As we take off for Central America (this time to Costa Rica), we think back to our first visit to the region a couple of years ago: Antigua, Guatemala.
Although Antigua has a reputation for being touristy, we found that it wasn’t too difficult to get lost and find a slice of authentic Guatemalan life. One of our favorite places to do this: Antigua’s central market.
Walk past the front section of the market, past the souvenirs and freshly cut fruit intended for gringos, and just keep going back, back — deep into the market, maybe even into the adjacent back parking lot areas where on weekends vendors come from neighboring villages.
It’s beyond this first scratch where you’ll find it: real life. Open the panorama to full screen to see it. Continue Reading »
When they say “off the beaten track” in South Africa, Northern Cape is what they mean. And why it’s not more beaten, we’re not sure. This is the sum of our short time there, including a surprising and deeply moving human encounter at the very end.
As we carved a path into the sunset along the Orange River border between South Africa and Namibia, it dawned on me (or would the appropriate phrase in this time context be dusked on me?) that we were far away with the trappings of something eye-catching and mind-wandering, wowing and calming, all without being contrived.
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If you’ve ever known that pang of sadness on the longest day of the year or the faintest glimmer of hope on its shortest, this is for you. If you’ve ever pondered cycles and the tricks of the seasons, that too.
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First day of our Markha Valley trek. We weren’t quite certain what to expect for the remaining six days of trekking through the Himalayas, but we were sure the following day would be steep and uphill, to 4,950 meters/16,200 feet. So on our first day on the trail we were relieved to find relative flatness, to lose ourselves in the red rocks of the canyon around us and to look off into the distance of the climb that awaited us.
Open the panorama to full screen to join us on that first day of our Markha Valley trek. Continue Reading »
Cape Town. You may come for beauty, but you’ll leave with a story.
Cape Town, a city we had heard so much about over the years, but for so many reasons never took the opportunity to visit – until recently. Like most, we were originally attracted to Cape Town for its natural beauty – think Table Rock cut by coastlines – but we also knew there was more behind that exterior. Continue Reading »
This is about Berlin, chunky quotes, something new we’re trying this week, and a few giveaways to tie it all together.
Berlin. A city we love, a city we’ve chosen as a base. As we dig into Berlin and meet others who’ve done the same, we learn a little bit more about the city through them — its layers of history, humanity, creativity, and culture.
This week we’re undertaking something a little different to bring more of this to light. We’ll be enlisting the help of Berlin friends and experts to help — on what we’re calling a Virtual Tour of Berlin. Continue Reading »
Ladakh: a place we had dreamed about for well over a decade, a visit packed with expectations. What made this place remarkable wasn’t quite what we expected.
Ladakh, lost in layers.
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While traveling, we often find ourselves focused on the present. This is a good thing. Then, something helps us appreciate the history, the roots of where we happen to be. This too, is useful because it provides perspective.
Likir Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh, at almost 1,000 years old, is one of those places.
For much of our visit to Likir Monastery we were alone, save a sole monk who tidied up and made sure visitors took their shoes off before entering the temples. We enjoyed it all in peace and found ourselves stepping back, literally and figuratively, just trying to imagine how monks had gathered in those spaces for centuries — chanting, meditating, praying.
Open the panorama to full screen to see if you can imagine it yourself. Continue Reading »
For all our readers that ask around the question, “How do you balance safety and openness on the road?” A few thoughts.
The U.S. State Department Travel warnings are shaking the news once again. Apparently, many people are wondering whether to cancel their travel plans. We’re getting notes from family and friends asking us to be careful. And we’re currently in Berlin.
And while we could not finesse our way to safety if we happened to be right on top of the next terrorist attack, there are all those other times — whether we find ourselves at home or on the road — when a few safety approaches and techniques come in handy. Some are natural, but most are acquired and honed from our years on the road in places like Guatemala and Uzbekistan, Egypt and Myanmar. These approaches not only enable us to travel more safely, but they also give us the freedom to open ourselves up to more people and better experiences.
So when we’re asked, “Is there a way to stay open and stay safe?” the answer notwithstanding that there are absolutely no guarantees in life is yes. Continue Reading »
Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags greet us as we reach Ladakh’s Gongmaru La pass. All the residual fatigue from climbing up to 16,800 feet/5,130 meters seems to evaporate once we’ve reached this place, our goal. It’s been six days in the Markha Valley and we’ve been up and down — and up again.
We have to remind ourselves not to move around too quickly up here, not to exhaust ourselves from the altitude. But it’s difficult to contain the excitement of being on top of the world — and as photographers, to grab a piece of and bask in every little visual slice that we can capture. The scenery stuns with layers of mountains for as far as the eye can see, while a surprise snowfall earlier in the week means our view is blessed with dramatic snow caps. Continue Reading »