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I didn't sell my car before I left to travel the world. I kept it in my mom's garage with strict orders to run it every once in a while and to have my sister drive it whenever she came by. Of course, when I came home, 15 months later, it was completely dead. I suppose I could have sold it before I left, but my original plan involved coming home after nine months to road trip around the US. That was before I fell in love with Asia and stayed months longer than planned....

On July 4, 2007, at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs to Takeru Kobayashi's 63. It was a historic feat: no one had ever out-eaten 6-time champion Kobayashi in hot dogs and some speculated that no one ever would. That day, Joey Chestnut did the impossible. He out-ate the man who couldn't be out-eaten. He brought the victory back to America. I watched this all go down that morning on the TV set in my parents' living room, wishing I was there, in person, to witness that historic event. Most people may think of fireworks...

It was in bar in Sevilla, Spain, many years ago now, when a fellow backpacker asked me what I liked most about traveling. I paused for a moment before saying, "When you're home and wake up the first thing you think is, 'what do I have to do today?' But when traveling you think, 'what do I want to do today?'" I've been home "for good" from traveling for over 8 months now and my life has become a list of have tos. I have to clean before guests come over. I have to do dishes before the entire place starts...

Last year I went to TBEX Dublin and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then my laptop got stolen a week later and I couldn't do anything for nearly two months. This year I went to TBEX Athens and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then I came home a few days later and threw myself into jet lag and my new old job....

Athens, Greece, is one of those cities, like Santiago, where most people only spend a night, maybe two, or skip it altogether, and say it's not worth going. They say it's just another big city, they say it's boring or dangerous or lame. It's one of those cities people write off. I had a week to spend in Athens and everyone asked why I was going. And then everyone asked if I was going to the islands. For a conference. And no....

In my travel plan, that one I made in June and almost immediately abandoned, I had thought to return to Spain after three months in South America. I wanted to spend some time there. At least a month, hopefully three, longer if that damned visa didn't exist. I first went to Spain in 2011, a month into what turned into my 15-month, or three year, depending on how you look at it, 'round the world trip. Spain was a turning point. ...

"Santiago is just another big city." That's what everyone would tell me when they said they went for just a night or two before moving on or skipped it altogether. "It's just another big city," they'd say. "It's boring," they'd say. But I had already decided that Santiago would be where I'd spend my last ten days in Chile, in South America. I was nervous. People made me nervous. Everyone had me thinking that I was making the wrong choice. Maybe I should have decided to spend more time in Valle de Elqui. Maybe I should have decided to go down south....

Every time I was buzzed into my hostel in Valparaiso, Chile, the woman at the front desk would ask me, "A dónde fuiste?": "Where did you go?" "Solo caminar," I'd say. "Just for a walk."* Because that's what I did in Valparaiso: I walked. I walked on my own. I walked on an official walking tour. I walked on an unofficial, impromptu, walking tour with my hostelmates. I walked. Valparaiso is a walking city, and there's one thing to see while walking: The street art. The street art in Valparaiso, Chile, covers most of the edifices, every inch of blank space. Around every corner...

I was taking the photos above when a man tapped my shoulder and pointed across the plaza. A parade of people were walking by, clapping, singing, followed by three cars decorated in orange balloons. I moved away to be closer and, as they walked by, saw that the first of the cars was carrying a coffin. A funeral procession was leading its way through Plaza de Armas. The parade stopped in front of the sculpture I had just been taking photos of. The cars stopped. People gathered around to remove the coffin and set it up. ...

By the time I reached La Serena, Chile, I was feeling a little burnt out. In Bolivia I had traveled a little quicker than I like to. I saw a lot of places, amazing places, but no where I could stay for more than a few days. So I moved. A lot. I meant to stay just one night in La Serena and use it as a jumping point to explore the Valle de Elqui region of Chile. But I just didn't feel like getting on more buses. So I stayed in La Serena for three nights. And I took just...