Pura Vida

Author working on organic farm in Costa Rica with GeoEx.

Hot, stinging pain singed through my blisters with every whack of the machete. My clumsy attempt at a field dressing—a sweaty bandana wrapped and tied around my hand—hadn’t made a difference. Each whack! whack! whack! chafed candescent against my skin. The mountains, green and wild, shifted to muted blue with the passing daylight, and the squawky croaks of toucans reverberated in the distance. But I didn’t notice them. It was as if the tediousness—whack! whack! whack!—had sapped my senses, pooling their collective energies toward the glowing red nerves in my hand. Whack! Whack! Whack! I paused, looking around at the patch I was clearing. It was small. Too small, surely, for the hours I had been out there hacking and hacking at the overgrowth. Ignoring the stray grasses clinging itchy to my arms slick with sweat, I put the machete back in its leather sheath tied to my waist. It was funny, silly really, how...

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Cuba Now: Eleven Road-Tested Truths

Girls dancing in Cuba with GeoEx.

Notes on a journey from Havana to Santiago de Cuba One of the biggest travel stories this year has been the wave of tourists (both American and European) descending on Havana, wanting to get there before it changes. Despite the influx of travelers following President Obama’s announcements easing travel regulations for Americans, Cuba remains a magical place to visit. Being in Cuba is partly about going back in time, and even more deeply, to be in Cuba is to be in another dimension. But to really explore and appreciate this inner heart of Cuba, you need to be traveling with a team that has years of experience and the right connections. GeoEx has been blazing travel paths in Cuba since 2000 and around the world for the past 34 years. In the spirit of these traditions, I recently explored Cuba with the goal of getting...

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Sister

The Blue Gate in Fez, Morocco with GeoEx

Lahssan streams hot tea from an ornate silver pot into a colored glass stuffed with fresh mint leaves and sugar cubes, and sets it on the table. “This is your last night in Maroc, Sister. What you think?” he asks in accented English, using the French word for Morocco and the name he’s called me since we’d met four days earlier.   “I’ve fallen under the spell,” I say. “I love your city of Fez and can’t wait to return.”   Lahssan’s eyebrows press together, so I repeat myself slowly.   His eyes spark with comprehension and a smile spreads across his cheeks as he places a blue and white...

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Cultivating Perspective in Patagonia

Natalie Crow in Patagonia with GeoEx

Two months ago I found myself alone on a local bus in Chile, heading south. I was on a mission to make the world stop turning. The Carratera Austral, or “Southernmost Highway,” is a mainly dirt road that extends almost 800 miles, running through Chilean Patagonia’s most sparely populated region. Constructed only 30 years ago, the road slices through some of Patagonia’s most untouched and wild lands. Watching the scenery roll by, I had a feeling of nostalgia for a place and time that is actually impossible to reach. Perhaps this is what Montana or Wyoming would have been like in the late 1800s, or perhaps what some parts of the Alaskan wilderness must still be like today. Living in San Francisco can be demanding and arduous. I love my city, but we all live very fast. I work 40 hours a week. I...

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Nepal: One Year Later

Grandmother and young girl in Nepal with GeoEx

One year after the devastating 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal, the people of this small country have finally returned to the normal rhythms of life. Throughout the country, most of the ancient temples have been restored, roads and trails have been repaired, and tourists are now able to visit. Nepalese families, however, are still struggling to rebuild their homes and communities. Local communities have not received all the help they need due to a slow bureaucratic process. The government established the National Reconstruction Authority, but it has only recently been staffed and although it has agreed to provide grants and loans to eligible victims of the earthquake, funds have not been distributed. People have mainly been relying on NGOs for aid in their recovery. GeoEx believes that one of the benefits of tourism is supporting local economies, and sending travelers to Nepal puts money into the economy through the payment of local guides, restaurants, hotels, etcetera....

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Don George, Editor

Don George is Editor in Chief of Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler. He has been Travel Editor for Salon.com and the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, as well as Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications. Don is the author of "The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George" and of "Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing." He has also edited eleven anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and An Innocent Abroad. E-mail him at [email protected].

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