25 Great Travel Memories

Last month’s blog post, One Sentence on Each Country, received higher-than-normal readership. Thank you for checking it out, Loyal Readers. I wanted to expand upon that (don’t worry, just a short post this time) by sharing some of my favorite travel memories over the years. A few of these fall into the “profound” category. I am referring to things like seeing the mo’ai heads of Easter Island, or of gazing upon 8,000 Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors in Xi’an.

On the other hand, many of these memories are simple recollections of the little things that make travel so rewarding. For this, I am referring to failed, but somehow amusing, attempts at communication with Russian cabin mates on a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or of the literal hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that I stumbled upon in Salzburg, a place that somehow crisped my pepperoni pizza just right.

In no particular order, here are 25 Great Travel Memories:

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Onward and Upward: Four Years of Blogging

November has, thus far, been rife with disappointment. On a personal level, I have slowly been making peace with my mother’s passing, less than two months ago, while weathering a relationship break-up that felt like a sucker punch. Regarding the former, it took several weeks to even register the fact that my mom was gone. As for the latter, I’ve been trying to assess what I must have done wrong, but am slowly coming to the conclusion that I will never know for sure. All I can say is that I haven’t been sleeping well.

On the world stage – and for the second occurrence in my lifetime – the better candidate for the United States Presidency won the popular vote but lost the election. And the other day, I logged onto social media to learn that one of my favorite mood poets, Leonard Cohen, had passed away at age 82.

At times like these, I tend towards the melancholy. I spent much of yesterday doing some archiving and came across a few blog posts from 2013. I realized that it was Election Day, 2012, when I moved to Mexico City and established gringopotpourri.com. My blog has changed a lot over the years. For one thing, the writing is better now than it was then. Darker, perhaps, but also better. The regionality of the content has also shifted from being mostly Mexico-focused to being largely Tennessee-focused.

To “celebrate” my blog’s four-year anniversary, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite posts for you, along with comments on how those posts either came to be or how they hold up today. And as always: Thanks for reading!

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part Three

Speechless. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Those are just three superlatives that I can use to describe my elation at having spent an hour with mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Uganda, neighboring Rwanda, and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) are the only places in the world where these great apes still roam free. And I saw them.

Bwindi gorillas 112

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part Two

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was just 50 yards from our lodge, Lake Kitandara Bwindi Camp. Our driver, Matthieu, escorted us to the park gate, where we signed in and met the park staff and other trekkers. We showed our permits – a whopping $500 apiece – and were led through orientation. The head guide was a female, something of a surprise in this male-dominated part of the world.

Bwindi gorillas 3

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Gorillas (Not Quite) in the Mist – Part One

Bwindi town 4

I can hardly believe that five years have passed since my three-country safari and hiking trip to East Africa in August, 2010. I wrote about the trip’s climax – a successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – last fall, and thought you might like to hear about the Uganda portion of trip, in which my friends and I had one thing on our minds: gorillas!

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My Crazy Traveling Friends…Whom I Love

A few years ago I came up with this random travel goal: for my country count to always be at least twice the number as I am years old. I am now 38, and have set foot in 70 countries at last count. I have hardly traveled at all this year, and most of my 2012 travel was to Mexico, so I’m six countries behind my goal as a result.

But it doesn’t matter so much anymore. I don’t feel the hurry-up-and-travel clock ticking the way I once did, and frankly, the exhaustive travel pace that allowed me to visit so many places – most of them over a single eleven-year span – was starting to wear me down. I won’t make it to anymore new countries for the remainder of 2013…and I doubt I’ll hit up any new countries in 2014, either. (The money has finally run out, Loyal Reader, the money has finally run out.) If this makes me sad, I at least take some degree of comfort knowing that I’ve seen more corners of the world than perhaps any of my crazy traveling friends…the majority of whom are no travel slouches themselves.

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