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TRAVEL: A BACKPACKING ODYSSEY IN COLOMBIA B.O.G. www.boghotel.com I had been traveling through Colombia a good deal more ruggedly for about two weeks by the time I hit Bogota and the blessed 6-pronged showers, plush as they come comforters, and lus- cious 500 thread count linens at the boutique B.O.G hotel. After doing my time with watered down 1600 Poker beers and 3000 peso corrien- tazo or menu ejecutivos, (delicious gruel-like soup followed by a massive plate of beans, potatoes, rice and meat option) arriving at the B.O.G ho- tel with its emphasis on edgy décor in rich golds and emeralds, with stylish accents crafted by lo- cal artisans, and layers of texture, I felt like I had come home. Keep in mind that 1 US dollar is equivalent to about 2000 Colombian pesos. I

Ladrilleros The only way to arrive at this tiny Caribbean island off Colombia’s Pacific coast is to travel through Buenaventura, and then by sea via water taxi through crashing waves by mighty cliffs. However, do not plan to stop in Buenaventura, which is a major cocaine port. Mucho Extremo. Not for the faint of heart. But still, arriving in the simple vil- lage of Ladrilleros is magical; it’s an island oasis few outsiders will ever visit. The fanciest hotel/resort on the island is called the Hotel Palma Real and is frequented by weekenders fromCalle (the city of Salsa). Accommodations here are simple but clean. Food is simple; but hot and good and included. The clear ocean views are unsurpassed when you are standing on majestic bluffs over the Pacific Ocean, walking to dinner on rustic jungle paths and loading your luggage into recycled vehicles from the 1960s. Here lies total tranquility. I even recreated the island’s specialty drink, Coco Loco, at a party I hosted in NYC, with crates of whole co- conuts that we sliced open using my bush machete and filled with Colombian favorite, Aguardiente (licorish liquor, high alcohol content). YUM. www.hotelpalmarealcolombia.com Admired Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcher- assi pours heart and soul into the exquisiteTcherassi Hotel & Spa in the heart of Cartagena’s old city. Her first boutique hotel is housed in a reimagined colonial mansion tucked discreetly behind an un- assuming wooden facade on a narrow street lined with colonial homes. Seven contemporary guest- rooms feature high ceilings, recovered stonewalls, organic décor, and private balconies. Each room shares its name with an elegant fabric from one of Tscherassi’s collections (Mousseline, Organdie, Ga- zar). The specialty of the Spa here is appropriating indigenous Colombian ingredients and practices for unique therapeutic beauty treatments, like the Colombian Coffee Wrap and the Warm Bamboo Massage. Guests may also enjoy four pools, a verti- cal garden with 3000 local plants, scenic roof ter- race, and Chef Daniel Castaño’s Vera Restaurant, which serves fine Italian coastal cuisine. Located just 3 km from Cartagena’s International Airport. * The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa Cartagena www.tcherassihotels.com

THE ENLIGHTENED ONE

THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART

The Rubin Museum of Art 150 West 17th Street, NYC Chelsea www.rubinmuseum.org

A lesser-known museum in NYC, The Rubin Mu- seum in Chelsea contains the cultural riches of the Himalayas. Buddhist art from Ashrams across the globe represent important teachings, and beautiful ancient murals revealed for the first time portray secret eastern indigenous medical knowledge. This collection is best viewed with a docent who can un- lock the vast lessons held in the art.

Strala Yoga 632 Broadway, NYC Nolita (b/t Bleecker and West Houston) www.stralayoga.com

This is where your fitness instructor takes yoga classes. Set a goal for yourself and give it your best go almost every day. Slowly feeling your body as you make progress keeps motivation high. Class playl- ists are curated in tune with the class flow (shifting volume and beat) and it’s only $12 a class. Health Class 2.0 2015 will be my second year as a volunteer leader with HC2.0, which bridges the worlds of higher education, public K-12 education, and the well- ness industry. This experiential wellness educa- tion curriculum involves physical fitness routines and student-led discussions about nutrition, self- confidence/self-esteem, and individual decision- making, and has reached about 3500 NYC chil- dren in grades 5-12. The program is co-founded by The New School professor Natalia Petrzela, who hopes to expand the program. “Now that we have a strong academic and practical curriculum run through the university, I would like to part- ner with other institutions to establish HC2.0 campuses in other locales. One of the really pow- erful contributions we make is cultivating not only our leaders’ practical training skills but also an intellectual context for the kind of interven- tion in urban education we are making.” If you are interested in joining one of HC2.0’s fundraising fitness events, please visit healthclass.org

B.O.G.

thoroughly enjoyed my New York-priced Mar- acuja (passion fruit) cocktails and artisanal brews from booming local micro-brewery Bogota Beer Company, while sitting at the Terrace Bar on the rooftop gazing at dazzling skyline views of sprawl- ing Bogota and listening to the energetic beats of Kygo (who I heard here first) by the young in- house DJ. The hotel is situated in the heart of the “La Cabrera” neighborhood, the ritzy area of this diverse city known for upscale shopping (popular art and antiques destination), international din- ing, and nightlife. In addition to the rooftop beats at the B.O.G., other highlights of my visit to Bo- gota were definitely the salsa/samba class I took in nearby Zona T –I’ve been utilizing these moves more often than you may imagine; and my visit to the slightly obscure Museo Histórico Policía at the recommendation of a friend and experi- enced traveler. Eighteen-year-olds serving their compulsory military/police service as guides lead you on a private tour, gratis, through a museum dedicated to Colombia’s ongoing battle with drug cartels, guerillas, and political turmoil. www.bogotaturismo.gov.co/en/national-police- historical-museum

THE TCHERASSI HOTEL + SPA

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