Celebrity Travel Addict: Carlos de Varona of Chromahouse

For today’s Celebrity Travel Addicts Q&A we interview my good friend, travel buddy, and talented cinematographer, Carlos de Varona of Chromahouse Productions. You may recognize him from some of my episodes (he filmed several hundred of them and has made a few cameo appearances throughout the years). When he’s not traveling with me for David’s Been Here, Carlos is busy working on movies, commercials, music videos, and fashion & lifestyle shoots at home in Miami and around the globe. It’s an honor to have Carlos be part of this series and for you to meet the man behind the camera!

How did your passion for travel get started?

Honestly, it all started with a phone call. David Hoffmann called around December 2007 while I was working an internship at a film production company in Miami. The phone call went kind of like this:

DH: “Hey man whats up, we haven’t talked in a while but I’ve been working on an idea for a travel production company and I need a videographer, would you be interested? First trip leaves in a week and we go to Prague, Czech Republic” CD: “Hold on let me check”… “Yep let’s do it”.

What really happened is that I basically quit my job on the spot right then and there. I just knew this was the right step, and actually David had the right idea. Look how many people are travel influencers now. I honestly think that we were some of the first people doing it.

Anyways, that really kickstarted everything.  I never really looked back and just got hooked to travel. It’s true what they say that travel is addicting. I still get the same feeling when I get back from a long trip – the eagerness to get out there again and see something new.

How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?

Back when I was traveling with David it was non-stop. I believe we traveled to 25 countries in a matter of two years, all while producing a travel show.  Sometimes we would spend a couple of months in a destination to really capture it. That’s when I really learned what travel was all about. We weren’t just jumping from place to place to say we’ve been there, rather, we were really immersing ourselves into these cultures and learning.

Nowadays my travel hasn’t been quite as frequent but I get in a solid trip or two every year. Usually to a place that’s challenging to travel to.

What is it that you want audiences to gain/ learn from your films and photography?

Video and photography are very powerful mediums and I think we are still unlocking their potential to inspire others. I’d like to think I’m motivating an audience to perceive things differently or at least opening a new window of perception for them. In the end its all about connection. I’m just trying to connect with people through my work.

Name your top three destinations you’ve traveled:

Spain

South Africa

Meteora, Greece

Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of these destinations, like a mini-guide or to-do list of sorts

It’s really hard to make a top 5 list for Spain, but here it goes.

  1. Visit Port Lligat, Spain (Salvador Dali’s Home)
  2. Try Llemas de Santa Maria in Avila
  3. Have lunch at Mercado San Miguel in Madrid
  4. Eat in Burgos (found some of the best Tapas here)
  5. Road trip through beautiful Costa Brava (can’t stress this enough)

How many countries have you visited so far?

Somewhere between 31 and 33. I need to make the list again.

Your top three favorite cuisines?

Peruvian, Spanish, Balkan

Favorite restaurant in the world?

I would have to say that that one of my favorite restaurants is Antica Pesa in Rome, Italy. Not just any ordinary Italian restaurant. This is Roman Cuisine.

Favorite hotel in the world?

That’s a hard one since I’ve stayed at dozens. I would have to say some of the best hotels I’ve stayed in were all in South Africa. One notable over-the-top hotel would the Tintswalo Atlantic in Houts Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.

Your favorite travel movie?’

VICE travel docs and 180 Degrees South. Oh and the ones we make, of course!

Favorite international airport?

MAD (Madrid Barajas)

City with the friendliest people?

We always have a good experience in the Balkans. They’ll take you anywhere, and feed you. Never a dull moment.

Your favorite traveling companion?

Man, I gotta say David Hoffmann! 6am you’ll have a knock on your door and sure enough, it’s David.

Best way you kill time while traveling?

Being outside. Even when there’s downtime, I’m definitely not the type to watch TV. I think the last time a TV was on in my hotel room was when we were making our way to Pamplona, Spain in 2010, and we heard the news of a British student who was gored. I was filming David running with the bulls just a day prior.

What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?

That would have to be someplace like Meknes, Morocco. Watching the sunset shine through the city dust in that place was incredible. Vall de Nuria in Spain bordering the Pyrenees mountains was also very notable.

Your best bit of travel advice for someone who is about to embark on a life of travel photography or cinematography?

Limit the amount of bags you take. Last thing you need is for your bags to become a burden. Stay compact, and never lose sight of your camera gear.

What are 4 things you could never travel without?

  1. My Camera
  2. Moleskine
  3. Sunglasses
  4. Cash

What’s something exciting, scary or funny that’s happened to you while traveling?

There’s been plenty of funny and scary stories. The last one was in Peru. A friend of mine got food poisoning in the Sacred Valley 2 days before visiting Machu Picchu and we were all hoping he would pull through so as to not ruin his Machu Picchu visit. Let’s just say that between his fevers and the elevation, he was in really bad shape but insisted on climbing Machu Picchu Mountain the morning of our visit to the ruins. I met him at the line before everyone was let in to hike up the nearly hour and a half hike to the top and there he was, sweating profusely with two empty bottles of water in his hands.

He drank all his water before even starting the hike. We tried our best to stick with him, but at one point he told us to go ahead that he was going to turn back, which honestly was crazy in itself because he looked like he was going to pass out.  Some friendly tourist stopped by and gave my friend a compressed can of air, and at that point I just watched him go back down the stairs. The rest of us continued onward, relaxed and took photos at the top, and then began making our way down because the mountain was closing. Who do we see? Michael. The same guy that said he was going to turn back.  He finally made it just in time for them to close the mountain and have to walk all the way back down again!  I dont know how that guy made it, but he did. Incredible.

What is your ultimate dream destination?

I’m pretty hooked on getting to Namibia and renting a 4×4 to drive all over the country. That and Mongolia.

Your favorite travel quote?

Not exactly a travel quote but here is my favorite quote: “Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”. I think that goes to say that if you see an opportunity, go for it. Keep an open mind.

Where to next?

In about 2 weeks I go on to Montezuma and Santa Teresa in Costa Rica for Chromahouse and davidsbeenhere.com

Bio

Carlos de Varona is a Filmmaker and founder of Chromahouse a full-service video production company based out of Miami, Florida. Follow Carlos on Instagram at @varonachroma @chromahouse.

Leave a Reply