Category Archives: Travel

A Suede Jacket From Florence, Italy, Reminds a Nobody of Days Gone By and…Fashion?

A memory found me the other day.

Nothing too earth-shattering, but just…well…a memory from March of 1995.

See, at the time I was studying in Scotland and for Spring break a group of us traveled to Greece and Italy.  I bought a suede jacket.

I really didn’t want to, but you know how it is when your friends pressure you.  So, I bought it.  Wore it for a while, but eventually outgrew it.

The other day, going through a closet, I happened upon that jacket.  I checked the pocket and lo and behold!  There it was.  The receipt from that purchase.  From what I can tell from the old-time credit card receipt, it cost 200,000 lira and came from a place in Florence called “Florence’s Moon.”

Well, it brought back some great memories of friends I’d made, awkward moments, the beauty of Florence, and a nice time in my life.

Unfortunately, I lost track of the folks who goaded me into that purchase, as we’ve all melted into the scenery of life.  It’s now almost 20 years later and the jacket is now at a Goodwill store, but that receipt.  For some reason I just couldn’t part with it.

As a die hard Nobody, I thought back to roaming those European streets, ducking into cafes, huddling under umbrellas, and exploring whatever life had to offer.  We had budgets (definitely didn’t budget for that jacket!), a will to travel, and each other.  When we got short with each other, it was generally not too long afterward that the fence was mended and life was good again.

There was no Riviera, no throngs of fans.  We pooled our money, stayed in one room, and now?  Well, many of the memories don’t reside in magazines or movie screens but in crumpled up receipts that in a moment splash a bygone era in front of the mind’s eye.

If you’re part of Nobody Nation and you’re reading this, think back…what memories lie in your mind?  What quiet moments, lost people, or old places stir your emotions…even for a second?

And as for that jacket?  Hey, even a Nobody needs to donate old things to make room for new fashion!  Just not anything from Florence!

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Your Travels May Never Be WordPress Freshly Pressed or Travel Channel Material, But They Can Be Important to You (Mexico, Part 3)

And so, the last installment of the Mexico journeys has arrived. I’ve told you a little about the Dreams Resort in Puerto Aventuras, something about Chichen Itza, a bit about Ik Kil Cenote, and a given you a touch of the coconut licor.

But what we haven’t really gone into in any great detail is the feeling.  That’s right, the feeling of just traveling along as one person in the big world.  No, this journey to Mexico wasn’t an epic 1960s jaunt in an old jalopy.  I didn’t hit the road for months with a guitar and notebook, riding the rails to see a land from coast to coast.  There was no guru waiting for me, teaching me the great mysteries of life.

And no, no one will write poems or songs about my measly week in at a Mexican resort.

But there was still a feeling.  I met people…young people…who had been traveling for weeks, months…on their own, or in small groups.  They were having their own adventure in the world, wishing it could continue on.  I’ll admit, I sort of fall into that category.  My life path isn’t the most…normal…on the planet, but I’m good with it.  However, I always find myself wishing I could get out there more and explore.  And for me, that’s what this one little week was.  It was a chance to get out and explore.  See something new.  Experience new things.  Take some time with my thoughts.  Be on my own schedule.  Not have to apologize for who I am or justify what I’m doing.

I guess when people ask, “Why did you go alone to Cancun?” I say something along the lines of: I have the rest of my life to travel with, travel for, travel because of…but how many times will I just get the chance to travel, period?  I’ve been to many places on this incredible globe and I cherish those memories.  But many of my greatest pleasures have been the places I’ve been alone, or the moments alone I could steal from a world of people.

I walked the streets of London solo and took in Phantom of the Opera as a one-man show.  I’ve skied off by myself into the back bowls of Colorado, stopped, and heard nothing by my heartbeat, the silence, and a lone crow riding the wind.  I’ve wandered windswept Scottish shores, viewed meteor showers and northern lights from lonely piers in Canada, and had moments of bliss watching elephants methodically grazing and chewing the greenest leaves in Kenya.  There’s been quiet time wandering the streets of Old Jerusalem in the early morning before even the prayers of the day were awake.  I’ve wiped beads of sweat from my brow in an archaeological square in the Ukraine—just before sitting in a rickety chair to wash pottery only recently liberated form thousands of years of silent dirt.  I’ve made my way though the alleys of Vienna, Edinburgh, and Paris and waited out front of Chartres Cathedral for my host family.  I’ve run up steps at Machu Picchu and barely caught my breath enough to get back down, sipped cold beer at a café in Cuzco watching the saints march by, and have been in an airplane with tipped wing over the Nazca plains…then waited for a bus in Ica I thought would never come.  I’ve knocked the red dust from my shoes after a short hike in Sedona and laid awake at night alone in a shaking tent listening to the monsoon rains pound the forest outside.  I’ve gazed at the formations in the Valley of the Gods that were so still and quiet, my eyes watered from the pounding in my ears.  And now?  Well, now I’ve wandered the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza alone, swam in a sink hole with me and a hundred fishes and strangers, and read Capra’s The Tao of Physics on the Caribbean in Cancun, Mexico, pausing only to order one more San Marino Coconut Licor on the rocks con un poquito de naranja.  And I didn’t give a lick if the grammar was wrong.  The waves crashed, the breeze played, and the sun set, all in perfect time.

Look, folks.  I’m not naïve.  I know there’s probably a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll ever be on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page.  I know my journeys aren’t the stuff of legend, or even significant to the world.  They won’t land me on the Travel Channel or get me a guest article in some glossy mag.  In fact, at Nobody’s View, we’re just one guy in the world having the most common experience of all — the anonymous trek through the world of daily living.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why this blog exists.  That’s why I write and write and write.  Because I want us to share together what we all share alone…and with so many others.  So no, my treks aren’t famous.

But to me?  Well, to me these journeys are priceless.  I know only a few of you will ever read this.  Heck, maybe it’ll just be a tiny handful.  But I want to leave you with this message:  Look at the pic in the header up there, and the other two pics in the post.  They’re not from Mexico, but they represent two of the quietest moments.  The header is the pic of one person taking a picture of a distant landscape on a sun-parched highway.  The second is of an accidental stop in Utah overlooking the Goosenecks and Monument Valley.  It was silent.  Silent.  Silent.  The third?  Well, same as the header, but even more quiet.  Those pictures aren’t art.  They’re memories.  Memories of quiet and blissful isolation.  So, if you have the spirit of adventure welling up within you, you don’t have to jet off anywhere exotic.  You don’t need your A-1 camera.  Lace up your shoes, jump in your car, catch a bus, hop a plane, and just move an inch to the north, south, east, or west.  Honor that feeling of movement by simply taking you to a new or favorite place.  Take in the sights.  Take in yourself.  And just make a memory.

You never know when you’ll have that chance again.

Adios, and happy travels.

[Author’s note: this writer received no incentives regarding any resort or products in this post]

Chichen Itza, Ik Kil (Cenote), and Speaking Three Languages Along the Way Through the Yucatan, Mexico (Mexico, Part 2)

So Mexico, right?

Is that where we left off?

Ah, yes.  The Dreams Resort in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.  Caribbean blue sea, some clouds, lots of sun.  Some coconut flavored treats (lots of that).

Now, I last told you that I went down to Quintana Roo, Mexico, to sort of escape work, cell phones, and email.  And I did.  So, that part was a success.  But it wasn’t all just a bunch of lying around.

While I was there, I decided to take a side trip.  I met a travel person who sold me on a trip to the amazing ruins of Chichen Itza.  Chichen Itza is a great Mayan ruin in the Yucatan dating from 600 C.E. to 1200 C.E.  I’m sure lots of amazing things happened there.  Unfortunately, the English-speaking guide we had was miserable.  He effectively managed, within 5 minutes of starting the tour, to alienate all of us (the Spanish-led and German-led tours were better, fortunately, for our friends on the tour bus).  I have never met a guide who believed that he and his wealth of book knowledge was the main attraction.  In essence, we saw nothing, but were treated to an hour of his ramblings and ill temper.  Yeah, we could have walked away, but y’know?  We were polite.  Oh, by the way, at the end of the tour, he told us that he depends on our generosity for his living.  As I was rooting in my bag for a tip, I heard him say to a woman on the tour, “You and I must have a different definition of ‘generosity.'”  Well, I won’t tell you what her husband said next, but suffice it to say, he was not happy.

So, I basically had an hour and a half free to explore on my own…not exactly the experience I wanted, but I was happy to have the opportunity to at least set my feet on the site.  The place is beautiful…sprawling.  So much to see.  So many people.  The pic just below is the famous pyramid.

My favorite building, however, was the observatory.  It was strange to see that round tower amidst all the right-angled buildings.

After Chichen Itza, it was off to Ik Kil, a cenote in the Yucatan.  Essentially, Ik Kil is a sink hole filled with water.  It is open to the sky and there are some fish swimming around.  I wasn’t actually going to swim there, but a friend I met on the tour climbed out of the water, came up to me, and said, “If you don’t swim, you’ll regret it.”

Ok.

So, I jumped in.  The water was cold, but refreshing.  It was raining in the outside world, so the water came splashing in from the top, and trickled down the vines.  I just floated on my back and let the water wash over me (and on one occasion, the fish touch me).  It was quite the experience.  Yeah, it was strange knowing that there was 130 feet of water below me, but I soldiered on in the spirit of the great ocean explorers (not really), and had quite an experience.

The rest of the day was spent at various stops, but Chichen Itza and Ik Kil were the highlights.  We did have a nice buffet lunch, too.  That always makes me happy.  I had to have an orange Fanta for old times sake.  How can you not love neon orange soda?  I practically lived on the stuff years ago on other travels abroad.

I met some very interesting people on this tour, some of whom seemed to have some important messages to share with me about life and the journey ahead.  If nothing else, the trip to Mexico was worth it just to have spent time on this tour and to get some new perspectives.  One person in the van spoke English, Spanish, and German, and I also have been known to dabble in German, so there you have it.  I traveled all the way to Cancun to meet a person from South America with whom I spent the day speaking three languages.

Yes, travel can be interesting and exciting!

So, here’s my advice for today.  If you go to Cancun and you want to take a side trip, don’t go with the first offer you get.  Chances are, people will try to sell you a tour by telling you how bad others’ tours are.  Me?  Well, I heard the pitch by one tour company in the Dreams Resort.  $119.  A bit high.  Then, another tour company offered the same thing for $76.  Same tour.  Same trip.  Same stops.  Same everything.  No hard sell.  Better energy.  Sold me on how great his particular tour was.  The bottom line?  Listen to your gut.  Don’t jump on the first offer.  And stick to your instincts.

Much like you did when you booked a trip alone to Mexico in the first place.

More on the Mexico vacation soon.

[Author’s note: this writer received no incentives regarding any resort or products in this post]

Yes, Bosses — I Did Go Away to Dreams Resort Puerto Aventuras in Quintana Roo, Mexico (Mexico, Part 1)

(Pic above is the side beach where I spent most of my days reading, in Puerto Aventuras)

——–

No, we here at Nobody’s View didn’t drop off the face of the earth, although, it may seem that way.

The last year has been…interesting…to say the least.  I’ve been working a lot, thinking a lot, and, well, just being me a lot.

As you probably know from your own life, that can be kind of taxing.  A lot.

So, I made I decision.  I was going to India!  Yes!  Finally!  After years and years of dreaming, I finally started planning the trip.  The realization of a lifetime of anticipation.

Alas, as the planning went on, I realized it just wasn’t going to be feasible right now.  So, I decided to can those plans.  Indeed, I was going to can the whole going-away thing.  Then, something interesting happened.  My bosses essentially ordered me to take a vacation.  Two different bosses.  Two different sets of marching orders.

Now, those who know me know that I don’t often skip off.  There is one trip I take per year to a family stead in the great Canadian north, but other than that…well…I stay home a lot.  I have that adventurous spirit, but unfortunately, my wallet is more of a homebody.

But not this time.

I went to a travel agent who’d been helping with India and I gave him a price.  Not a high price, but a price.  He starting his fingers a-typin’ and after some discussion, we narrowed my choices down to three places: Honolulu, Kona, or  Cancun.  Three different places.  Three potential hotels.  Three places to get away.

Well, I’m not an beach person.  I prefer the mountains.  But y’know?  The spirit lately has been to try new things and, if you read the blog you know about my issues with the sea.  So, in the spirit of exploration and the dreamy visions of the Caribbean blue, I jetted off to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun.  Why not Hawaii?Well, the great travel agent said to me, “All the hotels are under your budget, but don’t forget…you still have to eat.”  Touche, travel agent.  Touche.

So I took off.

All by my little lonesome.

I didn’t take much.  Just a lot of clothes (that I never really wore) and some books that I have been waiting to read.  There was sunblock, two spiral notebooks, a camera, and some money.  Not much.  Just some.  Also?  An openness to whatever was in store.  No plans.

I stayed at Dreams – Puerto Aventuras, on the Caribbean.  All I could eat, drink, rest, and stare at the ocean.

And I did all of that.

What was amazing was how comfortable I was just being alone and how quickly my years of Spanish came back to me.  I mean, it wasn’t an astounding vacation, but simply an excuse to go away and not turn on email or cellphone.  That’s all.

Now, there was a little more.  Some surprises.  But those will be coming in other installments here at Nobody’s View.  Stay tuned for some descriptions of the trip and some tips and tricks for getting about in the Yucatan/Quintana Roo area.

For now?  Well, we’ll just let this entry into the blog stand as a testament that yes, I do occasionally relax.  So, if you’re one of my bosses reading this: Yes, I went on vacation.  No, I didn’t do any work.  And, finally, yes…I’m very glad to be home, although I can still hear those waves, see that radiant blue, and feel the sand beneath my feet.

Next time though?  The mountains….

[Author’s note: this writer received no incentives regarding any resort or products in this post]

A Cottage in Canada is More Than Place…

Anywhere you go is place — the store, the neighbor’s, the restaurant, the moon.

Heck, even the bathroom is place.

Place is a function of being present.  “This is the place!” might describe a stop you make along the road.  Place by itself isn’t really much to speak of.

However, when place meets emotion and memory, it transcends itself.  If a tree in a forest is just a place, when you and your lover carve your initials into it and surround it with a heart, it becomes more than what it is.  It becomes a destination where love was declared and a memory was made.

I am lucky.  Once a year I return to a “place” in Canada that I have found myself for over 30 years.  I have lots of cousins here you see, and this bit of cottage country has really been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  It is where books have been written, friends have been made, cookies have been baked, and walks have been taken.

It’s a place where kindness is the rule and inconsiderate folks are the subject of gossip.  It’s a place where people don’t call ahead — they ride their bikes right up the front door and yell, “Anyone here?”  Doorbells not required.  It’s a place where junk food is gourmet and fresh cookies are social glue.

Dogs bark in the distance and the sound almost complements the wind. Mosquitoes are annoying, but without them, we’d lose part of the yearly conversation.  It’s a place where the level of the lake is of great concern and the time on the clock is of little concern.

Exercise is a form of relaxation here.  The corn is sweet, the fruit is rarely sour, and waking up to the cool morning breeze is all the nourishment we feel we need. Children are obliged to splash their parents, the seagulls will always find something to eat, and a milkshake is often the local past time.  There is bingo, but also the bango of the bongos at the bandshell.

The cottages, shops, and markets here are certainly “place.”  I find myself placed in them quite often. However, the fact that so much of my life has passed here makes it all something more.  Every street corner, pump handle, and business has some space in my mind.  There are paving stones here that have existed since before my parents were born, and they still see faithful footfalls.  No, this isn’t just “place.” It’s life.  Pure and simple.

Someday, I may find myself at the helm of a family and they will come with me to this place.  And, with a little luck, it will become something more than the sum of its parts for them, too.  In the process, it will grow and change for me, yet still be everlasting as something special.

And, in the end,  isn’t that the beauty of place?

Film Fest is Louder Than a Bomb and a Reminder of Precious Life

Back!

I was at a film festival in California and it was just great.  Saw almost 30 films (not as many as in past years), and it really was nice.

And I don’t just mean the weather.

It’s always great to go to a film festival.  As a loved one says, “It’s like seeing the world in a week!”

And she’s right.

I saw India through Peepli Live and Next Year in Bombay.

I had my faith in humanity restored through documentary films such as My So-Called Enemy and Louder Than a Bomb (you rock Adam Gottlieb).

I was challenged in Israeli/Palestinian relations through Precious Life.

I was introduced to Greenland movie-making through Nuummioq and watched Ethiopia represent through The Athlete (the story of marathoner and Olympic champion Abebe Bikila).

There were the great French and Italian comedies including The Names of Love and Loose Cannons and the BRILLIANT Romanian romantic comedy (yes, a Romanian romcom — the first ever, actually) — Hello!  How Are You? — a brilliant and perfect mix of sex and the malaise of growing old in love and life.

Sweden’s Oscar submission Simple Simon was also in the mix — a beautiful blend of whimsy, social commentary, and family ties in an homage to Napoleon Dynamite.

The thrill of a film festival is the shock of the new and the ring of the familiar.  We have our favorites (Bollywood, French/Spanish/Italian comedy, Mongolian epics), but there is always a pleasant surprise, like this year’s Leading Ladies (a small USA toe-tapper that would make a BRILLIANT musical on Broadway).

And, of course, there was an unfortunate USA offering which I won’t name here that was a pathetic reminder that nepotism is alive, well, and occasionally horribly detrimental to the art world.  Shame.

Standing in line and seeing old friends at new movies is a treat.  Yes, there are those who will always work the system to find ways to cut the line, sneak in, and just be general malcontents, but for the rest of us?  Well, for the rest of us there is a blessed reunion with culture, friends, family, and cinema.

You don’t have to be a celluloid expert to love a film festival (I sure as heck am not).  You just need to have a love for perspective, a love for the new, and an appreciation for the odd.

Then again, maybe you just need an appreciation for life itself — life that brings us the good, the bad, and the ugly…life that brings us the best in human nature, as well as the worst…

And if all else fails, there’s always popcorn.

No Survivor Nicaragua! At Least Not Here…

Well, I was away on Wednesday.  In another state.

I watched Survivor Nicaragua, but alas, had no way to blog it!

I apologize to all y’all.

What did you think about the vote?  I mean, Benry?  Really?  I’m not sure that was a fantastic option, but c’est la vie, right?

Things are getting incredibly interesting as we get nearer to that season finale.  I’ll do my best to be here and be bloggin’ it.  In the meantime, share your thoughts!

By the way, I had a great piece of coconut pie while I was away.

That’s right.  Coconut pie.

And it was every bit as good as it sounds.

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