Barhopping In The Grenadines

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn St. Vincent and the Grenadines, nearly every beach has a broken-down little shack on it selling cheap rum, beer, and cocktails. A single sparsely-covered shelf on the back wall displays a few bottles. There’s usually one customer, a friend of the proprietor, perched on a barstool planted in the sand. They talk for a couple of hours in Creole until lunch, when the palm trees behind the shack no longer provide shade. The owner ducks under his counter, closes up the plywood shutter doors, and the two of them take off. A couple of hours later, the bar reopens and another friend visits until it shuts down for the night—just when a tourist like me might be looking for a drink. Continue reading “Barhopping In The Grenadines”

A Week In Tangier

Note: A slightly different version of this piece was first published on the travel site Journey Beyond Travel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our first afternoon in the Tangier medina, a soft-spoken, bespectacled old man invited my wife and me to step inside his carpet shop to “have a look.” When we showed interest in a small piece, he suddenly vanished, to be replaced by The Closer—the younger and rabidly aggressive owner of the store. After being served mint tea and then cajoled, manipulated, pressured, and begged for far too long, we finally stumbled out, exhausted. Undeterred, we continued our walk, dodging one shopkeeper after another, each shouting: “English? Espanol? Just have a look!” Continue reading “A Week In Tangier”

My 12 Favorite Experiences Of 2017

In the last thirteen months, I had the opportunity to spend more time traveling than in the previous thirteen years. Four months abroad! Three continents and seven countries! Travel by foot, boat, car, train, bus, airplane, and animal!

So as 2018 begins, it’s time for me to reflect on my favorite experiences of the last year. In no particular order, here they are: Continue reading “My 12 Favorite Experiences Of 2017”

The Most Terrifying Potato In The World

The most fear-inducing potato in the world, or at least in the Andes, is called cj’achun wakachi in Qetchua, which literally means “the daughter-in-law cries.” Traditionally if a boy wants to marry a girl, his mother will hand his intended one of these demonic, knobby potatoes as a test of her skill in the kitchen. She must peel the entire potato in a single, unbroken pass, or she will not be permitted to marry him. This is still done in some homes, and girls practice peeling for months. And you thought your mother-in-law was mean. Continue reading “The Most Terrifying Potato In The World”

Tales From An Andean Taxi Driver

The best storytellers weave just enough truth into their tales that it’s impossible to figure out where the truth ends and the fiction starts. Usually this is deliberate because it makes for a better story. But sometimes, you wonder if they even know where the line is. Continue reading “Tales From An Andean Taxi Driver”

Fifty Ways To Kill A Cuy

Every Andean village has its own opinion regarding the best method for killing a cuy. Some people twist its head. Some pull its head. Some, like our host Eucevio, prefer to give it a karate chop to the back of the head. After all, you don’t want the entrée to look mangled when you’re serving guests. Continue reading “Fifty Ways To Kill A Cuy”

The Lost City of the Incas

There are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu: By foot, on the famously grueling Inca Trail; or by buses that shuttle up and down from the town of Aguas Calientes (well, a few people hike up from the town). And the only way to get to Aguas Calientes is by train, which is how we went. I’m sure there is enormous satisfaction in completing the multi-day hike but the train was well worth it. Huge dome windows provided spectacular views of the wild Urubamba River alongside the tracks, and the high Andean peaks beyond. Anyway, we had our own grueling hike planned for later in the day.
Continue reading “The Lost City of the Incas”