Antigua Ruins : San Jose el Viejo

This ruin is only a few blocks away from where I am living. I saw it the first week I was in Antigua and I was immediately drawn to it. San Jose el Viejo is now a Spanish school. When I see this place I can’t help but think of my grandfather. He worked for decades at a brickyard. I wonder if any of those bricks made it into a building like San Jose el Viejo.

After the church was originally constructed Phillip V ordered it closed. Later the church was allowed to reopen with royal permission. San Jose el Viejo was severely damaged by a major earthquake in 1773 but has been restored. The ruins are located on 5th Avenue South and 8th Street West. Today the ruins are used for special events such as weddings and graduations.

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Colombia In 18 Days! Part II — San Gil

at the Bogota bus station

Last week I showed you the first stop of our trip through Colombia in 18 Days! Today I show you the second stop, San Gil. San Gil is widely known for its outdoor adventure activities. It was a place I wish I had more time to explore. I feel like I missed out on some things. Colombia is a country I can definitely picture myself coming back to, so hopefully I can return to San Gil and see the things I missed the first time around.

We arrived at the bus station in the middle of the night. We had no reservations for the night so we found ourselves exhausted and knocking on the door of a hostel around 3am. Luckily the manager was kind enough to let us in. San Gil had a pleasant small town atmosphere. We wandered around a bit and then arranged our whitewater rafting trip.

manager of Hostel Santander Aleman

Parque Principal

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Canon del Sumidero

My 90 day tourist visa for Central America, or more specifically for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador was about to expire. So, I had a choice to make. Get all the proper paperwork put together and go to Guatemala City to apply for an extension or hop on a shuttle to Mexico. 12 hours later I was back in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. I wasn’t excited to go back but once I got there I felt energized by the beauty of the city and the cool weather.

Last time I was here I had strongly considered an organized tour to Canon Del Sumidero. I don’t recall why I didn’t go last time. So I plopped down 250 Pesos (about $21 USD) and headed out to see the breathtaking scenery. It took about an hour by shuttle from the city out to the canyon. I had been warned that it was very hot at the canyon by a friend and I was glad I had heeded the advice. While it wasn’t exactly sweltering I happily found a seat in the speedboat for my gringo-shorted self. I then swigged some bottled water and applied a plentiful amount of sunscreen for the ride. I grabbed my camera out of my backpack and started snapping photos…

We're off to see the wizard...

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Colombia In 18 Days! — Part I : Bogota

A li’l while ago I showed you the preview trailer for a trip I took with some friends in August 2010. Over the next seven Mondays I will show you a short video from each stop we made on the backpackers trail in Colombia. I hope you enjoy them. The first video is at the bottom of this post.

To begin our adventure we all flew in from Los Angeles to Bogota, Colombia. We stayed at Destino Nómada Hostel in the La Candelaria area where most backpackers stay. It was a nice, convenient hostel to stay at. The first day and a half Jose, Mathieu and I walked around La Candelaria taking in the sights. We checked out Plaza de Bolivar, Catedral Primada, and the Botero Museum. For my first dinner in Colombia I enjoyed a bowl of Ajiaco, a thick traditional soup with potatoes, chicken, avocado, dairy cream, herbs, and corn. After dinner, the owners of the hostel invited us along for a night out in Zona Rosa including lots of shots of aguardiente.

Destino Nomada Hostel

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How ya living? – Antigua Edition

As I end my fourth month of travel and prepare to begin my fifth straight month of being away from home maybe some of you are wondering how I manage to do it. How can I travel for so long? Or more generically, how ya living?

I think I could answer this question in one word really. Are you surprised? Surely it can’t be that simple. Okay, in some ways I’ll admit it is not, but in the most important way it really is. And what is that one word answer? I’ll get to that later. For now, let’s take a look at how I am living. Do I sleep in the streets under cardboard? Do I eat beans and rice for every meal? Do I walk everywhere I go? The answer to theses questions is a firm NO.

First off, lets look at where I live and how much I pay for it. Currently, I am staying at the Itzamna Spanish School here in Antigua, Guatemala. I’ve stayed in three different rooms here in over two months here. The first month I stayed here I was in probably the nicest room here for exactly 2000 Quetzals per month, or about $270.00 US Dollars. This was a private room with a queen sized bed and private bathroom including a hot water shower. I switched to a different room for a week or two and then to a different room where I am staying now. The room I am in now costs 1500 Quetzals per month, or about $200.00 US Dollars per month. To put that in more easily understood terms, I pay under $7.00 US Dollars per day for my room. In this cheaper room I don’t have my own bathroom. I share three bathrooms down the hallway with 5 other people living here. Two of these bathrooms have hot water showers.

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Iconic Antigua

Walking around Antigua is like exploring a living museum to colonial charm. Of course there are a few buildings that stand out from the rest, iconic landmarks. Many of these landmarks are all in one place, Parque Central. Outside of the central park and plaza there are also beautiful buildings scattered about the city.

One landmark would be El Tanque La Union. Every day you can see Mayan women washing their clothes here. In their village there is a problem with the water supply so they come here to do their washing. At night, young couples come here to spend time together.

El Tanque La Union

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Colombia in 18 Days – Preview trailer

A few weeks ago I shared some of the highlights of a group trip to Brazil. After that phenomenal trip my compatriots and I were yearning for another international adventure. A year and a half later we hopped on another plane and headed to Colombia. What ensued was an unforgettable journey on the backpacking trail through Colombia. The trip included stops in Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, Cartagena, San Gil, Tayrona National Park, and Barichara. It also included quite a variety of sights and experiences. Here is a little preview of the adventure.

Keep your eyes on this site for more about this trip in the future!

Having A Rad Summer

Back when I was growing up every year in school I would buy a yearbook. A lot of kids would write something in the blank pages at the back of the yearbook or next to their picture. A common sign off would be “Have a rad summer!” Last year I actually made sure I did.

Last summer I took three road trips on long weekends with friends. One trip was to the Grand Canyon. Another excursion was out to Lake Powell in Utah. The other road trip was just in California, up the coast and then looping back down the other side of the state back to Los Angeles.

These trips included time in Santa Barbara, Berkeley, San Francisco, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite National Park, Bishop, Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon National Park, and San Luis Obispo.

Moments from these 3 road trips –

music by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Dandy Warhols & The Flaming Lips

Let’s Go For A Drive: Zion

I feel like doing something different here on It is a beautiful day and I know a magnificent place. Let’s go for a drive. Turn on the radio and let’s hit the road…

“more yellow birds”
by Sparklehorse