When I travel I always find the locals very interesting, especially if I’m in a well known tourist destination. I can wander for hours, taking pictures and talking to people. I’ve been known to grill a cab driver like he was a candidate for public office. Call me odd, call me nosey. It’s what I do, and I love seeing how much information I can learn from a complete stranger and trying to figure out if they’re telling the truth or just making up stuff for me. They usually play along, probably because, like me, they figure we won’t ever meet again.
When we were in Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I twice left my husband ogling over the cars at the Barrett Jackson Auction and made my way to the older part of town to wander around and take pictures. Vegas is one big mirage. Just a lot of smoke and mirrors creating this fantasy playground for adults. And if you look closely, there are people everywhere who succumbed to the fantasy and got lost in gambling or alcohol.
I guess you could say I went looking for the show behind the show. Without any judgment, I just started tipping locals who were either begging for money or trying to earn tips in weird ways and documented the people I ran into that day. Mercy, I could spend weeks in the older part of Vegas just taking pictures of old motels and the people around them.
Here are some folks I met along the way, and let me warn you right now, there is an elderly gentleman in a slingshot of a mankini in the mix. It leaves little to the imagination. Very. Little. The whole stroll around town and a public bus ride from one end of The Strip to the other was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Only one person declined to have her picture taken, and that was a sweet lady beside me on the bus who had worked a really difficult early shift at one of the casinos and was on her way home. She shared a Steve Harvey video on her phone with me, and we laughed for blocks.
The award for best heart went to Ejigu, my cab driver, who is originally from Ethiopia and lives in Vegas with his brother.
He thought I was a little crazy when I asked him to drive me to a closed, graffiti covered hotel in a really bad part of town and wait about five or so minutes while I hopped out and photographed it. “We don’t drop people off there,” he said, not understanding how a photographer’s mind sometimes works. He obliged though when he realized I wasn’t staying, and he kindly watched out for me so I could get my pictures and then took me on to Fremont Street. He says summer in Vegas is hotter than Ethiopia.
Here are some of the rest of the bunch. By the way, the mostly naked guy? He was obviously well educated and very well spoken. We spoke about Europe, specifically France and Paris. He claims to spend some time there each year, and I kind of believe him. If that’s true, there’s more money to be made standing around in a pink and yellow slingshot than I realized, but after all, it IS Vegas.