Mexico

I'm not just making sentences these days. I'm making sourdough.

I'm not just making sentences these days. I'm making sourdough.

Aside from the thrill that he remembered my silly convo starter from months back, I got another thrill. An idea. Perhaps I could bake bread! What was stopping me now from baking delicious bread, making my own sourdough starter, churning out some unique flavor combinations, and selling to friends? I had a home now. A working oven. I had time. And most importantly, I wasn’t worried about money just yet (that’ll come… thankfully I planned for this income drought).

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Photoblog: Final Crew Meal at Mexico City's W Hotel

Flashing back to the June Mexico trip with ProjectExplorer.org, I thought I'd memorialize a fantastic project-closing meal we had at the W Hotel in Mexico City. We relaxed after a hectic day of capturing on film Mexico's complex and difficult history. It was a well-deserved and tasty spread. [All photos were taken by Vijaya Selvaraju.]

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Enjoying Myself

Enjoying Myself

Me Enjoying Myself

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

Reviewing Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

As much as I like to believe I'm aware of the world's atrocities and doing my part to make things better, I know I'm very much a negative factor in many world struggles that I'm both conscious of and oblivious to. I suppose my hourly efforts go out to world education, but being interested in travel and the world's communities seems to impress the importance of caring about everything.

coffee-bean

coffee-bean

Where does my clothing come from? Am I supporting local farmers? Did my beer get to me via cargo ship? Man...this coffee tastes delicious.

In terms of these worries, coffee is certainly a big kahuna. It's a safe assumption that young children today associate the Starbucks counter with the origin of coffee. And sadly, I think many adults and consumers think that far into the commerce chain when purchasing their daily jolt. I know I envision lush fields and no faces when I see names like Highland Grog and Java Sumatra, while trying to buy the cheapest concoction possible.

Where does the profit from our caffeine flow? Who benefits from my flavored latte? What is it like to grow coffee for a ravenous global market?

Deans Beans

Deans Beans

Dean is this dude. He is the founding dude of Deans Beans. He also calls himself a Javatrekker. He's all about organic beans and fair traded coffee, not "fairly" traded, loophole-filled commerce that leaves the farmers out cold and hungry. His book reads like a compilation of travel essays from someone who's had unique, and at times treacherous, experiences in the jungles, arid flatlands, and mountain ranges of the coffee lands.

Though I'm normally attracted to straight narratives, I found the mental globe trotting on the same theme a great overall adventure with an informative pulse, which will resonate with any consumer of any good. Let's check out Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee.

The Storyline

Dig your little toesies into the arid soil of Ethiopia, the birthplace of the coffee bean - or at least the location of caffeine's discovery. Dean will walk you through the experience of getting clean, potable water to a region with a serious water paucity. Feel happy and inspired. Now head south to Kenya and get ready to rip the bureaucratic heads off those swindling the coffee farmers out of their money. And so this storyline oscillates from empowering and inspiring accomplishment to unfortunate setback and struggle.

Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

Dean Cycon's Javatrekker

Javatrekker: Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee

Take a big flying leap over to South America where Dean witnesses incredible feats of guerilla engineering, connects with ailing nature's call, and swallows crippling fear and pain to help a region whose political struggle beheld the demise of his friends. His essays indicate the world's vast array of problems all affect the already difficult task of growing beans: global warming, natural disaster, political uproar, world market prices, foreign aid, and more. It all reminded me of the butterfly effect.

Green Coffee

Green Coffee

Dean's trips aren't just about agriculture. Officially observing democratic elections and visiting victims of amputation via train wheels are his errands. Tying his product directly to the effects his industry can exacerbate not only reveals a pivotal awareness of the realities related to coffee but those of all products with middlemen and foggy ground between their origin and destiny.

Island-nations of Asia and the South Pacific host Dean's experiences, in locales seldom seen by the likes of any foreign eyes. Regions ripped to shreds by civil war and political corruption work with him to help their caffeinated cash crop industry. Bringing simple machines to villages that lost out on money for lack of regulation and timely output, Dean appears like a savior to these co-ops in need. However, he's always first to mention his own miscalculations and wrongdoings alongside those of his fellow man.

While Dean does focus on the difficulties of coffee growers, he fills the pages with descriptive prose on the rituals of coffee consumption, the cultural nuances of each community meeting, the similar human spirit that unites the world's population, as well as the distinctive differences that remind us the vast spread of the social platter. One doesn't need to be a lover of coffee to appreciate this compilation; travelers and the business-minded alike have great lessons to gain from reading this bad boy.

The Bottom Line

Javatrekker

Javatrekker

How are we supposed to work eight hours, exercise for one, get seven hours of sleep, chew 25 times per bite, find time for friends and family, visit the doctor, drink eight glasses of water, clean the litter box, and floss three times a day? Our lives are already packed with must-dos and obligations that seemingly cannot go undone. So then, how can we layer on top of our daily checklist complete and utter social responsibility that would accompany hours of research and product comparison?

In other words, how are we supposed to know which thing we eat, drink, or wear is best for the world?

Don't worry; you'll live a long time, long enough to take it all in stride and read books like this to cover each issue at a time. And now, coffee is covered! Deans Beans is standing alongside the farmer, helping him or her pay for their cost of operation, their family's well-being, and enabling their vertical climb in commerce and life. That sounds responsible to me.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a friend, and there are affiliate links in this post. I believe this is a book worth purchasing as well as one worth sharing with your friends.

Reviewing David Lida's First Stop in the New World

Reviewing David Lida's First Stop in the New World

this book, come three or four chapters deep, wasn't yet rave-ish. David didn't write a travel narrative taking place in the hypermetropolis of Mexico City/Federal District (D.F.); he did something better than that. Working off twenty years of experience as an expat in Mexico's capital - as a journalist and, therefore, a well-informed observer of society - David describes this somewhat daunting land of 20+ million residents as THE example of the future of the urban future. We in America have no idea what's in store for our homes, that is unless we look deep into the essence and creation of the world's second largest metropolitan area.

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Photoblog: Merida and the Yucatan

Daily wake-ups as early as 4:15am, constant encouragement to produce content (or brainstorm more concepts), keeping up with another internship, e-mails, and friendships from home - this goes far beyond a full-time job. Week three on-location has been draining, frantic, but overwhelmingly delightful. No matter how plum-tuckered-out I get during production, I still find our daily activities and trials worth the sweaty days and gastro-hilarity. As Barney would remark, "The fun and learning never ends. Here's what we did (this week)!"

Celestun

Celestun

At Celestun Nature Reserve we jetted through mangroves and observed some flamingoes from afar. Post-nature experience, we saw our first Mexican beach for about an hour while having lunch with Alex, our accommodating and passionate host for Merida, and Jorge, driver extraordinaire.

Uxmal

Uxmal

Pinatas

Pinatas

Merida Market

Merida Market

Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre

A unanimous favorite moment on the entire trip was our training session with Lucha Libre stars. This is by no means the WWE of Mexico. Lucha Libre isn't scripted and is all about honor. We flipped and flopped with the self-proclaimed good and bad guys, received our own fighting names (mine being "Sexy Star" thanks to the resident fourteen year-old trainee in the vicinity), and honestly attempted to capture the essence of the sport.

While most film crews or documentarians like to cover Lucha Libre in a fluff or comedic piece, they were really touched that our presence was about knowing the sport and telling others about it. These guys are investment bankers (or something else) by day and honor protectors by night.

And a note to all of you wondering what makes a move complete: it's all about slapping the mat for a little drama.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop

While I could go on for pages describing the locations and experiences of Merida, I'll refrain and simply focus on the guy who made those moments happen. Alex isn't a tour guide but a key link in the Yucatan tourism chain. He's got mad power, connections, and responsibilities up the wazoo. On a more poetic note, Alex was an incredible resource and friend during that hot and humid week. He mentioned we opened his eyes to aspects of his own region he didn't know or had forgotten - providing him with the inspiration to do something good. Wonderful guy with a great perspective.

Quinceanera dress

Quinceanera dress

The Yucatan state offered things I hadn't anticipated and people I found endearing. Way to go, Merida. You overcame the blistering heat and humidity with your charm.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010.

Photoblog: Oaxaca

I'm not too interested in describing every detail of our week in Oaxaca. Well, maybe not now. I woke up nineteen hours ago for a market walk and just spent two hours dancing and flopping on the mats at a Lucha Libre training center. Arts. Crafts. Food. Style. Passion. Nature. Oaxaca, you've got it going on. And if you can identify any of the events occurring below, a big hand clap for you.

Paper Factory

Paper Factory

Oaxaca market

Oaxaca market

Cooking with Alejandro Ruiz

Cooking with Alejandro Ruiz

Boden Shoot

Boden Shoot

Silvia Suarez

Silvia Suarez

Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez

Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez

Tree of Tule

Tree of Tule

Monte Alban

Monte Alban

Some Spanish unfinished church

Some Spanish unfinished church

Oaxaca was a beautiful stop on this tour of Mexico and one in need of much explanation. Our accommodations at Casa Oaxaca were top notch and completely lush. Fantastic destination; I'm a fan.

(Boy, I'm brief on location)

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010.

The Frida Transformation

Frida is a bookworm

It's safe to say I'm really pleased with myself and the completion of my first cut segment for ProjectExplorer. Sure, I've been editing quick trips and question videos, writing blog posts, and researching the Mexico series. And since last summer, I've been exclusively using iMovie09, churning out some self-proclaimed impressive content. However, last night I cranked out a piece that will go down in history as my first official contribution to the meat and potatoes of this organization.

I love how the concept of this video became a reality. How does one capture a hugely famous, incredibly influential Latin American artist whose style created a new language in visual art? How do I find the proper way in which to dynamically convey the passion of Frida? Here's one of the three segments we decided to create on the special lady, narrated by and featuring Vijaya Selvaraju.

With hair by Nichole Dossous and make-up by Jazmine Da Costa, our Team Mexico whipped together an impressive segment. What do you think of our storytelling technique in this one?

Photoblog: Xochimilco and Frida

Man, I'm swamped with ProjectExplorer. The amount of work we have to create and cover in our short three weeks on locations is deep and vast. However, I'm still loving it and virtually recovered from my bout of hilarious food poisoning. We have moved on to Oaxaca for the second destination of three on this adventure, and our digs are beyond this world. I've got a lot to share.

Xochimilco

Two days after a little food poisoning, we boarded brightly colored boats in the man-made canals at Xochimilco. A woman dropped a bucket full of cerveza, soda, and water while our "gondolier" pushed off the dirt walls with his feet and striped pole.

We witnessed "tajin" at Xochimilco, which is a tradition to awaken the rain god and bring precipitation to their lands. It involved four guys flying around in circles from their waists - odd but entirely cool.

Xochimilco Flyers
Xochimilco

Frida Kahlo's Museum moved me nearly to tears. The artwork, the idea of her presence in that space, the colors and shadows of her garden - I could have spent days there.

Frida Kahlo Museum
Frida Kahlo Museum

Vijaya was a wee bit excited to find out the 27+ ingredients used to make mole sauce. Since Oaxaca is "the land of the seven moles," it was imperative we found out about the mysterious substance.

Have you been jones-ing for some video visuals from Mexico? Tomorrow, I'll show you some of the quick trips I've been churning out.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010

Update from Mexico City

Even though last week's Consume & Update received a lovely compliment, the production and content schedule here in Mexico is too daunting to also include a thorough perusal of the internet's best in travel and blogging. Instead, I'll make this Sunday Update all about the job with ProjectExplorer, on location in Mexico City.

Update on Nomadderwhere

The job is stellar. After landing on Tuesday, we've been hitting up the awe-inspiring sites of Mexico City. Day one of filming involved some awesome team work next to the Diego Rivera murals at El Palacio Nacional. I settled into my role of photographer happily, because for some reason, seeing things for the first time involves my eyes, my walking legs, my inquisitive hands, and the necessary appendage of my camera. Is that weird that I just called my hands inquisitive?

Teotihuacan

Day two was our most hectic production day, with a schedule packed with everything archaeological (thanks to the lovely INAH for that one). I banked on getting a mad Stairmaster-style workout on the Pyramid of the Sun, but then I heard some rumblies in the tumblies. Uh oh.

Yeah, coincidentally enough this child with incredibly distant Spanish ancestry felt the strike of Montezuma's Revenge upon reaching his once-powerful kingdom. I felt, well, not so good. And as the day progressed, my stomach pains became more extreme. Eventually I zonked out in the van while the crew captured the amazing Museum of Anthropology - our driver, Hector, watching over me like a suave and silent man of might.

Enrique's Book

Let's just say things passed. I recovered quickly, thanks be to Tums, Gravol, and the power of sleep (and showers). And how lucky was it that my bout of food poisoning only lasted a day, when the next evening involved a five-star dining experience under the very eye and hand of celebrity chef Enrique Olvera. Enjoying a life-changing meal at Pujol, paired with the colorful descriptions of Vijaya and the brilliant additions by Ruth Alegria, my stomach was able to forgive me for the poorly stored cheese from the previous dinner.

I think the following three days spent at Xochimilco and Coyoacan deserve their own time in the limelight.

Note to Regular Nomadderwhere Readers: My posting schedule will be changing while on location as to reflect the content of the trip, the reflections I have of the experience, and the time I can commit to my own site. If you'd like to stay on top of the ProjectExplorer on-site experience, check out the videos I'm cranking out, along with the crazy crew, at ProjectExplorer's Youtube channel. Also, keep an eye on my Flickr account for the most recent photos of production.

Photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010

Video of the Week: Preparing for Mexico (Webcam)

Hanging in NYC

Hanging in NYC

I finally dipped into the world of webcam, vlog-style videos, for both the sake of practicality/timing and in order to stay current with my website postings. As I embark on this trip to Mexico with ProjectExplorer, I am telling myself, "Stay current and create dynamic content with timing." Also, I wanted to thank the awesome tweeters this week that have offered their great encouragement and stellar commentary.

Therefore, enjoy the first webcam special, in all it's shotty, pixelated glory, followed by some lovely tweets!

@backpackingmatt After dinner check out Jimmy's Corner! Epic pub! 44th ann broadway...Tweet a photo if you get there. And do. Go there. Cheapest pint in NYC I reckon! Hopefully Jimmy is there!

@nfisher01: Are you still in NYC? If so, head over to Brooklyn to Dumont burgers. Sooo good! Get the mac&cheese if you go. Happy travels!

@mytravelogue good luck in Mexico! Can't wait to read all about it!

@justinspired ProjectExplorer.org -- look forward to seeing more videos from them around the world (via @nomadderwhere)

@rtwdave steak au poivre + fries [in response to asking for suggestions at Les Halles]

Also thank you, tweeters, for your input on an impromptu poll: Does briefly visiting an airport en route to a new state qualify being in that state? Same with countries. What qualifies visiting?

@LandLopers It counts for state IMHO, countries eh, I usually go with passport stamp

@janelleeagle I've often wondered that. I don't think it counts technically unless you leave an airport (a la Tom Hanks in "The Terminal")

@MattBoggie yes, at least how the Century Club counts ur first 100 countries. Remind me to tell u story of 4 us time zones in 1 day.

@justinspired POLL Response: I wouldn't count it if I stayed inside but a quick layover out&about 2 get a feel for the place then why not?

@a_rachel I only count a visit as leaving the airport, either state-wise, or internationally.

Consume & Update: Why Blog, Low Points, and NYC

I'm in New York City! Depending on our work load in Mexico, this may be the last normal Consume & Update for a while. Enjoy it while you can!

Why The Low Points Matter

Once again, great work, Chris, in addressing an idea regarding a "perfect" trip with the necessary and realistic angle. He noted that no one really has (nor should have?) a perfect trip without low points. Meticulous planning sounds exhausting and semi-fruitless, not to mention detrimental to an aspect of travel that arguably many travelers find as the point to it all.

Image by MAMJODH

I'm reminded of the Hindi om/aum and the interpretation I often associate with its multi-purpose, ambiguous meaning. When you're high, know one day you will be low again. And when things are low, have hope that tomorrow you'll be back on top. I envision a undulating sine curve that reflects the state of all things, the stock market among others. Though this is somewhat of a hippie-esque ideology, I do think I believe everything balances out in the end - the great moments in life and the low points, the good and the bad. The same goes for your travels.

If we only had high points, what kind of characters would we be? Would we be as adaptable, as prepared for the world and appreciative of the good times? And though the catalyst for this "perfect trip" idea was in no way indicating a trip without flaws, it makes me think no one should leave their home expecting all to go as planned or with their own convenience in mind. We must flex with the sine curve of life and our own movement, appreciating both to strike a balance that makes us who we are.

Thanks, Chris, you got me thinking. And isn't that what good writing, and "perfect traveling," is about? You tell me.

Name This Vista

What are we looking at here? Any ideas? Leave a comment!

Why, If You Write, You Need a Blog

Rakiraki

This one is for the hopeful travel bloggers out there, the ones keen on crafting word symphonies with the hope of creating a path toward their passions. And not just travel bloggers, hopeful broadcast journalists, photographers, poets, and other expressionists have been contacting me about what to do with their skills as the means to a preferred end. Though I'm not a broadcast journalist nor a novelist by trade, I at least know it's essential to adapt to the new trend of self-marketing and projection of your assets in the form of a blog.

Darren at Problogger is usually someone I refer these people to, because he writes pieces just like this: Why Professional Writers Need a Blog. Or Not. Here are some great excerpts from his recent piece.

We can boil it down to this: if you’re looking to get hired for a project, which implies you offer some vertical expertise in addition to your abundant writing gifts, then you should consider writing a blog. And you should let the reader know who you are. Because you need to show the world you know more than they do about whatever it is you do. You need to demonstrate it. Both elements drive toward your credibility, which his essential.

A blog is about your niche, your field of expertise, your message. Your blog is, in essence, a gift to your readers. In effect, your blog is where you give away what you know. It’s your chance to demonstrate and validate your claim to authority and expertise. Your blog is, in every essence and facet of the word, content.

World's Touristy Map

It's kinda nice I'm from an unspotted area. My goodness, Europe, quit being so appealing to the world.

World's Most Touristy Places

World's Most Touristy Places

Other Discoveries

I'm getting pumped for Tuesday and my first real adventure in Mexico - let's face it, the others have been burps in my timeline. Check out some amazing photos to get pumped along with me.

Talk about the art of travel! Great moleskin journal watercolors from Notes From The Road.

Problogger's here to tell you How to Convert Blog Readers to Paying Customers

Update on Nomadderwhere

Here's the skinny on my current situation.

Nakavika Project/Fiji Stories: I've been frantically pushing out stories from Fiji this month and have finally completed the storyline. Yay, me! Soon, I'll publish a walk-through of the entire narrative in case you missed the overall flow of things.

The New Travels: The onslaught of Fiji content was in reaction to my upcoming trip and new job with ProjectExplorer, which has begun already with a short trip to NYC, followed by a flight Tuesday morning to Mexico City! Last night, I dined at Anthony Bourdain's restaurant with Jenny and Matt, a PE board member, and today I start my training for Mexico!

Reunited Collaborators: Great news, as well...I get to see Garrett Russell this weekend, for the first time since we parted ways in Suva. Garrett recently got his Peace Corps assignment and is preparing for Malawi come July 1st. I'm so excited for him, and I look forward to publishing some of his work on the experience on Nomadderwhere. We've also decided on how to proceed with The Nakavika Project, which you can check out now.

This week on Nomadderwhere:

1 Minute or Less Moments: This week on my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan Page will be the last for publishing raw video clips from our Fiji footage. Check out the final installment, which shows some lovely moments in the Yasawa islands before I flew back to America.

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Consume & Update: Lovable Haters, Epiphanies, and Vimeo

I'm at my Grandpa's 90th birthday today. It's a good day. Now let's learn about what's new in the travel and blog worlds.

Learning to Love the Digital Haters

I don't think I'm evolved enough to truly love those that go after my passionate pursuits, but Tim Ferriss makes some solid points on reactions, time efficiency, and dealing with criticism - both logical and rant-asical. Check out the following speech below (it's long but I watched it all and enjoyed it) or browse his ideas below:

The following list is paraphrased from Mashable's Tim Ferriss: 7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters

1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do. “It’s critical in social media, as in life, to have a clear objective and not to lose sight of that,” Ferriss says. He argues that if your objective is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people or to change the world in some small way (be it through a product or service), you only need to pick your first 1,000 fans — and carefully. “As long as you’re accomplishing your objectives, that 1,000 will lead to a cascading effect,” Ferriss explains. “The 10 million that don’t get it don’t matter.”

2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it. “Online I see people committing ’social media suicide’ all the time by one of two ways. Firstly by responding to all criticism, meaning you’re never going to find time to complete important milestones of your own, and by responding to things that don’t warrant a response.”

3. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” - Colin Powell “That guarantees you’ll get more behavior you don’t want and less you do.”

4. “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative.” - Scott Boras The bigger your impact and the larger the ambition and scale of your project, the more negativity you’ll encounter.

5. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” - Epictetus "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

6. “Living well is the best revenge.” - George Herbert “The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you."

7. Keep calm and carry on. “Focus on impact, not approval. If you believe you can change the world, which I hope you do, do what you believe is right and expect resistance and expect attackers.”

The Frustration Epiphanies

Lake Nakuru Flamingo Viewing

Evan has a good point. We travel with the expectation that the huge events we schedule reveal the most, move us to the climax of our emotions.

When we travel, we literally become different people. Stripped of our habits, routines and safe places, we are forced to meet the world as we are. The more we travel, the more accustomed we become to participating and thriving in the world because travel, by design, brings an openness of heart and a clarity of self. Some travelers have a spiritual fantasy of this new life, and it can include the clichéd vision that, despite all our cultural differences, we’re really “all one”...Unfortunately, when you’re traveling, this naïve view results in a lot of stolen wallets. But, more importantly, that’s not how the traveler’s transformation of consciousness really goes down.

In actuality, I feel the times I experience the iconic and stereotypically "awe-inspiring" are the times I'm less inspired. Riding 18 hours in an Indian sleeper car with the stomach flu, walking across Lusaka in the summer sun because I'm out of money for a taxi (or a hostel), mourning a separation with friends on the beach in Malawi - these moments are the ones when the most is revealed about myself and my displaced existence.

At what point in your travels do you experience the little epiphanies? When do you learn the most about yourself and the purpose of your movement? Do those moments of self-discovery usually occur simultaneously with itinerary highlights or when the frustrations take the limelight? Comment below and tell me what you think!

Traveling is Seeing

Joel scribed a great piece at Vagabonding this week, which felt more like inspired prose than a simple post on an impression of travel.

We travel also to see things that are not easy to see. The Egyptian man in Alexandria, for example, who walks past your cafe table selling kleenexes, his skeletal frame so disfigured that he walks with his torso almost parallel to the ground. His eyes meet yours and you exchange a smile, suddenly conscious of the dollar’s worth of lemon juice in your hand and the relatively great health along your own spine...

And sometimes we may even travel to catch our own reflection in a cracked and dirty mirror, not entirely sure for a moment what it is — or rather who it is — that we’re looking at. And perhaps later in the day, when we see our reflection not in glass but in the eyes and faces of our neighbors, we will have a moment of clarity about what and who we are.

Hiking Alps

This week, I've been especially aware of my own reasons for traveling, and Joel made me realize yet another on my list. I love being humbled by the constant stimulation while traveling. The exchange, the "you're on" sense from a live TV broadcast, the challenge to the self from the self and the world - it's all in the attempt to solidify your own essence and self-knowledge. I'm a fan of travel because it helps me see myself in a way that could only be alternately achieved by rapid time lapse into my future.

Other Discoveries

For your reading pleasure: The 11 Foreigners You Meet in China

An interesting viewpoint on Arizona's new immigration law: Que Lástima...

Makes you hungry and a little disgusted at the same time: Seven Essential Breakfasts for the World Traveler

Update on Nomadderwhere

05-23 Snapshot

05-23 Snapshot

This weekend I headed up to the Northern Indiana lakes for some friend time before my first ProjectExplorer adventure! Of all the things that I enjoy about the Midwest, it is this lake culture I miss the most when abroad and away from the comforts and rituals of home.

This week at Nomadderwhere (big week for Fiji narratives):

Hardcore Brain Expansion: I'm happy to say I finished my read on Mexico City (which I recommend - review coming soon) in time for the big trip and am now working on The Lost Girls, the first and recently released narrative put out by the girls in charge of LostGirlsWorld.com. Hope I finish it before Saturday, because this bad boy is one thick travel read.

T minus 6 Days: On May 29th, I'll be on my way to New York City to meet my new boss for the first time. For a couple days, photo shoots and training sessions will be on the agenda, alongside meet-ups with my great friend, Garrett, before he heads to Malawi on his Peace Corps assignment! If you're in the NYC area next weekend and want to meet up, DM me on twitter or use my contact form!

Video/Online Property Update: You'll notice in the near future that I'm testing out a little Vimeo action. I've exclusively used Youtube for all my travel videos thus far, and even though I enjoy using that platform, I'd like to join the Vimeo community to see what works best for my work. Which video platform do you prefer, and why?

1 Minute or Less Moments: This week on my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan Page, I've published raw video clips of some intimate funeral footage (because I think these are meaningful moments to give some perspective) and one of the children early on a school morning.

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Consume & Update: Free Calls, Valuable Time, and Space Capone

You learn something new every day. Well today's post is going to help you make up for last night's nonsense fest...whatever it is that you did...

What's Your Travel Personality?

Thought it would be fun to poll you, the readers, to see what kind of travel personalities find themselves on Nomadderwhere! Brave New Traveler published a story this week based on the Enneagram test results describing a travel style. Go ahead and take the test if you'd like, or just tells us below: what's your travel personality?

Down With The Roaming Fees!

This is a video by AlmostFearless.com on how to make free calls from anywhere in the world (that has wifi). Real help for me and my Blackberry...hopefully that's the next episode!

Get Wealthy With Time: A Practical Guide

Rolf Potts guest posted on Tim Ferriss' blog this week, and I found it quite well-written and full of great concepts. Though it's darn near epic in length, it offers great resources at the end and quality explanations of why time is an important currency to deal in. He notes that there's a difference in living well and doing well. I've exhibited some paragraphs I though were particularly pivotal.

This notion — that material investment is somehow more important to life than personal investment — is exactly what leads so many of us to believe we could never afford to go vagabonding. The more our life options get paraded around as consumer options, the more we forget that there’s a difference between the two. Thus, having convinced ourselves that buying things is the only way to play an active role in the world, we fatalistically conclude that we’ll never be rich enough to purchase a long-term travel experience.

Fortunately, the world need not be a consumer product. As with environmental integrity, long-term travel isn’t something you buy into: it’s something you give to yourself. Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level, but through simplicity — the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.

...Fortunately, we were all born with winning tickets – and cashing them in is a simple matter of altering our cadence as we walk through the world. Vagabonding sage Ed Buryn knew as much: “By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. Dig”

The Pickle Called Reverse Culture Shock

I always have issues with coming home, which is probably facilitated by the facts that my 1. trips often last over 2.5 months and 2. lifestyle is usually akin to voluntary poverty while abroad. This week at Matador, Brittany Vargas phrases some great realities on why this transition period is the way it is.

Often the wisdom we acquire during long journeys is most evident only after we’ve returned to where we began. Coming back to once-familiar territory highlights the changes that were too subtle to notice as they occurred...So there is no way of predicting how we will adjust once we’ve come “home” – or how well others will adjust to us.

Other Discoveries

Chris Guillebeau sheds some perspective on enjoying the moment while still looking forward to what's happening next.

Let's all hope Gary gets home soon.

In honor of my next destination: Insomniac City (don't people know about melatonin?)

Don't worry, U.S. Department of State. I'm not heading to any of the scary Mexican states.

Update on Nomadderwhere

5-14 Blog

I've started packing! Less than two weeks stand between me and New York City. Not sure what I'm talking about? Read up on how my blog got me a travel job that's sending me to Mexico!

Also read up on the fast-approaching completion of The Nakavika Project chronicles. I'll be wrapping up these stories in preparation for real-time reporting from Mexico, and these stories are getting to the best of the bunch...believe me.

This week at Nomadderwhere:

  • A Gracious Thank You on Mother's Day: How my mom has dealt with her traveling daughter's adventures and her recent mother's passing

  • Reviewing a Road Trip to Des Moines: Hopefully inspiring others to look at their own video work and realize where it can go from here.

  • When Your Dreams Play Hard-To-Get: A guest post from recent World Traveler Intern finalist, Annie Leroux, and her positive note to those seeking an extraordinary path without free passes to success.

  • Independence in a Communal Society: A Fijian flashback to when Garrett and I returned from our Christmas vacation to the coast with the new responsibilities of household keeping, cooking, and fitting into a foreign society.

  • Feet Don't Fail Me Now: A guest post by Garrett Russell about his traumatic foot infection and the realization of being the only person who could save himself.

  • The Addition and Subtraction of Lives: Garrett leaves the village. Garrett and Jackie arrive in the village. A man in the village suffers a fatal heart attack. This is a flashback to mid-January, when a sad turn of events took place in Nakavika.

On an unrelated but important note: May 7th marked the release of Space Capone's second volume. If you like disco, falsetto voices, fantastic boogie music, or something to play for your next retro skating rink party, he's the one to blast. Don't worry; it's on iTunes. And by the way...he's family.

The Triple Importance of Cinco de Mayo

There are three reasons why I really love this day on the calendar, and aren't the final reasons in these sort of lists always the best?

First Meal in Florence Alone

Reason #1

Four years ago today, I flew solo across the Atlantic for the first time in my life...solo meaning without family or friends, not Amelia Earhart-style. After having studied abroad in Italy during high school, I found it absolutely necessary to return to Florence, my favorite city in "the boot," and study that which inspired me: art and the Italian language.

What began with that memorable flight was a sequence of events that eventually propelled me toward Semester at Sea and the lifestyle I now call my own. Living in Florence, I took the constant inspiration and my favored style of impromptu prose writing and created a travel voice for myself. The world and its elements became the ingredients of my artistic movement. I became an aspiring travel writer. That was May 5th, 2006.

Reason #2

Two years ago today, I boarded yet another plane to Italy; however, this ticket wasn't round-trip, unless you count round-the-world as such.

I suffered yet another travel-induced bout of insomnia, vibrated with anxiety, and took off on my solo venture toward self-understanding and global experiences. May 5th, 2008 marked the day I started my Big Journey, when only two days prior I moved a tassel to the side and earned my college degree.

Reason #3

Today, I'm not flying to Italy, nor am I bound for the boot anytime in the foreseeable future. Instead, this year marks the first time I understand what the holiday is about. Because the classroom wasn't my optimal learning environment (and my memory stinks), I never really grasped the holiday until now...now that it's my job to know all things Mexico.

I recently revealed how I landed my next travel endeavor, and now it's time to explain this dream job in a little more detail.

I'm going to Mexico in June, not because I decided to spend all my money again or because I got a free trip somehow. ProjectExplorer has deemed me worthy, thanks to my various venues for my travel documentation, of being a traveling producer, shooter, and photographer for their online educational programming for children.

I'll be one unit in a team of five, all collaborating skills and passions to create dynamic and innovative media that will educate classrooms around the world about the country of Mexico. Why Mexico? Because they invited us, silly!

Prior to take-off, I've been studying Mexico's many facets: its pre-Columbian civilizations, the grand capital of Mexico City, its legendary revolutionaries, and all things contemporary south of the border. Because of this duty, I know that Cinco de Mayo marks the day 148 years ago when:

Mexico drew its forces before the city of Puebla and began their assault on the French. The battle, lasting from daybreak to early evening, ended with a French retreat at their loss of nearly 500 soldiers, while Mexico saw less than 100 killed. The win represented a great moral victory for the Mexican government and her resistance to oppressive powers.

...in case you wanted to know.

DSC_0239

I've been frantically reading narratives on Mexico, such as David Lida's First Stop in the New World, as well as chatting with friends who would call Mexico their home tomorrow if they could. My training in academic research paid off for the job thus far, and soon I'll be applying my other learned skills in videography and education to the creative side of this gig.

Through our 80+ short films, hundreds of photographs, and numerous blogs on Mexico (see example site page here from the Jordan project), we're hoping children understand better the culture, history, and people of Mexico, and with that kind of education, we all know what awesome things can result. I dare say world peace, but world citizens also works.

And so, on this Cinco de Mayo, I may just learn how to make mole poblano (the classic meal of the holiday) or dumb it down to a simple celebration of Mexico with a cerveza in hand. Regardless, this year's holiday is a thrilling reminder of my immediate future with ProjectExplorer and our first trip together - to Mexico.

If you'd like to be a part of ProjectExplorer, participate in the Good Global Citizen campaign (the one that eventually landed me the gig) by making a video answering the question: What does it mean to you to be a good global citizen? You'll join the ranks of Ziggy Marley and Desmond Tutu if you do!

Source: History.com

Journeys of a Lifetime in April

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Read More

Video of the Week: One Year at Nomadderwhere

Today is my 1,168th daily anniversary of travel blogging, but Nomadderwhere.com is but an infant still. Since I bought my own domain exactly one year ago, I've evolved my site extensively, far beyond what I was capable of from the get-go.

Nomadderwhere Turns One!

Nomadderwhere Turns One!

I'm proud today to display my year's progress and hopefully inspire you to achieve progress in your own passionate plans.

From a simple blogspot to a self-hosted wordpress...

Blogspot

Blogspot

Wordpress.com

Wordpress.com

In all her glory

In all her glory

...let's celebrate Nomadderwhere's first birthday!

Journeys of a Lifetime in February

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Cruising to Antarctica: Start at the end of the world (Ushuaia at the tip of South America) and float toward the chilly marine life and frozen antiquity of Antarctica. You'd only do this once in your life, unless your a scientist, a mountaineer or crazy. Make that one trip count.

Pirogues and Pinasses on the Niger River: You're going to feel timeless and relaxed while floating on this great waterway of Africa. Mali makes for great camping, and the fare you catch from the river will make for excellent campfire dinners as well.

By Road

From Lisbon to Porto: Salt pans, flatlands, pine forests, wooded hills, vine-clad valleys - get a load of Portugal's western coast! Get in that car and go.

The Garden Route: South Africa's tip is not only an optical masterpiece with plenty of indigineous wild and plant life, but it's incredibly accessible for backpackers via city hostels and the Baz Bus for transport in between. Along this route are adventure activities ranging from the world's most beautiful sky dive drop zone to great white shark diving.

By Rail

Eastern & Oriental Express: Singapore to Bangkok...in style. Restaurant cars with high quality food and piano bars for sipping cocktails with a panoramic view - this could be an excellent way to see Southeast Asia's peninsula, maybe not my way. Sometimes the luxury is a nice break from the overhaul.

Darjeeling Toy Train: Locals in Darjeeling joke there's no other town in the world where a train passenger can step out of the car, take a leak and hop back in without breaking a slight jog. Locals also kid there's no other town in the world where the train gets caught in traffic jams. Darjeeling's toy train is scrawny for India's standards, but it offers views of the 3rd tallest mountain, Kanchenjunga.

On Foot

The Torres Del Paine: It's no secret I'm pining for a trip to South America's tip, to see Patagonia and Ushuaia in person. The Torres Del Paine National Park does nothing to hinder this desire. Nature trumps man once again. My hiking boots are ready.

Hill Villages of Chiang Mai: A trip up to the Thai mountain villages near Chiang Mai sounds fantastic to me, especially arriving at the end of the rainy season in February. If you're considering a trip, I'd be sure to do my research on tours vs. independent and the status of tourism's effect on the area. Anyone have experience with this region?

In Search of Culture

Maya Temples: Travel to Cancun for another reason this winter and begin a trip across Mexico, Belize and Guatemala to see the ancient remains of the Mayan jungle cities. I'd advise you to prepare by marrying the stairmaster in anticipation of the steep temple steps.

Musical Journey to Central Europe: Start in Czech Republic, mosey across Austria and end your musical quest in Hungary after becoming one with the natural and cultural inspirations of your favorite classical composers. Taking this trip is sure to give me flashbacks from my years at the piano bench, wishing the Mozart melodies in my books would be replaced by snazzy pop tunes. Thankfully, this never occurred.

In Gourmet Heaven

Cajun Cooking in Louisiana: February and Louisiana. There's only one thing I could be referring to…cajun food in Acadiana! Maybe after you unravel all the beads from your neck and find your shoes from the night before, head out of New Orleans for some real cajun food where the Nova Scotians originally settled and prepared their wicked meals.

Central Otago Wine Trail: Wine pilgrims, flock to the South Island of New Zealand for a Pinot Noir that gets international applause. And you'll surely hear your claps reverberate off the rugged, mountainous terrain that will surround your sampling session. I hope you don't choose to pair the wine with a nearby bungee jump, as the Kawarau Bridge sits tantalizingly close to all the grape festivities.

Into the Action

Tiger Safari: Ranthambore is a compact reserve in eastern Rajasthan - the perfect place to spot the 20-odd Bengal tigers terrorizing the wee other wildlife. Visiting in February beats the hot weather but comes just close enough to summer and its great conditions for seeing stripes.

Skiing Mont Blanc's Vallee Blanche: Sky down the highest Alp and the greatest run on the planet. Oui au…need I say more? I probably do…it's in France.

Up and Away

Skimming Ancient Australian Rain Forest: The rain in February awakens the ancient rain forest between Kuranda and Cairns near Australia's "Alfalfa" tip. Take the skyrail above the canopy for excellent views of the massive pythons and other wildlife dangling in the trees.

Nile Balloons: Early pre-dawn start, chilly desert morning, expansive views from a balloon in the sky, champagne breakfast - floating away from Luxor along the Nile does not seem like a shabby way to start your day in Egypt. Just think you could see more ancient temples and tombs before 9am than most people do their whole lives!

In Their Footsteps

Ansel Adams' Yosemite: Ansel Adams' parents gave him his first camera upon reaching Yosemite as a 14 year-old school boy. Visitors these days can visit the Ansel Adams Gallery and attend workshops on composing show-stopping photographs inspired by Adams' decades of work at this national park. Enjoy the snowy trails!

Jesus in the Holy Land: Visit a land where many religions converge, creating legendary landmarks of biblical proportions all over the country of Israel. Avoid the intense heat of the summer months by visiting in February, before the Easter crowd of pilgrims appears.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in March for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in January

Happy New Year! Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The Orinoco River Cruise: The dry season in January lends to the viewing of more land mammals along this river cruise through Venezuela. Boy oh boy...the description of this places includes words such as: expedition, canoe, venture, wetland and steamy jungle. I'm there.

The Mekong River: Laos is on a ticking clock toward Vietnam status, and it's up to you to seize the opportunity to view this country's incredible landscapes before the authenticity becomes manufactured. Nat Geo claims this is the most scenic stretch of the massive river through the Southeast Asia region.

By Road

Historic Spain: There's no bad time to see the architecture of historic, central Spain. January will wash out the summer tourist crowd and give you snow capped mountains in your photograph backgrounds. Give yourself one week to drive along this ribbon of highway, and remember to ask in Segovia about the suckling pig.

Crossing the Sahara: Get your visas ready and your car rented. You're about to drive across Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania to see some cultures and barren landscapes that present an awesome challenge to the "bring it on" type of traveler.

By Rail

Bangkok-Kanchanaburi-Nam Tok Line: This time riding the rail will bring you closer to the gritty, not further away. Taking this infamous route, known as the "death railway" from WWII, will remind you of the many POWs and lives lost from building the bridge at the River Kwai. It's not all gruesome and heavy-hearted; the landscape is Thai-rific.

The Palace on Wheels: India's glitzy region of palaces and architectural masterpieces will give you plenty of eye candy and good photographs on this luxurious train ride. It's not my favorite side of India, but many find the old British and Raj culture appealing. The Golden Triangle along with Udaipur and Jaisalmer makes for an awesome itinerary, though!

On Foot

The Shackleton Crossing: South Georgia is a speck in the Southern Ocean and looks like a challenge for weathered climber types like Jon Krakauer and Bear Grylls. I pretty much guarantee no one reading this post will attempt this climb, but I thought I'd give you some dream material for tonight's slumber.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Africa's tallest peak and the only 8,000+ meter mountain that one could ambulate - climbing Kilimanjaro seems to be an achievement worth going for. Those who have claimed the summit unanimously advise climbers to take the longer route (Machame) for better odds of success and greater views.

In Search of Culture

Japanese Kabuki Theater: With make-up that would spook the Joker and costumes that could presumably stand on their own, the men of Kabuki theater become household names for their dramatic and powerful performances. Brace yourself; these shows look lengthy but worth it for a one-time experience.

Earth Architecture of Yemen: High rise earth architecture makes Yemen look pretty darn cool. Perched at the heel of Asia's wee bootie are homes made of sun-dried mud bricks and a culture sure to intrigue. Nat Geo recommends going with a reputable tour company and taking caution with photographing people. Should make for an interesting trip!

In Gourmet Heaven

Eat Your Way Around Sydney: After you recover from a surely intense NYE celebration on the beach, enjoy Sydney's January Festival and a slew of culinary jackpots around Oz's biggest city. If you're into Euro-Asian fusion food with top notch seafood, I'm guessing there are few places in the world better than Sydney.

Malaysian Melting Pot: And we thought we were a melting pot…maybe next January you'll be traveling up the peninsula of Malaysia to sample the converging tastes of many prominent food traditions: Chinese, Indian, Arabic, etc. Thanks to all the hawkers and street food artists, some call this country a snacker's paradise.

Into the Action

Following Che Through South America: Cross the Andes on two screeching wheels in the footsteps of Che Guevara, but make sure you remember to ride something a little more reliable than "La Poderosa." Buenos Aires to Machu Pichu will take you across some varying landscapes and surely on a journey fit with ceaseless inspiration.

Cross-Country Skiing in Lillehammer: Check out this "premier cross-country location" if you want to make like a Scandinavian and glide. Easily accessible from Oslo, renting all your gear is possible on location, and going in January ensures a helluva daylight surplus!

Up and Away

The Nasca Lines: It is only from the sky where you can truly appreciate the diversity of Peru's terrain, as one ecosystem bleeds into the next. Also from this vantage point you can be slapped silly by the wonder of these earth drawings that were created with pre-historic tools by the Nasca people.

Alpine Baloon Festival: Arrive in Switzerland in late January for a display that surely inspires painters, children's book illustrators and surrealists worldwide. A sky of balloons decorate the invisible Christmas tree in the Swiss Alp valley. Inquire about the nighttime flight of illuminated balloons while you're there!

In Their Footsteps

Road to Enlightenment: Follow Buddha's journey to enlightenment from his birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal to Patna, India, past the third-generation descendant tree where he attained nirvana. Ahh, the ease of traveling in the moderate chill of February around the Subcontinent.

Tramping After Mark Twain: A boat trip down the Neckar River could inspire you to write a Huck Finn sequel, just as Twain was inspired to write the original on this journey. Tramp across Germany and Switzerland, enjoying the chill and scenery of winter, on a journey that the famed American author used to "improve himself."

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in February for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.