Diver Assists Entangled Dolphin

We initially shared a shorter version of this video on our Facebook Fanpage, but then we discovered the full 8-minute video of Keller Laros helping a dolphin remove fishing line caught in its mouth. This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime piece of footage with incredible implications of a depth of intelligence that many skeptics have denied. Researchers will most certainly be studying this footage for years to come.

Being divers ourselves, we immediately recognized Keller’s extensive dive experience. For non-divers, removing the fishing line may seem obvious, but it isn’t. The fact that Keller even noticed the line at all during a night dive with a dolphin swimming around his head is impressive. But Keller was also confronted with a difficult decision: should he try to remove the line and risk spooking the dolphin and thereby risk injury to himself? Clearly, Keller is a pro.

And having dabbled in the difficult art of dive photography and film, we are in AWE of Martina Wing’s exceptional underwater filming skills. From the very beginning, she expertly documents each step of the encounter. I really felt like I was on the dive myself. I cannot convey how much I love this footage. I was offended when I heard a reporter refer to the clip as “amateur footage.” Martina is no amateur. Thanks Martina for keeping your cool and documenting something truly miraculous and sharing that with the world.

Hiking Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

San Diego is famous for its beautiful coastline, but there are many natural attractions away from the ocean which deserve acknowledgement. As Tony mentioned in his previous post about Ocean Beach, islands of real California still survive. Some of those are islands of nature, such as the green canyons which criss-cross much of the county. Although many of the canyons have been filled in for housing developments throughout the years, others have been turned into preserves and serve as refuge for endemic animals such as coyotes, mule deer, raccoons and the occasional mountain lion as well as for birds and native plants.

When we were in the States in 2009, our friend Evelyn took us for a hike to Palomar Mountain State Park. This time, she introduced us to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve just north of Mira Mesa. The 7-mile canyon starts at the I-5/805 merge and meanders east to Continue…

Ocean Beach

Locals and visitors alike often bemoan the fact that old-world California has been lost under a cement sea of commercialization and homogenization which has eroded the once-so-famous California character. While there is some truth to these complaints, islands of “real” California still survive. One of my favorite is Ocean Beach.

For Thomas and me, Ocean beach is a ritual that goes way back. We always start with early-morning coffee and donuts at one of our favorite San Diego institutions, O.B. Donuts. We proclaim O.B. Donuts the best donuts in all of San Diego – it certainly has the most eclectic mix of customers. (Sometimes, in Tibet or Sumba or some other exotic location Continue…

San Diego’s Newest Monument

“Unconditional Surrender,” a statue version of the famous Times Square photograph showing a lip-locked pair celebrating the end of World War II, is soon to become a permanent part of San Diego’s waterfront. This temporary painted statue has been sent to New Jersey to be made into a more permanent bronze version. The new and improved bronze statue should be back in San Diego sometime in December. (Hmmm, I kind of liked the cheesy painted version.)

The Nightmare Called American Healthcare

On the road, the topic of American healthcare comes up about as often as my favorite country (in other words, a lot). Citizens of the world are fascinated by the twists and turns of the American healthcare debate, a subject which is pretty much incomprehensible to anyone born outside of the United States.

What many non-Americans do not realize is that the subject is as relevant to foreign visitors to the country as it is to U.S. citizens. Anyone who needs to visit a doctor or emergency room while traveling in the U.S. will be plunged into the complexities of a highly bureaucratic, highly bloated nightmare that has the potential to confuse and confound even the greatest mind.

Although I am American, I am insured through a German travel insurance company. This rather unusual status as well as some recent experiences with the healthcare system here in the U.S. have given me some insight into the difficulties that visitors might encounter. Here are a few bits of advice for foreign Continue…

Seaport Village Busker

While we were strolling along the bay at San Diego’s Seaport Village, this busker sporting white 18th-century garb caught our attention. You go girl, don’t let that economic crisis get you down. 🙂

Home Exotic Home

On ContemporaryNomad.com, we’re used to showcasing exotic destinations around the world. But today, these scenes are from my home turf in La Jolla, California. I grew up hanging out at the beaches in La Jolla, I went to La Jolla High School, and I worked in La Jolla for years. Somehow, after years of living abroad, my home seems like an exotic destination in Continue…

Americans are in for it now!

In a baffling move of mind-blowing idiocy, the American government will now start charging a $14 “entry fee” for tourists who qualify for visa-free entry to the United States. Why? Because they are going to use the money to help promote the United States as a tourist destination. What the hell?!?!? Do we need some basic logic lessons here?

Not surprisingly the European Union, which has a reciprocal visa-free agreement with the United States, is not amused. Americans can expect the retaliatory entry fees to start popping up across the world not only making international travel more expensive but also much more complicated and confusing.

Think I’m wrong? Post-9/11 American visa antics (including high, non-refundable application fees) have already caused Americans to be singled out across the globe for higher visa charges. Just since we started Contemporary Nomad, I have paid significantly higher visa fees in China, India, and Laos. In one Indian consolate, I was actually called into the back and lectured for 30 minutes on how ridiculous the American visa process has become. Sorry India, I don’t make these rules.

For prospective visitors to the US, this new fee is an addition to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). If you wish to visit the United States under the visa-waiver system, make sure you have completed the ESTA process in advance. If all this annoys the hell out of you and you decide to spend your vacation somewhere where they don’t make you register online, pay an “entry fee”, scan all ten fingers, and enter your face into the facial recognition database, I fully understand.

Free Phone Calls to USA and Canada

Gmail has just upgraded US-based Gmail accounts to allow people to make free calls to phones in the United States and Canada.

This is different from Skype and Gmail Voice Chat because Gmail users can call telephones for free, not just other computers. Although Skype’s fantastic Skype-In feature has provided a similar service for years, a small per-minute charge has always been required.

So, will Gmail calls stay free forever? Probably not, as there is a small line of text stating “free in 2010.” Well, enjoy them while they last. Everyone else certainly is. Apparently, over a million free calls were made in the first 24 hours!

Leaving California

California has been, like, SO totally awesome! I mean I’m, like, NO WAY DUDES, margaritas and fish tacos with mountains of guac…

Goodbye California

I love California and I’m seriously going to miss it, but expensive, pre-booked return flight tickets have a way of forcing you to stick to a particular departure date. Family, friends, the beaches, the sun, the Mexican food – oh, the tragedy, don’t make me leave 🙁

Being nomadic most of the time, there is true joy in plopping down on the couch with a pizza and watching a DVD. The thrill of not packing or moving, not being sandwiched into third world buses has made California the perfect vacation from vacation.

But it’s time to get back on the road. So, it’s back to Bangkok to continue our adventures. Stay tuned, the explorations have just begun!