4 ways to Ease through that Long Layover

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Long layovers are like zits. You either know they are coming, or they can pop out of nowhere. Most travelers seasoned and unseasoned opt into travel connections with long layovers for the financial incentives among many others. Missed flights, connections and flight delays are often other reasons for prolonged hours spent at the terminal. How you manage your time at the terminal will have a significant impact on the overall quality of your travel experience. Long layovers don’t have to be the dark cloud that looms over your getaway. You can add value to your white sand Zanzibar vacation, your Masai Mara Safari game drive, or even your Family reunion by doing these four things which I consider to be maintenance. Before we get to them, it is important to positively reimagine your long layover as downtime, better yet SPACE.  Here are three ways to mindfully hold that space before you have to move onto the next.

Sleep

Sleep is the most natural restorative activity that living things do. And yes it is an activity. Throw some Z’s on that B..b..brain!!  Do not be shy to sprawl yourself across a few seats and catching some much needed shut eye. I have in my travels used the terminal in creative ways to satisfy my sleep needs. I have slept close to/on top of vents to for warmth or air conditioning.  Once I think, I might have built something close to fort with all my luggage.

These days, some airports like Denver International Airport and San Francisco International Airport are very accommodating to sleepy travelers with reclining and padded seats complete with armrests. Sleepinginpairports.net is a great resource for all things about sleeping in airports.

If you have the privileges to an airport lounge, loungelife away.

Be purposeful in your sleep. While you main goal should be to rest your body and mind. Try to use your long layover to sync and adapt your sleeping schedule with what you expect at your destination. This could save you from the jet lag woes that affect a large number of travelers.

Man Sleeping at SanFrancisco Airport

Exercise

Long layovers can cause unnecessary/undesired anxiety and stress. One effective way of occupying this space is to engage in some form of exercise. Breathing, mindfully- ‘creating awareness around your breath‘, is perhaps the easiest and purest physical practice for your body.  And can wipe out any pent up anxiety resulting from anticipation for your next flight. Sit upright on your chair or stand up straight and Breath in and out, slowly and deeply. Do as many repetitions as possible and feel your blood flowing. Enjoy the relaxation.

Long layovers often follow equally as long flights seated. Our bodies are designed to nimble. Whether you have your mat or not. Or whether you are a yogi or not, you can always spoil yourself with some energy giving stretches derived from yoga poses. Hop on the free wifi and youtube some flows or feel free to improvissana.  

Because my yoga practice is not as refined, I have made best friends with the Iso-Bow by bullworker.com. This ultra portable fitness companion will enhance your stretches and increase your flexibility for greater range of motion and relief from extended sitting.

Situps, pushups, squats and planks are easy to execute with minimal space and can be great cardio if done in short intervals. Remember to freshen up in the restrooms after. The last thing a traveler wants is being stuck next to a stinky traveler.

Some airport lounges are outfitted with sophisticated exercise/fitness rooms. If you have those privileges, spend them. Get you blood flowing.

Write

Whether it is on your phone, or in your journal, the process of articulating your thoughts by writing is a phenomenal way to occupy yourself during a long layover. Your writing can be as simple as a shopping list, but better if it is a reflection of your experiences had or to be had. Dedicate not just your time but most importantly, your energy. The greatest shortcomings of my previous travels have always been, not writing enough and not writing at all. Enough in this instance alluding to the specifics of my feelings and perceptions in the context of sensory details. From smells to tastes.

 

People Watch/Meet Somebody

Travel is inherently driven by a desire to connect or reconnect. Sometimes we can establish connections by simply projecting our consciousness onto others. Not in the way of judgement. Just simple curiosity and appreciation. I guess you can call it People Watching. During a long layover, observe as masses of people crisscross the airport terminal and engage your imagination. Double take on your looks and eavesdrop. Its not so to sometimes, look away from your phone and take off your earphones. Sometimes people watching can bare some dramatically interesting insights on the experiences of others.

Sometimes it can lead to new connections. Make the effort to meet somebody and share in your travel, experiences and life.

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Unwinding in San Diego – La Jolla, California

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San Diego, California is a great destination for the traveller looking to unwind. La Jolla to be specific is ideal for that traveller that wants a little bit of both. The traveller that wants some calm but is willing to let loose and get a bit rowdy.  On this trip, I stayed at  a SeaBreeze vacation rental one street away from the beach in the affluent La Jolla community. The pacific ocean was so close to the vacation rental that you could smell salt in the sea as readily you heard the waves break and wash on the the shore.

Surfers in wetsuits lurked on their boards and they didn’t have to exercise lots of patience. While these were not the biggest waves I’ve seen, they were certainly pretty consistent in size and frequency.

Other lovers of the ocean, walked along the beach and others meditated to the symphony of waves and the occasional sea gull.

Surfers in La Jolla, San Diego
Surfers wait to catch waves at a beach in La Jolla, within the city of San Diego
dji mavic pro shot of a beach in La Jolla California
dji mavic pro shot of a beach in La Jolla California

The well known Mission Beach was only a couple of miles down the road and comes with a classic and proper beach town boardwalk. If you are like me, you are already thinking about your longboard, your tank top and your drink/joint to take off the edge and cruise.

There are is no shortage of bars, restaurants and people (who make for great people watching ) in Mission Beach or Pacific beach and that means that when the sun begins to set, the possibilities of having a wild time are bright as day.

Surfers wait to catch waves at a beach in La Jolla, within the city of San Diego

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Willow Lake- Be Free

Happy Friday!

Are you free? Do YOU KNOW that feeling? The last 48 hours in NYC have weighed on my spirit. In that short amount of time, I have been marginally estranged from my easy-wild coloradan gait and fallen for the New York minute. I have felt rushed and as a result out of balance and rhythm. I truly couldn’t exist in a city like this. I could never feel free always running towards, for or away from something.

That feeling of being Free is akin to the first taste of Spring. For me, that feeling is as close to levitation as my spirit can imagine. And as much as it can be elusive in the bipolar April weather tendencies of Colorado. I finally reveled in that spring vibe this past weekend. The resulting healing still lingers within me.

I spent the Friday night and Saturday morning enamored by mt. Princeton and the collegiate peaks in Buena Vista,  before driving down to the village-town of Crestone in the northern part of San Luis Valley. This Saguache county town is renowned as a spiritual micro-mecca of sorts. The spiritual centers in their diversity are almost as many as the townees and the diversity in their peculiarity. The greatest spiritual center offering boasted by Crestone is undoubtedly the great outdoors in the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Willow Lake from aerial from dji Mavic Pro
Willow Lake from aerial from dji Mavic Pro 37°59’39.8″N 105°36’31.1″W

Like most alpine-glacial lakes, Willow Lake is a site to behold. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range close to Crestone Colorado, Willow Lake is surrounded by majestic 14ers ( fourteen thousand peaks ) and 13ers: Kit Carson, Challenger Point and Mt Adams. The lake overlooks an enigmatic valley that stretches beyond into Crestone and the San Luis Valley. From lush forests to wildflowers to marmots, pika, and bighorn sheep, this 9.6 mile hike this 11,598′ thousand in elevation lake zigzags through beautiful nature and stretches through wondrous pastures. It is ideal for Day hikes, but better for camping in my opinion. One night spent at the Lake could afford one access to the 14k peaks of Kit Carson and Challenger for short day trips the next few days.

Herd of male Yaks in the San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo valley in the background
14er _ Challenger Point 14,081′ 37.9803° N, 105.6067° W
Town of Crestone up yonder from Willow Lake
Town of Crestone up yonder from Willow Lake

Get out this weekend. Capture that feeling of being free and do not rush anything. Take your time.

live wildly,

Agata

RINO DISTRICT – Larimer St ( drone reel )

DJI Mavic Pro 4k footage of the Hip RINO ( River- North District ) of Downtown Denver. Larimer St is riddled with some of the hippest watering holes, breweries, boutique stores, cafes and eateries that denver boasts. The Populist, Finn’s Manor, Infinite Monkey Theorem, The Central Market, Crema, MatchBox, Il Posto to name a few. If you are looking for a taste of the NEW DENVER, this is the best place to start. And you really cannot beat the views of the downtown skyline against the backdrop of the mountains at sunset.

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Buena Vista – A mountain pitstop retreat.

Of the tens and hundreds of mountain towns in the Colorado Rockies, Buena Vista lives up to her name in all ways. Situated at the junction of US 24 and US 285, Buena Vista is endowed with a majestic panorama of the 14 thousand ft towering Mt Princeton’s peak and the Collegiate Peaks.

Buena Vista is neatly tucked in my back pocket as a quick, sweet escape to sleep under the stars and reset. It is on a lonely night above this town that I figured out that I can squash and defeat any of my anxieties. Simply by taking off my shoes, wiggling my toes and rolling my feet, clockwise then anti clockwise. Then inhaling and calling on to the familiar feeling of freedom as I exhale.

Unlike getting to most of the nature oases west of Denver off I-70, there is barely ever traffic if you cruise down US 285 which uniquely magnificent going over Kenosha pass and crossing the great Colorado Trail.

Click this link to watch 360 degree view of Buena Vista and the collegiate peaks.

The Collegiate Peaks
The Collegiate Peaks

Pack light, glamp, bring some firewood and your favorite bourbon and enjoy waking up here. I typically like to escape here by myself, if thats not your style, bring a friend or two and share yourselves honestly. On this quick pitstop towards the town of Crestone in southern Colorado, I brought Rafiki ( means friend in Swahili )

Rafiki the dopest Dalmatian

 

 

Camping Spot

As you are driving north on US 24 into Buena Vista, turn right onto Main St, the left onto Colorado St which then becomes RD 371. Continue on 371 until the road turns into a dirt, shortly before you get to a tunnel, turn right onto RD 375. There is plenty of camping all along 375.

Happy Trails.

Blessings and Love

Garden of the Gods – dji Mavic Pro 4k

I was deeply moved the first time I visited the Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark provoked imaginations of what the planet looked like in prehistoric times. The larger than life red-orange sandstone rock formations that stood boldly in the the shadow of Pike’s Peak 14 thousand feet prominence are a delight to behold.

It is nature at its grittiest. Let your eyes wonder on this slice of nature’s splendor in colorful Colorado. Be moved to spend your days under the blue sky and do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. This is Nature porn.

Earth Day – Everyday

Now that the smoke has cleared up. Happy 420  (ps…while the smoke never clears up Denver, CO, here are some guard rails to mind)

Earth day is an annual event that is observed and celebrated on the 22nd of April across all continents. On this day, individuals and communities of diverse identities demonstrate their commitment to sustainable environmental protection and conservation. For example, this year’s Earthday.org’s campaign is to End Plastic Pollution. Unfortunately, plastic does not have a monopoly in the polluting and harming of our environment. It is paramount that all major pollutants, drivers of climate change, are weeded out (Pun). We should all be activated towards all environmental causes. From saving our marine life, to protecting our rainforests and ecosystems, to clearing the smog blanketing our towns and cities. The chief goal being surmounting climate change.

Garden of the Gods

Behold, Earth day is upon us this Sunday. If you are anything like me, the aromas of Friday and the promise of the weekend get you excited at the prospect of spending time outside. If you aren’t like me, one guess is that your occupation is cool enough to afford you opportunities to enjoy the outdoors during the workweek. Whatever your occupation is, I hope that when someone asks you, “What do you do?“, you answers default naturally to those things that greatly animate your spirit. Be they your jobs or not.

What do I do? The things that I do are many, but most fall under one bucket which I own proudly. I do outdoorsy shit. I enjoy snorkeling to trippy fish and enigmatic coral. I find it hilarious when my dog Zizou relentlessly chases burning ambers in the veil of a starry night scored with whistling trees and chirping crickets.  Its oddly refreshing to wake up to my pungent smell of fireside smoke and trail body odor. I savor the peril of grizzly bears in the back country.  I love, Love, LOVE curving fresh deep POW powder, bobbing in and out of trees. Reader, this is a light sampling of my outdoorsy shit, and all of it is threatened.

Garden of the Gods

While the threat to our winters ‘weakens the gnar’ and the POWder isn’t as good as it could be for shredding purposes, there are far greater implications. For example, dwindling spring snowpacks and shortened winters directly impact the snowmelt runoffs that make up streams and creeks. These streams and creeks, quench the thirst of the perilous bear, her cubs and her food chain.  They water the valleys and the plains and sustain an entire ecosystem.

The diminishing spring snowpacks also result in longer than usual fire seasons prompting Forestry, National Parks and local authorities to impose fire bans as a preventative measure. Now, Zizou doesn’t get to battle fire ambers and I don’t get the joys of smelling ‘blackened,’ even charred. And while I can contend with a night without nature’s television, a fireless night, the unnerving forces of fire have dire implications. Forest fires are leaving ecosystems desperately fighting for survival.

Zizou

I live in Colorado, it doesn’t get more landlocked than this paradise of a nest in the mountains. Because my early life and travels have gifted me many thrills on coastlines of 3 of the 5 oceans, I am drawn to crashing waves as much as I am to the frosted mountain peaks. I even have a Wes Anderson fantasy in which I play Steve Zissou in Life Aquatic. Its 100% self serving.  One of the greatest thrills of aquatic life is coral and the countless life that is nestled in and within it. Rising temperatures have resulted in large scale bleaching and eventual death of coral with dire implications beyond subpar snorkeling opportunities. Aquatic ecosystems are desperately fighting of survival.

Garden of the Gods

Reader, this is a light sampling of implications of climate change as they relate to what I do. 

I urge you to challenge the value you create to your spirit and the environment outside of your 40hr work week.

When you are outside this Earthday, be mindful. Be mindful everyday. If you see a clif bar wrapping flirting with the wind, pocket it. Trust yourself to carry that responsibility. Whatever you can do, do it. Post your #Earthday instagram photo and get your people on board this wave to be stakeholders of mother Earth.  The effort to protect mother Earth is an aggregate of individual accountability to her sanctity.

Get on a trail this Sunday and brush your fingertips against tree barks as you walk along the trail. Create awareness around the sources of the streams as you skip across them. Express your appreciation the ecosystem, in your own way and feel its health.

Drive somewhere. And like my brother and good friend Mo says, ” Take impromptu turns onto backroads because you are enamored by the framing of the mountains”. And there is delightful simplicity in that enamoration.  Take those backroads, find yourself a slice of road shoulder to colonize, be aware of the privilege of pristine wilderness which a lot of people are not able to access or have lost. Enjoy the vistas. Rationalize them. Romanticize them. Awe at them. Inhale them. Promise to protect all of it. Be one with Earth.

Peace and Love.

Earth Day Hike Suggestions 

 

 

Denver-Mile High City – Drone Highlight Reel- Dji Mavic Pro

You out there – Somewhere in the world. Planning to visit this chunk of paradise, here is a little taste of the mile high city. Down below, recreational marijuana dispensaries are stacked next to Artisanal Farm to Fork restaurants and Craft Micro Breweries.

You down there, if you’ve been here a little while, here is a fresh look. Stay positive, the rent won’t go up exponentially.

A Rock and Hard Place

I didn’t know what to expect when I hopped on the chicken bus and headed towards Omdurman. 

To be completely honest, I don’t know that I remember the extent of my expectations. At the time, I was somewhere caught between a rock and a hard place. I had spent the better part of 4 days queuing outside the Egyptian Embassy in Khartoum ‘begging’ for a Visa. I even employed my Arabic in negotiating with the guards, and ‘brokers’ that guaranteed a successful visa application. Unfortunately for me and them, my dollars were limited. Every mile I had imagined on my year long journey had a budget attached to it, I absolutely could not afford to flex my pockets any further. You should’ve have seen what my sleeping arrangements were.

I persisted day in and out. Taking breaks by drinking Chai and fried dough on the side of the street.

Suq-ul-Arabiy

The lines at the embassy were exclusively Sudanese citizens seeking work and education opportunities in Egypt. And then there was me and a couple of international students from Sierra Leone. My presence, my hair, everything about me ignited curiosity. Many of the locals assumed I was either a professional soccer player for Al-Khartoum or bound for illegal immigration to Europe in search of good fortune through the Libyan Mediterranean coast.

The former assumption was flattering. I had grown up in admiration of the style of football Al-Khartoum brought to the regional cup. Direct and speedy! It was a welcome strong commentary on my physique, I guess I looked direct and speedy. Even Jaffar, the inn-keeper at the the pension where I wrestled myself into sleep, wired on bottomless cups of sugar-tea chai, had pre-occupied himself with arranging a tryout with the team.  He swore that he was connected.

The latter assumption reopened my ears to the conversation about the African refugee and immigration crisis. First as an indication of the humanitarian deficiencies and economic hardships that continue to be obstacles to the development and  of well being communities across the continent. Then to the plight of those that flee and the inevitable challenges they face that are not limited to racism, xenophobia and the ominous threat of death and enslavement.  The plight of those who are caught between a rock and hard place.

 

I hopped off the chicken bus, and weaved my consciousness through the masses of people in Suq-ul-Jullut towards the arena. I have never felt quite at home and wrestling has never felt so real. Even the crowd was fully  absorbed into the event that was about to unfold. They sat, they sang, they stood and the children play wrestled in the middle of the sandy arena.

Then the whistle went off! And the crowds roared! BATISTA! BATISTA!! The embodiment of masculine strength and physique.  BATISTA! BATISTA! 

He emerged from a circle of his peers and grabbed two fistfuls of dirt in his palms. He then raised his arms straight in front of his chest and let the earth fall from between his fingers. CLAP! CLAP!

 The dust almost absorbed him. It was glorious

Batista- Champion Wrestler in Omdurman

BATISTA! BATISTA! 

That image has stuck with me.

I think about the symbolism embodied in dirt. Whose origin is undoubtedly between a rock and a hard place.