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Back on the Road in Guatemala

2011 January 5

On the road to Flores.

The red digital clock located above the center aisle read “2:09”. I had just woken up from a restless doze and peered out the window. Lit by the nearly full moon and the dim afterglow of the bus headlamps, the blur of trees and bush were occasionally interrupted by a roadside shack. Other than some snoring, the only sounds were the low hum of the engine and the constant creaking of a bus bouncing on uneven roads.

“Hello nightbus, it’s been a while.”

I was back in action, back in Latin America.

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Old Friends, Old Notes and New Experiences

2010 December 13

Tonight, I talked to an Indonesian friend I met in Bangkok back in January 2009. Since I last saw her in Thailand, she had left her job and boyfriend in Jakarta, studied in Europe, gotten married to a German guy and would be going to Germany mid next year.

We were talking and, out of the blue, she thanked me.

Almost exactly three years ago, I returned to the states from my three month study abroad trip in England. A couple weeks before leaving, I sat down and wrote about my experience in a note I posted on Facebook.

She said this note had inspired her to see the world which ultimately resulted in where she is now. I was floored.

I re-read it for the first time in years tonight. It amazed me how nearly all of the things I said then I still believe in now. It was also great to see that I had followed-through with the promise I made myself so many years ago.

Below is the note in full.

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19 Hours in Dallas – What to Do???

2010 December 9
by Paul

Following the heels of my 75K AA post, I booked a ticket to Guatemala City. Told you it was legit! What otherwise would have cost me $1,300-1,400 on Kayak came out to be $105 with 70K points.

I’ll be leaving December 18th and coming back January 2nd. It’ll be another solo trip and a bit different from Honduras as I don’t plan on heading to the ocean. I’m not quite sure what route I’ll take but I have some time to figure out a rough idea.

Unfortunately, there are downsides of rewards travel. Mainly, I have a freaking NINETEEN hour layover in Dallas. I land in Dallas Fort Worth at 9:55pm Dec 18th and don’t fly out until 5pm Dec 19th.

Basically a whole night and half a day.

I’m thinking I might check into a hostel, grab a steak, go out at night, see a couple things in the morning and book it back to the airport.

Any suggestions??

What’s the Big Fuss Over Guidebooks?

2010 December 8

Courtesy of

One of the more interesting debates I’ve heard on the backpacking trail is over the use of guidebooks. I’m talking about the Rough Guides, the Frommer’s, the Moons, Rick Steve’s and, of course, the ubiquitous Lonely Planet. They are everywhere these days  it’s rare to go into a hostel without seeing one.

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Finding the Lost City of the Incas

2010 November 30

Some of the scenery on day 3.

Day 3:

Like the previous two days, we woke up at the crack of dawn. The last leg before reaching Aguas Calientes, the majority of day three was spent walking along railroad tracks. Trains going to Machu Picchu (for those less inclined to hiking) traveled along the tracks and we saw them pass by once or twice. These tracks also happened to be the very same ones that were washed out in the March 2010 floods, about a year after I passed through.

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75K Miles From American Airlines

2010 November 17

There’s currently a very hot deal going on where you can get 75K miles for signing up for an American Airlines credit card. There are three versions of the card floating around (Visa, Visa Business, Amex) so it’s possible to rack up 225K miles if you are approved for all three.

Only condition is you have to spend $1,500 within the first 6 months, which should be pretty easy to do. The first year fee is waived and you can always cancel after you receive the miles if you don’t want to keep the card.

FlyerTalk has a very extensive thread on it with links to the offer.

75K miles is a ton and will get you pretty far, see this AA rewards chart.

Also, read my old post regarding earning free flights through credit card miles.

Over the River and Through the Woods, to Machu Picchu We Go

2010 November 9

Cusco morning.

Day 1:

I met Angie, Anna and Michael a few days prior and we decided to go as a group. We woke up early as a long day of travel awaited us: several hours of driving through the Sacred Valley followed by downhill mountain biking down into the town of Santa Maria.

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