"I never travel alone as I always have my camera with me."
When I left Marrakech last week, the security officer, after thoroughly checking my luggage and passport, asked “You travel a lot by yourself don’t you?” His tone was so certain that he didn’t sound like he was asking a question. He’s absolutely right. One will probably develop a nose for this kind of things after seeing hundreds of travellers every day. I do travel a lot by myself. However, I never travel alone as I always have my camera with me.
April this year, I made a rare exemption because of my best travel companion. Instead of wondering around a new city, having some quality time with only two of us, I signed up for a photography workshop. For anyone who loves photography, spending 11 days with a world-renowned photographer is hard to resist, especially when it was during the Holy Week in South Italy, which added some mysterious colour for someone who grew up in an almost atheist environment like me.
You can google Manoocher only by his first name, and having pages and pages of result about all the incredible photos he has taken and his life adventure. There is no doubt his accomplishments in photography are some I won’t even dream of. But one thing I need to point out is, the hard façade showing on his Wikipedia page profile photo is completely misleading. He has all it required for a good mentor, not just a master of his field, but also kind, approachable and open-minded.
Overall I enjoyed this experience a lot. There were many great experiences, one-of-a-kind occasions, which are the key ingredients for nice photos. But for me, the most memorable part of this trip is about all the people I got to know, all the conversations I’ve had.
Let me ask a question, how often do you have a dinner table, for 10 days, with people who have at least five widely-spread nationalities, lived in more than a dozen different countries combined, also with an age group from 13 to over 60. The tops every day, from history, food, music, photography, or any random thing you can or cannot imagine. The most amazing part is, we didn’t always agree with each other.
However, the center piece of the dinner stayed the same every night. It’s Ursula’s cooking. The food varied from Southern Italian, Iranian to medieval cooking (I know what you’re thinking when you’re reading this, but it’s utterly delicious I swear). Ursula is an archaeologist with an undoubtable talent in cooking, who was always able to bring our discussion about history to a new depth. She met Manoocher when he was doing a story on an excavation in Syria, which she was part of. I remember when Manoocher told us about the story, he said, “She found her treasure, and I found mine.” It’s one of the most I-cannot-find-a-good-enough-adjective things I’ve ever heard. Their daughter, unexpectedly but naturally is the only teenager I can get along with. I even invited her to indulge my gelato before dinner ritual.
Just like everything has two sides, I now have to give a bit of warning. If you think April in South Italy is already warm like summer, you will likely be freezing. Special thanks for the cosy hoody from my little friend so that I was able to have more gelato.
Written by Chenyun You
Vacation With Manoocher in Valle D'Itria, Italy.
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