Category Archives: Travel


I recently returned to Nicaragua to welcome 2018 and take advantage of the world-class waves, constant offshore winds, and diverse landscape and culture. Again, I was not disappointed. I would keep my mouth shut it if it were not for the fact that Nicaragua is now regularly featured on travel sites like the New York Times. Gringos are not the only ones carving it in to the next Costa Rica. Nicaraguan investors know what kind of assets they have at their disposal.

Nicaragua has in fact been exploited since the Spanish arrived in 1522. The usual pillaging and plundering, along with the circulation of small pox, did a number on the Chorotega. Nevertheless, the contributions of the Spanish are still appreciated today. Granada is a charming colonial city reflecting the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the time. They also constructed the San Pablo Fort to protect Granada from pirates in 1789, and it can still be visited via boat.

Later on in the 1800s a dubious character from Nashville, Tennessee by the name of William Walker did significant damage on his filibustering campaigns in Central America. Not only did he burn Granada to the ground, but he also poisoned the wells with dead bodies that spread Cholera and killed some 10,000 Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans. Walker eventually paid for his actions when he found himself in front of a firing squad in Honduras.

Fortunately, Granada has time and again picked itself up and rebuilt. Before the Panama canal was constructed this was the shortest distance from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cornelius Vanderbilt would steam up the San Juan River in to Lago de Nicaragua, and then make the short transport over to San Juan del Sur area on the coast of the Pacific. This route pumped money in to Granada and helped it to recover.

A few things you must do in Granada:

  1. Visit the San Francisco Convent to see the statuaries that have been excavated from Zapatera and Ometepe. A couple of these guys are in the Smithsonian, but you can see 30 of them all together in the same room. Each one represents the leader of the time, so they all have their own personalities. This is a highly informative account of their origins.
  2. Check out Mi Museo where there are many artifacts from Pre-Columbian times. It also helped me to understand where the Chorotega came from and when.
  3. Take a boat tour out to Las Isletas. These islands are a result of a massive explosion from Mombacho. Lots of wildlife, and you get to see the San Pablo Fort.
  4. Visit Volcan Masaya at night to see lava pouring from the crater. You definitely want to get there early to avoid waiting in line, but it is worth it.
  5. Tour the coffee plantation on Mombacho and then hike out to the stunning views of Granada and Lago de Nicaragua.
  6. If you still have time then head over to Pueblo Blancos to see local artisans at work. You will save yourself some money, for the shops around Granada certainly mark their prices up.

There are a couple of reasons why Nicaragua is safer than say El Salvador, Colombia, or Honduras. After the Nicaraguan Revolution, the country created a democratic police state in that each community would have at least one dedicated police officer that everyone knew. A bad apple arises, and they deal with the issue quickly. Second, drugs from Colombia and elsewhere go up the Caribbean side, so there are no cartels in the Pacific region.

Still, I wouldn’t drive at night. But during the day I generally went wherever I wanted. In the dry season you can get a way with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. But if the price is not much different then go with 4-wheel. I did end up using it along the coast to drive a section of road that terminated on beach front. It also gave me more confidence on dirt roads with potholes and stream crossings. In short, you are not limited and instead prepared for anything.

I’d tell you more about the surf breaks, but I just can’t do it. You’ll find it somewhere else. 😉

But I will tell you that I look forward to returning soon.

Costa Rica 2016

Quite a few changes to Costa Rica since visiting in 2007.

  • No Americans, French, or Germans to speak of.
  • All the roads are dirt.
  • Good luck finding air conditioning or a mobile phone signal.
  • No one is out surfing.
  • Realtors and developers have all moved on to Nicaragua.

Actually, only the last bullet is partially true.

Despite the changes I have to say it was nice not being so gripped on treacherous roads, although you still have to get your Costa on. I also have a fond memory of turning in to a decent size city for Costa Rica and being presented with a large bloated dead dog being picked apart by 6 or so vultures – now there is culture kids!

Other creature comforts consisted of not dealing with two young boys with chronic stomach cramps – thank you infrastructure and water treatment! Gas stations and grocery stores are prevalent, and more often than not the ATMs have cash.

So there you have it. It was indeed a great couple of weeks. The wildlife and surfing are still stunning, and the people are still charming. And I always thank my lucky stars for not having to be airlifted to a hospital; or more likely being placed in the back of a pickup truck and bounced down through the jungle as I come in and out of consciousness. Winning!


If you want to see more photos go here –

Center for Birds of Prey

If you have ever traveled between Charleston, South Carolina and Pawley’s Island then you know there are many historic and beautiful places to visit. One more recent addition is the Center for Birds of Prey. More than a zoo, the Center provides educational opportunities through interactive presentations and informative conversations with professional biologists and ornithologists. It is best to time your visit during one of the presentations at the outdoor amphitheater. There you will see owls, kites, hawks and falcons demonstrating their innate capabilities, and sometimes even flying directly over your head.

A Day at the Beach

The Encinitas and San Diego surf culture is a menagerie of style and circumstance. Wade through the tattoos, tans and thongs, and you ultimately find a flow that is a little funky, fun and free. Whatever your role is it will never be as big as the Pacific Ocean’s command of the scene.

San Diego

Just wrapped up the BIO International Convention in San Diego. From the Welcome Reception on the USS Midway, to the incredible life science companies that are changing the face of healthcare, it was well worth the time. Seeing Richard Branson speak was interesting as well. Here are a few pics:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I get around with my camera, and there is no shortage of expressions to be captured.


More pics here


I’m here in Atlanta with a few inches of snow and ice on the ground thinking about our recent surf trip to Nicaragua. Looking back I am a bit amazed that it all came together. Of course, it would not have happened without significant determination, especially considering the hurdles of wives, kids, work, money, schedules, weather, and the world. Even then William’s trip was cut short with his grandmother’s death. And Nathan, coming off the heels of Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums, managed to rupture his ear with a blow from his surfboard. Glad he could surf through it.

But how did it come to this?

Of course, it all started more than 25 years ago on a scrappy little windswell at Folly Beach. We rented a couple of boards from McKevlin’s Surf Shop back when the old man was still alive. We were hooked, and so began the ocean obsession.

In contrast to the powerful and pleasing aroma of surf wax, I can still smell the old Charleston buses that cost a quarter to eventually make it out to Isle of Palms, surfboards tucked in the seat next to us. We would surf all day.

Our parents had some understanding of the obsession because every now and then we’d get a new surfboard, skateboard, or managed to swing a pair of booties and gloves for those cold winter sessions. A trip to Florida here and there, and I’ll never forget surfing with Matt Kechele and Charlie Kuhn in Hatteras near Rodanthe Pier. They pulled aerials while we watched in grom-like amazement.

We competed a little in the Eastern Surfing Association contests, Coach Kowalski shouting directions from the beach, and we managed to get first place when Mikee Rawlings didn’t enter. For whatever reason that didn’t last. Maybe our parents were afraid we’d take the surfing lifestyle too far?


Then there was Wrightsville Beach where we lived for 2 different summers. We were all in boarding school, so it was a real chance to cut off the neck tie and live life unhinged. How our parents let us live alone in a beach town at the age of 16 I’ll never know. At night we worked hard to convince girls we were in college, and in the morning we rode our bikes across the island to work as bus boys and housekeepers. But we surfed whenever there were waves.


College came and went and few, if any, waves were caught together. New York, Lake Tahoe and Charleston were all too vast of distances to organize an impromptu dawn patrol session. When we’d see each other over the holidays, cocktail parties and late night benders were the source of camaraderie. We got married. Life sped on.

Our friendship is not tied to surfing, for we share time and a place we call home. And whether we are backpacking around Europe, sitting in a deer stand, or sharing a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the streets of Brooklyn, we find plenty of things to give each other shit about.

Nathan_Robert_William IMG_9589_sm

But Nicaragua got under my skin. It reminded me how much I love surfing, and how much I enjoy sharing it with you guys.

When are we going back?

Sincerely ~ Robert

Slackers Creek Lining


A Pawleys Island past time.



Red_Hook_3Quick trip to New York for a visit with friends.

I would be remiss without a trip to the MOMA in Manhattan, but it was nice to spend a little more time in Brooklyn checking out Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope. Watching Beck perform “Billy Jean” at Prospect Park was also a nice addition.

Brooklyn is blowing up…along with the real estate. But such a cool and eclectic mix of people and places. The fact that Jay Z launched his new album in a warehouse in Red Hook should tell you something.

Check out Hibino for some awesome sushi, and momofuku’s Milk Bar for an amazing espresso shake.

Red_Hook_Windows Red_Hook_Sub

Feel free to click any of the images for a larger view.

Somewhere in California


Sure was great to be back out West with good friends in spectacular places.

IMG_4941 IMG_51314