In an Elephant’s Eye

I had been in Sri Lanka for a week, and now a couple of friends and I are passing through the interior of the island-nation the size of West Virginia. The road’s edge is lined with a four-pronged spacey wire fence standing roughly ten feet high, this marks the Minneriya National Park. Then we spot it – a monstrosity of a mammal standing on the other side of the electric fence. “Tissa [the driver], please stop!” I get out and inch over...

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The Real Cinco de Mayo

It’s gotten to the embarrassing point now. My friends, family and coworkers all repeated the same answer to the question, “What does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?” ‘Mexico’s Independence Day’ being the answer. No. In fact, most of Mexico does not celebrate this day – if they do it is only an excuse to drink (from what I have been told that is). Sounds similar to the custom in the States for this...

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Small Town Uruguay

Sounds like a redundant title for a country the size of the state of Missouri, I know. But after being in Montevideo and visiting beach towns along the coast of Rocha, the time had arrived to visit a very small community. I chose Estacion Pedrera in the county of Canelones. The director of ViviUruguay showed me around their little village. There was a church, a school, an old train station, a few houses, and a tiny general store that...

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Minas, Uruguay

A town about 120 kilometres (two hours by bus), Minas is a small city with a small, but loud, plaza. There are roughly 35,000 inhabitants, and the city set up is like many others in Uruguay. But then you notice on the outskirts of town that you are surrounded by hills. After being here in very flat Uruguay for nearly five months, these hills looked more like the mighty Sierra Nevadas of my home state California. Before we get to the...

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On the Hunt for Carne in Montevideo, Uruguay

A few years ago I tasted the most amazing, soft, juicy, buttery meat I have ever experienced. I asked for my meat to be cooked as raw as possible, and I was delighted with the results. This was in Salta, Argentina. Being here in Uruguay for 4 months I have been expecting to find similar results due to the cows being the same breed and eating from the same pampas (lush, rolling open terrain that the vacas meander around gaining solid...

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My Mexico, part two

My welcoming hours in Mexico were a complete success. After those nocturnal events, the first true day of the Mexico City adventure was on stage. Luckily it fell on a national holiday. Talia, my new local friend, had the time to show off parts of her city. However, the ensuing 12 hours of memories aren’t so focused on the historic center of El Zócalo or the Museum of Frida Kahlo or any other sight that one reads about before arriving....

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To Give Or Not To Give in Uruguay

I have been torn many times on what to do. I sit on a bus, hear some guy singing horribly, and then he approaches the passengers for a few coins. The voice bothered me, the ambiance of the ride changed for the worse while the tunes were belted out, but I know that this guy is hurting for cash and trying his best to make ends meet. Should I give him money?  How about on the next bus ride later today and the two tomorrow? And with...

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Carnival Times Continue in Montevideo,

It’s the longest Carnival in the world – 40 days of party right? I had my reservations…what kind of place (and who) could join festivities for 40 days straight? Impossible. But I have been proven wrong, once again. And last night I experienced my favorite Carnival times thus far. I’ve gone to the opening Inaugural Parade, the following Las Llamadas parade with the candombe drumming groups, then off to the Samba...

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Hostel Finds

Hostels are a beautiful way to get to know a new place.  Most times the owners/workers enjoy sharing views on their respective cities or towns (unlike some of the hotels I have occasionally stayed at).  And they do so without expecting tips as well. But one of the best feelings while traveling happens when I find a fantastic hostel.  This doesn’t mean it has all the trendiest amenities or styles.  It is due to the people staying...

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Murgas, Humoristas, Parodistas, and More of Carnival

There is more than one style of Carnival performers competing for the best group title here in Montevideo, Uruguay.  We have the murga groups who sing and dance (a little, and a little strangely) about current issues…many times focused on political themes.  The humoristas who are the funny guys (and occassional girls) not as focused on singing. Then we have the Parodistas.  Yes, there are a few other styles of Carnival...

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