Conviction and seeing the Pope from a distance


The Pope visits Peru for three days and it so happens that this morning he visited the suburbĀ  I currently stay in.

He led the church mass this morning and so naturally my housemates and I were drawn to the action. I brought my camera and almost straight away my instincts took over and I aspired to take the best photographs that I could. I wasn’t able to take any good photos of Papa Francis himself but as I stood in a corner the people around me began to reach out to me in ways I haven’t witnessed here in a while.


One of the guys protecting one of the pathways (gated off and protected by military on the other side) handed me a bottle of water when he saw I was unprotected by the sun. As we were told (in Spanish or Italian, I don’t even know) to greet each other as children in Christ people shook my hand and waved to me. By the end I had ladies asking if I could be in photographs and selfies with them.

For most of the service I felt a fake because I wasn’t at the service for catholicism belief or devotion, despite the fact I don’t believe there’s core difference between it and Christianity (despite man made institutions that lead them). I was there to see the Pope and to take photographs out of selfish gain. I didn’t feel guilty about it, but I did feel a fraud.


But then near the end of the service I felt a different type of conviction.

I realised I didn’t need a title of journalist or a media badge to enjoy doing what I love. I wondered once whether or not I just loved the feeling of importance when I was in my former job. No. I feel important when I’m feeling good about my work.


After the service ended I took photographs of the aftermath, the crowds, clergy and police taking photographs to recognise where they were. I jogged to the apartment I lived in and downloaded the 300 photographs I took and shortlisted 30. I then sent them off to a Peruvian news-blog I read and follow in the hopes it might be interested in my work.


They responded before I took the photographs and as I sent them the emails I felt nervous. I was scared of rejection and that’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. I was being challenged.

*Note: I write this having had most of a bottle of wine. It’s good wine. I’m probably still tipsy.

We dance together


THE best moments in Peru are the unexpected ones. You cannot plan for them. Expectations weigh you down, and the unexpected remind you of your freedom.

The truth is that I expected to write a blog post about the Pope visiting my suburb next week. The preparations escalate. Instead I begin my focus on a dancing competition I witnessed in Trujillo’s CBD this morning.


I post my first video onto my blog and I hope it works. Fortunately for me I am tall and can lift the phone camera quite high. I much prefer the video of the next dance of a boy wearing an oversized sombrero as he competes with a woman who might be his older sister.



I was in the city to have a coffee with a fellow Australian. I had not seen Barb in weeks and I feel I can talk to her about anything. We both have much in common but she’s on a journey far ahead of me.

As we ate cake she shared with me one of those generic Facebook links that are designed to be click bait. This one was called ‘which promise should you make for yourself in 2018.’ She loved her promise but wanted to share it with me.

Life is short, live it.

Love is rare, grab it.

Anger is bad, dump it.

Fear is awful, face it.

Memories are sweet. Cherish them.

I should have left it there but I thought I would also click the Facebook link. I am unsure that I like it. I’m not sure I agree.

If you can’t dance in the rain with me, you will never be with me in the storm and if you aren’t in the storm with me, I don’t need you in the sunshine either.

But that’s a bit harsh. I can’t expect anyone to face a storm with me. Maybe I should assume I face each storm alone, to find that one time that I am surrounded.


The Pope visits next week to check the damage of ‘the child phenomenon’, which caused about 80 deaths and affecting more than 100,000 people in the flooding here early last year. The plaza in Trujillo has been closed off, a stage has been built there, and in Huanchaco there has been numerous roadworks and construction, murals are being painted in tribute to the Pope, and there are large posters everywhere – next to roads and on every Catholic church I have seen. Police presence is everywhere.


I guess there’s a little Catholicism in me. A little. He’s an 11-year-old boy who was scared of his math teacher Sister Julian, and this sister was a sweetheart and a source of comfort when he was expelled in Year 4.

But mainly I just admire the good work of the local catholic priest in Mount Isa, and his name is Father Mick. And I admire Brother Marty, who would do anything for the repeat criminals regularly struggling to understand the court system.


So I guess I can’t help but buy into the excitement with the visiting Pope. And I hope it’s a blessing for this city, and has a lot of meaning for those affected by the flooding last year. I wasn’t there when it rained, so I can’t be cynical. I hope the money spent on his visit serves a purpose. I hope it makes everyone happy. I hope everyone dances. I hope it’s okay I dance with them now that everything is okay. If everything is okay.