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In all honesty, this is how I spent half of my time in Cusco, Peru. I know. I know. But hear me out. I have both a major freelance project and a major personal project to work on (plus my blog and photos and all that). And Starbucks, most places in the world, has reliable wifi, big cups of coffee, and is a place I don't feel guilty sitting for four hours after only ordering a coffee. Also, I swear the Cusco Starbucks has more outlets than any place I've ever seen. Also, I would be much more willing to go to local coffee...

This is what 4am looks like when you're at the bottom of a canyon that cuts off power for the night. It's what 4am looks like when your group, the "slow group," starts its ascent. It's what 4am looks like when you're trekking Colca Canyon in Peru. Black. It looks so black you can't even see a foot in front of you. But, if you look up, there will be stars. More stars than you've ever seen. So you turn off your flashlight, and stand, for a moment, staring upwards, wishing you knew more constellations, any constellations, before turning your light...

"This is Antigua." That's all I could think when I entered the main square in Arequipa, Peru. Both were surrounded by walkways of arched columns where touts would constantly hassle you to book a tour, eat at their restaurant, buy some sunglasses. Both were flanked by a giant church. Both centered around a park, and a fountain, where women in traditional garb tried to get you to buy traditional souvenirs, eat some ice cream, or, in Arequipa's case, take your photo with an alpaca. Arequipa was bigger than Antigua, but so eerily familiar that I often forgot where exactly I was....

Huacachina is a weird little outlet in southwestern Peru. The town, if you can even call it that, centers around a natural lake, and that is surrounded by giant dunes of sand. It's a vintage relic, really, one of those places you could imagine being filled with rich Peruvians on a weekend holiday back in the seventies. But this is 2014, and it's kind of run down, and it retains all that 70s charm, and local vacationers, while still there, have been outnumbered with bus-loads of tourists stopping to take photos before getting back on the bus, and backpackers there for...

I want to move to New York. Or Portland. Or Austin. Or Seattle. Maybe. I thought about that as I sat under a sculpture of two giant lovers embraced in a kiss in Parque del Amor, "Love Park," in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru. At least, I managed to think about it for about two minutes before a man asked me to take his picture and then started talking to me. And then I couldn't get rid of him no matter how many times I tried. I'd say, "I'd like to walk alone for a bit," and he'd say, "OK, I'll come...

After six months traveling in Latin America, I boarded a flight (well, three flights) back home to Chicago. It was a bittersweet journey. Sure, I was ready to eat familiar foods, see my friends and family, be back in a city I love. But I was enjoying Colombia. A lot. A month earlier I was very ready to return home. It was no secret that I just never got into Central America the way I got into Asia and I was just ready to be done with it. But then I arrived in Colombia, and all that turned around. And now...

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...