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Pura Aventura Expert: Thomas

Written by Thomas Power | 12th January 2012 |

Category:

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A fateful cup of coffee in 1989 first brought Thomas into contact with El Salvador and sparked a passion for Central and South America which remains undiminished to this day.

Spending his time immersed in Spain and Latin America is pretty much his idea of heaven.

Favourite place for people: Spains or Central America.

I have just accumulated so many good friends, almost family, in Spain over the years that I feel very much at home there.

In Central America I experienced the kindness of strangers in so many places. Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, NicaraguaCosta Rica. Oddly enough, I feel very much at ease when there.

Favourite place for food and wine: Spain

It?s a tough one since Chile is an incredibly strong contender but I guess La Rioja in Spain has to win for sheer consistent quality of food and wine. I have eaten twice in the Venta de Moncalvillo and both meals rank amongst the very best of my life.

Favourite place for landscape: Chile.

I could go on about this for pages but I remember seeing Torres del Paine National Park for the first time and thinking, 'Well, that's it, I don't expect to see anything more beautful than this in my life.'

That was not a sad thought, on the contrary, I feel incredibly lucky. And thus far, I think I was right, nothing has knocked Paine off its perch in my mind.

And I haven't even mentioned the remoteness of northern Patagonia, the wild Pacific coast of Chiloe island, the volcanoes and forests of the Chilean Lakes, sunset over the Atacama desert....and the skies, the night skies.

Most memorable trip: Galapagos and Ecuador.

I have been lucky enough to spend some time in Ecuador over the past few years and I have grown to love it more and more. However, it's my experiences in the Galapagos islands which live close to the surface of my mind.

The feeling of being non-predatory is amazing, that animals of all shapes and sizes are happy to have you wander up to them or swim alongside them was like a childhood dream come true. It is a truly significant and liberating experience.

Most recent trip: Pyrenees, Spain.

I was in the Pallars Sobira Valley which is where we host our active Pyrenees holidays.

Where to next? Nicaragua.

I would love to get to Nicaragua with my family, I think they would love the wildlife and scenery and it is always such fun.

Besides, my son Sam has only ever said 'agua' for water. I'm not sure why that one word of Spanish has stuck so firm but I don't think I have ever heard him say 'water'. Nicaragua being known as the 'land of water', he should be welcomed by the locals with open arms.

Top travel tip: Travel with trust/Just say yes

At the risk of sounding like an old hippy, I think people are basically good and trustworthy. If you visit places with this mindset I think you are received accordingly.

'Just say yes' is not quite it but I never allowed myself to say 'no' unless there was a really good reason for it.

This can be a fairly harsh discipline at times - I once left to live in Boston for six months at about two weeks' notice on this basis - but it is always worthwhile.

Interesting fact: Cafe Basura, Creel, Mexico

Along with friend Sarah Christie and a cast of helpers, I set up a cafe in a small room attached to a travellers hostel in a small town in northern Mexico.

We reclaimed the patio space from the dustbin store, hence the name (basura being 'trash' in Spanish).

It had a book exchange, decent coffee, a chess set carved by an Italian customer of ours, bad (in a good way) music and a warm fire in the hearth.

Career path

University of Sussex (International Relations). Fundraising office of Oxfam. Tour guiding. Pura Aventura

First holiday abroad: Spain

Probably the Costa del Sol. It?s all a bit vague, I was two. Mostly we went camping in the UK. Usually northern Scotland in June.

I remember mostly the midges and the fact that it got vaguely dark for only about three hours a night. Probably not the best idea when camping but we were three brothers close in age, I suspect my parents thought that 21 hours of daylight would be enough to wear us out.

Most visited place? Spain

Well, it?s an Anglo-Spanish company. Plus there?s my guiding past when I effectively lived there.

And then there?s the fact that I love the place and hardly need to have my arm twisted to go back.

Where would you like to live? Chile

I find the idea of being somewhere which is within two hours of coast, ski resorts, desert, vineyards, forests, hot springs, volcanoes and glaciers just irresistible.

Most overrated place: Las Vegas

Firstly, let me say that I have been there three times and I can see that people enjoy it. I?m not really being curmudgeonly about it, it just isn?t my cup of tea.

Massive hotels, almost entirely artificial, driven entirely by rampant materialism and greed. It just isn?t pretty.

For me the saddest aspect of Vegas, the place is surrounded by some of the most beautiful National Parks anywhere in the world (Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon).

And again, this isn't America bashing. I love the USA, my wife's from there. My children are passport holders.

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