India is a funny place. It can be both indescribably beautiful and hell on earth – often at the same time. It’s polluted, difficult, engaging and breathtaking. About ten years ago I spent six of the best months of my life there. At the end, I was so frustrated I swore I’d never go back. Considering our recent escapades, I guess the universe means to hold me to that promise.
I recently wrote how my girlfriend’s non-European passport has made it difficult for us to stay in the Schengen long-term. As we had to leave again and since we’d already spent two years in South America, we decided to try India this time around. I mean, like I wrote in my portfolio, I travel not just because the world is beautiful, but also to better understand human nature.
And India is different. It’s a world apart. I mean, while the rest of the world has embraced indoor plumbing, the Indians have to resort to publicly shaming people to get them to use them. I know, right?
But to get in you need to get a visa. I bet you can see where this is going.
Continue reading Why I hate India And Why You Should Care
All pictures by Bianka Ibarrra
The forest through the trees
The regular road was blocked. Every time we had to drive to the hospital where my father was recuperating we had to take a detour over the Feldberg. What a majestic mountain.
There is this valley near Oberursel which has been taken straight from an artist’s mind. Higher up, between the evergreens, the clouds did battle with the view; swirling, obscuring and sometimes revealing. In those moments, when we saw the landscape below, it didn’t feel like we were looking across the landscape. It felt like you were looking across worlds.
And then there are the sunsets from the top.
Isn’t it funny that at the very moments when we most need to stop and appreciate, are the times it’s the most difficult to do so? We only took this one picture. The rest of the time we barreled on through, barely looking up from internal little worlds.
Continue reading 9 Of The Best Photos From Our Travels And Their Stories
We don’t find our path. It finds us. Chris Haulmark learned this lesson the hard way. By most standards he had it made. He had a good job, children and a marriage. And sure, he dreamed of seeing the world, but that plan was on the backburner. “I thought I’d get to all that when I retired.”
Then his father died far too young at the age of 54. The resulting shockwaves reverberated through Chris’ life and knocked down his foundation. As he dealt with the sorrow of the sudden loss he started questioning everything.
“My father had worked all his life for his retirement, never to get there. I started to wonder how I would feel if that happened to me. From there I started wondering if this was the life for me. Was I living life to its full potential? Was I all I could be? If I ended up where my father was, would it fill me with regrets?”
For a time he wrestled with dark thoughts like these. He kept going back and forth between his commitments and his desire to see what was out there and – equally important – what was inside him. He couldn’t decide which way to jump.
So his children finally pushed him.
Continue reading Road Interview Chris Haulmark, Former Wanderer And Current Candidate for Congress
I don’t talk much about my past. I don’t like doing it. You could say I’m a private person. Besides, to me, ideas are far more interesting than I am. That’s why rarely use my stories in my writing. Yeah, I get they’re great literary devices. But there are enough tricks and techniques that I don’t feel the need to put myself on display like that.
Somehow, it feels exhibitionistic or self-indulgent.
Today I’ll make an exception. That’s because other literary devices won’t let me get my message across. After all, who is going to listen to yet another glib this-is-how-you-should-live-your-life post if I’m not personally invested? The internet is filled to the brim with those types of texts and most make about as much difference as digging in a desert.
That won’t do for this article. Here it is important to me I have an impact. Otherwise, I suspect a friend (and those like him) will follow the same path I did. For, as George Santayana’s said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”
Continue reading My Life As A Warning To A Friend And A Whole Generation
You know how they say that truth is stranger than fiction? That’s even truer on the road. Just like you’ll meet some amazing people, you’ll see some crazy stuff.
I’ve experienced all these travel stories or heard about them first hand. No ‘a guy in a bar told me’ here. All I’ve done is changed the names and told them in the third person.
Continue reading 3 Actually True Travel Stories That Will Astound You
I’m sure you’ve read those stories where they claim: I made 5000 dollars in my second month! I paid off my university debt in less than a year! I only have to work an hour a day! They’re all over the internet – freelancers and their claims of success.
For a time as I worked to launch a successful freelance writing career, I read them all, trying to figure out their magic. I analyzed them, dissected them, put them back together again and tried to apply all the advice to my life. I woke up early, worked ten hours per day, applied in certain ways, put myself out there, and wrote pitches till the cows came home.
It didn’t work half as well as they suggested.
Continue reading Freelancer Success Stories: Grain of truth and a bucket of salt
The name Pavlov ring a bell? He was the guy who showed us the power of unconscious suggestion. He had this little bell that he would sound every time just before he gave a dog food. Soon, all he needed to do was ring it and the dog would start salivating.
In the jargon, he created a conditioned response.
After living here for six months, Argentinians have created something similar in me. From this day forward, all you need to say is ‘Buenos Aires’ and the pavement of my mind will be littered with mental turds.
It’s a shame, really. There is so much more to remember here. It’s one of those cities that opens up slowly. It is full of beautiful hidden gems and breathtaking locales. Its people are friendly, warm, cultured, smart and generous. The nightlife warm, the day life relaxed.
The city has a soul I recognize.
Continue reading Buenos Aires – City of Nostalgia and Dog Shit
Scene 1: Reason
[The screen is dark and the word ‘Reason’ appears on screen.]
[After that a metal slide in a door opens, letting in the only light for the entire set. The set is revealed.]
[We’re looking at a prison cell. The walls are plain gray cement slabs. A wooden board that serves as a bed is set into the far wall. The camera is looking in at the set through the ‘fourth wall’ (CP1). A large prison door is set into the middle of a wall to the right. The door has two metal slits; one at eye height, to allow the warden to look in, and one at the bottom to allow the food tray to be taken and replaced.]
[The main character (Prisoner) is sitting dejectedly in the middle of the room, his knees brought up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. When the slit opens the prisoner’s head moves to look at the light and his eyes squint, but for the rest there is no reaction. The second metal slit opens a second later and a metal tray is pushed in the dishes full. Both hatches close again.] Continue reading Condemned