My favorite city in the world is Bogotá, Colombia and I have a hard time explaining to people why; it’s big, it’s dirty, the traffic and infrastructure are abysmal – how can I think that Bogotá is so great? This city feels authentic in a way that others just don’t. No strip malls or vegan cafes (or even vegetables really) people are polite and respectful and when I stay out of the touristy sections I feel anonymous walking among the crowds of Colombians living their normal lives. And when you are living a normal life around here you get a little sentimental to the dirt, grime, the familiar old man selling stuff on your street corner each day, the occasional unkempt gentleman urinating across the street from your building entrance. You develop a sense of community and togetherness with the anonymous people you walk by each morning on the way to start your day and then again in the afternoon when returning home. Part of this camaraderie comes about from walking so much. I walk most places unless I am meeting a friend who lives in a different district of town in which case I take an Uber to where […]
Read More
As a travel hipster, Medellin is a place I’ve never been interested in visiting. It’s probably the most popular white person and ex-pat destination in Colombia owing to convenience, temperate climate, great infrastructure, lush flora and legendary, beautiful women. Without a doubt Medellín is the prettier, daintier little sister to the hulking, dirty mass of my-favorite-Colombian-city, Bogotá. So while I have been able to avoid it for sometime it was too easy to spend two days there on my way back from Santa Marta en route to Bogotá. In preparation, had so many reasons to be unimpressed. The best way I can describe Medellin is “Colombian Disneyland”. If you walk into a café in Poblando, aka Gringo Central, it’s not unlikely to find everyone there is an American. The city has been the beneficiary of a lot of post-Escobar foreign and local investment (Bogotá is a little sore that the money set aside to build its subway went instead to Medellin’s metro and Bogotá got stuck with the much-detested TransMilenio instead) and from where I have been in Colombia thus far it’s the most cush. Back when I was in Barth-a-lona I lamented the city’s infatuation with its own Antoni […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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.
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More
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 […]
Read More