The image above is of a young girl waiting in line to board a bus with her family at a refugee processing center in Brezice, Slovenia near the border with Croatia, one of 6,847 people that left the country for Austria on 21 October 2015. More than 12,616 migrants entered Slovenia from Croatia that day, the highest one-day total in the current refugee wave that began in mid-October and forced Slovenia front and center into the spotlight of the crisis that defined Europe for most of the latter half of 2015.
After snapping her photo, I wondered how many faces that she encountered during the course of her six-week journey north from Syria she would remember one week later, or a month later, or a year later. Would she even remember anything about the two nights she spent in Slovenia?
My one visit to the refugee transit zones on the so-called Balkan route happened to coincide with the crises’ busiest day in Slovenia, and will remain among my most memorable moments of 2015, one whose theme, as seem through my eyes, is one of humanity on the move.
The visit to the Brezice camp came less than two months after my return to Slovenia after spending three months in Colombia, a country that’s home to nearly six million internally displaced persons –second on the planet only to Syria. And just a few weeks before a week-long visit to Beirut, the capital of a tiny country, even smaller than Slovenia, that’s currently hosting some 1.5 million refugees from the Syrian Civil War.
I didn’t start the year with the theme of displacement in mind; that’s just how my insignificant personal universe manifested itself, and again after bouncing around several corners of the planet after another experiment with location independence.
I spent long periods of time, at least four weeks or more, in five countries this past year –among those nearly three months apiece in both Ecuador and Colombia– and was able to visit a few others as well: Qatar (twice), Spain, Croatia, Germany and Lebanon.
Trying to settle back down again here in Ljubljana after a year away hasn’t been easy, but accepting that I kind of suck as a long-term digital nomad has managed to temper the landing. As has a reunion in my personal life that’s helped convince me that I do indeed belong here.
I’m finally feeling less displaced with each passing week. I hope that’s also the case with the young girl at the top of this page, wherever she and her family may be.
Dandy Dozen Images For 2015
Nearly each year since this blog’s unceremonious beginnings in late December 2006, I’ve ended the calendar year by cobbling together a selection of my favorite images from the previous 12 months.
For this look back at 2015, I can’t say these are my absolute favorite shots of the year since I have quite a few more to review, edit and process. But it’s safe to assume that these would all fall clearly on a short list. I further decided to include, with a lone exception, only images that include people.
If you’re regular Piran Café visitors, some of these will be familiar; a few were featured here just a few weeks ago as part of a street photography calendar project I was requested to produce.
In no particular order:
At the Iglesia de El Sagrario in Quito
Bag and hat peddler on May Day, Quito
A boy with a cross during the Good Friday Procession in Quito, one of the largest in Latin America
Furniture mover, Bogota
Mural on Carrera 8, Bogota
On site with Bogota muralist Guache
After a street carnival in Bogota
Still Life With a Dozen Dolls, Toquinho, and Mick Jagger’s ‘Primitive Cool’ – Bogota, 14 August 2015
You got a favorite?
Top-12 Posts for 2015
Unlike the very subjective photo selection, this one is based simply on the number of views, so let’s just cut to the chase.
For the most part, I’m very pleased with what wound up on this list. If you missed any, I suggest you pour yourself a big mug of tea or a spacious glass of wine, sit back, click away and enjoy. Most should be self-explanatory.
In reverse order:‘I’m a beautiful man’ – The Homeless and Colombia’s False Positives (17 Jun)
10. Slovenia Day Trips: Triglav Lakes Valley Hike (1 Oct)
9. On The Job With Guache in Barrio Las Cruces – Bogota Street Art (31 Jul). At work with one of Latin America’s finest and most respected street artists and muralists.
2. The American Spiritual Ensemble, Live in Quito – 23 Images (02 Apr). One of three concerts in Quito that left me in tears.
And, as prefaced by the lead photo:
The most read post of the year?
Same as in 2014: Minefields, Guanaco, and the Magellan Strait – Ushuaia to Punta Arenas by Bus, published back in March of 2013 and updated a few times since. Practical info that’s hard to find. Bloggers take note.
And the most read all-time?
As it’s been every year since the blog’s modest inception in 2006, Did anyone tell the Amazon swimmer about the candirú? – a post about a fish that swims into and firmly lodges itself inside a penis.
I try to shy away from public pronouncements (aka promises) that I can’t keep, but I do plan on devoting more time to this site in 2016. That means producing more longer posts and stories that are true to the site’s original travel theme and devoting more time and resources to marketing that and previous content.
Changes won’t be dramatic, but things will become a little more organized and orderly, as least as far as subject matter is concerned.
The stock and travel image galleries will move to my other site, BobRamsak.com, along with ongoing reporting of the refugee crisis in Europe, live music performance photography and coverage of protests and demonstrations, although they will sometimes be cross-posted here.
The Pic du Jour streak, which today reached 728 (!!) straight and –fear not!– Mannequin Monday, will remain here.
2015 has been the site’s best year; I’m looking forward to continuing that trend in 2016 as well. As always, many thanks for visiting, reading, commenting and spreading the word. Your interest and support means more than you can possible know.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness in the next year and beyond.