Brazil was my most recent obsession.
From 2013 to 2016 I was constantly visiting Brazil on three- to five-month-long reporting trips, traveling through much of the world’s fifth-largest country. I started in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, relocated to the Amazon hub of Manaus in mid-2014, then migrated south to Curitiba to cover Brazil’s presidential election, and traveled through Uruguay and Argentina, where I climbed the Western Hemisphere’s highest summit, Mt. Aconcagua.
In the first half of 2015 I lived a few months in Florianopolis, in Belo Horizonte, traveled along the old Estrada Real and stopped at many gorgeous old colonial towns, and hiked some epic hikes and climbed some great climbs. The second half of 2015 and 2016, I was mostly in Rio de Janeiro leading up to the Summer Olympics.
In-between trips to Brazil, I did a lot of trekking back in New England. In August 2015 I nearly killed my mother during a 60th birthday outing on Mt. Washington. The previous summer, I did the full one-day 23-mile Presidential Traverse, months after marking New Year’s Eve in the Pemigewasset Wilderness (and a month earlier I’d given myself a weekend on New York’s Mt. Marcy for my birthday). I was introduced to the White Mountains in January 2013 by my former newspaper editor Steve Fagin during a winter’s overnight at Carter Notch, which got me so enthusiastic about the area that soon afterward I nearly died during a winter excursion on Mt. Jefferson.
Also in 2013, I hiked the 100-km Maclehose Trail across Hong Kong.
In May 2011, I spent two weeks in Peru, visiting my longtime friend Nate in Lima, dune-boarding in Huacachina, pisco-tasting in Ica, and trekking alone up to Machu Picchu in the Andes. I’m years overdue for a blog post about that trip.
In August 2009, I made a four-month overland journey across Asia, starting in Beijing. At Tiananmen Square I exchanged dirty glances with line-cutting Chinese tourists so that I could see Mao’s pickled body. Rode a train to Shanghai and walked The Bund, and then, surviving on dried noodles and MSG-flavored peanuts, rode another train southwest to the cobblestone streets of Lijiang and Shangri-La, the dirt trails of Tiger Leaping Gorge, and finally to the soldier-lined streets of Lhasa and high altitude of Mount Everest Base Camp. By late September I had arrived in Kathmandu, then trekking west through the Annapurna range of Nepal’s Himalayas before heading south by bus into India. Starting in Varanasi, I trained west to Delhi and the nearby Taj Mahal before doing a roundabout through Rajasthan’s colorful cities and towering citadels. This included a painful three-day camel ride through the Thar Desert. From Mumbai, where I had a brief stint as a Bollywood actor, I flew up the Red Sea (bypassing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) and into Beirut. Hitchiked through Lebanon and ate my way through Syria. Took a taxi into Iraq in late November, and then another taxi north into Turkey for the last leg of this four-month Asian adventure.
In past years, more memorably… I pedaled a red bicycle across the continent of North America; got lost jogging in the suburbs of Kiev, Ukraine; hitchhiked from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal in northern Guatemala; received scarring sunburns while attempting to surf the waves of Mexico’s Pacific coast; backpacked through the Balkans and spent the night in a park in Sarajevo; bussed around Cambodia, from the Wild West of Koh Kong to the contested northern border temple of Preah Vihear; and rode by train from the mountains of northern Vietnam to the sweltering marshes of the Mekong Delta.