Live Inspired: An ode to slow travel

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

At sunset in Panajachel, Guatemala, a line of snack stalls abutted the Lake Atitlán.

Each one offered beers, swaddled with napkin bibs, and fresh ceviches with their own little twist. Living there for over a month, I could have tried them all. But walking by every night, I chose the same one — not because I was uninterested in trying something different, but because being a regular just felt good.

My pop-up shop is back!

Thanks to a wild first round of photo sales in December and January — my first foray into this madness — my pop-up shop is officially back for round two, kicking off …right now.

This time around,  I have some new notecard sets up for grabs as well as a bunch of new prints in 8x10s and 12x18s. And a lot of the best sellers from the previous round, such as the Beetle and Old Man and the Sea prints and the street dog notecards are still available as well!

Most excitingly for me, after bumbling through the first round of sales manually, I have a fancy new landing page for my shop, where you can browse the available goods and order them directly. You can find it here. As it is still new, please alert me to any problems or concern! And if there’s something you’d like to see but you don’t, I’m all ears (but no promises).

An important note! Being that this is a pop-up, there is a DEADLINE FOR ORDERING if you want to make this round of shipments, which will go out in late May.

So make sure you place all orders before midnight on May 12 to make the cut.

Here’s the link again. Now ready, set, SHOP!

CITY GUIDE: Isla de Flores, Guatemala

The moment you arrive on the quaint, blossoming Isla de Flores, one thing is clear: life is lived on the water.

Plant-laden restaurants and cafes affront the tranquil Lake Petén Itzá, offering prime seating for watercolor sunset shows. During the day, lanchas (public transport boats), canoes and jet skis zip around the glistening expanse; beaches and docks are well frequented. And at night, it’s not uncommon to see kayakers linger beneath the moonlight, taking advantage of the round-the-clock stillness.

But if at first Isla de Flores strikes you as only a mindless aquatic draw for vacationers, think again. The tiny island, only 45 minutes from the grand historic Parque Tikal, is a mine of Mayan culture itself, built atop the ancient city of Nojpetén — the last independent Mayan state.

Live Inspired: my love letter to Guatemala

Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

I’m writing this on Monday, on a bus bound for the Belize border, and in about an hour or so, I will leave Guatemala behind after about three and a half months in your clutch.

In a way, it feels as though I am leaving home. What a wild journey it has been.

I showed up to your border in August, thinking I might spend a week or two with you before continuing south through Central America.

That joke was most certainly on me.

Instead, I fell in love with your architecture, your culture, your landscapes; your passion and patience, your intelligence, your liberal smiles.

I swam in your lakes, I shopped in your markets, I walked up your hills, I fell in love with your people. And I found I couldn’t leave.

CITY GUIDE: Cobán, Guatemala

Coban, Guatemala — there’s a good chance most people you know who have trekked to the country haven’t spent much time, if any, there.

Unlike the areas surrounding Lake Atitlán and Antigua, Coban really has no tourism infrastructure and therefore lacks the coffee shops/sightseeing guides/English speakers that you can find in those other places.

In fact, when travelers do pass through, it’s almost always with the intention of getting to Semuc Champey, a breathtaking natural limestone feature creating stepped pools and waterfalls in the Cahabón River.

That’s why I showed up in late October, and it’s a worthy reason.

But as I found, over two weeks in town, there is much to love about Cobán itself — from its stellar coffee sourced from the surrounding hills to its massive commercial district full of vibrant markets to the beautiful national park within walking distance of the center. 

Still, they walk: perspectives on the migrant caravan, from Guatemala

Over the months I’ve traveled throughout Guatemala, I’ve met many friends here, and occasionally, as we’ve discussed the U.S. in conversation, I’ve asked them a question:

Quieres ir allí, algún día?

Do you want to go there, someday?

Though no one I’ve met has voluntarily spoken a single bad word about the U.S., the answer, to this direct question, usually involves a shy shrug, perhaps a bowed head.

A friend I met recently here in Cobán replied with this:

“I don’t think I’m wanted there.”

Another friend, in Guatemala City responded, shaking his head:

“I can’t put myself through that.”

I could predict the answer, but each time, it breaks my heart over again.

It makes me think of the caravan of migrants currently making its way through Mexico and toward the U.S. border — the group of a few thousand young men, mothers and babies from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that has so captured the nation and become something of a political prop heading into tomorrow’s midterm elections.

Live Inspired: the hard days

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

Some mornings it’s hard to get up.

Sunday morning was one of them. Well, I’ll be honest, Monday and Tuesday, too. I stared at the ceiling for a while, and finally rolled off the bed onto the hard floor in the dark.

Oh, you might be thinking — if you’re new to this column — I thought this series was supposed to be about inspiration.

Well, yes. It is. But inspiration doesn’t come easy, doesn’t drop into your lap. Getting to the inspiration part is often messy, often frustrating, and real as hell. Those transitions are just as truly parts of inspiration as are the finales.

I realize from afar, travels like these can seem like they are nothing but rainforests and empanadas. But in reality, this journey has been a great melting pot of things. In the last four months, I have experienced some of the most memorable moments of my life. I have met so many people. I have seen such beauty that it affects my heart rate. I’ve cried, more than I thought possible, from awe, from beauty, from gratitude, from kindness received.

And yet I also go through low stretches.

CITY GUIDE: 8 places to go in Guatemala City

At the moment, Guatemala City isn’t oft spoken of as a tourist destination — almost entirely due to its reputation of widespread, violent crime.

But as it boasts the country’s largest airport and is positioned as the hub of travel from the U.S., you just might find yourself there anyway, if you’re looking to explore the other bounty Guatemala has to offer.

If that’s the case, don’t panic: there are areas within the city that can be accessed without great risk if you exercise basic precautions and don’t wander off the beaten path. And what you find there — cobblestone streets, vine-draped facades and hip bars in the super trendy Zona 4 and vibrant markets and parks in the culture-filled Zona 1 core — just might inspire you to stay a day or two longer. It did, me.