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Last year, I went on date to see the movie Kedi at The Music Box here in Chicago. Kedi, in Turkish, simply means "cat," and the film documents the cats in Istanbul who rule the streets and seem, all at once, to belong to everyone and no one. (You can watch the movie here.) The documentary hit a sweet spot for me because, well, CATS, but also because I had spent a month of my travels in Istanbul and around Turkey and remembered fondly all of the cats I saw everywhere while there. There were cats in the streets, cats in...

Carlos turned on the stereo and the son clave beat of a salsa song started blaring through the speakers. He walked over and took my hand, but, just as he was about to lead me into our first basic step, he turned my arm over and looked at my wrist. "Superman?" he asked, pointing to the insignia tattooed there. "Si." He let go of my hand and fished his phone out of his duffel bag, scrolling through his text messages until he got to a point where SUPERMAN was written. His friends called him that, he explained. And I knew I was...

I don't normally add something to my life list only to cross it off that same day. But, as some friends and I were sitting at lunch in Cali discussing the synching up Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz, I mentally added it as number 199. And then, moments later it was decided that that night we would watch it. ...

My private salsa lesson that day had been moved back. And so I had nothing better to do when my friend Yaron asked if anyone wanted to go watch a movie that was being filmed down the block. We headed over the cultural center and watched for an hour as a group of dancers in shiny costumes practiced a salsa routine over and over. At one point, as I was taking a picture, a woman with a badge and a clipboard came running towards us. I quickly turned my camera off, thinking that she was going to come yell at me for...

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to learn about different cultures and share in traditions from around the world. Most times those customs are from wherever it is I happen to be. But, sometimes, since I meet people from all over too, I get to share in something from somewhere I've never been. I was in Cali for Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year. A few Israelis were staying at our hostel and they decided that they would cook dinner for all of us to celebrate. They joked that since none of them were particularly religious they'd...

I loved Medellin, but needed to tear myself away and explore another city or two in Colombia. I mean, it was a nice city and all, but, really, I was doing nothing there. So, after a week and a half, I headed to Cali, the third biggest city in Colombia, with the intent of staying a few days, maybe taking a salsa lesson or two (it is, after all, the salsa capital of Colombia), moving on to the coffee region, and returning to Medellin a week later to spend the remainder of my time. Instead, I ended up staying two and...