It is our differences that give us hope, that inspire, and that open our eyes. They are the very essence of why we travel and explore.
As humans we all have the same fundamental needs. The need for food, water, shelter. In every culture we see acts beyond the physical. We all dance, sing, play music, and create art but what is really amazing is how in different cultures they are expressed with different rhythms, and in a different cadence.
Whether it is the Himba women in Namibia, the Moken Sea Gypsies of Myanmar or the Kuna Indians of Panama, these people show us other ways of thinking, other ways of being, other ways of orienting ourselves in the world.
Relying entirely on fishing, these people have been navigating the stretch of the Indian Ocean that separates Madagascar from the African continent in hand-carved pirogues for the past 2,000 years. Below a young Vezo fisherman paddles by me out of curiosity off the coast of Madagascar.
Today the livelihoods of the Vezo fishermen are at risk as commercial fishing boats from Asia are overfishing the local waters. Sadly, they have had to resort to sailing farther and farther offshore to provide for their families.
The San Blas Islands of Panama are ruled by the Kuna, a small statured indigenous people respected for their fierceness in battle.
They are fiercely protective of their traditions, especially their clothing of colorful hand sewn garments and beaded jewelry.
Known for covering their skin with otize — a mixture of butter fat and ochre that gives their skin a red coloring — women of the Himba tribe begin braiding their hair from when they are young, identifying their age and their social status.
The Himba’s seclusion has helped to protect their cultural traditions, but severe droughts have forced some of them to flee to nearby towns. Today their numbers are unfortunately declining.
Below, a young Himba girl riding to town on her donkey.
Many of the Himba wear beautiful, traditional neckwear.
These Naga Baba, or Sadhu, are attending the colorful Kumbh Mela religious festival in India.
Often painting their faces white and with flowers in their hair, many of the Sadhu also have massive dreadlocks wrapped around their heads.
These sea gypsies are a small group of people who live their lives at sea in their small wooden boats. Their knowledge of the ocean allows them to survive off of marine life using basic fishing implements.
They spend so much time diving in the ocean that it is said that Moken children see better underwater than above.