What this kid learned in Peru…

Traveling to Peru was one of the most important experiences of my life.

It was there where I first saw the intense poverty present in the Peruvian mountainside.

It was there I met strangers who would gently remind me of the path I should be on in my life.

It was there I saw how the pain and the trauma of major historical events can propagate through incredible amounts of time.

It is there I felt resentment and guilt for being born into privilege.

It is there I saw the tallest snow-capped mountains, the bubbling rivers, and the starriest skies.

It is there I was reminded of the wisdom the ancients held.

It is there I felt most alive.

 

 

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At the top of MachuPicchu Mountain.

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For $25 bucks a day, you can rent a motorcycle in Cusco and take it through the Peruvian Mountains. Absolutely amazing.

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Singing some Adele.

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Sunset in the sacred valley.

 

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Guinea Pig. Not so delicioius.

 

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I highly recommend a trip to this lovely place.

It has so much to offer you. and I say that even without having traveled to Lima, Arequipa, Huacachina, Manu, or many other allegedly wonderful Peruvian destinations.

Traveling always rewards my mind, body, and soul, and this trip was no exception. 

Never stop learning, and never stop traveling!

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A Photo Voyage and Poem of Cusco, Peru.

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As I walk on these streets, I see the past manifest itself in the weary face of the oppressed

500 years is visible through cultural transmission

And who am I? Who am I to be here? Visiting from my foreign land.

with my expensive yellow rain jacket and my cliché chompa, I scream privilege and tourist

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And the prices, so cheap! The vendors understand the financial opportunity I hold..

Beckoning to me from their shops “Amigo, pase amigo.”

Initially I felt some obligation to attend to their incessant calls

Courtesy is valued in my culture

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But after seeing them mutter these requests indifferently, I assumed the indifference

I now ignore, and lately have been answering those pesty vendors with random Spanish words

“Mattress, blue, stone, bus, sky.”

The look of confusion on their face is priceless.

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But how can I blame them?
I make in an hour what they make in a week,

Economic disparities guaranteed by the powers that be,

granted me this luxury,

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So deal with this I will,

With a smile on my face,

Be as they may colonial,

These streets are still beautiful,

And I find myself happy in these clouds,

Smiling with an open face towards those I meet,

And this,

For me,

is Cusco.

 

 

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How to Travel the World for Free.

Anyone who knows me will tell you traveling is a passion of mine.  What better way is there to broaden your horizons than to throw yourself into a microcosm of language, culture, and landscape distinct from that you have grown used to?

Here are some of the pictures from the journeys I’ve made in the past 2 years.

amsterdam

Amsterdam, Holland: So cold that the city canals were frozen, and people played ice hockey over them.

Korea

At a Market in Seoul South Korea: Chicken feet, anyone?

lisbon

Beautiful colorful houses in Lisbon, Portugal.

london

Communication breakdown in London, United Kingdom.

mallorca

Beautiful pure beaches in Mallorca, Spain.

Puerto Rico

Human companionship in Crash Boat, PR.

zurich

Free bike rentals in Zurich, Switzerland!

For many of us in our 20’s, there is no better time for traveling than now!  But, as is characteristic of many in this age group, while there might be a desire to travel, the resources are scarce.  While college transformed us into mature, insightful, and critically thinking people, it also did a great job of putting us many thousands of dollars in debt!   But, have no fear! Thanks to credit card companies, you can travel cheaply, and sometimes, even free!

In the past 6 months, I’ve used credit card rewards to:

  • Get $400 free to stay in a Montreal hotel I never thought I’d be able to afford
  • Fly round-trip to Houston from PHL free on Southwest
  • Guarantee a free round-trip ticket to Europe or Hawaii on Lufthansa

I personally believe that the basis for credit card companies profit model, i.e. exploiting impulsive and irresponsible human nature, is outright immoral. But since they aren’t going away anytime soon, let’s take advantage of the system to travel the world the world!

NOTE: In addition to the following two deals, this is an impressive list of the best credit card deals http://thepointsguy.com/top-deals-3/

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

Southwest currently has 4 different credit cards you can sign up for here.  When you get one of their cards and spend $2,000 within the first month, you get 25,000 Southwest rewards points, which can be redeemed for Southwest flights.   couple of months ago, when I signed up for the card, they actually offered you 50,000 bonus points! In addition, for each dollar you spend on the card you receive 1 reward point.

The price of flights in points entirely depends on when and where you book them, but you can find some good deals.  To give you an idea of this, these are some fares I’ve recently found on http://www.southwest.com

  •  I found one way tickets to Seattle for 6,000.  Granted, this flight was leaving in January, which isn’t ideal for some (even though I would love it!).
  • For those of you seeking to migrate, I found a round-trip ticket to San Juan, Puerto Rico for 22,000 rewards points in Late January.
  •  Like I mentioned earlier, I recently used around 25,000 points to travel to and from Houston departing from PHL free (A $450 value)

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

This is a credit card through Chase.  The current promotion is as follows: When you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months, they will award you 50,000 bonus points, enough points to do some cool stuff on British Airways and some of its sister airlines.  Here are some deets about the point amounts for flights:

  • Flights 650 miles under are only 4,500 Avios each way in economy! 
  • Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus is only 25,000 Avios roundtrip
  • American and Alaskan Airlines Economy Flights to Hawaii are 12,500 avios

Sweet deal, huh?  You can apply for the card here.

HOW TO GET THESE CREDIT CARDS

Now-a-days with the marvelous interwebs, getting approved for these cards is super simple.  The process requires 3 minutes of your time and a computer.  Then, once you submit your application, they tell you immediately if you have been approved or not.

There are several things credit card companies want to see on a credit card application in order to approve you.

1. The higher your income income, the better. They want people who can afford to spend money (so when the person overspends, the interest the company is higher)

2. Owning is better than renting.

3. Don’t forget about any assets you may own.  If you have $40 in the bank but drive a range rover, don’t forget to include your pimp mobile in the calculations of your worth.

BUT… BUT, BUT, THERE’S NO WAY I CAN SPEND THAT MUCH IN SUCH A SHORT TIME!!!

Doubting you can spend the minimum amount for these rewards promotions?  Check out this awesome page detailing affordable and creative ways you can reach your spending goals!

Do you want to travel the world?  Don’t put it off.  A meteor could strike your house tomorrow night, vaporizing you in seconds.  Through these deals, the cost of awesome travel is more than reasonable!

As always, carpe diem and travel on, my friends.

The 26 Stages of Skydiving

When I tell people I went skydiving several weeks ago, most of them respond like….

OH MA GAH YOU DID WHAT!? | Kevin from Home alone

And then I’m all like…

Yeah, playa playa you know how we do. | Kevin ''Home alone''

Alright, alright! I’m done with the Home Alone memes, I swear! I just thought they’d get to the point, which is most people are terrified at the thought of jumping out of a plane 10,000 feet above the ground.

I too feared skydiving because it seemed way too extreme for me.  I go to bed at 10:30, I drive 55 on the highway (even when the speed limit is 65), and I’m notoriously bad at growing chest hair (I’ll admit the last one might not be related to my low-risk lifestyle, but it’s still frustrating!).  Jumping out of a perfectly good plane didn’t seem to make sense.  Then, one day I decided to learn a little more about skydiving. After, reading up on it, I decided then and there it was something I had to do.

Important facts everyone should know about skydiving:

1) Out of the 3.1 million jumps that happen each year, there are only 20 deaths.

2) My instructor told me, of those 20 deaths, most of them happen to experienced divers who get a little too out of hand with parachute acrobatics, and well…. let’s just say they don’t land gently.

HERE BEGIN THE 26 STAGES OF FIRST-TIME SKYDIVING!

1. The honeymoon phase of the jump where you’re happy and you feel cool because you’re wearing legit skydiving gear, and you’re still standing on solid ground.  But what you’re about to experience hasn’t hit you yet.

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2. You then climb into a plane whose interior is the about as big as that of a Volkswagen beetle… that doesn’t have any seats…

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3. And then you start to think to yourself “Oh wow.  I’m actually going to jump out of this plane.”

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4. And then your skydive instructor opens the door, and you take a step outside.

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5. And then you say to the skydiving instructor “Hey man, listen, I really appreciate you taking me up here and all, and the view is really nice but I really think we should go back inside the plane. Whaddaya say?! Huh??”

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6. And he responds “I WANT YOU TO SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN!”  (I guess that’s a ‘no’…)

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7. To which you reply “AHHHHHHHHH”

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8.  And then say goodbye to Mr. Plane…

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9.  Which leads you to perhaps your coolest skydiving picture of the jump ( I kind of felt like Master Chief from Halo).

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10.  And then your instructor remembers how EXTREME you told him you wanted the jump to be.

And he proceeds to flip…

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And flip…

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And flip…

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11. Until you finally stay horizontal.  But the wind is so strong.

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13.  But in the midst of all of this wind, and how fast you’re going, you can’t help but smile.DCIM100GOPRO

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14. And then you realize that this would be a perfect time to make silly facesDCIM100GOPRO

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15. Finally, your chute opens (the relief!)

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16.  And your instructor adjusts your harness, which makes you feel like you’re gonna fall out.

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17.  But after a second of fear, you can’t help but dig the beautiful view as you slowly drift back to the Earth.DCIM100GOPRO

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18.  And then you…Sneeze?

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19.  Realizing what you just accomplished, conquering your irrational fear of doing something you knew couldn’t hurt you, you feel more alive than you ever have before.

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20.  Massive endorphine high kicks in!

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21.  Just in time for your instructor to let you steer the chute!DCIM100GOPRO

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22.  Oh shit stage#1 face.DCIM100GOPRO

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23.  Oh shit stage #2 face (pulling on the handles of the chute makes you feel like you’re falling!)DCIM100GOPRO

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24.  You’ve got it all under control now.

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25. With a little help from the instructor, of course.

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26.  Congratulations! You made it back safely! And not only did you make it back in one piece, you returned to earth a new man, better than before! If you can jump out of a plane, what can’t you do?

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Skydiving has changed me for the better.  After landing, I sat on the bank of a river with my friend, and I had a revelation: if I can force myself outside of my comfort zone, and do something that I know won’t hurt me, what can’t I do?  As a result, in less than 2 weeks, I will be opening my own business.  Something I never thought I’d do.

Too often, we stop ourselves from doing things because, somehow, we believe that we won’t be able to surpass the obstacles we might face if we pursue a particular goal.  What we don’t realize is that the majority of these obstacles WE OURSELVES create in our minds.  We also forget that life is always going to have obstacles. That’s how we as humans grow: by facing challenges.

Even if you don’t think you’ll ever skydive, do yourself this one simple favor:  Try something different tomorrow.

Don’t just listen to your iPod with all of the songs you already know, throw on a Pandora station you haven’t listened to before.  Don’t eat your favorite food for lunch. Try something different.  If you never put yourself out of your comfort zone, you’re never gonna grow.

For those of you interested, you can watch the video of the whole experience here.   I hope you enjoy the advertisement laden video, the generic dubstep in the background, and the philosophical rant towards the end :).