What a ride!

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming, “WOW, what a ride!””

Quoted by Melanie Heacox, a Naturalist on board the National Geographic Explorer, while crossing the Drake Passage

Antarctica travel blog: Expedition with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions

    You My mom joined me in Buenos Aires last night. Here we are at the Cesar Park Hotel about to set off on a trip to Antarctica with National Geographic. About to conquer my last of the seven continents! :) Onward ho!

Blog posts from this trip are tagged “antarctica” and you can find them by clicking here or browsing the keywords in the right-hand menu on the home page.

This morning my mother and I left from Buenos Aires, Argentina for our cruise to Antarctica aboard the National Geographic Explorer. The cruise, operated by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, will run for ten days from 29 November to 9 December 2012 and take us by air and sea to several destinations. We will be accompanied by naturalists, historians, scientists, undersea specialists and photo/videographers. We are also lucky to have on board Don Walsh, a world-renowned oceanographer and deep-sea diver.

During the course of our trip, I will be blogging and posting photos about our experiences. Activities will include on-shore excursions and educational sessions on birding, local wildlife and photography. Some of the items on my personal to-do list include a swim in the frigid waters around the Antarctic Peninsula, a sea-kayaking trip, and getting a whiff of some stinky penguin poop. Friends and family have asked me to share with them my thoughts about the tour and its operator, more about the part of Antarctica which I am visiting and a photo of the Weddell seal. Someone has even asked me about how I am getting access to the web.  (The answer is that it is a satellite connection and we pay by the minute on board the boat. All my blog posts are written offline and quickly uploaded when I connect once or twice daily.) Is there something you’d like to see or learn about? Please let me know by commenting on this blog post and I will do the best I can! You can also follow the ship’s Daily Expedition Report.

One of my passions is traveling and I have a dream of seeing as much of the world as possible. With this trip I will have visited each of the planet’s seven continents. I was born in North America, and first visited South America in 2001, Europe and Australia in 2006, Asia in 2007 and then Africa in 2008. So far I’ve traveled to 45 countries and four “places” – those not technically countries (which include Hong Kong, Macau, the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and soon: Antarctica). You can see my travel map here.

I inherited the travel bug from my mom. Long before I was even a twinkle in her and my father’s eyes, my mother was traveling around the world frequently for work and pleasure. As I grew up, she often showed me photos of her visits to Ecuador, Hawaii and Thailand. My father, who came from a poor family and held a life-long fear of flying, preferred economising but never let that stop us from traveling. So, as I grew up, our family went on frequent road trips across Canada and into the USA, seeing lots for very little. In so many ways, this trip would not have been possible without my mom and dad; they have always encouraged me to explore, both at home and abroad.


What’s important to you?

Photo credit: Unknown

Disclaimer: I am not the author of this text nor the photographer of the image shown at right. This material was found circulating in the public domain. If you know who produced the text and / or photo, please let me know by commenting on this post.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Happy Garifuna Settlement Day!

Celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day in Belize City, 2002

Today is Garifuna Settlement Day which marks the arrival of the first Garifuna people off the coast of Belize in 1832. Ancestors of the Garifuna were originally slaves of the British in the Caribbean islands before settling along the Caribbean coast of Central America. In 2002 I visited Belize City and Dangriga and celebrated the 170th anniversary with the locals. Read more from my time in Belize from one of my blog postings back in 2002.

Mi familia colombiana

I present to you my familia colombiana in Cartagena, eating steak at a local restaurant. :) At top is Martha who I’ve known for the last 9 years and her baby girl Sophie who has the most delightful personality. On the right are her parents Don Alvaro and Doña Margot who are deeply in love after many years of marriage. :) On the left is Alvarito her brother who has taken me as a brother of his own. :) (Missing is the middle sister Angelica who lives in Bogota. Fortuna tuya cuando proximamente te veo!)

Los quiero mucho!!They have been taking care of me for most of the last two weeks. I can’t think of any way to thank them enough. Hanging out with them has given me new insight into life here on the coast – which I did not see enough of when I lived here in 2003.

En Medellín, pues!

I arrived yesterday in the city of Medellin, Colombia, a place where many dear memories were born. Medellin is a large city in central Colombia known for its temperate climate, mountainous terrain, reddish-brown rooftops and lush tree-lined streets. In 2005 I lived and worked here for two and a half months and have visited several times since. This visit will be mostly a working vacation, with dinners and drinks with my closest friends.

Celebrating a win of Nacional de Medellin, in the “Copa Mustang” of 2005