Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Halong Bay

Yun asked our fancy hotel what it would cost if we had a driver take us to Halong Bay which is a 3 hour drive from Hanoi, and drive us back the next day. We also wanted to go out on a boat for a few hours and see the bay. They told us for about $500 bucks we could have our own driver, who would stay over night and drive us back. We could have our own private boat, cruise us around for 4 or 5 hours with a guide. Perfect. We didn't have to go in some bus with other tourists. Our driver was great and he took us through the countryside. He dropped us off at a marina where we met out guide. She was an adorable Vietnamese girl who spoke the most unusual English I've ever heard. Yun said she sounded like she had a speech impediment but she didn't. She was very smart and college educated. As I drew this picture, she wanted to practice her English with Yun. Every time she spoke it broke my heart for some reason. She loved her job and was so excited about what she told us about the bay. Yun and I were shocked because it turned out the little boat we were going to go out on in the bay was actually our own private yacht. A very large one. We had our own captain and chef to go along with our own guide. It was so elegant, we couldn't believe how far our money went. We had our own bedroom with a private deck looking out onto the bay. There was even a beautiful shower. It was nicer than our hotel room in Halong Bay. We just stayed up on the deck because we liked hanging out with the guide. They cooked and served us a 5 course amazing meal. We had beer and wine. If you wanted to, they had kayaks you could tool around the bay in. The whole experience was beyond our wildest dream. At the end, our little guide kept saying over and over, "please don't forget me." She was so happy and sweet and it all broke my heart again to have to leave. Also for some strange reason, they had a rubber stamp with a red ink pad laying around. That is the stamp that is on my drawing. How cool is that.

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