All posts filed under: roam

Cities, Nature, and Social Media

Written in London. September, 1802 By WILLIAM WORDSWORTH For comfort, being, as I am, opprest, To think that now our life is only drest For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook, Or groom! We must run glittering like a brook In the open sunshine, or we are unblest: The wealthiest man among us is the best: No grandeur now in nature or in book Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense, This is idolatry; and these we adore: Plain living and high thinking are no more: The homely beauty of the good old cause Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence, And pure religion breathing household laws. Various studies has shown that overuse of social media can cause feelings of envy and even depression. The studies call it “surveillance use” – in other words, sifting through your friends’ pictures and status updates to see how their lives are so much better than yours. Much has been written about the subject and most people have experienced the phenomenon first hand, so I won’t elaborate. I wonder, though why …

[Don’t] Fear the Travel Warning

After the terror attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016 the United States issued a warning to its citizens cautioning travel to Europe. I read the notice while lounging on my friend’s couch in central London, where I had arrived after dodging a throng of tourists near Parliament Square. The alert warned of “near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.” Reading this email at first made me laugh. I’m used to seeing Israel or Turkey – my emotional homelands – frequent travel advisory lists. In fact, most countries I live in or travel to are on some kind of list: don’t go to Mexico lest you become collateral damage in the county’s drug wars; don’t travel to Colombia for you’ll get Zika; in Israel you might become the victim of a knife attack; in Turkey someone might blow you up in the middle of the capital. And now the Americans had put an entire continent off limits. The absurdity of it all sounded like a joke. I looked at the …

A Story of Syncronicity: The Horrors of Solo-Travel

“Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?” I often get asked this question for traversing Latin America. A woman in bandit-land that is Mexico.  I must be out of my mind. Rather than a land of delicious food, great museums and beautiful towns filled with the kindest of people, in most people’s imagination Mexico conjures horror stories of kidnappings and drug-gang murders. “It’s quite safe as long as you don’t go around doing stupid shit,” I reply with a shrug. But I must confess. This is no off-hand reply. It’s crafted with precision to mask my luck in having managed to stay safe, despite doing stupid shit. Like wondering the streets of Mexico City alone at 2 AM with five shots of mescal in your belly. Don’t do that. After all, it would be naïve to say that Mexico is Denmark. The story I’d like to tell today begins in San Miguel de Allende, my beloved town of crazies and artists. But I will start this tale toward its tail end, which happened in Tel Aviv: my …

Who is this creature called the “backpacker”?

Yesterday a Frenchman accused me of being a fake backpacker at a Cuban bar in Lisbon. His allegation came after I revealed that I was staying at an AirBnB rather than a hostel. We had a lot to chat about–he had recently returned back to his nine to five IT job in Paris after a seven-month “backpacking” trip in Australia and Asia. “I bet you don’t even have a backpack,” he said with a smirk. “I’m not a backpacker!” I said in protest. “And I certainly don’t carry a backpack on my sensitive shoulders.” Our discussion made me realize once again why I decided not to stay in hostels and why I defied the categorical “backpacker” label. Though I indeed was once a “fake backpacker” and it was while I slept in hostels in Colombia. Thankfully my fraudulence only lasted five weeks. Before arriving in Colombia I read various blogs on traveling alone—all posts instructed staying in dorms for a fulfilling social life on the move. So who was I, a novice solo-traveler, to stray from the path? While staying …

On Dreams and Husbands

THE LAND OF DREAMS | There was a huge, open-air camp. Singing plants and illuminated chilis sprouted from magicians’ hats and everyone offered dreams for barter. Some wished to trade dreams of travel with dreams of love; others offered dreams of laughter in exchange for sad dreams to release a long-needed cry. A man walked about looking for the bits and pieces of his dream, which was shattered by someone who smashed into it: He collected the shreds of his dream and pasted them together to make with them a banner of colors. The water bearer of dreams carried the water in a vessel on his back and dispensed it in tall cups to whoever got thirsty while sleeping. A woman wearing a white tunic stood on a tower and combed her tresses that reached her toes. The comb shed dreams with all their characters: the dreams were born from the hair and glided out into the air. Excerpt from _El Libro de Los Abrazos_ by Eduardo Galeano. Trans. Nathalie Alyon “But how is Nathalie going to find a husband …

The Secrets of San Miguel de Allende

“En San Miguel cada uno y su vecino es un artista,” Louis said–in San Miguel everyone and his neighbor is an artist. It was my third day in this colonial town and I had already grasped the San Miguelean spirit: drink mezcal, party hard, and make art. Hung-over from the wedding I had crashed the night before, I managed to drag my cruda self from my bed to attend my Airbnb host Crystal’s birthday BBQ in the garden. Herself a jewelry maker, among Crystal’s guests were a painter, a pianist, a graphic designer, and a gallery owner. I felt as if I had found myself in the 21st-century version of Paris in the 1920s. As Gerardo the painter poured me another shot of mezcal, the group began to speak about secrets: how they were different than lies and why we loved our secrets so much… I wondered whether a secret had to involve two or more parties; was a secret an interactive concept by its very nature or could it also be internal? “Everybody has …

Under the Rubble of Istanbul’s Urban Regeneration

This week’s post is a link. I am proud to contribute to InPerspective magazine’s first issue with an article on Istanbul’s urban regeneration and its impact on this ever changing mega-city. InPerspective is a non-profit project made up of a network of journalists, translators and readers dedicated to reporting stories that explore different subjects and perspectives from all over the world. In addition to contributing articles to this wonderful project, I will be helping them as regional editor. As a taste, here are first few paragraphs of my first article on InPerspective: ISTANBUL’S URBAN REGENERATION CHILDHOOD MEMORIES AND A CHANGING MEGACITY I grew up in Kaya Palas, a 14-story building on Iğrıp Street in the Asian side of Istanbul and as I write these words it has no roof. In its stead are machines tearing apart the building from top to bottom, floor by floor. By the time anybody reads this article, the building that was my childhood’s palace will have ceased to exist. Our apartment overlooked Fenerbahçe Orduevi, perhaps the most fancy military officer’s club in Istanbul boasting a …

Mexico City with Suruç in My Mind

Something about Mexico reminded me of Turkey. It wasn’t just the taco joints at every corner grilling what any Turk would recognize as döner: Mexicans call it al pastor, prepare it from pork, and serve it on corn tortillas. In Istanbul, I woke up in the middle of the night from an acappella of muezzins from different mosques using megaphones as if competing with one another; in San Miguel de Allende it was a mix of church bells and firecrackers celebrating each night a different Saint’s day that disrupted my sleep. The daily advances of my neighbor Carlos, who spends his days staring at a construction site atop a disintegrating 1960s Volkswagen beetle, reminded me of many Mehmets and their sweet, polite creepiness that make me smile rather than run screaming. A drawing of the face of a young student missing since the mass kidnapping in Iguala, Mexico (September, 2014), reminded me of Berkin Elvan, the boy who died from a can of pepper gas fired by Turkish police and became the symbol of Turkey’s …

So you quit your job to travel the world?

Quitting my job to become a traveling writer was not easy. While determining my premeditated roaming as yearlong provided some sort of framework, truth be told I was freaking the hell out until I finally bought that first ticket and left Israel. At this point my neurosis didn’t necessarily subside but just looked better under a tropical sun. Looking back, I think my psychological trajectory from the day I resigned until I finally became a real-life traveling bum had various clearly defined stages. The Four Stages in the Psyche of the Unemployed Traveler The state of ecstasy. That’s the moment right after you hand in your resignation letter and sit at your office desk looking at Google images of the beaches you will be lounging at and mountains you will be climbing. That is after 1-2 months, during which you must continue coming to the office and pretend to care about the job you just quit. When that sinks in begins the second stage: impatient annoyance. Things that never bothered you before like the lady that tells you …

A Taste of Colombian Medical Care with a splash of Vallenato

It happens to the best of us. Even someone with an iron stomach as myself who prides herself on having the ability to eat everything and anything, gallantly sampling all the delicacies street vendors have to offer will eventually get food poisoning or whatever it was that had me check in at a Colombian clinic in Valledupar. It wasn’t pretty. I had arrived in Valledupar for the famous Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata. A type of Colombian folk music, Vallenato is this country’s pride and joy. I met Bogotans who had travelled on 18-hour busses to attend the festival over the weekend. All hotels and hostels were filled to the brim and the town’s streets filled with Colombians in sombreros vueltiaos dancing to never-ending tunes usually played with a trio of accordion, guacharaca, and caja vallenata players. The birthplace of Vallenato, Valledupar is not much of a destination for foreigners. During my three-day stay there I frequently felt as though the few foreigners that I shared a dorm room with in Provincia Hostel were the …