Thursday, December 15, 2005

Where's your shirt from?

I inventoried my T-shirts last night by their country of origin - my life is exciting, you should be jealous. Here are the results from the 44 shirts.

  • Mexico - 12
  • USA -10
  • Honduras - 7
  • El Salvador- 5
  • No tag -3
  • Peru -3
  • Macau -2
  • India - 1
  • Jamaica -1

I don't even know where Macau is?????

This past summer I went to Honduras because that is where my favorite T-shirt was made. I even went to the factory where it was sewn. So, actually, the T-shirt inventory was research for an article I am working on and I am not a big loser.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The most wonderful time of the year?

(A Motley Crew in Chicago)
I went Christmas shopping with my mom, aunt (Cathy), and two cousins (Brice and Brandt) this weekend in Chicago and I have come to a realization....

There are too many people in this world! And at Christmas time there are twice that many.

Brice and Cathy turned in a MVP powershopping performance and now many of the stores along Michigan Ave. are 'Sold Out.'

Friday night we ate at the best Italian restaurant I have ever been to- sorry Fazzoli's and Olive Garden. I almost made a scene at the restaurant when I laughed so hard I nearly passed out.

Becoming bloody lipped in a bar usually has a better story than Brandt's bloody lip. I wish I could tell you that we started a big blow out bar fight on Saturday night to defend our mothers' honor; that Brice's one year of Jr. High wrestling, Brandt's years of practicing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' moves, and my 2 year stint studying Kung Fu was put to good use, but I would be lying. Twinkle Toes tripped, kissed a chair, and soon his Fu Manchu was colored red.

Despite the crowds and the blood, we all had a great time.

My story in the Indy Star

(Elizabeth Crites with Manuela at Casa Guatemala)


When I was at Casa Guatemala, an orphanage and self-sustained village, I met a volunteer from Indianapolis. I interviewed her and, upon my return, pitched the piece to the Indy Star. They ran it in and a pair of my photos on the front page of yesterday's Travel section.

I was happy with the layout of the story, but I was a little diappointed that they took out the contact info for Casa Guatemala. The Sunday Indy Star goes out to about 300,000 readers and I was hoping the orphanage might receive some donations from my story.
If you want to learn more about Casa Guatemala visit my July 2005 archive or www.casa-guatemala.org .

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bruce Lee honored in Bosnia


What does Bruce Lee have to do with Bosnia? Did the Croats and muslims fight epic battles with Kung Fu?

A youth group in Mostar has erected a bronze statue of the Kung Fu master to promote ethnic understanding.

The city of Mostar was ravaged with war between Croats and muslims in the early 1990's. I visited the city a few years ago and took this picture of a man living amid rubble left from the war. It is a strange city full of contrasts: bullet holes in basketball goal backboards, children running into a school between bombed out buildings, and life where death was intended.

A shiny bronze statue of Bruce Lee will be a nice addition to things that leave visitors of Mostar scratching their heads.

Click here to read the article in USA today about the statue.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In my next life...

...I want to be a professional gamer. There is the money (upto 6 figures), the travel (tournaments in Belgium, South Korea, Sweden, South Africa, Singapore, and Chile), the ladies (yeah, right), and not to mention, the video games.

My name is Kelsey and I am a video game addict. I have been clean now for about 10 years.

From the first time I ate my first mushroom in Mario I knew I had a problem. Growing up my play was regulated by my father and his dreaded Nintendo Lock, which blocked anyone who did not know its combination from entering any games into the system.

I still play the occasional sports game, but know to avoid any role playing or first person action games if I ever want to do anything productive with my life. But still I wonder what it would be like to give-in and dedicate a good portion of my days to gaming.

Enter Jonathan Wendel, Professional gamer: He travels the world and earns upwards of $100,000 per year playing games. Each day he gets up, plugs-in, and plays 8 hrs of video games- practicing. This is where I should mention that I would probably grow tired of staring at a TV for 8 hours, but honestly, I'm not so sure.

Oh, to have the life of a traveling gamer/writer. Maybe if I pick up a lot of trash and help many old ladies across the street I can return as one in my next life.

Read more about Jonathan Wendel, aka Fatal1ty, in a recent ABC story.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

You might be a Touron if...

A reader recently sent me his own "You might be a Touron if..." Here it is:

You might be a Touron if you...

"Accidently walked into an unmarked women's lockeroom in France and received nothing but friendly waves."
- M. Watkins

It sounds like Mr. Watkins enjoyed his trip to France. I will post this to my website. If you have your own "Touron if" visit www.travelin-light.com/touron_if to submit it.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The King of Crazy

You know 'em. They are everywhere. They often look like the rest of us at first glance, but after closer inspection you realize that you are sitting right next to one. The crazies are everywhere.

Today I met Lafayette's (IN) King of Crazy. His crown was a dirty hat that looked like it had been dragged behind a tractor except for the bill was flat as a table top. I was looking for a seat in a McDonald's crowded with seniors drinking excessive amounts of bargain decaf when I sat right beside him.

I sat down with my paper and he examined the headline. He tried to draw me in, "Glad to see no one died in Iraq."

I kept my response short trying to avoid a conversation of politics, "Yep."

He didn't get the hint and kept chatting away. It wasn't until he talked about how he worked security for George W at the Whitehouse and he once saw Laura banging one of GW's prostitutes up the side of the head with a frying pan that I started to really pay attention. It was after this revelation that I saw his outward telltale sign of looniness- plastic green Mardi Gras beads.

And the hits just kept on coming. Some other revelations from the King:

- The Chicago mafia were planning a hit at an upcoming Purdue basketball game. If you are going, don't worry, the King and his cronies will be working security.

- The King spent the summer of 1964 inventing conatgious diseases including the bird flu.

He is in his early 70's and says he suffers from Lou Gehrig's, diabetes, and several other diseases. The secret to his longevity despite being plagued with poor health: "Each day I tear a little piece off of my bible and eat it."

Did I mention he was a preacher too.

Craziness is the spice of life.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Touron

I am teaming up with cartoonist, Geoff Hassing, to produce one of the funniest comic strips ever- THE TOURON.

At least we hope it's funny. We're still trying to figure out exactly who this Touron joker is and why his nose is so big and his eyes so googley.

Anyhow, we have a website. Check it out:

Monday, October 31, 2005

Castle Dracula

(Castle Dracula, Romania)

I spent the night in Dracula's castle. Scary stuff. I recently contributed the story to the Arlington Heights Herald near Chicago. Check it out...

Castle Dracula

Where's the scariest place you've ever been?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hostel

Hostels are awful, awful places filled with germs, drunk teenagers, and rats. I hope someday that I have enought money in the travel/writing pot that I can afford to stay somewhere else. Sure they're good places to meet people, but they're also good places to get a staff infection.

Quentin Tarantino is finally bringing the nightmare of Hostels to the silver screen with his aptly named movie, Hostel.

Watch the preview at Yahoo! movies. Keep in mind that most hostels aren't this bad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Endless summer

Summer may have ended a month ago, but Kyle and I refuse to belive it. This past weekend we went down to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky for one last ski. The air was a tad bit cold, 50-60 degrees, but the water wasn't too bad, 70 degrees.

We skiied in beanies and rain jackets to combat the wind chill. Needless to say, we gave the drunk fishermen on the water something to talk about.

I made a page on my website for some of our friends who turned down the offer to accompany us on the adveture:

www.travelin-light.com/Cumberland

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Welcome readers of The Hub Weekly

I am happy to report that the Hub Weekly of Champaign, Illinois, has picked up my column, "Travelin' Light." This is the column's second week in The Hub.

I would like to welcome the readers in Champaign to contact me with any questions, stories, hot tips, recipes, home remedies, story suggestions, business ventures, etc.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Milwaukee, a ghost town???

When I am walking by myself in big cities that may be a little sketchy (any Central American capital), I always make sure to stay in populated areas. If I find myself walking block after block and seeing no one I get nervous, "Is this a bad neighborhood? Should I not be here?" and then I turn around.

I feel much more comfortable on a crowded city street, filled with hustlers, pickpockets, and hookers, than vacant ones.

The entire time I was in Milwaukee with my father (see below post) we saw about four or five people on the street. This made me uneasy. I had never heard of Milwaukee being a dangerous place, but where was everyone? It kind of felt like an Armageddon, End of days, post-apocalyptic kind of thing. There were plenty of big buildings, Dunk 'n Donuts, offices, museums, etc., but no people to fill them.

Someone call Homeland Security, the people of Milwaukee have all been abducted!

Smart enough to keep my mouth shut

14 people, mostly strangers to one another, were sitting at a nice Italian restaurant in Milwaukee. My father, Ken, and I were among their number.

All of the men are in the truss or lumber business, as is Ken, and were being treated to a dinner by a lumber broker from Canada. One would expect the conversation to be filled with talk of wood mold, the influence of the recent hurricanes on lumber prices, pine vs. spruce, and other such riveting conversation...

I WISH!

Instead, the conversation, at the painfully slow restaurant, covered such don't-even-go-there topics like abortion, euthanasia, and the war in Iraq. On Dad's left side sat an ultra conservative church deacon, who when asked what he does when he's not designing trusses answered, "I pray." and on his right a liberal Canadian fed up with United States politcs.

I watched my faher squirm and deftly avoid being sucked in to the conversation. I sat across the table and often had trouble suppressing laughter. There were several attempts made to end the conversation by outsiders, putting forth off topic questions like, "So, what's the weather like in Canada? I hear it gets pretty cold up there. " None were successful. With each passing minute the meal became more uncomfotable. The ultimate moment of uncomfortability came when the church deacon, while talking against euthanasia, began talking about his brother who he watched suffer and die from a brain tumor.

How do people not know to avoid certain topics when in the company of strangers. I am young and stupid, but even I know to keep my mouth shut.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The magic of the Nacirema

Today is Columbus Day and in honor of his discovery, I have posted a link below to an ethnography written by Horace Miner about one of the New World's strangest cultures:



Read carefully and you will find that the Nacierma are closely related to the Touron.

The article is kind of lengthy. If you are going to skim it, make sure you read the first and last couple of paragraphs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Ahh...France

(Malaria Boy livin' large in France)
My brother Kyle recently tried to attend a conference in Monaco. Unfortunately he came down with malaria. Yep...MALARIA in FRANCE!!!????

It turns out that Kyle brought back more from our summer trip to Honduras than some local crafts. How about a liver full of parasites?

He had been back in the US for two months before he started to come down with any signs of the disease : low grade fevers and overall exhaustion. At the time he was studying for his preliminary exams for his doctorate and attributed his waning phyical condition to mental stress. He was wrong.

In France, instead of attending the conference in Exercise Immunology, he spent 1 day in the emergency room, and 2 in the center for tropical diseases. Kyle has yet to admit it, but I think he learned more and had a better time at the hospital than he would of at the conference.

I recently caught up with Kyle at his 5-room rental chateau in Lafayette, Indiana:

Touron Talk(TT): How was the fine, French cuisine?
Malaria Boy(MB): Uhh, not very good.

(TT NOTE: I think I speak for all of us when I say I am glad that infirmed Frenchmen suffer like the rest of us.)

TT: I hear that French women don't get fat...how about the nurses (wink...wink)?
MB: I guess they weren't.
TT: Were they good looking?
MB: Not really.
TT: Did they have moustaches.
MB: ???

(TT NOTE: From this point on the interviewee largely ignored my progressively low browish questions. The interview concluded with a ground breaking discovery.)

TT: How was the Jello?
MB: There was none?
TT: ????

The life expectancy in France is 1.6 years longer than ours in the United States. Obviously, the consumption of Jello in our hospitals is leading to our shorter lives.

Kyle is doing fine, but is still a little tired. Dr's expect him to make a full recovery, although the rare type of malaria that he contracted may flare up occasionally for the next few years. What better excuse is there to miss work? Sorry, boss. Malaria flaring up again.

Both of us took the anti-malarial medication Chloroquine before, during, and after our adventures in Honduras. This was the recommended medication for the region we visited, but apparenlty not 100% foolproof. Visit www.cdc.gov to learn what anti-malaria medication to take on your next trip.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Jesus was a Dromomaniac!


Dromomania, the obsessive urge to travel, is a recognized psychological affliction listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Sufferers of what's also called "the vagabond neurosis" will "spend beyond their means, sacrifice jobs, lovers and security in their lust for new experiences."
- John Flinn SF Chronicle


Some might say I suffer from dromomania. If I do, I am in good company. A group of French psychologists diagnosed Jesus, yes that Jesus, with the disorder.

I like to travel, for sure, but I am not a dromomaniac. I'm not sure how many countries I have visited. I guess around 25 or 30. Do I count Germany where I spent one night in a train station? What about India where I stared out the plane at the terminal for a few minutes thinking, "India, huh? I thought there would be more people."?

I don't count countries, but Charles Veley does. He's been to 518. There are only about 193 recognized nations, but Charles along with his brethern country counters count provinces.

Charles like Jesus is a Dromomaniac. Read the San Francisco Chronicle's article about him:

Friday, September 16, 2005

Words to live by...

"We are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."

-Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

F--ing Hilarious


(My brother, Kyle, turned 30 on Sunday. In honor of the milestone, I have pasted the flattering picture of him above.)

Kyle sent me one of the funniest news reports I may have ever read the other day. Click the link below to read it:

F--ING Town

Monday, August 29, 2005

Modesty

Found a nice travel quote the other day:

"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world."
-Gustave Flaubert

All I have to say is, How awesome am I for finding this quote! I'm the MAN!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Guilt in developing nations


(Wycliffe and family)
Sometimes a fella just can't help but feel guilty when traveling in a developing nation. This happened to me in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, walking back from the beach past the local university with my friend Wycliffe.
KT: Is university expensive?
Wyciffe: Yes, $15 a month.
I said no more. I was paying $9 a night at my hotel. Hell, most CD's cost more than $15.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Smiley


I think half of my photos from my recent trip are of little kids. They loved getting their picture taken and then seeing themselves on my camera. It was funny watching them pose with random objects: a frisbee, "Here I am playing frisbee," a water bottle, "Look how cool I am drinking this water."

This photo is my favorite kid photo. Smiley here lives in Mocoron, Honduras, he put on my glasses and flashed one of the best smiles I have ever seen.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Back to reality


(Sunrise. Leaving Key West, bound for Dayton)

The decision to go to Key West was a quick one, but one I am glad I made. 24 hrs after I made it, I was somewhere between Miami and Key West in a shiny red rental car, the shiniest thing I had seen in months.

For some reason I hate the word surreal, but there is no better word to describe my 3 hr drive to Key West for a funeral. It was a sort of reverse culture shock. At the dock in Puerto Cabezas the previous day, amid the sailors and hookers, I was concerned with nothing more than getting on a boat. On US 1 in the Keys I joined the pilgrammage of speeding tourists, zipping along through waves of sunshine and showers. Where, trying to locate and regulate the wipers on my rental car, deciding to stop at Arby's or McDonald's, recalling the words to "Old Black Water," and trying to come to terms with the "real" world, were my concerns.

I decided on McDonald's. I nearly thanked the smiling face behind the counter with a "gracias." In the restroom I hovered nervously before throwing toilet paper in the toilet (In Central America the plumbling can't handle paper and must be discarded in the trash).

In Key West the surreality (I hope that is not actually a word because I really hate it) continued. KW is a place where I am used to riding my bike around looking for hidden restaurants and giving dive briefings. On this trip I searched for funeral homes and gave a eulogy.

Despite the strangeness and the shock of it all, I had a pleasant time in Key West. I spent the week sharing stories about Ralph, whose ashes we scattered at sea as the sun set, catching up with old friends, spearfishing, and eating loads of food that were not beans and rice.

I flew into Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday and am currently visiting my brother in Lafayette, Indiana. I still have a flight going from Panama City to Dayton Ohio. I checked into getting a one way ticket back down to Central America to finish out my trip, but the prices are a bit outrageous so it looks like the return ticket will go unused. I plan on spending the next few months contacting syndicates with proposals for my column, working on a book proposal, writing, and throwing whatever other hooks I can think of into the publishing waters. I fear a part time job looms in my near future.

I will continue to update Touron Talk with my writing progress, hopefully there is progess, and I also plan on posting photos from my recent trip every few days.

Keep visiting. Don't be shy, posts some messages.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Manaña

A good friend of mine in Key West, Capt. Ralph Chiaro, was killed in a boating accident at the end of last week and I have decided to cut the trip short and attend his funeral and party. Manana, I am heading to Miami and Thursday I am catching a ride with some friends down to Key West.

It will be good to see some of my friends from the Keys and swap stories about Ralph. There´s a lot of stories too. The Key West Citizen said it best, ¨Ralph Chiaro (is) known locally for his diminutive size (and) huge personality¨

So for now the remainder of the trip is on hold. I may finish it sometime this fall.

If you were wondering about the boat sitution...

I had been waiting on a different boat to leave, the Spanish Lady. It was supposed to leave Saturday, it is now Monday. I was told it was a sure thing that it would leave today at 5. As my plane flew out of Puerto Cabezas and headed for Managua at around 4:30, there wasn´t a soul around it. The sailors always talk about movement to predict the boats departure, ¨I don´t know man. I see no movement...maybe manana.

Sometimes manana never comes.

Friday, July 29, 2005

In a village of starving people, never trust the fattest man

If it wasn´t for Puerto Cabezas´s fattest man I would be at sea right now. He´s the owner of the boat I was to go on and he had led me to believe for the last week that when the boat leaves I would be on it. It turns out, he told the captain the day of departure, ¨I don´t want the gringo going.¨

Still trying to get on another boat...

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Great White Lobster Diver

I have been hanging out at the dock here in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, for about a week trying to get on a lobster boat. I´ve gotten to be pals with the crew of ¨The Lady Dee III¨ and will be heading out with them today. They actually don´t call me ¨The Great White Lobster Diver,¨ it´s really more of a self-appointed title. Like calling a fat guy tiny, they call me, affectionately, ¨Negro.¨

It should be a really interesting experience. The divers make up to 20 dives in a single day and they don´t have all of the fancy equipment that many recreational divers are used to. All that they have are mask and fins, tanks and regulators. I do not trust the equipment that they use or the air they put in the tanks so I will not be SCUBA diving, only free diving.

If we manage to fight off all of the pirates, out run all of the drug runners, and escape all of the sea monsters, I should be back in two weeks or less. Actually I don´t think it will be quite that dangerous or exciting, considering 25 boats come and go from Puerto Cabezas on a regular basis. But it sure would be cool to see a sea monster.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hit and Run

I was on my way to the airport in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, the other day and I was involved in an accident. My cab driver, by Central America standards, was quite a good driver- he wasn´t speeding, he maintained the same lane, and he didn´t smell of alcohol. Despite all of this the accident was unavoidable.

There we were minding our own business in the right lane, trying to communicate through my broken spanish and his broken english, when a vehicle merged into us from the left lane- CRUNCH. The cab driver maintained control of the car and pulled over the first chance he got. The other vehicle did not. It was a hit and run. The vehicle that hit us...an AMBULANCE!!! didn´t even pull over to make sure we were ok.

Every bus, every taxi, every restaurant in Central America, is its own little adventure.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Follow me to my tropical paradise...

Why Honduras? Why Central America? The reason is simple and it´s stupid...

My favorite T-shirt was assembled there, of course.

My fave T-shirt has a scary headshot of Tattoo from Fantasy Island surrounded with the text, ¨Follow me to my tropical paradise.¨ So I followed him all the way to the factory where it was hand sewn. The guards thought I was crazy, the factory workers thought I had a few loose stitches, and the mangament was just suspicious. They thought I was some kind of real journalist looking for an expose on the garment industry. Little do they know that I have written indepth articles on important issues such as nude beach etiquette and farting on planes- not quite heavy hitting journalism.

It didn´t matter, I got no farther than talking with Michelle in Human Resources, who sat as tight-lipped as Michael Jackson in his recent trial, responding to each question in 5 words or less. I did find out that it took 8 people less than 5 minutes to throw my shirt together.

My main goal was to find someone who works for the company who made my shirt and give it to them. I was largely ignored and laughed at by several thousand employees as they headed home for the day. My translator, a 17 year old recent high school grad, at one low moment of desperation turned and said, ¨Now I know what it feels like to be a Touron.¨

Finally I found one smiling but shy 24 year old man named Amilcar. When I asked him what he thought of my being there because of my T-shirt, he responded, ¨I think someday you will be a legend.¨ Amilcar may only have seven years of schooling, but I think he is cut out for a position in politics where he can put his enhanced ability of International BS to good use.

Anyhow, the search begins again for a new favorite T-shirt.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I´m Batman

San Pedro Sula is one of Central America´s most crime riddled cities. After watching the new Batman last night, I felt inspired to do something about it. The above picture is how I look the day after.

Crime fighting, in reality, is quite hard. Never is this more true than when you are armed with a rubber frisbee, dull swiss army knife, and the closest thing you have for a colorful costume is a pair of Spiderman boxers.

Batman uses fear of the unknown; I use laughter and body hair.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Copan Ruins

Today I visited the ruins of Copan in western Honduras. I arrived in the morning and had them nearly all to myself. The grass was damp, a fog was lifting, the trees were dripping dew, and everything was completely silent except for the mosquitos.

I walked around and took photos before getting a guide to tell me what exactly I was looking at.

The thing I found most interesting was the Ball court. The Maya played a game with an 8 pound rubber ball. The goal was to have the ball roll up a sloping stone wall and hit a figure at the top. To do this they could use everything but their feet and hands. In Mexico they played a similiar game in which the losers would be sacrificed. In Honduras the losers were shamed with living. The only player who would be sacrificed would be the games MVP. Of course he was promised loads of virgins and the highest place in heaven. Players trained for years. Every kid wanted to be the best so they could be sacrificed.

Here is a website with some photos of Copan:
http://www.questconnect.org/ca_photo_copan.htm

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

You might be a Touron if...

...nothing makes your day brighter than a nice solid BM.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Casa Guatemala

After a flat tire, multiple mini-buses (seating capacity 15) crammed full, at times with approximately 27 people and ten chickens, I made it to Guatemala.

Norma Love from Mocoron told me to come here and visit her sister who is the head of an orphanage with over 250 kids in it. Over the next few days I will be helping out where I can, mostly taking care of a 23 year old man whose body has been ravaged with Polio. It´s sad, but his personality is very positive. My short time here pales in comparison to the other volunteers who dedicate from a few months to nearly a year to the orphange.

The orphange is its own village reached only by boat. Its self-sufficiency is quite impressive. To learn more about Casa Guatemala visit: http://www.casa-guatemala.org/

This is a great place for tourists wanting to do something a little different. Each visitor can make a difference.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

R&R in Roatan

Our parents Ken and Lynne met us in Roatan. We worked out a good arrangement- Kyle and I would make sure they survived each dive, and they would pay for them. Hey, Everyone wins.

The island is rustic in some places and an island-resort-paradise in others. The coral was great but there was a surprising lack of fish. We managed to squeeze in four or five days during our time on the island between meals, naps, swatting sand flies, and 4wding in our pimped out Isuzu.

Ken, Lynne, and Kyle are on there way back to Dayton, Ohio as I write this. I am staying on the North coast of Honduras in the town of Omoa. Tomorrow I plan on crossing over to Guatemala to visit Norma Love´s sister in the Rio Dulce area. Don´t feel bad if you do not know where this is at, neither do I.

To put my current budget accomodation in perspective, I am paying less for a night in a drab dorm room near the beach than we paid for a round of Cokes on Roatan yesterday during lunch.

Mocoron

Mocoron was much more than chasing snakes. It was...

...teaching children to play ultimate frisbee and baseball.
...showing people their photo on my camera. Many have never seen a photo of themselves. There are also no mirrors in the village, so seeing yourself is rather novel.
...floating down river for 20 minutes with a posse of smiling kids.
...learning the inspiring story of Norma Love and her big heart. She is a living saint. (You should definitely google: "Norma Love" Mocoron).

Mocoron was definitely one of the places in my travels that I will truly never forget.

Back to the snake story...


So there we were poling our way through the unmapped Honduran Jungle, when crazy Carl starts to yell, "Muerte, Muerte (Kill it, kill it). It was about two in the morning and Kyle and I both were admittedly exhausted, our butts incredibly fatigued and a tad bit itchy (this may seem stange, but please consider we had spent hours wading through creeks and even more hours sitting on seats fashioned with a machete).

Wap. Wap. Up floats one of the world´s most deadly snakes

Kyle and I are now wide awake.

Carl tells us all that we are to be very careful. He then grabs the snake, which is still alive, with his critter-grabbers and proceeds to bring it towards the boat as if he were going to sit it on my lap. I don´t recall a whole lot after this, I may have passed out. Kyle later told me that I sat stone stiff.

Kyle sat behind me in the canoe and managed to sqeak out a simple three words that may have saved my life, "Kels. Scoot back." I came to my senses and soon I was sitting on Kyle´s lap, Kyle was sitting on one of our guides lap, and together we dared not too breathe or blink.

Carl tied the snake to a stick, took it back to the village, and later killed it.

The next day Kyle was brave enough to pose for a picture with it and I was brave enought to take his photo.

Just a day in the life of courageous jungle explorers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Back from the jungle

Alas no crocs, but how about a 4-foot long fur-de-lance, one of the world´s most deadly snakes. Before you go thinking we are all macho, let me inform you that Kyle and I did everything within our power to put as much dug-out canoe between us and its business end. I´ll post a more indepth version, and possibly a picture, of the encounter later. Until then, we are off to the tropical island of Roatan for some much needed R&R far away from the jungle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Anybody seen any crocs?? Kyle and I are off to Honduras. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

Croc Hunters??

I wanted to visit the la Mosquitia area of Honduras to get in an authentic jungle experience. It looks like we will be doing just that- primary objective...locate the American crocodile.

No, I'm not kidding.

When I began researching the trip I shared some e-mails with Norma Love from the village of Mocoron. Norma, an academic from Texas, orignally visited the area some years ago, but now has kind of become Mocoron's patron saint. She invited us to visit her and also told me that a friend from Texas would be visiting during our stay. It turns out her friend from Texas is Carl Franklin, a biologist from University of Texas at Arlington and lover of all things slimy and poisonous.

So I dropped Carl an e-mail and he called me. He was excited to here that Kyle and I are going to be there and wants us to accompany him into the jungle for a few days looking at critters. His primary objective is finding the elusive American Crocodile. How cool is that!

We will be hiking through the jungle, sleeping in the jungle, riding in dugout canoes through the jungle, eating freshwater prawns in the jungle, and best of all, searching for crocs in the jungle.

Here is a link to Norma's organization's website: La Mosquitia

I also found an Article on Carl from the University of Texas at Artlington's Newspaper:
http://www.theshorthorn.com/archive/2005/spring/05-mar-01/sc030105-01.html

Monday, June 06, 2005


THE PIC- My brother Kyle Water skiing at Lake Cumberland. Despite the punishment undertaken during step aerobics, I still went to Lake Cumberland with my brother and his girlfriend. It had been about 2 years since I had been skiing and it felt great...except for all the pain. Kyle will be heading to Honduras with me next Wednesday.  Posted by Hello

There is a long list of manly ways to get in shape such as rock climbing, mountain biking, boxing, wrestling, rugby, log tossing, alligator wrestling, etc. Not found on this list is Step Aerobics.
So my mom suckered me into going to step aerobics with her...the things I'll do for a story. It's almost been a week now since the torture and my body has yet to fully recover. The Article "Real Men Take Step Aerobic" will appear in Endurance Magazine in August and may appear as a column in "Travelin' Light." THE PHOTO (Left to right): My mom twice my age and in twice as good shape, Me in need of of an IV, Xena: The Princess torturer. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Twist of Thorn

One of the best travel resources on the internet is Lonely Planets Thorn Tree. Post a question and have it answered by travellers from around the globe. Not always will the responses be positive.

My favorite T-shirt sports Tattoo from Fantasy Island on it and was assembled in Honduras. So I thought I would try and track down the factory of its origin. After all, a guy has to have goals when he's traveling otherwise he's just a bum. Anyhow, so I turned to the Thorn Tree for some help to try and establish some contacts. I received constructive ideas, possible contact leads, and...well... some personal attacks. One poster even accused me of taking advantage of the poor.

Follow the link above to check it out.

I regret using "sweatshop" in my original post. You'll soon see why.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Miskito Divers Exploited

As an instructor in the Keys I worked on dive boats where customers would pay near a hundred dollars for a chance to swim down a lobster or two. Along the Miskito coast, the Carribbean coast from the middle of Honduras to the middle of Nicaragua, the price is much higher.

Local men are rounded up, given a meager bonus, handed SCUBA gear and shipped out to sea. They are not trained on how to work the dive tables. No one tells them that if you dive too deep and stay too long you may be paralized the rest of your life, or worse, you might die. Their equipment is shotty and they are expected to dive to obscene depths, for way too long, and to perform dive after dive while wiping out the local lobster populations.

Researching my upcoming trip to the area, I stumbled upon an article that brought this situation to my attention. According to this article in OnEarth Magazine, the World Bank reports that near 100% of the divers show signs of neurological damage and that somewhere between 800-2,500 divers from one town have suffered severe injury or death as a result of poor diving practices.

Read the full article here. http://www.nrdc.org/onearth/04fal/redgold2.asp

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but this is something everyone should read about.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Where is Panama???

Researching my upcoming trip to Central Ameria I was surpised to discover that Eastern Panama (easternmost point at 78-degrees longitude) is farther East than Florida (easternmost point 80-degrees). Panama even reaches farther east than the Bahamas! Who knew?????

Maybe this is common knowledge, but I had no idea and somehow, I kind of feel like I was lied to all of these years.

I'll spend the next few weeks trying to re-organize the Americas in my head.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My first blog

In the process of setting up this blog. It will follow my travels and travails.