11 December 2013

Take That Jules Verne!

I would have loved to have traveled around the world for 80 days, but until I find the magic way to travel in such a way…. well 20 days would have to do it for now. I'm not complaining. Flying east in one direction and returning to the same spot was a first for me. Confirming that the earth is actually round, other than going on google maps was also pretty mind blowing… 

If you don't have 80 days nor 20 well how about 5 minutes to go around the world?


09 November 2013

India Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video should be how much?

07 September 2013

NY Redemption: bread, walking and good tennis

Two years ago, I decided it was time to go to my first US open in NYC. Seeing Arthur Ashe Stadium is one of those Bucket list items for any tennis aficionado. In previous years, I had always tried to make my way to NY city at least once a year. I just loved the energy, the busyness, the intensity, the chaos. There's something about NY city that makes you feel so alive. Unfortunately for me, the 2010 visit to the big apple was anything but pleasant. 
 I think one of the main reasons the trip was such a disaster was the fact that on the second night I had to be rushed to the ER with a severe allergic reaction. The second factor that contributed to a disappointing trip was my unwise decision to drive instead of flying. Having a car in NY was such a hassle. Parking was way too expensive, having to drive around and find places to go to was stressful. looking back now, I think the few extra dollars for the plane ticket would have been well worth it.
Needless to say, the last day of my visit I was really looking forward to being back in Charleston. I couldn't believe myself! Had I spent so much time in the South that NYC now felt almost like a different country?  ohh no, I had kind of an unsettling feeling. I was fearing that maybe two years from now, I'd be driving a pick up truck while chewing tobacco as I made my way to the shooting range? you never now. The south can sort of "creep onto you" like that….Jimmy Buffet ..say what???

Anywhoo,  point made, there was a lot at stake for this year's visit to NY. I really really really wanted to redeem myself. Thankfully for me, Redemption was exactly what I experienced. What was different this time?
There were no hospital visits, no car to be worried about and the most important factor of all, I had great traveling buddies. It was Mark Twain who said “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” And boy is that statement true. what was so great about them? 
We had no schedule, no deadlines, they were easy going, up for whatever, not demanding. They wanted to walk everywhere so that's exactly what we did. In addition to that,it didn't hurt the fact that one of them is a bit of a food snob. This turned out to be an incredible advantage as choosing a good restaurant in NYC city can be an overwhelming task. The only bit of pre-trip planning we did was making a list of some of the best bakeries in the city and voila, what else do you need? oh yeah-almost forgot, free tickets to the US open helped with the healing process as well :-) 

Despite his latest troubles, the greatest tennis player in history.
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Roger Federer at the Met. Twins included :-)

Brooklyn Bridge
Clever Advertising

The High Line

Main purpose of our trip….. Bread @ eataly

Morning Fuel at Bien Cuit

Roof Top @ Standard Hotel

Hipster stores everywhere

Good partner in crime. Can make or brake a trip

Random kids posing for an advertising campaign

09 August 2013

Killing Parasites in China

After visiting India, I had a hard time not thinking about a story I had hear from a friend of mine. She happens to be a great doctor and had warned me about the dangers of parasites in India. She had told me this horrible story about a coworker of hers, who picked up some sort of intestinal bug while on a medical mission in India. I don't remember exactly all the medical intricacies of the story but the gist of it was basically  "DON'T GET THEM"  ….  

I was already feeling frustrated about my failing skydiving attempt in Dubai. I didn't know this at the time, but skydiving is the number one attraction  in Dubai. When we called to make our reservation, the first booking was a month away. One of the reasons skydiving is so popular in Dubai, is the unique drop zone which happens to be right over the man made "palm". The Palm Islands are basically these set of man made islands constructed from sand dredged from the bottom of the Persian Gulf. It's an incredible sight but best appreciated from above. 

My failing skydiving attempt and my fear of parasites, resulted in this brilliant idea. Why not try bungy jumping? why not in China? They just happen to have the highest bungy jump the world. How bad can it be right? I'm sure is no biggie. My friend in Hong kong told me it was 764ft height. After living 15 years in the United States, I still have no idea what that meant. The metric system makes so much more sense… just sayin'

But I can tell you after having jumped…. 764ft = what in the world was I thinking? 764ft = where is the elevator down? 764ft = Why can't I keep my knees from buckling and more importantly 764ft = every single parasite or living organism in my stomach dead as it was transported into my throat in the spam of 7 seconds :-) 

So the moral of the story is, (you can't trust the system.. OK bad SNL joke) the moral of the story is if you are afraid of the infamous Delhi belly, Forget Mebendazole and Piperazine… Jumping is the way to go!

04 August 2013

Puerto Rican Power

Paris is The City of Light, New York City is the Capital of the World, Chicago is the Windy City, and San Juan is the City of Noise.
I thought Spaniards were loud, but Puerto Ricans can make even the loudest Spaniards sound like Benedictine monks. I don't mean that in a negative way. OK maybe sometimes it can get a little annoying, but for the most part Puerto Ricans don't need an excuse to raise hell and party, a commendable practice indeed. 

This became quite apparent one day when I started hearing loud noises and music coming from a couple of blocks from where I was staying. I was curious, thinking it must be some sort of block party. I decided to walk a couple of steps to check out the "block party" only to discover that the noise was actually some sort of protest…. very very confusing. The party goers were demanding payments of some sort, but they didn't really seem to care about the payment. One guy was holding a huge boom box while everybody around him was dancing and singing. If you've never seen the Manuel Ortiz show on SNL, you should stop reading this and do a quick You Tube search…. You can thank me later. It is fantastic!

Being from Colombia and living almost half of my life in the US, I think Puerto Rico is the perfect blend of Latino and American culture. It is so bizarre to see signs for the US Postal Service with the sound of Ruben Blades blaring in the background. I think Puerto Ricans have it made. I know some people will disagree with me on this point, but in my humble opinion they get the benefits of traveling with an American passport while keeping their Latino heritage. Hardcore Puerto Ricans want their independence from the United States, but I don't think they know what they are wishing for. 

My trip To Puerto Rico was supposed to be all about the elements. Chasing the wind and waves.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, Mother Nature decided to be pretty quiet. I literally saw kitesurfers from the window of the plane as I was taking off. I have a kitesurfing friend who says that's one thing he loves about the sport; the unpredictability of the wind. I, on the other hand hate it. It was windy the day before I arrived, quiet the entire time I was there, and windy literally as I was taking off. Do I sound a little bitter?.. Umm luckily, I got to spend a lot of time with my wonderful Godmother, roam around the lovely streets of San Juan, learn a little bit about Puerto Rican rum, and visit the charming town of Ponce. 

Arriving in Puerto Rico

Condado Beach

Old San Juan

This might as well be Colombia


Bacardi Plant

El Morro