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  • Bogotá Day Trips: Zipaquirá

    It’s nearly impossible to spend more than a day in Bogotá without being peer-pressured by locals to make the trek out to the nearby town of Zipaquirá. The main attraction in town is the Salt Cathedral, a somewhat peculiar, religiously-inclined sort of museum inside a massive salt mine – however, the city is also a lovely example of a typical central Andean village, and there’s plenty to see in addition to walking through the Stations of the Cross in an underground salt mine.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    The Buffalo Brigade: A Visit to Ilha do Marajó

    When the first thing I saw upon arrival was a young girl bathing her dog in the river, I knew things were different on Ilha do Marajó, a river island nearly the size of Switzerland at the mouth of the Amazonas, Tocantins and Xingú rivers on the northern tip of Pará state. Outside of urban areas, most Brazilians wouldn’t think twice about a dirty dog, but the Marajoara do things their own way. So much so that ironically enough, dogs aren’t even the usual pet of choice.

  • Black Clay Pottery

    The Encalada family house, in the neighborhood of Convención del 45, has become one of my favorite off-the-beaten-track recommendations in Cuenca. The picturesque one-story house at Mariscal Lamar 24-90 y Paredes, with its very own Colonial-style tiled roof and adobe walls to fit, is the humble abode of one-and-only ‘black clay’ pottery, an Encalada-family signature product that I, for one, believe hasn’t enjoyed the spotlight time it deserves on the Ecuadorian arts-and-crafts stage.

  • 3 Cities of Colombia’s Coffee Axis

    The medium-sized triplet cities of the coffee region don’t get much love. Though they’re not as visually appealing as the tiny towns dotting the surrounding hillsides nor as famous as glitzy Medellín to the north, Pereira, Armenia and Manizales have a cozy appeal all their own. Most visitors don’t spend much time in any of these cities, primarily using them as a stopping point to change transport on the way to one of the larger cities or to smaller towns like Salento or coffee fincas tucked away in the hills. Still, all three are more than just airports or bus terminals – each has its own distinct personality within the regional coffee culture, and a few attractions that merit more than just a passing glance.

  • San Antonio: The Bohemian Heart of Cali

    Bogotá’s La Candelaria is the best-known “historic city district” in the country, but southwestern Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city, has a hilly, history-filled neighborhood all its own. Like Candelaria, San Antonio is chock-full of hostels, cafes and restaurants, and even has a hilltop park where couples and families gather on weekend nights to watch the sunset and drink a beer or two. Cali’s main attraction may be salsa dancing, but San Antonio is well worth a visit during those non-salsa daylight hours.

  • Quito: What Makes a World Wonder

    Quito was the first city in the world, together with Krakow (Poland), to be recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. It is, of course, a little like calling Quito a ‘wonder city’ – coincidentally, we might add, Quito has also been considered a finalist in the 7 Wonder Cities of the World shortlist – and attests to the fact that its uniqueness makes it one of the most special urban centers on our planet. Here are only some of the reasons:

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