Today's Treasures

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About Me


Hi there and welcome! I'm a San Francisco photographer armed with a Nikon and a case of wanderlust. When I lost my job, I decided to embark on a journey, both literally and reflectively, to capture what people treasure most in life. Read more about my story here...


Up-to-the-minute updates

What We Treasure in India: My Goat  

A warm and fuzzy post to start the work week. Learn more about my stop to a small village in Rajasthan, India. Read more here...

New photos of India have been added to the photo gallery. Click here to experience what I consider to be one of the most stunning landscape in the word!



Inspirational Quotes from Leaders & Readers






Countdown Calendar


What We Treasure: Reflections in Venice

The last time I visited Venice was 16 years ago. I was a bright-eyed, poor college student who decided to catch the train from Florence to Venice on a whim. When I arrived, the hostels were booked and I didn’t have enough money for a hotel, so I came up with an ingenious plan: I would walk the streets of Venice all night!

I recall my sense of amazement as I let myself get lost in the side streets and canals, every turn revealing a new sight, scent, sound. When I finally arrived at Saint Marco’s Square, I stood in complete wonderment. As beautiful as it was in that moment, I could only imagine how glorious is must have been to arrive to Venice in the 1300s, when it was one of the most prosperous cities in the world.

Of course, as with any good plan, mine eventually went south. I had arrived during Festa del Redentore, a celebration that culminates with a grand firework display in the square. At the climax of the fireworks show, a random dark-haired Romeo hiding behind a column grabbed and kissed me. It took me a few minutes to recover from the shock. While it may have seemed storybook romantic, I didn’t want to spend an evening in Venice with a stranger. And so the rest of my night was spent dodging down the side streets and alleys trying to lose him and eventually, balled up like a cat on a hard, cold bench at the train station until the 6:00am train to Florence arrived.

And so my last night in Venice, 16 years later comes to an end as I stand on my balcony and watch the gondolas glide by. Some things have changed since I was here last. Sixteen years ago, it seemed like no one spoke English to me. Today, it seemed like no one would speak Italian to me. However, the awe and wonderment I felt more than a decade ago was still there, when at midnight I arrived at the Rialto station by water bus. The choppy waters, warm breeze, the faint sound of Opera music coming from an undetectable source and the apricot half-moon hanging over the sinking palazzos and shimmering off the canals made me glad that I am still alive. But above all, it made me glad that are still things in this world that leave me feeling a sense of bewilderment, curiousity and charm, as if I was a five year old wondering why the sky is blue. 

If there is one thing I have learned from my trip so far, it is that we must do whatever makes us feel alive. Period. Life is short, time is precious and I already feel nostalgia for places I know in my heart I will never visit again. Enjoy every moment that reminds you that our time here is limited.

I’ve also learned that any good plan should be open to revision. When I started this journey, my idea was to conduct formal interviews with people about what they treasured most in life. What I’ve discovered is that people open up more deeply when you just allow yourself to listen to them with both your ears and your heart. I've also discovered time flies very quickly on the road and despite my honest attempts to keep up with photos and blog posts, it's just not always possible with trains, planes, connections and unreliable internet. Also, some stories and observations, like anything in life, take time to unravel and reveal their significance. However, one thing is constant: everyone wants to talk about love, so just maybe my project will continue to evolve into something else all together. 

And now I head for Africa. Sometimes before I fall asleep at night, I'll hear a song in my head. There's a beat of a drum, a rhythmic chanting and a familiarity I can't place. If I try to pin down the melody, I lose it. And so I let it hum me to sleep. It is the call of Africa...


Just for Fun: Greece

Lately, I've been hanging out with a dangerous crowd...Tavli players.


What We Treasure in Budapest: Riding the Waves

"They say these waters cure all sorts of diseases if you drink it," my personal tour guide Janos shares with me. He shrugs and says he prefers regular water, as we stand in line at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, the end of our comprehensive eight-hour, multi-mile, 100 -degrees-with-hmidity tour of Budapest. 

Janos is a handsome student in his 20s who studies commerce by day, works a graveyard shift at a hotel by night, and sometimes gives personal city tours. He says the tours, which he is very good at, were his brother David's idea. David is hosting me through AirBNB and I'm staying at David's apartment. 

The woman behind the counter barks something to Janos in Hungarian. It's sold out today, but Janos insists it's something I should do while I'm in Budapest, especially the wave pool.

The first wave pool was designed and built in Budapest in 1927. Bath culture is huge in Hungary, brought over by the Turks in the 1500s. It's thrived in large part because of Hungary's estimated 1,300 underground thermal springs. Water from these springs are claimed to heal everything from aches, to low metabolism, to arthritis. But can they cure me of heat exhaustion?

The next day, swimsuit and sunblock in tow, I make my way back to Széchenyi Baths. It's a complex so large, it has it's own map. Winding through the mazes of lockers, gyms and massage rooms, I finally arrive at the main pool area where I hear sounds of splashing and laughter coming from the center of the pool. I had found the wave pool. 

The wave pool is like a donut placed in the middle of the pool with a static hot tub in the center. I dipped my body slowly into the water, it was warm and the water was soft. I tentatively entered the wave pool, but was quickly swept into it with a swoosh. The waves pushed me forward and before I knew it, I was in the middle of it.  

Everyone in the wave pool was smiling, laughing, participating. Hungarian woman with their strong beak noses, gap teeth and raspberry-colored hair were gliding along with the waves. Little old ladies in their black-one piece bathing suits, swim goggles and blue hair caps were bobbing along like rubber duckies in a bathtub. Old men in Speedos, with gold cross necklaces dangling down their hairy chests, weave in an intoxicated manner like drunks stumbling home from the bar. The faint smell of hot dogs from the cafeteria hangs in the air. Around they go, a human Merry-Go-Round, swirling, twirling, wobbling up and down. Under a fountain outside the wave pool, a chubby kid in glasses keeps watch like a hawk. Sometimes he smiles his cheshire cat grin and nods to his friends, as if giving his approval...

Approval, disapproval, who's watching, who's not. It's still ingrained in the Hungarian culture, even after the fall of communism over 20 years ago. Over beer and spritzers (wine mixed with soda water), David confided that distrust is still prevalent, even among the younger generations.

This wasn't confined to his opinion but a shared sentiment. One person I met didn't trust fellow Hungarians to drink responsibly, another didn't trust them to spend responsibly, no one trusted the government. Police roam the streets, parks and Metro. "When we had our gay pride parade," Janos told me, "they had them march down the streets behind a fence."

Another round in the wave pool I go, like a needle undulating against an old record. A group of rowdy teenage boys in boxer shorts enter the pool. Some swim forward, some try to swim backward without much luck. SWOOSH! Waves pull them under and they cackle with laughter. The few that have girlfriends wave to them sitting on the sidelines. The ones that don't try to impress others by splashing around. The sun gets hotter. It smells of wet pavement and coconut oil. In the corner of the next pool, a group of older gentlemen in black Speedos are playing chess. Each move is carefully considered and a group has formed to watch the outcome...

Bathtub seating at a local Ruin PubWhat's the next move for Hungary? Innovation, enterprise and ingenuity have blossomed since the communist days and Hungarians seem to be master magicians at turning something out of nothing. One such example are the "Ruin Pubs." Young entrepreneurs took "ruined" buildings, many every bit as glorious as those in Paris, and transformed them into social pubs. Any scrap left behind, old chairs and even bathtubs, have been reused as seating or decor. David told me not long ago the government offered subsidies for people to renovate these buildings. But now those subsidies are gone. Pigeons occupy these spaces. Jobs are scarce and many are migrating to the Netherlands or the United Kingdom to find work. In addition to his job at a call center, his own online coupon business and renting apartments on AirBNB, David is starting a recruiting company to help people find jobs in these countries...

Finding footing in the wave pool is a challenge. If you try, you will most certainly lose it. A surge of water hits a teenager carrying his young brother on his shoulders. He slips and they splash into the pool, laughing "WHAAAAA!" like the high pitched shrill of a blackbird. Sometimes you can smell the ponies from the zoo next door. Two little girls wearing bright pink arm floaties tentatively enter the pool, accompanied by their dad. He holds one of their hands as he guides them into the pool. Their tentativeness is soon replaced by animated grins as they get swept into the motion of the waves. Spinning like tops, they giggle and wave. Mom in her floppy hat eating watermelon, and grandma with her over-sized sunglasses, watch from the sidelines. They cheer, take photos, film video. Proud. 

Budapest is still in the process of renaming their streets from their Communist Era names back to their pre-World War II titles. I was told on average, 30 street names are changed each month. Hungarians are a proud people. They treasure their culture, their Goulash soup, their Palinka. Palinka is a traditional fruit brandy, usually made from plum or peaches, invented in the Middle Ages. David told me that under a recent "Hungarian Palinka Law" only distilled beverages made using special methods and technology from fruits produced in Hungary and distilled locally can be called Palinka. They still make Palinka in Romania, he told me but, "it's not real Palinka." Rivalry with Romania still exists. Some are still sore about traditional Hungarian territory that was sliced off to Romania after World War I.  A small faction even disagreed with naming the city Budapest because it sounded too much like Bucharest.

"Egészségedre," or "to your health," David said before we downed our plum Palinka. It stung my lips, burned my throat and warmed my stomach. Egészségedre? I think my health may disagree...

After 20 minutes in the wave pool, my health feels better. I'm relaxed, at ease and filled with a sense of contentment I haven't felt in a long time. With each oscillation, I see the faces of the beautiful Hungarian people surrounding me. Not beautiful because of any particular physical merit, but beautiful because they are beaming, joyful, holding hands, united and enjoying the moment. For a minute I wonder what the world would be like if we were all placed in one giant wave pool with no choice but to either go with the flow or laugh at ourselves for fighting against it? Would our problems dissipate in the thermal waters? Just maybe the Hungarians were onto something when they claimed their waters a cure-all...

Thank you to my host David and tour guide Janos for letting me into their worlds and sharing what makes Budapest special.  

I wish I would have brought my camera to the baths, but was not certain it would be allowed. You can see more of my photos from Budapest by clicking here


Budapest in Pictures

It was 100F with humidity when I was in Budapest, so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked.

You can see more photos from my Budapest here. 


Amsterdam in Pictures

For more photos of Amsterdam, click here...

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