jardin, colombia: a coffee break

I made a cup of joe this morning the slow way: grinding up some recently-roasted beans, putting it the grinds into my French press, pouring in the hot water and letting it sit comfortably for about four to five minutes, taking my time to enjoy the toasty flavours in my mouth. It’s a ritual I…

santiago de okola: the dragon and the lake

The magic hour happened – in the dead of the night, around 3am, when I stumbled out of my room to the outhouse, so I could pee. By then, the moon had set, and so I could see what I didn’t see hours earlier when I turned in for the night: thousands of stars, blazing…

catarata de gocta: a lesson in humility

“Not another waterfall,” I thought, when the manager at my hostel in Chachapoyas, Peru, mentioned as a must-do in the region. Amazing waterfalls exist, I know. Iguazu Falls in Brazil/Argentina, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe/Zambia – they’re all marvels I hope to see some day. But famous names aside, my actual experiences…

the w circuit in torres del paine: notes from an amateur, part I

Recently, someone asked me for some advice about hiking in Torres del Paine and (Patagonia in general), and her four simple questions unleashed an outpouring of thoughts and jumbled bits of advice I forgot I had. Trekking the W circuit in Torres del Paine isn’t a new thing – plenty of travel/adventure bloggers have generously…

between worlds, part II

“For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them, and the blue instead tints the next beyond.” — A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit I haven’t updated this…

cuba: peeling beauty

When I walked around Havana, snapping away at its decrepit-yet-elegant historic centre, I felt a twinge of unease. Was it okay, I wondered, to be taking photos of beautiful ruins (or things falling into ruin), if people were still living in them, because of circumstances (poverty, stalled development) rather than choice? I love ruins and…

cartagena: come fall in love with colombia’s caribbean capital

The balmy air enveloped me like a warm bath. I could feel my lungs relax and the tense, scratchy feeling in my eyes melt away. After the dry, cold air of the Peruvian highlands, so piercingly crisp and clear, the tropical warmth of Cartagena, perched on the edge of Caribbean Colombia, felt like a friendly,…

santa catalina monastery, arequipa: between worlds

Wake up, pray, eat, work, eat, pray, work, eat, sleep – and no speaking, no leaving the compound, once you’ve signed up for a life as a Dominican nun. Ever. Not too different from how I spend my time these days. Kidding. I visited the Monasterio de Santa Catalina in Arequipa, and as my guide…

laguna 69: don’t forget to breathe

“If you can make it up in three hours, you’ll have no problem with the Santa Cruz trek,” said my roommate at the hostel I was staying at. I don’t know if he meant it as a challenge, or as reassurance, but being a hiking neophyte, I certainly felt the pressure no matter what. The…

santa cruz trail: sky. mountains. lakes.

Yesterday I woke up, checked my news feed, and decided I would rather not. Instead, I backed up photos from my phone, and capturing my imagination were the photos from my trek along the Santa Cruz trail in Huascaran National Park, in the north of Peru. For anyone that wants a taste of the snow-capped…

in quito: guayasamin, with feeling

Today I put up a few of the postcards I bought during my trip to South America, among them a couple by Oswaldo Guayasamin, an Ecuadorean artist I had never heard of until, well, I got to Ecuador. I had two days to spend in Quito en route to the Galapagos, and visiting the house…