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Archive for the ‘Reflection’ Category

Ok, this January I posted some lofty goals for the year and my career as a travel writer / travel blogger. I wanted to check in at the half-way point, but I am three months late. So, now with the year more than three-quarters complete, I decided finally review my goals. Here goes:

  • Start my new personal travel blog and website titled  – stayadventurous

The blog (this blog) has grown bigger than I imagined and with more posts than I envisioned.

From my recent 20 day Mexico tribute to the weekly Sunset Sunday. I am glad to see it grow each week and I appreciate the readership.

And as for the website. It’s still a 2010 goal. Stay tuned.

  • Continue to freelance write for travel related blogs

I wrote guess posts on other travel blogs titled Experiencing the World CupTravel to Puerto Escondido and I continue to write for Cheapflights.com with a focus South of Border. I just published Destination Spotlight on Playa Del Carmen and also remain  contributor to Suite 101. So I am on target here.

  • Travel to 1 new continent; 2 new countries; and at least 1 new US state

New continent. Yes. Africa.

Actually I dedicated the entire month of August to stories about Africa. All Africa – All August. I traveled through five countries on the journey; South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia.

Surprisingly, I did not hit a new state, well not yet. I am still on 41. But overall, this goal was to travel to new places. I did accomplish that including new places in States I already visited in America’s Southeast.

  • Get published in print for a major travel magazine (before they all disappear)

Not  yet. I need to pitch smarter and continue to build my credentials. I know I am ready, I just need to make them know the same. And I inched closer with being published in print a few times.

You can read one story thru a link on my blog: The Shanghai Surprise.

  • Publish a novel I write or ghost write

I realize I don’t have complete control as a ghost writer to ensure the work is published. I helped a few writers this year, but if I want to be part of a published novel project, I may need to stick to a novel I write. So, that might be a 2011 goal or maybe even 2012.

  • Expand my photography portfolio and publish a photo for $ (not just credit)

I expanded my photography portfolio. I upgraded my equipment and deepened my study for the fine art. Plus, I take many more pictures. I believe all those actions helped improve my skills  and confidence.

But even with some of photos classified as award-winning (such as: The Man from Malpica) I am still looking for more than photo credit. The (photo) payday is still in the future. I sense the near future.

 

i am becoming addicted to taking waterfall photos...

 

  • Secure other revenue sources related to travel such as: assisting Indie travel magazines, overseas freelance consulting projects, or even some tour guide – teaching travel related work.

This didn’t become as large of piece of the pie as I expected, but it’s growing. And the pie now includes work in Social Media along with improvement consulting strategy work. After a slow start, it’s gaining much (needed) momentum.

  • And of course…Encourage others to ’stay adventurous’ in mind, body and spirit. To inspire them to take and make adventure in their life

Yes. I believe I have continued to encourage. I receive emails, comments on my stories, or even tweets to that effect on @stayadvenutrous. And, I just received further confirmation.

I keep a post card collection and a traveling friend sent a post card. Her sign off says it all… stay adventurous. Yes, it’s working.

So let me know how you are doing on your New Year’s goals? Do you even remember them? Either way, I hope after you read this, you take a chance to refocus on what is important as we all head ‘down the stretch’ of 2010.

Stay adventurous, Craig

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Fountains. I am a fan. I always find myself taking a break to relax, unwind, and enjoy the cityscape around fountains. Big, small, historic, or just simply communal – fountains inspire and energize.

When in Mexico City, I worked as a consultant for Banamex. And when I think of my favorite spots in Mexico City – the fountain at Banamex’s offices in Santa Fe would make my list.

walking into Banamex, you can see the fountain

Every morning I walked down stairs, passed through security and stopped at the fountain. Call it my moment of ‘Zen.’ And actually any time I needed a break, I took a walk to the fountain. Stressful situations at work seemed to disappear when feeling the the mist of the water. Somehow, a perspective gained watching the water spray.

the fountain in the evening

Visitors to Mexico City can’t access the fountain. In fact, some days access seemed difficult for me even though I worked in the building (security). But my visits, those moments by the Banamex fountain, will always remain some of my special moments of my days in DF. Days I cherish.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 14 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

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All cities contain weekend escapes. Places within a driving distance where people can unwind and spend time away from city life.

the streets of San Miguel

Mexico City is no different. Within driving distance (once outside the city traffic) you can find yourself sunning on the beaches of Acapulco, exploring the mountains and forests of Michocan, or walking the colonial cobble stone streets San Miguel de Allende.

Eventually, my travels would take me to all three, but first up – San Miguel. And my visit fortunately coincided with Mexican Independence Day.  An event not to be missed anywhere in Mexico (this year marks its bicentennial), and an event especially not to be missed in a place like San Miguel.

decorations adorn the streets

I left Mexico City early the morning of the 16th the official holiday, with little sleep from the party the prior night. Impressed with the patriotism and celebration during the ‘El Grito’ in Coyoacan (inside Mexico City) I wondered how San Miguel de Allende might compare.

When I arrived at the town square I paused. This was Mexico. The Mexico you first imagine when you think of the country. Not Mexico City, not the beaches, nope, you think of the charming streets, the town square, and the local fiestas.  You think of a place like San Miguel.

The town, apparently popular with American expats, was all about Mexico this day. Horses and history paraded around the square and streets to cheering fans. People waved flags and sipped tequila in cantinas singing sad songs of celebration.  The celebration of a people and a place. The celebration of Mexico.  And on a special day for all Mexicans, this gringo took something away.

Sure, I learned the fact Mexican Independence had nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo (although I already knew that). But I also learned more. I learned Mexico was a place I wanted to explore, a place I wanted to stay.

singing songs of sadness....

At the time, I just started working in DF. And I loved living and working abroad, but I am not sure I loved Mexico. Not yet.  Yes, I loved my time in DF and I also loved my birthday weekend in Puerto, but with the project off to a shaky start (my reason for being in Mexico at the time) I wondered where I’d be next.

But after that day and night, I changed my attitude. I decided I wanted to see more and realized there was so much more to see. Mexico got under my skin that day. It settled in. It never left.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 12 of 20 day Mexico bicentennial tribute. Happy Independence Day to Mexico Today. Viva!

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After a few very busy days in Sinaloa, specifically Mazatlán I suddenly realized I had yet to take in a sunset. And it’s on the Pacific coast of Mexico too. But then, perhaps aided by the pearl of wisdom found in a few Oysters, I  decided to not find the time, but make the time to watch one. I decided to create a moment and witness one of my favorite times of the day.

No more chasing another story or writing one. No more tweeting my thoughts. I put down my pen, shut my lap top and decided to enjoy a moment on my balcony at the Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay. The luxury resort located in Nuevo Mazatlán, one of the three main neighborhoods for tourists in the city, provides a true retreat from the everyday and a chance to watch day turn to night. Although I enjoy being in the action at times, the action the Golden Zone might provide, I definitely enjoyed some time away. Time to relax, time to pause,  time to reflect. Some time to watch the sunset.

I can recall moment, not because the sky displayed the most spectacular colors or because I witnessed a green flash. I didn’t capture the perfect picture either. Nope, it was simply because it was a shared experience. I realized someone else, somewhere, was doing the exact same thing. Somewhere, someone was watching the sunset too. I felt connected.

I hope this Sunday (on a special, emotional weekend here in New York City) you do too.

the shared experience... the sunset

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 8 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

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I take my birthday off every year. That did not change this year and was no different during the days when I called Mexico City my home.

surfing the waves of Puerto...

That year, I decided my September surf session would not be at the Jersey Shore or Fire Island, but in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. “Puerto,” as it is charmingly called, claims the Mexican Pipeline. And although the waves may have got the better of me that day, I certainly made sure I enjoyed my birthday in other ways too.

a great way to spend a birthday....

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 7 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

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I reached for the large brown crayon. Not sure how to put the experience into words I started to draw.

sitting down right before we take off the blindfolds

As we all opened our eyes after the Sense Adventure the guide asked us to share our thoughts on a blank comment card. And although we all experienced the same stimulation, we all reacted differently.  Some of us enjoyed it, others did not.

At that moment, I noticed the reflection of the mangroves in the cenote. My first impulse – to jump right in – didn’t seem appropriate now that we came back to the material world. Or perhaps I knew of the future. The very fact that I’d take a swim in the cooling waters later in the evening after our Temazcal ritual. Either way, I just continued to draw.

I focused on the reflection. It seemed to perfectly align with the guide’s final instructions, “…open your eyes and see yourself, your reflection…”  Ok. I handed in my art work, not sure what to make of the entire experience. All I knew was that I found myself. I discovered a gift, the present.

still with camera... not there yet.

The Sense Adventure started slow for me, but once I completely let go, and let go completely I really traveled some distance. Not a distance measured in miles, but an internal distance. A distance that sometimes can be further than I’d like to think. A distance to find myself and connect.

When we started, I didn’t know what to expect. I read “sense adventure” on the itinerary and said “yes.” Seemed to fit my mantra. But I made a mistake. I took my camera. Foolish because once blindfolded I didn’t get any good pictures. (Tip: take nothing with you)

With the entire focus to remove sight and augment other senses you don’t need anything but yourself. That’s the big idea. Eventually an assistant took my camera and I started to let go some and not worry about its safety. But then with the use of water, I worried about my phone in my pocket. Another distraction I planted on myself. But I eventually decided to let go completely. (I could use a new iPhone anyway I thought)

Only then did I start to truly realize the power and the gift before me. When the journey switched from water to wind, we seemed to be asked to fly. And although, few words are spoken during the trip when the guide or assistant moved my arms I responded. And at this point I soared.

a little wet, but good times came soon....

I truly and finally really let go of everything. Only then did I travel further inside. I started to really smell, feel, and touch. It changed. I changed. I reached “now.” I became present, it was truly a gift. Thank you (or Gracias)

Immediately afterwards, discussing the experience with fellow travelers, i learned people thought of it as  everything from lentil torture to a journey into zen. Honestly, the discussions seemed no different than how people judge or rate any travel experience.

Then a few days later, I realized our journey only highlighted four of our five senses.  Yes, the journey changes for each group. The guide reads the energy of the day, the people, and changes the experience accordingly.  No two times will be the same but the destination is the same for every participant – that connection.

On my experience we missed – taste. I wonder if he knew what Chef Oscar had in store for us. From the chef’s table, to tequila tasting and crusano (grasshopper) we definitely enjoyed the sense of taste during our stay. It is hard not to at Hacienda Tres Rios.

But, I wonder what the guide thought of my drawing. I wonder if anyone else ever drew the cenote. I wonder what others wrote on those cards that day and any day. Looking back, I realize that is not what is important.  What is –  the fact I let go and became present during the experience. I connected.

the cenote I drew... I also took a picture when i got my camera back...

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 3 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

Also,special thanks to Hacienda Tres Rios for sponsoring my trip, taking a few photos, and also allowing me to come to my senses during my visit.

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In a country where a $50,000,000,000,000 dollar bill might get you $1 USD from a tourist (only for a souvenir, the currency is worthless) and unemployment reaching 90% in some areas, the future might seem bleak. In fact most tourists don’t seem to travel anywhere outside the Victoria Falls area along the Mighty Zambezi for safety concerns. Zimbabwe might be considered a country with little hope. But one stop on my travels changed my mind.

walking in to the school...

When traveling with Vantage Travel in Africa, part of your packed itineary involves a cultural connection. A chance to visit local communities and interact.  And in fact, whether in Africa, Asia, or the Americas, the company works with the local communities and makes a difference.

In Zimbabwe – it was a visit to the Chinotimba Primary School.

a class meets outside...

After our arrival, we were warmly received by students with song and dance. Local customs proudly remain on curriculum. Also, the students learn in both their local language and English. This enabled it much easier to converse. We learned about their life and they asked abut ours in an structured Q&A session. Then afterwards, its free time – we walked around and visited other classrooms and library (donated by Vantage and tourists) to talk with the students. We even had the opportunity to donate supplies or funds to the school directly. Most, if not all, did.

ah, so glad to see Brittney in school....

But the joy for me was watching the children. You see the shy smiles and the joy in their soul. You see surprising western influences and the pride when they show their workbooks. You see kids being kids. You see kids being happy. A future does exist for the country in the kids of this community and places like it.

As the bus pulled away, I stared out the window. My thoughts reflected about my good fortunes in life. From my education to my life as an American. I am very thankful.  But I smiled, there I was on the adventure of a lifetime across Africa, and all I really searched for and wanted at that moment – to be as happy as those kids. And feeling that, I know there is hope for Zimbabwe.

a student shows off his work with pride...

Stay adventurous, Craig

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