Welcome to my travelblogs!
More than anything, these blogs are a means for capturing my thoughts and experiences as I wander the World. Though they are now useful for sharing these experiences with friends and family, I hope that they will also help me relive the experiences someday when my memories become dulled by time.
I have been fortunate enough during my lifetime to have straddled the developing and developed areas of the planet. During my childhood in my native El Salvador, I was amused but extremely curious about these strange visitors that appeared periodically in our midst and found wonderment in the most ordinary items of our existence. They wore odd clothing and appeared to carry with them an insatiable thirst for new experiences. They also carried with them the echoes from other lands that to me seemed quite more interesting than what was around me at the time.
Destiny, a civil war, and finding a soul mate compelled me to leave the familiar and pursue the echoes from far-away lands
. The echoes became other realities, different familiar universes that my professional life has ultimately amalgamated. I have traveled by most means, from hitchhiking across a continent to transcontinental first-class flights.
I do not believe that the means are as important as the attitude of the journey but I do agree that the more basic travel can be more exciting and rewarding if you are fortunate enough to be able to detach yourself from "normal" life and its responsibilities. I will be back in that position one of these days, but in the meantime, I can't ignore the call of the echoes from far-away lands
and so the journey continues!
July 24th 2009
I believe that the best experience of travel is getting to know the people who live in the places that the traveler visits. But experiencing people usually requires some effort and time investment because of cultural and language differences that can become a shield that keeps travelers as outsiders. But even living among a foreign culture for a while is no guarantee that we can pierce this shield and obtain the ultimate reward from travel; fortunately, patience and persistence are usually the catalysts needed to force the outcome. Japan has been such an experience for me, and during this particular visit, one that started like other recent ones, I got closer than ever to experiencing the human side of this amazing country and its culture. Oddly enough, the people of Japan and I actually crossed paths ... read more
May 23rd 2009
When people who have never visited this country think about Japan, the image that most frequently comes to mind is one depicting its super-populated cities. Confirming this commonly-held perception, I have witnessed many times the expression in the faces of new visitors when they arrive for the first time at places like Shinjuku or Shibuya stations in Tokyo. Invariably, they seem to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people moving in all directions in these huge and labyrinthian train stations and their general environs. After all, both Shinjuku and Shibuya are two of the busiest districts in Tokyo and every day, about one million people go through each of their largest train stations. Though I no-longer qualify as a new-comer, my frequent visits to Tokyo since the time I used to live in Japan always ... read more
April 24th 2009
When a group of clueless early pioneers heading for California decided to take a shortcut through its boundaries, this gem of incredible natural beauty and superlative climatic conditions became forever associated with this very negative name. But the “Death Valley” denomination is so inconsistent with the rich variety of animal and plant species that make this land their home and with the fact that this “valley” is not really a valley at all. But what is now the lower 48 United States' largest national park (at 3.4 million acres, larger than the state of Connecticut) is foremost a land of extremes that includes the point with the lowest altitude (282 feet or 86 meters below sea level) and experiences the highest temperatures in North America (around 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 49 degrees Celsius). This year's brief ... read more
January 18th 2009
With absolute stillness, the creature sat with a powerful gaze that completely neutralized the glare and reflections on the surface of the water. If it were not for the beautiful but subdued colors in its plumage, it would have been very difficult to differentiate its shape against the thick vegetation surrounding it. Several minutes passed by, accentuating the creature's almost inanimated stance. Sitting behind my camera, I was challenged to imitate the stillness in anticipation of what might happen next, but my gene make up was not up to par with my subject's. After so many generations of human reliance on technology and a very specialized society for the provision of sustenance, most humans can't stalk prey the way that animal predators can. More minutes went by slowly until all of a sudden, in an explosive ... read more
January 3rd 2009
The sightings could not be predicted; now and then you would hear the familiar noise that the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins make to clear water from the breathing hole and then soon after, one or several of them would try to corner their quarry against the river banks making quite a racket with their tails and fins. On this cold and windy morning, Elizabeth and I had biked to the isolated western-most side of Kiawah Island and quite by accident discovered the dolphin activity just when the low tide was starting to turn into high tide. As I tried to capture the activity with my small Canon G9 camera, I decided to get closer to where Kiawah River joins the Atlantic Ocean. Moving across several tidal pools parallel to the river banks, I was able to reach ... read more
November 2nd 2008
When the rain subsided and more people started to walk through Plaza del Obradoiro towards the cathedral, it was easy to identify who among the visitors had arrived to town on foot, many among them had been on the trails for about one month and hiked over 780 km (485 miles) from the border between France and Spain. A few of them had actually started their trek from origins much more distant such as Poland, Switzerland, or Italy following the way of Apostle Saint James. Because these pilgrimages started about one thousand years ago, they are one of the oldest travel traditions in Europe. It is said that having so many pilgrims from so many different countries traveling together provided the first practical channel for Europeans to meet and exchange ideas during a time where these ... read more
October 11th 2008
My original intention was to hike and otherwise explore Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most diverse of seven Channel Islands just west of the coast of California and part of the Channel Islands National Park. My 5:45 AM expedited departure from Los Angeles allowed me to reach Ventura Harbor in just over an hour, driving along Highway 101 North. I arrived there with plenty of time to catch the 8:00 AM boat that would take me to Santa Cruz. Though the Channel Islands National Park concessionary had advised me to call their answering machine prior to driving to their boat’s departure point to verify that the trip had not been canceled (e.g. because of bad weather), my repeated attempts to get through resulted in consistent busy signals. Hence I allowed myself to believe that with ... read more
September 21st 2008
As the plane slowed down to land on the runway upon descending at the San Pedro Sula’s International Airport, I wondered about my maternal grandfather’s own arrivals in Honduras during the first half of the last century… His business trips to this country set in motion a long chain of events that ultimately produced the reason for my current visit to this lush and beautiful place. After having five children with my grandmother, my grandfather decided to start a new family in Honduras. In due time, he had three children with his new wife and lived happily in this country for some time. The relationship eventually ended though and he returned to his own country to form yet another family there. But something extraordinary occurred in a way that to this date, I do not fully ... read more
September 9th 2008
After the unwelcome and unanticipated delay, Nelson and I were finally on board the train that would take us to the city of Naarden, the ancient capital of Holland before Amsterdam became its capital and also the capital of the entire country of the Netherlands. Though yesterday had been a very productive day in terms of the video production work needed for our upcoming International Broadcast Conference, I was not totally happy with our windmill shots in Volendam. The otherwise great-looking windmill there was not in service and provided only very static shots for our video. After some overnight research on the Internet, I had found a very promising photo of three windmills that according to the tag, had been taken in Naarden; a city within the general vicinity of Amsterdam and accessible via train. So ... read more
September 8th 2008
In quick succession, Margot drove my three friends and me to the most representative localities in Amsterdam, starting with the sea-of-bicycles around Central Station where people leave their bikes before catching their trains. Though I was very familiar with many of these localities from my previous visits to the city, I was surprised to be acquainted with others that had managed to remain under the radar for me. The tour had a work-related objective though. Before starting our yearly International Broadcast Conference, we set off to capture highlights of Amsterdam on HD video to showcase at our company’s stand at the event. Nelson, Mathews, Josh and I got very quickly used to the procedure that started with a quick signal from Margot, and followed immediately with the four of us dropping off the car, grabbing the ... read more