Rock & road: Jordanian mountain adventures

I left the Wadi Rum desert, a landscape with stark contrasts between sand and sky...

To take a bumpy drive with Amer and Craig

Down this mountainous, meandering road

To walk through the sic

And enter Petra.

The art of staying true to yourself

South African contemporary artist Esther Mahlangu clearly has her own design aesthetic.

Drawing from geometric patterns found in clothing and jewelry from her tribe, the South Ndebele people, Mahlangu painted the exteriors of her home/art compound in these bold, awesome colors. Esther is part of the Ndebele community that lives in the Gauteng, just north of Pretoria. She is actually quite famous - her art has been exhibited in galleries all over the world.

Esther's compound is full small houses and buildings, all with a different architectural design.

You think this is cool? Have you seen Esther's art car for BMW?!

Typically made of copper or brass, the stacks of gold rings around Esther's neck and calves represent her wealth and status among the South Ndebele people.

Trying on one of Esther's headbands in front of a mirror. Man, I should have bought it!

Three shades of blue in Cabo San Lucas

One of the most magnificent hotel pools I've ever seen is the infinity pool at Esperanza. The design is positively brilliant. 

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The Folklore and the Fury

I wrote the article posted below for a think tank based here in Tel Aviv, the Moshe Dayan CenterIt's about the religious aspects of the current conflict in the Central African Republic, which are quite interesting. Christians, Muslims and animist amulet-toting rebels have caused a clash of kingdoms.

It has been reiterated time and again that the roots of the current civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR) stem exclusively from a political and economic origin. Yet, as you read these lines, amulet-toting animist rebels, Christians, and Muslims are targeting and killing each other by the thousands, so one has to wonder how and why the topic of religion is purportedly irrelevant to this crisis.

Though CAR’s current crisis was dubbed an ‘unholy war’ to further propagate the idea that religion is a latent aspect rather than the cause, the focus on proving why the conflict was not founded on a clash of faiths has left the details of the actual religious contentions by the wayside. Though there is sufficient evidence to prove that the conflict did not stem from theological differences, the current religious discourse in the region is characterized by fury, deeply-held group identity, and tribalist folklore.

It is estimated that as of January 2015, there have been over 6,000 casualties of the CAR’s civil war, and roughly 25% of the population has been forced to leave their homes. Murder, rape, and other war crimes have been committed by two armed parties: the predominately Muslim Séléka, a rebel militia faction, and the Christian and animist Anti-balaka, the opposing rebel coalition.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Shore life: Udaipur, India

One afternoon while I was traveling in Udaipur, India, I took a boat ride at sunset. Udaipur is an artsy, stylish resort destination known for its many lakes (there are 7!) and decadent palaces. It is referred to as the 'Venice of the East'.

The top of the boat was covered by a tasseled, gold threaded linen with dark orange gems and mirrors sewn into its pattern.

We sailed around for about an hour and I was awestruck by the scenery.

It was so quiet, peaceful and still out on the water; all of the life and commotion on the shore felt miles away. Throughout the ride I watched the reflections of all the different colors swirling around on the water.

Old world intrigue from times past.

Ready to go?

Who isn't wearing this hat in the Caribbean? Channeling Sir Sean Connery while waiting to check out of my room at La Samanna.

Rocks of the Kasbah

Walking Kasbah du Toubkal's mountain path at twilight.

I took this shot while walking back to my room; I was struck by the light and the way the sun was setting. This gorgeous lodge is located in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Kasbah du Toubkal is a traditional Kasbah and a trekkers retreat. Expect Berber hospitality, friendly fellow mountaineers and stunning rooftop views.

Fendi takes a vacation

Fendi Resort 2015.

I worked at Fendi as a summer sales intern when I was 18 years old. It was 2005, the year when 'Spy Bags' were flying off the shelves.

I remember commenting on how clever it was to incorporate the shape of a magnifying glass into the bag's design and that it must be the reason why it's called the 'Spy Bag'. All of the employees in the store - including the manager - seemed to miss this little detail. Apparently the revelation was quite shocking.

Fendi is one of my top ten favorite designers of all time because of their originality in bag design (peekaboo micro bags!) and impeccable...irresistible...incredible...way of incorporating fur into their designs. Colored fur, that is. 

I love Miyuki Ohashi's illustration of Fendi's 'Primavera Estate' fur coat from Resort 2015. While I appreciate refined fashion drawings, I prefer Ohashi's free brush strokes and abstract style. As a teenager I took many courses in fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons The New School for Design; I have long admired the art form.

I've never been sure of my place in the industry, but I always knew I wouldn't become a designer. Instead, I observe and marvel. PS: Resort is my favorite season - I know I'm alone on this.

Fendi Resort 2015 (Photo courtesy of Fendi via Style.com)

Fendi Resort 2015 (Photo courtesy of Fendi via Style.com)

The Condé Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys

The Condé Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys ignited my romance with travel.

I read the Book of Unforgettable Journeys during my morning and evening commute on the train from Long Island to Manhattan. I was 23 years old, fresh out of college and working at Forbes Magazine as an entry-level assistant. The period of adjustment right after college was a very difficult time for me, so dreaming about traveling to these new and interesting places all over the world made my imagination soar. 

Only a year or so after reading the book, I resigned from my position at Forbes, became a travel writer and visited 18 countries in a single year.

Of all the essays in this collection, I can immediately recall which stories really spoke to me without having to glance at the table of contents: the kooky southern gothic culture of Savannah, GA; the Middle Eastern mystique of Petra, the ancient Nabataean rock city in Jordan; and the steadied, contemplative experience of walking through a traditional rock garden in Japan. These stories opened my mind, and when I finished the book I was dying to travel all over the world...so I did!

I hope this book gives you the same level of inspiration. All it takes is booking that ticket!


Shutters on the Beach at sunset

Sipping on a cocktail while gazing out the window of the Living Room...

Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA

Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA