Category: South America

Both sets of my grandparents, one set Jewish, the other WASP-y, were avid golfers. They lived in Florida, traveled to Arizona and Scotland and belonged to various clubs in the ’60s and ’70s, when middle class folks could actually retire and spend their time golfing.

On a recent trip back to NYC, my mom dug out a pair of chiffon yellow Bermuda golf shorts with my grandma’s initials embroidered on them and gave them to me. Thanks Mom, maybe I can wear them in some hipster renaissance outfit somewhere in SF.

My mom pulls crazy things out of boxes and storage places in her small Greenwich Village apartment; like hordes of clowns coming out of a circus car, the treasures just keep coming. These were pristine and had probably been cloistered away for more than 30 years. Suffice to say I am NOT a golfer, save the mini golf experiences with my kids. I get the appeal though, and can perhaps imagine, that some day it might be of interest to me.

Golf, however, is a huge part of the travel market and I have written about golf courses and destinations for years. Two recent stories got me thinking about the symbolism of golf in today’s world. The New York Times story: Revolutionary Cuba Now Lays Sand Traps for the Bourgeoisie and the NPR story charting the golf course casualties of the recession, seem to encapsulate so many of the changes rocking our country, the global economy and the geopolitical shifts in the world.

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1 Comment | Filed Under Cuba, Golf, Luxury Travel, Venezuela

When we think of Brazil, we think of soccer, over the top Carnival celebrations, samba dance, Bossa Nova music, and unfortunately, lots of crime. The 21st century, however,  has brought many changes to this giant of Latin American countries. These days, Brazilians are preparing for two huge international sporting events…The 2014 Football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The motto for the Olympics is “live your passion.”

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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Brazil, Culture, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Films, Music, Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Soccer, South America, Sports

Ziplines are all the rage at adventure resorts and ski areas, but sometimes we forget that they originally served a practical purpose to move people and materials across impassable chasms. And sometimes we need to be reminded that they still do.

In a report on Slate from Colombia, Joshua Foer takes a ride on a cable that’s been getting daily use for 60 years. Do you want to hitch a ride?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Colombia, South America, Travel

Every time an expression with “Kool Aid” is used, I think about that unimaginable time in Jonestown, Guyana. It is both horrifying and fascinating.

As a young student, I remember being so haunted by the pictures and stories. Later, when I moved to California and worked in TV, I met a few folks who had covered the story, a personal tragedy for many in the San Francisco Bay Area. So it was with shock and intrigue that I read a recent article in the New York Times discussing the possibility that the ghostly jungle compound, where 900 people lost their lives, could become a tourist attraction. Visions of Dollywood, souvenir kiosks and, gasp, People’s Temple T-shirts made me read on.

Guyana is lush and the only English speaking country in South America, in desperate need to diversify its economy. The sacred land that is now overgrown by jungle is remote, part of the original appeal for Reverend Jim Jones and his followers. Is it disrespectful?  Would a research center to study cults be more appropriate? Or, should the jungle just do its thing and continue to smother the memory of the horrors there?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Food, Guyana, Northern California, South America, Travel, United States

The powerful earthquake that struck near Concepcion Feb. 27 will affect Chile for years. While much of the country’s tourist infrastructure was undamaged and tourism officials are urging travelers not to cancel their plans to visit, the impact on Chile’s citizens could last a long time.

The New York Times reported that many buildings in Santiago appeared unscathed from the outside, but inside, they were heavily damaged. Other reports suggest that rebuilding will take three to four years. And the quake created little curiosities, such as moving Concepcion 10 feet closer to the sea, and Buenos Aires an inch closer. The temblor could even spike the cost of paper 5 percent and take a huge bite out of the supply of Chilean wine.

Triporati’s Chile expert Wayne Bernhardson, in nearby Uruguay at the time, cited reports from friends that many of the coastal towns in central Chile will never be the same. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Chile, South America, Travel

It’s that time again: Ash Wednesday is on the horizon, the season of Lent is calling for sacrifice, and Rio’s Carnival celebration is in full swing. Hundreds of thousands of spectators come to watch the dancers strut their stuff and take part in the world’s sexiest party, but most of them must stay on the sidelines during the parades, serious competitions for the 12 top samba schools vying for the crown each year.

But that didn’t deter Nicole Zimmerman, a Brazilian-born American who danced her way into a samba school to experience Carnival from the inside out. She tells her story in the LA Times.

If you can’t get to Rio for tonight’s “special groups” parade (the second of the big competition) you haven’t missed out. The top six samba clubs march again Feb. 20 in the Champions Parade.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, South America

Spud Hilton reported in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day a new spin on the top 10 lists we always see at this time of year. Not the best beaches or golf courses or hot cities for the new year, but the Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations.

The list was compiled by Jeff Greenwald and Christy Hoover at EthicalTraveler.org, a nonprofit organization (part of the Earth Island Institute) that urges travelers to spend their travel dollars in ways that protect human rights and minimize impacts on the environment. They acknowledge that no country on the list is perfect (what country off the list is?) but they found lots of hope and inspiration in many places. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Africa & Middle East, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Feature, Ghana, South America, Suriname

As almost everyone has heard over the past couple days, South Carolina’s Republican Governor Mark Sanford went AWOL several days last week, ostensibly hiking the Appalachian Trail, before being met at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by an inquiring reporter from the Columbia daily The State. In reality, Sanford had just returned from a spontaneous trip to “exotic” Argentina where, he said, he drove the coastline alone.

Many observers have suggested, some with great hilarity, that to reach that coastline, the governor would first have had to drive at least four or five hours through hundreds of miles of pasturelands, on short mid-winter days, before reaching the scenic coast of southern Buenos Aires province. If not, his best alternative was the Avenida Costanera (pictured here), which runs past the Buenos Aires city airport Aeroparque before dead-ending a few miles north.

For more details please go to Southern Cone Travel.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Argentina, Buenos Aires

Triporati’s Chile and Argentina expert Wayne Bernhardson reports that the future is uncertain for the national park comprising the Juan Fernández Archipelago, which includes Robinson Crusoe Island. The report on his blog for Moon Guides says that the government is considering building a road from the airstrip to the village of San Juan Bautista.

Is a road from an airstrip to town such a transgression? Well, maybe if it’s through landscape Wayne describes as “one of the most scenic and solitary [walks] I’ve ever done.” Right now to go from the village to the airstrip requires a four-hour walk or a one-hour sail, but isn’t that what you’d expect on an island where castaway Alexander Selkirk lived alone for four years to become the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Robinson Crusoe? Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Chile, Feature, Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Fernández Archipelago, Travel

Trekking through the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forest, so much was made clear to me about the importance of these ecosystems: the interconnectedness of plants and animals, the habitat and the horror of the destruction of our planet.

Like many, I have tried to eat less meat, support legitimate ventures that protect the jungle environment and visit various rainforests to enjoy and learn more about them. Whether soaring above the canopy on a zip line, boating down the Amazon or hiking to an idyllic tropical waterfall in Fiji, rainforests are hot travel destinations. I nearly coughed up my granola this morning as I read a front page story in The New York Times entitled: New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Saving the Primeval Rainforests.

The key word is “debate” and controversy there will be about this article, I am sure, but it was a fascinating read. The premise of the article is that as fast as original rainforests are being decimated by farming, logging and industry (about 38 million acres a year), replacement forests are growing at a much faster rate. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Birdwatching, Brazil, Caribbean, Eco Friendly Travel, South Pacific