Costa Rica - part 2 - Tortuguero

The second destination on our tour was Tortuguero, wich roughly translates to “land of turtles.” Tortuguero is a remote little village on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The only way to get there is by boat or small plane.

Pretty much every city/village offers tours to Tortuguero. We decided to drive to the dock in La Pavona, as that meant our car would be closer to our next stop in La Fortuna. Getting to La Pavona you take a gravel road, which your GPS might not even find.

The boat ride from La Pavona takes about an hour and is really nice. Buy a beer at the docks and enjoy the ride! The boats are covered against the rain, so you will get there without getting soaked. Here’s some info on how to get to Tortuguero.

We stayed at Hotel River View, which as you might guess, has a nice view of the river. It always amazes me how fast the weather can change in the Caribbean. One minute it pours like it’s the end of the world and the next minute, the sun comes out and everything glows emerald green.

Tortuguero is a pretty little village with lots of good little restaurants around town, our favorite one was Budda Café, not only for their delicious food, but also for the location. Again, looking over the water, at any time, but especially for the sunset, is very therapeutic, so I’m willing to pay a little more. My ceviche was to die for!

Tortuguero felt pretty safe and calm at the beginning, but then we saw a young woman, who was obviously totally high, trying to hit an old man with a stick. When we went to ask him what this was about, we saw that he was covered in blood and he showed us stitches on his head and told us he had gotten hit over the head and been robbed for the third time, in the middle of the day, at his home, by a local drug addict. The woman was friends with the robber and was mad at the old lad for calling the police. So, maybe be aware of your surroundings and don’t stray too far from the path at night!

The next day, we went on a little canoe tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. You can paddle yourself, or have somebody do the paddling for you, if you want to take photos and/or had shoulder surgery or are just lazy. We had somebody paddle for us and it was a really beautiful and peaceful little excursion on which we saw lots of animals. Don’t take the motorboat tours! It totally ruins the whole experience and you won’t be able to get into the smaller canals.

Note to self: When pulling ones’ pants up over the knees, one should not forget to put sunscreen on them… also take insect repellent!

After the paddle tour, we went into the national park, well, not very far, just to hang at the beach for a little while and jump into the water. They don’t recommend swimming, since there’s supposedly a strong current, a bit splashing around can also be fun.

The main attraction, of course, are the turtles that come to Tortuguero to nest. They come ashore at night and you have to book a tour (which is like 1-2 hours) to go into the park and watch the turtles lay their eggs. I was very disappointed when, after we paid for the trip, they told us, we were not allowed to bring phones or cameras.

I do understand why of course. Haven’t we all been at places where they told us “no flash please” and then 10 flashes get fired? Plainly because people don’t know how to turn them off. Also, some people just don’t give a fuck. I saw an American lady at Jaguar Rescue Center shoving her phone into the sloths face at a 1 cm distance, when we were told to keep 2 meters away from the animals. While her daughter kept flashing the poor Margay Cat without mercy.

When we went to the Tortuguero beach that night, we saw 2 giant leatherback turtles lay eggs and 1 leatherback cover up her nest and make her way back into the waters. I’ve seen turtles in the water while scuba diving and they are so elegant and weightless. Seeing this enormous animal pushing it’s tired body over the sand and into the ocean was very touching.

I saw a turtle lay eggs on a beach in Montezuma 25 years ago. We were hanging on the beach getting stoned and drinking rum and the turtle just came up to the beach and laid its eggs. We were in awe! We watched her in silence and after she had made her way back into the ocean, we covered her tracks, so nobody would steal her eggs to cook them.

Of course, that was a way more intimate experience than the one in Tortuguero, but also one that is not likely to happen again with the diminishing numbers of sea turtles.

So should you go and watch giant turtles lay eggs for $ 25 with a group of 10 people and most likely just catch a glimpse of what’s actually going on? Is it worth it? Absolutely! It’s wondrous and beautiful and makes you appreciate mother nature even more.

Next stop: La Fortuna
Pura Vida!

Costa Rica - Part 1 - Caribbean Vibes

I’m finally back in my second home-country, Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to live here for a while, 25 years ago, when the country was still wild and rough.

Some years ago, I promised my niece, if she’d go back to school and get her degree, I’d take her on a trip to Costa Rica. It was time to put my money where my mouth is and now we are on a road trip in “Pura Vida” land.

Pura Vida means pure live and is the answer to everything here.
How are you doing? Pura Vida!
How was the party last night? Pura Vida!
Will I see you later? Pura Vida!

We started our trip in the capital, San José, picked up our rental car at the airport at Alamo – where they were super nice and gave me an upgrade for “la familia” – yes, it helps if you speak Spanish… and drove to “Hotel Auténtico,” close to the airport, where we spent the night.

Very friendly and very helpful staff (they handled all our business with activating our Costa Rican phone cards and stuff. They have a nice pool and I dared to jump in, even though it was a bit cold, which is normal at this time of year. There’s a supermarket close by, where you can get everything you need, including sim cards.

Breakfast was delicious – national breakfast dishes: Gallo Pinto con Huevos Rancheros – my favorite breakfast in the world! Gallo Pinto is a mix of rice and beans, typical Costa Rican breakfast, Huevos Rancheros are eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. Yumm!

After breakfast, it was “onto the road." Traveling in Costa Rica takes time. Travel speed is around 30 miles per hour. The roads go up and down and around and there is only one lane and lots of trucks and no points in passing them, as there are too many. Sometimes traffic stands still for no apparent reason for an hour because a tree fell into the road. Patience is the key. And lots of snacks and water in the car.

At the moment it’s semi-rainy-season, it’s called “veranito,” little summer. It’s still rainy season, but it rains a little less in parts of the country. Our first trip took us to the Caribbean. We found a wonderful little hideaway spot in Cahuita called “Piscina Natural on the Sea.”

Beautiful, beautiful! garden with a spectacular natural salt water pool, hammocks, lots of little inviting hanging-out-nooks and a big terrace to enjoy. The owners are super friendly and very helpful. There was no breakfast, but good coffee in the morning and there was a fridge, stove and everything you needed, so we were happy to make our own breakfast. There is also beer and soft drinks in the freezer and all you have to do is write down what you had and pay when you leave.

There’s lots of things to do around Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, which is one town over. Many beaches, my favorite one being the one in Punta Uva though, yet one more town up the coast. It’s really beautiful and still kind of secluded.

To get a good idea about the local fauna, you should stop by Jaguar Rescue Center in Punta Uva. They rescue all types of animals and explain a lot about them and tell their sometimes-sad stories with passion. You’ll get to see all four types of monkeys at home in Costa Rica, sloths, snails, loads of birds, wild cats, crocodiles, and lots more. Check it out and leave a nice tip. All the people working there are volunteers, who have to pay for their travel, accommodation, and food themselves. So be nice and part with some dough! $$

The National Park in Cahuita is an opportunity to see animals in the wild. They are one of the very few parks, who don’t make you pay an entrance fee, but ask for a donation – be generous! Start the walk at the beach. It’s really beautiful, don’t start too late, or they will send you back when you get to the river!

At night, enjoy the party life in Puerto Viejo. Start with a Piña Colada watching the sunset, then have some delicious Caribbean food and shop for some souvenirs in the many shops or with the street vendors. There’s music everywhere and you get a real Caribbean reggae vibe.

We spent three days in the area, had a wonderful time and where very lucky with the weather. It only rained when it didn’t bother us.

Next stop: Tortuguero

Pura Vida!

V-Day 2017

So this is how I spend my V-Day every year. I hang with a bunch of women and men who are dancing to shine a light on the issue of violence against women worldwide. Millions of people get out and dance to show their solidarity all over this planet.

It's a great way to spend the day. The smiles, but also the earnestness on these young faces is way more uplifting and rewarding than giving or receiving fattening chocolate or dead flowers.

Props to the organizers and to all who came out to:

Rise! Disrupt! Connect!

One Billion Rising Berlin
One Billion Rising International

B&H Video Shoot

Last summer, I was in New York shooting Street Style Lab 2016

When I was there, I was asked by B&H if they could do a video with me about B-Boy Photography. I was stoked of course. I was able to persuade three dope cats to go with me on a photo shoot under the Brooklyn Bridge:

Jade of Jade’s Hip Hop Academy from Toronto and Judi Lopez both from Toronto, and B-Boy Y-Not of legendary Rock Steady Crew from Philly and

B-Girl Mantis also came out to shoot. She’s awesome! Does anybody have her contact? FB? Can’t seem to find it.

My partner in crime, Martha Cooper, accompanied us and took some great “behind the scenes” photos. 

I was a bit nervous and am rambling a bit, but I think B&H did a great job with the video.

Also check out the photos from the shoot. I was lucky to have clear blue skies and very talented artists.

Thanks to B&H, Jade, Judi, Mantis, Y-Not and Marty! I had a blast!

Special Props to Jessica Lugo! You made it happen girl!

Thanx for the opportunity!



photo by Martha Cooper

Baila Cuba!

I love my life as a sports and dance photographer. I get to work with super inspiring people and travel the world. Yes, I really do have the best job in the world!

It was such an honor to work with all these dancers on my Red Bull Photography project: ¡Baila Cuba! Documenting different Cuban dance forms in the beautiful city of Havana. I spent two months in Cuba in 2015 and worked with over a hundred people on this project. The most elaborate production I’ve done with photography so far.

It was an amazing adventure, but it wasn’t always easy and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends, Anna and Andreas, who really worked their little tails off in blistering heat and pouring rain. Thank you guys!

I also want to thank El Central Productions, who shot the making-of video and all the people taking part in this project. It was a beautiful experience and you all inspired me very much. Most of all, big phat shout-out to the people at Red Bull Photography who gave me the chance to realize my ideas. You guys rock!

I learned a lot on this project and am ready for more!

Peace out!