Category Archives: Other thoughts

Come Away With Me to Central and South America

Nearly eight weeks ago, I started on a journey of a lifetime. I began in Manaus (the gateway city to the Amazon), Amazonas, Brazil. I am now currently in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala. My intention is to travel as long as possible through Central America and further on into Columbia, Ecuador, Perú and hopefully farther (as far as my money will take me- so, yes this is definitely for the budget reader).

My intent with Altruistic Adventurer is to provide you, the reader, with stories, tips, sights, how-to’s, experiences and much more of how it goes traveling through the these parts of the Americas. This area of the world is becoming more and more well-traveled and more well known and thus far it has been an incredible experience.

I hope that you choose to follow me along my journey. Hopefully, I can inspire and entice your curiosity and provide you with some insight into this part of the world. Also, if you have done this sort of thing and have any pointers or must-see’s I would love to hear from you! Buen Viajes!

“Because Limits Like Fears Are Often Just An Illusion”

For almost a year I have found myself in a place where I have completely opened my heart to the universe, challenged myself, taken risks, allowed myself to be uncomfortably vulnerable and I am continually taken back but what I am being shown. It sometimes feels as if life is hurriedly happening all around me but, I stop and stare at the faces and wonder, are these people living their purpose, are they truly happy, all this for what? Why do we do what we do?

Life is far too short to not be happy, to not be living to your fullest, to be stressed or anxious or whatever else we allow ourselves to feel, life is too short to be mediocre. There is absolutely no excuse to not be living out your life the way you see it.

If you have a dream or seeing yourself doing something that may seem ridiculous, I challenge you to consume your life with it until you can almost no longer breath until your whole being has been overtaken by who you truly are. There is truly no greater feeling. Life is to short to live mediocre.

The past two days I have had a overwhelming feelings that I need to go out and make the world a better place, give back, accomplish the unthinkable. I will not stop, I will not let money get in the way, I will not let anyone take it away from me. I challenge you to do the same. Life is too short to live mediocre.

The last month my time in Brazil opened my eyes to beauty that I never knew could exist within the world. I am trying my best to transcend that care, love, appreciation and compassion at home. Although some people may see this as odd it doesn’t matter to me. It confuses me why we are so consistently concerned with ourselves in this society. Without the other we would be nothing. We need each other, we need to connect. We need to take more time to appreciate one another- it is amazing how far a few kind words can go. Wear your heart on your sleeve, love deeply. Life is too short to live mediocre.

If you read this and feel like this may sound like a cliché high school graduation speech or something that people just say or even that it all sounds great but don’t do anything about it my heart aches for you. It is the people that take that one moment and make the decision to say yes, to be better, to be happier, to be healthier. Don’t let this pass you by, life is too short to live mediocre.

I will leave you with a few inspiring words that have been ringing in my ears that past few days…

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and he lies exhausted on the field of battle” -V.Lombardi

“Now if you know what you’re worth, than go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers saying that you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her , or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better that that!” – Rocky Balboa

“You have to believe that something different can happen. He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right” Will Smith

“To be able at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you will become” Charles Frédéric Dubois

“If your not making someone else’s life better than you’re wasting your time” Will Smith

Watch this video.

Why Do We Fall

“Be The Change That You Wish to See in the World” – is not just a statement



Last night I had the honor of sharing my experience in Brazil as a means of paying it forward in my community and here is what I had to say (wanted to share it all with you)….

Every now and then life affords us opportunities that could never possibly be recreated, retold, or even fathomable. And it is when we leave our hearts open that these moments come alive. This is exactly my journey with Red Rocks Community College and US-Brazil Connect.

This experience has proven to me that I am far greater than what I thought possible. It has taken away fears, given me confidence to continue in the direction of my dreams, built my leadership skills, and has continued to show me that in this life, we all NEED to connect with one another.

It has shown me that I can create impacts in the lives of people across the world that will last a lifetime. One of my students expressed to me that I lit the fire in his heart to do greater and bigger things. Another student wrote in a letter to me, that I had given him the courage to go for his dreams and to get himself out of living in a favela. One of the most impactful things that I witnessed was no matter their situation each one of my students ultimately sought out true happiness.

Something that was impossible to deny in Brazil was pure affection, care and love for another, even amongst the most, vast array of beautifully looking people that I have ever seen. I wish that I could count the number of kisses, hugs and moments of compassion that were expressed towards me while I was there. In the United States, we sometimes forget the healing power that this can have on people.

It was also hard to ignore the disparity in quality of life, when Brazil is known as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This country is growing at the expense of its most important citizens and at the mercy of globalization. It is my generation’s responsibility and the responsibility of Brazilian citizens, which we saw in the protests, to change the way that we think about consumption, success, and profits.

It is impossible to summarize my experience in a short speech so I will leave you with a few key points:

  • always love, always be kind and always be generous
  • don’t ever let your misconceptions get in the way
  • be thoughtful and be mindful
  • truly be that change that you wish to see in the world- it is possible not just a statement
  • never stop observing
  • most importantly never stop learning

I am forever indebted to Red Rocks Community College, US-Brazil Connect, my biggest supporters, the Colorado-Salvador team and most importantly my amazingly, inspiring,  and motivated group of eleven young Brazilian individuals- for this I am truly grateful.

Life is incredibly too short to not seek out your true happiness. Today, I challenge you to do the same.

Volunteering or Imposing?

A friend just sent me this article that defines the importance of educating ourselves before dumping our hours of valuable time and money into communities that we feel entitled to say “need it” and that may end up not being used or in the hands of corruption. Please check it out and let me know what you think. This issue needs a voice.

Volunteering: Is Gap Year Volunteering a Bad Thing 

Thank you Brian for sharing.

Ask First

I heard a story last week that has stuck with me so I thought I would share it with you all….

… a man went to a small African village and noticed the lack of water supply. The women of the village walked 15 miles every day with water vessels upon their heads just to have enough water to sustain the village for one day. So, as any of us I think would admit, the helpful thing to do was to build the village a well. He did.

He returned later after the well had been built and noticed that no one was using the well and it remained untouched and vacant. Perplexed, he asked why this was and why were the woman still walking 15 miles every day just to get water. He soon learned that this journey for the women became a sense of comradery and community amongst one another. It was their opportunity to get out of the home environment and enjoy the time spent with friends and fellow women in the village. Thus, no need for the well.

Before assuming people’s needs it is always important to ask first!

Thank you Ted Martens for this perspective.

photo by

Our World Is Getting Smaller

Cordillera Blancas-Peru
Cordillera Blancas-Peru By: Axel Nilsson


For many travelers and especially adventure travelers to set out on a journey means to an extent disconnecting. Disconnecting from the stresses at home, from the high demand lifestyles, from ourselves, from the internet and our devices and the ability to always know exactly where we are at every moment… I will be the first to admit that this is my preference of travel. My most recent trips abroad I have left my phone in the cup holder in the car at the airport with it awaiting my forsaken return.

However, today I am writing about the benefits of our world getting smaller through this connection. We have access to the world at the tip of keyboards. I recently have taken on an internship position that partners with the Brazilian government to work with high school students teaching them English. I have already gotten to know them immensely through a private facebook page where we share all kinds of information. We also use skype and google plus to connect with one another. Right now I also have a sister in Colombia and another in Costa Rica (one mind you is 21 travelling solo) which through good ole FB I have been able to stay in touch with. I just received a message from a very good friend from Montanita, Ecuador that he made to the small surfing town. These outlets are amazing ways to make new connections and connect with the ones we love. Not to mention the occasionally fb stalking of my friends that are travelling abroad and perusing through the libraries of photos and following their journey along the way.

This has created somewhat of a conflict with me deciphering the line of disconnect and connect and questioning how much of these outlets are inhibiting us from truly running wild and free.

What is your opinion?

Photo: Taken by Axel Nilsson in the Cordillera Blancas, Peru. (a friend that has been trekking through South America for eight months.)

Carbon Emissions: The Downside to Travel- think Carbon Offsetting!


For those of us that have a passion for seeing the world, we typically share the same passion in preserving the world in which we get to experience.

I recently was shocked to hear that tourism is the 4th largest industry in the world and carbon emissions being emitted into the atmosphere due this industry alone is contributing to 40% of CO2 pollution. Not only is this number staggering, but it is also important to understand that emissions coming from airplanes is much more dangerous because it is going straight into the troposphere which in turn causes greater potential damages from the pollution. Enough depressing facts (although important to become aware of..)

So, what can we do as vagabonds, travelers, adventurers and wanderers to give back to the atmosphere? Carbon Offset. The idea of carbon offsetting looks for ways to counter your carbon output by reducing carbon somewhere else. A very practical and easy way for us to picture this is by planting a tree. However, a roundtrip flight from Denver to Los Angeles for one passenger emits 1.26 tons of CO2, that a lot of trees! You can only imagine a flight from here to New Zealand.

Don’t distress, thankfully there are many programs that are being implemented to make this process easier. For example, United Airlines offers a carbon offset option to your itinerary before you proceed to checkout. These contributions are being made to ongoing carbon offset programs. Also, many tourism outfits are implementing carbon offset options as well.  I have included the link to United’s program. Additionally, there is a link to sustainable travel international that allows you to calculate your entire carbon output for your full itinerary.

Fun fact: FIFA is implementing plans to carbon offset the entire 2014 World Cup!

Have you ever heard of carbon offsetting? Is carbon offsetting something that you think is important? Would you consider offsetting your next adventure? Do you think offsetting is working?