Posts tagged travel

Death by Preservation: New Travel Essay Published

I just had a travel essay called Death by Preservation published in Issue #34 of Post Road Magazine, a literary magazine over in the U.S. It’s about the tourist project of fantasy construction and the curious correlation between UNESCO World Heritage status and spiritual death. The essay starts in the medieval theme park of Tallinn’s old town, before moving across the continent and asking why some places get preserved and others don’t, anyway. And what are we looking for and why? What qualifies as picturesque for the tourist, and what is… Read More

On the violence of borders

I recently visited Ceuta, a piece of the north African coast that belongs to Spain and is hence part of “Europe”. It was a very strange and disturbing experience to cross that border so easily just by showing my British passport, when many people with different-coloured passports die trying to do the same thing. Here’s a photo I took of the border fence. The houses to the left are in Spain; the hillside to the right is in Morocco. There’s also a small village on the Moroccan side, just out of… Read More

Travelling in the body, but not the mind

Remember when you used to go on holiday and completely lose track of what was happening back home? In the days before the internet and widespread satellite TV, the only way to get news from your home country was to buy an overpriced newspaper that was a few days out of date (if you could even find one). You could get news, of course, but it was from a local perspective, and it showed you how different people’s priorities can be. Unless your home country was at war or experiencing… Read More

Alternative lives on different tracks

If you live in the U.S., you’ll find my article on living a nomadic life in today’s Wall Street Journal. Or everyone can read it online. To be honest, I was a bit surprised when they asked me to write it—I didn’t think our lives would be of much interest to WSJ readers. But judging by the comments, tweets and emails I’ve already started getting, it’s resonated with quite a lot of people. I think it’s because a lot of people dream of escape, whatever that means to them. They think about the other… Read More

The “blue town” of Chefchaouen

Usually I try to tie my posts to a topic or theme, or expand my travel observations into an essay. This post isn’t like that. It’s just some photos of a town that’s blue. The town is called Chefchaouen, and it’s in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco. Why is it blue? There are various theories… One theory is that the blue paint is designed to ward off mosquitoes. Or maybe the tradition of painting buildings blue was brought by Jewish immigrants fleeing the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century… Or… Read More

The pull of the road

Back in the year 2000, Genie and I took our first trip together. We were living in New York City at the time, and we rented a car and drove up to Montreal. After a great long weekend there, it was finally time to start the six-hour drive back home. So what did we do? We drove another couple of hundred miles in the opposite direction and spent the afternoon in Québec City. Then we finally drove home through the night, arriving in New York at about five in the morning, ready to… Read More

In a desert state of mind

We’re now more than a month into our trip around Morocco, and I have lots of things I want to say about it. But I’m struggling to formulate those thoughts exactly. I think what it comes down to is that it’s a beautiful and fascinating place, but I don’t like being in a place with so much inequality. By inequality, I mean several different things, such as gender inequality, inequality of wealth and opportunity between Morocco and Europe, unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity within Morocco, the way those inequalities seem to… Read More