Finding Heart(s)

by Louise Lakier
( February 16th, 2014 )

Valentine’s Day had me reminiscing about the locations filled with positive energy I have encountered during these past two years of travel. Heart comes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it is the beauty, sometimes the sweet people, or the activities that refresh and replenish. I thought about some of the places I noticed and captured them as well. Here are two experiences where I found so much heart, hearts appeared visually.

Heart Shaped Clouds Laguna de ApoyoHeart-shaped clouds reflecting at Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua. Calm volcanic waters, silence, jungle, nature. A wellness retreat located on its shores. Healthy food, gracious hosts, gentle creatures, yoga, rainbows, and sunsets. This place had heart and it showed. Apoyo Lodge

Heart Shaped Stone

At a Gracious Living Yoga, Surf and Raw Food Retreat, a heart-shaped rock was discovered on the beach. A full week of eating raw food, yoga outside  to the sounds of the howler monkeys, meditations, interesting and lively conversations, smiles while playing in the waves, and plentiful subjects and sights for photography, had me returning to home base in Granada, Nicaragua with an inspired, uplifted and healthful heart.

When people ask me what I liked about Nicaragua, I tell them Nicaragua is magical and Nicaragua has heart. No matter where you are, no matter if it is a special day or any old day, keep heart in mind. And it will find you and its way into your photography.

Beauty is all around you. Look in, look out, and follow the light! ~Louise



Cacao Bean Secrets at La Loma Jungle Lodge

by Louise Lakier
( February 1st, 2014 )

Cacao Pods Chocolate Tour

How can it be? All these years a chocoholic but I could not tell you what cacao looked like in its natural form. I knew it was natural. I knew it was good for me. And I knew it grew on a tree. But after a friend and fellow traveler described his first viewing of cacao, I had to see! “They look like escargot covered in slime”. Snails? Really? All I could think of was scenes from The Alien. Little chocolate aliens.

A few days later I found myself at La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm. I made peeking inside cacao pods a priority. The cacao farm was an unexpected bonus for Margaret and Henry when purchasing the property on Isla Bastimentos in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Margaret sat down with me to share some surprises from our common passion.

Inside a ripened and freshly halved pod was a column of cacao beans covered in slimy white pulp. We bravely picked out a slimy shape, popped it in our mouths and sucked the bean clean. It was sweet and delicious without any hint of chocolatey flavor. To me, it tasted like condensed milk with a hint of lime. During the fermentation process, the cacao bean pulp drips off as a sweet liquid. The lodge restaurant uses the cacao honey to make desserts and drinks or sometimes a sweet vinegar.

Monkeys visiting the property share the cacao bounty. The Farm loses 50% of its crop to the capuchins and night monkeys. The capuchins smack the pods open and suck the pulp while the night monkeys bite into them. The monkeys are welcome on La Loma’s property. They are driven off the high production cacao farms but here the monkeys are becoming less and less timid. For jungle and nature loving guests, monkey watching and spotting s is another kind of treat. Bananas and chocolate. It seems monkeys and I have similarly good taste.

Pictured below: The cacao pods begin with a delicate budding flower, 5-6 months later, they are ready for harvesting.

Cacao Flower

To enjoy a full chocolate farm tour, come spend a night at La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm. Arrive by boat to a dock reaching through the mangroves,  landing you and  leading you into the jungle pathways, past cacao trees and red frogs to the lodge and sleeping cabins.

Beauty is all around you. Look in, look out, and follow the light! ~Louise

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Capturing Land, Water & Sky Lights with Long Exposures

by Louise Lakier
( January 24th, 2014 )

Rainbow Skies Bocas del Toro

It was a windy night across the water from Bocas Town. The sky was glowing, change happening rapidly, shooting colors across the horizon, sky shapes shifting and whispering. The ‘city’ lights highlighted dark shapes with dots of every color. The backdrop a deep beautiful dark blue, the foreground dancing and shimmering with reflections of colorful lights.

Tripod, check. Wide angle lens, check. Timer set for long exposures, check. Patience and breathe, check. I set up my gear on the dock and hoped for minor sways and gentler wind gusts. The dark had already crept up on me. I closed my aperture down, down, down for my love of creating star shapes from twinkling night lights. And I pushed my patience way up, up, up to capture detail, shapes, and lightness in the starlit skies.

Rainbow Lights Reflecting

Night photography goes so beautifully with watery backdrops. The reflections and soft glow from wind shifting waters make for a ethereal feeling. My next goal is to turn up the patience another notch and focus my lens on the star activity above me. The additional time it takes for me to capture the shot and my camera to process almost takes me back to the magic of my days in the darkroom. The anticipation and suspense waiting to see the shot makes the gift of capture that much more exciting! Then there is the ninja like activity of stalking beauty in the dark. Night photography is a creative and fun adventure. Try it out!

If you would like to see more night shots in and around Bocas del Toro visit here.

Beauty is all around you. Look in, look out, and follow the light! ~Louise

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