Sunday, August 10, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
Guatemala is an incredibly underrated country, often passed over for Belize, Costa Rica, and Mexico. But. There is an immense amount of culture and beauty within Guatemala. Nowhere is this more evident than in Antigua.
Like a town lost in time on a cloud, Antigua feels aloof to the modern age. Impeccably charming, safe, and enticing, every corner brings an excitement with it. Curious buildings and hallowed out ruins and preserved artifacts of colonial brilliance conspire to create an unreal collection of a place in time. It feels like the past effortlessly disregarding the present. It looks like something out of a remembered dream, just passing by as you pass through.
Friday, August 1, 2014
About 3 or 4 years ago, I was reading a book on photography, and this one part in the preface has stuck with me ever since. The author told this story about how he was taking pictures in NYC early in his career and at one point during the day, he suddenly realized he was a photographer.
Now I like this on a few levels. First, I like the idea of someone having a cathartic realization that they finally "are" something. Like this guy took a ton of pictures for years and years, and finally after taking just one of thousands and thousands of shots, something changed within him. He went from taking pictures to being a photographer. I also like the idea that if you work hard enough, and keep at it, you can eventually become what you want to become.
It is why we do the things we do, but this realization is rarely so before and after or binary. The realist in me believes it grows slowly like a tree. The romantic in me wants to believe something can just change. That one day, you go one step further and are never the same.
I waited for this moment to happen to me. I wanted to be a photographer, but that shot never came. I wanted to be a writer, but no word pushed me suddenly to realization. But today, while balancing a thousand things, and trying to do a thousand more, it hit me. I am an entrepreneur. It happened on a Friday night, while people were going out and there was a certain excitement in the air on Ponce in Atlanta. I was in the FedEx parking lot wrapping a box in shrink wrap, writing an exec summary in my mind, hoping I would remember to capture the moment somehow. Suddenly things felt different, I was busier, but calmer, and everything slowed down.
When did Noah build the ark?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Reaching At.mosphere involves a few steps absent from most dining arrangements. First, one must enter the tallest building in the world, approach a sleek metal elevator, and make a very important choice that is really no choice at all. Only one option exists in the elevator – floor 123. With no stops to make on the way up, the elevator travels with a speedy transcendence that feels just a few technological steps removed from teleportation – 33 feet per second. In the time it takes a middle school graduate to read this paragraph, the doors swing open to reveal a spiral staircase leading to the restaurant one floor below.
Monday, July 28, 2014
As the years piled on, Dubai transformed. The skyscrapers grew like weeds in an untended lawn. Any doubt that the city was primed to be a world class destination was responded to with the sonic roar of hundreds of buildings rising from the ground almost overnight. Ready or not, here it comes.
Today, the hotels in Dubai have more stars than the milky way. The roads run smooth and are stocked with fluorescent hypercars and murdered out Mercedes Gelandewagens. Construction cranes sway in the gentle Arabian breeze next to impossibly tall buildings. The malls have ski slopes and aquariums with neat little Guinness World Record plaques. Man-made islands shaped like palm trees maximize beach front real estate just offshore. It is a place where the compendium of engineering knowledge has been plundered, nudging the limits of man-made extravagance into open space. Engineers come to Dubai to test the pliability of steel, the outrageous whims of architectural imagination, and the possibility of solving impossible problems.
And it all began with one building – the Burj Al Arab.
Bagan is an ancient city. Thousands of temples, pagodas, and stupas unfold across the dusty plains as if they have grown here organically from the ground for millenia. It is a place that feels older than time. The ambitions of this primeval capital are evident in every direction. The sheer number of ancient structures is at once baffling and awe-inspiring. No place on earth reflects this grandiose quality of scale as much as Bagan.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
In many large cities of the world, thieves hunt travelers from the shadows. They watch you take pictures at monuments, eat tapas at an outdoor cafe, and if you are unlucky, they will follow your steps with excited eyes as you fall into one of their traps. A few years ago while visiting Quito, thieves dumped a bucket of crap on me from a rooftop and then jumped me for my camera. It was
Fear-mongering aside, travelers are chosen as targets because they are not completely in tune to their surroundings. Maybe you are jet lagged, or you just ate a dangerous meal that has left you weak with intestinal anxiety, or you are lost in an uncomfortable part of Paris – these are all circumstances where you are in a vulnerable state and therefore a target of thieves. Like hyenas hunting for weakened game, thieves seek out confused tourists and map clenchers with wayward eyes.
These crooked opportunists have many breeds: child gangs in Italy looking for sincere mid-westerners, Vietnamese on scooters scoping for a wallet in an extended hand, and fake European police officers searching for rubes to shake down. While your trip will likely pass without incident, it is ideal to be prepared. If you know what to look for, then you can watch for danger signs and situations to avoid. Being a safe traveler is being a smart traveler. Here are ten common hustles to watch out for.
Guatemala is one of the most underrated destinations on earth. With volcanoes, great colonial cities Mayan ruins, rainforests, and just shitloads of natural beauty, it is a spellbinding place to find yourself for a few weeks. About 6500 feet up into the Guatemalan highlands, Chici seems perched at the top of Guatemala, an uphill gathering place for the denizens of this collectivist nation. From the cities and villages, old Mayans and city folk alike find their way to Chichicastenango to trade goods and come together.
The church of St Tomas (above) is a 400 year old church with a rich history. Originally a Mayan temple, the church serves several purposes to the community. K'iche' Mayan priests still use the church for their rituals, burning incense, candles, and chickens for the old gods. It is the kind of place where the past still burns bright.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
A few months ago in Tokyo, we found a really cool outdoor food area in Omotesando, close to the subway stop. While unusual eateries were everywhere, we stopped to grab a ginger beer and sample some fries at Brooklyn Ribbon Fries. In the picture above you can see it as the tin shack with BRE on the side. This whole area had a ton of cool shops and mini-restaurants amid the bustle of Omotesando.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
A couple years ago I did a brief consulting assignment through Indiana University, and I just found a ton of photos from that trip that I never shared on Goboogo. I am going to cycle through them over the next few weeks. Guatemala is an incredible country, extremely worthy of a visit and a couple week stay.
One of the coolest parts of my trip to Guate was visiting Lake Atitlan. The lake is located in the Guatemalan highlands and is over a thousand feet deep. It is flanked by 3 volcanos and several Mayan villages.
The lake was once thought to be showcased an angling Guatemalan show piece, so they stocked it with all kinds of non endemic fish, like the Black Bass. Of course, terrible things happened. This little bird went extinct (Atitlan Grebe), and 2/3rds of the lakes endemic fish disappeard. Bummer.
Panajachel is a bigger village on the lake and has decent tourist infrastructure. It was also a popular hippie hangout in the 60's.