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Cabins of the Smoky Mountains

Foreign Funeral – Heartbreak in a Romanian Village

romanian-seating

Our arms interlocked tightly at the elbow. We stared downward in the chilly, quiet living room when an improbable question broke the silence. “Did you touch her yet?” my wife, Oana, asked as tears streaked down her high cheekbones. “She’s still warm.” Mama Ana, as she was known, my wife’s 82-year-old grandmother, died hours earlier in her small, century-old stone farmhouse in the Romanian countryside. We journeyed 7,000 miles from … [Read more...]

On Trust & Traveling & Treasure Making

Pup

Part I ~ Friendship I thought about trust a lot the other day. I was on my way to photograph a house in the Isletas. There are 300+ islands in Lake Nicaragua close to Granada. It is my favorite place to immerse myself in nature and retreat from the stifling heat of the city. I thought to rustle up a group to join me but soon realized with schedules and distances and timelines we were not going to connect. I am always a bit wary when I am out … [Read more...]

River of gold: a personal voyage through Africa’s lagers

africa-castle-light

When Spain made claim to a small corner of North Africa and christened it Río de Oro – River of Gold – the country’s colonial ambitions for what amounted to a patch of sand in the western extreme of the Sahara Desert were clear. With the third glass of mint tea broiling my insides as I looked across the same area of sand, I considered that perhaps my own intentions in Africa were equally unrealistic. I was a week into seeking as much cold lager – … [Read more...]

Mary Jane, Mopeds, and Metal Bars

IMG_2491

When you wake up on a concrete floor with only a bamboo mat between you and the cold you might just wonder what the hell you were thinking the night before.  This was my situation a few years back while I traveled the world for a year or so. Some days it felt longer and this was one of them. I lay there body sore, taught as a fisherman’s net soaked with salt, dried in the hot afternoon sun.  Rubbing my eyes, I dared to take a day light look at my … [Read more...]

Most Amazing People We’ve Met On Our Travels

dandong-north-korea (6)

While traveling we meet a lot of people with different destinies, dreams, and lifestyles. We forget immediately about the majority of them, but some live in our memories as if we’ve just talked to them. Today we’d like to share the most touching stories of people from different cultures, social classes and continents we collected during our travels. KAREN GIRL This girl belongs to Karen tribe, also known as long-necks. When she was born, … [Read more...]

Umrah: A Pilgrimage of Peace

The Kabah, Masjid-al-Haram

Florida to Saudi Arabia. A thirty-hour journey that was, to say the least, exhausting. But as soon as I stepped foot onto the bus that would be transporting our group, a fresh burst of energy and vigor swept over me. We were here, along with millions of other Muslims, to perform Umrah, one of the two pilgrimages that are essentially “pillars” of Islam. It is imperative that Muslims visit the two holy cities, Makkah and Madinah, and perform … [Read more...]

Terezin

Old cemetery in Prague's Jewish Quarter

Its my junior year of college, and while my peers are headed to party in Amsterdam, or find their soul-mates in some handsome young Italian, I find myself bound for Prague. Curiosity got the best of me, so there I was off to explore in the land of Kafka, Dvorak, and Pilsner beer.   Designed to give students a broad cultural, political and historical view of Czechoslovakia, the gem in this course load would be History: A Personal Perspective. … [Read more...]

The Stranger Side of Travel

California - The Stranger Side of Travel

See dem hills? I live in dem hills… The man pointing at the blue-green hills in question was talking to my mother. He looked like Billy Ray Cyrus -- if Mr. Cyrus had less teeth and a meth-addiction. We were in rural Australia, and this young man with an uncanny resemblance to a junkie version of the popular country singer was doing his best to woo my mother. My teenage sister and I were highly amused.  Over a decade later, we still … [Read more...]

Gruesome Ghoulash: Budapest’s “House of Terror”

Budapest-View

John M. Edwards tours the ambivalent history of terror in the Hungarian capital Outside the museum on infamous Andrassy utca stood a young Hungarian law student wearing an anachronistic frockcoat straight out of some 19th-century novel. He said his name was Andros and asked me for a cigarette. He then lit it and smiled pleasantly. “Did you know that there was a persistent rumor during World War II that our ghoulash bowls were full of human … [Read more...]

Gibraltar: the end and the beginning

gibralter

My original plan for the end of my Encircle Africa expedition was to return to Gibraltar’s southernmost point, Europa Point, where I began. I liked the idea of looking back at Africa with renewed eyes. But all my reserves of energy were spent, and it was consolation enough to know that all that separated me from Africa was nine miles of often still water, after having travelled a distance equivalent to circumnavigating the earth at the … [Read more...]