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DANIEL
// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red) and where I plan to go (white). But like all great plans, mine is open to the whims of the universe. The photos below are really just a few highlights from my journey (to see all the photos I've taken visit my flickr). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.


. KEY PROPOSED DESTINATION DAY TRIP SHORT STAY (STAYED LESS THAN 5 DAYS) MEDIUM STAY (STAYED 5 TO 30 DAYS) LONG STAY (STAYED MORE THAN 30 DAYS)

HIGHLIGHTS
EXPLORING THE GHOST TOWN OF REAL DE CATORCE MEXICO   |   MARCH 2016
REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Skyline. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Street. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Church. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Hillside. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Stone Worker. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Horse. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Public Transportation. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Street. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Street. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Street. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The mile-and-a-half tunnel through the mountainside is only wide enough for one lane, so the direction of traffic has to be alternated every half hour or so. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Ruins. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
A door. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
A street. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
A hill. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The center of town, now home to a few restaraunts, a scattering of inns, and craftspeople selling crafts. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The cathedral. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
Indigenous girls selling indigenous art. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
A horse on the hillside. THE HOUSE REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The room I rented. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The house courtyard. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
The Kitchen. REAL DE CATORCE | MEXICO<br/>
To keep warm. The former mining town of Real De Catorce in the state of San Luis Potosi sits at 9000 feet (2743 meters) above sea level in the Sierras de Catorce, one of the highest mountain plateaus in Mexico. Silver was discovered here in 1772 and the town grew rich, eventually home to more than 15,000 people. Silver prices collasped by 1900, however, and because the town was so high, so isolated, and can only be reached by 17 mile cobblestone lane leading to a mile-and-a-half long tunnel through the mountainside, it was eventually all but abandonded. Today only a handful of families remain, less than a thousand souls in total, and after more than a century of abandonment, much of the town has fallen into beautiful ruin, slowly succuming to slings and arrows of entropy and mother nature.

And yet the march of time continues and with it comes change. The town is being rediscovered though in truth the Huichol shamans have been coming here for generations, to commune with their gods through the power of the peyote cactus that grows here in what has always for them been a holy mountain. International visitors, attracted by the spiritual energies that might rest here, have now started to make their own pilgrimages and the town is slowly being reborn. I stayed a few days in a local home, an ancient home, and spent my time exploring the worn streets, knowing all too well that in a few years, it's hard to say how many, this mystical place will be consumed by consumerism, the only magic to be found when that happens will be at the Starbucks or Holiday Inns that will surely come. For the march of time never abates. So it goes.
A WEEK IN LA HUASTECA POTOSINA MEXICO   |   MARCH 2016
HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
The Tamul Waterfalls. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
The canoe journey. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Girl at edge of river. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Canoe. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Waiting canoes. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Fighting upriver. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
River valley. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
The Tamul Waterfalls. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Waterfalls at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Los Micos Waterfalls. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Los Micos Waterfalls. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Bird at river's edge. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Children playing in river. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Mountain scene. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Caves of Mantezulel. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Caves of Mantezulel. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Surealist Gardens at Las Pozas. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Girl in Jungle. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Shrine in Jungle. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
Bridge in Jungle. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
My house in Xilitla. HUASTECA POTOSINA | MEXICO<br/>
The jungle town of Xilitla where I stayed. From the arid mountains of northern San Luis Potosi I've traveled to the south of the state, to the wet and humid, but no less magical, subtropical rainforests of the region known as La Huasteca, named for the Huasteca peoples that once controlled these realms. I spent a week here, having rented a car, exploring the never ending array of tropical waterfalls, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. This is an enchanting world, one that defied all expections I had of Mexico. What more suprises may lay ahead, I do not know.
A MONTH IN ZACATECAS MEXICO   |   FEBRUARY 2016
ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Sunset over the city. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Skyline of the colonial center with view of the Teleferico. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A city of alleys. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Alley leading to main plaza. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Another (apparently very romantic) alley. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Local musicians ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Old men in the town of Jerez. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Central Cathedral on a snowy mountain day. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Franciscan Monastery in the neighoring town of Guadalupe. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A Cathedral. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Another Cathedral. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A mountain top church. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A fountain in one of the city's many plazas. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Indigenous woman selling crafts. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
View of the colonial center. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Monument to Miners deep in the El Eden Mine. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A musuem of rocks deep in the El Eden Mine,<br/>one of the wealthiest mines in the history of the world. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Deep in the El Eden mine is a dance club, perhaps the only such dance club in the world. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
The Spanish Aqueduct, built in Roman style. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A view of the Aqueduct from atop the mountain. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
A Meso-American pyramid at La Quemada. ZACATECAS | MEXICO<br/>
Yours truly. Behind me is the mountain-top fortress city of La Quemada,<br/>already in ruins by the time the Spanish arrived. I arrived in Zacatecas by way of direct flight from Los Angeles. My original plan was to stay only five days, but something about the fresh mountain air, the lovingly preserved colonial architecture, the pleasant streets, the many tranquil plazas (and the fact I originally couldn't find the bus station out of town) prompted me to stay more than a month. During that time I visited a few other towns in the state of Zacatecas, Jerez de Garcia Salinas and Guadalupe, as well as the ancient ruins at La Quemada. I also had the opporunity to visit one of the mines that had made the city (and the Spanish Empire) so rich. It was a great stay in Zacatecas, one of the highlights of my travels, but as so often is the case, I eventually had to continue on.
ISLAND HOPPING IN THE CARIBBEAN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC · PUERTO RICO   |   OCTOBER 2015
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BAYAHIBE | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Me. Enjoying lunch by the sea. BAYAHIBE | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Sun setting over the Caribbean. BAYAHIBE | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Views of Bayahibe. Part fishing village. Part paradise. BAYAHIBE | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Views of Bayahibe. Part fishing village. Part paradise. BAYAHIBE | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Views of Bayahibe. Part fishing village. Part paradise. SAN JOSE DE OCOA | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
The mountains of San Jose de Ocoa. DUNAS DE BANI | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Sand dunes in the south of the island. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, construction begun 1512 and completed 1535.<br/>
This is the oldest European cathedral in the New World. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Rearview of the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
The Fortaleza Ozama, built 1502. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Plaza in the colonial heart of Santo Domingo. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
View of Santo Domingo and the sea. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
Street scene in the colonial district. SANTO DOMINGO | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC<br/>
The National Pantheon. Serves as the resting place for some of the most important figures in the country's history. PUERTO RICO ARECIBO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Puerto Rican Pride. ARECIBO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Why not? CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Entranceway into the 'Cave of the Indian'. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The cave is a bit tricky to find, but the views are amazing. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Beach extending beyond the rocks. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Climnbing through the caves one can hear the water of the waves crashing further in. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Taino Indian Rock Carvings known as petroglyphs. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The pools swell and fill with each coming wave, almost as if breathing. CUEVA DEL INDIO | PUERTO RICO<br/>
View of the cave interior with light coming through the portal. BOQUERON | PUERTO RICO<br/>
A picturesque Puerto Rican Village. BOQUERON | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Clear waters. BOQUERON | PUERTO RICO<br/>
A fishing village, but it has attracted a great number of retirees over the years. BOQUERON | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Taking a little kyak trip. BOQUERON | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Taking a little kyak trip. TANAMA RIVER | PUERTO RICO<br/>
TANAMA RIVER | PUERTO RICO<br/>
TANAMA RIVER | PUERTO RICO<br/>
SAN GERMAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Founded 1573, San German is a beautiful but very typical Puerto Rican town. SAN GERMAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Architecture in San German. WILDLIFE | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The invasive Iguana. WILDLIFE | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The noble hermit crab. WILDLIFE | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The stoic Pelican. It's time to say goodbye to South America. I arrived in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from Rio. Punta Cana, a new up and coming resort town, turned out to be something of a let down. It was poorly planned, reminiscent of suburban sprawl in the US, which meant it was dangerously anti-pedestrian, unattractive, and much of the beach had been privatized, making even a stroll along the sea impossible. I wasn't sure what to expect from the rest of the country, but it turned out everywhere else I visited in the DR was wonderful. In fact my next stop, Bayahibe, was paradise, a tiny fishing village, lovingly maintained, where every night the center of town became a social meeting point for music and gossip. Quite a few expats had retired here and I could see why. Cafes looked over clear waters. There were places to walk and sit and enjoy the day. There was never a rush. My next stop was Santo Domingo, the oldest of the European settlements in the New World, founded in 1496 by the brother of Christopher Colombus. The city was a little worn around the edges but not without its occasional charms. While there I had the opportunity to venture further into the island, taking a day trip to the dunes in the south of the island and another trip into the mountains of San Jose De Ocoa.

From the DR I took an overnight ferry to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico turned out to be a truly magical island, despite my constant frustration of being trapped in San Juan. My driver's license had expired while traveling and Puerto Rico has taken an unfortunate que from the mainland US and developed as a car dominated island. There were no cross-island buses here like in the DR. I found a few shared taxis (gua guas) that would travel between towns but they ran on confusing schedules from unmarked stops and were prohibitively expensive. Had I not made some wonderful friends who took me around the island, I'd have never made it out of San Juan. But I did make friends and so I was able to spend a weekend in the tiny village of Boqueron (another Caribbean expat haven). I explored the Cueva del Indio, an ocean side cave carved with the petroglyphs of the ancient Taino people who once called the island home. I hiked up a river to a beautiful series of waterfalls near Arecibo. I walked the plazas and boardwalks of Ponce, the island's second largest city. I explored the old town of San German and followed the miles of beaches of Pinones. I was sad to leave, but the adventure ever continues.
SPENDING A MONTH IN SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO   |   NOVEMBER 2015
EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The Castillo San Felipe del Morro in all it's glory. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
El Morro is a Spanish fortress built in 1587 and fended off such attackers as Sir Francis Drake in 1595. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery at El Morro. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
El Morro's final battle was fought in 1898, when it was attacked three times by the US during the Spanish-American War. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Today El Morro is a National Park. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Seawalk at the base of El Morro. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
The Supermoon, setting over San Juan. EL MORRO | SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Night scene at the El Morro Fortress. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
View of Old San Juan and El Morro. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Skyline of Old San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Condando Beach, near my apartment. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Ocean walk in Condando, the modern side of San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
An alley in Old San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
A narrow street and church in Old San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Romance is alive and well in the Caribbean. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Stately buildings in Old San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Pedestrian streets in Old San Juan. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
Puerto Rico's capital building. SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
SAN JUAN | PUERTO RICO<br/>
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to make the comparison, but San Juan is a little like the Boston of the Caribbean. Replace the red-brick British Colonial streets with brightly colored Spanish ones, but otherwise both have their meandering alleys, the occasional little park (or in San Juan's case plaza), there are the many cafes and great many students attending various universities. Boston is more aristocratic, a holdover from old England I imagine, while San Juan is as relaxed as they come. But I felt a bit of familiarity here, hearkening back to my days as an ungrad in Boston, fresh off the farm, exploring the big city wide-eyed, touching everything, wondering if things could really be that old. So I rented an apartment in San Juan and stayed a month.

Puerto Rico, it should be said, is one of the world's last colonies. The island is subject to US Federal Law but has no representation in how those laws are made. This ambiguity of status has played out disastrously during recent economic troubles, where Puerto can take neither the avenues afforded a free country nor those afforded a US state to resolve its dilemma. Instead the island is simply crushed by impossible debt which has forced many Puerto Ricans (who are US citizens) to migrate to the mainland. Now more than a third of the island's entire population lives in the US mainland and more continue to move every day.

Even so, the island has reasons to have hope for the future. It's a special place. And San Juan in particular is a special city, with a colonial district spanning an entire peninsula, all preserved architecture and charm. There are beaches at every turn (and I should note that a law dating back to 1886 prevents the privatization of beaches in Puerto Rico, something that annoyed me greatly in the Dominican Republic). There's a modern metro system (which I do wish served the whole island). There's great food. Salsa parties in the streets. Art galleries. And the sun. There's a lot of sun here. Like a lot.
SPENDING A MONTH IN RIO DE JANEIRO BRAZIL   |   AUGUST 2015
RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Skyline of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Skyline looking towards the sea. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
The Christ Redeemer Statue, one of the city's many landmarks. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
The Pao de Azucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Cable car ride to the top of the Pao de Azucar (As seen in James Bond's Moonraker). RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
The Escadaria Selaron (Selaron Steps). Originally begun as an art project by a single artist<br/>
it has now encompassed the entire hillside with tiles donated from all over the world. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
View of the tiles that make up the Escadaria Selaron. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
The Metropolitan Theater in the heart of the city. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Monunments near the center of the city. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded in 1565, Rio is one of the oldest European cities in South America. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Old Colonial Streets. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Old Colonial Streets. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
The Metropolitan Cathedral, inspired by Mayan Temples. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
A Very Modern Skyline. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
World Famouns Beaches of Rio. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
World Famouns Beaches of Rio. RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
World Famouns Beaches of Rio. Road weary after having backpacked for several weeks from Brazil's capital of Brasilia to Belo Horizante and through the colonial towns of Minas Gerais, I did what I often do when I'm tired and travel weary, I found a nice place and I said 'hey, why don't I stay here a month?' This way I can unpack my bags and put my clothes in actual dressers. I can discover a favorite cafe to write at in the mornings. I can try to make some friends and learn a bit of local culture. Rio seemed as good a place as any. As a coastal city founded in 1565 and sandwiched between a series of tropical mountains, there are few metropolises in the world with a more beautiful setting. So my days were spent walking along the various beaches, from Ipanema to Copacabana, visiting a few of the old colonial sites and hip trendy neighborhoods, and generally enjoying the world and my place in it.
EXPLORING THE COLONIAL TOWNS OF BRAZIL BRAZIL   |   JULY 2015
OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 OURO PRETO | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>.
Founded 1698 SAO JOAO DEL REI | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1699 SAO JOAO DEL REI | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1699 MARIANA | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1696 MARIANA | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1696 TIRADENTES | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1702 TIRADENTES | MINAS GERAIS | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1702 PARATY | RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1597 PARATY | RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1597 PARATY | RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1597 PARATY | RIO DE JANEIRO | BRAZIL<br/>
Founded 1597 Of Brazil's 26 states, perhaps few hold as many colonial architectural gems as Minas Gerais, a state of storied history, made rich by the mining of hills once filled to the brim with gold, precious stones, and diamonds, and later finding itself at the heart of several rebellions against the Portuguese Crown. I spent my days here rather lazily journeying from town to town, staying a few nights here and a few nights there, sometimes traveling by bus, sometimes by old-styled train, with the country side just sort of rolling by each time. My favorites towns by far were Ouro Preto (founded 1698), Mariana (1696), Sao Joao Del Ri (1699), Tiradentes (1702), and Paraty (1597), which set against the Atlantic Ocean in the neighboring state of Rio De Janeiro marked the end of the Estrada Royal (Royal Road) that connected the mining towns of Minas Gerais to the sea and Europe beyond.
CRISSCROSSING THE ANDES ARGENTINA · CHILE · BOLIVIA · PERU · ECUADOR · COLOMBIA   |   JANUARY · FEBRUARY · MARCH 2015
HUARAZ / PERU<br/>
Huascaran National Park. HUARAZ / PERU<br/>
Huascaran National Park. ANDES MOUNTAINS<br/>
Somewhere between Argentina and Chile. ANDES MOUNTAINS<br/>
Somewhere between Argentina and Chile. CHACHAPOYAS / PERU TARAPOTO / PERU VILCABAMBA / ECUADOR IPIALES / COLOMBIA<br/>
The Santucary of Las Lajas. BANOS / ECUADOR<br/>
Banos, nestled in the mountains. The Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, running some 4350 miles (7000km). I followed them for somewhere around 3700 miles (5900 km), starting in Bariloche, Argentina and finishing in Cali, Colombia. I crisscrossed from one side to the other more times than I can count, finding myself at times facing the Pacific ocean and other times the interior or South America. The diversity of the mountains, from the temperate mountain woodlands of Chile and Argentina, to the desert highlands of Bolivia, to the Incan fortresses of Peru, and onward to the jungle valleys of Ecuador and Colombia was truly one of the most spiritual and awe-inspiring moments of my journey so far. I spent time living with indigenous families who opened up their homes to me in Ecuador. In Peru I stayed at a mountaineering base camp turned alternative hostel perched at 11500 feet (3500m) above sea level, where for the first few days, given the altitude, even the fifty foot walk to the outhouse was enough to exhaust me. And I rode on the most fear-inducing buses imaginable, looping back and forth on barely paved roads lining the sides of ferocious, fog covered mountains where every rider is given a plastic bag as they board, for that moment when they will invariably hurl. But I wouldn't trade the experience in for anything in the world.
TRAVELING THE AMAZON RIVER BY CARGO SHIP PERU · ECUADOR · COLOMBIA · BRAZIL   |   MAY · JUNE · JULY 2015
RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
The first of the cargo ships I took, from Ecuador to Peru. The journey took five days through<br/>
very remote parts of the jungle. Including the hundred miles I went over two days by canoes<br/>
to get the cargo ship, I traveled the Rio Napo for a total 440 miles (708km). RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Of the 70 or so villagers packed aboard the tiny cargo ship, there were only seven of us 'gringos'.<br/>
We became a small band of good friends, passing our days together on the roof of the ship. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
The Rio Napo is itself a tributary of the Amazon River. Occasionally, though we traveled down tributaries<br/>
of the Rio Napo, to stop at tiny villages in parts of the jungle I would never have even known existed. RIO HUALLAGA | PERU<br/>
Sunset over the Rio Huallaga on my second boat excursion, this time from Yurimaguas to Iquitos.<br/>
This boat was larger, made less stops, and even had private cabins for those willing to pay. RIO MARANON | PERU<br/><br/>
The Rio Huallaga flows into the Rio Maranon. Together I journeyed down these two rivers for four days<br/>
for a total around around 420 miles (675km). RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Village woman on Rio Napo with child. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
The hammock situation on the Rio Napo. At the onset of the journey, things weren't so bad<br/>
but by the end of the trip hammocks were stacked nearly three high and many villagers had to<br/>
sleep on the floor under them. I decided to just sleep on the roof under the stars. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
French Girl on the Rio Napo. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Mealtime. Meals were always the same. Boiled Banana with Boiled Rice. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Passing time with the other gringos on the rooftop of the cargo ship. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Village kid with flower somewhere deep in the Amazon. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
Village children deep in the Amazon. Our arrival, one of the few connections these villages<br/>
have with the outside world (even if it is just with the city of Iquitos) often brought out the whole village. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
A girl watches the livestock on our mini-Ark down the Rio Napo. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
A village deep in the Amazon. RIO NAPO | PERU<br/>
A village deep in the Amazon. RIO MARANON | PERU<br/>
Isrealitas, a religious group in the Amazon who believe God has revoked the holy status of Israel and<br/>
instead has declared the Amazon as the new Holy Land and the Amazonians as the new chosen people. When the<br/>
world is destroyed, only the Amazon will remain. They also believe Jesus visited the Incas centuries ago <br/>
and his teachings are as of yet still buried somewhere in ancient Incan ruins, awaiting discovery. RIO MARANON | PERU<br/>
A village along the more developed corridor connecting Yurimaguas to Iquitos. THE AMAZON RIVER | PERU<br/>
A rainbow over the Amazon River. THE AMAZON RIVER | PERU<br/>
The mighty Amazon River. Including her tributaries I ended up traveling from Coca (Ecuador) to Iquitos (Peru) to<br/>
Leticia (Colombia) to Manaus (Brazil) down this amazing river. Though I didn't make it all the way to the ocean<br/>
(a part of me wanted to try but after weeks of living on river boats, I fullfilled that part of my wanderlust)<br/>
Even so I ended up traveling 2200 miles (3500km) of rivers, including 1280 miles down the Amazon herself. No small feat. This was it. This was the highlight of the highlights. It had never been my intention to make this river journey. But when I was in Ecuador and heard a rumor among the travel crowds, sort of one of those travel myths you're not sure if you can believe because it always comes second hand, that there was a boat that traveled five days down a river through an isolated part of the Amazon, connecting Ecuador to Peru, and that this boat only departed once every twenty days. Well I had to know more. So I traveled to Coca, Ecuador, which is the furthest into the northern Amazonian jungles one can travel by road, no easy journey itself. In Coca I discovered the rumor was true, but I'd have to go further to find my magical boat. So I took a series of motorized canoes over two days further into the jungles. Some of these canoes were leaking. Others times we asked for rides from barefooted villagers on their way to find bananas deep in the jungle.

Finally, after a few misadventures, including arriving at the wrong river, I reached Pantoja, the border town where I was told I could find the cargo ship. Fortune did smile upon me. Some other gringos had been waiting two weeks in this isolated little village where there was literally nothing to do and no where to go. I somewhat fortuitously arrived the morning before the cargo ship departed. No waiting required. This ship quickly filled up over the next few days, it stopped in every village, buying bananas to sell in the markets of Iquitos, buying cows and pigs and chickens and turtles to sell as well, until we were something of a mini-Ark. We picked up villagers with their own goods to sell in that faraway market, until the tiny space set aside for passengers was a web of hammocks three tall and with little space to breath. Meals were served from the cargo hold, where the food was the same every day, boiled rice with a boiled banana. I finally did arrive in Iquitos, that great Peruvian city, the largest in the world with no road connections to the outside world. But my river journeys would not end there.

By the time I left the Amazon, I had traveled some 2200 miles (3500km) of Amazon Rivers, including the Rio Napo, the Rio Huallaga, the Rio Maranon, and of course the Amazon River herself. Over several weeks I'd traveled from Ecuador to Peru to Colombia to Brazil entirely by boat, some large enough to hold semi-trucks, some even larger with decks large enough to be turned into soccer fields (which being South America, they were), but it will always be that first one, so small and rickety and packed with crying babies and unlucky livestock, that I will remember the most. So it goes.
STAYING AT AN AMAZON RAINFOREST LODGE PERU   |   MAY 2015
THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
The lodge. You can't tell, but the lodge is actually sitting on a hillside with a staircase leading<br/>
up to the entrance. But like everywhere else in the Amazon, this part of the jungle was flooded. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
The lodge. Despite being built on a hillside and being constructed on stilts on top of that, the backhalf<br/>
of the lodge was flooded and unusable. Fortunately the front half sat just barely above the water level. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
The lodge. A perfect place to enjoy the tranquility of the jungle. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Me on a canoe, exploring the Amazon Jungle. All my dreams have all come true. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Sun setting on canoe expedition in the Amazon Jungle. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>Our guide, Raul. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>Our guide, Raul. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>Our guide, Raul. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Amazon Wildlife / The Sloth. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Amazon Wildlife / The Monkey. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Amazon Wildlife / The Caiman. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Amazon Wildlife / The Frog. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
A Piranah before. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
A Piranah after. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Our canoe expedition, early morning, bird watching. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Our canoe expedition. We are actually in the jungle here (not on the river)<br/>
but it's so flooded we go by canoe. THE AMAZON JUNGLE | PERU<br/>
Swimming with River Dolphins (and hopefully not Piranah). NOPE. DEFINTELY NOT. Iquitos, that great Amazonian city, the largest in the world with no roads to the greater world, has quickly become a bastion of tourism, from Ayahuasca ceremonies with local shamans (some of whom quite literally hire female models to walk around town with tight shirts that say "Ayahuasca? Ask me!") to jungle tours deep in the Amazon jungle. It was the tours, and specifically a lodge, that I was interested in. I found one, an affordable lodge located down a tributary of the Amazon River a few hours upriver from Iquitos. It was basic but rustic, simple but mesmerizing. My week there turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my entire trip. Our guide, Raul, a native of the jungle, spent the week with the five of us, each morning taking us by canoe to spot exotic birds. During the day we watched Iguanas sunbathing in treetops, monkeys at play, and sloths... well... being sloths. In the evenings we fished for Piranha. At night we spotted caiman alligators staring creepily at us with eyes like orbs of crystal. And one day, we even went swimming with pink river dolphins.

There was a sobering element to our stay as well. The Amazon is fed by melting snows from the Andes, but what was once a rare life time event, the flooding of the entire Amazon basin, had been occurring seven out of the last ten years now. First considered a fluke, many villagers have had to accept that rising temperatures are here to stay (and Peru had it's hottest summer on record while I was there). Our guide showed us his own flooded village, but it was only one of dozens I had already seen. Emergency relief camps were set up in the hills. In his own village he said of 350 people that once lived there, only 70 still considered the village home and they would not be able to hold out forever. As it was, our tours had to be conducted entirely by canoe. There simply was no dry land for us to see.
THE ISLA DE LOS MONOS PERU   |   MAY 2015
ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU<br/>
Monkey says ride costs 3 Bananas each. ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU<br/>
All they want are hugs. Is this place even real? ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU ISLA DE LOS MONOS | PERU<br/>
King Kong's Little Nephew. The Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island) is an island reserve for rescued monkeys. I saw the problem even before arriving in Peru. On the cargo ship I took down the river from Ecuador there were villagers who had caught young monkeys in the jungle and were now taking them to the markets in Iquitos to sell them. They looked like little children, trapped in a box with a small window cut out, terrified, confused, and wishing desperately for the mothers they had been taken from. When we asked how much the villagers hope the monkey would fetch at the market, they told us $8. I couldn't believe they'd be so cheap but they weren't far off. Later in the markets I saw monkeys for sale for $12, and slothes for $20. And that was before bargaining. A few of the unlucky ones were being chopped up and sold as meat in the back alleys of the market, which is rightly illegal in Peru but seemingly not well enforced. Fortunately the reserve is there to take in rescued monkeys, rehabilitate them, and then let them live on the island. Once released, most go deep into the island and live out their days away from humankind, but a few make their homes near the lodge, enjoying the occasional attention from visitors like myself. From the moment we arrived by canoe (like everywhere else in the Amazon, the island was flooded) monkeys boarded our tiny boat like pirates of the high seas, giving hugs and welcomes... and only occasionally opening our bags looking for booty... and granola bars.
EXPLORING PERUVIAN RUINS PERU   |   APRIL 2015
HUACA DEL ARCO IRIS HUACA DEL ARCO IRIS | PERU<br/>
Temple of the Rainbow (also known as Temple of the Dragon)<br/>
Built by the Chimu People. HUACA DEL ARCO IRIS | PERU<br/>
Temple of the Rainbow. Close up of the Rainbow relief.<br/>
Built by the Chimu People. CHAN CHAN CHAN CHAN | PERU<br/>
Largest pre-European city in South America and former capital of the Chimu Civilization. CHAN CHAN | PERU<br/>
Chan Chan is also one of the largest adobe built cities in the world. CHAN CHAN | PERU<br/>
Unfortunately the city is being eroded away by increasingly severe weather. CHAN CHAN | PERU<br/>Restoration work at Chan Chan. CHAN CHAN | PERU<br/>Restoration work at Chan Chan. HUACA DE LA LUNA HUACA DE LA LUNA | PERU<br/>
Temple of the Moon. Several centuries older than Chan Chan.<br/>
Built by the Mochi Peoples. HUACA DE LA LUNA | PERU<br/>
Generation after generation the Mochi people systematically filled in levels of the temple with bricks<br/>
in order to build new temple levels above. The reasons for this are not entirely clear and preservationists<br/>
are now carefully removing the bricks and finding wall motifs like these buried for centuries. HUACA DE LA LUNA | PERU<br/>
Locals posing as Mochi peoples. HUACA DE LA LUNA | PERU<br/>
An outer wall mural. Recently unburied from the sands that had engulfed the temple <br/>
(and protected it for centuries from looters). PACHACAMAC PACHACAMAC | PERU<br/>
A religious site of 17 temples. Used by Huari peoples from 800AD to 1450AD.
<br/>My Sister with our host family. PACHACAMAC | PERU<br/>
A religious site of 17 temples.<br/>Used by Huari peoples from 800AD to 1450AD. KUELAP KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU
<br/>The trail leading to the mountaintop city. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU<br/>
Built by the Chachapoyas Peoples around 700AD. KKUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU<br/>
A city home restored to original condition. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU<br/>
View of home foundations inside the city. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU<br/>
Fortress Wall. The city was not inside the fortress, but on top of it. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU
<br/>A view looking out from atop the ancient city. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU
<br/>My sister navigating the narrow entranceway into the city. KUELAP | CHACHAPOYAS | PERU
<br/>A view looking out from atop the ancient city (as well as yours truly). My sister is an anthropologist and decided to join me for three weeks in Peru, a country filled with some of the great archaeological gems of the world. The most well known is surly Machu Picchu but there are hundreds of others, some no less impressive. So on our Indiana Jones sojourn (including a visit to Chachapoyas which serves as the opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark) we visited the Huaca Del Arco Iris (Shrine of the Rainbow) built by the Chimu peoples before they were conquered by the Incas in the 1400's. The Chimu also built another place we visited, the ancient city of Chan Chan, which was the largest pre-European city in South America and one of the largest adobe cities in the world. The city was constructed around 850AD and served as the capital of the Chimu civilization until their defeat. Nearby, and predating the Chimu by several centuries, where the Mochi who built the Huaca Del La Luna (Temple of the Moon), one of the largest temples in South America and for a long time buried under so much sand as to be entirely undiscovered (and therefore amazingly free of Conquistador looting). Closer to Lima we visited Pachacamac, a religious site of 17 religious temples used by the Huari peoples around the 800's AD.

But by far the most impressive ruins we explored, however, were those of the ancient fortress city of Kuelap, high in the jungle mountains, difficult to reach, discovered quite by accident in the 1840's, not fully surveyed until the 1990's, and only recently placed on the tourist radar (as such we had the ruins pretty much to ourselves). It's believed that Kuelap was occupied by the Chacapoyas peoples between the 700's and 1500's, when it was abandoned for unknown reasons. The city sits on a mountain plateau at 9800 feet (3000m) above sea level, and in total is about 2000 feet (600m) long and 360 feet (110m) wide. To this day it's one of the most impressive archaeological sites I've ever been too.
SEVEN DAYS IN BOLIVIA BOLIVIA   |   DECEMBER 2014
RURAL BOLIVIA<br/>
One word. Otherworldly. RURAL BOLIVIA<br/>
A man waits at a bus stop in the highlands. POTOSI | BOLIVIA<br/>
Women in traditional Bolivian clothing. SUCRE | BOLIVIA<br/>
The old colonial capital city of Sucre. SUCRE | BOLIVIA<br/>
Narrow street in Sucre. POTOSI | BOLIVIA<br/>
At 13420 feet (4090m) above sea level, Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world. POTOSI | BOLIVIA<br/>
A view of Cerro Rico in Potosi. Sometimes called the 'MOUNTAIN THAT EATS MEN' as historians<br/>
believe as many as 8 million people, most of them forced indigenous workers or African slaves,<br/>
have died in the mines here since the Spanish first started digging them in the 1500s.<br/>
These mines have produced more wealth than any mine in the history of the world. RURAL | BOLIVIA<br/>
The shared-car I took from the Argentina Border to the center of the country. I was crammed with a family of five. <br/>
When someone had to pee, we stopped along side the road. When someone was hungry, we stopped in villages to buy snacks. <br/>
It was quite the journey. Only broke down once I'm happy to report. RURAL | BOLIVIA<br/>
A view into another world. After traveling through Chile I crossed the Andes mountains and entered Bolivia, at the Villazon border crossing with Argentina. It was here, in crossing that bridge between the two countries, that I realized what I previously thought had been chaos (Argentina) was in fact a perfectly engineered German car compared to what I would find on the other side. But I don't say that to be critical. It's ironic that the country that I planned the least amount of time in would turn out to be one of the one's I treasure the most. I had timely commitments in Peru, so I had only seven days to experience Bolivia, a nation that was equal parts mystery and beauty. Set in the mountains, with ancient mining cities like Potosi sitting at 13,500 feet (4090m) above sea level (that's a good 2 and half miles in the sky, folks) and an indigenous culture that had managed to maintain dominance in the face of outside capitalist influence, this was one of the most unique places I've ever visited. And one of the ones I truly wish I had had more time. So it goes.
EXPLORING CHILE CHILE   |   NOVEMBER 2014
BAHIA INGLESA | CHILE<br/>
Unspoiled Beaches. BAHIA INGLESA | CHILE<br/>
Sun setting over the beach. PUCON | CHILE BAHIA INGLESA | CHILE PUCON | CHILE<br/>
Volcanoe and lake. Here there are black sand beaches made from volcanic rock. VALPARAISO | CHILE<br/>
The hillside port city was founded in 1536 and played an important geopolitical role in the 1800s. VALPARAISO | CHILE<br/>
The opening of the Panama Canal dealt a heavy economic blow to Valparaiso, but recently it has seen<br/>
a Renaissance as a world renowned center of arts and culture. SANTIAGO | CHILE<br/>
The Fine Arts Museum. SANTIAGO | CHILE<br/>
Historic Districts are well preserved in Santiago. SANTIAGO | CHILE<br/>
The tallest skyscraper in South America SANTIAGO | CHILE<br/>
Skyline of Chile's capital set against the Andes Mountains. I crossed into southern Chile and worked my way north by bus. By the time I left South America I had traveled around 11000 miles (17800km) by land. I had made my way from Chile to Colombia entirely by buses and then from Ecuador to Brazil entirely by boat. That's more overnight buses than I care to think about, but it was worth it to really see an entire continent. And in that journey, Chile was one of the most diverse and beautiful places I visited. Long and slender, the country is rather easy to explore. And with so much to offer, from the mountains of the Andes to the coasts of the Pacific, from deserts in the north and temperate forests in the south and great colonial cities in between, it has a lot to offer the adventurous soul. My time was limited but before I left Chile I visited the unspoiled beaches of Bahia Inglesa, the volcanoes and woodlands of Pucon, the hilly and colorful streets of Valparaiso, the up-and-coming metropolis of Santiago, and of course the desert... but more on that below.
BIKING THROUGH THE ATACAMA DESERT CHILE   |   NOVEMBER 2014
ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA | CHILE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA | CHILE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA | CHILE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA | CHILE SALT LAGOONS | ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE SALT FIELDS | ATACAMA DESERT | CHILE There are spiritual places and then there are spiritual places. The Atacama Desert, so dry and arid that it's been used to test hypothetical conditions on Mars, is one of those truly spiritual places. While in the charming little town of San Pedro de Atacama, I rented a bike and road out to the salt lagoons I had heard about. The ride was ethereal. The world there was so quiet that simply standing still I could hear my own heart. The sky was so large as to almost be unreal. The occasional breeze was a kiss. The salt lagoons, which I did finally reach, were like a vision in a dream, so surreal. I like to think that some small piece of my spirit is still there, soaking up the sun and enjoying the kisses of the desert winds.
HIKING THROUGH PATAGONIA ARGENTINA   |   NOVEMBER 2014
BARILOCHE | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA NAHUEL HUAPI NATIONAL PARK | ARGENTINA After a longer than expected stay in Buenos Aires, I make my way across the width of Argentina, to the mountainous border with Chile and find myself in northern Patagonia, a magical realm of unspoiled nature, quaint mountain towns, and fresh air. I rent a room in Bariloche, the resort mountain town with its noticeably Alpine inspired architecture. They say a great many Nazi officers fled here to hide out the last years of their lives and escape judgement. I spend my days here hiking along the lakes, hoofing it through amazing national parks, and reaching the peaks of mountains with views I'll never forget. I'll let the photos do all the talking.
STAYING AT A LA PAMPA HORSE RANCH ARGENTINA   |   NOVEMBER 2014
LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA<br/>
All the Pretty Horses. LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA<br/>
The tiny cottage I stayed. LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA<br/>
The Family Farmhouse. LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA<br/>
The Family Farmhouse. LA PAMPA | ARGENTINA<br/>
The Family Farmhouse. AIRBNB is a wonderful website that allows local families to rent rooms (or even entire houses) out to tourist by the day or week or month. I've used it often. But sometimes you find those truly amazing places on there, like Francisco's horse farm in the plains of La Pampa, the windswept interior of Argentina. What I thought would just be a stopover on my bus journey to Chile and the rest of my trip, turned out to be one of the most magical stays I've ever had. Each night Francisco and his mother invited me for dinner in their lovely farm house. Each evening I joined the walk to corral the horses into their back fields as the sun set over a South American horizon. I've had few more peaceful and more tranquil moments in my life, where time passes more slowly, where concerns can be left aside for a moment, and where life simply 'is'.
A ROAD TRIP ACROSS URUGUAY URUGUAY   |   OCTOBER 2014
SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY SOMEWHERE | URUGUAY CABO POLONIO CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY<br/>
View of the lighthouse. CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY<br/>
View of the simple town homes. CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY<br/>
Locals hanging out at the edge of town. CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY<br/>
The beach goes for miles. CABO POLONIO | URUGUAY<br/>
A Town set in a National Park. A Town without Roads. A Town without Electricty. A Town without Concerns. COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO | URUGUAY<br/>
If you can only see one colonial New World city before you die. This is it. COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO | URUGUAY COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO | URUGUAY<br/>
Though you can't tell in these photos, the town is surrounded by water on three sides.<br/>
Nearly every street ends at the sea. COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO | URUGUAY COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO | URUGUAY VALIZAS VALIZAS | URUGUAY VALIZAS | URUGUAY VALIZAS | URUGUAY<br/>
The tiny beach cabin we rented in Valizas. VALIZAS | URUGUAY LA PALOMA LA PALOMA LIGHTHOUSE | URUGUAY LA PALOMA LIGHTHOUSE | URUGUAY PUNTA DEL DIABLO PUNTA DEL DIABLO | URUGUAY<br/>
Part fishing village, part hippie outpost. PUNTA DEL DIABLO | URUGUAY PUNTA DEL DIABLO | URUGUAY<br/>
The Cabin we rented in Punta Del Diablo. PUNTA DEL DIABLO | URUGUAY<br/>
Punta Del Diablo translates to basically DEVIL'S POINT. PUNTA DEL DIABLO | URUGUAY FORTALEZA DE SANTA TERESA FORTALEZA SANTA TEREZA | URUGUAY<br/>
Built 1762 by the Portuguese. FORTALEZA SANTA TEREZA | URUGUAY FORTALEZA SANTA TEREZA | URUGUAY FORTALEZA SANTA TEREZA | URUGUAY MONTEVIDEO MONTEVIDEO | URUGUAY<br/>
Uruguay's capital and one of my favorite cities in South America. MONTEVIDEO | URUGUAY MONTEVIDEO | URUGUAY<br/>
Cute and tranquil streets with the occasional wine bar. MONTEVIDEO | URUGUAY<br/>
Romance alive and well in Uruguay's capital. While living in Buenos Aires, I took a small sojourn to Uruguay, were again, trapped by the allure of expat life, I ended up staying two months, making wonderful friends, attending a few Spanish classes, and spending my days walking along the ocean walks and having coffee at the cafes. With some trepidation I did decide to rent a car for a small road trip. I'd never driven in a foreign country before, but Uruguay seemed particularly low key. Two friends from Buenos Aires joined me, and together we explored the coast, hopping from village to village, the world becoming quieter and simpler the further from Montevideo we found ourselves. We stayed at a small beach cabin in Valizas, then another in Punta Del Diablo. We made it all the way to the Brazilian border in fact. The countryside of Uruguay fascinated me, the animals (and especially the trees) all seemed to have come from a Dr. Suez book. The tiny fishing villages we visited were just that, tiny fishing villages, but also home to the occasional artists or retired expat hiding out from the larger world. And then there was Cabo Polonia, a tiny town tucked at the end of a national park, bereft of electricity and running water (or even streets) but somehow feeling both desirable and wealthy in quality of life. And Colonia, influenced for centuries in equal parts by the Portuguese and the Spanish, well there are few towns more beautiful in the world than that one.
STUDYING SPANISH IN BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA   |   DECEMBER 2013 — OCTOBER 2014
BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
Mafalda, an Argentine icon, sitting in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
A plaza in the trendy, cafe-filled neighborhood of Palermo. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
Tango in Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
Tango in Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
Tango in Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
The grand center of Buenos Aires, often called the Paris of South America.<br/>
The famed Obelisk is visible at the end of the boulevard. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
A Candadian Dancer on the rooftops of Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
A Candadian Dancer on the rooftops of Buenos Aires. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
PRESIDENTIAL PALACA. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA UENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA<br/>
Argentina National Congress. BUENOS AIRES | ARGENTINA Beautiful Door in Buenos Aires. Beautiful Door in Buenos Aires. Beautiful Door in Buenos Aires. Beautiful Door in Buenos Aires. Beautiful Door in Buenos Aires. So enamored with Buenos Aires did I become, that I ended up living there without even realizing it. I rented an apartment for 8 months, but always by extending one month at a time, always telling myself I could continue on my journey after just four more weeks in this amazing metropolis of wonder and occasional romantic decay. The people were so full of life, I made so many great friends. Buenos Aires is the type of city where there truly is tango in the plazas. Where there are cafes (cafes plural) at nearly every intersection and the old men with fedora hats to fill them. I found myself at my favorite cafes nearly every day, to work on my novel, to go through my photos, or to simple enjoy the outdoor breeze in a city blessed with architectural grandness. So to Buenos Aires I can only say 'Che! Vos sos mi flaquita!'
EXPLORING ARGENTINA ARGENTINA  |   2014
CORDOBA | ARGENTINA<br/>
The Central Plaza of Cordoba. Founded 1573. CORDOBA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Central Cathedral. CORDOBA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Interior of Cathedral. CAPILLA DEL MONTE, CORDOBA PROVINCE CAPILLA DEL MONTE | ARGENTINA<br/>
The town sits at the foot of Cerro Uritorco, which some New Age adherents believe is a focal point<br/>
for Earth's spiritual energies. Crystals and rocks collected on the mountainside are said to possess<br/>
healing properties and meditation on the hillside, they say, can lead to astral projection. CAPILLA DEL MONTE | ARGENTINA<br/>
It's an otherwise, tiny, forgotten, dusty little down in the dry sierra mountains. CAPILLA DEL MONTE | ARGENTINA<br/>
Well perhaps that's not entirely true. Not to be outdone by the New Age Hippies, others strongly<br/>
believe that the town is regularly visited by UFOs, with many sightings and even abduction stories. CAPILLA DEL MONTE | ARGENTINA<br/>
Call it the Roswell of Argentina, a small UFO tourist industry has sprung up here. CERRO ARCO, MENDOZA PROVINCE CERRO ARCO | MENDOZA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Hiking Cerro Arco, the mountain above Mendoza City. CERRO ARCO | MENDOZA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Hiking Cerro Arco, the mountain above Mendoza City. CERRO ARCO | MENDOZA | ARGENTINA CERRO ARCO | MENDOZA | ARGENTINA<br/> TIGRE, BUENOS AIRES PROVINCE TIGRE | ARGENTINA<br/>
The 'Venice' of Argentina. The town is bisected by dozens of waterways. TIGRE | ARGENTINA<br/>
Boats are the only way to get to many parts of the town. TIGRE | ARGENTINA<br/>
Hiking through one of the many islands. The town actually sets in the Rive Delta<br/>
That seperates Argentina and Uruguay. TIGRE | ARGENTINA<br/>
Some parts are more treacherous than others. SALTA, SALTA PROVINCE SALTA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Located in the dry northern parts of Argentina, the city was founded in 1582. SALTA | ARGENTINA<br/>
Colonial Center of the City. Argentina was the first truly foreign land I visited (sorry Canada) and for that it will always be special. I arrived in a land whose language I did not speak, in a culture I knew nothing about, and with very little in the way of plans. Those first days were both inspiring in the way one's belly fills with expectation and excitement at all the possibilities, wondering 'Is this truly real?', but at the same time there was the terror of confronting a million unknowns. By the end of my months long stay, however, I had come to know Argentina so very well, from the university city of Cordoba, to the mountainous gem of Mendoza, to the German speaking enclave of Villa General Belgrano, to the tiny mountainside town of Capilla Del Monte, which if one believes the tales, is rather often visited by UFOs. I took boats through Tigre, the 'Venice of South America'. I had parrillas and asados (traditional barbecues) in tiny gaucho (cowboy) towns. It was a memorable time. My only regret was I couldn't stay more.
A TRAIN TRIP THROUGH FRENCH CANADA CANADA   |   NOVEMBER 2013
AMTRAK | USA TO CANADA AMTRAK | USA TO CANADA AMTRAK | USA TO CANADA QUEBEC CITY | QUEBEC | CANADA<br/>
Founded 1608. One of the oldest cities in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico. MONTREAL | QUEBEC | CANADA<br/>
Founded 1642. Canada's second largest city and also second largest French-Speaking city in the world. JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA<br/>
French speaking Squirrel. JACQUES CARTIER NATIONAL PARK | QUEBEC | CANADA<br/>
Maple taps collecting Maple Syrup. November 1st, 2013. The start of my trip. I've worked my last day at work. Lived my last day in my apartment. Strangely the day begins as any other. I wake up. I head to the subway station. I take the C train just as I normally do most mornings. But instead of switching to the E train to get to my office in Midtown, I get off at Penn Station and board an Amtrak train bound for French Canada. Such a little thing. Taking one train instead of another. But now my life in irrecoverably changed. So it goes.
THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES   |   5887 MILES
My rental car.<br/>A 30 day one-way rental cost me $1300 with insurance. CRUIS'N USA. CRUIS'N USA. CRUIS'N USA. NEW YORK NEW YORK | NEW YORK<br/>
Though technically I began in my home state of Indiana where I rented the car,<br/>I consider the true starting point of my roadtrip to be New York. NEW YORK | NEW YORK<br/>Manhattan at sun set. NEW YORK | NEW YORK<br/>My old neighborhood of Bushwick in Brooklyn. NEW YORK | NEW YORK<br/>I was fortunate to have been able to assist in a rooftop Fashion Shoot during my stop here. NEW YORK | NEW YORK<br/>Times Square. DELAWARE DOVER | DELAWARE<br/>
Founded in 1683, Dover is a quintessential East Coast colonial town. DOVER | DELAWARE<br/>
Today Dover is the capital of Delaware. DOVER | DELAWARE<br/>
Well preserved homes in Dover. DOVER | DELAWARE<br/>
The town was originally founded by Quakers. WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC<br/>
Washington DC was founded in 1791 to serve as the nation's capital.<br/>At the time it was halfway between between the Northern States and the Southern States. WASHINGTON DC<br/>Statue of President Abraham Lincoln who in 1863 declared the emancipation of slaves in the South. WASHINGTON DC<br/>Interestingly, as DC does not reside in any state, and the states form the national government<br/>Residents of DC have no representatives in the national government. KENTUCKY PADUCAH | KENTUCKY<br/>Originally a Chickasaw trade center, Paducah was laid out by William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. PADUCAH | KENTUCKY<br/>Because of it's quilting culture (including a Quilt Museum and a national Quilt Show) the UN has designated<br/>Paducah an honorary City of Crafts and Folk Art. LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES | KENTUCKY<br/>
Bison (generally called Buffalo in the US) once roamed from Canada to Mexico,<br/>But today they live primarily on state or national reserves such as this one. LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES | KENTUCKY<br/>A Buffalo squares off against some Elk. LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES | KENTUCKY<br/>A lone American Buffalo. TENNESSEE SMOKEY MOUNTAINS | TENNESSEE SOMEWHERE | TENNESSEE MISSISSIPPI OXFORD | MISSISSIPPI SMALL TOWN | MISSISSIPPI LOUISIANA NATCHITOCHES | LOUISIANA<br/>
Settled in 1714 by the French and named for the Natchitoches Native-Americans. NATCHITOCHES | LOUISIANA<br/>Mardi Gras is celebrated across Louisiana, not just in New Orleans. TEXAS SAN ANTONIO | TEXAS<br/>THE ALAMAO | Built in 1744, the Alamo was a Catholic Mission originally built to educate and convert Native-Americans by the Spanish.<br/>
By the 1800s the Province of Texas (then part of Mexico) rebelled and the Alamo was used as a fort culminating in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836<br/>
The 200 Texan defenders were defeated by Mexican General Santa Anna's force of 1800<br/>But the battle and the Alamo itself became a rallying cry for Texan Independence. SAN ANTONIO | TEXAS<br/>The River Walk, a completely pedestrian set of canal streets a level below the streets of Downtown. SAN ANTONIO | TEXAS<br/>A Plaza in Downtown. SAN ANTONIO | TEXAS<br/>The city was founded in 1714 by the Spanish. SAN ANTONIO | TEXAS<br/>The River Walk extends for several miles through downtown. AUSTIN | TEXAS<br/>State Capital of Texas. AUSTIN | TEXAS<br/>Also famed for its live music culture. NEW MEXICO WHITE SANDS | NEW MEXICO WHITE SANDS | NEW MEXICO SHIPROCK | NEW MEXICO<br/>Part of the Navajo Nation. The mountains is significant in Navajo culture, myth, and religion. SHIPROCK | NEW MEXICO<br/>Another monadnock (isolated mountain) near Shiprock. SANTA FE | NEW MEXICO<br/>Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is the oldest US Capital City, the oldest city in New Mexico, and home to the oldest church in the US. SANTA FE | NEW MEXICO<br/>Santa Fe's architecture reflects the Pueblo architecture of the local Native-Americans, some of whom still live in Pueblos. SANTA FE | NEW MEXICO<br/>The train station with regular service to Albuequrque. SANTA FE | NEW MEXICO<br/>Statue of Native American women. SANTA FE | NEW MEXICO<br/>Native America warrior versus an Eagle. ROSWELL | NEW MEXICO<br/>I Want to Believe. ROSWELL | NEW MEXICO<br/>Roswell would otherwise be a dusty rural town,<br/>If not for the 1947 Incident that many conspiracy theorist believe was a crashed UFO. ROSWELL | NEW MEXICO<br/>A weather balloon crashed on a ranch outside of town in 1947.<br/>Because of its shiny metallic nature, some believed it was a UFO. ROSWELL | NEW MEXICO<br/>Roswell has been called 'the world's most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim.' ROSWELL | NEW MEXICO<br/>At least the aliens are bilingual. ARIZONA GRAND CANYON | ARIZONA GRAND CANYON | ARIZONA GRAND CANYON | ARIZONA GRAND CANYON | ARIZONA GRAND CANYON | ARIZONA SCOTTSDALE | ARIZONA MONUMENT VALLEY | ARIZONA NAVAJO NATION | ARIZONA NAVAJO NATION | ARIZONA NAVAJO NATION | ARIZONA CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA | The Truth is Out There. SAN DIEGO | CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO | CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO | CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO | CALIFORNIA Long a life dream I finally set out from New York to California, from coast to coast, ocean to ocean, sea to shining sea. My trip took 26 days and covered 5887 miles (9474km) through 17 states, several Native American nations (including the Navajo Nation which is larger than the state of West Virginia), and the District of Colombia. Needless to say, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I left from Brooklyn, went South to visit a few charming Southern towns, complete with gun shops, mega churches, and fried food, before driving the width of Texas (which is larger than France), and finally ended up in the near spiritual realms of the West. I can honestly say, 26 days was not enough but one bullet point on my bucket list has been checked.
STARTING EVERYTHING UNITED STATES   |   NOVEMBER 2013


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