Palle Bo is a long time radioproducer who has sold his house, car and all of his furniture so he could travel around the world. He has an ambition to visit every country in the world and you can join his trip in this podcast. Come along as he meet the locals and experience Palle's excitements and concerns regarding the life as digital nomad.
Uma recepção calorosa from Rio de Janeiro My first Sunday morning in Rio gave me the quintessential Brazilian experience: chilling on a packedCopacabana beach [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copacabana,_Rio_de_Janeiro]listening to traditional samba music performed by a group of local friends sitting around a breakfast table. It didn't seem like these people were an organised band, and they weren't doing it to make money from tips. I just got the feeling that they were doing it for the love of samba. How can you not have a smile on your face when you find yourself experiencing this beauty on the world's most iconic beach only a few minutes’ walk from where you stay? What a city! The night before, I also got to hear some Brazilian samba. I teamed up with a friend of mine, Shannon from Los Angeles, and asked some locals where we could find a unique samba experience. SATURDAY NIGHT SAMBA We were given insiders information on where to find a tiny samba bar known only to locals. When we arrived, we couldn't believe just how authentic this place was. It was a small bar – kinda like a bodega. The band was not on a stage; they were just sitting around a table with their instruments and drinks. The place was packed, and we were standing around their table in a circle. It was a truly unique experience. After the band put down their instruments in favour of their drinks, we stepped outside onto the street and walked a bit until we came across another very local place where they had a karaoke night. It didn't have any windows, so people walking by could hear the not-so-great 'singers' attempting their versions of famous songs. Shannon's face lit up, and with a big smile, she said, "Hey Palle, let's go in and get a drink". The thing is, Shannon "Sangin' Diva" Pearson is a professional singer. She began her professional career at the age of 15, doing studio work around Los Angeles. Over the years, she's had the privilege of sharing the stage as a backing singer for artists like Natalie Cole, George Duke, Stanley Clark, Al Jarreau, Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Evelyn Champagne King, Sean "P-diddy" Combs, Kelis, Leona Lewis, Katy Perry, and many others. She's also appeared on TV shows like Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel, America's Got Talent, and even How I Met Your Mother. As a solo artist, she's performed all over the world asSangindiva Shannon [https://www.sangindiva.com/]. And now this singing diva was about to have her Brazilian debut in a not-so-fancy little karaoke bar in Rio de Janeiro. The people in there had no idea what was about to happen. Shannon was almost jumping in her seat and smiled like a kid in a candy store when she was flipping through the song folder to pick a song. She then went up to the lady controlling the show and pointed at a song. When it was her turn, we all sensed that this was a professional from the second she was handed the microphone. She connected instantly with the sleepy people in the room with her presence. She then belted out a loud "Hello from Los Angeles California!". And then the music started: Whitney Houston'sI Wanna Dance with Somebody. Unlike other karaoke singers, she was not looking at the screen for the lyrics. She was looking at the audience, dancing and spinning around. The people on the street stopped and looked in awe of what was going on. It was like they were looking and thinking, "Wait a minute, didn't Whitney pass away a long time ago?". We ended up staying there for hours, and Shannon kept going back on stage again and again… Check out Shannon's outstanding performance below. https://youtu.be/nZnWVsxriJE [https://youtu.be/nZnWVsxriJE] ESCADARIA SELARÓN OR SELARÓN STEPS The following day, I met up with Shannon on Copacabana beach, and we were both still high on the musical experience from the night before. We strolled along the beachside, taking in the sights and sounds of this splendid place. We then slowly headed to the next beach over,Ipanema [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipanema]. We found ourselves at the 'hippy market', a lovely little flea market kitted out with artsy items such as musical instruments, brightly coloured shirts, hats, and curiosities. We then headed up toEscadaria Selarón [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escadaria_Selar%C3%B3n], also known as the Selarón Steps – a world-famous steps attraction in Rio de Janeiro and the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as his "tribute to the Brazilian people". In 1990, Selarón began renovating the steps that ran along the front of his house. At first, neighbours mocked him for his choice of colours as he covered the steps in fragments of blue, green and yellow tiles – the colours of the Brazilian flag. It started as a side-project to his main passion, painting, but it soon became an obsession. He was constantly running out of money for the project, so he sold paintings to fund his work. It was long and exhausting work, but he continued on and eventually covered the entire set of steps in tiles, ceramics and mirrors. There are 215 steps, measuring 125 metres long, covered in more than 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries around the world. It is considered an iconic tourist attraction of Rio de Janeiro, with travellers from across the globe visiting it every day. The steps have been featured in many famous magazines, newspapers, travel shows, documentaries, commercials, and music videos. National Geographic Channel, American Express, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Time and Playboy are just some of the media outlets that have featured the iconic steps. The steps have also been featured in many music videos, such as Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams'Beautiful [https://youtu.be/_FE194VN6c4]. Snoop and Pharrell are not here today, but halfway up the steps, we met a young local couple with hip-hop names: Biggie and Dou. They were relaxing at a pop-up bar that was selling the iconic Brazilian drink,Caipirinha [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caipirinha]. "There are so many amazing things to experience when living in Rio. Us locals are very warm and inviting. The stories are true: we listen to samba and dance every day of our lives. Plus, we give the best warm hugs." I sampled a Brazilian hug from Dou, and they weren't wrong. When I asked about the crime aspect of the city, they said that it is like any city in the world: as locals, there are certain places to avoid at night. Using common sense, they said, is key. Shannon and I ended up having quite a few Caipirinhas. It was a fun weekend with a friend I met onNomad Cruise 7 [https://www.nomadcruise.com/]: a two-week "floating conference at sea" from Spain to Brazil. NOMAD CRUISE I hopped on a cruise ship in Spain with 500 other digital nomads and aspiring entrepreneurs from 42 countries for a two-week networking conference across the Atlantic. I met up with old friends from previous Nomad Cruises and made new friends along the way. On Nomad Cruise 7, I met Tarek Kholoussy, founder ofNomads Giving Back [https://nomadsgivingback.com/], who has a corporate background in Wall Street. He was working for Goldman Sachs when he decided to get out of the rat race and become a digital nomad. On the cruise, Tarek gave a talk about his journey and goals: one of which was to create a social enterprise. At the end of his talk, he publicly announced the launch of Nomads Giving Back. A few days after we set foot on land, I pulled Tarek aside in a café in Porto de Galinhas on the east coast of Brazil for a chat. This was before I arrived in Rio. DITCHING CORPORATE FOR SOCIAL Tarek told me he always had a passion for social causes thanks to his entrepreneurial heart, but his background had always been corporate. He joined Nomad Cruise to pitch his Nomads Giving Back concept to the nomad community: to inspire nomads and travellers to give back to the communities they visit. From his inspiring talk, he was met with overwhelming support from the nomad community, including the founder of Nomad Cruise, Johannes Voelkner, who suggested they collaborate. "Every digital nomad realises just how amazing our lives are having the opportunity to travel the world and experience things many will never the chance to. And it becomes more meaningful when we are able to engage with local communities we travel to uplift and help develop. The aim is to make this global world feel like a close-knit community helping each other along the way." BACK IN RIO WITH NOMADS GIVING BACK Jumping back to the present in Rio, I met up again with Tarek who found the first project here for Nomads Giving Back. They teamed up with the philanthropic organisation/schoolSolar Meninos de Luz [https://www.meninosdeluz.org.br/en/]situated in a favela close to Copacabana. Tarek tells me that the idea for this first NGB-program is inspired by the power of the Nomad Cruise conference, where attendees learn how to improve their digital marketing skills (among many other things). Tarek and the Nomads Giving Back team decided to use some of the funds collected at the fundraising dinner on the ship to create a digital skills program for students who would not otherwise have access to it. Many digital nomads earn their income from digital skills, and Tarek and the team sought to pay it forward by channelling donations to advance digital skill learning among disadvantaged youth here in Rio de Janeiro. Tarek and I caught up again to talk more about the new project. We both realised how fortunate we are to live a nomadic lifestyle and how much we have always wanted to give back to the communities we visit. "Digital nomads are mostly entrepreneurs working light without the backing of large corporations, so we don't have deep pockets. But there are so many other ways we can give back that doesn't require loads of money. Being a nomad is about freedom of choice, and part of that is defining what is important to you. For instance, in one night at the charity dinner on Nomad Cruise 7, we raised thousands of Euros." "Over and above, nomads are volunteering to help with their skills and talents: like the website and branding and business development. This shows the power of the nomad community and the power connecting through the same principles and values." Solar Meninos de Luz has spent nearly 40 years serving their local community. We were given a tour by Manu, a former student of the school and the perfect ambassador for the program. In fact, she came here when she was only three months old. "We have been here for 27 years doing a great job at educating the local community, with a holistic approach. We have 420 students, 115 volunteers, and 113 employees working in the school. We also provide over 1,200 meals every day as students arrive at 7am and leave at 6pm, so we provide 3 meals to each student every day. It is a lot of hard work but we love what we do here." Manu tells us that the school relies on public and private funds and donations to keep the facilities running. We walked around the school and met some of the students. We were then treated to a nativity themed music and dance performance by the students. It was really great and so lovely to see the kids singing and dancing. Then an adult choir came onto the stage and gave an incredible performance. MORE ABOUT SOLAR MENINOS DE LUZ In walking distance from Solar Meninos de Luz is theCopacabana Palace [https://www.belmond.com/hotels/south-america/brazil/rio-de-janeiro/belmond-copacabana-palace/], one of Brazil's biggest and most luxurious hotels. It was the location of a fundraising event I was attending for the project. The luxury of the place is quite the contrast to the favela up the road. But that is both the charm and complexity of this historical city. Solar Meninos de Luz is a philanthropic organisation that promotes education, sports, arts and culture, basic healthcare, and professional training support. It was founded 34 years ago and have assisted over 5,000 locals. Famous Brazilian authorPaolo Cohelo [https://paulocoelhoblog.com/]who wrote The Alchemist (1988) and The Pilgrimage (1987), among many others, is a major long-time sponsor of the school. He donated his villa, which is now part of the campus and serves as the library. After months of planning, the Digital Skills Program officially launched a few months later. Nomads Giving Back were able to teach things like content marketing, SEO, and Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn Marketing. The 14 students learned how to think strategically, generate their leads, promote their personal brand, effectively use each social media platform, and much more. Upon completion, they were able to implement what they learned to start and grow their own business or better prepare themselves for job opportunities. MIT MASTERCARD BLEV KOPIERET Out of nowhere, I received a call from my bank back in Denmark informing me of suspicious activity on my Mastercard. Apparently, some dick in the USA tried to draw $400 from my account. So, my Mastercard was blocked for security purposes, but thankfully your dapper Danish vagabond travels with a spare Visa, so my samba-licious adventures could continue. I later found out that my card was copied by someone moving close to me with some kind of electronic device that copied all the info of the wireless function on my card. Maybe it happened at the market on Sunday, where I was close to a lot of people. Since then, I've gotten a new wallet where my cards are protected in a metal case. SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN Sugarloaf Mountain is one of Rio's most iconic attractions. It is a beautiful peak that rises 396 meters high and presents a bird's eye view of Rio de Janeiro from the mouth of Guanabara Bay. The cable car trip up is a sensation, and the panoramic views from the peak are absolutely breath-taking. The original cable car was built in 1912 and then rebuilt in the '70s and again in 2008. I planned to meet up with a few digital nomads for a hike on one of the hills. Then, we planned to catch the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain to enjoy the sunset. We made it to the summit just in time to watch the sunset. And boy, was the hike worth it. And as the sun was setting with a stunning view of Rio de Janeiro, it's also time to let the sun go down on this episode. My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See ya. FLASHBACK EPISODES WITH TAREK You should also go back to the archive andlisten to the two episodes [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/?s=tarek]I recorded with Tarek to learn more about his story. It's genuinely fascinating. SUPPORT SOLAR MENINOS DE LUZ If you would like to help support the continuous education and development of the youth in Rio de Janeiro,visit their website [https://www.meninosdeluz.org.br/en/]to find out more. SUPPORT NOMADS GIVING BACK Join the community of nomads giving back by visiting theirwebsite [https://nomadsgivingback.com/]to find out how you start your giving back journey today. COVID-19 TRAVEL and TOURISM RULES FOR BRAZIL (OCT 2021) This episode was recorded when Brazil was open for travel. For the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations, please visit theBrazilian government's official website [https://www.gov.br/mre/en]. Make sure Brazil is open for tourism before booking your trip.
SUNRISE ON THE BEACH Welcome to an episode from Sri Lanka. This is a rerun and a mix of two of my episodes from here. I visited the island in 2019, just before the pandemic shot the world (and Sri Lanka) down. Now that everything is slowly opening again, I wanted to remind you of the beauties of this country and its people. As you’re joining us in this episode, we’re staying at a hotel calledPigeon Island Beach Resort [http://www.hotels25.dk/Hotel/Pigeon_Island_Beach_Resort.htm] at the eastern part of the island. It’s literally on the beach just north of Trincomalee. The next morning I got up at 5 am so I could go to the beach facing east and record a time-lapse as the sun was rising. Much to my dislike, eleven young men were walking into my shot. Then I realized that they were pulling a rope. They were dragging a net full of fish out of the water, and I went over there and helped them pull it for a while. Someone later told me that when tourists do that, they share a few of the fish with the people that have helped them. I didn’t stay to the very end, so I never got my fish, because I needed to go and get ready for the next day of exploring. I want to go back and spend at least a week at Pigeon Island Beach Resort. Especially when I saw that they have a Scuba Diving Centre, and it’s just been too long since I’ve been scuba diving. But the itinerary didn’t give me time for that, so I guess that gives me another reason to come back to Sri Lanka. FACTS ABOUT WHERE WE ARE * The highest point in Sri Lanka is Mount Pedro, reaching 2,524 meters above sea level. * With over 400 waterfalls, Sri Lanka has perhaps the largest number of waterfalls of any country in the world, in comparison to its size. Bambarakanda Falls is the tallest waterfall in the country, with a height of 263 meters. * There are 22 national parks and 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. CONTROLLING BULLS IN A FORREST NEAR HABARANA It was time to head down to Habarana 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Trincomalee. This is where we’re staying tonight and also where we’re going into nature. When we get close to Habarana, we leave the paved road and on a dirt road get to a small clearing in the forest. We about to go deep into the forest on small Bullock Carts. Four people in each cart with two white bulls dragging us. I was in front with the guy steering the cart and controlling the bulls. He had commands for left, right, stop, and go faster. The bulls seemed quite lazy, but he was sitting right behind them, and if he swung his leg just a little bit, he would give them a gentle kick in the balls. And that would make them go fast. Halfway he gave me control of the cart and jumped off. So, there I was, controlling a bullock cart on a dirt road in a forest in Sri Lanka. Now that was a first for me. And no, I didn’t kick any balls. WATCH TOWER AT THE RICE FIELDS We still had a bit of a walk to do before reaching our destination. On the way, we saw a tree hut close to a rice field. This hut is used for keeping guard at night and scaring animals that might away with firecrackers and drums. We crossed the river in a double-paired canoe – kind of a catamaran that they use for fishing. The river wasn’t that wide because it’s dry season right now. In the wet season, the water level will rise a couple of meters and makes the river much wider. We’re heading towards the small village where we will experience a traditional authentic Village Lunch and get a local cooking demonstration. We also go on an elephant safari and see herds of elephants in the wild. And then after a bit more walking, we got to a small house with a grass roof. Inside was a smiling Sri Lankan woman about to cut a coconut in half with a big knife. AUTHENTIC VILLAGE EXPERIENCE I get to taste a bit of the coconut milk, and then she starts grinding the inside of the coconut. She’s using a piece of metal at the end of a stick she’s sitting on. The desiccated coconut falls on a banana leave. It looks so easy, and yet we can see that she was very skillful. She has done this a million times before. Especially after Joanna and Viola from the group tried to do it, we realized that they just didn’t have the same touch. We go outside where there’s a big rock. Here she puts some chili and salt and starts rubbing with another stone the size of a loaf of bread. She adds the desiccated coconut, onion, and lemon, and rubs some more. This coconut paste was scooped back to the banana leave and was to be a little part of the meal that awaits us. This coconut paste was to be a little part of the meal that awaits us. The rice and the chicken drum stick curry had been cooked over a fire outside the hut. And there was so much delicious food on this authentic Sri Lankan buffet that we were eating with our hands. There was so much delicious food on this authentic Sri Lankan buffet that we were eating with our hands. On the way back to the bus, we sailed a bit more in the catamaran canoes, following the river on to a lake. Visiting this small village in the forest, having the authentic Sri Lankan lunch prepared like it’s been done for centuries in a small hut with a grass roof, eating with our hands was truly an experience. ELEPHANT SAFARI But the afternoon was about to get even better: We were going on an elephant safari. For the next couple of hours, we were driving around a big area where close to one hundred elephants were roaming freely – like they are supposed to. We’re in Minneriya National Park, best known for its large herds of Elephants – generally well over 100 elephants at a time nearby area of the Minneriya reservoir. It’s situated in the south-central area of the island and comprises of grasslands, thorny scrubs, and many valuable species of trees. Apart from elephants, species of deer, wild boar, water buffalo, and jackals are some of the wild animals found, along with a variety of avifauna that abounds the park. PALLE ON THE SOAPBOX: DON’T RIDE ELEPHANTS If you’ve followed me for a while, and especially heard my episode from Chiang Mai in Thailand, you will know how I feel about elephant riding. You should never ever do that. The elephant back is not built for it, and it’s just plain cruel to do so, in my opinion. A guy from the company that did the village experience and the elephant safari gave me his business card when we were having lunch. I noticed that it said “Elephant Riding” on the card, and I asked one of our guides if this was something they still do. He went and asked him and got back to me and said that they stopped doing this more than a year ago. They just had more business cards. To me, that was a valid explanation, and I understood. I accepted that, so we went on the elephant safari. As I’m editing this episode, I visit this company’s website and see that they still have Elephant Riding on the site. If they have stopped it, and of course I expect that they did, I find it weird that they didn’t remove those pages from the website. That’s why I won’t mention the name of the company here – as I usually would until I know for sure that they have stopped elephant riding. If you go to Sri Lanka – and please do because this is a fantastic country; do the elephant safari, do the village experience, but do your best to make sure that you don’t do it with a company that does elephant riding. Be responsible as a traveler. It might be a cultural thing, and I do respect the Sri Lankan culture and that they have to make money off the tourists, but I simply can’t support something that is cruel to animals. So I would never go riding elephants, I wouldn’t go to bullfighting or go swimming with dolphins (like I did in the Bahamas before I knew better). All this is my own genuine opinion. THE ANCIENT CITY OF POLONNARUWE The next day we start at another place here in Sri Lanka with a name that’s difficult to say but worth visiting. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa is aUNESCO World Heritage Site [https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/201/]and the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms. The Chola dynasty first established Polonnaruwa as their capital in the year 993. Today the ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic cities in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom’s first rulers. And as a fun fact, it was used as a backdrop to the Duran Duran music video Save a Prayer in 1982. It’s a beautiful place that also holds some beautiful statues. SURPRISE AT HOTEL SIGIRIYA The next day we were going to lunch when some surprising turned up in the outskirts of a forest. The lunch was to be hadHotel Sigiriya [http://www.hotels25.dk/Hotel/Hotel_Sigiriya.htm]– with a magnificent view of the iconic Sigiriya rock, that we were going to climb in the afternoon. And boy, were we in for a surprise. First, we stop at the edge of a forest with several tuk-tuks are waiting for us, decorated with flowers and balloons. After a short drive, we get to a luxury hotel and are greeted by local musicians and dancers that take us to the back of the garden, passing the pool area. We are greeted by local musicians and dancers that take us to the back of the garden. Here we could experience how they prepare the traditional food that we were having for lunch. It’s in the style of a traditional Sri Lankan village that we saw earlier. I asked the general manager of the hotel, Suresh, to explain where we are. “We’re in the center of the Cultural Triangle, at Hotel Sigiriya, with a nice pool area, where you can see the Sigiriya Rock while you’re dipping.” He tells me that 90% of people visiting Sri Lanka come to this part of the island, even though it’s not near the coastline. They come for hiking, bird watching, and to see the Sigiriya Rock. Also, it’s quite normal to see elephants crossing the road here. CLIMBING SIGIRIYA ROCK In the afternoon, we were hiking up to the top of Sigiriya Rock – also aUNESCO World Heritage Site [http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/202]. It holds an ancient rock fortress and is nearly 200 meters (660 ft) high. This unique Rock Fortress or “castle in the sky” is a massive monolith of red stone. It got the name Sigiriya or in English: “Lion Rock” because the entrance to the climb to the summit is reached between the paws of a lion. It was a bit tough but so worth it to get up there. For me, this was the highlight of the day. I felt I was at the rooftop of Sri Lanka, walking around the ruins with an astonishing view as the sun was slowly setting. DISCLAIMER: This trip was made possible by Sri Lanka Tourism, but the content is with my own direction and genuine opinions. LINKS: Sri Lanka Tourism [http://www.srilanka.travel/] UNESCO about Polonnaruwa [https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/201/] Hotel Sigiriya [http://www.hotels25.dk/Hotel/Hotel_Sigiriya.htm] UNESCO about Sigiriya Rock [http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/202]
Hey from The Big Apple I started my adventure in the Big Apple sitting in a park in Brooklyn on a Saturday morning watching small kids and grown-ups playing football – yes, as a European, this is what I call the game where someone kicks a round ball with their feet. I'm waiting to meet up with my friend Scott Gurian. Even though we'd never met prior, we do consider each other friends. Scott is a fellow veteran travel podcaster and one of the best in the business. He's the guy from theFar from Home [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/]podcast you must have heard me talk about many times here on the Radio Vagabond travel podcast. Scott planned to spend his Saturday with me in Brooklyn, Queens, and New York showing me around some interesting places in his hood while we chatted and got to know each other. Scott lives in nearby Jersey, just across the Hudson River, so we're Close to Home for Scott today. As we walked over to Scott's car — a nice big new Toyota — I immediately joked that it was very different from the small, old car that played a big part in thefirst season of his podcast [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/season-one]. FAR FROM HOME Scott participated in the Mongol Rally and drove a tiny, beaten out Nissan Micra stick shift across Europe and Asia about five years ago for an epic 18,000 mile (29,000 km). He did this crazy adventure from the UK to Mongolia with his brother and two friends – and after that, he decided to drive back in the same car. The first season of Far from Home is outstanding and got me hooked on the podcast long before we knew each other. I highly recommend listening to it if you haven't already. Also,watch a few clips [https://vimeo.com/292620454]of his journey to experience the trials and tribulations first-hand. Naturally, he has so many memorable stories and anecdotes from that trip, so I wanted to find out which stand out most in his memory. "Oh, so many. Driving across Iran with my brother and two friends (as Americans and Brits) was amazing; the friendliness of the people was memorable. Also, travelling through 'untouched' countries in central Asia like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc., was excellent.SeeingCappadocia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia]in Turkey with its hot air balloons was also amazing. And, of course, Mongolia is incredible with its vast open spaces and extraordinary scenery. It took us about seven weeks to travel from the UK to Mongolia, so as you can imagine, I have many incredible memories from that trip." Scott wanted to see more of the world, so instead of flying back to Europe (like any sane human would), he decided to drive back to explore more countries and regions, like Siberia in Russia. THROAT SINGING IN SIBERIA In one of the episodes of Season 2, Scott visits the remote south SiberianRepublic of Tuva [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuva]to learn about the traditional instruments and the ancient art ofthroat singing [https://vimeo.com/353654651]. He even attempts to throat sing himself! Read more about this visit and see photos and videoshere. [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/news/0203] "Russia is such an enormous country with so many different regions home to vastly different cultures. Tuva was a 12 hour journey out the way to visit and it is so unique. It is close to Mongolia so the Tuvans look very similar to Mongolians." HALLUCINATING ON AYAHUASCA IN PERU In another episode, he meets a medicine man who invited him to attend a hallucinogenic healing ceremony where he drank ayahuasca. All while holding his microphone. Have a listen to the episodeby clicking here [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/news/206]. CLOSE TO HOME Due to the pandemic, Scott hasn't been able to travel overseas. But he is content as he tells me that living in Jersey, there is a lot of adventure that awaits in and around New York. He started cooking and even home-brewing to keep his itchy travel feet scratched. Scott was due to meet me atAfricaBurn [https://tickets.afrikaburn.com/]– the South African Burning Man just outside Cape Town when lockdown hit. Scott stayed in Jersey, and I was stuck in Cape Town for a while (so be sure tolisten to my Radio Vagabond South African [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/category/destinations/africa/south-africa/]travel adventures). We were supposed to travel a bit of South Africa together, but alas, it was not meant to be. SCOTT GURIAN'S NEW YORK TRAVEL GUIDE One of the cool things about making friends worldwide is that they can show you places you usually wouldn't visit. Because I had visited New York several times before, Scott wanted to take me to places few tourists would know about. Here is a list of Scott's unusual but must-visit places in New York Scott took me to: DUMBO A part of Brooklyn is called DUMBO [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbo,_Brooklyn] aka "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass" is a trendy neighbourhood to walk through Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT MUSEUM In an old subway station, you can visit the New York City Transit Museum [https://www.nycgo.com/museums-galleries/new-york-transit-museum/]. Move further down and see some 100-year-old subway cars. WILLIAMSBURG Williamsburg [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williamsburg,_Brooklyn] is a hipster neighbourhood that is cool to stroll through. QUEENS MUSEUM OF ART Next to where they hosted the World Fair, you find Queens Museum of Art [https://queensmuseum.org/], where the Panorama is now housed – a scaled model of every borough in the greater New York area in the 1960's. THE CITY RELIQUARY The City Reliquary [https://www.cityreliquary.org/] is a not-for-profit community museum and civic organization located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s really cool and weird – and connects visitors to both the past and present of New York. We walked around Brooklyn for a bit and found the iconic Instagram spot with the bridge in the background. You might remember it from the gangster movie 'Once Upon a Time in America' poster. Then visited a place with a lot of food trucks calledSmorgesburg [https://www.smorgasburg.com/]. As far as I know, this word comes from the Danishsmørrebrød, and then Americans started saying it like theSwedish Chef from Muppet Show [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7UmUX68KtE]. Unfortunately, we didn't find any Danishsmørrebrødat Smorgesburg. Another thing we couldn't find after that was… Scott's car. After a slight ordeal trying to locate his car, we eventually found it after getting help from the police. Even locals can get lost in New York. Go figure :) TAJIKISTAN POLICE Our polite encounter with the NYPD reminded me of Scott's experience with the local police in Tajikistan on his trip. I asked him to talk about his experience. "There is a lot of corruption in central Asian countries like Tajikistan. Our British friends in another Nissan Micra got pulled over by some traffic cops who actually aimed their radar gun at another car, and then tried to say it was them who was speeding. My brother's and I stopped too and heard that they demanded $100 which was a month salary here and crazy. Specially since they weren't speeding. It was clearly a scam, and we didn't want to give in to the bribe/corruption stigma. After a long time, we eventually settled on handing over a bottle of vodka, and we were back on the road." Scott secretly recorded the entire encounter that you can listen to in its entirety inEpisode 16 of Far from Home [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/news/2018/road-gets-rougher], Season 1. Scott tells about more traffic cop encounters he had in central Asia. Most of the time, the cops were polite and never gave them any unnecessary issues. We exchanged stories about the amazing people we get to meet on the road. Scott paid particular mention to the wonderful Iranian popularity he experienced. Thanks to Scott for taking me around the New York area on a beautiful Saturday. I hope to team up with him soon to do some travelling together and collaborate on future episodes of both our podcasts. My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. NEW YORK FLASHBACKS If you want to listen to more of my travels through New York from previous visits, simply follow the link:The Radio Vagabond Travel Podcast in New York [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/category/destinations/north-america/usa/new-york/]. COVID-19 TRAVEL and TOURISM RULES FOR NEW YORK (OCT 2021) This episode was from the end of August 2021, when New York was open for travel if you (like me) didn't travel to the country from Europe. Please visit New York City's official website for the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations. [https://www.nycgo.com/coronavirus-information-and-resources-for-travelers]Make sure New York is open for tourism before booking your trip.
OM SUASTIASTU FROM BALI Before I tell you about drinking the world's most expensive coffee made from beans that have passed through a cat and pooped out, let's kick off this week's episode with an Balinese language lesson. THE RADIO VAGABOND LANGUAGE SCHOOL: BALINESE I always try to learn a few words and phrases when I visit a new place. For today's The Radio Vagabond language school lesson, we'll learn essential Balinese phrases: Hello:Om suastiastuGood morning:Rahajeng semeng My name is Palle:Wastan tiang Palle Thank you:Suksuma I’M IN BALI, BABY Bali is an island province in Indonesia, so obviously, they speak Indonesian, but they also have their own language – Balinese. Despite practising the basics above, I still managed to mess up suksuma(thank you) when I met Putu, our local guide. Luckily for me, Putu was a good guy and didn't make me feel silly. FUN WITH NAMES Putu explained a few funny things regarding people's names on the island of Bali. In general, Balinese people name their children depending on the order they are born, and the names are the same for both males and females: * The firstborn child is named Wayan, Putu, or Gede. * The second is named Made or Kadek. * The third child goes by Nyoman or Komang. * And the fourth is named Ketut – like the old wise Balinese man in Eat, Pray, Love (which translates to" little banana") So, what do they call their fifth child, you may ask? Well, they simply start over again and name him or her Wayan, Putu or Gede. Anyway, together with a few friends, we asked Putu (a firstborn) to take us around to some interesting places in Bali. But before we explore, let's learn more about this beautiful island. 7 FACTS ABOUT BALI 1. DIGITAL NOMAD HOTSPOT Bali is a small, well-known beautiful island in Indonesia (Southeast Asia). The capital,Denpasar [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denpasar], is the island's largest city and home to the international airport. But the most well-known Balinese places are probably Ubud (in the centre of the island) and the beach town of Canggu (on the western part of the island). Both are hotspots for digital nomads like me. 2. HINDUISM IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY Bali is the only Hindu-majority province in Muslim-majority Indonesia. 86.9% of the population are devoted to Balinese Hinduism. 3. BALI IS A SMALL ISLAND Bali is 95 miles (153 km) from east to west and only 69 miles (112 km) from north to south. It has a population of 4.3 million people. 4. TOURISM IS VERY IMPORTANT Pre-Covid, they had almost 6.3 million tourists stop by every year. Tourism is the beating heart of their economy, as around 80% of the island's economy depends on tourism. As you can imagine, it's been a tough couple of years forBali during COVID [https://www.statista.com/statistics/976842/foreign-tourist-arrivals-numbers-bali-indonesia/]. The 6.3 million visitors in 2019 dropped to less than 1.1 million in 2020. 5. NEW YEAR'S EVE IS QUIET Unlike almost everywhere else in the world, there are no big parties on New Year's Eve in Bali. The day is calledNyepi [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyepi], and it's a day of silence and meditation. The whole island shuts down, and no work, travelling, or even noise is allowed. When I heard this, I thought, "What…? That's what I experienced as I (sort of) remember a big New Year's Eve party here". That's because Nyepi is not celebrated on December 31st but mainly in March. 6. BABIES NEVER TOUCH THE GROUND In their first few months, Balinese babies are thought to be connected to the spirits and to stay connected, and they should not touch the ground. When they are about three months old, the infants finally touch the ground, and their family holds a big celebration to mark the occasion. 7. THEY ONLY HAVE TWO SEASONS It's moderate throughout the year, and Bali has only two seasons: the dry season (April to October) and the wet season (October to April). MONKEYING AROUND IN BALI Putu picked us up in Canggu. He had a great sightseeing adventure in store for us, including a visit to the cat poop cafe (well, not really, but kind of). More on this later. On the way to the coffee farm, we passed the cultural centre of the island: Ubud. We drove past the famousAjuna Statue [https://www.worldhistory.org/image/12379/arjuna-statue/], which Putu explains is part of the Hindu religion. We talk about how tolerance is a major part of the island culture. We made our way to the famousUbud Monkey Forest [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubud_Monkey_Forest], which is a forest filled with, you guessed it, monkeys. The guidebook tells me not to carry anything in my hand as the cheeky monkeys will likely come and take it from you. I held my podcast microphone and was a bit worried that they would steal it from me and take over this podcast. BALINESE HUMOUR Back in the car, we chatted more about the funny name situation on the island, and Putu decided to tell a joke. Let me set it up: Four people get on a plane. One is from Paris, one is from Denmark, and the other two are from Bali, named Putu and Made. "The Parisian drops her perfume but doesn't mind because there is a lot of perfume in Paris. Then, the Danish drops his chocolate but also doesn't mind because there is a lot of chocolate in Denmark (apparently). Then, Made drops Putu out the window, but doesn't mind because there are many Putu’s in Bali…" I love Balinese humour, even though I don't always totally understand it. Like, when Ketut told a joke to Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love… that Ketut cannot fly on an airplane because Ketut has no teeth. Julia Roberts seemed to get the joke. Somebody, please write to me [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/contact/] and explain that joke to me. Speaking of jokes, a few cat poop jokes coming up: COFFEE LUWAK (AKA CAT POOP COFFEE) We eventually made it to the coffee plantation that makes the world's most expensive coffee: Coffee Luwak – orKopi luwak [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_luwak]. It is made from partially digested coffee cherries that have been eaten and pooped out by a shy cat-like creature called theAsian palm civet [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_palm_civet]. Then, hard-working coffee farmers go through the cat poop and dig out the coffee which they use to make Kopi Luwak. No wonder it's the most expensive coffee in the world. At the plantation, we met our female guide, who is probably called Putu or Kadek but goes by the name Monica, who tells us more about how the Luwak Coffee is made. "They eat any kind of coffee bean, as long as the quality is good. They don't chew the bean, so it passes through in its entirety." As she was talking about the process, I couldn't help wondering how in the world they thought of taking coffee beans out of cat poop and use them to make coffee. Even thought, I REALLY want my coffee in the morning, there are limits. "The first time this process was accidentally discovered was in Sumatra in the early 18th Century. The farmers realised that a lot of their coffee beans were disappearing, and they soon found them again in the poop of the Asian palm civets roaming the grounds. The farmers used the poop beans to make coffee and discovered that it had a unique taste thanks to the intervention by the civets." The part of the coffee plantation that is open to the public has a cage with a few Asian palm civets, a beautiful café area with a stunning view, and a few coffee plants. Monica tells us that there is a bigger area outside this part with many more plants and that they harvest every six months. But Luwak Coffee is not seasonal and is available all year round. She then takes us on a tour of the plantation where we ate fresh coffee beans (from the plant, from the plant, I promise…). "We clean the beans three times and then roast them. In the roasting process, the soft skin of the beans burns away, leaving the quality bean. Each roast takes about 45mins per kilogram". PERCOLATED POOP TASTING After we toured the farm, we were served ten small cups of coffee. One of them was the very special and super expensive Luwak Coffee. Is it as good as the price tag indicates? Yes! It was really good... even if the beans had been inside a cat a few hours prior, probably. GET PURIFIED IN HOLY (BUT MAYBE DIRTY) WATER Our next stop was the Hindu Balinese water temple calledTirta Empul Temple [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirta_Empul]– in Balinese: Pura Tirta Empul. Tirta Empulmeans 'Holy Spring' in Balinese. The temple compound consists of a bathing structure, famous for its spring water that Balinese Hindus consider holy, so they go here for ritual purification. Putu explains: "People come here for healing. There are 14 different water streams, and each has a different function. Like, one is for the heart, the other for the skin, etc. You must go through each water stream in order. Before entering the water, you must pray and bless your body for healing. Once you are in the water, you must give a gift of a flower to the statues." There are so many people lined up to go in the holy water. For most of the time, Tirta Empul is believed to be a source of clean water for ritual bathing. But, according to areport in 2017 [https://coconuts.co/bali/news/e-coli-found-bali-temple-water-gianyar-regency-focusing-water-quality-standards/], authorities were investigating reports of water pollution and health risk at the Tirta Empul Temple. So, if you go in, try not to drink any of the water. Until the next time, my name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you. BALI FLASHBACK If you want to hear more from Bali, go back and listen toepisode 184 [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/184-fivelements-bali/]where I spent a few days at an amazing place called Fivelements Resort. PODCAST RECOMMENDATION If you like this podcast, I'm sure you will love the podcast calledFar from Home [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/#:~:text=Far%20From%20Home%20is%20an,Iran%2C%20Chernobyl%2C%20and%20Mongolia.]. It's by Scott Gurian – a New Yorker who travels around the world to some far-away places totally off the beaten path. Like when he went to a wedding in Kazakhstan. Listen here. COVID-19 TRAVEL and TOURISM RULES FOR BALI For the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations, please visit Bali'sofficial tourism website [https://bali.com/bali/corona-virus-bali-indonesia/]. Make sure Bali is open for tourism before booking your trip.
Meet Mark Wolter of the Youtube channel, Wolters World [https://www.youtube.com/c/woltersworld/]. For 12 years he's been giving us honest travel advice on different places around the world. If you're going somewhere there's a good chance that he's done a few videos from the place. woltersworld.com [https://woltersworld.com/] facebook.com/woltersworld [https://www.facebook.com/woltersworld] twitter.com/woltersworld [https://twitter.com/woltersworld]
An ass-slapping hello from Dominica Before we kick off this episode, I have a suggestion: Get your headphones on! 3D AUDIO RECORDING If you prefer to read about my awesome adventures here on my travel blog rather than listening to my sultry voice in my travel podcast, that’s awesome. But...you’re kind of missing out on the true Radio Vagabond experience – hear me out... When doing my travel podcast episodes, I try really hard to create an immersive audio experience for the benefit of my loyal listeners. I record a lot of live-action elements and add music, interviews, and diegetic sounds for an up-close and personal listening experience. For example, after reading this blog post I highly recommend you give this episode a listen as I used a special binaural recording technique [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording]. It’s also known as 3D recording, so I suggest you put on headphones for this one to get the best experience. Ready? Let’s jump into it. My name is Palle Bo, and this is The Radio Vagabond episode 210. Welcome to Dominica in the Caribbean Sea. HANGING WITH MY BEACHES IN ANTIGUA Before I got to the island of Dominica, I revisited another one of my favourite islands in the region where I spent a week prior – the beautiful Antigua in the island nation Antigua and Barbuda [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigua_and_Barbuda]. Since I have already seen every corner of the island known for its 365 beaches, I decided to do a trip around the island on a catamaran ship and see the beaches that way. The trip was amazing. We took a long stop at one of the beaches where we got to snorkel in the corals for a few hours. I absolutely love this place and the people. They are so chill and have a great sense of humour, perfectly encapsulated by our hilarious tour guide. If you haven’t heard the three episodes [https://www.theradiovagabond.com/?s=antigua] from the last time I was here, I highly encourage you to go back and listen to them. But not right now because we’re about to arrive in Dominica. DELIGHTFUL DOMINICA When I saw in the cruise itinerary that we were going to visit Dominica [https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominica], I thought it was the Dominican Republic [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominican_Republic]. But Dominica is not the Dominican Republic – it’s a separate island and independent country over 1,000 km (600 miles) away in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The official name of the country is The Commonwealth of Dominica, but people mostly refer to it simply as Dominica. It was named by Christopher Columbus after the Spanish word for Sunday, the day of the week on which he first spotted it. Our cruise ship docked in the capital city of Roseau, located on the western side of the island. And the island is small: only 47 km (29 miles) from top to bottom and 26 km (16 miles) at its widest. That makes the tiny island only 750 km2 (290 sq miles) in total. Technically, you can drive around the island along most of the coastline in 5-6 hours but driving on the island of Dominica is not for the faint of heart. Of the 780 km (484 miles) of highways in Dominica, nearly half are unpaved. And cars are driven on the left-hand side. I didn’t drive myself. I booked an excursion and went on a bus with local Alvin as our guide. We headed to one of the many stunning waterfalls on the island – Jacko Falls [https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g147284-d12219347-Reviews-Jacko_Falls-Morne_Trois_Pitons_National_Park_Saint_Patrick_Parish_Dominica.html]. I got to chat with Alvin which I’ll tell you about, but first let’s learn more about Dominica. 5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT DOMINICA 1. There’s a river for every day of the year While Antigua and Barbuda has one beach for every day of the year, Dominica has over 365 rivers – one river for every day of the year. With so much water running around, it’s no surprise that Dominica is also a dream destination to chase waterfalls. 2. It’s home to the second-largest boiling lake in the world Dominica is home to the second-largest boiling lake in the world after New Zealand. It’s one of the most famous places on the island, especially for hikers. But this is no easy stroll – you’ll need 6 hours to get there and back. 3. There are nine active volcanoes Dominica has nine active volcanoes – the world’s highest concentration! But don’t worry, there hasn’t been a major eruption since 1997 and before that, it was in 1880. So, being a volcanic island, the beaches are black. 4. Two-thirds of Dominica is covered in rainforest Gorgeous tropical rainforests cover over two-thirds of the island. And these rainforests are home to more than 1,000 different plant species – so hiking here is great. 5. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed in Dominica Dominica is one of the filming locations used in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. The place where Will Turner and his shipmates are hanging in bone cages (called “Cannibal Island” in the film) is right here in Dominica. As you heard, Dominica is home to endless rivers, waterfalls, rainforests, and volcanoes – and for that, they have earned the nickname ‘the nature isle of the Caribbean’. ALVIN OUR DOMINICAN TOUR GUIDE When we arrived at the stunning Jacko Falls, I took the opportunity to get to know our warm and friendly tour guide, Alvin (“like the chipmunk” he jokes). “This beautiful Jacko Falls is part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park [https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/814/] which is named as a World Heritage Site. We are about 2,000 feet above sea level.” I spoke to Alvin about a study I came across that stated that out of 22 Caribbean islands tracked, Dominica was the least visited by tourists. But this study is from 2008 and this has changed a bit since then. “Yes, back in 2008 not many cruise ships visited Dominica. But since then, a lot has changed thankfully, and we receive many tourists visiting from the cruise ships. In fact, before 2008, banana harvesting, and exporting was Dominica’s main source of wealth. Since then, our tourism industry has overtaken. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing fewer visitors to our island nation”. Everybody on the island has their part to play in terms of keeping our tourism industry the country’s main source of income – the shops, bars, restaurants all come together to make it a magical place. “We are all very appreciative of tourists coming to visit and we all try our best to make their visit as pleasant as possible, so they leave with only the best memories”. THE QUEEN, COMMONWEALTH, AND CRICKET Alvin tells me that Dominica is still part of the Commonwealth, although they got their independence in 1978, so the Queen still features on Dominican currency and the drive on the left side of the road – like they do in Great Britain and most other former British colonies. Their national sport is cricket, too. Speaking of sport, Dominica only had 2 people competing in the Olympics in Tokyo. Dennick Luke in the Men's 800 meters event and Thea LaFond in the Women's triple jump. And no… they did not take home any medals to this tiny island nation. As we drove back to Roseau, we could see the city from above and the fairly new multi-purpose Windsor Park Stadium. It serves as the national stadium and is used mostly for cricket matches. It cost $17 million (€12 million) to build and was paid for by China as a gift to the people of Dominica. DOMINICAN FOOD IS SUPER HEALTHY I noticed that all the restaurants offer such incredible food that is also so healthy. I asked Alvin more about the local cuisine. “Yes, the Dominican diet is very healthy, like most local Caribbean food. We are a great place for vegetarian travellers as most of our dishes are packed with loads of vegetables and greens. We also eat a lot of seafood, a lot more than red meat and pork. That keeps us healthy” But Alvin ended with an important piece of information… “But most importantly, we enjoy a little sip of rum now and then. In Dominica, we don’t call it rum, rather we have a few names for it: “Grandma Medicine” and, my personal favourite, SMACK MY ASS AND TAKE ME TO BED”. I really love this place. SMACK MY ASS TO LIVE LONGER The mix of clean food and ass-smacking clearly has its benefits. Dominica was home to one of the longest-living humans in history. When Elizabeth Pampo passed away in 2003, she was 128 years old and the World’s oldest living person [https://www.thedominican.net/articles/pampo.htm]. And almost even more interesting: there were at least 17 other people older than 100 years in Dominica at the time (with 4 of them living very close to Ma Pampo). With a population of only 70,000, Dominica has the highest concentration of people older than 100. Alvin’s own grandmother is one of them. “My grandmother is 105 years old. She is still going strong: she loves to potter in the garden every morning and loves spending time with her family and friends. And gets a shot of rum every day”. VISIT DOMINICA AND MEET ALVIN FOR YOURSELF You can reach Alvin at Hibiscus Eco Tours [https://discoverdominica.com/en/places/131/hibiscus-eco-tours]. You can call them on +1 767-615-8281 or send them an e-mail [http://email@example.com/]. When saying goodbye to Alvin, I said that the only bad thing about my visit was that it wasn’t long enough. And I wasn’t even kidding. Dominica really is one of those places where I would have loved to spend some more time. I felt right at home and would love to come back. Soon... After waving off Alvin, we headed back on the cruise ship. For my health, I decided to finish off my Dominican experience at the pool bar with a little sip of rum – or, as I will now forever refer to it as, an ‘ass-smack’ before taking myself to bed. My name is Palle Bo and I gotta keep moving. See you. COVID-19 TRAVEL and TOURISM RULES FOR DOMINICA (SEPT 2021) Is Dominica open for travel? This episode is recorded in August 2021 and Dominica was open for travel. For the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations, please visit their official website [https://dominica.gov.dm/]. Make sure Dominica is open for tourism before booking your trip. PODCAST RECOMMENDATION If you love listening to The Radio Vagabond, then you will definitely enjoy the travel podcast Far From Home [https://farfromhomepodcast.org/#:~:text=Far%20From%20Home%20is%20an,Iran%2C%20Chernobyl%2C%20and%20Mongolia.]. It is produced by long-time radio producer Scott Gurian who travels around the world to some extreme faraway places.
It is exactly twenty years after the tragic events in Manhattan, New York. And since I was there a few days before the anniversary and stayed at an Airbnb that was there when the Twin Towers came down, I decided to make a special episode for us all to remember how it affected our worlds.
It is exactly twenty years after the tragic events in Manhattan, New York. And since I was there a few days before the anniversary and stayed at an Airbnb with a guy that was there when the Twin Towers came down, I decided to make a special episode for us all to remember how it affected our worlds.
Welcome back to the second half of my day with Andrés at various places around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. If you haven’t heard the first half, you should go back and listen to that one first. We’re in Panajachel in the northern part of the lake. While waiting for Siobhan to arrive, Andrés and I stopped for a slow lunch in the heart of the town. As it turns out, Siobhan arrived later than expected when it was getting dark, and the last regular lancha/boat had left. But Andrés managed to call someone to pick us up in Pana and take us back to San Lucas. While sitting at the pier waiting for the boat, Andrés told me how he ended up running an Airbnb in Guatemala. GUESTHOUSE IN GUATEMALA “It all began in 1987 when I visited Honduras for the first time at the invitation of a priest who was critical about US policy in Central America. He invited us to protest the USA embassy by pouring blood on the walls as a metaphor for the bloody policies and bloodshed US policies were having on Central America at the time. I was critical of US policy in South and Central America as my uncle was imprisoned and my cousin was killed by Ronald Reagan’s Contras defending the revolution of Nicaragua.” After being involved in another protest the following year in Guatemala, Andrés was caught and deported back to the USA. At a talk in Washington DC, he met Narda, a woman from Honduras who gave a talk. After he returned to Honduras to visit her, a true romance blossomed between them. The two dated long-distance, on and off for 13 years. But just as Andrés was getting into telling me the actual way he ended up in Guatemala, our boat arrived. A DOG’S LIFE We then made our way back to San Lucas Tolimán, and the guesthouse Andrés runs. He calls it Casa Catzij named after his wonderful dog, Catzij. She used to be a street dog but found out that she gets a lot of attention and good food with Andrés. You can take the dog out of the streets, but you can’t really take the street out of the dog. So, she still runs around San Lucas Tolimán on her own, and it seems like everyone in town and around the lake knows her. She joined us on the day trip, and every time we strolled around town, rarely on a leash. One day when we were walking, a friend of André’s was driving by and rolled down the window to say hi. And Catzij knows her too, so she jumped through the window of the car onto her lap in the driver’s seat. And she’s not a small dog. CASA CATZIJ Andrés, Siobhan, Catzij, and I eventually arrived at Casa Catzij where we met Alexa, a guest who regularly lives here for months at a time on each visit. There is a lot of “hygge” here (a Danish word for cosiness famous around the world). Andrés even has the book about hygge on his bookshelf. And together in the living room around the fireplace with a lot of hygge, we sat down to continue the story on how Andrés ended up running a guesthouse in Guatemala. “Unfortunately, my life partner Narda passed away after heart surgery which ended up breaking my heart. But Narda introduced me to my good friend, Chati, who I have known for about 25 years. Chati worked as an administrator for one of the poshest hotels in San Lucas Tolimán. Two years ago, I came here to write with my Goddaughter, Erica. I fell in love with the town, and after returning to California for a bit, I soon found myself back here. Chanti var på jagt efter et hus og inviterede mig med for at se det. Hun var ikke interesseret og det lykkedes mig. At lave en aftale med ejeren – og nu er det lavet om til en Airbnb. Chanti was house hunting and asked me along to look at this place. She wasn’t interested and I wasn’t even looking for a house. But I managed to strike up an agreement with the owner to renovate the house and turn it into an Airbnb.” “PALLE’S PICKUP” FROM GUATEMALA I am so happy that I made some interesting new friends during my stay at Casa Catzij in San Lucas Tolimán at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Meeting Alexa, Siobhan, and Andrés was the best thing that has happened to me for a long time. Andrés’ ability to talk to everyone and immerse himself into the small local community impressed me a lot. When we walked through town, I could see how much the locals like him (and his dog, Catzij). A short walk to the market can take a long time. He is clearly not just an American outsider. He is one of the locals, and that is so inspiring. Obviously, it helps that he’s fluent in Spanish, but even though I’m not, I learned a lot from Andrés. Just a few words in the local language helps. And trying to remember the names of people I meet. VISIT CASA CATZIJ I definitely recommend staying atCasa Catzij [https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/45185429?guests=1&adults=1&s=67&unique_share_id=3fda7dea-4aa9-4631-b990-75e97b9df30d]and spending some time with Andrés and Catzij if you’re visiting Guatemala. By the way, two tiny kittens also moved into the house when I was there. Go meet them and say hi from me. My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you. COVID-19 TRAVEL AND TOURISM RULES FOR GUATEMALA AUGUST 2021 For the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and tourist regulations, please visit thiswebsite [https://gt.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/security-and-travel-information/]. Make sure Guatemala is open for tourism before booking your trip.