Natural Beauty, Quirkiness and All Things Water

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How to Find Authentic Sri Lanka

At first glance it’s easy to see Sri Lanka as a Paradise Lost. The war is over and “India Lite” is swelling with Euros and Aussies dumping cold Lions down their gullets, chainsmoking and lying about their best waves. Urban hustlers scam tourists for scooter rentals and mango lassis. The flip side is because it’s new and popular, people seem to flock to the same destinations. It’s a tale of two worlds: gorgeous places full of people or deserted places that are even more gorgeous.

If you’re looking for an authentic experience in Sri Lanka though, all you have to do is try.

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Colombia’s Secret Red River: Quebrada Las Gachas

Lots of people know about Cano Cristales, Colombia’s multicolored river. Nobody knows about this place– yet. Which is part of the reason Juliana and I are going there. Only we’re flying sorta blind, sorta broke.

But determined to get to the teeny town of Guadalupe and find the secret red river. So I’m at a bus station called “Papi, I want pineapple!” while my Colombian girlfriend bargains with another bus driver. See, we missed our bus. And she’s one of about twelve hippies in a country of fake butts, fake titties and painted nails (even the guys do clear coats) and I’m an American whose ATM card keeps getting barfed out, cashless. So we’re doing this trip, you know, different. In Colombia, they call hitchhiking going “de adventura.” And we didn’t see a single other person doing it.

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Learning to Fly in Colombia: Paragliding

I’m headed to Bucaramanga, Colombia to get certified to paraglide. I planned this trip, oh, six days in advance. I have no experience, just a love for the sky and freedom and the g-forces I felt on a tandem flight years ago. The first step is getting to Bogota, Colombia. I arrive at 2am, alone. My eyes blur the huddle of caffeinated drivers shouting taxi señora? and the long yellow streak at the curb. I shake my head no and explain that I’m waiting for friends. But I’m not.

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When Art Goes Feral: San Francisco

In San Francisco art goes feral and crawls outside. It’s everywhere and it will find you. First at Dolores Park, sloping lawn and date palms that don’t make dates, where people munch vegan take out and speak in falsetto to expensive dogs. Very unlike Santa Cruz, where cool kids walk their dirty grinning pooches on surfboard leashes. While skateboarding. But anyway.

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Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in A Day

But we gotta get there first and we happen to be in Colorado. This was just a squiggly line through the mountains I chose on unassuming Highway 14. Home of places like Rustic and State Forest State Park. For an extra couple road hours, (counting and calculating squiggles) I just wanted some open space thinking time after Denver. I know nothing about the Rockies. But we managed to stumble into a commercial for canoes or beer in high def. Dudes fished in the crystal clear river. The sun shined hot. We puffed, grinned and gaped all the way to Wyoming.

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How I Motivate Myself: As Illustrated by Cats, a Kid and a Monkey

Okay here’s how I motivate myself– to write a book, do the dishes or go to Africa. It’s super simple. All goods things are simple. Complicated things can be good too, but not necessarily.  A rectangle is not a square but a square is a rectangle. Like the song, “Waves” by Mr. Probz or anything by the Black Keys. It’s. Fucking. Simple.

There’re two main ways.

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The Kansas Game

The land stretches out forever, broken only by the geriatric bowing of oil pumps. It’s so depressing it makes me want to throw up or cry. We keep expecting to see the Rockies appear but they’re tucked into the chem haze that smears everything gray.

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Mutant Message Downunder: The Latest Book to Quake My World

In the big Before, there was nothing unusual about Marlo Morgan, who wrote Mutant Message. She grew up in the Midwest and worked in health care. But then she was summoned to Australia for what she thought was an awards banquet. The Jeep that picked her up in her high heels and pantyhose was driven by one of the members of the last wild Aboriginal tribe living in the outback. He drove out into the desert to a dark hut for her “tests.” She passed, not understanding. With no word to her children or job, rent unpaid, she left everything that afternoon to walk thousands of miles across the world’s driest continent to learn the ways of the Aboriginals– and, she later learned, to carry their message to the rest of the world.

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JAMAICA

We have no cell phones, no Lonely Planets and no internet. But we know someone you can stay with, our friends said when we left Italy. His name is Hadley Suwell and he lives in Port Antonio. We smiled. See, I thought to myself. We got this. We don’t tell anyone and board a plane to Jamaica.

At the one story airport, the bald headed immigration officer tells us to “watch out fo dem rastas” before he stamps our passports. When we agree to a cab ride with two rastas outside the terminal, (we were mobbed, these guys were just the pushiest) they tell us to “neva trust da bald heads” and laugh. Kate and I eye each other, ducking into the car.

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Out of Luck In Kansas

We run out of money somewhere in West Virginia. Since then, we’ve been “free camping.” On BLM land, in Wilderness Management Areas where we are the only ones without a pickup, confederate flag and a rifle

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The Funky and the Bizarre: Hot Springs and Eureka Springs, Arkansas

HOT SPRINGS

It’s 104 degrees and there’s a bug in my shirt.

Oh. Wait.

That’s just me sweating. We pass strange bars, crystal shops, and the Gangster Museum. We’re not speaking to each other. Am I being a bitch or is it just the heat? Or the 80% humidity mixed with steam from the fountains and hot tunnel? We pass a decrepit hotel in silence. The Majestic. It’s a relic of the by-gone era of hot spring resort tourism, taller than anything else in town and all brick. There is one bathhouse that’s been preserved, called the Fordyce Bathhouse. It’s a National Park and free to tour. We part ways and I ascend the marble stairs solo, standing up straighter amidst the dapper charm. The Fordyce opened in 1915, with fountains, tubs and personal steam tanks that look like torture devices. I look up at the stain glass roof in the Men’s Bath Hall.

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