Fly Brother’s Travel Alphabet

B is fo BRAZIL, baby.

The ABC’s of travel gives bloggers the opportunity to share their favorite and most memorable travel moments from A-Z. Nicole from Nicole is the New Black tagged me, but I’ll spare some of you the pain and won’t tag 3 other bloggers at the end of this post so they can share their ABCs as well.

A: Age you went on your first international trip:
I was 3 years old when my parents schlepped me around the Caribbean on a 7-day cruise. After that, I was 11 when we flew (my first time in a plane) on then-in-bankruptcy Pan Am from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Bahamas. My first solo international trip was at 16, when I went to Sweden for the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

Fat Kid in the Arctic: A Memoir

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I don’t drink alcohol.

C: Cuisine (favorite):
Indian food. From all over the country. Can’t get enough.

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
Brazil is my favorite destination because of its dynamism and the openness of the people. Colombia is, unfortunately, my least favorite because I lived there for four years and just got to know it all too well. But hey, sometimes people and places just don’t get along…doesn’t mean you won’t have a blast there.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Vai-Vai samba school rehearsal, São Paulo, 2006. It was like being at the biggest HBCU homecoming battle of the bands in the world. Didn’t make me say “wow”; I said “damn.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16846037]

F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Planes, then trains, then automobiles.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Glimpsing the departure board with my destination just before boarding the plane. Still gets me geet.

Flying to Brasília via Manaus.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Egypt, Claude Hammercy! I had to laugh while walking from the airport to the bus terminal in Cairo because the heat was honestly absurd. It ain’t make no damn sense. I almost had to sing a Negro spiritual, it was so hot!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
The service I received on Korean Air from Kuala Lumpur to LA through Seoul has been unmatched in my travels.

J: Journey that took the longest:
Delhi to Kuala Lumpur via an 18-hour layover in Chennai. On Diwali, the holiest day in India (which means everything was shut down). Always check holiday calendars before booking flights with long layovers.

K: Keepsake from your travels:
Postcards and inflight magazines. I’m not big on souvenirs.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:
The Mona Lisa at the Louvre, which is about as big as a postage stamp. Boo.

Underwhelming.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I’ve always been in love with travel. It’s innate, and I can’t ever remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to go somewhere. Read about how I got started.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Nicest hotel I’ve fucked around in was the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach. Nicest hotel I’ve actually been booked into? Tie between the Sheraton Park Tower in London (“traditionally” nice) and the Sheraton Centro Histórico (now the Hilton Reforma) in Mexico City (brand-spankin-new when I stayed there, ultra-modern, amazing).

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Sunsets, landscapes, and cloud formations from the air.

I love it up here.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Too many to count. I’ve only been to 33 countries at last count, but I’ve been to many, many of them multiple times (including Cuba – legally – thrice, though they don’t stamp your passport). And often, while traveling through Europe, they don’t stamp your passport either. That said, I’m on passport #3.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Inti-Ñan Solar Museum at the equator just outside Quito. Plastic shrunken heads, wooden totems, and all kinds of crap that reminded me of the kooky roadside attractions I remember from my childhood in Florida (that, alas, no longer exist post-Disneyfication). See “Missing Middle Florida”.

The "real" middle of the Earth.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Vai-Vai samba school practice, at least once. It’s outdoors and smack-dab in the middle of a megalopolis; a totally different vibe than Rio samba schools (which are fun, but much more touristy).

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
I’m so broke, there’s no way for me to really answer this question. I’m all about as much value as I can get from my dollar, so splurge ain’t even in my vocabulary. Now, hook-ups…that’s different.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
I look up at skyscrapers. Love those things.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Sounds cheesy, and it’s not one specific travel memory, per se, but 2009 – the year I left Colombia and took my first round-the-world trip – was full of once-in-a-lifetime encounters and experiences. Easily the best time of my life, thus far.

V: Visas, how many and for where?
Not sure how many, but I’ve had tourist visas for India, Brazil, and Cape Verde, and temporary work visas for Colombia (renewed five times), Brazil (once), and South Korea (never used).

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
See beer.

X: eXcellent view and from where?: (Why not X-ray horror story?)
Now I’m bout to brag: the Caribbean Sea from my old apartment in Barranquilla and downtown Bogotá from a different old apartment.

Yes, I took this photograph from the balcony of my apartment near Barranquilla.

This one, too.

From the crib in Bogotá. Yes, my crib.

Y: Years spent traveling?
Traveling for 31 years. Lived abroad for 7.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
Brazil during the World Cup, of course. Dumb-ass question.

Nuff said.

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Consolidation and Realization: Annual Review 2011

Amen.

It’s that time of year again, good people, for a bit of self-reflection and pre-planning. And following the lead of peer-mentor Chris Guillebeau (who’s almost done with his all-the-countries-in-the-world quest), I’m looking back on the year that is about to close and looking forward toward the year that’s around the corner.

What went right in 2011:

I was promoted from editorial assistant to assistant editor of Time Out São Paulo; I represented the magazine on Brazilian TV (and in Portuguese); my writing was featured in Time Out London, on the Matador travel network, at Get Your Guide, and at Gap Year Escape; I was profiled in Ebony magazine (in the current issue, still on newsstands); I officially started my travel consulting firm Fly Travel Media and landed my first set of clients and investors (Rob and Star, infinite thanks); I traveled to Berlin twice and began laying the groundwork for the six-months Berlin/six-months Brazil arrangement that is one of my medium-term goals; I visited Zurich for the first time and made repeat trips to New York, Miami, Portland, Brasília, and home to Jacksonville; and, most importantly, I attended the very first World Domination Summit this summer, where I met some of the most amazingly forward-thinking people in my life and where I learned that I have everything I need – right now – to begin building a better me, on every level.

What didn’t go right in 2011:

I had a severe case of hives that took four months to clear up and overdosed on a corticosteroid that caused me to gain 15 pounds in two weeks; a very demanding work situation meant very little time to take the excursions that I’d planned for at the beginning of the year; Fly-Brother.com is thus far still un-monetized and blog posts have dripped in irregularly and infrequently (and my podcast series remains painfully silent); Finnair did not choose me to be one of its seven Quality Hunters, despite a solid application and video; the dramatic rate of inflation in Brazil (São Paulo’s now the world’s 6th most expensive city for expats, up from #10 last January) made securing the type of home base I’d been planning here virtually impossible and infusing a dose of reality into this Brazilian Dream that even I had bought into; I’ve not remained in contact with the people that I’ve met over the past year as much as I should have; and despite my parents’ best efforts to raise an upstanding young contributor to society, my 17-year-old brother is now an adjudicated youth and possibly a convicted felon.

Going into 2012:

I’ll be taking a sabbatical from Time Out for a few months to focus on writing projects and Fly Travel Media while in Berlin; I’ll be traveling to as many destinations in Europe, Africa, and Asia as I can (compared to Latin America, flights from Europe are a steal); I’ll be monetizing Fly-Brother.com with a mix of my own products and those from worthwhile vendors; the Fly Brother Podcast will be resurrected (I promise, this time); I’ll be returning to São Paulo just after Northern Summer to plug back into the dynamic energy of my favorite city on the planet; I’ll be focused more on maintaining contact with old and new friends as well as building partnerships with like-minded individuals; and I’ll be determined to maximize my opportunities and possibilities, to the best of my abilities. It’s about the realization of my goals. Oh, and I will be at WDS 2012, one way or another.

In 2012, no regrets. Higher. Farther.

What about you? How has your 2011 turned out and what are you anticipating for 2012?

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Cesária Évora Passes Away at 70

I first experienced Cape Verde – and another facet of the Diaspora – through your haunting, bittersweet voice. Thank you for that, Barefoot Diva.

Cesária Évora, Fly Sister, 1941-2011



Also, you can listen to my favorite song by Ms. Évora, “Roma Criola,” from her 1999 album Café Atlantico. It’s one to add to the collection.

You can follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook!

Your Virtual Escape Hatch

Sometimes, no matter how badly you wish you were doing it right now, you just don’t have the conditions necessary to take flight. The work hours are long, the money just isn’t right, you have to take care of your ailing grandfather – there’s always something, and there will always be something. Though I’ve thrown caution to the wind countless times (and sometimes paid the price on the back-end), it’s not always possible to just pick up and go.

That’s why you need a virtual escape hatch. Your escape hatch can be anything – a postcard of Rio, a movie set in India, an oil or lotion whose fragrance reminds you of the Orient. My hatch is built from a combination of specific things: the song “Adore” from I:Cube or anything by Audio Lotion, a vintage travel poster, the picture of an airplane wing mid-flight. These are things that rescue me from the mundane and transport me into travel itself, since for me, the sensation of being propelled through time and space to another reality is the most exhilarating part of travel. It’s in the getting there that excitement and expectation peak.

So when workaday blues start to get you, access your escape hatch and get away, if only for an instant.

 
What’s your virtual escape hatch?
 

You can follow me on Twitter @FlyBrother, and don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook!

Random Stills From a Day in the Life of a Gringo Paulista

Downtown 1

Downtown 2

Downtown 3 (yes, a panorama)

My neighborhood.

View from my desk.

The work hood…30 minutes away from my hood.

Getting fly.

My street.

The block is hot.

Gnite.

God, I love this city.

(From whence I took the title of this post.)

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