Want to be Unhappy?

For Pat, the journey became overwhelmingly difficult. He struggled with regret, as many are inclined to do. While he moved forward developing his tremendous talent as a reporter and then editor and marketing genius, he never stopped looking back. Remorse became an obsession and triggered bouts of mental illness, depression, and anxiety. These challenges knocked him into dark places. A nagging of the soul dogged him for years.

Paramo Burning

A few months later, FARC’s arsonist episode no longer mattered. The entire páramo was burning. A 10-meter wall of fire spread across the high mountain wetlands driven by wind and heat. As the fire intensified, so did the heat, evaporating surface water, burning through century-old plants, and catching rabbits and deer in mid-flight, leaving only the ashen outlines of their bodies in its wake.

The Last of the Kokonukos

Kokonukos is a mountain range with few trails and few people have summited its highest peaks. Here, the chronicling of how we follow an aging kokonukos guide into the clouds,across a mossy carpet, to the top of the range’s highest volcano, Pan de Azúcar.

The Mighty, Mighty Páramo

Today, you hear more about Colombia’s páramos. The altitude and exposure to extreme swings in temperature and weather make páramos something like enormous islands, floating among seas of tropical jungles. Survival under extreme conditions have resulted in a population of plants finely tuned to shielding high levels of UV rays, trapping and managing water, resisting wind and freezing temperatures.

Stand and Deliver: the Nasa Struggle for Autonomy

The FARC have since left Jambaló and the country’s recent ceasefire has brought peace, but the conflict has continually held Jambaló back in rural development: only five of its 35 villages (veredas) have access to potable water, there is but one paved road in the entire municipality, and over 1,000 families still lack access to fertile crop-growing land.

An Arhuaco Solution to Man’s Disequilibrium

The bees try really hard to protect their hive and their honey, and maybe that is part of why Osvaldo identifies the activity as theft. For him, it would be the same with cows, sheep, silk worms or oysters. We are the species specialized in taking. Over a lifetime, we take much more than we give, and though we are capable of giving, we rarely do.

A Life Less Restrained

My brother Josh and I wrote down a few key memories meant to highlight the many facets of our late brother Pat’s personality, the way he lived life and is compassion for all living creatures. This is a sample of what we came up with. Enjoy and reach out to your loved ones today. Life is fleeting, you won’t regret it.

El viaje de la Lucía: el cuento de otro nacimiento

Sin casa de nuevo, estábamos en un ferry cruzando el estrecho de Gibraltar. 10 kilómetros de océano, separando el norte del sur. Nuestro camino por Etiopía, nos trajo nuestra primera hija, y cuando tomamos el vuelo de salida nos metimos en una odisea que no sabíamos que terminaría con otra hija nacida en otro país.

Climbing Botswana: The Edge of the Kalahari

Kgale Hill, Gaborone’s most famous hill, offers granite cracks, face and friction climbs on a large variety of textures and rock for such a small area. The word Kgale means ‘a long time ago’ and the large quantity of rock polished by generations of baboons gives you an idea of just how long ago Kgale goes.

Looking at Life through a Lebanese Lens

I like Lebanon, emerging from the sectarian mess is a picturesque landscape that combines the inviting Mediterranean with what can only be called Levantine Alpine, snowy peaks, limestone walls and Cedar forests. As a tourist destination, Lebanon stands alone in the region providing even the most experienced traveler a glimpse of something totally unique, where culture, history and geography blend a fascinating fabric of existence.

First Hike: Lost in the Andes

I can still remember leaving the trail. It was a worn, dusty path that we had followed from a small lake tucked back in the evergreen forest of the Southern Andes. Ahead of me, an austere landscape of volcanic upheaval, a sea of basalt stacked against a steep shoulder of Volcano Casablanca. The skies were as clear as my 26-year-old mind, and although we couldn’t see the top of the volcano, its geographic position was predictable if not downright obvious. If this is the volcano, all paths lead to the crater, or so went the logic in my head.

You’ll Get to the Top and Remember James Garrett

Holed up in a traditional dance club, Garrett was immersed in Ethiopian dancing, shaking his shoulders and jumping up and down, the energy levels of this 63 year old climber defied nature. The next day, Garrett flew solo to Namibia, roped a random German guy into helping with belays, made the long trip out to the Spitzkoppe and put up a route. How many sexagenarians are doing this with their time, resources and abilities? Nobody I know is like James Garrett.

How Tameru Set a Guinness Record Without a Corporate Bank Account

By awarding records in the interest of profit, Guinness treats talent and people as indispensable commodities. They’ve sacrificed their history of spotlighting the incredible and inspiration and have diluted it with corporate values and the capitalistic obsession for money. A sad truth in a changing world where nothing is sacred.

Dodging and not Climbing Rocks in Ethiopia

At the top of the 20m routes were the remnants of the group’s bolts, obliterated into a flat strips of metal pegged to the rock. Each one reminded me of the penny smashing machine, and I half hoped to find shapes of Ethiopia’s national monuments etched into the steel. Most likely the children of the village smashed the anchors with rocks. Owning a piece of metal in a landscape so overwhelmed with rock was seductive to a mischievous ten year old. Some hangers were completely missing, others intact hidden from the children’s view.

Defining Need in a Liberian Diesel Shortage

There would still be plenty of coconuts, pineapples and fish (though not the frozen type). There would be goat soup, plenty of hot peppers and some local chicken for flavoring. There would still be dancing and singing, lots of smiles, there’d be motorbikes and taxis, but no buses. There’d be a lot of flat tires, broken down vehicles, and closed up mechanics. There’d still be church sermons on shadowy pulpits, Sunday dress, shiny leather shoes and colorful fabric. There would still be weaves and sturdy women tapping their hairdos to relieve the itch, but there’d be no clippers for men’s haircuts. Monrovia would become a city without haircuts.

The Day Rock Climbing Changed an Ethiopian Village Forever

I spent the better part of three years traveling around the country, roping up with phenomenal climbers and searching for the least visited mountain ranges and unclimbed towers. However, I didn’t realize that in my own backyard—right outside of the capital Addis Ababa—I would find and establish Ethiopia’s first complete sport climbing crag.

The Ups and Downs of the Emotional Support Dog

Dogs sense change. I get anxious when I see the crate move from the hallway to the patio, back to the hallway and then to the living room. I have bouts of shaking when the humans start acting like a surprise party is being planned, but nobody is willing to talk about it. We sense […]

Meskel in a Dorze Slaughterhouse

I stepped through puddles of blood and gastric juices. Hundreds of bulls and heifers dotted the landscape. The sap of life leaked from their orifices and some still twitched with hopelessness. I watched these humans wrestle a heifer to the ground, battling with her until achieving total submission.

Look Homeward, Bayele

The main road was alive with farmers and horse carts. He saw mosques and churches facing each other from opposite sides of the road. And when the bus passed through a village, the radio crackled for an instant and the voice of a great Ethiopian singer crooned with recklessness. He wondered if he would ever find his way back home.

Life in the Hamster Tube: Tigray’s Off Width Towers

The Koraro towers rise and fall like pistons of a car engine and pose like a lineup of disfigured criminals. It’s hot, we see few climbable cracks, a series of bolts aiding halfway up the middle tower and He-Man chooses a chimney on the east face of the largest tower. Nobody knows where the chimney will lead, but a deep layer of bird shit tells us that if you are squeezed out of a vulture’s ass, you will probably hit the ground.

Nancy & The Clay Chickens

Some will remember Nancy most for her collection of necklaces and rings. Others will catch a ride with Abel the taxi driver in Addis Ababa, and her name will come up. Many will remember Nancy as the woman who bought too many clay chickens at the NGO Bazaar. I will remember her as a friend, a mother, a woman who constantly reminded me to get a haircut, to never turn down an invitation and to stay past the bad parts, because it always gets better.

The Rock Orphans of Mekele

After another 8 feet, I reached the next chamber where Samy was wedged between the walls, smiling. I could no longer see the entrance to the cave and looking above resembled a narrow mouth of crooked teeth leading to an ever tighter esophagus, suffocating and desperate. I put my head into high gear, arm wrestling thoughts of claustrophobia. Thoughts are the catalyst for disasters in these types of situations, and steady breathing and silence are like medicine.

The Andes Backcountry: How Far will You Go?

If you are willing to hike an extra 20-30 minutes through the snow along rocky ridges, you’ll probably be the only person on the mountain. If you’re willing to hike an extra one or two hours, you will definitely be alone. How far will you go to Ski Backcountry?

The Goat Boy and the Hyena Man

Once upon a time in the city of Harar, a goat gave birth to a man. The news of the half-goat-half-man traveled quickly through the tangled alleys of the old city center, the Jugal. These walls were erected by a Harari sultan to protect the city from invaders, and now the news of the birth of this crossbred wonder was trapped inside, like a ball in a pinball machine.

Patagonia’s Last Pioneer

Javier was the last of a special breed of Patagón. He was as much a cowboy as a tour guide, he was as much a tropero, (local parlance for rancher) as he was a marketing director. And finally he was a pioneer, not in the “covered wagon” sense, but in the “break ground, sink-your-roots homesteader” sense.

How Kayaking Legend Josh Lowry went down 100 Chilean Rivers in order to save the Puelo

Josh Lowry has gone down nearly every significant river in Chile and Argentina on his kayak and rafts. Now the Kayaking Legend has turned his efforts towards saving the pristine Puelo River which slices through the Patagonia, reaching the Pacific Ocean. I spent a week with the captain himself and you’ll see why I’d do it again.

Tayrona: The Freedom to Travel

Have you see the Lonely Planet guidebook for Colombia lately? For a country twice the size of Texas, the two hundred and something pages do not begin to represent the true tourist potential of this country. Still considered one of twenty most dangerous places in the world, the coverage given to Colombia by the ubiquitous […]

Matacanes & the Leap of Faith

I can’t see the bottom of the black hole called the “Confidence Jump”, but I know if I throw myself into the black abyss I might come out on the other side. At least that’s what Campana, my guide, tells me. After all, he brought me to this juncture where a beautifully sculpted limestone slot […]

Surfing in Mexico with the Queen of La Saladita

Until recently, I lived in San Antonio, and whenever I looked out my window I saw one of two things: buildings or live oak. And neither is very conducive to surfing. When I wanted to learn to surf, I instantly realized that I live in the wrong place, two hundred miles from any ocean and more […]

Los heroes del Route 66: cómo el camino mítico me llevó a Moriarty, NM

Tuve que continuar dos millas más por la carretera nacional I-40 antes de poder dar la vuelta hacia atrás. A la salida Wagon Wheel, regresé al café que había visto ubicado a lado de la carretera. Creía que era el pueblucho Cline’s Corner, donde el 285 se cruce con esta carretera I-40. Rápidamente, me di […]