Chilean Thorns

Standing on the top of the Santa Lucia hill in Santiago, the peaks of the Andes glisten against the steel of the city and, as nature typically does, provide reassurance of an escape. There are several locations in the world in which you can get away in a flash to wineries, mountain ranges, water rafting, the beach in under a few hours. There are also several places in the world where an avocado dispenser is a typical condiment option. Santiago is an ideal place for the cultured with restless leg syndrome- unlimited outdoor adventures, wine and history to pursue.

Sidetrip to the Mountains:
60km into the mountains Cascada de las Animas Ecoresort and Nature Sanctuary sits on the Maipo River and has access to extensive trails. On a 2 hour easy hike, we came across cacti, snow, several birds of prey, and the namesake waterfall. Individual Cabins available. Bike ride, hike, zipline, whitewater raft,then eat homemade dishes on the porch at La Tribu restaurant.

If you go: 
A Few of the Vineyards 
Cocha Y Toro, right south of Santiago
towards the ocean
Indomita Vineyards (1.40 from Santiago)
Veramonte Vineyards

Santiago Lodging
Great location but beware of drunk Aussies at La Casa Roja Hostel



Sitting on my bag on the side of the road holding a sign (‘Estacion de train’) while paranoidingly glancing back and forth for a black van – the only public transport in town.

Fib Music Festival

Benicassim, Spain


Biking past grazing sheep, perfectly-painted houses, getting side-tracked down dead-end roads while following the rushing water. 

Flam, Norway


Mangroves, white-bellied sea eagles, coral crabs.

Similan Islands National Park, Island No. 4, Thailand


Blue ox herds, bright green rice fields- speeding down gravel sideroads with a surgical mask to keep the dust out of your teeth.

National Highway 6 –> Phnom Koulen National Park, Cambodia


Steamed sea bass sitting on your haunches drinking Tiger beers.

Old weathered ladies boiling pots of pho on the street while their daughters stare down at their cell phones.

Temple Club
Saigon, Vietnam


Mossy rocks, sea cabbage, berry trees. Catching a glimpse of a dory when looking up from the pages of a weathered book.

Björholmen, Sweden



Cotton candy in Old Habana, 2013

PictureStreet in the Old City of Habana, 2013

I stood, exhausted, but unable to sit. The man’s voice rung out through the open windows and into the streets, pausing passers-by. The cigarette smoke of Cubans and cigar smoke of tourists filled the lighted bar. I knew that if I walked next door or into any other place, I would easily find another musical ensemble. But this was the first time I’d stumbled across any Cuban my age on a weekday night not taxing tourists in some mode of transport. Tuk-tuks, state-owned taxis (Hyundai’s), puttering Coco taxis (3-wheelers), famed ’50’s vehicles all filled the streets, soliciting shuffles. Locals walked, biked, took the bus (which were unreliable), or took ride-shares. On the weekend, 20 somethings and teenagers were found posted up on the Malecon, eating popcorn and laughing. From afar, it was innocently reminiscent of the 1950’s. If you were one of the lucky ones to obtain a car, legal or illegally, there was an even smaller chance you were in your 20’s. 

Every street is different, yet the same. Rows of dilapidated buildings with cracked paint, frequently collapsing onto the ground like crushed dry leaves. The buildings conferred history and time unraveling , literally telling the story of the place like none other. On one building, an ornate iron balcony would enclose a brightly painted apartment. Above, there would be an opposite story- the identical unit merely a carcass. Each building was a quilt, its patchwork presented a mixture of wealth and circumstances. 

The variability was a result of the state’s system: owners could not ever sell their units, renovation materials have been difficult to come by due to the past state-run market and high prices, and, most importantly, because common areas were not one entity’s direct property. (Stairwells, roofs, exterior facades of buildings were unkempt.) Because of this, buildings were literally crumbling at the rate of about three collapses a day. Restoration has now beginning but the problem is thwartingly immense and widespread- restorers simply can’t keep up. They don’t have access to the materials or the funds. The architecture combined with the fiery vigor of the people gives an inexplainable allure to the city. Havana is a time capsule that is sure to disappear.

If you go:

Art, Food, Drink
Callejon de Hamel– An Courtyard turned Afro-Cuban art project
Rene Pena Photography– Study up and see it for yourself at private restaurant Atelier Cuba
Hemingway’s Cuban Residence– Spectacular
Farmacia Taquechel– Beautiful snapshot of a traditional, mid-century pharmacy on Calle Obispo
Casa de Fuster – Heralded as the Cuban Gaudi
El Tempelete – State owned restaurant in Old Habana with great seafood
La Guarida – Paladares (private-owned) restaurant mysteriously set on the second-story of a seemingly abandoned mansion

Espacios, 10th St. and 31st ave playa
Melon Club, 1st and 60 Playa
Encuentros, Linea St between L and M

Quick Sidetrip:
Las Terrazas– Have coffee at Cafe Maria after canoeing, zip-lining, and swimming in the temperate creek

El Floridita – Outside is the best part, unless you enjoy being ripped off