Wednesday, July 29, 2009


It's crazy to try and sum 3 weeks of experiences in Israel in one posting, but I will give a quick run-down on the some of the highlights with the assistance of some photos along the way. The first week or so of our time here was spent taking organized tours, which is quite a long way off from the way I was traveling in Latin America. Every morning after training with our respective teams, an air conditioned bus would take us away to a different destination, tour guide, box lunch, and all admission prices included. It was actually quite nice, and a incredible opportunity to see the country, go to museums, and learn a lot a long the way. This first photo is Jerusalem and the golden dome you see is the Temple Mount, the holiest sight for the worlds three most popular religions. My team and I stayed on the beach in Tel Aviv. It was an amazing location, we were on the beach as soon as we stepped out the back door, and were treated with the sun setting over the Mediterranean Sea each night.
Opening ceremonies for the Maccabiah games, (Jewish Olympics) was an amazing experience. We walked into the stadium with the US delegation of over 900 athletes, the largest there aside from Israel of course, and there were over 25,000 people filling the stands cheering, waving flags, and supporting everyone. A huge show followed, including speeches by the president who of course urged us all to move to Israel.

Another day trip, this time to the Sea Of Gaile. Fed by the Jordan river, this the birthplace of Mary, and nearby towns of Nazareth and Bethlehem obviously have significant historical implications. We drove down and spent the day on the beach, swimming, boating, and kayaking.

Photo with our Guide, I was doing the job of holding up the map at this point- as discussed some border issues.

Masada, one of my favorite places in all of Israel. Built high above the Dead Sea, it was the last outpost of Jewish resistance for fleeing Zealots after the Roman sacking of Jerusalem in AD 66. It is an incredible work of design, considering it is on the top of a mountain, in the middle of the desert, over 2000 years old, and they were able to design a system to bring fresh water to the top for drinking and bathing.

The Dead Sea. The lowest point on Earth. The water is incredibly, incredibly salty, which causes you to float. You simply cannot sink in the Dead Sea, and as you can see in the photo everyone is just simply floating. It is a very cool experience, although quite painful if you have scratches or cuts! Also, you do not want to get it in your eyes, which happened right before this picture was taken!

My first Camel!

Old Jerusalem. I thought the ruins in Peru were old, we are now talking about ruins that our 1,000's of years old. Something that was built three to four thousands years ago and is still around and functional is just simply baffling. The old city is beautiful with many walls and structures still intact.

This is a picture of the Western Wall (or wailing Wall) a very religious sight. Built about 2,000 years ago it is the only remaining piece of an old temple that was destroyed and is now the sight of thousands of visitors daily, who come to express their grief and to pra. Many slip written prayers into the cracks of the walls, as these are supposed to have a better chance of being answered.

A couple Israeli friends that I have made.

A couple of pictures of our game against Finland. We needed to win this game to advance out of group, but despite the win we still came up short of advancing because of goal differential. We beat England in a exhibition match. Beat Estonia. Lost to Argentina and Brazil. This picture is one of the four goals I scored in the game against Finland.

This is where the term "breaking someones ankles" comes from. Notice his left foot. Not a good idea to try to guard me.

Team photo before one of the games.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The "Year of Ian"

I last left you in Costa Rica, and have been battling a crippling case of writers block since. Not true. Maybe writers laziness. Or maybe I convinced myself if I didn't write about heading home and ending the Latin American adventure, it wouldn't really happen. Didn't work, it ended. Here is a quick recap of the last 6 weeks and a preview of what is to come.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Watching lava pour down the perfect cone shaped mountain during the night, and the steam and smoke drift from the summit of the volcano in the morning before the clouds rolled in for the day. Made a new travel buddy and crossed into Nicaragua in the middle of the Swine Flu panic. I passed my brief Swine Flue exam and spent the next few weeks being awed by the natural and colonial beauty that is Nicaragua. Beautiful stretches of beach on the Pacific Ocean, the magic, colors, and splendor of the colonial buildings lining the cobble stoned streets in Granada, and of course one of my personal favorites, Isla Ompetpe. Imagine a lake bigger than all the great lakes in the US, add surfable waves, soft sand beaches, sharks, and two twin volcano's that after thousands of years of lava flow between the two, connected them and formed an island. From the shores of the lake you can see the twin peaks rising out of the water, and it's hard to imagine you haven't been transported into a fairy tale. Days passed easily on the beaches, hiking the mountain peaks, and swinging in hammocks on organic coffee, banana, and chocolate farms.

From Nicaragua I took a flight to Seattle, barely to be recognized by my dad at the airport. Long hair and a beard does wonders. hahah The adjustments back to living in the US were made easier by 1 on 1 tackle football at the park with my nephew, unlimited acsess to Peanut Butter, moms home cooking, hanging out and going to soccer games with dad, seeing all my best friends, and spending time with a new one I met out of the country but have known all along. Seattle was as just as much as a traveling experience as the rest of my trip, one I really enjoyed, and after spending a few weeks there really felt like I got to to know the city from a new perspective. A few days in San Diego to visit even more friends that I haven't seen, and tonight I head out for uncharted lands.

My first stop is Israel, where I will be playing for the USA Futsal (soccer) team in the Maccabiah Games. A chance to play a sport I love, while representing my country and heritage, in an international tournament with over 8,000 athletes from over 60 countries, all taking place in a country I have never been to. What else could I ask for? I hate to make specific plans after Israel, as we all saw the folly of that with the name of this blog. (Did I really think I was only going to be in Peru?) But, I refuse to be in the Middle East, so close to so many more incredible places and not seem them first hand. So, in short, vacation is over for both of us. Get your reading glasses ready, because I have a feeling the posts will be coming hot and heavy starting in the next few days.
Quick shout outs to people I love, people who have given me support throughout this year of Ian thus far, and have helped me in my travels, re-adjustments, and self discovery.

Nick for doing it first and understanding more than anyone...Tony for taking my advice and allowing me to take my own...Jenna who walked next to me on my path of discovery (and on alot of the same streets), my family for the support and for always providing a home, all the wonderful people who took me in to their homes and fed me across South and Central America, I hope I can return the favor one day, the lady at Bank of America who finally understood I needed my new card sent to Colombia not Cambodia, Adam for being all the things a great friend should be and the voice of reason when one is needed, Ben for giving me a home and a friend in SD, Drew for pushing me up the mountain and pointing out that I dropped my water bottle, Sim for helping me deal with my hair and and giving me her leftovers, and of course the Universe for making it all happen! Next stop Tel Aviv.....

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

After a 5 hour motor canoe ride through a series of interconnecting canals I arrived at Tortuguero. On the Northeast coast of Costa Rica, wedged between the Atlantic's black sand beaches and a series of connecting fresh water canals, Tortugero is the rainiest of rain forests and home to an abundance of wildlife, including nesting turtles on the ocean beaches in the evenings.

Early morning tours of the canals and late night visits to the beaches take up your time here, and I was fortunate enough to see a lot of wildlife, to name a few, snakes, tons of different kinds of monkeys, frogs, turtles, crocodiles, birds, lizards, and fish.

Friendly snake

Soft black sand beaches

Look Monkeys...

The Canals...

Islas Boca Del Toro

Just off the Caribbean coast of Panama is the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro. There are 6 main islands, and tons if tiny uninhabited islands. Each day I would take a different water taxi from my home base island to explore a new island, finding new beaches not in the guide book, eating coconuts for lunch, and swimming and snorkeling in the warm crystal clear turquoise waters. It really was a Caribbean paradise.

Untouched beach....

Main street...

Doing some Yoga...well trying.

Water Taxi to different beach

Panama City and The Worlds Most Amazing Canal

Truly one of the worlds most amazing engineering marvels, it's hard not to be awestruck watching the massive freighters being raised and lowered on Mira Flores Locks. Cutting right through the continental divide, the canal stretches nearly 80 kilometers from the Pacific to the Atlantic and an incredible 14, 000 ship pass through the canal each year, today's ships are all built with the Canal's dimensions in mind. The average fee per ship is $30,000 dollars, although someone swam through in 1928 and only had to pay .36 cents. Skewing the average a little isn't he

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mud Volcano

It was certainly the easiest volcano I have climbed thus far on my trip, but it certainly didn't make it any less fun. Only about 50 feet tall, and with stairs leading to the Crater at the top I summited in about 3 minutes. A long cry from previous 10 hours climbs. Once at the Summit, you strip down to your shorts, and with the help of someone already inside, carefully dip and slide your body into the luke warm mud that fills the volcano.

It was the strangest feeling, you are incredible buoyant in the mud, which was really really thick, almost like melted chocolate, and it made it very difficult to move.You just kind of bob there, and with the slightest touch from someone glide off in any given direction. You can´t touch the bottom, as I imagine the mud goes down to the center of the earth, but you can´t quite push youself down into the mud either. The best option was too just lay down on your back, laugh, soak up the curative minerals said to be in the mud, and relax.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Best Friend

There was no canyon explored, mountain climbed, beach explored, or coral reef seen. But, there was an Ian with half of his beverage spilled on his shirt, some still dripping from his chin (if you look closely you can see it) and best of all a Sloth in my arms. Substance enough for a post I do believe.