Banzai Cliff + Pau Pau Beach

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Banzai Cliff, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.

While I was back in Saipan last week, I did some sightseeing for fun. The photo above is of Banzai Cliff, where defeated Japanese civilians and soldiers jumped to their deaths during World War II. It’s a beautiful view yet bears a sad reminder of the lives lost during the war.

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After Banzai Cliff, I ended up at Pau Pau Beach. Years ago, this was the beach our family spent the day, swimming, celebrating someone’s birthday, snorkeling, etc. My dad actually tried to take my then 2-year-old brother and I on an unsuccessful yet memorable “fishing” trip out here about ten years ago. Back then, the clean, bright, white sand extended out towards that rock out there. Now, it’s just a strip of sand. Erosion is just inevitable in the islands.

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Travel essentials

IB Travel essentials

I’m getting ready to leave for Saipan and Guam tomorrow. Here are my travel essentials: lots of black clothes, tons of necklaces, headbands (because it’s maipe – hot), my passport, a journal for ideas/poetry/inspiration and a little purse. Of course I’ll be taking my DSLR along for the trip. 🙂 One of my goals is to learn at least five new phrases in Chamorro. My friends and I have this thing where we jokingly try to one-up each other on Chamorro phrases and vocabulary. I always lose, so I’ve really got to step my game this time. ¡Biba Marianas!

Uniku Marianas by Karen Cabrera

There are two places I truly call home: O’ahu and Saipan. I’ve featured many international artists on my blog, but there is one artist who I’ve admired, for a long time, who truly captures the beauty and raw-ness of Saipan. Her photos on her website Uniku Marianas, have the power to pull strongly on those feelings of nostalgia and they often make me homesick.

I’ve been familiar with Saipan artist Karen Cabrera for a while. In fact, I used to go to school with her sister at Mount Carmel School. Although we’ve never really spoken to each other, I’ve seen her work all over the internet and social media outlets on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. As you can see, she’s a cunning photographer, who seems to be seasoned with patience and the best equipment. Judging by her interaction with online admirers, she’s also rather modest about her work. Her sister, professional photographer Michelle ‘Turtle” Cabrera promotes her work.

 Perfect Day to be Out by Karen Cabrera

These are not your ordinary nature photos. These are photos of an island’s beauty that has endured a dark history of war, colonization (x3), political corruption and recently, the mini-diaspora of Chamorros who seek better opportunities and lifestyles outside of the Northern Mariana Islands. Thanks to Cabrera, those Chamorros (myself included) have actual, stunning images to reminisce and bring them closer to home.

 Uninhabited by Karen Cabrera

Karen, if you read this, please don’t stop what you do, whether you’re snapping photos in Idaho, California or Saipan. Your photos are my method of escapism from the city life and they make great visual material when I brag about Saipan. 🙂

Karen’s main website: exquisitektc.com