Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

#Colombia wants to tax your text messages

December 14, 2018

If you can’t handle me when I am cleaning dorito dust out of the keypad of a chinese blackberry after a 22-hour bus ride to Bogota with my wallet duct taped to the inside of my knee, you don’t deserve to share in the bountiful Twitter feed that will result!

-> Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

#colombia #bogota #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #colombiancupid #cali #nationalgeographic #culture #travel #colombian #getaway #adventureseeker #blogtravel

@vanityfair @natgeo @ethanhawk @stevensoderbergh

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Blind loyalty and the path of light to Colombia! #colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #mexico #argentina #colombiancupid Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

December 14, 2018

Blind loyalty and the path of light to Colombia!

#colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #mexico #argentina #colombiancupid

The Neck Beard, Exposed Chest Hair, Smoker’s coughs…and all things #colombian

December 14, 2018

The Neck Beard, Exposed Chest Hair, Smoker’s coughs…and all things #colombian

-> Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

@vanityfair @natgeo @ethanhawk @stevensoderbergh

Colombia to Twitter: “We Don’t Need 280 Characters To Bury You!”

December 13, 2018

As the gringo tries to forget his pride and dignity in Colombia, he’ll have to navigate an increasingly complex world of movie auditions, public transportation, youth hostels, international romance, bootlegged DVDs, congressional aides, the informal economy, and non-hijacking situations.

Reason #28 to read “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong” …

Colombia Provides Men The Ability To Weat Clear Nail Polish Without Being Publicly Ridiculed

ttps://www.amazon.com/48-000-Colombians-Cant-Wrong-ebook/dp/B015VWCXME

#colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #colombiancupid #cali #nationalgeographic #garciamarquez #spanish #travel #colombian #caracas #botero #colombia.travel #colombiatravel #vamoscolombia #getaway #adventureseeker #blogtravel #vacationlife #wanderluster #inspiredtravels #wonderful_places #instavacation #passportlife #instatravelling #dailytriphack #voicesofbogota #booktalk

Quito to Bogota By Bus

December 5, 2018

If you can’t handle me when I am boarding a 22-hour bus ride to Bogota with my wallet duct taped to the inside of my knee, you don’t deserve to share in the bountiful Twitter feed that will result!

@vanityfair @natgeo @ethanhawk @stevensoderbergh

Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

Ecuador to Bogota by Bus

December 5, 2018

If you can’t handle me when I am duct taping my wallet to the inside of my knee before boarding Colombian public transportation, you don’t deserve to share in the bountiful Twitter feed that will result…

#visitcolombia

November 21, 2018

How to meet new people, try new food, get purposefully lost and have more fun when you travel.

#colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #mexico #argentina #colombiancupid #cali #nationalgeographic #garciamarquez #culture #travel #colombian #amazon #caracas #botero #colombia.travel #colombiatravel #panama #elpibe #vamoscolombia #cartagena #brasil #usatoday

Chicken Bus to #Cancun

November 15, 2018

Before returning to the United States, I called my dad in to see if he wanted to visit Mexico. I was surprised to hear he did. He told me he was going to be staying a week near Cancun and that I should bring a friend and come visit him. It never occurred to me that I should invite a girl so I chose to bring my friend Gen from school. He was the only exchange student in who enjoyed speaking Spanish outside of school.

Unfortunately, there were no direct buses to Cancun. Instead we’d have to go to Merida first, which was 20 hours away. What I didn’t realize is that we’d be making stops every 20 minutes on the way down. With each stop more old ladies and little kids got onto the bus. Not only did a family of five expect to fit into two seats, they also wanted to bring two suitcases for each family member.

As we got further south, the food brought on became more tropical. One passenger brought on a 20 kilo bag of bananas. “How long is this trip going to take if passengers need 20 kilos of bananas to sustain themselves throughout the trip?” I was getting a small preview of the hell that lay ahead.

There are also a few other things I don’t understand about Mexican buses. Why is the A/C only used from 2 to 6 a.m.? I think the bus drivers purposely want to make the passengers suffer at night because they are jealous that we get to wear shirts and sandals while they are stuck wearing a jacket and tie. They don’t stop there however. The drivers spend their off hours searching video stores for the worst movies or poorest audio quality they can find. There seems to be two guidelines for all films shown on Mexican buses; 1) There needs to be at least one animal in the movie wearing a diaper and 2) At least one inanimate object in the movie has to have super powers, a toaster oven that talks, a car that eats cereal or a bicycle that can predict natural disasters.

We got to Merida in what could have been 20 hours or a week later. I lost the ability to measure time. As the bus doors opened, a super-heated wind entered the cabin that sucked all the air out of my lungs for five seconds.

We were at the bus station just long enough to drench ourselves in sweat before we got onto the next bus. After arriving in Cancun, we decided to take a taxi to Playacar. The allure of traveling through the country by bus had lost it appeal. When we arrived at the hotel, the Iberostar Quetzal, it was as if we had entered another world. The lobby had a waterfall running through it with flamingos flying around in reception. Right as we walked into the shade for the first time in two days, a security guard approached us…..

Please view/share the book “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

#colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #mexico #argentina #colombiancupid #cali #nationalgeographic

Taking a Left in SF with Grammy Mary Goulding

November 11, 2018

My choice to come to Colombia is one of many examples of a life path involving airports and shady takeout food.

Of all the people I am connected with, my grandmother, Mary Goulding, is one of the forces that has most affected my life path. As a 7-year-old, I would visit my grandmother in San Francisco as often as possible. During these trips, we would ride around San Francisco in cable cars and hand out tuna sandwiches to the homeless people on the street. Most of them had the same reaction to me, “Does this tuna sandwich have celery in it?” When I said it did, 90% of them just shoved the sandwich back in my face. But then again, I guess it was the thought that counts.

Getting back to my grandmother, she led a pretty stimulating life. In the 1970s and 80’s, she ran a psychotherapeutic training facility (in her house) near Santa Cruz, California. Her month-long psychotherapeutic training sessions ranged from the traditional to the weird and wonderful. One of the trainings available at my Grandma’s facility was “body reading.” During the “body reading” sessions, the participants removed their clothing to their underwear or got completely naked so they could read each others’ bodies. Of course, after removing their clothes most people would have had other things besides “body reading” on their minds. But in reality, it was anything but an erotic exercise. “We learnt actually how to read another person’s body by their stance and stature,” remarked Tony White, an Australian participant.

After the long training sessions, the 30-or-so participants would all jump into the hot tub with my grandmother Mary and my step-grandfather Bob.

In 1989, my grandmother’s house/training facility was pretty much leveled by the Loma Prieta earthquake. My step-grandfather, Bob, happened to be in the house at the time of the 6.9 earthquake. He had just sat down to watch the 1989 World Series, as the tremor started to kick in. A half-second later, Bob’s 48-inch television screen started to bounce across the room and eventually pinned Bob against the wall. The shaking was so violent that my grandmother’s dishes turned to dust from bouncing around so much in the cupboards. The earth erupted so violently that huge 40-pound chunks of my grandmother’s pool were flung all over her property. My grandmother, was running an errand at the time in her car, in the unpopulated outskirts of Watsonville, California. As the earthquake hit, she lost control of her car and skidded off the road. By the time she got control of the car, the earthquake had subsided. Unaware that an earthquake had hit and worried that maybe there was a malfunction with her car, she drove slowly back towards the town. By the time she got back into town, she was horrified to see crumbled buildings, fallen electrical poles and fires consuming the small town of Watsonville.

My grandma spent the next two years digging through the rubble of what used to be her and Bob’s house. Most of her pre-Colombian art and statutes she had collected during her numerous trips to Latin America (30+ years) got buried underneath the fallen house.

Two years later, the reconstruction was complete, and shortly after that, Bob passed away. In her 1992 book, Sweet Love Remembered, my grandmother talks about how she first met Bob Goulding, “Is how a couple meets of interest to anyone besides the couple? I doubt it, although many of us keep on telling our stories.”

A short time later, my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes and had trouble with blood circulation in her lower extremities. She decided to travel to Cuba to receive laser acupuncture (illegal in the USA) and met another special man friend, Juan, who was over twenty years younger than my grandmother and gave her a little extra recovery therapy.

After my grandmother was feeling better, she planned a trip to Irian Jaya, in Western Papa New Guinea. Before leaving, she had been warned of the danger of the trip. When she got back from the trip, she confidently reported that more people were murdered in Yosemite National Park (3) during her trip than were murdered in Irian Jaya (0).

My first trip out of the USA, was paid for by my grandmother. She sent me to stay for 3 months with a family she knew in Costa Rica. When I asked her how I would recognize my new family at the airport in Costa Rica, she said, “Don’t worry, you will be the only blond, unaccompanied 18-year old getting off the plane. They’ll find you.”

Drives with my grandma in my truck were never boring. Our most common trip (when I was driving) was the 2-and-a-half-hour leg from Santa Cruz to my grandmother’s apartment in San Francisco. Usually my grandmother would sleep for the first 2 hours of the trip and then wake up just as we were arriving to South San Francisco. But, one time she woke up a full 2 hours and ten minutes into the drive. Trying to get her bearings after waking up, her first question was, “Where are we?” I had no idea but still responded, “South San Francisco.”

“Take a left!” she pleaded.

She gave commands with such conviction that I naturally believed she knew what she was talking about and took a left. During the next twenty minutes we twice went down the wrong way of a one way street, crossed the Bay Bridge going the wrong way, went through three red lights and finally found her place. As we were getting out of the car, my grandma noticed I had a map which highlighted the way to her house.

“Why didn’t you tell me you knew where we were going?” she asked.

While I was a college student at Chico State, my grandmother would send me boxes of Miss Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies to my apartment once a month. Those were days when I was lucky if I ate anything besides microwavable burritos or oatmeal. With the arrival of each package, I felt as if I were receiving a king’s bounty.

After I finished college, my grandmother got me a job working with a metal wholesaler in Valencia, Spain. For my first dinner in Spain, I went to a restaurant at 12 midnight with my grandma’s Spanish friend Carlos. Once we were ushered into the restaurant, at half past midnight, Carlos bewilderedly remarked, “Wow, I had no idea they were open at this time. I never eat dinner this early.”

2 weeks later, my grandma came to visit me in Spain. When she saw that I hadn’t shaved since I left the US, she asked. “Did you forget to pack a razor?” When I said yes, she grabbed me and we both got into a taxi and went to the mall. She then bought me my first electric razor.

Several years later, my grandma fell down in Cancun while at a restaurant with friends. Fed up with doctors, painful surgeries and ineffective hospitals, she decided not to seek medical treatment. Instead, she tried to commit suicide by not taking her insulin (for her diabetes) and eating chocolate cake all day. While this was happening, one of her friends called my mother and I and said, “You need to come immediately to Cancun.” My mother called me up the same day and I was on a plane for Cancun the next afternoon. When I got to my grandmother’s hotel in Cancun, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I saw what looked like a mummy, propped up against a pillow, underneath a sheet in bed. Luckily my mother knew how to get my grandmother’s vital signs back and running. Within 3 days my mother had helped my grandmother regain consciousness, talked my grandmother out of committing suicide and convinced her to come back to the USA and get surgery on her hip. Not having a medical background, all I could do was cheer my grandma on while my mother attended to my grandma’s recovery.

Once she became well again, she said that it was seeing me and hearing my voice saying, “Grammy’s going to make it,” which gave her the willpower to continue living.

Seeing my grandma’s dramatic recoveries from life’s ups and downs, have made me a more resilient and happier person.

**

Teaching English in Colombia

Instead of bringing in articles from the Wall Street Journal to teach English in Colombia, I liked to demonstrate the varied uses of English using lines from the movie Borat.
When I told a student named Milton that there are a lot of people in the United States who speak English differently than the English you find in books, he wanted to have an example of this language. I demonstrated this by giving him the following line, “What’s up with it, Vanilla face? Me and my homie just parked our slab outside. We’re looking for somewhere to post up for the night.”
When Milton saw this line written, he assumed the quote was asking something about putting a post-it note on the wall. After giving him more examples from my favorite movies, the discussion detoured towards a history of politics in Bogota.
Milton told me that in 2000 the mayor of Bogota opened the TransMilenio in Bogota to the public. The next mayor spent his years in office criticizing the TransMilenio for its inefficiency and the slowness, meanwhile taking funds earmarked to augment the TransMilenio lines and redirecting them into his pocket.
“Obviously the best mayors are the ones that come from the worst neighborhoods,” was my response.
“In Colombia this isn’t true because one of the worst Presidents of all-time, Betancurt (1982-1986), came from a bad neighborhood. He was the President during the 1985 ‘Siege of the Palace of Justice,’ when guerillas took control of the Supreme Court in Bogota and attempted to negotiate a peace between the government and the guerilla groups. Betancurt refused to negotiate and sent the army in. The battle between the army and the M-19 guerillas killed over 100 people, including many prominent judges. The M-19 guerillas then declared the peace process over,” replied Milton.
“What about the current President Santos?” I asked.
“He is very rich. What do you think about him?” asked Milton.
“He looks like a hybrid between a pug and William Shattner after two strokes,” I responded.
“Is Obama better?”
“Having Obama as President is like having a Frenchman as the captain of the Star Trek Enterprise. In the short term it is a great topic for the middle class to discuss while waiting in the checkout line at IKEA. In the long term it might actually inspire the next generation’s Whoopi Goldberg to go into politics instead of starring as Oda Mae Brown, a psychic helping a slain man, Patrick Swayze, find his killer.” I replied.
“What is the secret to having a successful mayor in the United States?”
“Ideally the mayor of a large city should live in the worst part of his or her city in order to be able to see how people’s lives are affected by drugs, gangs and poverty.”
I think Milton thought I meant that all politicians should be born in the worst parts of the cities.
“I disagree. The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, comes from a poor neighborhood and he has ruined Venezuela. In the 1980’s Venezuela had more money than Colombia and therefore all the Colombians looking for a better life used to go to Venezuela for employment. Nowadays, many Venezuelans come to Colombia looking for better jobs and better security. The other problem is that most of the organized Venezuelans have moved to Colombia or the United States. Therefore, the people who are left are the people who are most easily manipulated by him. He goes to the poorest neighborhoods and offers the families free education for their children, clothes and food. The people who couldn’t normally afford to feed and educate their children love him. So, if there is a new President elected in Venezuela, the country may fall into civil war,” replied Milton.
“Who is running against Chavez?”
“Henrique Capriles Radonski. He views himself as a younger and more street-wise version of David battling a bigger-mouthed and less susceptible to the consequences of his own actions version of Goliath,” replied Milton.
“Do you think he will win?”
“If Capriles wins he will try and keep Venezuela’s resources to itself. I saw a video on YouTube that says that Chavez is actually artificially suppressing the homicide numbers in Caracas.”
“How does he do that?”
“So, unofficially….

Please view/share the book “48,000,000 Colombians Can’t Be Wrong,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

7 Habits of Highly Effective College Students

October 30, 2018

College was a great time in my life. By 2 p.m. each day I would be finished with my classes and homework. By 3 p.m., I would be asleep or playing Super Nintendo with my room mates. While I was studying at Chico State, I enrolled in the study abroad program and got accepted to study in Queretaro, Mexico.

Before leaving, several of my friends offered to store my Super Nintendo at their house in case I didn’t come back. I was really scared that living in Mexico might be detrimental to my future. I decided that I had no evidence to support Mexico being a dangerous place. I would therefore have to go there in person in order to prove or disprove my North American society’s view towards Mexico as being a dangerous place. Too often society uses fear to take away our freedom and keep us “on track.” I decided not to let unnatural fear dissuade me from achieving my dreams.

The morning of my departure for Mexico finally arrived. My step dad Alan came to pick me up early Friday morning. As I wheeled my luggage to his car, there was already a problem that we hadn’t anticipated. How was I going to fit two huge suitcases and a carry-on into the tiny trunk of his Mazda Miata? My step dad did some quick thinking, he bungee-corded one suitcase onto the trunk, opened the convertible top and seat belted the other bag into the backseat. We drove to the airport. During the ride, we gritted our teeth against the 80 mile-an-hour winds that blew into the convertible. Meanwhile, our feet baked under the car’s heating vents. While checking in for my flight at the San Francisco airport, the ticket agent gave me some bad news.

“I’m sorry Mr. Ward but your connecting flight through Los Angeles has been delayed until 5 p.m. due to bad weather.”

“Impossible. If I take the 5 p.m. flight from Los Angeles, I won’t get to Mexico City until 2:30 a.m. At that time, it will be too late to get a bus to Queretaro,” I replied. After saying that, a Mexican guy behind me offered to help me get onto the bus to Queretaro with him. I accepted. Before I even boarded my first flight, I had already met a local person from my host city.

His name was Rafael and he was connecting in from Hawaii. He had visited a girl he’d met at the same university where I would be studying.

After we both checked in, Rafael and I went for a meal together. I had so many questions to ask him about Queretaro.

“What kind of food do they eat in Kae-taro?” I asked.

Rafael laughed when he heard my pronunciation of Queretaro. He told me that most North Americans pronounced it that way.

He took a pen and wrote down the pronunciation, kah-RAY-tah-row. It was easy.

We didn’t get to Queretaro until 5 a.m. the next day. I fretted about calling my host family at such a strange hour. I imagined myself being awakened in the middle of the night by some Huckleberry Finn character saying he was to be my new housemate. I made the call at the bus station and explained to three members of my host family who I was and yes I was sure I had the right number. They told me to wait at the bus station and someone would be there to pick me up. Rafael gave me his number and told me to call him in case nobody came to pick me up. The truth be told, I think he would have let me move in with him if I wanted to. As I waited outside for my host family to pick me up, I got my first glimpse of Queretaro. It definitely didn’t fit the description of the Mexican town I pictured. At night it looked like any town in California, with gentle hills that were so perfectly illuminated by street lights, the town reminded my of Chevy Chase’s roof in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I don’t think Santa Claus himself could have done a better job.

The campus at Queretaro, a city of 800,000 people, is about 125 miles Northwest of Mexico City. My school, El Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (El Tec), was founded in 1975 and during my stay was enrolling 3,000 students. El Tec currently operates 26 campuses throughout Mexico in 25 different cities.

Queretaro also has many well-maintained historical buildings from the Spanish colonial period and limitless options for night life. Many multi-national corporations like Kellogg’s and New Holland are opening up headquarters here, providing a number of high-paying jobs.

International Programs at Chico State recommended that I get to Mexico two months before classes in order to adjust to the food, culture and layout of the town. I arrived less than 24 hours before classes were to begin.

On my first day of school, I was given a cookie-cutter schedule of classes which included Mexican culture and basic Spanish. On the 3rd day of sitting in Spanish classes with a bunch of Americans I realized that I wouldn’t learn anything surrounded by Americans all day. And I probably wouldn’t receive credit for the work I was doing, since none of the classes had anything to do with my business major. I decided to go to the International Programs office and change my classes to ones that would give me credit in my major and expose me to more Mexican students. This turned out to be a very memorable day in the history of higher learning in Mexico. I grabbed my new schedule of classes and set out to look for my first class of the day, which had started a half hour earlier.

As soon as I walked through the door of my first class, all heads swung in my direction. After I introduced myself, my teacher greeted me by saying, “How you feeling, man?” Whispers resonated throughout the rows of students,“…..que, que dijo?” (what did he say?). My teacher explained to the class that he got his teaching degree at USC and loved California.

The classes were a lot of work for me. This was mostly because I couldn’t speak or understand Spanish completely. During class lectures, even if I could understand the teacher speaking in Spanish. I tried my best to translate the lectures from Spanish into English and then write the lecture into my notes. I could never make any sense out of my notes when I read them after class.

Even getting to school sometimes was a bigger chore than the classes. I was taking a bus to and from school four times a day. At midday I returned home to eat lunch with my host family. After I finished lunch at my host family’s house, I took the bus back to school. This back and forth four times a day left me exhausted. Sometimes I was so tired that I would walk into the wrong class.

When I made it to the right class, I did well on the homework but bombed the tests. After a particularly bad grade on an accounting test, I walked into my teacher’s office crying and asked what could be done. He introduced me to the teacher’s aid and she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. I was still crying a little but tried desperately to wipe the tears from my eyes. I couldn’t get my hand in front of my face because my thumb was caught on my backpack strap, so I gave it extra force and ended up punching myself in the face.

Her name was Bianca and she was of medium height and light-skinned. I could tell she was older than me because she dressed in high-heels and business suits with her hair tied back. She told me I was welcome in her office whenever I needed help with my accounting class. She also suggested that I should bring my accounting book to class (What a novel concept?), because the formulas I was writing down in my notes were mostly wrong. If I copied them directly out of the book, I would have less chance of getting them wrong. Even if I was going to flunk out of accounting at least I could use that as an excuse to come see Bianca every day.

I started to become self-conscious about my clothes after meeting Bianca. I was the only guy in my classes who wore clothes from the Goodwill. I started to want to dress more normally when I was around Bianca. I still wore a lot of goodwill clothes but instead of wearing ripped clothing, I wore new T-Shirts and tucked them into my pants. My test grades continued to suffer, but I kept up with the homework.

After I bombed yet another test, this time in Service Marketing, I went into my teacher Miguel Angel’s office and told him I couldn’t understand why I was doing so badly on the tests when the homework was easy enough. He opened his grade book to find out what grade I had. It turned out that I had an 83%, I couldn’t believe him. After looking at my grade I showed

Please view/share the book “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man,” by Brian Ward on Amazon.

#colombia #bogota #venezuela #90dayfiance #falcao #medellin #mexico #argentina #colombiancupid #cali #nationalgeographic #garciamarquez

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