Welcome to the Roamers Corner! An interview series that spotlights how travelers, experts, and eco travel advocates we admire incorporate travel into their lives, to live more fulfilling and mindful lives.
We always like to see fellow travelers sharing their passion for travel via various media, be it photography or storytelling. Flamine Alary is one of these people. A cognitive scientist by training, Flamine is an avid traveler, landscape photographer, and visual storyteller whose goal is to become a better visual storyteller each time she picks up her camera.
Whether she travels to faraway places or just in her neighborhood, she always finds inspiring moments to capture.
After having started a travel blog a few years back, she decided to write travel photo ebooks to share her passion for photography and the pure joy of discovering new places, cultures, and people, hence transforming her travel impressions into something meaningful to others. She'll soon be publishing her fourth book.
We're very pleased that Flamine agreed to share with us some of her travel experiences and thoughts about the future of travel.
RW: Hi Flamine, what do you do and where do you call home?
FA: I am a “recovered” scientist, now a project manager. But as soon as I’m off work, my brain starts to be filled with images and stories from past and upcoming travels.
"Home" is more complex to define than one would think. In my mind, it covers both the place where I live and the stranger and unexpected places I discover during my travels.
Sunrise over the lake, Quebec, Canada, photo by Flamine Alary
RW: Generally, how often do you travel and why do you travel?
Several times per year, both for my work and holidays. Traveling gives me the necessary fuel, inspiration, and knowledge of other places and cultures that are so fulfilling. There's just no way I can imagine my life without traveling.
RW: What’s your favorite destination/trip and why?
FA: Well, this is a difficult one. Hawai’i was a big surprise. I went there with negative stereotypes in mind. When I travel, with my partner, we generally try to find the off beaten paths. We usually stay in small local lodgings and cook with local products. This allows us to discuss with people and get a glimpse at what is “real life” there. When we went to the States last summer, we ended up in a small gas station lost somewhere between Arizona and New Mexico. Navajo people asked us in a very friendly way why and what we were doing there. They looked so surprised!
Agathla Peak, Arizona, USA, photo by Flamine Alary
Valley of Fire, Nevada, USA, photo by Flamine Alary
So it’s not one favorite destination but all the small experiences that make trips memorable I think.
What’s your craziest traveling experience so far?
FA: Definitely, hiking to the active lava flow in Big Island in Hawai’i. I noticed that there's a trend in my most recent trips to end up in places with volcanos. My partner and I visited the Big Island during a summer trip. We took a hike with a local guide and a few other walkers to see the active lava flow in Kalapana in the south of the island. We walked for hours on lava fields and then suddenly I realized that I could see the lava in a crack! I stopped dead in my track and froze for a moment. That was so impressive.
Hiking to the active lava flow, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, photo by Flamine Alary
After a while, we stopped in front of the active lava flow. The intense heat did not dissuade me from getting closer to admire this magnificent show. The lava moved slowly, entering the meanders of the ground. Again, and again, it cracked, it moved, and it moved forward. A new landscape, a new world. What a privilege it was to be here.
How has the current global Covid-19 pandemic affected your travels? What did you decide to do about it?
FA: I’m not traveling at all these days, like everyone else. I usually turn to street photography when I’m in town but I found it difficult to explore my city with a light heart in these challenging times. That’s why I decided to start a new series called Another Life, superimposing colored photos taken in the past on monochrome photos taken now. It helps me convey what we live nowadays due to the coronavirus situation.
Another Life, Montreal, Canada, photo and montage by Flamine Alary
What impact do you think the current crisis will have on the future of travel and sustainable travel?
FA: My hope, of course, is that it will impact positively the way people are traveling and that it will help decrease mass tourism. Especially in areas where tourism puts a lot of pressure on fragile ecosystems and wildlife. Iceland had to close certain areas because people walked on fragile moss, California saw massive crowds coming to see poppy blooming, people destroying plants because they wanted the best selfies! But a lot of people in the world live from tourism. Maybe we'll find a balanced way that'll allow economical growth for the local populations as well as increased conservation efforts and respectful tourism. Tourism is not always bad! In countries in Africa and Asia living from tourism and currently under the coronavirus restrictions, there have been reports of an upsurge in poaching.
That said, it's a very optimistic view (or wishful thinking)!
If you could travel now, what would be your number 1 destination?
FA: Ah! I'm passionate about deserts, that comes from my childhood memories in Africa. The winter is long and cold in Montreal so what I'd love is a mix between discovering new desert locations like in Mongolia, going to a warmer place near the ocean like California, going up North to discover wild territories and new cultures such as Alaska, Greenland, or Laponia, and maybe down South to Patagonia too. Well, that sounds like I would love to go on a world tour!
RW: Haha, indeed!! Thank you, Flamine.
Follow Flamine on Instagram @flamine_alary_pics