The Lifecycle of Butterflies

In Michoacán, the migrating mariposas appear with November, as if trailing the marigolds trucked in for Day of the Dead. They come by the fragile millions, fluttering a few thousand miles from el norte to the transvolcanic range of their own origin. As such, the monarcas are seen to symbolize the annual returning of souls, they are the mascot of the local soccer club, and ... [Continue Reading]

Estrellita changing clothes backstage at the circus. Mexico 2006.

The View from Below

"Maybe we could understand that there is space for everyone, and that no one has more rights to citizenship than anyone else." -- Ryszard Kapuscinski The View from Below is a series of images that interprets the relationship between a group of dwarf men and women in space. The view from below is not the same as that from above; to be different determines one's ... [Continue Reading]

March Oaxaca

My Own Mexican Revolution

I was walking back from the grocery store, loaded down with bags, when a man came up the sidewalk. I looked down and away. He leaned towards me and whispered, “F**k me.” The insistent pressure exploded. I lost it. “F**k YOU!” I shouted, and then continued, calling him a dog, a monkey, an animal, a barbarian, and any other disagreeable creature I could think of ... [Continue Reading]

Photo © Itzel Aguilera.

Documentary: If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces

Alice Driver, one of Vela's staff writers, recently completed her first documentary, If Images Could Fill Our Empty Spaces. The film explores the complicated relationship between violence and photography in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Watch it below, and then read an interview with Alice about making the film. Inhabiting the Lives of Others: An Interview with Alice ... [Continue Reading]


Fire Ants

  *Selected by Paul Theroux as a notable essay in The Best American Travel Writing 2014 In those first months living in El Salvador, had I walked down a village street and seen young men leaning against gaping doorframes, their eyes steady upon me, I would have read the wrong story. Then, I could barely speak, let alone interpret what signs I might have seen: a ... [Continue Reading]


Deep Light

Deep Light is a photo essay showing a fragment of the life of the blind in an oneiric space: water, origin of life, representation of the infinite. Here, the blind submerge themselves and strengthen their senses; here their supposed lack disappears, and they are free. Encountering this part of their world revealed several dimensions I identified with emotionally. I ... [Continue Reading]



In Spanish, almost any noun can be fashioned into a verb by applying the suffix -eando. Sabadeando: Saturdaying. Domingueando: Sundaying. You're not just going to the park on Sunday, or eating day-old chicharrines and watching fútbol hungover on your couch, you're domingueando. You're embodying the essence of the day. In this collection of street photos, photographer ... [Continue Reading]

Miacol, a young man at the migrant shelter Hermanos en el Camino, passes time awaiting the train north. He is 17 years old. Along with hundreds of other Central American migrants, he will climb to the roof of the train in hopes of reaching the border of Mexico and the United States. His skateboard is his prized possession.

Objects of the Journey

“What else can I do,” a 17-year-old Guatemalan migrant named Juan asked photographer Nikhol Esterás, “work on the streets?” The boy's grandmother had recently died, and without any remaining family or the prospect of work, he headed north on the train dubbed "la bestia"–the beast–from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to the U.S.-Mexico border, in search ... [Continue Reading]


Map to Motherland

This morning, Steven and I woke up late and tired because our two-year-old had been up twice in the night dreaming about scary dinosaurs and then there was an incident with a rat in our bedroom. Now, in my cold Mexican kitchen, I am “sproaching” eggs in sugar cane vinegar and picking rodent-gnawed fruit out of the basket on the counter while Steve shovels our son into ... [Continue Reading]


Yo Soy Perú

The toucan lifts its lobster-claw bill into the sky over and over, releasing its whooping, loonish phrase like a persistent question. It wears a penguin’s tuxedo plumage, yet with flair—a yellow band at the base of the bill, bright blue just around the eye, a flash of red beneath the black tail feathers. It sits alone and throws its two-note song into the sky. For over ... [Continue Reading]