Sakurajima Volcano, Kagoshima, Japan

Kagoshima 鹿児島市


February 20, 2014

My dear fellow volcanologists,

Am I an “Expert” in Geology?

I did struggle through Geology 101 as an undergraduate.   I have devoured books by John McFee and Simon Winchester.

Years ago in Java, Indonesia, I traveled to Mount Bromo, when at dawn, the volcano puts on its display of fire and brimstone. 

Most recently, in Ecuador, I watched from afar as the volcano called Volcán Tungurahua lived up to its name: “Throat of Fire.”

So, does all that make me an expert in volcanology, plate tectonics and the Ring of Fire?

Lago Quilotoa (Caldera-Crater Lake), Ecuador



October 10, 2013 

My Dear Mountaineers, 

The Quilotoa Loop is the scenic route west from Latacunga (pop 87,417) to the remote towns of Pujili, Tigua (pop 3000) and Zumbahua (pop 3000).  North of Zumbahua, along the Rio Toachi, lies Quilotoa (Pop 150, Elev 3914m, 12,841 ft, 2.4 miles high!!). 

The paved and curvy road is easy to navigate although my cute little Chevrolet Spark struggles to ascend from 2800m in Latacunga to Quilotoa at 3914m.  To make any headway at all, I must constantly downshift from 3rd gear to 2nd<--break->

Lac Assal (Caldera, Crater Lake), Djibouti

Djibouti City

Republic of Djibouti

May 5, 2011

Bonjour mes amis,

At the Djibouti Embassy in Addis Ababa, the consular officer was quite clear: You don’t need a visa to enter Djibouti.   You can get a visa on arrival.


The entry process was a real pain.  At the airport, I waited for what seemed like more than an hour as I was shuttled from office to office.  Finally, finally, one officer made a call and some other higher ranking officer gave the OK.  Then back to yet another office to watch yet another officer paste the visa into my passport.  (Miracle of miracles, my luggage was still waiting for me, forlornly, on the carousel.) 

Solola, Lago Atitlan (Caldera-Crater Lake), Guatemala


Lago Atitlan



January 11, 2007


CondeNast Traveler
New York, New York

To the Editor:

I am a loyal and thorough reader of "CondeNast Traveler." I even cut out and save your articles. When I decided on Belize and Guatemala, I checked my "Central America" file. I found an article published in April, 1997: "The Gods Never Died - Like an infant with an old soul, Guatemala emerges from war to a vibrant Indian nation."

I was impressed and motivated by a full page color photograph of a mustachioed Guatemalan man who is dressed in a straw hat, white shirt, embroidered pants, colorful sash, and a shoulder bag decorated with Mayan symbols and icons. He is standing on a small wooden dock. He is staring across what seems to be an endless, mysterious lake.

I want to say "Thank you" Mr. Editor. I am here, today, on that very lake. Lago Atitlan.