Winter 2012: History Comes Alive

“We cannot bear to regard ourselves simply as playthings of blind chance, we cannot admit to feeling ourselves abandoned.”

- Ugo Betti.

History comes alive this winter.

How many of us dare to consider ourselves as part of some greater context, placing our everyday joys and ordeals into perspective? Easier said than done. Many of us inhabit our daily worlds undergoing the same routine: get up, head to work/school, run some errands, go to sleep, repeat. And we see only what we see, barely acknowledging what exists beyond these bubbles of our everyday lives. The internet and the media may make that bubble bigger, but it’s not like the real thing — if it’s not immediately smack dab in front of us, then it doesn’t register.




So some of us dare to pop that bubble: Some of us dare to travel off the beaten path. But some of us forget that that our far-flung destinations are more than just places — many of them shoulder painful stories from the past most of us only read about in high school textbooks. But their existences remind us that the world and our history have always been bigger than we know, they implore us to understand why the world is the way it is now, and they imbue us with a quiet responsibility of owing something to the future. But for us to bear witness to some of humankind’s recent imperfections may require a bit of emotional fortitude.

This will not be your average cookie-cutter experience. (That being said, the Monsoon Diaries was never about following convention).



Whereas last year we celebrated Europe via well-traveled paths in Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, and Portugal, this year we’re undertaking a more alternative, more emotionally demanding itinerary: World War II. The Holocaust. The Chernobyl Disaster. The Cold War. Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Panama Canal. The Dominican War of Independence. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Sure there’s still plenty of room in the itinerary to party and relax on a beach, but we’ll also stretch the limits of travel. And we’re going to come out of it perhaps having learned something, something about the world, something about human history, or something about ourselves.



The dates are from December 26th, 2012 – January 6th, 2013.

The trip will be split into 2 parts; the first one from December 26th to December 31st will be in Eastern Europe. We’ll then return to NYC to celebrate New Year’s Eve (12/31), and then from January 1st to January 6th we’re in Central America. As always, you can join us for one trip, both trips, part of a trip, or all of it.

The first part of the trip to Ukraine and Poland is projected to be around $452 USD per person including all lodging, tour fees and transportation. The second part of the trip should be no more than $300 USD per person. If you include flights, the whole 2 week trip is projected to be less than $2000, including  flights, lodging, transportation, and food (I can even probably get it to be lower than $1500 if flight prices drop as much as they should over the next few weeks).


FYI, this itinerary remains flexible; nothing is set in stone until the day we purchase our plane tickets, so suggestions or changes are more than welcome!


It’ll be 6 countries and 3 continents in 12 days…



Odessa, Ukraine


The world famous Potemkin Stairs…look it up


Kiev, Ukraine


Pripyat, Ukraine




ICBM Launch Pad (aka an abandoned USSR Nuclear Missile Silo)


Krakow, Poland


Auschwitz I




Warsaw, Poland


New York City for New Year’s Eve


Panama City, Panama


The Panama Canal


Port-au-Prince, Haiti


Cap-Haitien, Haiti


Labadee, Haiti


Sans Souci Palace


Citadelle Laferrière


Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Interested in joining us? Let me know.

Meet the Trainspotters
Mt Whitney


  1. Hey Calvin, read your blog with much interest over the course of several days. Was wondering how a fellow med student would have the time to travel now – esp. since you’re in your third year, presumably you’re on rotations? Anyway was just wondering what your next trip was going to be (didn’t see it in your ‘where we’re going tab’) as I’ve caught the travel bug too! Thanks!

  2. Hi Calvin, my name is Dina and i’m a senior at CU and a sister of the Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority. I wanna thank you for speaking at Arise, and that i’m very interested in attending this trip with you. Last year you took some of my sisters (Nina, Cyntha, and Anna) to Iran and they told me all about how amazing it was, and I would love to go on this trip to Eastern Europe and Central America. I look forward to hearing from you!


  3. Hi Calvin, I came out with your website through a friend’s facebook, I currently live in Peru and am very interested in your trip. I’d like to get more details, cheers.


  4. Hey,

    A friend sent me a link to the N. Korea 5th floor video and I ended up looking around in your blog.
    I’m from Panama and could at least join you guys while over here. Your travel plans in Latin America sounds good. Maybe I can even join you.


  5. Hey!

    Possibly interested in Europe if I can fight the flight and travel expense into my budget. How much are flights to the Ukraine and Poland coming out to for you?

  6. Hey Calvin,

    I’m friends with Ali Lee and interested in the central america piece of the trip. Any chance we can squeeze a morning of scuba diving into the itinerary?


  7. Hi, I’m from Eastern Va Medical College and am very very interested in joining for the 1st part of the trip. Would be flying out of dc most probably so I’d need to figure something out if we can be in contact about flight and travel plans. Very excited.

  8. We would love to have you. Just sent you an email.

  9. Hello, Calvin:

    I hope this message finds you well. I came across your website on Tiger Fang’s Facebook page. I met Tiger last March while waiting in line at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. It was less than 2 minutes into our introductions that Tiger mentioned that his “friend Calvin” was the person to thank for his whirlwind travel plans for the next two weeks. My friend Ryan and I left for Myanmar a day earlier than Tiger but it wasn’t long before our hotel room phone (oddly) rang with Tiger on the other line…he’d found us! He was kind enough to introduce us to May; she spoke wonders of you as she graciously and generously opened up her country to us. Needless to say, your reputation has preceded you.

    Anyway, I am very interested in your “History Comes Alive” trip! I started a new job 3 weeks ago and cried every day during my first week because I thought my travel days were over, but found myself reinspired by the itinerary above (and it just so happens that our office is closing down from December 22-January 6). Serendipity, perhaps? I would still have to figure out how to get the funds together but wanted to inquire as to whether or not the trip is even still open to newcomers before getting too far ahead of myself. Please let me know. Also please let me know what other information I can provide…

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Enjoy your weekend,



  1. Monsoon Watch - [...] Not ten minutes later I found myself sending Calvin a message asking if there was room on his next …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>