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Dani Blanchette of “Going Nomadic”: “I love to travel solo because I’m kinda a bitch !”

2 July 2012 interview No comment

Dani Blanchette: Taking photos at Altavoz Festival, Medellin

The today’s special guest star is a quite special one… Ladies and gentlemen, please, welcome Dani Blanchette, the nomadic girl who decided that it is better to be a gringo in South America than working in the US City of Sin, so she sold everything she had (or at least this is what she claims, although in her pictures I notice she is not naked) and headed to the crazy part of the New World… So, let’s have a look what is in her mind.

Hi, Dani… can you just introduce yourself a little bit… who is Dani Blanchette ?

Im a travel and music photographer, a high-steel concert rigger (I build concerts from 50-100ft in the air), a metal-head rocker chic, and a lover of doing the Running-Man whenever humanly possible.

And yea, I gave away ALMOST everything.  I did keep clothes, my camera, my laptop (which I have on me).  And in a storage unit I have: a bag with work clothes and a couple changes of other clothes , a few family heirlooms from my dead relatives, and a whole darkroom setup. I tried to sell or donate the darkroom, but couldn’t find anyone to take it.

 

Cool… nice to meet you. And what is Going Nomadic ?

Going Nomadic is a photo and funny/sarcastic story blog of my travels and random adventures.  Its real information about the places and things I do, but told in my voice, with lots of photos, and usually stays away from the traditional tourist destinations and boring details.  I like the other things places have to offer, and I want people who read Going Nomadic to see that Medellin has more than Colombian hookers and cocaine; that Ecuador is full of amazing metal bands, and that IT IS NOT 20 hours from eastern Venezuela to Bogota by bus.

 

You claim that you are not a writer, but a photographer. What do you photograph ?

I photograph anything I find beautiful, unique, or just funny.  I also love to photograph rock bands and cool music, and have done so in most of the countries I have visited.  I love photographing people, events, festivals; anything that is fast moving and can keep my ADHD in check.

Any pictures you are proud of ?

I love the photos of the Warao people; especially the ones where I handed over my $2000 camera to the children to try there hand at.  I don’t let a lot of people touch my camera; but I will totally give a small child my camera and show them how to use it.

 

I noticed that you live in Medellin. What a hell are you doing there ? Are you a drug dealer ? Or the blonde mistress of a drugs lord ?

Actually my plan was to get kidnapped, then rise up and become a blonde drug dealer kingpin with a harem of mistresses.  But then I realized I look horrible as a blonde.  So  now I’m just hanging out until Colombia tells me I’ve been here too long and I need to leave (which happens on July 4th.)

 

Most of the people in the world see Colombia and its neighbours as some of the world’s most dangerous destinations. Tell us the naked truth… How dangerous is it ? How long did you live there ? How many time you were robbed, raped and kidnapped ?

I’ve never been robbed, you can’t rape the willing, and I’ve only been kidnapped if you count piling into a car full of strangers to go to some undisclosed location to do some unknown thing.  Every time that happened I ended up at a rock show, band rehearsal, or studio recording.

But seriously, its not that dangerous.  Detroit is more dangerous than Medellin.  Colombia and the other countries I’ve been are fine if you aren’t a dumbass who goes to the ATM, drunk, at 3am to pull out money.  ( I knew someone who did that, and yes, they got robbed).

Caracas was pretty dangerous, not going to lie, but it was also beautiful and full of free cultural stuff to do.  I recommend Couchsurfing in Caracas; not hosteling it, but everywhere else…just don’t do stuff you wouldn’t do at home and you should be cool.

 

You’ve been in a couple of South American countries. Reagan discovered after a couple of years of US presidency that they are different countries. Amazing, isn’t it ? Could you tell me a few things about each Latin American country you visited and what is so different about each of them ?

Seriously?  How the hell did Reagan become president.  What did he think this was?;  The United Countries of Cocaine-Farmer-Arepa-Eaters?  That puts so much hope in my country’s government.  Isn’t there a mandatory geography test or something  they have to take?

But anyway:

Venezuela – it actually IS as dangerous as the US Travel Warning list says it is.  But it is also insanely beautiful, with a lot of culture and really nice people. I highly recommend it, as long as you have a local guide, and some common sense.

Colombia – AMAZING!  The nicest people I have met.  There is so much to do and see here.  And yes, there is still paramilitary and guerrillas, but as long as you aren’t getting up in there business you are fine.  And they are pretty much confined to very remote areas now (like the countryside I just came back from). Most tourists will never ever end up in places where the dangers are anyway.

Ecuador – METAL-HEAD HEAVEN!   The people here are great too and there is a ton to see. I even drove alone to the coast and it was great!  Ecuador is smaller so it’s easier to see the country, but I mostly spent my time in Quito going to metal shows.

Chile – I was only here 10 days but it is beautiful and warm, though a bit expensive.  You have to search, but you can find cheap and great eats, hangout         etc.  Plus, they also have an awesome metro system. And some really good rock music.

 

I do not see any post on Peru on your blog. You haven’t been there ? Why ? Machu Picchu is possibly the biggest tourist attraction in the whole continent.

No, I didn’t go to Peru.  I would have liked to, but it was mostly BECAUSE Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist attraction down here and Peru is not cheap if you actually want to see stuff (like Machu Picchu).   I would still like to do it, but another time, when I actually have more than $4500 for what is (somehow) now going on 10 months of being in South America.

 

You travel solo… why ? Isn’t it boring, dangerous, weird ? Why don’t you travel with any boy or girl friend ?

I love to travel solo because I’m kinda a bitch and don’t deal with other people’s whining and bullshit to well.  Plus, you get to do a lot when it is just you.  But I do like to travel with people sometimes. I have been travelling around Antioquia, Colombia with my new Colombian boyfriend (no he is not a drug dealer…but he is a drummer.)   I haven’t made an official announcement or update to my blog yet;  but he is the new part of Going Nomadic.  Our next big thing is to try to get him into the USA to road-trip around and show him my country.

 

So, you are traveling alone in the world of latino lovers. You did not fall in love with any ? Or just in his bed :)

Guess I just answered this.  But I grew up in Boston with Brazilians.  Surprisingly the rest of South America is not nearly as pushy or feely as the Brazilians I know (well, except for that Venezuelan bus driver with the uber unibrow…).   But yes, I did happen to fall in love with a Paisa (dammit, my mom was right), and soon Going Nomadic is going to get a re-vamped look; and Diego will officially be added as a contributor.  He’s already showing up in more and more posts, photos, and a bunch of upcoming videos.   Love on the road.

 

Advices time… tell me 5 mistakes you’ve done while you were in Latin America to be avoided by other travelers.

– Not working in hostels as much as possible.  I didn’t do that till I returned to Medellin in December.  I’d have so much more money right now if I did.

– Doing 5 ½ months of research for Asia to go to South America.  Next time I will probably research the country I actually go to.  But next time, I may also throw that research out the window to buy $200 tickets to another continent, 3 weeks before I leave,  again.

That’s pretty much it. I could have done more, like find sponsors earlier, and stuff, but this was all new to me.  And the whole ‘going to a different continent’ thing kind of thwarted some potential sponsors I was talking with.  I don’t think I’ve made too many mistakes, because I am                 traveling the way I like to travel – slow and like a local.  Next time I will probably save enough     money to do more stuff; but like I said – researched Asia to come to South America…

 

And the best 5 experiences… funny experiences included.

Wow – um

Best/worst was the bus trip across Venezuela.  It sucked.  It was a horrible experience.  But it is one of those things that make you appreciate the rest of the trip so much more.

Getting press passes to Altavoz festival – a 3 day music and rock festival – in Medellin.  I just walked in and asked for passes the first day of the show.  From it I met a bunch of people; including Diego, became a music photojournalist for TastesLikeRock.com and La Maria Revista, and just had a wicked good time.

Getting the crap scared out of me by a capybara in the Orinoco.  I’ve always wanted to see a capybara _ the largest rodent in the world – in person.  And I almost sat on one when I was on a tour.  I didn’t know capybaras were also ninjas.

Becoming a migrant worker in the Colombian countryside. Oh my god those guys are hardcore! That is totally thankless and insanely hard work, and these guys do it day in and out. It was an amazing experience.  Also living in the middle of guerrilla/paramilitray country, with venomous vipers, poison dart frogs, parasitic Bot Flys (which I got in my back), and possibly having the paramilitary hiding out in the woods of the farm I was on, was definitely an awesome/unique/insane time.

Becoming an illegal immigrant.  I didn’t mean to, but I really thought I had 60 days on my Colombian visa, not 30.  I didn’t know I was illegal until I went to renew my visa.  I ended up having to pay $200 fine, leave Colombia for 15 minutes (I went back to Ecuador for a weekend), and got made fun of by all my South American friends in the states.  I know feel for the pain in the ass getting and maintaining a visa is for them.

 

By the way… how do you finance yourself… from time to time, I guess you need to eat, drink, dress and buy a bus ticket.

I’m not sure. I came to South America with only $4500.  My birthday and Christmas helped with a couple hundred each, I’ve made a few bucks (no more than $100) writing and photographing for other travel sites (I need to do this more), and I work at a hostel in Medellin about once a week.  Basically, I have run out of money, and barely have enough to get back to the USA.  I actually fly home in July.

 

Going back to America… you work in the Sin City, in Las Vegas… Give me some insider tips – where to sleep, where are the casinos I can earn from gambling, where are the best shows, where are the nicest naked girls ? And, especially, what should I do outside the bloody Strip ?

Oh god.  Ok…

Sleep only during the week, and then in the Fremont Casinos, Circus Circus, or off strip casinos. The prices are usually around $30 a night. Weekends, the prices triples.

I earn tons of money in casinos.  How? I DON’T FREAKIN GAMBLE!  If you want to earn money in casinos, have a horrible accident and sue, or build concerts.  Other than that, don’t expect to win.  EVER.

The best shows AND nicest naked girls are at the burlesque shows.  And not the ones in the casinos.  Live Burlesque in Las Vegas, Dr. Sketchys, and a horde of others are real burlesque shows all around Vegas.  I actually started burlesque dancing before I left to travel, and I can’t wait to return to dance some more.  If you want to know more, you can look up the Las Vegas Burlseque group on facebook, or look up Goldie DeBloomers, Cha Cha Velour, Nomi Malone, and Miss Karla Joy.  They are the big hitters for the Las Vegas Burlesque community.  You can also visit the Burlesque Hall of Fame located inside Emergency Arts cafe on the corner of Fremont and 6th ave right in the Fremont/Downtown district of Las Vegas.

And you have to know what to do off The Strip is a loaded question for me.  The Strip is only 4 miles (6Km) of a city that is home to 2.5million people.  There is a ton of free stuff, and non-strip stuff to do in Las Vegas. Vegas Streets, First Friday, Red Rock Canyon, Burlesque….

 

So, Dani… what’s next in your life… Still nomading ? If yes, where would you head to ?

Next is to go back to Las Vegas to working concerts (and writing about the city) for the next 6 months.  I will also be planning the next trip – which will either be getting Diego into the USA to do a 48 state road-trip; or we are both running off to Indonesia together.  I’m always looking for things to do in the meantime; but unless I win a contest or suddenly gain independent wealth, im heading back to ravage Sin City for a bit.

 

Contact Info:

Going Nomadic blog:  http://GoingNomadic.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/GoingNomadic

Twitter:  @GoingNomaddanib

LinkedIn: Dani Blanchette

 Dani Blanchette getting gangsta in the Colombian Countryside

Getting gangsta in the Colombian countryside

Dani Blanchette: Hanging out at the house of representatives offices in Caracas

Hanging out in front of the House of Representatives in Caracas, Venezuela

Dani Blanchette: Me and the Warao children - letting the children play with my camera.jpg

Dani and the Warao children

Tribes of South America: Warao people.

The Warao people

Tribes of South America: Warao girls

Warao girls

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