Miami is rightfully renowned for its relaxation-inducing beaches and its special culture. On a more personal level, it’s unlike being raised anywhere else: it’s loud, it’s everyone-is-related-to-one-another-but-not-really, it’s carbs as the main meal and coffee shots all day and grandparents questioning your weight while greeting you with unconditional amor.
It’s also the place that, even years after leaving it, has never left me.
I grew up traveling often. Visits to family in Canada and Alaska were my favorite trips. The memories of packing up and visiting the wilderness in distant places are nearly tangible to me still. As a small boy, I’d be burning with excitement every time my parents announced the next trip. The vacation would turn adventure the second we’d go hiking or rafting or gain elevation.
I’d return from our trips – endlessly daydreaming – knowing I’d have to wait years to go chase these affairs with nature for myself.
And as much as I loved Miami, by high school, I was done waiting. And yes, it was tough to say goodbye to my traditional Hispanic upbringing and my friends (read: brothers), but my adrenaline was undeniably pumping with a familiar rush – steady beats of If only you could see the adventures ahead. I remembered rafting and snowboarding with family in North Carolina, so I applied to a small town college there.
It was in North Carolina that my school age hobby of photography became serious. I wanted to remember those rare moments when nature takes ahold of you, exactly as they were when I was living them. My hunger for adventure only grew each time I revisited the photos.
Fast forward some years and classically scenic North Carolina had become too placid. I’d learned about other mountain states, slightly entertaining the possibility of a move to Colorado. I envied those living near the alpine backdrop, their proximity to all the rugged elements of surreal photography that I loved.
I’ll never forget the day I told Evan, my best friend, I’d buy him a return flight if he drove the 1,600 miles cross country to Denver. The thrill I didn’t realize had been missing came rushing back.
I gladly put in my two weeks’ notice and boxed my possessions. Evan and I bought as much candy and Red Bull as the truck’s side door could fit. I wasn’t even disheartened when my romanticized adventure turned into a partially wrecked U-Haul and a humbling call to my dad for help. I was relishing the beginning of my journey for More and thriving off it.
It’ll be three years this March since I moved to Denver. I didn’t realize it then, but acting on my pining for woods and stone and More was the beginning of something grander. Colorado is perfect for me and I will probably never leave, but it will also never be enough. I’m in constant search of the opportunity to carry nothing more than I need in a backpack; always finding a breathtaking place to bring my lens into focus.
Packing up my life is my greatest passion. I’ll be satiating my thirst by moving forever onward by traveling strategically, almost artfully and very often.
Most recently, my freelance work took me to Nepal for a month. I didn’t hire climbing or trekking guides, porters or translators; I just traveled with the simple companionship of one friend, the kind of friend that doesn’t ask where we’re going or for how long.
Erik was just as quick to buy tickets as I was. Together we ventured into the Khumbu Valley with the goal of reaching Everest Basecamp.
Leaving Miami, a city full of nostalgia and childhood joy, made me realize how far the horizon stretches and better yet, that I could chase it as far as I wanted.
Thanks Miami, it's been grand.