I watched as the perfectly symmetrical cone shaped volcano appeared in the distance. Isla Ometepe lay ahead as we rocked back and forth on the gentle waves of Lago Nicaragua. After I had hurriedly passed through Leon and Grenada, I was looking forward to spending a couple of days chilling on an island.
Ometepe is defined by its two volcanoes: Concepción to the north and Maderas in the south. There’s a road around each and a smaller road that connects the two. The Nicaraguans have turned large tracts of the northern island into arable farmland but much of the island still belonged to the jungle. As the rickety old wooden boat slowly plodded it’s way to the main port, I knew this wasn’t going to be an island packed with resorts and first world comforts.
No, this was going to be a bit more raw.
I get the feeling that Nicaragua is sort of the bastard child of Central America. It’s not as overlooked as El Salvador, but then again, not many countries are overlooked as much as El Salvador.
North of Nicaragua, Guatemala is often viewed as the highlight of Central America with it’s beautiful colonial towns, lakes, and Tikal ruins. Belize offers the stunningly blue and warm Caribbean waters and Honduras, while plagued with violence, has arguably the best diving in the region. To the south, Costa Rica is an eco-tourists’ wet dream and the Latin playground for gringos (which made it, in my opinion, sort of a shit hole) while Panama has it’s gorgeous islands and the world famous Panama Canal.
November 13, 2015 will go down in French history as their 9/11. It will be remembered as the day that everything changed, the day that innocence was lost.
France has certainly suffered in the past from attacks like the Charlie Hebdo shootings but what happened that night was something far more sinister, far more evil than anything since World War II. It was a senseless, barbaric attack where the motive was to murder for the sake of murder. 130 people died, with hundreds more injured for no sane reason.
About a year ago, four of my friends and I had the idea of going to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. It was one of those things that seemed doomed from the very beginning: coordinating vacation time, getting visas, finding accommodation during the world’s largest sporting event, and getting the expensive flights were just a few of the many obstacles.
Personally, I didn’t have much faith that we would actually get our shit together and pull it off. Planning a trip by yourself is one thing, corralling a bunch of cats and dogs to do the same is another. But little by little, the plan came together: we bought our flights, won the match ticket lottery, got our visas, and booked the accommodation.
As the days ticked down to my departure date, I realized that I was soon to be in Brazil, often said to be the spiritual center of football, for the greatest sporting event in the world, with four of my best friends. This was going to be a whole ‘nother level.
The W Trek in Torres del Paine, Chile was one of the greatest treks I’ve ever been on. It captures the essence of Patagonia and is one of the premier hikes in all of South America.
During my research beforehand, I found some bits of info here and there but nothing very comprehensive. By the time we arrived in Puerto Natales, we only had a very general idea of what we needed for the trek and ended up scrambling to get everything in order. To save you that trouble, I’m going to write down everything you need for the W trek right here, right now.
I toiled through four years of high school Spanish and never did I think that it would be useful someday. At the time, it was just another class that I needed to graduate. I was really never great at it, let alone good. I failed pretty much every telenovela quiz, didn’t (and still don’t) understand the subjunctive phrase, and could barely roll my R’s. Growing up in California, you meet your fair share of Hispanic people but I didn’t ever think I would actually have to be proficient Spanish.