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Fourteen of us caravanned through the desert in two vans.  It was a cultural anthropology class studying the native populations of the American Southwest.  We pulled into Chaco Canyon and our instructor announced, “Students, I have a surprise for you,” and promptly ushered us into the visitor center to see a movie.  I was pissed.  We had been in the van for hours and the last thing I wanted to do was sit some more.  I wanted to be outside exploring Pueblo Bonito.

Chaco Canyon, located in northwest New Mexico, is a fascinating place to visit. Mysteries abound.  About a thousand years ago (from 900 to 1150 CE), the Ancestral Pueblo People made this canyon one of their cultural centers.  The ruins they left spark the imagination and repeatedly beg the questions, “how and why did they do that?”

Buildings constructed of strikingly beautiful, mortar-free masonry populate the canyon.  The most famous enclave is called Pueblo Bonito.  My mother, a math professor, once told me that  math books often include aerial photos of Pueblo Bonito because it is shaped like an almost perfect parabola.  But how and why this is, no one can say.

Pueblo Bonito. Photo by Chris M Morris.

Then there are the roads, eight to ten meters wide, radiating outward for miles and miles in almost perfectly straight lines.  How did they build such straight roads? And why? Their culture did not have wheels or pack animals.  Curiouser and curiouser. Even NASA is on the investigation.

Finally, there is the solstice marker.

Fajada Butte, a majestic monolith, stands in the middle of the canyon.  Nestled at the top of the butte sit two vertical rock slabs.  The ancient inhabitants carved a large spiral into the rock behind these slabs and when the midday sun shines through on the summer solstice a dagger of light perfectly bisects the spiral.

It’s actually way cooler than that.  I recommend you see the film yourself to understand how amazing this is: http://www.solsticeproject.org/index.html .

Fajada Butte. Photo by Claudia Zimmer.

Hearing about the “Sun Dagger” opened a whole new world to me and made me appreciate the fact that ancient peoples lived under the sky in a way that we home-and-office-dwellers no longer do.  Learning about the illusion of the snake slithering down the pyramid at Chichen Itza on the summer solstice, the original city of Cuzco designed as a living calendar and the wonders of Stonehenge have changed the way I visit ruins.  A few recommendations:

  • Consider the timing – you may want to plan your visit in concert with an astronomical event (solstice, equinox, eclipse, etc.).  In the case of Chichen Itza, I was delighted to discover that they recreate the solstice-serpent every evening during the otherwise cheesy sound and light show.
  • Carry a compass so you can appreciate how ancient city planners frequently aligned their constructions perfectly with the cardinal points.
  • Look at the horizon and note which landmarks could have been used to note the sun’s most extreme rising and setting points. In ancient times, this type of “horizon calendar” is how folks knew that spring had sprung.  Pretty important knowledge to have if your staple crop- corn for instance, needs a long growing season.

I learned other things on that trip as well, including the importance of looking down as well as up.  But that’s a story for another time…

Eiffel Tower

photo by Patricia GW

I was deposited at the Chatelet metro station with my large backpack sagging on my shoulders, wearing a straw cowboy hat that read “Je t’aime Charles de Gaulle Aeroports.” My clothes were disheveled from a sleepless night across the Atlantic, and my look must have screamed AMERICAN TOURIST to the impeccably dressed French women who sniffed their noses as they passed me in their four-inch heels and flowery summer blouses. Welcome to Paris!

Chatelet station was a huge hub of eight metro and RER trains coming together in bustling, frantic jumble. I followed the signs toward Line 7, then turned around as another sign pointed me in the opposite direction. I wove through the underground maze of tunnels and moving conveyor belts that whisked me passed giant advertisements peeling in curled loops over the dark walls. As time wore on I thought I’d been transferred down into the catacombs, and at any moment I might find a skeleton lying beside the open water drains lining the walkway. A begging homeless man lurched at me from behind a curved wall and I dashed down the tunnel in fright.

Eventually I found my train and reached my new studette apartment in the Latin Quarter. In English, I confirmed with my French landlord that I was renting for the entire month of July, which I was spending in a writing workshop at the Paris American Academy. After I paid the rent, she gave me a map with the city’s tourist attractions highlighted in green. After classes, she explained, I could easily hop on the metro to see the sights. Me? Go back on the metro? I don’t think so! Right then I vowed to walk – and only walk – across Paris to get where I wanted to go.

In only a week, this promise was put to the test. Using Notre Dame as a marker, I was able to navigate my way around the City of Lights without too many hours wandering down unknown boulevards, asking for direction using the only words of French that I knew. One evening the writing workshop had an informal meet-up at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Champ de Mars – all the way on the other side of Paris!

Following the curve of the Seine, I walked the entire way from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. Two hours later I arrived at the Champ de Mars, slightly late and exhausted. The writing group welcomed me with wine and cheese, and we read poetry until sunset, which this time of year meant 10 pm when the sky was lit on fire with an orange and yellow glow.

When we decided to head in, I realized that my apartment was too far to walk back to at night. I had to take the metro – but I didn’t even know where the nearest station was! Where was my transit map? Tipsy and worried, my new friends calmed me by linking arms and we all walked to the nearest station and descended its gritty steps. Everyone had a pass that they swiped through the gate and I felt self-conscious as I muddled around with the ticket machine in French, trying to purchase one-way fare while everyone waited for me. Finally, with my white ticket slip in hand, I joined the others and we rode off in the train.

It seemed at each station we said goodbye as another member of the group got off, until I was the only one left. I clutched my umbrella close to me – my weapon in case another Frenchman lurched at me – and reached the Jussieu stop.

As I ascended out of the underground, the antique streetlamps glowed down into the escalator shaft. I looked up at a large tree next to the steps, its leaves swaying in the wind and rustling over the sound of the screeching trains behind me. Every moment I rose higher and higher, until I reached the top and walked out in the cool night air with a smile. There, that wasn’t so bad was it? Maybe the metro wasn’t going to kill me after all.

The next morning, I stood in front of the entrance to Jussieu station. I grabbed the map my landlord had given me, and traced my fingers along the transit lines that could take me to Sacre Coeur, or the Louvre, or even Versailles! Clutching my umbrella for strength, I descended the dark steps into the metro, and all of Paris opened up to me.

I was at the end of my rope with China when I arrived in Chengdu. After two weeks of crowded cities, cheating taxi drivers, and shady tour guides I was beyond frustrated.

This wasn’t all China’s fault. I didn’t do my research and went at a peak time for domestic travel. Fatigue was also contributing to my state of dissatisfaction. I tried to see too much in too short a time; catching 16 hour train rides and all night buses for several days in a row. At the risk of stating the obvious, China can overwhelm you; there is just too much of it for one trip.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is famous for panda bears and hotpot, but I had other reasons for the visit. From Chengdu, I was going to travel to Tibet and then on to Nepal. I wanted to see Lhasa, of course, and also get out into the mountainous country side, and maybe even to the Everest base camp. I was going to the top of the world. My goal was shot down almost immediately.

“No, no, no, right now is impossible, impossible.” a young lady informed me.

Tibet was closed off to tourists due to recent protests and a heavy crackdown from Beijing. That sealed it for me.

“I’m done with China, just book me a ticket to Thailand. I’ve got to get out here.”

“Hey, did I hear you say you wanted to go to Tibet?” a voice said from a nearby table. “I think I have a good alternative.”

The voice belonged to a Fin named Mikko. It was an interesting voice, a fantastically unique accent in English—like someone smashed a Norwegian and a Russian together, stuffed them into Dolph Lundren’s little brother.

I quickly noticed a few oddities about my new acquaintance. First, he was a walking encyclopedia on all things Chinese—from History to Geography, he was prepared to dish out information about a place, at any time, whether you asked for it or not.

“Did you know that when the Mongols invaded this area, they killed over a million people?” he would say, which is interesting, if I weren’t in such a crab of mood about the whole country.

He also had an incredibly deep knowledge of idioms in English. Hearing him explain the origins of Tibetan Buddhism or the Analects of Confucius was interesting, but hearing Ivan Drago say “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” was rather peculiar.

Mikko needed one other person to book the trek, and so he explained the options. We could book a horse trek up to Ice mountain. The mountain was (and still is) in the same chain as the Himalayas, and the trek would be led by Tibetan guides. It was Mikko’s feeling that we could get a better experience of Tibetan culture this way, since, at the moment, Tibet was impossible to get to.

“I don’t know. It sounds good, but I’m looking to head out of here. How many days would it be?”

“Oh, it varies, from 2 days to 2 months.”

“Have you ever ridden a horse?” I asked.

“No, well, once when I was 7. Let’s do 8 days.”

I wasn’t sure what I thought of the old boy just yet. He was big enough to be intimidating, so I listened to what he had to say, but I knew if we were on a trek up in the mountains I couldn’t just accidentally lose him in a crowd. However, Mark Twain once wrote, “there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” So I went for a compromise.

“You haven’t been on a horse in over 20 years, and you want to be on one for eight straight days? Come on, let’s do four, and see how that goes.”

He agreed, so we signed up and paid the money.

We caught the bus at 6am the next morning. The ride, we were told, would take between 8 and 10 hours. I had stayed up nearly the whole night, with the hope of being unconscious for most of that time—any way to avoid a history lesson from little Dolph. The driver, as it turns out, had other plans.

We were up early, first in line, and were sat right in the first row, over looking the driver and the gigantic windows.

“Ah, this is great. Perfect seats,” Mikko said, “the early bird gets the worm, aye?”

I propped my feet up and prepared for a snooze.

Sleep hadn’t completely taken hold when we pulled up to the traffic light outside the city. When the light turned green, the driver morphed into a Rally car driver; handling the bus up and down mountain roads, passing slower vehicles, and around livestock traffic jams with the skill of a champion racer.

When your holding on for dear life, conversation is limited, but we managed a few utterances.

“I’ve got to get out of this country, I said, I think it’s killing me!”

“Oh, no , You should stay a while, I’m heading down to Yunnan, it’s…”

“OH S—, watch out for that YAK.”

The passengers held on to anything stable, while the driver turned and gassed and braked—all while simultaneously downing pints of green tea and chain smoking Chinese cigarettes. The bus ride was said to take between 8 and 10 hours—we made it in 7 hours and 7 minutes.

I got off the bus in Songpan, dazed, and looking for the nearest place to pass out. Mikko jumped off the bus, gave the driver a high five, and came my way.

“Let’s go check this town out!”

“What about our stuff?”

“Oh, let’s just carry it, it’ll be fine, it’s not a big town.”

And he was right. Songpan isn’t a big town, but it is a bustling one. The streets are filled with motorbikes, carts, cars, horses, and tour buses. Souvenir shops, cafes, and trekking companies line the main-street all the way down to the ancient city walls, where a nice new Statue sits.

“So, Songpan was founded around 618 AD by the Tang dynasty, and rebuilt by the Ming dynasty and used as a military outpost.” Mikko started.

“That doesn’t mean much to me, I don’t know any of the dynasties.”

“Oh, right, right, well, the Tang dynasty is…and the Ming, well, you’ve been to Beijing, they commissioned the Forbidden City. That statue is of a Tibetan King and his Chinese Wife, I guess it’s supposed to represent the bond between Tibet and China ”

That didn’t clear much up for me at the time, but I did appreciate the effort. And I found that last bit interesting, considering the bond between Tibet and China is the reason I ended up in Songpan in the first place.

Mikko went on and on like that until we’d covered the town, and he’d had enough. “Let’s hit the hay.” he finally said.

“You got it man, I’ve been ready for that since 6 am.”

We stayed at one of the nearby Hotels, and woke early the next morning. We met up with our group around 6:30. It was a good mix of people; China, Japan, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, America, and, of course, Finland were all represented.

We packed up the horses, headed out of town, and up the mountain path. The trail was steep and the ride not terribly comfortable. The saddle and stirrups were not for handling those above five feet. A few griped, but all continued onward.

The first hour was spent getting away from the Town, and was not very scenic. After that hour the land opened up to mountains in all directions.

“This reminds me of Montana.” Mikko said.

“What? You’ve been to Montana?”

“No, ha, just pulling your leg, but I did see it in a movie, and this is what it looked like.”

“Fair enough.”

As we continued, the path continued—steeper, wetter, and rockier. And although I wasn’t at ease on the tiny horse, I was impressed with it’s stamina. That feeling was short lived.

We came up on a shallow creek and all started across, with the exception of Mikko’s horse. This horse decided a bath would a better choice. It circled around an open area in the creek, like a dog trying to get comfortable in its bed—and then laid out full body in the water, with Mikko still on-board.

Mikko went headlong into the water, and came up grinning. He was laughing, he loved it.

“Oh, whoa, that’s cold. What’s that one about beating the dead horse?”

“I don’t know if that one fits here, but take it.”

For a serious looking person, this Mikko was sort of entertaining. The trip was starting to turn around, and for the first time in two weeks I was beginning to enjoy myself.

The trek went on, with a slightly soggy Mikko, for another 3 hours. On the way we passed the sun worn faces of Tibetan farmers, working their Yaks through creek beds and up the mountain trail. We passed colorful prayer flags, that were strung along the ridge, and stones, called Mani Stones, with Tibetan mantras inscribed on them.

Around 5pm we came up to an open field, surrounded by steep hills, and divided in two by a shallow stream—one side was to be our base camp. A villager had set up a small wagon with goods for sale on the other.

The guides set about setting up, and several of the travelers explored the surrounding hills. Mikko and I tried to help set up camp. Steve, one of the Americans, and one guide set off for the wagon. They returned with all the beer the villager had to offer…and a goat.

“Alright, the beer’s on me, but everybody throw in 100 yuan for this goat.” he said.

This was my first transaction involving any type of livestock, so 100 yuan sounded reasonable.

”What’ll we call it?” some asked.

“Oy dunno, Whatcha reckon we call it ‘Wanfan.’” Australian George responded.

“Great, what’s that mean?”

“Dinner!”

We drank the beer and watched, some what amazed, as the guides slaughtered, skinned, and skewered the goat–all in about 20 minutes, and then roasted the thing over a fire.

The meat cooked for an hour or so. They covered it with salt and spices, cut squares into the sides, and we ate the freshest and finest goat meat I’ve ever had. Actually, come to think of it, that is the only goat meat I’ve ever had.

The next morning we awoke to the sound of screams and laughter. We popped out of our canvas shelter to find our guide yelping and hooting and chasing our horses all around the open field. “Looks like the horses are on the loose.” Mikko uttered.

Apparently tying the horses up at the end of the day was left off of his to-do list. The rest of the guides were sitting by the fire, drinking tea and laughing at our young friends foul up.

By the time he had found all his horses, we had eaten and were ready to ride out. We took a dusty country road, through small villages with stone shingled rooftops until we reached the mountain trail that would take us all the way to the base of Ice Mountain.

Ice Mountain, was bit anti-climactic. It wasn’t bad, but, because of our late start, the clouds had rolled in and visibility was limited. At that height, movement can become stagger. Only professionals and the hard core mountain climber could continue on. We hung around a while, taking pictures, and headed back to camp.

That night, we ate a less spectacular meal of stewed cabbage and mutton. The sky had cleared and the stars were bright. It was strange to be in a group of so many, with so many different experiences to share, only to stay completely silent staring out at the sky. No one even touched a beer.

When the sun came up the next day we packed up and prepared for one more grueling day on the horses. I was feeling fatigued from the altitude, sore from from the ride, and not really dying for another full day of trekking.

“OK, We go back to Songpan,” one of the guides announced. “What’s that?” Mikko exclaimed. “We paid for a 4 day trek.”

I kept my mouth shut.

The guides hadn’t counted on this. They looked confused. So, they huddled, discussed, and came back with a solution. Our rookie horse guide would guide us the rest of the time, alone, all the way to his house.

We parted ways with rest, exchanged contact info, and headed to the house. We pulled into his place. It was like a compact farm, complete with crops, a stable, goats, and a dog. The guide’s wife greeted us with stare of confusion, that quickly faded into a welcoming smile. Their rosy cheeked child just stared.

The guide showed us to the common area, which was underground and cool, a relief from the hot sun. We drank tea and relaxed as he went out to unpack the horses.

It was not long after the guide stepped out that we were visited by the younger brother and his friend. They were coming back from the temple and dressed in the robes of young monks.

We attempted to communicate using English and Mandarin as best we could manage. The Tibetan is as indistinguishable to Mandarin Chinese as French is to Romanian, but with the help of hand gestures and facial expressions, we got by fine.

They explained that our guide, despite having a house, a wife, a son, several horses, a small farm, and the forearms of an arm-wrestler, had only just turned 22 years old. His wife was 23 and the baby 2. And that he and the other brothers had built the house—on their own.

He came back after 30 minutes and showed us the area. He took us to a small road-side temple, and on to a small cave. Pray cards littered the cave floor. We climbed down until we arrived at tiny crack in the wall.

After some communicative effort, we came to the understanding that we could continue on this path, underground, all the way down into the valley and back up the other side of the neighboring mountain, in less than a day…if we weren’t so fat.

We went back to the house and explored the rest of it. It was a rather spacious house. There were several stories. The rooms were simple and devoid of anything from IKEA, Mikko noted. Mikko took this time to explaining more Chinese history.

“China’s claim on Tibet goes back to the Yuan Dynasty…”

“That doesn’t tell me anything, I’ve never heard of it.”

“Sure, you have. It’s the Mongolian Empire…you know Genghis Khan.”

“No kidding? That’s strange, isn’t it? Claiming land conquered by a foreign invader?”

“Not strange to Chinese. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is History, I guess.”

Dinner was animal fat, green beans, and several pints of yak butter tea, which I learned was a sort of delicacy. After dinner, we were led up a few flights of wooden stairs to the attic. Before he opened the door, he turned and winked like we were about to be in on the secret. It was a pray room. A picture of the Dali Lama dominating the area. The room smelled of incense and had an orange glow to it.

“Do you know who that is?” mikko asked.

“That’s the Dali Lama,” answering himself.

“You don’t say.”

“He is the leader of Tibet, but since the 50s he’s been living in India. China views him as a separatist, like a revolutionary.”

“Like Mao?”

“No, definitely not, if you put Mao’s picture up your house wouldn’t get raided by the police.”

“So it’s illegal to have his picture up like this?”

“Yeah, I think it’s fine out here because we’re in the middle of nowhere, but it could be bad news closer to Lhasa. That’s just what I’ve heard.”

We sat in the room a while, just sort of soaking in the experience. But the hour was getting late, so our guide showed us to a room where his wife had made pallets for us to sleep.

That morning, we loaded up and headed back to Songpan. The ride was short, and the goodbyes to the guide brief, but I had a great feeling of contentment. My trip that had started so hectic, had led to a fine horse trek and impromptu home-stay; complete with a constant stream of cultural information from an eccentric travel partner.

There were two buses leaving Songpan—an eight hour hell ride back to Chengdu or a 24 hour bus down to Yunnan.

“So, what’s your plan? Still heading to Thailand?” Mikko asked

“Eventually, but you never finished telling me about Yunnan.”

“That’s right. Did you know that Yunnan is China’s most biologically diverse province…”

“Nope, but tell me all about it. We’ve got a long ride ahead of us.”

Sometimes our best memories of travel are from being in the right place at the right time. Here, Candace remembers a new adventure on the east coast of New Zealand, all while overcoming an old fear.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

Sam nudged me awake at a quarter to six. The sky was still dark and I fumbled blindly around for a sweatshirt. I followed him and Alex to the stable, where we collected the horses: Major, Daisy and Wai, the older mare I’d be riding. We mounted them quickly and set off.

We didn’t want to miss the sun.

I was in the middle of a month-long roadtrip around New Zealand’s North Island, and had just reached the remote East Coast, famously known as the first inhabited place in the world to see the sunrise. I was running behind, as so easily happens on the road when the best-laid plans of our itineraries go awry. The night before, I’d located Eastender Backpackers, one of only two hostels in the area.

Just inside the fence, five figures sporting cowboy hats were lounging around a fire pit when I arrived. Had I somehow stumbled upon the Wild East of New Zealand? I joined them as stars appeared above and made an off-handed remark that the only thing missing was a guitar. Miraculously, one was produced from inside the lodge. Acoustic strumming soon filled the air.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

We slept outside, raiding the dormitories for thin mattresses and old duvets from which to build cocoons of warmth for ourselves. Sam donned a headlamp and cut a stock of firewood. We built piles in front of everyone, so that we could keep the fire going through the night without having to get up. I fell asleep tracing the four points of the Southern Cross.

The stars were gone in the morning, I noticed, my hips moving in sync with Wai’s steps. We reached the top of the cliff just in time to see the sun break over the horizon. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, just an endless ocean set ablaze, and the primeval cliffs glowing, distant hills shrouded in the early morning mist. We watched the sunrise on horseback, the moment augmented by the knowledge that we were the first in the world to witness it.

Tikitiki on New Zealand's East Coast

But our adventure didn’t end there. Sam headed down a path that seemed too steep to be safe until we leveled out on the gloriously deserted beach.

“You ready for this?” he asked me.

Truth was, I wasn’t. It’d been a long time–six years–since I’d last been on horseback. Much of this had to do with a college friend of mine who was paralysed from the waist down after being bucked by her horse. Unsettled by her accident, I hadn’t yet attempted to ride again.

And yet here I was, making Sam wait until I could shakily nod my head and pretend I wasn’t afraid. Sam edged Major up to me and Wai until we were side by side. Suddenly, he took off down the beach before I could manage to protest.

Wai was harder to get going. “Give her a kick!” Sam yelled out in front of me. I stood up in the saddle, digging my heels into her side, leaning forward like a jockey until I was flying. My fingers clutched Wai’s mane like the fear surging through my chest gripped my heart.

“C’mon, get into it!” Sam shouted, louder this time.

“Yah! Yah!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Soon I was laughing, soaring through the surf on a cantering horse, imagining that I alone was responsible for ushering in the sun.

Sometimes, all it takes is giving our fears a little kick in the side…

Tikitiki on the East Coast of New Zealand

 

Adventure travel is a vague term mostly associated with some type of activity you do while traveling.  Common outdoor travel adventures include hiking, kayaking, climbing, and bicycling to name just a few.

The activity is important but there’s more to adventure travel then just what you are doing.  Ask yourself, “What am I trying to achieve on this trip?  What am I trying to avoid?”  Adventure travel falls somewhere in-between this risk-reward mentality.

The award usually includes some type of self discovery or actualization and commonly involves some form of contact with nature but not always.  Contact with a foreign culture and social immersion often fosters the same feelings of accomplishment.

The risk is usually thought to be any fear, distress or danger involved up to and including death.  There is a obvious direct correlation in the degree of risk and the amount of reward one feels.

So far we know adventure travel is composed of 4 major constructs: risk, reward, adventure and travel. We can break it down even further by reviewing the components of each.

Adventure = Activities. What will you do? Hike, bike, climb, kayak, etc. What is the adventure? Often times the adventure can determine where you want to travel. We love to hear these type of adventurous activities but don’t get caught up thinking your travel experience don’t live up to the term adventure.

What do I mean? Simple, one persons everyday routine can be another persons adventure. Maybe it’s going to take some adrenaline filled white water to get your blood pumping. Maybe just leaving the country is enough to tug at your stomach and cause you alarm. Just stepping outside yourself is enough to say I traveled and It was an adventure.

Travel = Environment.  Where are you going?  The environment is important not just because it will determine the range of activities you can participate in.  It will also help heighten the appeal of such activities. Kayaking the same river in your neighborhood every month is fun I guess. But it’s a lot less exciting than grabbing the kayak, hitting the road and seeking out a whole new river and experience to conquer.

Risk = Experience. Generally, experience and skill level coincides with risk.  The degree of risk-taking has a positive correlation with the level of experience and skill of the participant.  In other words, If I’ve never skied before the beginner hill might provide enough challenge and fulfillment to me but to a accomplished skier, the desire to participate and amount of satisfaction is diminished.

Reward = Motivation. Finally, the motivation, risk and desire to participate all lead up to the final reward. It’s this feeling of accomplishment that will keep you going.  Not only will it see the current adventure to a end but it will renew your ambitions pushing you forward into seeking new ones.

The experience you gain from your past and present adventures will give you the courage to seek something more challenging. It will give you the motivation to test your skills and push them to new levels in pursuit of this risk reward relationship.

So Do you have Adventure Travels you want to share?

If you are thinking about writing for Round World Travels then think about your travel adventures in the way we outlined above.  Convey this to us as a community.

You may get back from your trip and think I just had a wonderful experience in Costa Rica.  You sit down to write about it and you are hard pressed to find the details that make this a article someone else wants to read.

“We arrived in Costa Rica, we did this, we did that, then we did this.”  Nobody cares!  I don’t want to read your Itinerary.  If I know you personally then maybe I care a little but probably just a little.  If I don’t know you I probably don’t care at all.  So what do I care about?  What will other readers care about and want to read?

Your main goal should be to convey what you did but still somehow pick me up as a reader that can relate even if I have never done it myself.  As humans we all want to relate to each other.  Use the activities and experiences you had as a guide to run a much deeper, rich and detailed encounter with yourself and what is happening around you.

What you did needs to turn from just “what you did” to:

  • Why you did it (activity x- maybe this was the first time.  You wanted to give it a whirl, someone talked you into it, you wanted to test yourself, whatever the why.)
  • Where were you? (details- what lake?  Was it hard to get there?  What stood out – the landscapes,wildlife, flora, water?)
  • What happened (details are good, tell us about the crazy bus ride and the peculiar person, food, circumstances encountered.  )
  • What fears you faced (tell us your fears, how you overcame them, etc.)
  • Did it test you in some way? (courage, patience, skills, abilities, etc.)
  • What did you gain from it?  (was it a good outcome?  are you better for it?  Maybe you hated it – tell us.)
  • What about skills? (what skills did you start with, what skills did you gain?)
  • Did a new understanding develop?  (Think yourself, culturally, socially, etc.)

The above ideas are not meant to be a solid outline of what we are looking for as far as content.  Mostly this guide is to help those writing about personal experiences/adventures.  This won’t fit well if your writing about snowboard techniques or your top 10 camping spots, travel tips, etc.  Use your judgement.

Want some examples?

Here are 3 great examples of contributing GUAP  authors that showcase the type of content we like in regard to personal accounts of adventure.