I can’t believe it’s already June 2016. I’m in the Rocky Mountains amidst thigh-high purple lupine and rustling aspen leaves. It definitely feels like summer. However, back in the middle of February, when I first returned to the United States, it was a culture shock to fly from Nairobi, Kenya to Boise, Idaho. Contrasts were everywhere: hot to cold, chaotic to calm, equator to mountains, black to white, foreign to familiar. I had come back to the U.S. to ski, regroup, and decide what to do next. (more…)
It’s hard to believe that two months ago in February I was watching a cheetah yawn in Kenya. Since then I’ve been back in North America in the throes of cold weather and ski season and Kenya seems very far away. But writing this post almost makes me feel the equatorial sun on my shoulders again. (more…)
The garish t-shirts were everywhere. They sported an amateurish “Bike for Dad” logo in both Thai and English on a weak yellow shirt highlighted with uncomplimentary deep sky blue sleeves. Men and women, young and old, wore the identical tees. It was a river of sickly yellow flowing on the streets, the elevated trains, and the ferries. Vendors sold them on every block from impromptu tables or storefront racks. It wasn’t exactly the look I expected to see in Bangkok. What sports team or charity could possibly generate this much support? (more…)
“Take off your clothes,” said the woman who’d escorted me into the small room. She waited as I disrobed, then pointed to an arched door. “That way.”
She followed me into a low-ceilinged, steamy chamber with a large, knee-high slab of granite in the middle. “Lay down on your back,” she instructed. I eased myself onto the table and closed my eyes. They flew open when she doused me with a bucket of warm water. I closed them again for the second bucket and waited for the third, but instead, I felt her soapy hands washing my feet, and then my entire body. I rolled over and had the back side done. I’m going to fess up and tell you that she didn’t miss any spots. (more…)
“Want to join me?”
What lovely words for the solo traveler’s ears to hear. I try to say “yes” whenever I can (and feel it is safe). In Portugal, one “yes” led to three others and some of my favorite experiences.
After two months in Nepal and Bhutan, I was ready for Portugal. Well, truth be told, I was ready for anywhere I could get fresh seafood and a good bottle of wine. I’d had enough of rice, lentils and beer. Lisbon fitted the bill perfectly for my first few days back in Europe. By Friday night though, I was sated and ready for something different. The front desk staff at my chic boutique splurge hotel recommended a bar on the rooftop of a parking garage. “It’s a new place the local people go to, not foreigners yet,” they said. “Great views of the city, especially at sunset.” (more…)
You might think my traveling is all fun and exotic. But rest assured, there have been plenty of challenges ranging from filthy bathrooms to spending time in places I didn’t want to be. I’ve been wondering if how we experience the world is driven by expectations and anticipation. If you are looking forward to something or expect it to be a certain way, are you often disappointed? If you have negative expectations, will they be met no matter what? And if you haven’t really thought about what to expect or anticipate, does it enhance the experience? I don’t know the answers, but I’d be interested in your opinions. I had plenty of time to ponder these questions during the second half of my Nepal visit. (more…)
I wrote this message before I left Poland. It’s now two weeks later, but I decided to post it anyway–to be followed by a new one about the two weeks that have just passed. Forgive my time lag and enjoy the journey.
Last day in Kraków: Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about risk. Many people think I take a lot of risks—they call it bravery, or pluck, or a sense of adventure. But what they mean is that I’m taking risks, whether wisely or not. Things like putting everything I own in storage and renting out my house. Traveling without a firm plan–and for such a long time. Doing it alone—that’s the one that gets the most comments. The truth is, risk is completely relative. (more…)
I’m in love. I have that luscious feeling we all know or remember. When you delight in each new discovery made about the personality or past of your beloved, ignore any potential flaws, wake up every morning with a burning desire to spend more time together exploring every nook and cranny, and find yourself grinning wildly at random moments from the sheer joy of realizing how lucky you are to have found love again. (more…)
There’s no such thing as around the block in Rome. The streets meander like a stream, changing both direction and names every hundred meters, sometimes spitting back to a major arterial, and other times leading to dumpsters in an alley. To a person without a sense of direction (me), this can be a real problem. (more…)
My ski bum months have come to a close and it’s time to prepare for the next phase of my vagabond life: Poland. I leave in a few days for six weeks in Krakow, where I will study Polish in the mornings. Everybody should know a bit of Polish, shouldn’t they? (more…)