As a photographer, storyteller, guide, Hawai‘ian lifeguard, and friend, I have taken my love for adventure and people to create Yahnny Bly & Co. which focuses on remote landscapes, physical activity, and culture. Immersive travel and building intrinsic synergy with the world involve learning cultural notes and anecdotes from the people we meet, traversing the land and sea with utmost reverence, and relishing local foods and drinks that weave together family recipes, regional history, and folklore. Another layer for my appreciation has been cultivated by the opportunity to photograph local merchants, artisans, athletes, events, and public figures from all over the world. I believe that photography has more to do with listening and being patient than simply recording life events without purpose. Creating stories through photos has allowed me to encapsulate memories in a timeless manner. It has been an important element of my mission to build this same kind of experience with trips that will impress fond nostalgia upon our guests. Most importantly, I am a friend to those whom I meet along the way. We are all here to share the world and as travelers, we are responsible for exercising an ethical approach towards preserving our environment and respect for the diversity that paints humanity with unique beauty. As conscientious travelers, we share the story of the world and its history while ushering a new generation to fearlessly continue our journey.
Who is Bly in Yahnny Bly? The pseudonym was influenced by historical journalist Nellie Bly (1864-1922) who was a pioneer of investigative journalism and America’s first female war correspondent. She wrote for several prestigious American newspapers and focused on controversial issues surrounding the plight of the poor, immigrants, and women in America. In 1889, she challenged the world to watch her travel without a male escort to beat Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg from “Around The World in Eighty Days". The connection I feel with her is purely due to the respect and admiration for her work as a journalist, philanthropist, and having the pure guts to challenge the status quo.
2020 will be filled with a few travel destinations that will be on the edge of popular consideration. In my opinion, this is what travel is all about…this is where you will find cultures that have been nominally affected by mass tourism. You may not have the best WiFi and GPS; bus stations and port cities can be chaotic; talking with broken languages and hand signals become part of survival; and, driving on country roads can make you question your defensive driving skills. Yet, it’s all worth the trouble if you accept these challenges as being part of the experience and a damn good story that eventually can be shared with a few laughs, fond recollection, and a sigh of relief.
This is the kind of travel that goes beyond hitting up all the expected sites that have become affected by overtourism. Nothing will ever replace talking with locals who aren’t constantly tuned into social media. They share their world as they have always known it – unfiltered and unadulterated by the pressures of pop culture and tainted politics. There are a few places left on this planet where you can feel this way and where you can still talk with people where words are conveyed with eyes and hands; sitting down to meals are with the families of hosts; and your heart longs to return even before you’ve left.
I am excited to be with you every step of the way and thank goodness for our local hosts and guides with years behind them leading the charge with the kind of “slow” tourism that offers immersive experiences. For them, this has always been the way to share their home. As each of us flourishes in the rapidly growing sector of adventure tourism, our main goal above all else is to promote responsible tourism. My directive for everyone including guides and guests is to have our presence thrive without affecting the natural balance of the environment and local culture. In some way, this is a learning experience for all of us. We are learning from each other all the time and taking this knowledge back to our respective home countries can teach us about ourselves and the impact we have on the rest of the world.
I am a traveler just like you and desire experiences that shift me into a higher level of personal development which I hope you experience on these trips.
Cheers to the adventure and I look forward to taking this journey with you.