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Featured Traveler: Joshua Berman

By AFAR Traveler

Dec 21, 2012

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If you’re reading this, the world hasn’t ended, and travel writer Joshua Berman is relaxing tranquilo-style in Belize, celebrating the perpetuation of the world as we know it.

You can read more about what tranquilo-style means on his blog, The Tranquilo Traveler. As you’ll see, he’s an expert on Belize and Nicaragua, and a trusty source for recommendations—just take a look at the Wanderlist he created on AFAR.com, “The Mundo Maya of Belize.”

If we all have only a short time left on this earth, reading Josh’s in-depth research on the proclamations (or not) of the end of the world according to the Maya calendar might not be priority one. But since we’re all still here, read it. It’ll give you some good cocktail-party chatter for the coming week—and might make you want to book a flight to Belize to join Josh. And check out his pretty funny responses to our travel questionnaire, below.

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Right now I’m on the RTD Sky-Ride bus to Denver International Airport.
Though I would much prefer to be in bed, it’s really early. And dark. And cold.
Occupation: Spanish teacher, travel writer
My next trip is to Belize!
My last trip took me to cigar country, Nicaragua.
First international trip—when and where? 1992, solo backpacking around Europe, pre-Internet, 19 years old with a tent and stack of empty journals.
My wife is my most treasured travel souvenir. (We met via mutual Peace Corps friends.)
Favorite hotel: The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s Macal River Camp
Favorite restaurant: the sidewalk/living-room fritanga around the corner from Hospedaje Santos, Managua, Nicaragua.
Favorite shopping destination: Karimabad, Pakistan. The carpet salesmen offered little balls of hashish to potential clients, then shipped our rugs and other treasures home (and everything made it).
Favorite local style/most stylish place: The small boutiquey jungle lodges up the Macal River in Belize are very stylish, complete with chorus of monkeys and toucans.
Plugged-in or unplugged? Grateful for any chance to unplug—especially in-flight, or deep in the wilderness. If Wi-Fi temptation is there, I’ll usually take it.
Public transportation, cab, or bike? Chicken buses, tuk-tuks, gilly-gillies, rickshaws, whatever it takes.
If you’re anywhere in the Maya region (southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador) during the end of a major calendar cycle don’t miss camping out at Caracol archaeological site, with Maya fire ceremony and good friends.
Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? Guidebook, Facebook, maps, dumb luck.
Asking questions is the best way/place to connect with locals.
Five things you can’t travel without: camera, notebook, laptop, ear plugs, silk sleep sack.
Jet lag: Nap, power through, pills, or herbal remedies? I only travel north-south.
Favorite airport and why? Greytown International Airport in southeast Nicaragua, just a strip cut out of the jungle; because I got to be one of the first passengers to land there.
First thing you do when you get home: hug daughters, wipe away tears.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Boulder Farmer’s Market and/or Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home. Sing karaoke.
Biggest travel mistake? I used a phrase in Spanish (“tiene buena cuchara”) which means “you’re a good cook” in nearby Nicaragua, and inadvertently told a sweet old señora in rural El Salvador—in front of her shocked husband—that she had a nice vagina.
If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to Colombia and work my way around.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would go anywhere that let me take my family and immerse my children in a new language—South America, south India, and Spain are all blank spots on the map for me.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: “Belly full” in any language. It’s always some idiomatic phrase that makes people laugh, no matter what language.
Favorite foreign tradition: Did anyone say siesta yet? That and sitting around the town plaza and talking.
Travel has taught me to be curious and to accept strange invitations.

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