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Paul Shoul in Costa Rica
Paul Shoul in Costa Rica

GoNOMAD Writer Profiles

Paul Shoul: Words and Pictures

Paul Shoul is Northampton-based photographer who doubles as a staff writer for GoNOMAD. Read a few samples of his writing and you can understand why we're proud to say that he was first published (as a travel writer) on GoNOMAD:

Read Paul's latest stories on GoNOMAD here

BILBAO, SPAIN -- Standing at the bar of Gatz, located at Santa Maria 10 in the old quarter of Bilbao Spain, I reverently picked up another "pincho," a small bite-sized appetizer, that was spread out on the many colorful plates before me. Like a box of fine chocolates, you know that whichever one you choose it's going to be great.

Fireworks in Taiwan
Fireworks in Taiwan

I turned to the gentleman standing near me; after a slight raise of my hand he reached over to light the cigarette I had promised myself I wouldn't smoke. Everybody smokes here in the Tapas bars. The good food, good cheer, great wine -- heck, I knew I was going to cave in as soon as I walked in the door.

"I'm falling in love with Bilbao," I said.

He smiled back as if we were talking about a woman we both knew. "But of course," he said. "How could you not?" Read more

-- We started to hear explosions, many of them. Arriving at small square in the town, a crowd of people, all dressed in double thick clothing with motorcycle helmets on, (except for a few folks who were exceptionally brave or extremely drunk) watched as a group of men in the center started winging 20 foot lengths of exploding firecrackers the size of M-80s around their heads like lassos. They flew everywhere. Cries of joy and pain erupted as they bounced off people.

As one hit me in the helmet I thought, “These guys are nuts. This is very cool.” Read more

Pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela
Pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN -- The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain caught me by surprise. I am not a religious person and I had expected to dutifully take a look around, smile, nod, try to look thoughtful and then get out as fast as I could back to the streets, food and the people of Spain that I had come to love during the past week's journey.

But now, standing under vaulting arches of golden filigree, in a cloud of incense and surrounded by the hum of a thousand pilgrims drawn to this place from all over the world, I am moved.

Unconsciously, I find myself kneeling. It demands my respect and attention, and exudes spirituality beyond religion. It is history alive. Read more

Padre Dario believes that we all have different ways of getting to the same place.
Padre Dario

TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT, MADRID TO NEW YORK -- With only seconds to spare, I made it to gate U70, sweating and out of breath. The other passengers laughed knowingly as I sat down.

It was a full flight except for the seat next to me.  In the distance a priest was running down the aisle. He collapsed into his seat, turned to me and said, “That was close,” and proceeded to rip off his collar.

His name was Padre Dario, an itinerant preacher who has been on the road for 37 years. "I’m in a different country every two weeks," he said. Last week he was in French Micronesia, the week before it was Indonesia. Before that he preached to 160,000 people in Brazil and recently to 260,000 in Poland.

"I am tired of being a pilgrim," he said.

I told him about my time in Santiago, about being an atheist, about my love of the road and of all people I had met in Spain. He looked at me calmly and said, "We all have different ways of getting to the same place." Read more

Tourists in Guatemala
Tourists in Guatemala

CHICHICASTENGO, GUATEMALA -- In the morning I set out to photograph the market. For a brief hour or so I felt like I had it to myself. People were getting their stalls ready, eating, shopping.

It was a beautiful day and I had some great conversations with people in my limited Spanish, a few funny moments and made some fine images.

I mentioned to Ivania, my guide from Inguat, that I finally felt like I was in the real Guatemala.

“Just you wait," she said. I was not sure what she meant until suddenly a large group of tourists descended on the main square of the market.

They dove into the crowd descending upon them with a hundred cameras. They seemed to have a limited time and wanted to get as many images as fast as possible. A feeding frenzy ensued. Groups of four or five people crowded around individual Mayans, bumping into each other trying to get position in much the same way I do at news event with a politician.

Children in Guatemala - taken with parental permission!
Children in Guatemala - taken with
parental permission!

It was scary, and depressing to me. I was not sure if it was I who felt invaded, that this was “my market” and I wondered if I was fooling myself in thinking that I was any different. In any case, I had an immediate visceral reaction and before I knew it I had turned around and started photographing the tourists.

I was polite and respectful, but definitely focused on them. The reaction was amazing. Their body language became stiff and awkward.

Some glared at me in anger, others tried to stare me down with their cameras, and others grabbed their children and walked away covering their faces.

I did not do anything more than what they were doing to the Mayans at the market, except that I had turned it around and obviously had crossed a line.

When I awoke from my photo trance I looked around to see one smiling Mayan face after another reaching to meet my eyes in recognition and thanks. There were thumbs up all around and many slaps on my back. I was proud and embarrassed at the same time and the event still has me thinking. Read more

Stories and photos by Paul Shoul:

Digging to China: A Journey to Taipei, Nanjing and Shanghai

Drink Up! A Tour of Chile's Wineries and Vineyards

Spain: Stalking the Wild Tapas of Santiago de Compostela

Minas Gerais: The Heart of Brazil

Traveling Tunisia: Exotic Souks, Ancient Ruins and Star Wars Villages

A Whirlwind Tour of Taiwan

World Expo Zaragoza 2008: An Ancient City Looks to the Future

Denmark-Sweden Photo Gallery

Cod Fishing in Greenland

Denmark-Sweden Photo Gallery

Faces of Medellin Photo Gallery

St. Kitts: Life is Good

Boise, Idaho: An Air of Optimism

Porto, Portugal and the River of Gold

Santiago de Compostela: A Pilgrimage to Galicia

A Pilgrimage Begins at Home: Forrest Gump, Quasimodo and the Weary Wanderer

Taiwan: Festivals, Fireworks and Fantastic Food

Eating Bilbao: A Celebration of Basque Cuisine

Guatemala Photo Gallery

Chile Photo Gallery

Travel Photography in Guatemala: Some Things to Know From the Pro on the Go

Normandy Road Trip. Guest article on Johnny



Paul Shoul

The Faces of Medellin, Colombia - Page Two Photographs by Paul Shoul
The Faces of Medellin, Colombia - Page Three Photographs by Paul Shoul
. At school on Isle de Sol, Cartagena, Colombia. Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica. Read more stories by Paul Shoul /
GoNOMAD Photo Gallery: Images of Guatemala by Paul Shoul A Mayan woman
A Greenland Photo Gallery by Paul Shoul Hunters cleaning Guillemot, seabirds sold
Colombia: Bogota, Pereira and Cartagena de Indias a photo gallery by Paul Shoul Grilled meats
GoNOMAD Photo Gallery San Pedro de Atacama Photographs by Paul Shoul Volcano
On the beach in Nevis. Photos by Paul Shoul Nevis: The Smaller, Relaxed Sister of St. Kitts
The Faces of Medellin, Colombia Photographs by Paul Shoul
{loadposition article-adw} View a slideshow of the Strolling of the Heifers ParadeA in Brattleboro Vermont by Paul Shoul
Click the image to watch a slide show/video ofA Ambergris Caye, Belize by Paul ShoulA A {loadposition article-adw} A
Sunset over San Sebastian. photos by Paul Shoul. Eating San Sebastian: Three meals
Florida: Fishing the Emerald Coast By Paul Shoul What a fantastic time I had fishing in the Emerald
A Dancers at the Lantern Festival in Tainan - photos by Paul Shoul Taiwan


Tags: storySection: GoNOMAD Authors,Travel Writers
author: Paul Shoul
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