Beach Cocktails and Piranhas for Lunch

As a travel writer, I’m often asked what my typical day is like. That’s a tough question. My days are anything but typical. Each destination I visit brings something new into my life—new people, new foods, new adventures, and new experiences.

In Norway, where the sun shines almost 24 hours a day in the summer, I took a boat ride under the midnight sun to Runde Island. The 100 or so people on this quiet little island are far outnumbered by the 500,000 seabirds that inhabit the island’s cliffs. From a rocky beach I watched as tiny orange-billed puffins flocked to the water to flap their wings, better suited to swimming than flying.

High in Ecuador’s Andes, I walked the narrow cobblestone streets of Quito’s old town, admiring the colonial churches, monasteries, and beautifully restored 16th-century houses. Even the train ride out of Quito was a sight to behold, as we whooshed past fields of deep-red quinoa and some of the world’s largest volcanoes.

In the snowy wilderness of Swedish Lapland, I drove along backroads miles above the Arctic Circle. My trip was momentarily delayed that day when a herd of reindeer wandered lazily across our path, blocking the road.

I learned the true meaning of relaxation in the tropical paradise of Belize, sipping frozen drinks as I gazed out over the azure-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Of course, before I took my well-deserved break, I worked up a sweat drumming up a storm with a group of local Garifuna drummers.

One morning, I took a canoe out to the spectacular Barton Creek Cave, paddling through the turquoise waters in its ancient stalactite-pocked caves. Later that day, I climbed the ancient Maya temple known as El Castillo, which rises 130 feet above the jungle floor. It was a precarious climb, but I was rewarded with breathtaking views of western Belize and the edge of Guatemala.

In Germany, as my personal luxury riverboat cruised silently along the Rhine River, I awoke and dialed for my personal butler. I requested my morning tea to drink on my private balcony, taking in the sites of quaint villages interspersed with opulent palaces along the shore.

In Peru, I hiked to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu to watch the sun rise over the mysterious remains of this incredible civilization. I explored the Peruvian Amazon by boat, pushing through the murky waters of the Madre de Dios River, deep into the jungle. Butterflies and parrots of every imaginable color flocked to the river’s edge to lick the clay which works as a natural digestive aid. It was in this strange and beautiful part of the world that I fished for piranha and ate them for lunch.

These experiences were only possible because I earn an income as a travel writer. With no boss, and no office, every day is a new and exciting adventure, full of incredible things I never thought I’d get the chance to see. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.

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