The Frontier of Amazonas: Leticia

The land of romantic mystery, devastating beauty, enchanting communities, and uncharted territory – navigating south into the lungs of the Earth, this great road ruptures into three different countries and divides into seemingly infinite tributaries of the Amazon Basin. Located 800km from the nearest highway, Leticia is the true frontier of Colombia’s Amazonas Department. And with little information on the area, not even the origin of its present name, the outpost town keeps its rustic atmosphere and gilded legend as a mysterious gateway to the jungle, worthy of the Indiana Jones’ and Terence McKenna’s. Continue reading

More Than a Million Years: Villa de Leyva

Every year in this colossal, cobbled square, hundreds of astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers meet in January to share in their passions for the universe, exchange new telescope technologies, and revel in one of the most breathtakingly ancient views of the distant heavens. Once also a sacred court for native indigenous communities to gather and study the stars, Villa de Leyva’s Plaza Mayor has been a mutual observatory since the Pre-Columbian days. And apart from its splendid stage below a magnificent dark–sky preserve, the mountain–valley vista has been seemingly enough to lure life here for more than a million years. Continue reading

Lady of the Andes: Bogotá

Bogotá is a city of many names – Athens of South America, Gotham of Colombia, Lady of the Andes – but nevertheless, frequently misjudged and vastly underrated as the most visceral of urban adventures here in Colombia. So many vacationers on the northern coast of Cartagena, wading the sapphire shores – so many nomads drinking and dancing amongst the tunnels and hills of magical Medellin… but much fewer getting their hands dirty in the sprawling authenticity of this Andean capital. Continue reading

Paradise in the Heart of Colombia

Paradise is a worn-out word in the backpacker’s sphere of many trodden paths, often superfluous in tourist-saturated hovels, but not in this hideaway. In Salento, the Valley of the Palms, Colombia bares preciously this sanctuary of vivid Andean vistas, enchanting village alleys, and a measure of timeless peace unique even to colorful Colombia. But the risk of traveling here is well whispered amongst backpackers, trapping the footloose and seducing the restless – You’ll never want to leave. Continue reading

Crossroads Above the Clouds

A tropical junction of barters and busses blends into coniferous, alpine expat territory painted like a Salvador Dali with luminous floral orchards cut by a mountain stream and cross-cultural communities. In Boquete, Panama – near the southern border of Costa Rica, locals, travelers, and expatriates experience a special crossroads above the clouds – though only the sturdy and adventurous will climb to see it. Such rare sights on this planet yield the kind of sensations that move the human spirit to a sort of ecstasy. It is like the rambler’s catharsis in seeking more complexity than the mere picturesque – Without tethers or railings, the climb to the summit of Volcan Baru reminds you what it truly feels like to be alive. Continue reading

Wild West of the Pacific

The Big Island may be Hawaii’s rabbit hole of tourist destinations, and in this case tourist is comprised of some of the most interesting transients to travel the Earth – from backpackers to burnouts, hippies, junkies, shamans, crooks, professors, nudists, and countless other charismatic identities who are exploring, hedonisting, hiding and thriving in what seems like the last of the Wild West. All of those old characters upon withered pages and the silver screen inhabiting that arid frontier – they all seemed so wonderfully deranged and enlightened at the same time, but with their problems of near-anarchy came also the rare delights of that Lewis Carroll metaphor for the unknown and magically disorienting hole – Freedom from the norm, and a vast measure of beautiful timelessness, upon which it seems seldom to pass. Residents and travelers of the Big Island know the feeling – 20 years and 20 minutes can feel the same. Continue reading

Irish Tombs Older Than Giza

Nestled upon the summits of the Bricklieve Mountains, the ancient tombs of Carrowkeel still stand in all their ghostly glory. First to excavate and survey in 1911, R.S. Macalister was the consequently the first man to enter the Cairns in thousands of years. The megalithic complex was built between 3200-2400 BC, thus astonishingly predating the Pyramids of Giza by 500-800 years. Many may overlook Ireland as a source of rich, ancient history, but of all the remarkable prehistoric civilizations from Europe and abroad, this mystical island of Gaelic myth and legend protects a mysterious air of Druidic culture. Continue reading