Frame 0004
Electric Skies: Chasing Catatumbo Lig...
Lake Maracaibo
By Transterra Media
08 Jul 2016

Buried deep in the jungles of Venezuela exists one of the world’s most unknown natural phenomenon: Catatumbo Lightning. Every year, Bahamian photographer and Catatumbo Lightning expert Alan Highton guides small groups of storm chasing tourists on a rugged 4-day journey through the precarious Venezuelan backcountry to his jungle guesthouse. Armed with waterproof bags, mosquito nets and other backcountry gear, the group must travel first by plane, then by road, and finally by boat. Once at the guesthouse they wait to witness Catatumbo Lightning first hand.

Catatumbo Lightning is a thundering symphony of relentless lighting storms concentrated in a small area. Occurring 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and striking up to 280 times per hour, the storms are unmatched in their ferocity and unrelenting power. The Guinness Book of World Records will be adding Catatumbo Lightning to their list of record holders for the highest amount of average lightning bolts (250) per square kilometer, per year.

The lightning is a one of a kind natural phenomenon resulting from the particularly unique geographic conditions in the area where the Catatumbo River and Lake Maracaibo meet. At this nexus point, hot, wet winds blowing in from the lake collide with the mountain ridges of the Andes to create a perfect storm. The conditions are like nowhere else on earth and result in continuous lightning storms which start and finish like clockwork.

This story documents the journey of Alan Highton and his tour group as they push deep into the Venezuelan backcountry in search of Catatumbo Lightning.

Frame 0004
Electric Skies: Chasing Catatumbo Lig...
Lake Maracaibo
By Transterra Media
20 Jun 2016

Buried deep in the jungles of Venezuela exists one of the world’s most unknown natural phenomenon: Catatumbo Lightning. Every year, Bahamian photographer and Catatumbo Lightning expert Alan Highton guides small groups of storm chasing tourists on a rugged 4-day journey through the precarious Venezuelan backcountry to his jungle guesthouse. Armed with waterproof bags, mosquito nets and other backcountry gear, the group must travel first by plane, then by road, and finally by boat. Once at the guesthouse they wait to witness Catatumbo Lightning first hand.

Catatumbo Lightning is a thundering symphony of relentless lighting storms concentrated in a small area. Occurring 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and striking up to 280 times per hour, the storms are unmatched in their ferocity and unrelenting power. The Guinness Book of World Records will be adding Catatumbo Lightning to their list of record holders for the highest amount of average lightning bolts (250) per square kilometer, per year.

The lightning is a one of a kind natural phenomenon resulting from the particularly unique geographic conditions in the area where the Catatumbo River and Lake Maracaibo meet. At this nexus point, hot, wet winds blowing in from the lake collide with the mountain ridges of the Andes to create a perfect storm. The conditions are like nowhere else on earth and result in continuous lightning storms which start and finish like clockwork.

This story documents the journey of Alan Highton and his tour group as they push deep into the Venezuelan backcountry in search of Catatumbo Lightning.

Frame 0004
Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
Lake Maracaibo
By gustavoaleman
15 Aug 2015

Lake Maracaibo and Ologá Village shot by drone

Thumb sm
Despite Crisis Venezuelans Celebrate ...
Caracas
By Mariana Vincenti
07 Apr 2015

Caracas is touched by faith and devotion to a leader that requires no election bar love and unity

As a part of the Christian celebrations that take place in Venezuela during Holy Week, there’s one in Caracas called “El Nazareno de San Pablo” (The Nazarene of Saint Paul), the most popular of the processions made in honor of the image of Christ bearing the cross. The celebration took place in downtown Caracas on 1 April 2015 and attracted thousands of people.

Whatever the political storms to hit Venezuela since 1998, this procession has consistently drawn some of the country’s largest numbers of participants. In spite of the socio-economic crisis now plaguing Venezuelans, both their devotion to this tradition and their religious identity in general remain strong. Whatever the effects of Chavismo, these traditions have overcome the many other transformations their lives have undergone in this era.


This festival’s popularity dates to an old legend that a miracle saved thousands of people from a terrible disease. As the plague carried off thousands of lives, Holy Week arrived, and with it, several processions of different “Nazarenos” carrying the cross through various cities around the country. In the church of San Pablo in downtown Caracas, a wooden Christ was taken to the streets as it did each year. Suddenly, he got tangled in a lemon tree. When the lemons fell, people started eating them, and those who were sick began to heal. Word quickly spread, and more people came to eat the lemons from the miraculous lemon tree. Since then, thousands of people all over the country come to the procession that occurs every Wednesday of Holy Week. Most of the parishioners go dressed in purple, carrying crosses and a crown of thornsSome choose to express their devotion by walking barefoot down the path as an offer or payment for a promise.

Downtown Caracas celebrates in many ways and is flooded with colors portraying the different aspects of Venezuelans’ religious idiosyncrasy. Peddlers, among others, take advantage of the festivity to do a bustling business selling candles, incense, purple robes and other religious items. Everyone participates in a different way, from those who join the procession to kids and elders selling merchandise used by the parishioners involved in the ceremony.

The experience embraces a symphony of colors, scents, and sounds. The melody of a church organ meets the crying of the youngsters; the murmur of the prayers meets the discourse of the priest; purple robes, wooden crosses and yellow palm leafs dance to the scent of orchids and incense. From early morning to late at night, the “normal routine” of the booming capital pauses before these outpourings of Christian faith and devotion. Indeed, Caracas is a city of multiple faces. Amidst their convoluted lives, Caraqueños (people from Caracas) still seek the love and unity that these days are harder to come by. Indeed, the Wednesday of the Holy Week is hardly the only time that Caraqueños take to the streets from dawn ‘til dusk.  

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 02
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The Basilica of Santa Teresa, house of the Nazarene after the San Pablo church was demolished years ago, remains full all day with parishioners that come and go from all over the country to see the wooden Christ that waits for the procession behind the altar

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 03
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Milagros (right) 19 years old sells candles each year since she was 5. She can make 400 BsF (2$) for each box of candles.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 04
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Figures of the Nazarene are part of the merchandise displayed near the church along with the robes, crosses, rosaries, etc.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 05
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Vicente Escobar, 58. Comes with his family each year to sell purple robes, he consider this as a tradition. He says this year has been hard for the business because “people don’t have money anymore”

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 06
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Junior, 13 (right) helps his mother with the selling; they come from Tachira, a state located on the western border of Venezuela.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 07
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Genesis Rivas, 6. She and her mother pay a promise each year for health. She was diagnosed with an intestinal disease during pregnancy; she has survived this long and has a great perspective on her future.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 08
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

A peddler selling candles watches amazed as the Saint passes in front of him

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 09
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

This man comes each year in bare feet, with a croen of thorns and a cross to pay a promise he made in exchange for health

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 11
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The silver cross is carried by the kids in front of the Nazareno during the procession. As a background, the full moon shines in the sky.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 12
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The wooden cross leads the procession followed by the incense and a silver cross

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 13
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Elders and kids are the most common visitors of the procession, this woman watches with deep emotion as the Nazareno passes in front of her

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 14
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

After 17 continuous ceremonies from 12 am to 5 pm every Wednesday from Holy Week the procession starts taking the Christ out the Church around the block and back.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 15
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Carrying the Nazareno is a great honor and it’s done every year by the same group of man

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 16
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Gabriela Desire, 4. She was born dead, revived two seconds after the birth. It’s a miracle she is alive and for that, she and her mother come every year to pay the promise her mother did in exchange of her daughter’s life

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 17
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Angela, 4. She has Cancer; her father brings her every year to pray for her health.

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 18
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Alberto, 58. Comes from Peru where he learned to knit with palm leafs. Since he came to Venezuela in the 70s he sells his work during Holy Week

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 20
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The faith on the saint of the Nazarene for some is so strong that the fact of having it near is strongly emotional and overwhelming

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 19
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Merchandise with the image of Christ comes in lots of different forms sizes and prices, these paper fans are more than useful inside the church were the heat due to the amount of people causes that more than one passes out.

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 21
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Thousands of cellphones went on at the last ceremony right before the procession to take pictures of the wooden Christ displayed on the church

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 22
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

The "Nazareno" with a decoration of orchids, the national flower.

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 23
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

A kid awaiting not so patiently while the procession starts

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 25
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

National police, paramedics and guards worked in the procession containing the multitude and caring for those who were affected by the heat and the great amount of people

Thumb sm
Caracas Procession 24
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
01 Apr 2015

Aldo Giordano, the representative of the Pope in Venezuela, as being interviewed by the press said they wanted to contribute to the miracle of peace in Venezuela.

Thumb sm
Caracas procession 01
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mariana Vincenti
31 Mar 2015

Yellow Palm Leafs made in form of crosses, are sold in the street next to the church. Palms shouldn’t be sold as they are usually gotten for free to be blessed in the Easter ceremonies, but they are, with the purple robes, the most popular item sold by peddlers to the parishioners.

Thumb sm
Venezuela's Beauty Factory
Caracas, Venezuela
By Patrick
08 Jan 2015

There is a saying among Venezuelans: “Venezuela’s main exports are petrol and beautiful women.” Known primarily for its natural wonders, its ex-president Hugo Chavez and its crime rates, Venezuela is a country where beauty is taken to the next level. Miss Venezuela transcends any other national beauty contest and over the decades it has become a trademark for the country, transforming a TV show into a national pride seen by millions of people.

Families around the country gather in front of the screen to watch the show. In a place where people have found in satellite TV a way to avoid state-controlled media, this beauty pageants is the most seen show of the year with an audience’s share never below 60%. The day after the pageant, the new ‘queen’ is all over the newspapers, and the results creates a debate worthy of a presidential campaign. Venezuelans elect their queen, which symbolizes more than a woman. She becomes an icon, a symbol of beauty and nationhood.

For many women, modeling offers a chance to leave one of most dangerous countries in the world - where unemployment and a strict currency control make it difficult to look for opportunities abroad. According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, 24.980 people were killed in 2014 – ex-Miss Venezuela Monica Spear was among those victims. With constant class tension and when and bloody confrontation is part of daily life, the election of a Venezuelan “goddess” is a rare source of common ground in the society.

"I've been modeling since I was 5," said Josbey Arcia. "I believe this industry pushes you to your limits. You need to have personality. Being a model is fantastic, being on a catwalk while people look at you, knowing that some girls hope to be you some day. It's incredible."

Venezuela holds the record for the most “Miss Universe” titles in the world (7) and is Guinness World Record holder for winning two years in a row (2008, 2009). Gabriela Isler, Miss Venezuela 2013 and current Miss Universe, will pass the crown next January 25th in Miami.

Migbelis Lynette, a 19-year-old from Cabimas will represent Venezuela in the most important beauty pageant of the year. However, Venezuelans do not choose the most natural girl. The country is a paradise for plastic surgery in terms of price and quality. 35,000 to 40,000 breast enlargements take place every year, and Miss Venezuela contestants are no exception.

Advertisements can be found everywhere, acting as a reminder that you can always look better. Women are aware of the influence of commercial media, but that does not diminish a perpetual competition of the prettiest. The definition of beauty gets lost between scalpel and silicone, and perfection is the ultimate goal.

These beauty queens have set a standard that many young girls hope to achieve one day. Modeling school becomes another extracurricular activity, just like ballet or theatre, making experience crucial to success in the business.

Five-year-old girls learn how to walk with heeled shoes and learn basic modeling movements and photo-shoot skills, so that when they reach fifteen they are ready for the big catwalks.

Thumb sm
Child Labor in Venezuela's Andes
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

Pueblo Llano is at 800 km from Caracas, Venezuela's capital. This little town inside Los Andes is the main potatoes and carrot producer in the country. However, and despite the successful market with multinational companies like Frito-Lay as one the biggest clients, Pueblo Llano have deep social issues interconnected between them, child labor and high suicide rates.
Their main job is to plant and care for the crops of potatoes and carrots, using several toxic pesticides most of them prohibited by international laws. The landlord provides them with a precarious home, food and a US$ 1 daily salary. At harvest time, they make money depending on how many bags (of 70 Kg each) can be filled and carried down from the steep mountains.
The isolation of the town and the hard market between farmers make this town a place for avarice, most of the children from 9 to 13 years old leave the school and begin to work on the fields dreaming about making tons of money, however, the harvest not always become as they expected and, in some cases, they took their own lives away as the easiest exit.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 04
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

A 14 year old boy carry a 70 Kg bag of carrots in the field in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 09
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

A group of children laborers between 12 and 19 years old work on a carrots harvest in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 10
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

Gerson is 17, he came from Colombia at the age of 12 to work in Pueblo Llano. Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 12
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

The hands of workers after a day of work on a carrots harvest. Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 03
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
07 Nov 2014

A 14 year old girl work on a carrots harvest in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 01
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
06 Nov 2014

A group of children laborers poses for a photograph before starting another day of work in the potatoes field in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 08
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
06 Nov 2014

A group of children laborers take cover from the cold rain during work on a potatoes field in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 11
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
06 Nov 2014

A teenager works on a potatoes harvest in Pueblo Llano, Venezuela. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.

Thumb sm
child labor in venezuela 15
Pueblo Llano, Venezuela
By Manaure Quintero
06 Nov 2014

Josein, a 13 year old worker, prepares his gloves during a potatoes harvest. Pueblo Llano is the main potatoes and carrot producer of Venezuela, most of the children leave the school to start working with the crops at the age of 9.