Several years ago, I accepted a familiarization trip invitation to visit Peru and Colombia. When I told friends and family where I was going, I could count on one of two reactions: “Awesome!” or “Why on earth would you want to go there?” Tales of my travels have drawn the latter reaction on more than one occasion, especially since 9/11. I chalk it up to Americans' notorious xenophobia, an overdependence on sensational headlines for our information, and fear of the unknown. Years of ...

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