30 November 2009


People doing good makes my heart go pitter-patter. (Shhh...listen closely. Do you hear it?) Anyway, there are all sorts of warm and fuzzy things crossing my inbox this ho-ho-holiday season, but here are the top three du jour that I feel are especially worthy. Take a sec and check ‘em out.

Passports with Purpose
Take four whip-smart travel bloggers, put ‘em behind a deserving cause in need of funding, and voilà! – you’ve got yourself helluva giant worldwide web raffle.
What is it: This year, the Passports with Purpose’s fundraising effort is supporting American Assistance for Cambodia (AAfC), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving opportunites for the youth and rural poor in Cambodia.
How it works: Dozens of travel bloggers are hosting giveaways in support of this fundraising effort. For each $10 donation that you make to AAfC, you will be entered in the giveaway(s) of your choice. The drawing closes December 21, 2009 and winners are announced January 5, 2010.

The travel-savvy folks at Wandermelon are hosting a timely holiday gifty giveaway while showing some love for the Four Seasons Resorts’ partnership with Sleeping Children Around the World.
How it works: For every Four Seasons gift card sold between now and December 10, 2009, Four Seasons Resort will donate the cost of one bed kit to the charity. (This year, Sleeping Children Around the World delivered their one millionth bed kit.)
What you can win: Current and new Wandermelon subscribers can enter to win a $100 Four Seasons gift card between now and December 5, 2009. (As in this upcoming Saturday.) Log in here to subscribe.

Let’s Do Lunch! Photo Contest
This promotion is easy. And fun. Especially for the foodies, who like me, I’m sure document every little tasty morsel put in front of them.
How to enter: Document your meal with a quick pic and a few sentences dishing on the experience. Shoot over a pic of your lunch to Let's Do Lunch! from your iPhone or mobile device in one of four categories and 20% of the entry fees ($12 for one pic; $20 for up to four) will go to a local food bank determined by the grand prizewinner. Contest ends January 20, 2010.
What you can win: a Nikon D5000 Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm VR lens, an HP Pavillion dm3 series notebook, a ThinkTank Airport International camera bag and a bevy of other photogaphy-related paraphernalia.

sue pledged. have you?

Big thanks to the travel writers who have pledged support to The Global Citizen Project - the latest being fellow Washingtonian, Sue Frause. We met a few years ago at Travel Media Showcase in Palm Springs, CA, and despite living in the same state the past year-and-a-half, have been unable to coordinate travel schedules until our paths crossed last month at the Alaska Media Road Show in Santa Barbara, CA. Maybe California is our preferred place of pow wow?

Anyway, Facebook and Twitter tend to be our communication methods of choice, but you can keep up with Sue's adventures via her two blogs: Closet Canuck and Travel Vivant: Aisle or Window?

thank you

The Global Citizen Project is getting all sorts of Monday love.

First, @AFARmedia retweeted the link to the Kickstarter page (AFAR magazine is hands down my fave new publication in 2009). I'm beyond tickled; I'm smiling ear-to-ear. Sigh.

Next up, @manieldack bestowed his VC love and made $25 pledge putting me over the $700 mark. (If you've read about the project, you know I like round numbers.)

Please take a minute to read about The Global Citizen Project, and if you think I'm doing something good, consider making a small pledge (as little as $1) or spreading the word via your social media networks. It's a really easy way to give ('tis the season, right?), and you don't even have to leave your house (heck, your sofa), brave the mall or gift-wrap it to make me (and the 12 communities I hope to serve) happy.

monday's inbox

Monday mornings never come easy for me, especially when I've been up fact-checking a guidebook until 3 a.m. the previous night. Throw in daily noon deadlines and I pretty much roll out of bed, head straight to the French press, turn on my laptop and hit the ground running. I usually fire up Tweetdeck, open Skype and plow through dozens of emails -- mostly from publicists pitching me story ideas. There's usually some confusion on how to spell my name (I get a lot of Cheryl, Karen, and Sharon), or they think I still live in San Francisco (haven't since 2003) and for some reason, think mother/daughter plastic surgery getaways qualify as a "travel story." Umm...that's so Real Housewives of Orange County and so not my beat. I usually just hit "delete" and move onto the next message. No big deal.

This morning, though, the inbox revealed a real gem. A Public Relations Coordinator in the British Columbia sent me a fully written article on her client in Costa Rica "free of charge, along with some excellent artwork to complement the story." Wow. Why have I bothered to travel the world, experience destinations first-hand and then report fairly when I can have access to spoon-fed material from the hired PR mouthpiece? Oh wait, that's because I'm a journalist. I was slightly less offended when I saw that the PR Coordinator not only managed to mispell her own name in the "From" line in the emaill address, but also the client's name in the email signature. Unbelievable.

I called out the agency's erroneous ways on the cyber super/social highway (a.k.a. Facebook and Twitter) and thankfully, my email response to "Sylivia" was far kinder than that of many of my colleagues who received the same slap to their journalistic integrity. Some journos may want to take the easy route. I'm not that gal. I seek a path of authenticity and I'm willing to work as hard as neccesary to find it.

29 November 2009

kickstarter up

Whew. Those IT folks at Kickstarter sure are speedy. After a short, off-line hiatus, the site is back in action and ready to accept your pledges for The Global Citizen Project. So, please, help put me over the $750 mark tonight. My $20K goal is ambitious, but I'm go getter kinda gal and your show of monetary love will help send me to 12 countries over 12 months to volunteer with 12 different programs. As always, big thanks in advance for your time and consideration.

kickstarter down

Wah. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost in OT to the Baltimore Ravens and Kickstarter's site is down for "unexpected downtime." At least my chili and corn muffins turned out to be the perfect sofa tailgate fare. If you're interested in donating to The Global Citizen Blog (that's why you're here, right? I kid.), please check back tomorrow. Hopefully, the tech fairy will pay the site a visit tonight and all be right once again in the world of fundraising by the morning. Fingers crossed.

28 November 2009

the river real

When I embarked on a river voyage down the Amazon in August, nothing could have prepared me for the otherwordly beauty of Peru, the Amazon and its people. It was a fairy-tale trip of cultural immersion come true.

Two dozen of us spent eight days in a blissful state of unplugged idyll on International Expedition’s Amazon Voyage – meandering several hundred miles along the Amazon River, from Iquitos to the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve and back, on the small, yet amenity-equipped riverboat La Amatista (“The Amethyst).

We walked through rainforests, watched sunrises from our boat, listened to the most beautiful symphony of howler monkeys, horned screamers, flocks of parakeets and fluttering bats and butterflies, and had an acute awareness of every inch of skin that was exposed to the sultry humidity of the jungle.

It was the people, though, who most stirred my soul. Here are four of their stories.

He had a quiet, confident presence, but Robinson’s wild intelligence, understanding of his surroundings — he was born in the rainforest, after all — and his encyclopedic knowledge and passion for all living creatures was what was infectious.

With exaggerated trills of the “r” (that I couldn’t quite master), our tour guide deciphered the differences between the Amazon kingfisher and its Ringed species counterpart — we stopped counting different bird species at 102 varieties. He pointed out breadfruit and jackfruit trees and unfolded the medicinal benefits of the fer de lance tree in treating snake bites.

But what impacted me most was this point he made: “Activism about animal rights is a luxury of education.” When our skiff happened upon a young woman who’d killed two caimans, he delicately explained to her the benefits of at least allowing the amphibious beasts to mature long enough to reproduce. Robinson respected the environment, yet he understood the Ribereños’ (or river people) necessity to survive.

The river people — small communities of hunters, fishermen and gatherers — are simple, yet they’re hardly poor. It’s a different reality than what we’re accustomed to. Yet their standards of living are no better or worse than ours, and the Ribereños’ simple contentment is enviable. Robinson hopes increased tourism to the rainforest will bring more eco-conscious eyes to the Amazon, and ideally enabling hunters to become artisans and slowing the draining of the Amazon’s natural resources.

The children eyed us as we stood before a classroom in a village named “August 11th.” Nearly 20 students ranging from two to 12 years old sat attentively at their desks lined in four neat rows.

It didn’t take much prodding for George, our able tour guide and natural born entertainer, to have the kids singing, “How are you my friend, how are you?” As we gringos stumbled through simple “muy bien” responses, I recommitted myself to learning to speak Spanish. No excuses, this time.

Like Robinson, George was born in the rainforest and had been inspired to become a tour guide by a similar school visit when he was a child. His enthusiasm for inspiring the young Ribereños resonated in the intuitive connection he had with the children. Under his tutelage, we recited and learned one another’s names. The students recited their national anthem (not an easy task, as it has seven stanzas); we got off easy singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

Friendship came easy with Ernesto, as well as the other Peruvian tour guides on the boat — Rudy, Fernando, Hernando, Robinson, George and Laura.

Ernesto, the Peruvian poster boy for following your dreams and finding happiness,
grew up in Ocongate, a village 2.5 hours east of Cusco. The second-youngest of six children, he knew by the age of six that he wanted to be a tour guide and a farmer.

His curious British accent (he learned English by listening to British music) belied his copper-brown skin and dark, wavy hair and I couldn’t help but feel a sweet affection for the kind-hearted, kid-at-heart as we exchanged stories and ideas and pored over maps of South America during the course of the trip.

After carefully climbing the steep, uneven steps to a rustic coastal village, we came face-to-face with an ear-to-ear smile and sparkling deep brown eyes. Bany, an 11-year-old girl, held out a section of watermelon that I happily accepted.

Immediately enthralled by the curiosities that we were, Bany stayed close and an entourage of her young female friends soon followed suit. She placed chicken feathers in my hair and I pulled her raven locks back with my blue silk scarf. She giggled as my face was painted with fiery streaks of achiote (a pigment made from seeds). When it came time to say goodbye, Bany grabbed my hand and indicated to Ernesto that she wanted to show us something.

Halfway up the hill, she announced that she wanted to watch us kiss. Taken aback, I reacted rather clumsily. Without skipping a beat, though, Ernesto snatched the opportunity to have an impromptu talk with the inquisitive young girl about intimacy.

Bany’s eyes widened as Ernesto explained that she’d have more opportunities in the world if she waited just two years longer than the other girls to have a baby. When he conveyed the conversation to me in English, I was moved almost to tears by his thoughtful gesture.

The Company: The 10-day Amazon Voyage is run by International Expeditions, which also organizes nature travel tours. Prices for this trip start at $3048, not including round-trip airfare to Lima. Occasionally, IE offers a $500 per person discount.

Travel: My itinerary started in Seattle, with a layover in Houston before arriving in Lima, Peru. The group of less than two dozen guests convened at Swissôtel Lima for an overnight stay before a flying to Iquitos and boarding La Amatista the following day. A valid passport is required for travel to Peru, but no visas are required. There is a departure tax from Peru, which is currently $30.25 USD.

What You’ll See: Expect to see more than 100 bird species, as well as three-toed sloths, pink and gray river dolphins, squirrel monkeys, woolly monkeys and a large variety of tree and plant species. Don’t expect to see a jaguar. Hernando said that in the 70-plus trips he’s led on the Amazon, he has only seen one – and only for about seven seconds.

What You’ll Do: The trip balanced boat and land excursions. At least one or two big adventures were planned each day, including village and classroom visits; hiking in the rainforest in the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve; fishing for (and later eating) piranha; swimming in the Amazon; canoeing; searching for bats after dark; shopping for local artisan products; drinking Pisco Sours as the guides and crew played musical instruments; learning about the medicinal benefits of plants from a local medicine man; and educational seminars on everything from the local politics and people to in-depth information on the Amazon and its history.

a ten spot closer to goal

I'm not going to dwell on the fact that I need $19,315 more in pledges to make The Global Citizen Project happen. No, no. I'm a P.M.A. kinda gal (positive mental attitide). Thankfully, I do have 85 days until deadline and I'm going to kick into overdrive after the holiday weekend, so watch out. Girl on a mission. I am however, gonna high five the latest backer - Wade Alin from The Atomica Project. He's a music maker who releases his work on USB drives. Cool, right? Thank you, Wade for your support.

press release

It's official. Read it here and pass it along. Thanks in advance for spreading The Global Citizen Project love.

slow saturday

It's been a slow day in fundraising-ville. I know launching The Global Citizen Project the day before Thanksgiving was going to pose some logistical issues, but rest assured, I am gearing up for an all-out friend, family, and social media outreach effort on Monday. I've dusted off my event planning/fundraising skills (honed while volunteering for four years at the Women's Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, CA on the annual "Swim a Mile" event) and I'm ready to make the wish of volunteering with 12 projects in 12 countries over 12 months a reality. I admit, it's one heckuva ambitious plan, but if you know me, you know one of my resume builder's is making things happen. I am committed to making this happen and hope that you show your support and pledge as little as $1 to the big picture. Thank you.

27 November 2009


This post has absolutely nothing to do with The Global Citizen Project, but media mentions put a big 'ole smile on my face.

My disdain for Black Friday was quoted today in Jennifer Worick's hilarious blog, "Things I Want To Punch In the Face." That's all I'm saying. Read it for yourself and laugh. Out loud. She's that funny.


Black Friday marks the beginning of a five week barrage of holiday advertising and it's enough to suck every last little bit of fa-la-la spirit from the season. Especially when I hear about people camping outside of Target and waiting in seven hour lines just to get in the door. It embodies everything I dislike about American consumerism and I can think of 100 things I'd rather do than engage in acts of retail S&M.

Call me Ebenezer Scrooge, but materialism, Macy's and a lack of religious convictions has left me feeling pretty noncommittal about the whole holiday season. I gave up holiday gift-giving more than a decade ago -- unless it's bringing a host/hostess gift to a soiree. And that's because I was brought up to never arrive at someone's home empty-handed (a good rule to live by). I also send handwritten thank you notes; another dying bit of etiquette I was taught at a young age. I don't buy a Christmas tree, string lights or bake snowflake shaped sugar cookies. Believe me, I enjoy reaping the secondary benefits when others do, I just don't find enough significance in those tasks to do them myself.

Instead, I've made conscious decisions to eschew the stress and pressures of the season and have stumbled upon solace in the most unexpected of places -- during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By slowing down and taking a few steps back from seasonal madness, I've been able to embrace a calm and find personal meaning from the sidelines. Here's hoping everyone finds meaning this holiday season.

26 November 2009

give thanks. gobble gobble.

Here's wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for, but right now, I am grateful for a low-key, long holiday weekend, that the people in my immediate world are healthy and happy, and that my dear friend, Alex survived one of the crappiest years imaginable. I'm in constant awe at how she manages to handle challenge after challenge with such grace. Thank you for being an inspiration and such a great friend.

Now, off to mix some maple syrup and cayenne pepper into the sweet potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

25 November 2009

rock and roll. $625 in pledges and it's not even time for happy hour yet

It's not even time for happy hour here yet in Seattle and The Global Citizen Project has been backed $625. (Blush.) It is amazing to see the power of Kickstarter and I'm blown away by people's kindness and generosity. I am very appreciative and will do everything I can to make this project happen. And if you like what I'm doing, I'd be forever grateful if you'd pass the word along via your social media networks.

Big gobble filled thanks to Amy and Andrew.

wow. i am blown away. (and very thankful)

Day One of The Global Citizen Project isn't even over, and already $500 has been backed. I haven't celebrated Christmas in years (commercialism killed it for me), but it sure felt like ten types of festive when I opened my inbox this morning and saw all sorts of generous, project-backing love. Thank you so much Clare, Michael, Roland and Peter. I really appreciate it.

24 November 2009

the global citizen project is live on kickstarter

I did it! My Kickstarter project just launched on Kickstarter. You can check it out here. I'm trying to raise $20,000 between now and February 22, 2010 so I can volunteer with 12 projects in 12 countries over 12 months. Let the fundraising fun begin.

yay. i got a kickstarter invite

I got a Kickstarter invite thanks to Rick Marson and the Nancy Drew-esque power of the Google. I'd been scouting for an invite on Twitter for a good 48 hours, when I decided to search the Blogosphere for some kind-hearted, invite-wielding souls.

Well, I stumbled upon Marson's blog, shot him a comment and within a few short hours had a reply and an invite in my trusty inbox. Wow. And thank you. Here's wishing Marson lots of luck with his super spooky iPhone app project. (I'll post details once he's up and running on Kickstarter.)

Anyway, I'm going to jump into the deep end of the pool sans water wings (at least metaphorically) and hope to post my plans for the The Global Citizen Project on Kickstarter tonight. I'm ready to make this happen. Sit tight and stay tuned -- I have a feeling this is going to be a fun, fulfilling ride.

23 November 2009

what is "the global citizen project?"

“I never went to Europe,” my mother sighed in a Percocet-induced state of delusion. (That comment was followed up with “And I can never have sex again,” but I readily ignored that statement.) It was a Thursday night in 1990, exactly two weeks before my mother’s 38-year-old body would surrender to metastatic lung cancer after a brief, half-year battle. At the time of her diagnosis, I was 17 years old, and the “C” word made me take a step back, examine my life and redefine what I wanted it to mean. As a result, my mother’s words have inspired me to live my life fully, spontaneously and with purpose. Okay, maybe it’s also been influenced by some strong-willed Taurus tendencies (the blessing/burden of sharing a birthday with Earth Day), but regardless, I’ve made deliberate choices to live a life of travel and authenticity.

January 2010 marks the 12-year anniversary of my career as a freelance travel, food and lifestyle journalist. 2010 also marks the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing. Nice round dates, numbers and new years seem like a good time for introspection, and I’ve decided to refocus my personal and professional efforts.

So, here’s what I propose. I’ve given a lot of thought to what aspects of travel teach and inspire me and it comes down to the beauty, virtue and power of the people I cross paths with. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to spend time in communities around the world, including Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, and Chile. It is clear to me that despite the countless cultural differences, we all have dreams, we all strive for happiness and, really, we’re all not so different.

In an attempt to understand, connect and contribute, it is my plan to swap my BlackBerry for a backpack and volunteer around the world as part of what I’m calling, “The Global Citizen Project.” I would like to volunteer with 12 community projects in 12 countries over 12 months. I know it’s impossible to save the world with bite sized stints of service, but I want to give something to the bigger picture, spread the love around, share my experiences in an editorial capacity via this blog, social media and a eventually, a book, and promote responsible travel and volunteer tourism.

I am in the process of creating a “wish list” itinerary of volunteer projects I feel my skills are best suited for, spanning 12 different countries and 12 areas of service (i.e.; health education, eco-tourism, reef conservation, sustainable farming, national park service, etc.). I am seeking a KickStarter.com invitation (fingers crossed) to help fundraise money for this project, as well as brainstorming creative sponsorships. Thankfully, I have a lot of frequent flyer miles banked, but am fairly certain, no matter where I go, I won't log anywhere near 150 flights in the process. I promise to keep readers posted with details as they come together. Right now, I'm shooting to embark on this adventure in June 2010. I’m very much a “Believe it, achieve it” kinda gal (ask me how my first book got published sometime), so if anyone has any insights or ideas to share, please feel free to shoot me an email at cpfeuffer@yahoo.com. Thank you for reading.

a little bit about me

My favorite color is green. I dig hardware stores, mint chocolate chip ice cream, mid-century furniture, being near water, being near mountains, road-trips, the first night of staying solo in a hotel, things that are salty, handwritten thank you notes, being barefoot, all products relating to the almighty pig, Monday afternoon matinees, collecting stamps on my passport, meeting new people, studying maps, independent bookstores, beets, Marimekko patterns, hard cheese, raw fish, rare meat, Sin City in 72-hour spells, Scrabble, and anything with bubbles; especially if it's pink.