Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Feeling a little salty (and very out of breath): The Uyuni Salt Flats Story


A $500 American Airlines voucher that was about to expire, a week off and a long-held desire to hang out in the world's largest salt flat: these were the factors that led to me standing in La Paz Int'l Airport, gasping for air at an inhumane 11,913 ft elevation. Minutes after landing, I was in line waiting to pay for my visa and ready to drop, when I noticed that the yoga instructor standing behind me had beat me to it. I bent down to help her up, so now the poor customs guy who came running over now had to help not one but two women to the nearest seats.

It was 5am, I was in Bolivia and altitude sickness was kicking my ass. This was going to be a challenge. I expected this, maybe not to this degree, but I knew that the first day was going to be rough so my plans were simple. I was catching a connecting flight to Uyuni, choosing an agency for the aforementioned salt flat sojourn and napping...or as they like to call it acclimatizing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What day is it again?: Going around the world in nine days and 24 time zones.

Last week was kind of special. For only the second time in my life, I went out on a trip that went full circle around the globe. This means I left Miami on April 1st and headed East towards Europe. I then continued east and then more east (and still more east) until lo and behold, April 9th I was back where I started.

In between, there was some sightseeing, plenty of sleeping on airplanes, curry galore and that giddy euphoria that comes from the coupling of seeing a new place and the certainty of oncoming exhaustion.

To give an idea of what something like that is like, here is a cliff notes version of my schedule.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Country #101 with a Bang..ladesh

It is fair to say that Dhaka, Bangladesh is not on many "Must-see" lists of tourist destinations and I sort of understand why. It is crowded, insanely so. The greater city alone has a population of 18 million people so finding a moment of peace and quiet is a near impossibility. The traffic...oh, sweet ever-loving Zeus...the traffic is unrelenting. It can (and did) take close to three hours to go the equivalent of five miles. The historic sites, despite the valiant efforts of their caretakers, are in varying states of disrepair. The mosquitos, all 5 kajillion of them, will be first to greet you at the airport en masse. At this moment, every square inch of me that was exposed at landing is more welt than skin. During the day, it is hot, humid and sticky and a true test of the whole "try to stay conservatively dressed in a Muslim country" thing. Bottom line, it is not an easy city to travel in.

Yet here I was in my first post-100 country, hoping to see as such as I could.  Our hotel was close to Mosquito International Airport, which is at the other end of the city from the historic area, a fact that led me to my first lesson in Dhaka 101.  If you think you can head into town anytime after 9am, you are wrong.  I mean, theoretically you could try, but don't expect to, you know, actually move.