A Different Mr. Fox

A Different Mr. Fox

  *If you’re not familiar with Mr. Fox, the one-hit-wonder reggaetonero from Cartagena (I think), check out the video for “USHHH.” You’re going to have to listen to the audio here, because it’s been removed from the video due to copyright laws. You won’t be disappointed.   -Text and illustrations by Sarah...
Maps and Markers: A Fish Vendor in La Boquilla

Maps and Markers: A Fish Vendor in La Boquilla

Mapping a section of La Boquilla A fish vendor down the street from my house Everyday I wake up between 5:30 and 7:30 AM. As part of my morning ritual, I wander over to the balcony and observe Boquilla’s principal street below. I see students meandering along the sidewalk in their...
Mapping Movement: a week on the coast

Mapping Movement: a week on the coast

A few weeks ago, I took my map obsession to the next level by enrolling in a free MOOC on Coursera titled, Maps and the Geospatial Revolution. In the first week, we discussed why we use maps. I personally use maps in several ways, the most obvious being to navigate...
30 shots of Mongolia: from Ulaanbaatar to Lake Kovsgol

30 shots of Mongolia: from Ulaanbaatar to Lake Kovsgol

I’ll remember Mongolia as the land of magnificent skies. During the day, the sky ranged from brilliant shades of cyan to Prussian blue, but after twilight, the Big Dipper pierced through a spattering of stars and the milky way lingered overhead. In addition to being culturally unique, Mongolia’s vast landscape...
Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Day 3: I arrived at the third family’s home, where I met my host mother and her two grown daughters. One of the daughters and I walked towards the forest to collect kindling for the wood stove. As I piled fallen branches into my arms, I remembered a moment during...
ㄱ through ㅎ: What I'll miss about Korea

ㄱ through ㅎ: What I’ll miss about Korea

It’s been awhile. My semester at GGU ended in June, so I packed my life into two bags and spent two weeks in Mongolia, living in yurts with nomadic families, drinking fermented mare milk, traveling by horse, and eating way too much goat meat. A few days ago, after a...
Secrets of Taroko

Secrets of Taroko

After a few days in Taichung, my Taiwanese friend Olivia and I traveled to Hualien, a naturally-preserved, remote beach town on Taiwan’s east coast. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and we spent a few days biking, walking along the beach and drinking beers on the rocks, while...
A broken air conditioner and an ajumma in charge

A broken air conditioner and an ajumma in charge

My middle-aged, ajumma Korean landlord has more energy than the girls who promote sales at beauty shops in Myeongdong, bouncing up and down in knee socks and repeatedly shouting the same phrase into a microphone for hours on end. She is never in my building, so she comes to my...
Notes from the covert world of Korean shamanism

Notes from the covert world of Korean shamanism

CELINE CROSSED HER LEGS and took a long drag of her cigarette. “The shaman told me my grandmother’s hometown. She pointed to it on a map,” she recounted in her thick French accent. “Later, the adoption agency gave me the exact same information.” A couple other exchange students and I...
When is travel photography inappropriate?

When is travel photography inappropriate?

“You’re crazy!” the taxi driver yelled at my friend Alex before muttering a long list of, what I assumed to be, Filipino curse words. We had just arrived at our guesthouse in Manila, and the taxi driver was demanding more money than was displayed on the meter. This was my...
Latest entries
Maps and Markers: Manzanillo del Mar

Maps and Markers: Manzanillo del Mar

A map of Manzanillo del Mar, located north of Cartagena Manzanillo del Mar is a small pueblo located on the beach just beyond La Boquilla, the community where I live and work. In La Boquilla, 10,000 residents live on a narrow strip of land, but in Manzanillo, there are only 500. (To draw my map, I...
High School Photography Camps in La Boquilla and Manzanillo del Mar

High School Photography Camps in La Boquilla and Manzanillo del Mar

This past month, my Peace Corps neighbor Francis and I led two photography camps at our sites, encouraging groups of 15 motivated students to reflect on two important themes: family roots and the meaning of hope. Francis and I both live north of Cartagena; she lives in Manzanillo del Mar, a tranquil pueblo of 500 people, and I...
Maps and Markers: Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

Maps and Markers: Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

[This post is the first in a series called, “Maps and Markers,” illustrating a specific place on the coast of Colombia with a hand drawn map, marker and pen sketch, photos, and a short story about my experience or relation to that place.] Exactly a year ago, when I received my Peace Corps site placement in...
I've been a little lost, but here are a few links from the past year

I’ve been a little lost, but here are a few links from the past year

I photographed this man fishing at sunset from Cartagena’s walled city. The first year of my Peace Corps service in Colombia has come and gone without ever having to put on a sweatshirt. (That’s kind of a lie since I did visit Bogotá and Maine in July.) Nevertheless, I’ve (seemingly) attended hundreds of Peace Corps trainings,...
Front Doors in Cartagena's Downtown

Front Doors in Cartagena’s Downtown

For awhile, I’ve been wanting to photograph some of the homes scattered along the narrow streets in Cartagena’s downtown neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are usually quiet–just beyond the bustling tourist attractions and restaurants. Filled with bright colors, peeling paint, intricate architectural details, overgrown plants and people with somewhere to go…   -Text and photography by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com....
From Korea to Colombia: an illustration of my cell phones

From Korea to Colombia: an illustration of my cell phones

When I was a child, my family had an old fashioned rotary phone connected to the wall by a curly cord. The numbers were arranged in a circle, and in order to call someone, you had to spin each one to a fixed stop position. I can still picture my mother, with her post-eighties perm, hurriedly twisting...
May and June: an assortment of novels

May and June: an assortment of novels

I’ve reached the middle of my 52 book challenge, and at 33 books, I’m well ahead of schedule. (I’ll attribute that to my newfound love of graphic novels.) I’ve exposed myself to a plethora of new authors and subjects, including the assortment of novels below. This collection is somewhat obscure; the only commonality among them is the fact that...
Summer Reading: 5 graphic novels

Summer Reading: 5 graphic novels

Welcome to my latest obsession: the graphic novel. I’ve realized that the combination of illustrations and text to tell a story is not only reserved for superheroes, children and fantasy. Lately I’ve been reading a selection of (mostly) non-fiction graphic novels, intended for adults. Not only are these stories interesting, entertaining and well-rendered, but they’ve inspired...
The House of Animals

The House of Animals

            -Text and illustrations by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.
La Boquilla Tour

La Boquilla Tour

Even though I’ve hit the ten month mark in Colombia, I’ve failed to really show you how wonderful my Peace Corps site is. Now is your chance to glimpse some important places in La Boquilla through the eyes of my 9th grade English conversation club. Last semester, I worked with this group of students to film a...
Integration vs. Polo Shirts

Integration vs. Polo Shirts

The public high school–where the teachers are always nice and I don’t have to wear a uniform. I hate polo shirts. Polo shirts remind me of soggy french fries floating in dirty dishwater mixed with hamburger grease and crusted hot fudge. They remind me of running around with plastic baskets of chicken fingers, wearing chunky black non-slip shoes...
It rained in La Boquilla.

It rained in La Boquilla.

A couple weekends ago, it poured in La Boquilla. The rain pummeled down in one giant burst that lasted an hour, flooding the main road with a stagnant pool of brown liquid. I had plans to meet my friend at the beach, but instead, I stayed put. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Colombia,...