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Learning the Meaning of Saudade

Learning the Meaning of Saudade

Cover photo from The INSIDE OUT Project – “Ok, here we go!” A professional paraglider from Colombia had finally found a hole in the clouds, a good gust of wind and was ready to jump off one of the tallest coastal monoliths in the world, called Pedra da Gávea in Rio de Janeiro. My hiking friends and I watched in wonder as the wind lifted him up in the air. He flew back and forth several times in front of us before dropping beneath the clouds and out of view. Minutes later, the clouds finally parted and the scene unfolded....

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Colors of Colombia

Colors of Colombia

Several years ago when I was in college I was working as a remote intern with a social enterprise from NYC. My manager told me and another intern one day that she was quitting to move alone to Colombia. “The country? I asked. Isn’t it dangerous?” Due to Colombia’s recent tumultuous past many people still hold these reservations, but after spending five weeks there I found nothing but warm and generous people. The graffiti tour guide in Bogota, the random woman who spent 30 minutes helping me find a bus in Medellin, the kitesurfing instructors in Cartagena, and the hostel...

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Buena Vibra (and not so buena) in Bocas Del Toro

Buena Vibra (and not so buena) in Bocas Del Toro

Bocas del Toro had been on my list of places to visit ever since I had discovered it on the map, like a modern-day armchair Columbus. It’s quite the journey to get to the group of small islands off the northern Caribbean coast of Panama. After an 8-hour bus journey from San Jose, Costa Rica, that included unloading our luggage and walking across the international bridge into Panama, we took a ferry to Isla Colon, the main island in Bocas. As we pulled into the dock lined with restaurants and brightly colored buildings, I turned to my travel partner and...

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Gaining Perspective in Vietnam

Gaining Perspective in Vietnam

(A war era pro-peace poster, photographed at the War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City) What country are you from? A twenty-something Vietnamese man smiled and approached me just outside Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). He was clearly physically disabled and had suffered much in his life but he had a very pleasant and warming presence. I gulped and paused, for the first time not knowing how to respond to such a simple question. I wasn’t prepared for this situation. Only the day before had I learned about Agent Orange, the desertification chemical created by the United States during the...

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A Day on the Andaman Sea

A Day on the Andaman Sea

"Time for lunch!” My instructor called waking me from my undulant slumber on the sun deck of our dive boat. Fresh pad Thai and massaman curry were on the menu. We ate it beneath the towering limestone cliffs of Ko Phi Phi Lee, the opposite side of the island where “The Beach” was filmed. Back 30 ft beneath the sea my instructor raised his thumb to his forehead, the sign for sharks. I excitedly waved to my dive buddy and pointed at the blacktip reef sharks just 15 ft away. Minutes later we came across a group of other divers,...

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