KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Peter Breslow

After college, I spent some years wandering on the cheap around South America, ending up teaching English in Rio de Janeiro. Eventually, I left Rio and headed to northeast Brazil meeting up with an old girlfriend who flew in from the U.S. We had plans to continue on to Belem at the mouth of the Amazon and then travel the length of the river to Colombia.

But everything fell apart very quickly. First, while camping with her on a beach, my passport and all my hard-earned cash from Rio were stolen. Next, I came down with hepatitis and was incapacitated for a month.

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a country just by walking its beaches. That's what I did on my last day in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, where I was on assignment covering the Ebola epidemic.

Standing at water's edge, facing the sea. The smooth blue rollers come splashing in, steady, hypnotic — like oceans anywhere in the world.

On a recent day, just west of Kabul — where the city's sooty sky gives way to fresher air — Abdul Sadiq coaches four young members of the Afghan National Cycling Federation. They're working on their riding technique while dodging the free-form traffic.

"The road is very narrow. Make sure you don't get into an accident, as you can see the cars are coming," the former competitive cyclist tells them, amid zooming vehicles and honking horns.

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