolving. Maybe that is due to my ADD mind set, along with my addictive personality? I don’t really know. But so far it has been a lot of fun, even with all the bump and bruises along the way.  Anyway, on to my latest blog and what I have been up too...

We just returned from Tiger Beach (Oct. 21 -27). This was our first SDM trip of the winter tiger season. It was an amazing trip with a lot of really great people. I was on fire to get back there. I had not been there since January of this year, so it was long over due and I was anxious to get there and check on my friends.

October has always been a great time of year to visit Tiger Beach because that is when all our big tigers return to these waters. They normally leave during the summer months and go off to different parts of the world. Some of the tagged TB tigers have been reported off the coast of Cuba, some Florida. Others up the Atlantic towards New York. So crazy how far some of them travel. 

Of course it worries the hell out of me because once the tigers leave the Bahamas, they are no longer protected. Bahamas is a shark sanctuary, but the rest of the Atlantic and waters beyond are not. SO, when my tigers migrate off during the summer, I am always worried some damn fishermen will find them. Especially Hook and Emma, the jaws on these massive tigers would make some dirtbag fisherman, a dream trophy for their wall. I have been working with a few of these tigers for a lot of years now and it would kill me if anything ever happened to them. 

Emma and Hook. Have known both of these sharks for ten years.

Emma and Hook. Have known both of these sharks for ten years.

Hook with a bullet hole. She healed up fine.

Hook with a bullet hole. She healed up fine.

Normally my girls, Hook, Emma, Princess and Tequila are here in October. This year, they were a no-show. We had a few others there; Maui, Freckles, Jitterbug and Zena spent the week with us, but not my main girls. So I am starting out this season a bit on edge. Where the hell are they? One year, Hook showed up with a bullet wound in her. So yes, I am always worried until I seem them safely back in the Bahamas.

On the positive side of things,  the waters at Tiger Beach are still very warm, so I am hoping that is what is causing our big tiger shark aggregation delay this season. I will thankfully be back there the first week of December, and hopefully there will be a nice reunion waiting for us when we get there. I will for sure keep you posted.

Here are a few images from our October trip. I didn’t take them, my partner in crime, Maritza did. I was busy feeding and keeping everyone safe, so I didn’t have a chance to shoot. 



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Of course that does make sense when you read the first part of my blog and I am talking about my photography journey, then show case Mari’s work. Well, when I started writing this blog, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to say...so I just started writing. Plus, I had just finished editing some images of wild deer, my Sophia and I went to photograph yesterday evening. We make it a point to seek out wildlife to photograph everyday when I am home. Most of the time it is birds, but when we find wild mammals to photograph, we are all over it. So here are a few pics from our evening session the other night.

We went at dusk to try and catch the golden light that the setting sun gives off. I have seen so many amazing images from world class photographers when they catch wildlife with this light and the images are just epic. So I have been trying to mimic some of those shots I have seen. I still have a lot of work to do to try and capture that perfect golden moment, but I am slowly on my way…

Thank you for reading...Next adventure report...Pelagics off Baja!

MY EPIC FAILURE!

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The boat slowly approached two mating anacondas. The boys quickly and as silently as possible threw on their gear. One by one they slid off the boat and into the water. The snakes, aware of their presence, broke off their courtship and swam in different directions. The boys chose the biggest of the pair to follow, an 18 foot long beauty. They filmed and photographed the snake as it silently swam away from them. The encounter was brief but everything we all had hoped it would be. This moment was exactly what I had been dreaming about since I first learned that it was possible to swim with anacondas in Brazil. A dream come true!  This was also just the first encounter of a perfect week of diving... Sadly, I was NOT there for any of it!

September 22 - San Fransisco International Airport. I arrived at the airport late for my flight. I screwed up on my departure time, so a nice final breakfast with Maritza, Sophia and our buddy Larisa, turned into a mad race towards the airport in an effort of getting me on my flight for Brazil. I made it with seconds to spare. HOWEVER, when I was checking in for my flight, the airline attendant asked me for my travel visa... My heart sank. My eye's wide with fear, I responded, "What do you mean travel visa?" She then told me that for americans to fly to Brazil, a travel visa was required. I told her I didn't have one. She looked at me, handed back my passport and said, "Sorry, you are NOT going to Brazil today." 

I was stunned. I have never needed a tourist visa for any of the countries I have visited in the past, so that caught me completely off guard. I started scrambling, trying to see if I could get one in a hurry. It turns out, that I needed to get it through the Brazilian Consulate. However, they wouldn't be able to get it until Monday, because they are closed over the weekend, ( today was Friday ). That meant I wouldn't get it in my hands until Tuesday. Which meant I couldn't fly till Wednesday, and I wouldn't get to my group until Friday. Which was the final day of the trip.

I.. freaking.. screwed.. up.. badly! I sat down, head in my hands, just devastated. I missed the window for my trip, I disappointed our friends who joined us. This trip was one that I had been dreaming about for a very long time. I was gutted.

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Thankfully, my good friend Jorge Cervera Hauser, who was joining us on this trip picked up the reins and led the group. The week would of been so much harder without his help. And I am happy to report that the Brazil trip was a smashing success. They had 3 days with an 18 foot anaconda, mating anacondas, jaguars, caiman, river otters, families of capybaras. Just everything we had hoped the trip would be. Of course, I wasn’t there to see it this season, but that is the price I paid for my American vanity and stupidity. Everyday, the boys updated me with the trip and how it was going. I received image after image, of an epic wildlife adventure. I was extremely excited for them and so damn happy that the trip was a huge success. But I was also dying inside, wanting desperately to be there with them, to experience it all. For that, I will forever regret. 

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The trip ended and everyone one went safely home. I was ever grateful that the boys had the adventure of a lifetime. The images I am sharing from the trip are all Jorge's pics… and they are all just stunning! We are of course planning our trip for next season already and I can say this with confidence, I won’t make that same epic mistake next season... and I WILL be there for all of it!


Images by Jorge Cervera Hauser