The idea of writing vibe guides was born of a conversation one cool night, drinking pisco with a friend on a wobbly bench in the central square of the tiny Bolivian village of Coroico. Swinging lukewarm shots alongside the local men, he and I were gleefully feeling the spirit and movements of the people, the sounds of the evening. We had not “seen” or “done” the Death Road that draws hordes of travelers to the area, we had not checked off some canyon off a list we had no idea of making. We had only watched the clouds race across the Yungas at dawn, walked up the road towards Coripata, listened to the old Tia Celia tell us about the spirits of the valley under a dark porch along the way, eaten crispy pollo a la broaster at our favorite street stall. A perfect day because we had let it come to us instead of filling it with an agenda. There was more spirit in sitting on this bench like old Corsicans than in any expedition.
So here they are, my vibe guides. Personal, lacunary, flawed, you name it. Country by country, they are simple snapshots of the atmospheres, festivals, places or shops, people and foods that made me stop, smile and say grace. Or that made me cringe, as some places are definitely off-putting for myriad reasons. In any case, feel free to comment.