Coffee. It’s one of the few vices I still cling to unashamedly. And so I was thrilled to find that my recent trip to Costa Rica would include a night at Finca Rosa Blanca—a stunning ecolodge nestled into an organic, shade-grown coffee plantation just outside San Jose. This was a mere one-night stopover en route to my final destination on the Osa Peninsula, but what a great way to kickstart the trip.
After spending a night soothed by the sounds of tropical rain, I woke up to meet the inn’s resident coffee expert, Italian transplant Leonardo Vergnani, for a whirlwind tour of the coffee fields followed by a proper cupping session on the veranda to taste test infusions from their finest beans.
What quickly became clear was that—as much as I love coffee and consider myself an aficionado—I don’t know the half of what goes into producing a truly great cup. As we took a short hike through the coffee plants laden with still-green beans, Leo spoke passionately and at length about the myriad iterations and designations that coffee receives. What it really comes down to, he says, is the species of plant—Arabica is always better (and more expensive) th...Read More
The word “lost” deserves some deference. It tends to upset people, and therefore should only be uttered once all other adjectives regarding one’s position have been carefully reviewed and rejected. As the de facto leader of a modest flotilla of canoes plowing through the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia, I tried to maintain a positive attitude, even though a good hour and a half had passed since we exchanged our relatively wide waterway for a drain-pipe-sized side canal at the behest of a map and a dubious-looking signpost.
As afternoon turned into early evening, the trail gradually narrowed to a meandering capillary. We wound through thick scrub congested by fallen logs, and ducked grasping branches that rained spiders at the slightest provocation.
“Has anyone seen a signpost since we left Floyd’s Prairie?” I yelled behind me. “No,” came the reply through moist air. And after a pause, “Can you see anything up there?” Only the trees, I thought. “We’re heading in the right direction,” I answered optimistically, looking at my compass. “And I haven’t seen any forks in the trail.”...Read More
Obviously best is a relative term—the “right tool for the job” and all that—but for its sheer convenience, durability and surprisingly acceptable image quality, the Kodak Playsport Zx3 stands as my best cheap camera for point-and-shoot photography. Let me say upfront that—yes—I do intentionally use and recommend an out-of-date model, and—no—I would never consider upgrading to the Zx5, for reasons I’ll explain later.
But first, why do I love this little camera? A HD Flip-style camcorder that also shoots 5MP stills, the thing is drop dead easy to use and ruggedly waterproof, which makes it much better for quick snaps of outdoor, beach and watersports than my more fragile and expensive iPhone. I can zip the Zx3 into my pocket while I cliff jump in the Caribbean, or tie it around my wrist to shoot from the hip as I gun an ATV through the mud and rain of a South Pacific jungle.
Of course none of that would mean a thing if the resulting images looked like like crap. I have repeatedly used and abused my Playsport in the service of a dozen adventure-travel trips, usually as an all-weather companion to my Canon G11, and come out the other side with respec...Read More
Great adventures, new cultures, and exotic foods actively push you beyond your comfort zone. And while potential illnesses and injuries rarely outweigh the rewards of exploring a destination, visiting a different part of the world does mean exposure to unique health problems and an increased risk of even common injuries. Good travel health practices require a mix of common sense and practical preparation, read on to learn top tips from a pro.
“Motor-vehicle-accident injuries are one of the most common that travelers encounter,” says Dr. Erik McLaughlin, a.k.a. the “Adventure Doc,” who specializes in adventure travel health from his Tucson, Arizona, clinic. “The best prevention: Wear your seat belt, don’t travel at night, sit in the middle-aisle seats on buses, and use common sense.”
That last one—common sense—is key, for more than just road travel. Vaccinations and medications aren’t last-minute fix-alls. They are tools that responsible travelers should wield intelligently and purposefully. Here is our guide to helping you avoid the most common travel-health issues.
The first ste...Read More
The rise of smartphones and ubiquitous Internet services has made it easier and more of a priority to keep in touch while traveling abroad. And while staying connected has become cheaper and more convenient compared with the dim, and relatively expensive, international calling centers scattered around tourist hotspots a decade ago, for many casual travelers, increased connectivity can also present a potential minefield of hidden fees.
Horror stories abound of careless travelers who unwittingly rack up thousands of dollars in cell phone roaming charges while on the road, which can happen almost instantly when using a cell phone abroad without an international roaming plan.
For example, AT&T’s pay-per-use international data rate for the iPhone costs $0.0195/KB—in more realistic numbers, that’s nearly $20 per MB, or about $40 to open an email with a five megapixel picture in it, or to download a three-minute video on YouTube. And while the pay-per-use cost of making international phone calls depends on the destination, it can easily top $2 or $3 a minute.
Fortunately, today there are plenty of ways to keep talking without breaking the bank....Read More
There’s a universal truth to traveling in Papua New Guinea—things probably won’t go exactly as planned, and you might as well just accept it. In fact, it’s when the formalities slip away and you’re stuck or confused that the people and places shine the brightest and you find it’s truly hard not to love Papua New Guinea.
Case in point, when I walk outside Tokua Airport on East New Britain, I catch a brief glimpse of my pre-arranged ride as it pulls out of the parking lot and disappears down the main road to Kokopo.
I look around for a taxi—no dice—and flop on the outside bench, thinking through the possibilities: “There must be another car coming; or, they’ll realize they left me and turn around—right?” Neither of those things happens while I’m sitting there, but it doesn’t take long for a dozen off-duty airport security guards to see I’m going nowhere.
Without hesitation, they call me over and load my bags into their departing truck with wide smiles and welcoming handshakes. After they hoist me into the front seat with the driver, I get an impromptu island tour and the first of many “where-I-was-when” stories about t...Read More