I’ve learned that if you plunge into the unknown, sometimes amazing things will happen. Late one evening as the sun set over the azure water of Anacapri, Italy, my best friend and I, hot and sticky from a long day of walking, jumped from the safety of the rocks into the translucent water. We swam towards a small opening in the shear cliff walls. The opening would disappear underwater as the tide and waves came in. I could hear my heart beating in my chest, and feel the goosebumps all over my skin as I swam closer. I couldn’t see what was on the other side of the opening and so it seemed like I was swimming into obscurity. There’s always a small hesitation before jumping, so to speak. But if we don’t take the risk, we won’t find the reward. So, I took a deep breath and dove into the darkness. And when I surfaced… I discovered for myself one of the most magical places on earth, the blue grotto (Grotto Azura). The grotto was large and lit by the faded sun which reflected off the sandy bottom. The light turns your skin a luminous white and the whole world seems to dissipate. Your voice echos and bounces off the grotto walls. You are alone in what seems like a dream; floating, laughing, embracing life.

These are the moments I live for. These are the moments I travel for.

I owe my love for travel to a few people. My sense of independence and fearlessness comes from my grandmother. But it is my mom and dad who have allowed me to develop a love for places far from home. They let me leave my hometown of Amarillo, Texas at the age of 17 to be a foreign exchange student in Belgium. There I learned that things aren’t necessarily better or worse, they are just different. That mindset has allowed me to view the world with what I hope is a clearer lens. Leaving judgement behind allows an incredible kaleidoscope of color, culture, and adventures to come flooding into your life. My mother frequently travels with me to all corners of the globe. She has been a great partner in crime. My husband has found a love for Belgium as I have shared my second home with him. He allows my dreams to take flight and lets me jump on a plane sometimes for several weeks not knowing when he’ll be able to contact me again. I’m grateful that I have life and family that allows me to travel. I hope I can share in some small way my love for this world in all it’s wonder through my images.

-Shelley Coar Travel Photographer

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