Peter Breslow

On a sunny, late-September afternoon in the garden of a guesthouse in Kabul, just beyond the armed guard at the iron gate, a couple of girls are tuning up for guitar practice. All headscarves and concentration, they stretch tentative fingers along the strings. Their teacher, a 56-year-old musician from Los Angeles named Lanny Cordola, sports own head covering, a green doo-rag holding in check a graying ponytail that drifts down the middle of his back.

It is April Fools Day 2011 and Jimmy Chin, the renowned adventure photographer and filmmaker, is shooting a couple of professional snowboarders in the Teton Range in Wyoming. This is one of the first really warm days of the spring season and so there is a lot of action in the snowpack. It is the kind of day where the risk of avalanche is high enough that everyone has their antennae up. But all three men are expert mountaineers who know how to read the conditions.

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.

In 1982, when I washed up on NPR's doorstep looking for a job, I started a pickup basketball game. It endures to this day. That's right, we are in our 33rd season, which makes me too old to still be playing ... and yet, somehow, I still am.

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.