Vacation is when watery, oily, acidic
juices are plowed with crusty bread,
where butter comes in clumps and
goes down in littler ones, flavor bombs,
when you have time to pour the second
cup of honey with a punch of rose.
Aimless and timeless, there might be
no other method to managing a day for you.
Archives: World Narratives
Vacation is when watery, oily, acidic
1. I was able to seize a great opportunity to hear Al Gore speak (fo’ free!) at Harvard University. Always love a chance to hear troubling data about the planet in a Southern accent. That experience turned out to be the start of many great speakers in February, including two BBC World journalists, the exiled [...]
While in Washington D.C. on a school trip, I used my moleskin notebook to record words and thoughts on speakers, visits, and work items. These are the words that repeated themselves.
Bhutan in the winter energizes the hunger for discovery that’s resident in children lucky enough to be young. It would take a dark closet for decades to produce this contrast anywhere else, the specialness clear with every sip of cold mountain air or gentle exchange. I can’t say this is what travel should always be, because it’s only through their unique set of occurrences that yielded such an outcome. But what they have set up, from my effortless post, has a wonderful effect. Wool is nowhere near our eyes, and we are learning individual lessons from the backgrounds we brought.
It’s cold, and my body begs to be energized beyond the limits of my water consumption; disregarding the extreme altitude difference, abused toes, conserved clothing, or painful, chapping skin. It’s the sloping of land that begs to be traversed. It’s Scotland. Switzerland. Bhutan.
Slow feet Slow eyes Slow decisions with little contemplation of options Nauseating excitement has slightly fermented into a smoother approach With time to wander the streets of Thimphu I mosey, no muscles or desires attempting to accelerate a slow discovery Light, open spaces, crowds, and amusing sounds I can’t remember but a handful of passing [...]
We live very clear chapters that can be qualified
and measured, compared to other chapters that may
or may not build off each other.
A place with streets I couldn’t even visualize
became my next one, and hopefully one connected
to the ones for the following pages.
The upcoming term in Argentina will mark my 52nd country, and every once in a while I’m perplexed that this whole world obsession and world tour started from a town of 11,000 in rural Indiana. I talk about this town often–one I haven’t lived in for 12 years to the week–and it’s a weekend like [...]
The immigration line stretched to meet me at row 35 on the 767-200. A strong arm could toss a tennis ball beyond the width of TXL’s international wing. Elbowing through the Red Rover chain that was a Canadian tour group, bags launched to my shoulders and bolted for fresh air. The weather did not mirror [...]
Today, I fly to Berlin, Germany. I’m not ready, but my bags will be in a couple hours time. And by tomorrow morning, I will have landed in my new home for the next three months. Take away this woman’s sweet safari hat, nicely-pressed dress, and hat box, replace it with yoga pants, a sweaty [...]
I keep mentioning to our students that this phenomenon occurs constantly, with no warning, regarding foods, flavors, experiences, and beyond. All of a sudden, we’re okay with what we formerly weren’t (and of course, the opposite is always possible). I’m inclined to believe these mini-epiphanies are more perceptible on the road where they can be constantly questioned.
Dear Internet, I’ve been horrible, saying I’m going to write and then rarely following through. And it’s not for lack of noteworthy developments; this was an unbelievably unpredictable and diverse 2011, with certain promise of continuation in 2012. Upon returning to Indiana this holiday season, to a world so different from my working one, I [...]
My entire summer was a jig-saw puzzle to assemble. Trips, subleases, weddings, births, and work were spaced out just so, as to make every two-week chunk a mystery until it was present. All flights were booked dangerously close to the week of departure, some including feline carry-ons and 12 hour durations. On top of air [...]
I haven’t traveled somewhere new for the sole purpose of leisure in a long time. Ironically, my mind doesn’t focus on potential trips I can take myself on without a ‘work’ angle – work being a very fuzzy concept often mistaken for hobby. Moving to New York and the east coast was a strategic escape [...]
It’s been a long time since I landed in a new place and felt a strong connection. Luang Prabang was easy from the start, as we piled into a cheap bus from the airport to the most peaceful “populated” street I’ve ever witnessed. It felt like we entered the land without hassles. Especially juxtaposed with Vietnam, we were existing in a place with one face and no veneer.
I am 26 days fresh in New York City. Already recovered from the lower back strains of poorly lifting a 65 lb. military trunk, I’m finding real comfort in the room that houses my first purchased mattress and this neighborhood that seems to defy the modern-day NYC paradigms. As enjoyable as this month-long transition has [...]
Gasping for relief and peace after leaving all of Nakavika in my wake, I finally turned to my taxi driver, a middle-aged, toothless Indo-Fijian with a cheeky grin ready to start some chit-chat. Once again, I had a conversation with a local that scored me points for America in their eyes, and knowing the consequences [...]
We awoke in Suva, breathing in fresh the air of no obligation, feeling the tenacious pain of our misguided attempts, and knowing a change would soon come to our group. I broke off from Garrett and Jackie in the morning to visit the village carrier, as Abel and Daiana were navigating to the coast to [...]
One side of the sky was navy blue and brilliant with stars and a succulent moon; the other side hinted at the curvature of the globe with shades of pink. The dew making my feet squeak in my flip-flops mirrored the moisture on my eyelids. There wasn’t a wavering thought in our minds about returning [...]
I opened my eyes as if they’d been closed for only a few seconds. Stains decorated the holey mosquito net, which now ensnared a circling bunch of blood-filled bugs. Though I’ve never been physically beaten up, I imagine the next morning would have felt akin to how I felt there, in that bed, feeling the [...]
What you’re about to read is the final event we took part in, created, or witnessed in the Fijian Highlands. It occurred on a Saturday, fifteen days before we were scheduled to leave the islands and thirteen days before we initially desired to leave Nakavika. It was because of this event and the clash of [...]
Last I left the tales of this Fijian adventure, there was a major event that happened – one which led us to doubt the possibility of our project coming to be. After issues were resolved (in the eyes of the elders), we asked the Turaga ni Koro (village spokesman) to hook us up with a ride [...]
How does that make you feel? Go on…let it out. It’s okay to feel these feelings. Let’s talk about that… We all shake our heads at the shoulder-patting, “aww gee”-inspiring cliches from the psychology world, but there’s no doubt they come from a necessary concept. When the traumatic, the all-of-a-sudden, the shocking occurs, our heads [...]
It didn’t matter how many times people clarified the schedule for the funeral arrangements, they never began at the designated time. It wasn’t about timing, though. It was about flow. Only when one group assembled could they continue with the next event, and with weather that echoed the widow’s eyes, every moment was contingent on [...]
Jackie, you’ve come into the village at an incredibly rare time. Gare, this is big. Abel just told me Elias, Mario and Eta’s father, just died an hour before we pulled up. He had a heart attack. I’m not sure what happens next, but all the boys are stressed and silent. I asked what we [...]
It was odd seeing Garrett in such sour spirits on the road. The intense foot infection he contracted sapped him of his usual energy. I had no idea how to make him feel better. He needed a breather from the project and to relax in Suva for the days between doctor’s visits, but meanwhile, the [...]
This post was written by Garrett Russell. We rely on our bodies to work. That’s a no-brainer. Traveling on a budget often involves staying in a hostel, taking public transportation, and very commonly using your appendages to get from place to place. I have walked all over this planet, and I expect my body to [...]
Returning after our holiday, we had not only our backpacks but boxes worth of books, school supplies, and ingredients for a week of comforting menu items. Fane gave us no hint as to when she would return to the village, and we were given permission to run her household to our liking, to cook and [...]
Even if the only information one is exposed to is from cable TV and the local newspaper, Americans know what makes them unhealthy, and many continue to live as though they don’t. 34% of us are obese, so to travel globally and point fingers at people’s awareness of their own health seems little hypocritical. However, [...]
Aside from decapitation and/or childbirth sans-Epideral, I’m guessing nothing hurts as badly as putting aloe vera on freshly exposed burned skin. I nearly passed out from a woozy rush after an invigorating shower than revealed to me I hadn’t just crisped one layer of skin but many. Regardless, I threw on some make-up for the [...]
This is what we woke up to. [This post is a continuation of Breaking Away to Rakiraki.] Garrett awoke me with a cheer, but I could barely move. Having not shifted an inch the entire night, my hardening body was attempting to fuse with the modest mattress like a mother to her long-lost-but-now-found son. It [...]
I’m up before the crack of dawn. My family is enjoying Christmas brunch. I’m a pack mule walking a kilometer down the rocky road toward a bald cavern – one that I must then traverse. My niece is probably opening her first present from Santa (or at least watching since her motor skills aren’t Olympic [...]
There’s only been one other time when my Christmas wasn’t filled with earmuffs, slick roads, and airings of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And the night we left for Maui with the rest of the holiday escapists was a tad doleful as we left winter in our contrail.
Regardless of our desires to infuse routine into our Fijian lifes, the days always promised to be unpredictable. Waking up in the morning, I could lie in bed, staring at the illuminated ceiling and think: Today, I could eat something crazy, go some where amazing, end up crying, hurt myself, receive a phone call, get [...]
Stir at 7:30am to the sounds of giggling children, bossy dads, and falling billiard balls into play. Emerge from half-slumber at 9am to eat a pound of crepes and cups of lemongrass tea. Wash face. Brush layer of cane sugar off teeth. Contemplate what today will bring. This was our morning routine during those first few weeks in Fiji, when we had a host family and the sole mission of experiencing Fiji before our classes began in the afternoon. Some days we scribed on our computers until they died. But what we usually opted for were outings with our host mother or the children, and these trips always centered around satiating that primal desire to cool off.
Traditional Fiji is all about formalities, paperwork, and figurative curtseys. Sitting next to the Turaga ni Koro (village spokesman) one rainy afternoon, he invited us to come to the youth break-up party on Friday evening. The official invite came one hour later in the hands of one of his children. On a sheet of college-ruled [...]
The aftermath of Cyclone Mick kept the skies gray and misty for the following three days. Nearby villages sent word of their damages; Nakavika was one of the luckier communities, thanks to their relocation. For decades, Nakavika sat in a nook of a river bend, level with the mighty Luva, until the mid 1950s when [...]
Peeling the rain shell off my pruning body, I layered on socks, pants, shirts and hats, using every available clothing item in my bag, and walked outside to watch Cyclone Mick blow by. [This is a continuation of Bracing for the Cyclone: Day 13] Garrett and I, both equipped with our arsenal of cameras, sat atop [...]
Various news publications reported Cyclone Mick as a battering, vicious storm, causing a lot of devastation to Viti Levu in December of 2009. BBC showed disheartening video footage of the aftermath. Al-Jazeera accentuated the death count. The Telegraph wove together an anthropomorphic description of Mick using beastly adjectives galore. All of these articles were factual, [...]
There aren’t many things I regularly do on a trip. I don’t always buy keychains or t-shirts to mark a new country or experience, and I’m hardly a superstitious person, with an arsenal of therapeutic exercises at the ready before each plane, train or automobile ride. I don’t send postcards from every city, nor do [...]
This post is written by Garrett Russell. I think I might have found my Fijian calling: Rugby. Nakavika is a village that has earned the reputation of being a Namosi Highlands rugby powerhouse. With one player currently on the Fiji national team, the blood for the sport runs deep within everyone. Every evening before dinner [...]
Seven children and youth members of the village crowded around Garrett’s computer as he narrated his life in another world. “This is my friend Amanda…And this is the snow I ski down every winter. We get lots of snow like this…” I dozed off nearby on my bed as each head fought for viewing space [...]
Lemon leaf in the morning: tea that surpasses all other attempts to comfort the soul. There’s no better way to begin a new phase of life in Fiji. We awoke from our personal bedroom slumbers to a Fijian breakfast, sitting Indian style around a tablecloth near the kitchen. With all the logistics configured with the [...]
It was 9pm in the Fijian highlands. The glow of candles and fluorescent lights shone through the windows and spaces between woven walls. Kamikaze frogs darted in and out of our path as Garrett, Abel and I lugged our huge bags toward Fane’s house where half the village men and children were waiting, TV ablaze [...]
Flying westward across the Pacific is an unsettling travel experience for a couple reasons – the main ones being deadly, cobalt waters that threaten a future stranded on an island with a friend named Wilson and the time travel that occurs with simply flying over one degree of latitude. We left LAX at 11:30pm on [...]
A blending of India’s food and occasional putrid odors, Uganda’s smoking fires and Hawaii’s humid sweetness, spices and diesel exhaust, dust and flowers, fresh air infused with very specific whiffs of soap and oils – I can’t explain Fiji’s air any better than this. I wriggled in anticipation for Garrett’s first smells of the island. [...]
“Nice craic” Why, thank you! This phrase took me some time to understand. This wasn’t a severely misspelled compliment towards my derriere but a charming little catch phrase about good times in Ireland. Having a blast at a pub, cheers-ing to good friends, good Guinness, and swaying to the pipe of a Irish folk musician? [...]
Some Irishmen say Dublin is not a city that reflects the true Irish mentality. “I’ve lived there for years before, but it’s never been a home to me,” said one of the Irish ladies I met on the internship. It’s definitely got its touristy areas that overcharge and manufacture “authenticity,” and these areas can become [...]
We bolted for the Highlands. There was no stopping us. The bright yellow tour bus resembled the Coors Light Silver Bullet Train in my mind as it streamed like a beast across very green and steadily growing hills. When there was a need to stretch the legs, we stopped in a town that brings to [...]
I owe my desire to romp in the Scottish Highlands to one Mr. Bear Grylls. Watching him parachute into the rolling terrain and crunch through icy grass got me all sorts of giddy to do those things myself. So when I heard we were darting around the Highlands via bus tour during Scotland’s best weather [...]