Author Archives: Damian James

About Damian James

Just me and my green bag full of travel necessities...exploring, discovering, learning, getting inspired, getting lost...and most importantly, finding myself. I always say, the "comfort zone" is boring...unless I'm chilling poolside being fed fresh ceviche and endless buckets of rum. But that's a rarity. Interests: Travel, Music, Culture, Sports and good food!

Lost Kingdoms of the Maya – Bella Guatemala Travel

My latest journey with Bella Guatemala Travel. Get to know one of the most fascinating civilizations and cultures on Earth, as they take you on an intrepid expedition to discover the “Lost Kingdoms of the Maya” world! (Filmed on location in Guatemala and Honduras)

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Lost Kingdoms of the Maya – El Mirador

I just peeled off my sweat-soaked mask and kicked off my mud-caked hiking boots upon returning from a 2-week expedition through Guatemala, exploring some of the “lost kingdoms” of the ancient Maya world with Bella Guatemala Travel. One of the highlights of the tour, which is, as aptly advertised, called “The Lost Kingdoms of the Maya” tour, was an adventurous visit to the remote jungle region of Petén in the northern part of the country to explore the Pre-Classic site of El Mirador, the largest Mayan archaeological site ever discovered. Accessible only via helicopter or a mud-slushing 3-day trek through an uber-dense forest, which is home to the feared fer-de-lance snake and the highest population of jaguars in Central America (I took the helicopter), El Mirador was one of the earliest and most powerful of the ancient Maya city-states, dating back to over 700 BCE. Pictured here is La Danta pyramid, the tallest pyramid in the Americas (230 ft). It is part of the most massive Mayan complex ever built, and one of the largest manmade structures of the entire ancient world (even larger in volume than the great Egyptian pyramid of Giza). Construction of La Danta dates back to 300 BCE. Though most of it is still buried beneath the jungle, El Mirador is one of the most significant discoveries ever made throughout the Maya world. Recent discoveries that researchers are making here are forcing archaeologists to rethink Maya chronology and rewrite chapters in the history books of these fascinating “Lost Kingdoms”.

Stay tuned for more about my recent adventures with Bella Guatemala Travel!

   (shot with my DJI Phantom 3 Pro…aka the “G-Bird”)

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Earth Day – a tribute to the “blue planet”

Today is Earth Day. I’d like to share a bit of my personal journey around the blue planet. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been a fortunate witness to a fraction of it…a small fraction on an absolute scale, but one that has routinely reinforced to me just how lucky we are to be able to call this place our home. Normally I only share images of nature on Earth Day, along with a message about being environmentally conscious. But this year I decided to include some images that express the human spirit as well. It’s the one thing that connects us all. The indelible humanity that I have witnessed is what inspires me the most. We are a product of nature too, and are the primary custodians of our planet. As such, we have a collective responsibility to take care of it. It’s the only home we have…and a really awesome one, to say the least! 

Please turn up your speakers, click HD and enjoy the photo journey…and never forget how beautiful our world is! 🙂

Music: “Down to Earth” by Flight Facilities

 

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Back at the LA Travel & Adventure Show!

Gringo With A Green Bag is heading back to the LA Travel and Adventure Show this weekend to get some fresh travel inspiration, feed the celebrities and showcase some new tricks on the Segway. Bring your can openers and keep your hands on the handlebars at all times kids!  #GWAGB

Travel & Adventure Show 2018

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Flying over La Paz, Mexico with the “G-Bird” drone

The G-Bird soars over La Paz, Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. Filmed with a DJI Phantom 3 Pro drone. #GringoWithAGreenBag

Music: “Flower” by Sunsphere

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2018 Fresh

Happy 2018 my friends!

A fresh start requires a fresh state of mind…an enhanced perspective…sometimes even a fresh environment to dig your feet into and get some new traction (I don’t suggest snow for the traction part, however). Here’s to starting #fresh in 2018!

GWAGB

(Bryce Canyon, Utah)

 

 

 

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Winter Wonderland (Bryce Canyon, Utah)

Just digging thru some of my 2017 favorites. Bryce Canyon had been on my travel radar for decades. Not only did I finally get to visit this national treasure of nature in March of this year, but I was treated to a bonus version of it with the fresh coat of snow that blanketed the hoodoos and the surrounding environs, making for a double dose of bucket list bliss. Took ’til Summer for my hands to thaw out, but the numbness of a mind blown by such stunning, natural beauty will never wear off.

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A Galaxy…far, far away

As I usually try to do while up in the mountains, I set the alarm for 3am the other night and got up to do some hand-numbing astrophotography at 9,000 feet. I captured something I have never captured before in what was one of the clearest of clear night skies I have ever witnessed. The “cloudy” vertical band going through the center of this photo is our Milky Way Galaxy (which we are swirling about as we speak). Every bright dot you see is a star in our galaxy, stars similar to our sun (and there are hundreds of billions just in our galaxy alone, and trillions of planets among them). But if you look inside of the red square, you will see a bright object with a slight blur (or halo) around it. That is not a star. This is the Andromeda Galaxy. It is our closest neighboring spiral galaxy, about 2.5 million light years away (1 light year = nearly 6 trillion miles, so you can do the math – hardly “close” at all, only relatively so). It has taken 2.5 million years for this light captured in this image to reach Earth, so what we are actually seeing in that square is the light that left Andromeda 2.5 million years ago…seeing back through cosmic time.

This is the first time I was able to photograph Andromeda. Think about what we are looking at here. Contained inside of that tiny little pinpoint of blurry light there is a gathering of over a trillion stars (suns), and an uncountable number of planets (and that’s just ONE galaxy among hundreds and hundreds of BILLIONS out there in the observable universe). Fascinating! Would you agree? (Now your minds are probably as numb as my hands were while fumbling around with the camera settings in the piercing cold of mountain night.)

Andromeda is on a collision course with the Milky Way. We know this by observing and measuring the wavelengths of blue light shift. Two galaxies, heading straight towards one another at astronomical speeds (a cosmic pun I just dropped there). Due to the unfathomable distance, it’ll take about 4 billion years before our galaxy collides with Andromeda and begins a long, swirling cosmic tango which will restructure both galaxies as they merge into one. The really amazing thing about it is that, due to the unimaginably vast distances between all the individual stars, it is unlikely that any of the trillions of stars will even come into contact with one another during this collision. 

Before this cosmic event happens in an estimated 4 billion years, our Earth will have long been swallowed by our own expanding sun, before the sun finally explodes into a white dwarf. Either way you slice it, it’s a temporary existence we have here. But for now, we have an amazing opportunity to enjoy our planet and appreciate all that we know and have learned about the universe, and our place in it, all because we became aware of our selves and of our ignorance long ago and began to ask the questions that would lead to the expanding of our minds. Let’s be sure to take care of Earth while we have her (or while she still has us) and be grateful each time we look up into the night sky, knowing that each one of us belongs to the one lucky species among millions that beat inconceivable odds to even be here in the first place…and be grateful that our ancestors decided to look up at the night sky one day and ask the age-old question that still keeps us staring up in awe and infinite wonder: “What else is out there among the stars?” 

#GringoWithAGreenBag

 

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G-Bird takes flight in Turks and Caicos!

On a recent journey through the Turks and Caicos Islands, I had the pleasure to be accompanied by my loyal “eye in the sky”, the G-Bird (drone). If there was ever a place where Earth would implore one to enjoy a bird’s eye view of some of the most stunning coastal beauty and magnificence it has ever carved from its prismatic canvas, it is the Turks and Caicos Islands.

TCI is an archipelago in the North Atlantic, not too far from the Bahamas, made up of 40 islands, the majority of which are uninhabited. I explored 4 islands in 7 days (a ratio of about 1.75 days per island), averaging about 4 flights per day (each flight lasting around 20 minutes), resulting in approximately 560 minutes (or 9.33 hrs) of total flight time logged. You can imagine how much video I have to sort through in order to knock out a 3-4 minute promo piece. This editing project will be the most challenging yet. How to determine what makes the final cut and what doesn’t. With so much beyond-worthy content, a great magnitude of injustice is surely about to take place in the “court” of my video editing domain. Only one member on this jury, with a definite bias on his side. Like the label on my favorite Turks Head island beer states:  “I-Ain-Ga-Lie”, there’s some serious work to be done. Time to get that bottle crackin’… 🙂

(Photo: Mudjin Harbour, Middle Caicos)

 

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Baja California Sur – A journey through Mexico’s “Desert Paradise”

“If you take Arizona and the Bahamas and mash them together, the result would be Baja California Sur.” ~ Gringo With A Green Bag (is it too douchey to quote oneself in this day and age?)

Here it is, fresh off the video press! Just finished my latest video feature, filmed in the exotic deserts and tantalizingly teeming seas of Baja California Sur, Mexico! Big thanks to my amigos at GoLaPaz.com and VisitBajaSur.travel for setting me up on an incredible adventure along the legendary and incomparably stunning Sea of Cortez. Jacques Cousteau was right, it sure is “The Aquarium of the World”. But he never mentioned those mouth-watering chocolate clams and those insane al pastor tacos! Dude, that alone is enough to get the masses down there!

I hope you enjoy my journey. Please don’t hesitate to visit this wonderful destination in Mexico…and be sure to tell em the Gringo With A Green Bag sent ya! 🙂  **Tours by Baja DesconocidaThe Cortez ClubDolphin Dive Baja and Harker Board Co.**

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