Thinking of following the Inca Trail in Peru? Or going to off-the-beaten-track spots in New Zealand? Maybe my friend, photographer Dody Peña, can help. Dody is the publisher of Retrato and has recently become a travel consultant. Here, he talks about his profound love for travel and how his experience may be able to help those who would like to have worry-free travel to the two countries he calls home.
“Go then, there are other worlds than these” —Stephen King, The Dark Tower
Whenever I’m asked about why I love to travel, my answer has always been to offer the same reason (friends who’ve heard this before may roll their eyes, so guys, just go ahead and skip this part). Seeing photos of exotic places in magazines as a young child I remember thinking, wow, this is where I want to go, and here, and here. I imagined myself hiking up Mt Everest with a yak in tow, or finding an ancient relic in South America like Indiana Jones, or sneaking up behind a pride of lions in Africa. Really, how hard could it be?
Now my examples above haven’t come true entirely – yet (due to lots of commitments, like, umm, work), but I have already been around a bit to some unusual places and have had some moments when I thought to myself, why am I here, I could be home just lying around right now. But at the end of each trip – and I know this sound like a cliche – I feel more alive and enriched by the experience.
My website Retrato documents some of these travels in photos. Travel and photography are my passion – activities that I love to do in tandem. In late 2016 I was given the opportunity to work with Travel Hub New Zealand, which I find really exciting and because finally here’s the chance for me to earn from doing what I love. I’ve been a social worker in the Philippines documenting indigenous people but that was different. This time, I’m able to package tours to places I’ve been to, and even to off-the-beaten-track places I’d want to go to. Now, a place that’s described as off-the-beaten-track may be subjective because a seasoned traveler may shrug off a trip to Mongolia, but I can say that my tastes are quite similar to most (I hope).
I’m currently creating packages for 2017, starting with two of the countries I love the most, the Philippines and New Zealand (no surprise there). I’m biased of course, but having lived in these two places I can say that no matter where I’ve been to in the world, they’re the only places I could really call home. I’ll also be offering a package for Peru and Bolivia that includes hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. I was there and the experience was unbelievable. As travel consultant I can advise you on what to expect. I know people often think they may not be able to make the four-day hike, but there are other options, like a shorter trail or a train journey. I’m happy to discuss these if you ask.
People who love traveling have a bucket list of places they want to go to. I’d like to tick off Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan next so if anyone’s keen to join me we can talk and explore them this year.
Keep in touch by liking my Facebook page and following my blog.