Ten Cool Places I’ve Been

8 09 2008

1. The Canadian Rockies – Take your pick, Jasper, Banff, whatever, the Rockies are my favorite place in the world.  I just regret that I didn’t spend as much time in them as I could have while I lived so close to them.  The Rockies are so beautiful and majestic and they just fill you with awe.  Whether you’re observing them from a distance or standing on the side of one, you can’t help but be moved by their beauty.

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The city is amazing.  I can’t really put a finger on what I love most about it.  The beaches are amazing.  The scenery is amazing.  The culture is amazing.  I got to attend a soccer game in the Maracana Stadium – amazing!  So much energy.  I wish it was easier to get to so I could see it more often.  I have found, however, that certain films can evoke some of the same marvel I felt when I was there: City of God and City of Men.  Both by the same film-maker, they are about the gangs and ghettos of Rio de Janeiro, and, subject matter aside, the film-making helps you see and appreciate the beauty of all the facets of Rio.  An amazing place.

3. Iguazzu Falls, Argentina/Brazil – I couldn’t believe how big and awesome these waterfalls were.  I thought I knew what waterfalls were all about until I saw this.  Iguazzu is massive.  Not only is the main waterfall huge, but the falls stretch across at least a mile; there are big falls, little falls, it falls in steps in some places.  I saw them from above, I saw them from below and I saw them from a boat on the river and it was all awesome.  Add to all that the incredible wilderness that the river runs through and you have an unforgettable natural masterpiece.

4. The Everglades, Florida – The Everglades are huge, first of all.  So when I say I’ve been to them, I mean I’ve been to one of the little tourist places that takes you on an airboat ride and whatnot.  That said, the little taste that you get of the Everglades on the airboat and on the boardwalks through the swamps just blew me away.  It is so simple and primordial in its beauty.  I didn’t really expect it.  And it’s also way cool that there are gators everywhere and while you’re driving to the tourist trap you’re seeing gators in the ditches on the side of the road.

5. Tulum, Mexico – This is the site of some ancient Mayan ruins.  And I have to say, it’s an incredible place.  When I first laid eyes on the place I decided that one day I would like to buy the land from the Mexican government and live there.  The ruins aren’t necessarily as grand and imposing as at other famous sites but they are beautiful in their modesty.  In addition to the ruins themselves being so remarkable, they are located on a cliff overlooking the ocean which makes the whole scene truly breathtaking.  There are stairs built that lead down the cliff to what would be the sweetest private beach ever when I finally make enough money to own the place.  I loved it there.

6.  Chichen Itza, Mexico – Let’s follow up ruins with ruins.  These ones are the grand, imposing ones I referred to earlier.  Looking at the size of the buildings and the community in general it’s a fascinating exercise to imagine what kind of civilization actually lived in and among those structures.  As the tour guide explains to you the meaning behind so many of the symbols and as they demonstrate the remarkable architectural properties of the ruins, even after so many centuries, you can’t help but be amazed at what the former inhabitants were capable of.  The buildings at Chichen Itza are beautiful and speak the legacy of an incredible society of ages past.

7. The Florida Keys – I thought the Keys were so cool mainly because it was such a unique experience for me.  It’s just a bunch of islands connected by a series of long, low bridges.  My family drove out to Key West and it was the craziest thing to have ocean on both sides of you the whole way as you’re driving.  Every once in a while we’d pass a particularly small island with two or three houses on it and I wondered what it would be like to live there.  Just a real different kind of place for me.  And it was beautiful, too.  Would probably suck in hurricane season, though.

8. Fraile Muerto, Uruguay – This is a tiny town in rural Uruguay that my dad lived in for much of his mission in Uruguay.  My dad and I spent a few days there while we were down in S. America.  It was so cool because it was not the sort of place that tourists go.  Ever.  It was real.  The people were so cool and I think they were just as fascinated with me as I was with them.  It wasn’t like in Cancun where everyone is used to seeing gringos everywhere.  Visiting Fraile Muerto was one of my first real culturally broadening experiences.  It was a cool, little place and very memorable.

9. Huntington Beach, CA – I would consider it the quintessential California beach town.  The beaches are beautiful and busy.  Everyone seems so relaxed and carefree.  I think everyone in town owns one of those cruising bicycles and they all just ride them around everywhere.  Half the time it doesn’t even look like they have a destination in mind.  It’s like a dream world.

10. East L.A., CA – Bear with me on this one.  This one has more sentimental reasons behind it than most of the other ones.  This is where I served my mission for two years.  I got to learn Spanish and I got to live among and teach the inhabitants of one of America’s most notorious communities.  Mission aside, the reason I found East L.A. so cool is because of the unique culture that is created by the often violent clash of cultures that occurs there.  Living there was a major, eye-opening experience for me and it has since had a profound effect on my worldview.  I got to know the people and the community in a way that not many outsiders get to do and I feel like a better person for it.  I think that with the right guide East L.A. can be a beautiful and intriguing place.  But it’s still a little dangerous.

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4 responses

10 09 2008
Fred

I have to agree with you on the Canadian Rockies. Nothing can inspire such beauty, awe and humility as standing on one of those mountains. I loved your other choices as well.

11 09 2008
Karin and Rick Cahoon

Fred’s blog said to check out your blog. I was curious.Great blog! Loved the water pictures. Change of view is always good.
From Karin and Rick in New York

29 09 2008
Tina Atwood

Can I just say I am jealous! I will leave it at that!

20 09 2011
nAdA^^

hello P! blogwalking here i see the Fraile Muerto´s photo and believe or not i make a 360° image just under this tree! check this link: http://www.siriofm.com.uy/frailemuerto
thanks and keep the god job m8.

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