Balde House, Kolda, Senegal

14 Nov

Balde House, Kolda, Senegal © Erin Lau, 2011

For her two years in Peace Corps, Maya stayed with a host family in their compound, in the town of Kolda. Kolda is a medium sized town of a little over 20,000 residents, located in the southern part of Senegal, known as the Casamance. We stayed with her large family, whose last name is Balde, for about four days, eating meals with them, and hanging out around town. In the drawing you can see one of the main huts and the kitchen, along with a grouping of lush ornamental plants her host father and brother tend to. Maya had her own little cinder block hut and latrine, sheltered by a mango tree, that was out of view of this drawing. Living at their home was my favorite part of our Senegal trip.

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Casamance River, Kolda, Senegal

13 Nov

Casamance River, Kolda, Senegal © Erin Lau, 2011

Maya and I biked several kilometers to a campement (rustic guesthouse), just outside the town of Kolda where she was based during Peace Corps. We wanted to go there to see the monkeys that come to drink at the river. The river was warm, and brown, like chocolate milk, and the monkeys were on their own schedule. After about 45 minutes, we did start to see some rustling in the trees from afar. Then some leaping figures. Big red monkeys were jumping from branch to branch, and a group of whitish/brown smaller monkeys were ambling along the bank. They were all fairly distant, so it was not really possible to draw them. It was hot, and muggy, and we soon biked home to take a bucket shower.

Traveling again 2011! Ziguinchor, Senegal

12 Nov

Boats along Casamance River in Ziguinchor, Senegal © Erin Lau 2011

I’m back on the road with my sketchbook, this time traveling with my sister in West Africa, specifically Senegal and Mali. My sister, Maya, has been living in Senegal for the past two years, working as a Peace Corps volunteer. She just finished her tour, and we decided to travel together. She showed me the places she knows in Senegal, including the town that she was based in. Then we traveled overland to Mali, a new place for both of us.

These are drawings I made several days into our journey, once we landed in Ziguinchor, Senegal. We had taken an overnight boat from Dakar, the capital, down along the Atlantic coast, entering the Casamance river delta and floating upstream on the Casamance river. Ziguinchor is a smallish fishing town, with a couple main streets and a couple main attractions. We only had one day, so we watched the coming and going of villagers along the river bank and took a small boat ride around the mangroves the flank the opposite bank. While on the boat ride, we saw many dolphins feeding and jumping all around us, as well as a variety of birds. There was even a large, half sunken ship, that had reportedly tried to get down the river with Liberian (?) immigrants until it was gunned down by police. In these drawings, there is an approaching thunder and lightning storm, and crewmen are preparing the boats for passengers to other villages along the river.

My other Project is now on Kickstarter!

19 Nov

Screenshot from Kickstarter site

The Graciela Project is inspired by my grandmother’s remarkable experience as she escaped from China to live in Guatemala during WWII. The project features original songs inspired by my background in Flamenco and Hindustani vocals and harmonium, as well as colored illustrations that describe the theme of each song. I am performing this project as a live show on Dec. 2nd, in Seattle and am collaborating with a flamenco guitarist, percussionist and another vocalist to create music that is both beautiful and unique.

Want to learn more? Click here!

El Zócalo, Oaxaca, Mexico

29 Sep

El Zocalo © Erin Lau 2010

The Zócalo, or main plaza, in Oaxaca was peaceful and social in the days after the national Gubernatorial election of June 2010.The place was completely cleared of protesters and only a few stalls remained. It was back to the social life of lazy afternoons. They completely re-planted everything except the trees within two days, so it was an utter transformation. I wish I had also been able to sketch the protestors and their encampments, but I never got the chance.


Plazuela San Fernando, Guanajuato, Mexico

29 Sep

Guanajuato © Erin Lau 2010

A view from the Plazuela San Fernando, in Guanajuato, Mexico.  A town of winding streets, and colorful hillsides. We were only here for the day, so we will have to return as there were so many amazing views to capture in our sketchbooks.

Templo Santo Domingo, Oaxaca, Mexico

12 Aug

Templo Santo Domingo, © Erin Lau 2010

After a couple months back in the States, I grew restless again, and decided to go on a trip with my boyfriend to Mexico for three weeks. We stayed in Oaxaca for the majority of our trip and made a point to draw almost everyday, outside of taking four hours of Spanish a day. We both drew this, the beautiful, looming Templo Santo Domingo in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was only a three minute walk down the block from our homestay, and we admired it everyday. We loved how, unlike other cathedrals we saw in Mexico, this one had a raw quality about it, with chiseled greenish blue cantera stone. The plaza before it was always lively with activity, hawkers, cultural events, teenagers socializing. The amazing Ethnobotanical garden within its cloister walls completed it.

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