New Mexico

I’ve been in New Mexico for the last several weeks. Though I’ve visited many times I’ve never really gotten to do much traveling, which is a shame because the state has a number of very beautiful natural sites.

A few days ago I got a chance to visit Bosque Del Apache, located around 2 hours from Albuquerque. It’s a wildlife refuge in the Albuquerque Basin near the Rio Grande River that’s home to over 337 species of birds including cranes and even bald eagles.

I keep forgetting how much I love the wildlife nature thing. The Galapagos and my trip through the Argentinian estuary really super charged my inner naturalist, but even those moments are in part forgotten, their electricity faded by time and distance.

There was a moment at the Bosque where thousands of birds spread out above me filling the blue skies. I got a pic of it, but it hardly captured the exhilaration of that much life flooding the space above me. They came out of nowhere and then were gone.

It’s moments like that that connect all my other experience. It’s hard to be there and not feel my memories being revitalized, colored, given movement and life once more. And that’s a great reason to go after other such opportunities, ones that I’m realizing are closer at hand. After all I’ve never explored the parks of Texas.


At sunset we reached the viewing platform with all the other birders where the cranes typically all land at the end if the day. This was supposed to be the main show but nothing really happened that day. But it was more than ok, I had my moment, unplanned though it was. And ultimately that’s part of the addiction – the unexpected thrills often are the most exciting.

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Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Happy New Years and 2013 Roundup

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. Since my last post I’ve finished my stay in Argentina and have been back in the States for an extended visit.

Unfortunately I’ve also gotten horribly sick and had to bury one of my oldest and closest friends.

Still, 2013 has been a very successful year for me. I have :
-Been published in a number of high-end magazines like National Geographic Traveller, GQ, Esquire, and CNN
-Developed a working relationship with Travel Plus, The Dallas Morning News, and National Geographic Traveller
-Successfully navigated my way through several press trips
-Had a few magazines and tourism operators approach me
-Started to work with social media in order to advertise my articles
-Successfully worked with iPhone photography
-”Slow traveled” through South America, living in Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina
-Traveled to the Galapagos, Quito, Baños de Agua Santa, Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena, the Caribbean coast of Colombia (including Tayrona National Park, Tolu, the Rosario Islands), Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Corrientes, Misiones, and Iguazu Falls.
-Swam with giant sea tortoises, hiked up mountains, played polo, went for my first real wine tastings, olive oil tastings, and saw tango
-Started slowly reaching out to other writers/editors and met two in person
-Started the process of reaching out to new publication regions (South Africa and the Middle East)
-Used 750words.com to help form a habit of daily writing to help me bust past writers block
-Successfully completed National Novel Writing Month by writing over 50,000 words – the first draft of a travel novel

I accomplished a lot in 2013. Moreover I feel like I really got a handle on all of it this year – writing, talking to tourism boards/operators/PR people, pitching, etc. There’s a whole lot more to learn but I feel much more confident going into the new year.

My friend who passed away had so much potential – he had so much raw talent in so many fields, but he didn’t have the time to see it all blossom. I made a promise to him that I would lead two lives – one for myself and one for him. Life is too short to be held back by inner insecurities and excuses, and god knows I’ve made enough of them in the past.

Dan was infamous for his devil-may-care attitude, and it’s time for me to adopt some of his spirit.

Happy New Year, Dan. It’s time to show them all what we’re made of.

Posted in progress Tagged , |

Trip to Mendoza

I’ve never really understood wine. I never really had the palate for it, probably because I never got to taste many varieties, but on this trip to Mendoza, Argentina’s (and arguably all of South America’s) premier wine producing region I’ve gotten that chance.

I’m on day 5 of 6 and I’ve been to 4 wineries and tasted what feels like several dozen wines, from Argentinian Malbecs and Torrontes to Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignons.

A number of the people I’ve met here have this immense passion for wine, and far from being the snooty connoisseurs I imagined, they have a more down-to-earth approach. Rather than knowing the fine points first and then drinking they advocate appreciating now – your knowledge will develop as you do so.

One of the things that has always drawn me to travel is its ability to open doors and change minds and in this, at the very least, it has done again for me in Mendoza.

And the natural beauty of the area doesn’t hurt either.

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Posted in On the Job, Travel Tagged , , |

Back from Northern Argentina

 

I know, I know, I’ve been horrible at updating lately!

Just returned back to Buenos Aires (oh yeah, I moved here about a month ago from Colombia – more on that later) from a trip along the Parana River in Northern Argentina.

The trip included stops in Corrientes, the Ibera Wetlands, ruins of the Jesuit missions in Posadas, a visit to the impressive Iguazu Falls, and a trip into the Yucatinga Jungle Reserve.

It was a trip I did not expect to go on, to places I would not have ever really been interested in if I had casually glanced at descriptions on paper, but I found it very fun, and very interesting, as the region was very different from Buenos Aires.

I actually ended up taking a lot of pics with my phone, and am seriously considering looking into attachable lenses, something I would’ve thought was ridiculous a year ago. I find the phone much more convenient, and somehow easier to take people pics than a full DSLR.

Here are some pics of the Ibera Wetlands, one of my favorite spots in the journey! It involved a lot of boating in wetlands, capybara sitings, and birdwatching, something I didn’t think I would like, but turned out to be quite interesting.

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750 Words

750words is an incredibly simple website based on morning sheets, something I’ve talked about before as a technique to break through writer’s block.

The site works as the gamification of morning sheets – every day you write 750 words, and you can share your results, and you get badges for various streaks. You can also join a monthly challenge to write 750 words every day for the month.

I have found this to be really useful – it’s similar to NaNoWriMo only on a daily level – write what you can to get past perfectionism – it’s generally easier to edit than to sit there, blank page staring at you, expecting perfection from the beginning.

Posted in software, Writing Psychology Tagged , , |

New Publications – GQ, DMN, and Travel Plus

Published in GQ (Indian ed) for a city guide to Seoul – I’m really pumped to have been published here, and hopefully I can work with them again.

I also just been published by:

The Dallas Morning News and Travel Plus (China). Both are absolutely great because it’s my second time working with them, and I have commissions from both of them for a third time.  They are both great to work with, and I enjoy the feeling of having go-to publications for work.

I’ve been really lax keeping up with this blog, but it’s mostly because a lot of things have been happening  – which is always a good thing. More to come soon!

Posted in Published Tagged , , , |

Tayrona National Park

I’m back in Medellin, but here are a few pics of the last part of my trip. Tayrona National Park was probably the highlight of the entire journey. The terrain was incredibly interesting – jungle and mountains that stretched right up to the ocean and hikes where we’d just stumble upon the most picturesque beaches. We’d walk, hit a beach, walk some more in the jungle, and hit another beach, again and again.

This was side trail from the main camping grounds – I had to scrabble under and over boulders (losing my sunglasses in the process) to get to this small outcropping looking over the ocean.

And this was the main beach. Nearby was a a restaurant (which served amazing food for a place that seemed pretty undeveloped), a tent city, bathrooms and shower facilities, and huts where you could rent hammocks for the night.

Because of the wind from the ocean, we didn’t need any nets for mosquitoes. And although the hammocks were hung less than a foot a part, they were quite comfortable for me – though some people got hit occasionally when someone switched positions during the night.

Me with our park guide, Eduardo, who had been coming here for decades and had seen how both tourism and drug trafficking (the area was great for growing marijuana and coca) had affected the area over the years. On a random side note, he was a Hare Krishna who played bhajans on his phone and hummed them while hiking through the wilderness. He had worked in the states where he had converted and had finally come back to Colombia .

Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Tolu & Taganga

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Arrived in Tolu a few days ago. It’s a really quiet beach town with a small boardwalk and not much else. We celebrated one of the girls in our group’s birthday, went to a beach, visited an incredibly kitschy (and sad) aquarium and zoo and had some great Colombian seafood (fried whole fish and seafood sancocho with pepper).

We also had one of the roughest speed boat rides back – more than an hour of just getting completely doused in salt water. My camera surprisingly made it out alive but others were not so lucky. We also had a great time getting chauffeured through town by a bicycle rickshaw “limousine” (it sat all 9 of us) in the rain while the two young cyclists blared WB40.

All in all Tolu was a peek into the local tourist industry – it reminded me of the Calicut beach in Kerala, innumerable small attractions in China, and Route 66 roadside attractions in the US.

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After an 8 or 9 hour bus and taxi drive we finally got to Taganga, a fishing village outside of Santa Marta that is known for its beach, cheap scuba diving courses, and its proximity to Tayrona National Park.

It has also become a backpacker haven – it felt like I was walking into Chiang Mai for the first time what with all the gringos, hippy pants, and dreadlocked Europeans and Americans.

Tomorrow we’ll be hiking in the national park which promises to be uncomfortable. I haven’t decided whether I’ll lug my camera equipment – the hike itself shouldn’t be that bad but the heat is apparently what really gets to people.

Posted in Travel Tagged , , , , |

Bogota & Cartagena

I’m attempting to get with the times and go mobile so here are a few smartphone pics from Bogota and Cartagena from the road (I’m also posting from my iPhone)!

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Posted in On the Job, Travel Tagged |

Coastal Colombian Trip

On Saturday morning I’ll be leaving for 12 days on a trip to coastal Colombia. I think many people (including myself) forget that Colombia has a Caribbean side, as well as two coasts – Atlantic and Pacific. Unfortunately on this trip I won’t be able to see the Pacific Coast, but I’m still pretty happy. I think the last time I went to a real beach was in 2008, so I’m pretty excited to get some lazy beach time.

I’ll also get to see Bogatá, Cartagena, visit an island, and two national parks. Pictures to come!

Posted in Travel Tagged , , |