Traveling is like riding on a mountain road. But among the ups and downs, there will always be those indelible memories that you carry with you all your life. La Presse recounts the adventures, big or small, of fearless travelers. Today: A couple in search of remote destinations where few tourists have ever set foot before them.
There’s a kind of buzz to going places where you feel completely out of place, says Ron Gesser. “Of course there is a buzz,” adds his wife, Sharleen Young. It’s adrenaline! »
Together, they agree with one voice on one word: “exciting”. Because each of their trips over the past 15 years has been an adventure in itself. A quest where the word “escape” takes on its full meaning. Places, scenes, faces that Ron Gesser, amateur photographer, immortalizes with his lens.
On January 10, they were in Benin, where the national voodoo holiday was celebrated across the country. This time, luck: a niece of Ron Gesser was able to put them in touch with a fixer with whom she had collaborated to make a documentary.
“It was an honor and a privilege to be able to walk around their villages, to be with them, to see how they live and to attend their ceremonies,” she adds.
However, it has happened that their presence – and especially that of the camera -, in places that have not seen many strangers, has attracted suspicious eyes. Both remember this trip to Ethiopia where, after long hours on the road with their guide, followed by a short night in a camp in the middle of nowhere under the surveillance of an armed guard, they went to a tribe where they were greeted with some suspicion by the men of the village.
“It was scary because they had guns — I didn’t tell my mom until I got home!” recalls Sharleen Young. “There were a few men wondering what we were doing there, but the kids and kids were friendly and laughing,” Ron Gesser said.
Ron Gesser was 11 years old when he had the chance to learn about traveling with his father, armed with his first camera. “For two summers, we went to Israel, then to London, Paris, Athens, Copenhagen. But it was at age 50, after seeing a documentary on Machu Picchu, that he had the urge to take a “different” trip to Peru. He therefore offered himself a digital camera – without suspecting that it would be the beginning of a long series of wanderings with his wife which would allow him to cultivate his passion for photography.
Since this organized group trip, however, Ron Gesser has taken over the planning of their projects: Argentina, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), India — countries they have visited four times. This is where Ron Gesser shot the portrait of an elderly woman from the Kutia Kondh tribe that recently earned her a top 10 Photographic World Cup finalist.
“Ron started doing extensive research on each destination, looking for the places most people go to — and the places a little less people go to, to make sure we go a little further into the country.” , says Sharleen Young.
The advantage of using the services of a local guide who can also serve as their driver, notes Ron Gesser, is that they can build their own itinerary, in addition to having the freedom to change their plans at the last minute. and to be able to stop whenever they want.
If their next destination remains unknown to this day, both would gladly return to India, a country that seduced them and of which they still have so much to discover. There’s Thailand, too, which they only know about Bangkok; but the country no longer has so many remote and relatively unspoiled places for tourists to explore, they muse, skeptically. One thing is certain, however, no matter where they go, the change of scenery will have to be there.
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