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    • Michael

      I still remember this moment like it was yesterday. We had found our way to a village in the Jamaican highlands, far from the sandy beaches and warm water of Negril. We had befriended a bar owner, and the next day he had informed us that he would like to cook a feast of slow-cooked goat. In the morning, we sat with a cold Red Stripe and watched as the 'chef' started the process. He told us to return in 8 hours, as the late afternoon sun would begin to set and the humid air began to chill. We had thought that the feast would be us and a couple of the regulars who inhabited the bar. When we returned that afternoon, we began to notice a steady stream of people arrive shortly after us. We had asked our host if his outdoor bar usually became this busy after the workday ended. 'No mon, this is a party, for you!'

      Sure enough, he had invited the entire village to feast and drink with us. 'When we eat, we invite everyone' he told me as he raised his Red Stripe for a cheers.

      I smiled and was overcome with emotion as I realized the sense of community that was so important to these neighbors. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, this man walked up the dusty road and into the party.

    • Michael

      I sat, staring in awe. At first, he was wearing a rastacap, but I could from the giant size that he was hiding something incredible under it. After talking to him for a while, I got comfortable enough to ask him if I could take his portrait. He laughed, informing me that no one had ever wanted to take his photo. I was shocked. How? This may have been one of the most photogenic people I had ever come across in my travels, even before he took off his rastacap. He clearly had some years on me, but he was in far better shape than I. Years of hard work were evident in his worn hands that surely must have been mastered the two machetes that looped casually through his bright orange belt.

    • Michael

      He was calm, cool, and collected, but his smile only disappeared when I aimed my camera at him. After I took my initial portrait, we sat in the shade of a canopy, eating what may have been the best meal of my life. Jerk goat, slow-cooked with care as the day unfolded in the Jamaican highlands.

      He lit up a giant spliff, and we talked about life, work, and family as we drank more Red Stripes as the light began to fade, making way for what would become a raucous night in that tiny village bar.

    • Michael

      In that moment, I felt like Anthony Bourdain. I sat and imagined how incredible it would have been to experience this moment with him there. These are the moments he lived for. These are the moments that just a decade ago, I didn't know that I lived for. But there I was, living my own Bourdain moment, that I truly believe never would have happened if his inspiration didn't help me find the road that I was destined to be on.

    • Michael

      I always thought that I would randomly run into Anthony Bourdain in some random corner of the world and we would talk about our shared love of the experiences that only travel can provide over a cold beer. I am saddened to know that will never happen. But his wisdom and his inspiration will live on in all of us travel junkies.

      Rest easy Tony.

    • Michael

      Agreed Chris. He was such a monumental influence on me and the type of traveler I have become. I was in shock all weekend, and I am still in shock. He still had so many stories to tell. I will have an in-depth personal analysis of Anthony Bourdain's best travel quotes coming up tomorrow!

    • kevin
      Kevin Harrington

      Bonocore! Nice to see you here on Cake.

      These portraits are truly incredible. You must have a way with people to get them to pose like that, especially when you're a stranger in their home country.

    • Michael

      Thanks Kevin. It's just about establishing a connection with people. Many people I see on their travels simply go up and ask someone to take their photo. When they are granted permission, the subject is stiff and rigid. Not their true self, because they don't feel comfortable. Just getting to know the person for a couple minutes can open up so many doors. Not only with the photos that you then get, but with great stories of their lives.

    • Herb

      When I was just married, my new bride and I went on a sea cruise for our honeymoon. One of the stops was Jamaica. We did some snorkeling, walking around town, etc. Typical tourist stuff. I even bought some...er...agricultural goods. What I didn't realize was that I'd spent the last of my money, and now had no way to get back to the boat. It was set to sail shortly, and we were many miles away. So we walked.

      We were outside the tourist areas, taking the shortest route we could find in the interest of time. We walked through villages of mud and grass huts, ghettos, and countryside. It was enlightening to see the real Jamaica. The people we saw clearly labored hard to scratch out a living. We made it back to the boat, with only minutes to spare, sweating from the humid air.

      Since then we have traveled a lot more, with less support. Getting out away from the crowds is the spice of life, and gives a much deeper understanding of cultures around the world.

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