Turks and Caicos – the land of conch and potcakes. Several months ago I drifted over to Turks and am just now getting a post in. I wish it was because I’ve been so busy but the truth is I’ve just been a lazy bum. It was a spur of the moment trip I booked about 2 days in advance after my pilot friend said “Hey, I’m going to Turks in 2 days… want to go?” And that was that. I went. We flew into Provindenciales, aka Provo, which is quite ironic for me and some others of you reading this.. and the rest of you are now wondering “huh?”
POTCAKE: the name given to the dogs of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Derived from the days when the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the local dogs. They’ve evolved into a breed which is extremely smart, loyal, and loving.
There’s an amazing non-profit adoption program – check out potcakeplace.com – where you can bring one of these little guys home with you. The other great part of this program is you can volunteer while you’re vacationing and take the pups to the beach with you. And for you dudes out there, Jasper (above) is a total babe magnet… like that’s not obvious.
Amazing color of the water – shot with an iphone. Lucky.
Conch’s as far as the eye can see. The challenging part is trying to smuggle one of these bad boys home.
There are some sand dunes called the Little Sahara about a 2 hour ride from my house and I was feeling a little restless. It seemed like a good idea. It was. There was a huge crowd of 3 people out there (just my style) including a dude named Dale. Dale was was a high-energy, shortish, skinnyish guy with a full on Utah accent from a small town called Oak City. He was dressed in full moto-cross gear from head to toe – boots, racing pants, jersey, matching red helmet, and goggles. As he hopped off his tricked out 4 wheeler, he asked if I needed ‘provisions’ and I chuckled a bit inside because he used the word ‘provisions.’ The offer was a stand-up gesture from one rider to another. I didn’t need anything but I should have taken him up on it just to get him talkin’ about life and stuff in a small town. I love hearing stories about a way of life I may never experience and I bet he has some pretty great ones. Those kind of guys always do.
The ride – she loves getting her picture taken. She has quite the little ego. I can’t blame her I guess.
I just got back from MORE ProjectÂ in Rio de Janeiro a couple days ago. I like going down there for many reasons but here are 5 pretty good ones:
1. The Kids – They have so much love to give. Go and see.
2. Givin’ Back -Â It feels pretty good to do something for somebody you’ve never met in your life. Ask anybody who’s been to the MORE Project and they’ll tell you all about it – like one of the expeditioners on the 2012 spring trip. The home above was falling apart and the expedition group decided it needed remodeled. The photo only shows the new roof but so many more things were done on the inside – new toilet (it was so disgusting), tile, shower head, cleaned and painted the walls, appliances, bed and bedding, new wiring, stairs instead of a dirt ramp, and more. It was truly inspiring to me the work they did. And the amazing thing is you actually end up taking as much as you give. If this doesn’t make sense to you now it will when you get there. It’s a beautiful thing.
3. Flavio – This kid’s had his ups and downs since I first met him in the Project over 4 years ago. He hasn’t been the perfect student but I can’t imagine what his life is like on a daily basis. The fact that he keeps coming back is a reflection of the good MORE Project is doing. If not for the Project, he may very well be slingin’ dope for a slum lord in the favela. The reality is his life would be dramatically different without MORE.
4. Destroy Your Comfort Zone – We can get so caught up in everyday life doing the same thing. We drink our coffee in the morning, take the same route to work, take the same route back, and maybe we mix it up one day by stopping for a soda on the way home, then catch some tv. Well, do something different for once in your life. See what life is like outside your bubble. Expand a little. Explore a little. You’ll like it.
5. Rio de Janeiro – Check out one of the coolest cities in the world for a few days. It has so much to offer with its culture, amazing beaches, and a chilled out vibe. Brazilians are a beautiful people with a very laid-back attitude toward life. Â We call it the River – you just sit back and let it flow… that must be why I like it so much.
Road tripping always seems better and shorter – regardless of the 11 hours in one day (round trip) I spent driving – in a foreign country. There’s something about new roads and cultures that makes me pay more attention to my surroundings. We ended up in an area called Paraty, got on a boat, and sailed to some islands near Ilha Grande… this is a work trip:
I love my job.
It was 99 degrees and I needed to ride and get away. The obvious choice – Arizona. I decided to try and find the spot along the Grand Canyon I had once camped while still in college. I remember sleeping on the edge of a cliff (literally) with nothing but a few hundred feet separating me from certain death and not a soul in sight – those were good times – so I packed up the bike.
The late start that day caused me to ride the final two hours in darkness. I think I was being tested by the biker gods. As night fell, rain started, the wind picked up, and then a construction zone. The fresh black asphalt hid any definition of the road and the uneven lanes didn’t help much either – no biggie. I’m a biker. It’s part of the deal. Test passed.
The next morning I witnessed a dog and a coyote become friends – true story – then off to find the Grand Canyon. I never found the exact spot I camped way back in the day. Apparently there are too many off-the-beaten-path dirt roads to follow and my memory isn’t what it used to be. It didn’t matter. I made it to the big canyon and it’s still pretty amazing – that I do remember.
In the span of about two hours, the temperature went from 99 degrees down to 49 degrees and then back up to 105 degrees – this includes 2 rain storms and some sleet. Yes, sleet. Yes, it’s mid August – notice the white stuff in the photo – that’s snow/sleet/hail. Call it whatever you want. It was cold.
End of the day camp spot – the smell of pine trees and rain, flames of an open fire and some crackling wood. It’s a pretty great way to end a ride. The tortilla chips with a hint campfire smoke even tasted great. It was a good day.
Guardsman Pass is a great little ride close to my home. I took a photo here in the Fall a few years back. I’ll try and find and post it.
Driving doesn’t work for me the way riding does. Riding helps me think. It’s the difference between watching a movie and actually being IN the movie. Anyway, this is what I came up with today: I need to get out a lot more. I need to do some riding, some shooting, some drifting. I know what you’re thinking – “all this guy does is drift.” Well, that’s how I feel right now – more drifting. And now that I’ve posted this I’m obligated to it – this is how I self-motivate. Otherwise, I’ll just think about it for years and years… and years.
Guardsman Pass, Fall 2008
The beach at Icarai is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view of Rio de Janeiro while the sun sinks out of sight – you can see the Cristos, Sugar Loaf, and Rio’s skyline perfectly.
I met some dudes skim boarding while I was taking it all in – Thiago and Mateus. Mateus, a local Icarai kid with some decent English skills, struck up a conversation with me about my camera. His buddy, Thiago, was doing most of the skim boarding. Thiago would be there listening with his eyes focused on the waves. Suddenly, he would bolt toward the beach, throw down his board, jump on like a magic carpet, and hit his wave he timed so perfectly. He was good. It showed.
The eyebrows on this guy are serious works of art. He was trying to tell me something in Portuguese and Mateus tried to interpret- no such luck. It will remain a mystery forever.
Thiago hitting another wave.
Mateus takes a shot at the title.
Surfing under the watchful eye of the Cristos. Earlier in the day I spotted this guy surfing with Rio in the background. I thought it was kinda cool so it made the post.
CHECK OUT THE SKIM BOARDING BRASIL SITE : SKIMBRASIL.COM
No trip to Brazil is complete without visiting MORE Project.
Meet Leondro. I photographed him about 5 years ago when he was just a little guy and just starting out at the project. He still is little I guess but it’s amazing to see how much he’s grown and progressed during that time. It’s proof the MORE Project is making a difference there in the favelas. Who knows where he’d be right now if not for the project.
Jo, the art teacher, and a few of the kids at MORE Project in Niteroi, Brasil. Jo is an amazing artist with a huge love for the kids.
just wandering around the museum one morning –
It’s interesting how on a work assignment I don’t seem to absorb the culture of a city as much as possible. Maybe it’s the mind set of ‘working’ that keeps me from fully taking it all in. I’m really not exactly sure but I know when I’m on my own and wandering about I feel a different energy. SÃ£o Paulo is a city I didn’t love before but it’s growing on me. It has a very New York City feel. Rio (only a 1 hr flight away) has a very west coast feel. And the cityscapes in SÃ£o Paulo are really quite incredible.
[He’ll never know but this is my favorite photo from this trip]
I was sitting near the beach on a rock, right after sunset, thinking about my travels over the last two weeks when I saw this old timer. He was just sitting, thinking, taking in the beach and waves and sky… just like me. When I approached him to take a photo I used the international symbol for photo – thumb and index finger shaped like a C, moving my finger in an up and down like motion, saying “photo?” and pointing in his direction – this always gets the point across. He nodded slowly, smiled slightly, removed his hat and brushed his hair to the side with his hand- a very respectful gesture by him even though the hat was pretty great. I didn’t argue. I took a couple photos and was grateful he had allowed me to take his portrait. He then wandered off back up the hill seemingly in slow motion. Our paths will most likely never cross again but these are the things I remember. These 2 minutes of interaction made my entire trip.
After the first man wandered off, I wish now I had gotten his name, another old timer with 100 years of character and history in his face sat down. I didn’t quite make the connection as I had with the first man. Same approach, same result. He gently nodded and I captured a couple images.
The perfect way to top off the trip.
[black rock volcano beach on Stromboli]
Lipari became the next stop on the Calabrian adventure. I’m not sure how or why this came about but the choice was made. And it really doesn’t matter because it’s done and I’m there (the best part of the drift). After a short boat ride from Tropea, it stopped at an island… not Lipari and not expected. I don’t always catch every piece of Italian being thrown my way. So Stromboli it was, the first stop – volcano island. That’s pretty much the whole thing – volcano rock going right into the sea. The beach is black rock, very hot, and at times you can see smoke coming from the core. Pretty cool really.
[the view from my room in Acuacalda]
Eventually, the ferry pulled into the marina in Lipari. This place is a little throw back piece of Italy. Nobody speaks English, a good thing most of the time, with a small town feel. It’s laid back and peaceful. At any time you can see old timers shootin the bull on the corners, fishermen catching their dinners, and little old ladies wandering the skinny corridors. The night before I booked a B&B that looked pretty decent. It was 10 km from town. I didn’t know that at the time and wasn’t happy when I found out. There are pros and cons to booking a joint before hand – that’s a discussion for another time. This time I thought it was a con but turned out to be a great thing. A taxi offered to take me there for 30 euros. I don’t think so. Much too high for my taste. Next option: scooter. A mere 50 euros for 3 days. Done. They wanted 60 but I talked them down. I’m not traveling as light as usual but I was forced to (work obligations made me do it). I have an enormous Ogio bag and my pretty good sized camera backpack. Jokingly, I asked them if it was ok to load up my new ride, the HD 125cc Evo, with all my gear and the rental guys complied. Before I knew it my giant bag was balancing precariously on back with my backpack strapped to the front of me. No sweat. Once I got the 125cc’s rollin’ I couldn’t help but laugh for the next 10 km until I found the my new home.
[just another amazing sunset]
I finally made it to Tropea – a place only existing on the internet it seemed. After seeing a photo, my mind said something like this: Hey, I have a gig in Switzerland. Where could I go with some sun and beach? South of France, Spain, Italy? Find something. Ok, Tropea looked pretty great in the photos but does it really look like that in real life? Fine. Let’s (me and my mind) find out. Tropea it is – ok, that’s really more of a paraphrase so I can’t put it in quotes – my mind isn’t what it used to be. Anyway, that’s my recollection of how it went down.
The logistics: Flew to Zurich, van to Interlaken, spent a week there, walked to the train station, train to Spiez, transfer, train to Milano, transfer, train to Napoli (met a very friendly Italian couple who woke me when we got to Naples or I still might be on the train), walked through the shady part of town to a seedy hotel, cruised Napoli for a day, back to the train station and off to Lamezi, transfer, train to Tropea, wandered about town until I found the hotel I booked the day before (this time I put in 20 minutes of internet time to ensure a decent place to stay where there wasn’t the possibility of getting shanked).
And here I am. It’s as great as the pictures… and it really does exist.
Amazing sunset over Tropea.
Naples at sunset.
Not the greatest hotel in not the greatest area of the city. If I’m never heard from again please start looking for me here.
Ahhhh…. the train taking me outta this joint. I’m really looking forward to the next stop on my southern Italy adventure.
This time I actually went. I took this photo right after I landed. The view from the air is amazing but the people in charge wouldn’t let me take my camera. Rude I know.
This is me paragliding… just kidding.
This was the first solar eclipse in the past 18 years. Pretty cool eh?
Cardinals 7 Cubs 6
Oh yah, and there’s some arch thing that’s supposed to be famous…
Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon.