Bogotá has been a blessing but also a quagmire of comfort — I’ve done a poor job of exploring the rest of Colombia as I have been happy (too happy?) living a normal life in the capital city; that’s a lazy way to live in a country so geographically diverse and beautiful as Colombia. So while Bogotá is my favorite city in the world (Seoul wants another shot at the title), I needed more research diligence before I can claim Colombia as my favorite country. I was afforded the perfect opportunity when I was forced to depart my AirBnb on account of a five day pre-existing reservation. I took the opportunity to vacation up to the Caribbean coast to Santa Marta for four days to check out Tayrona National Park and the surrounding beaches. Santa Marta is the birth place of my favorite Colombian musician, Carlos Vives — and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit part of the reason I decided on Santa Marta was because of his music video, La Tierra del Olvido (click to watch) which features lots of scenes from Tayrona and the beaches surrounding Santa Marta. The video does a great job of showcasing the cultural […]
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One year ago, while I was in Lima Peru, I ventured to a shaman in the Peruvian Amazon to drink ayahuasca. I gave a talk in Bogota, Colombia two weeks ago on my experience — what happened. I thought it was important to articulate the details and I recorded my story. If you are interested in hearing it you can listen to that story here.
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My friend Travis works for Remote Year – the company that first facilitated my escape from office life two years ago; he invited me to a weekend retreat in Quito, Ecuador with the purpose of getting “One Layer Deeper” with other creative, curious and inspired people currently travelling with Remote Year. The theme of the weekend was to gather people together and go beyond standard operating norms to cut through that top level boundary which we all usually put up around strangers. Each of us hosted knowledge sessions where we shared experiences, expertise and perspectives to this end. Topics included “Is there free will?”, separate one-on-one, hard-ball interrogations of one another, yoga, goal and action calibrations, a series of improvisational social games  and a high-intensity breathing exercise course (which was way more challenging than I thought it would be). While I spent a couple of weeks in Quito last year, this time around it was a completely different experience centered around creating social connections, knowledge and experience sharing. We stayed in a giant mansion built by a former professional Ecuadorian basketball player (also our Airbnb host) replete with a basketball court, a fire pit to host late-night theoretical discussions and a giant parilla […]
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I had originally planned to stay in Quito for 5 weeks to decompress and re-orient focus that had been dispersed to more social and adventurous enterprises, back into creative endeavors. I figured such a small, nondescript location that I had chosen via a map instead of more organic recommendation would afford ample space and few distractions. Half-way into my stay into Bogota last month though I cut my Quito time short in order to remain longer in Colombia. Once I arrived into Ecuador, though, I was glad I did. On paper, Quito is a mid-size city of around 2 million people; but a view from above makes it seem much larger. I found Quito to be a comfortable place to live — even relaxed. There are large parks full of people enjoying the ample sunshine and ideal temperatures. Quito is at altitude so that even though it’s on the equator the temperatures hover around 22 degrees C (72) in July. There’s a mix of sunshine and clouds and it doesn’t seem to rain much. I stayed in an AirBnb in the financial district of the city convenient to a myriad of restaurants, a large super market and within walking distance of a few gyms. Perfecto. Beyond this it afforded a perfect […]
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I entered Colombia for the first time the same way I have many other destinations – no expectations. I thought it would be a little dirty and rugged owing to rumors that white people told me. These of course just made it more attractive in my mind (and of course less in theirs). Bogota blew my mind. It has supplanted Seoul, South Korea as my favorite place to live over the past fourteen months. Colombia has a vibrant, friendly, beautiful and diverse culture that is energizing and contagious. I’ve lived less like a tourist these past two months in Bogota than in other places — finding an easy groove between my working, gym worship, Bikram yoga, exploring local and historical attractions and partying amid the myriad of diverse nightlife venues. How much have I enjoyed my time in Bogota? Enough to stay an additional month than I planned — supplanting 4 weeks in Quito and a non-refundable AirBnB reservation. Why Bogota is overlooked as an international destination is beyond me. Some people will no doubt find its perpetually partly-cloudy, mid 60s temperatures off-putting but for me it’s an ideal climate. As one AirBnb host told me, “it’s like the AC is always on in Bogota”. The city’s location within […]
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I stayed in Lima, Peru for the month of May and limited my side trips to a single weekend adventure to the Peruvian Amazon. The last time I was in Peru was about five years ago to white water raft and hike the Inca Trail; it was nice to not have the obligatory visit to Machu Picchu hardlined onto my monthly itinerary. Instead I opted for a weekend getaway outside of Taropoto – my destination being a Shaman that was a plane, car, boat and hike away secluded in the Amazon. I spent a weekend preparing for and taking Ayahuasca a traditional, psychoactive, entheogenic brew that the Peruvians have used ritually for thousands of years. As a native Coloradan who doesn’t even smoke pot, drugs have never appealed to me. You might be skeptical when I tell you that ayahuasca is not a drug — it’s medicine. Perhaps the distinction is semantic to hear but to me it creates an important distinction between what the experience entails and what drugs entail. People take drugs to feel better — people take ayahuasca to become better; at least that’s my personal experience. I became better. Ayahuasca is the closest thing to magic I have […]
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I visited Santiago, Chile for the first time twelve years ago as the gateway to my first South American adventure. American Airlines was running a promotion that gave a free international round-trip ticket anywhere in the world that the airline flew in exchange for buying a round-trip ticket to Florida and California. I did a weekend trip with my roommate Nick to Fort Lauderdale and then I must have visited my sister in California (because she’s the only person I knew in California at the time). When redeeming, I chose the destination that American flew furthest away from Boston, Massachusetts where I was living which turned out to be Santiago. I spent a few days exploring Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and the Cajon del Maipo — of which Santiago I found the least interesting; I didn’t see much personality in it. I continued elsewhere throughout Chile and Argentina having decided there was nothing I need come back for in Santiago. I did return though and this time around, though it was just for 11 days, it felt like a lot longer. Nothing much has changed including my rather offensive opinion that Santiago doesn’t have much going for it from a travelling gringo perspective. It’s […]
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Bolivia is one of those places that had succeeded in escaping my conceptualization. As such I wanted to visit. Back in December on a cold night in Seoul Korea, I was flipping channels on TV and came across a Korean television program featuring Bolivia. The hosts of the show demonstrated the diverse geography spanning the entire country as well as ethnicity, history (modern and ancient, even pre-Inca) and cultures. They visited deserts, lakes, mountains; the showcased diversity blew my mind and immediately I made mental preparations to visit once I was in South America. It was a great decision. Bolivia is the rugged, authentic and low-touristed South American destination adventurists crave. There is no shortage of adventures in the Bolivian Amazon jungle, national forests, salt flats, deserts, mountains. History intellectuals will love learning of historic roots and stories. To me Bolivia has come to represent a Northern variation Patagonia. The city that I spent 13 days in, La Paz, is co-captial of the country and houses the executive and legislative branches of the government. It is also 4,000 meters above sea level (more than doubling Denver, Colorado’s brag of “The Mile High City”) — this is the Two Mile High City or at least […]
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Montevideo was a nice come down from the paradise of Buenos Aires and Palermo. Less glamorous, a little dodgy (I witnessed a knife fight and a purse snatching on the same day) but with a funky-cool vibe and interesting neighborhoods all the same. There’s a hipster-friendly mix of graffiti and desolation among the buildings comprising Old Town — the neighborhood looks like the set of Omega Man — a post-apocalyptic wasteland featuring trees growing from the sides of buildings that seem like a few decades back they were rather nice. A handsomely-masoned  building for the Bank of Uruguay sits across the street from an abandoned parking lot (?) lined with street art. There’s even a beautiful church with a single side of exposed brick beneath a snowy white paint that has the effect of a decaying underbelly. The neighborhood dogs are photogenic. But Monte has a more modern and charming side as well and a shore called the Rambla that locals stroll down or alongside in the sand. After Southeast Asia the beaches aren’t so grand – but in opposition to the knifey dark side of Old Town they are no less appealing. Even further North, up the coast of Uruguay from […]
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Ahh Mendoza. Malbec, steak, olive oil and endless, rolling hills of scenic views of the Andes. I wouldn’t know — I spend 5 days in Mendoza city which is, let me tell you, not nearly as cool as the surrounding countryside, villas, estancias or wineries. Such is the price I choose to pay while working during my travelling (instead of travelling to be on vacation). That being said I still had a really fun, adventurous time looking at stuff. My typical modus operandi when landing in a new place involves “hey I wonder what thing on the map is. I better go look at it.” I’ll get side tracked four or five times, probably lost and hungry. Eventually I’ll get to the destination either to be underwhelmed or excited about something else to venture to. I also end up discovering and solving a lot of micro mysteries. I think of them as micro mysteries because they are insignificant and only really mysteries to someone such as myself who has no idea what is going on or why something is happening. Para exemplo : “Why is there a line 100 people long outside of this store that looks sort of like a tiny […]
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