I just got back this week from my three-week trip to South America, and I wanted to share with all my fans some of the unique and incredible things I experienced.
My trip to South America was inspired by the celebration of Carnival. I wanted to see it first hand. I read things about it, and everyone that I knew that had been highly recommended it. So I wanted to experience it for myself while I was able. But that was just the part of a great three weeks abroad.
Whenever I go on a trip like this, I try to pack one big bag, a duffle and a backpack. There are also some essential things I need to have. It starts with a good book, of course, my iPod, and a magazine for some lighter reading.
I always like to have a good book with some heavier reading for those long flights. There I can read and not be distracted. I had a couple books with me this time. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad again, for like the seventh time in my life.
I also brought a book that was written by CBS Football anchor James Brown called Role of a Lifetime. We have a mutual friend and she gifted that book to me. And then I got into another book on the stock market about how to pay attention to trends and learn more about investments.
Whenever I pick up something to read, I want to challenge myself mentally to learn new things. The magazine of choice on this trip was about new collector's watches in 2012. That was good for when I didn't have time to do that heavy reading.
You all know about my passion for art, but I've become a collector of watches as well. Those are two things that I really enjoy. I'm trying to read up on new things and familiarize myself with some of the brands and trends of how things are going in the watch market. I love that they are not only handcrafted and require a lot of man-hours, but if you select the watch on the right basis, they bring some type of appreciation as well.
Outside of my essentials, this particular trip was really hard to pack for because I went from the dead heat of the jungle in the Amazon, to the summer in Rio and then on to the bottom of South America, Patagonia in Argentina, where we were on ice glaciers. So I had to pack warm as well as summer clothes. What I did was buy a lot of loose cotton shorts that were easy to wash and would go with anything I wanted to wear on a particular day.
My connecting flight was an early morning flight at 4:50 a.m. My first thought was to stay up through the night and just sleep the entire flight from Miami to Manaus in the Amazon. I almost made it the whole night, but I got about an hour away from having to go to the airport and I decided that I was going to lay down for a little bit.
Instead, I fell asleep and overslept by 20 minutes.
I knew as soon as I woke up that I wouldn't be able to make it. And that particular flight is only given once a day, so I had to wait 24 hours to get down to South America. That set off a chain of events that led to my luggage being lost for a couple days.
The first night in Miami was a layover for me, so my bags were already packed to go through to Manaus. But when I didn't report for my flight there was some confusion with the airline, and once I caught my flight the next day the bags didn't go on that plane with me. It was just a communication thing with the airline, so the bags remained in Miami for two days.
But this stuff tends to happen when you're travelling, especially a lengthy trip like that. Something always seems to go a little wrong or off schedule. Luckily I've travelled enough to know that you always pack a few undergarments and some other things in your carry-on, just in case that happens.
The only thing I had to do when I got to Manaus was I had to buy a couple of resort shirts when I got there, to wear until my luggage arrived. It kind of made me look like an employee because the employees wore the exact same shirts that that I bought, so I had some of the Europeans and some of the other visitors at the hotel confusing me for some of the workers. That was pretty funny.
The trip started for real when I got to the Amazon and it was quite the experience.
When we got in, it was actually the first time in my life that I've had a water landing. We landed on the Black River and as you can imagine it was a bumpy landing. From there we commuted over to the property and it was a very remote area.
As we were walking, I started to see all the things that you hear about. All the overly sized and grotesque insects, tarantulas just crawling around and then these tree snakes that we don't have in North America. They had boa constrictors just hanging over your head. So you become very alert within your surroundings very quickly. For me, it was also a chance to appreciate how well preserved the jungle is and how Brazil and South America as a whole have done a good job of preserving nature.
Whenever I go someplace, I always like to get a total feel for the country. So I want to experience the rural areas and the metropolitan areas, sample the more traditional culinary styles from the place that I'm visiting and eat what the people native to that area eat. I don't want to leave the U.S. and just eat what I would eat when I'm back home.
During my three days in the Amazon, I did two canoe tours, one in the daytime and one at night. I had a chance to go pet dolphins that live there in the river and I also did a jungle walk where you observe animals and insects and look at the different trees that they have in their region. It allows you to see the things that are unique to that part of the world.
But my favorite part of my stay in the Amazon was the night canoe tour of the river. Everything is pitch black. The only light you have is the flashlight your guide has on his helmet and you can't even see your hand in front of your face. The only thing you can see is the red beady eyes of the animals you come across in the canoe. You can't help but think of the movies like Anaconda, that something could take me out right at this moment and no one would ever know it.
The sound was really captivating too. It was just like something out of one of those nature discs. You hear insects chirping and birds calling out. I was fortunate to see a couple different owls and they were making their calls, it was just pretty cool to hear nature at its best, calling out to each other.
But it was quite a thrill to be out there in the middle of the jungle that night. It's an exciting experience that very few people have. It was quite an adrenaline rush, which is something I like to get out of my travels. I thoroughly enjoyed it.