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Life is a Journey, Savor it.


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We Walk

Rails form the perfect pathway for exploring unknown landscapes among familiar neighborhood territory.

Rails form the perfect pathway for exploring unknown landscapes among familiar neighborhood territory.

I’ve been back in the States for nearly equal time to that for which I was abroad (13 months each) and I’m awed that nearly everyday brings fresh reason for reflection. This is my second winter (after escaping two winters in favor of perpetual tropical suns), and I took the day to marvel at a world transformed by the magic of snow, and cold, and ice.

Magnolias await their chance at spring, holding back their buds.

Magnolias await their chance at spring, holding back their buds.

Nashville experiences more deep freezes annually than most would predict for its placement one state solidly below the Mason-Dixon Line. In the burn of consistent summer temperatures of the 90s and 100s, it is impossible to conceive of winters with spending weeks below freezing, much less whitened landscapes. Yet here is the proof. Continue reading

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Oddities and the modern traveler

We are a mysterious breed, we travelers. I think I spend about as much time trying to make sense of my fellow travelers as I do getting to know the countries and people I visit.

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Beguiling Filipino “CR”

In th Philippines I eat pink chewable pepto bismol tablets as if they are candy. The candy is especially helpful on long bus rides inching along at top speeds of 25 kph through mud and muck in the middle of nowhere jungle. A recent 141km journey from El Nido to Roxas took four hours and included an impromptu stop that nearly broke both axels off of the lime green Roro Coach.

Waking up in the mornings there’s a gurgle in my tummy and a feeling of sheer dread. I automatically evaluate my restroom options for the day and in the immediate vicinity. Filipinos are fond of inexplicable devices that pass as toilets. A favorite is the itsy bitsy commode; these are white porcelain bowls the size of a toddler’s training potty and they are no more than a foot off the ground, usually pushed deep into a corner and smack dab against the wall. It creates a predicament for men and women alike: to squat or not..? Aim and good luck? Sit? (Heavens no to sitting!)

To say toilet paper is lacking would be a gross misstatement. To call it a luxury would also be a misstatement. Toilet paper is a precious resource retained by the ultra-privileged, the 1% if you will. It’s fitting then that we tourists seem to be the only ones concerned with its presence. Befuddlingly, it’s easy enough to procure TP and is readily available in most stores, yet it has been appropriated for a great many causes which do not involve its appellate purpose. The Filipinos utilize TP as FT, face tissue and who knows what else. At any rate, it’s lacking in proximity to actual toilets and so is soap for that matter. Befuddling.

The common Filipino nomenclature for the bathroom further drives home the fact that the joke is on us tourists, as if the name used to refer to restrooms is in itself specifically intended to administer a very small but inescapable dose of justice to balance the scales of dignity. Or perhaps the nomenclature is more benign than that and intended to merely perplex, amuse and describe… It accomplishes each of these feats…

Whether it be a deluxe apparatus with stalls, seats and flushing capabilities, or a mere hole in an outhouse or just a corner at over-that-there beach, each of these spaces is universally referred to as a “comfort room.” It’s the bane of many a traveler in The Philippines who find the CRs beguiling at best and cruel, punishing torture devices with a demonic sense of humor at worst.

One determination about the CR is beyond argument, you’ll find no comfort here.


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Recipe for Adventure

Description:

This is a well-researched recipe for succulent adventure in a tropical local. For it you will need some basic ingredients (motorbikes) and some selective ingredients (Brazilian, Czech). In either case you should be able to locate these ingredients or suitably similar substitutes in most budget hotels.

If you follow this quick-adventure recipe you will arrive at a gorgeous, picturesque tropical beach with one flat tire, a mighty thirst, slight sunburn and encased in a layer of very thick brown dust. Improvisation and experimentation is encouraged!

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Pastered in a brown crust of sweat, sea salt, and road dirt/grime. Note the very fetching unibrow!

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Musings upon the peculiarities of transit

Boats, buses, bicycles. Planes, trains, a pied. Motorbike, scooter, tuk tuk, song teaw. Taxi-Brousseau, minibus, coach, tro tro.

Transit: the much-blighted, much-glorified, always late, blissfully on time, cause of consternation, cause of fascination… It’s the necessary evil of travel–or the invitation for zen depending upon a myriad of mercurial factors including, temperature (which directly correlates to body odor), weariness, lack of sleep, legroom, the view, the ventilation, the company, the price, duration, inebriation, padding (usually lack there of), noise, vibrations, drivers skill, restroom availability, luggage security, hunger, thirst and sunlight. Continue reading