Become a Subscriber

Become a Contributor
Shop for Books by Our Contributors

Also Recommended

Global Adventure with Judith Fein and Paul Ross

Support This Site
Powered by Squarespace
25 Van Ness 25-word essays 40 State 40 Days 99cent store Adventure Travel Africa Aging Air Saftey air travel Airline fiasco Airline Passenger Bill of Rights airline safety Airplane airplane seat selection airport fiasco Alaska all-inclusive resort American Airlines American ignorance Amish Amsterdam Amtrak anger Arab Arabia architecture Argentina Arizona arm chair travel Art Asia Authentic Travel awards Backpack travel bad day baggage Bahamas Bali Balloon Festival ban whale watching Bangkok Barcelona beach being arrested Being authentic Belize Bellingham Washington belly dancing Belmont University Bhutan bicycling bike tour bikes bikes as therapy Billy the Kid bioluminescence Bird watching Birding birthday book contest Boycott Brattany Brazil Breaking news British Columbia Budget travel Buenos Aires Burma bus travel Cahokia Mounds Cairo California Cambodia Camino de Santiago Camping Canada Canadian Geese Cancer car travel Caribbean Caribbean rainforest Carnac Carnival Caving Central America Ceramics change your life Cheap travel Cheap trips cherish life Chetumal children China Christmas Christmas Day Bomber Claridges Class trip Classic Hotels claustrophobic flyer climate change coffee Colombia color contest continental airlines controversy Cook Islands Copenhagen Costa Rica courage cowboy culture Creative travel creative writing crisis Croatia Crop Circles cruise travel cruising Cuba cuisine Culinary travel Cultural travel Culture Cusco CVS cycling Czech Republic dance Death Death Valley National Park Denmark dining dining guide divorce Dominican Republic Dordogne Dubai Earthquake Easter Eco Travel eco-tourism eco-travel Ecuador Egypt elephant seal emergency preparedness England environmental commentary environmental problems Ethiopia Europe European Union excellence in travel writing expat living expats Faith falling family family resort family travel family vacation Fat Tuesday fear festival fiesta Filipino restaurant finances fitnees flight Florida Food forgetfulness forgiveness France French Camp Friendship frustrated flyer frustration gadgets Galapagos Garifuna Gaspe Peninsula Genealogy Germany Ghana gift guide Girona giveaway Glastonbury Festival global curiosity Global eating habits global nomad global warming good day Gorilla Trek Government GPS Grand Canyon grandparents Greece grief guys getaway Haiti happiness Hawaii healing healing journey hearing loss Helicopter tours hiking Historical travel Holiday Celebrations Home Honduras honeymoon horseback riding hotels How to how-to humor Hurricanes i do not love Venice i need a vacation Iceland Volcano Incas independenc India Indonesia inn reviews Inner Child Internal Reflection international marriage introvert iPhone app Ireland Islam isolation Israel Istanbul Italy Jack London Jamaica Japan JetBlue Jewish journaling Judith Fein Jules Older Kansas Karl Rove Kenya kindness of strangers land Language Las Vegas Latin America learning vacations Leukemia Library life lessons life transformation literature living abroad living like a local London Los Angeles loss Louvre at night love luxury hotels luxury travel Maine Malta Manatee Mardi Gras marriage Masonic Temple Massage Maui Maya meditation Mexico Michigan Middle East Military wedding Minnesota Missouri Molokai money Montana Monterey Moose Morocco mother's day mother-son travel motorcycle travel multigenerational vacation Music Musings Myanmar Namibia Nancy King National Prayer Day Native America nature Nepal Nevada New Mexico New Orleans New Year New York New Zealand Newfoundland Nicaragua Nigeria NNew Mexico noise Northwest Airlines Pilots Norway Nova Scotia Ohio Older parents Olive Oil Olympic Peninsula Washington orcas Oregon Orkney Islands outdoors ownership Pacific Northwest Parent's love Paris Partners Passover Paul Ross Pennsylvania personal essay Peru Pets Philippines photography contest Pilots Plane plastic plastic bags Poem Poetry police Politics Portugal postcards Pottery poverty Prague Prayer procrastination pueblo culture Puerto Rico Q&A Quebec Quito ranch vacation random acts of kindness rap song reading reasons to travel recession rejuvenation relaxation Religion Religious holidays remembering mothers Responsible travel. Sustainable travel restaurant reviews revolution River Rafting Road trip roadtrip romance romantic travel Rosemary Beach runway delay Russia Sacred Places sadness Safari sailing Samba music San Andrés de Teixido San Francisco Santa Fe Sardinia Saudi Arabia Scotland sea kayaking Sedona self discovery senior travel Serbia Shakespeare Shamanism shame Shopping short stories Sicily Siena silence Sisters ski vacation skiing Slow travel Slum Tourism Slumdog Millionaire small-group travel Soaking tub Sociology Songwriting South America South Dakota Southeast Asia soviet satellite Spa Spain spirituality Springtime SSan Francisco St. Louis St. Petersburg Standing Stones Steinbeck stress stuff happens Sumatra Summer cottage surfing surviving disaster Sushine Coast Switzerland Tacoma Taiwan Tanzania Taos Taxi Taxi Driver Tbex Texas Thailand The Netherlands the writing life Tokyo Tourism train trip Transformative travel transportation trash travel travel advice travel agents Travel Blogging travel commentary travel confession travel contest travel essay travel gear travel hassles travel humor Travel interrupted travel musings travel opinion travel photography Travel Reviews travel safe travel safety travel security travel technology travel traditions travel trends travel videos Travel with Kids Travel Writing traveling alone traveling with kids traveling with teens trekking trip to the dentist truffles TSA complaints Ttrain trip Tunisia turbulence Turkey Tuscany typhoon UFOs Uganda uncensored travel opinion UNESCO World Heritage Site Union Station United Arab Emirates United Kingdom Upstate New York Utah vacation vacation rental vacation tips Valentine's Day Vancouver Venezuela Venice Venice California Vermont Veterans Day Vietnam Vinayaka Chaturthi virtual vacation Wales Walking Washington Washington D.C. water project waves we don't care airlines weather wedding White Oaks Pottery White Sands National Monument why I fly why not to cruise why travel wildlife spotting wine Women travel workout World Festivals world peace World War I World War II writer's block Writing Yoga Yucatan Peninsula zombie boot camp




Bhitarkanika Sanctuary: An Indian Getaway Into the Wild

by Neelu Agarwal

It isn’t very simple for most Indian girls. It isn’t like we pack our bags and head to where our heart says to go. Between notifying some and seeking permission from others, my trip got finalised. Most of the arrangements were being made by someone else to whom I had given full reign to decide, because as far as I was concerned I was simply happy to be going. But little did I know at that time that it would be a revelation of sorts and a sheer joy to visit what I understood to be Bhitarkanika, the land of crocodiles.



Our little trip was comprised of more than one destination. It took some time to wind things down in Puri, the beach-temple destination in Orissa, but by the evening we were on our way to Bhitarkanika. Our commute took about four hours of moving cautiously through the difficult terrain during the last leg of the journey. We reached Chandabali from where it was going to be a boat ride into the Sanctuary Park. It had been nothing to write home about all this while, but what lay ahead of me jolted me completely.

The darkness of the night and the troublesome roads were worrisome, and at first it was a relief to get out of the car, but then the destination itself proved to be a scary proposition. Our ferry in the moonless night looked sinister. And when we thought about the fact that we had entered the terrain of ferocious crocodiles, the scene in front of me seemed straight out of the famous Anaconda movies. The lone lantern lighting the boat and the stillness of the water around us felt menacing. At first, most of us laughed to ward off our fear.

And then none of us spoke. Did we fear waking the reptiles? I do not quite know for I had become too numb to think coherently. Do not mistake me; I am not one of those who succumbs to fear very easily. But when it came to the prospect of being eaten by crocodiles, my mind became my own worst enemy. I kept repeating to myself that the creek was full of salt water crocodiles and I kept replaying the visuals of the Anaconda movie. In retrospect, and with objectivity, I can say that the boat ride was actually peaceful and serene.

Finally, we arrived on land, where another jeep waited for us to take us to our accommodation-- Swiss tents.  Excitement coursed through me, for we were indeed inside a forest! I couldn't wait for morning when we would be able to explore more of it. My tent was much better than I expected. Equipped with all the modern amenities, it felt like a five star accommodation. And the extra layers of mosquito netting, kept us from thinking about the unknown varieties of hungry insects in the wild.

It was a bright, misty morning. A strange noise arose from inside our tent compound.  For a moment I could not make sense of it, but when I, with the other guests, walked towards it, we were delighted to see a flight of ducks being herded from one tent to the other by our hosts, and the loud quacking cacophony served as an alarm sound for tourists to wake up. What a delightful idea! All of us gathered to take a good look at our surroundings. It was nature at its very best, lush green vegetation, clean effervescent air, the slight chill in the air and the promise of wild life which we were yet to experience.

It was again by boat that we reached the salt water crocodile project at Dangmal. We were told that Bhitarkanika is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The success of the first phase of the project was evident; over 1500 crocodiles had been reared and left in the wild. The endemic mangrove forests that enveloped the region helped to sustain the endangered crocs and other wild life like water monitor lizards and Olive Ridley sea turtles that migrate to Gahirmatha, another adjacent marine wild life sanctuary.

Turtle golfina escobilla oaxaca mexico claudio giovenzana 2010

And then we embarked on a croc-spotting adventure. The guide took us to all the probable spots where we could spot them basking in the sun. They posed there, listlessly and lifelessly, but, perhaps not surprisingly, any slight stir or movement on their part was enough for us to sit up and say our prayers. It was safe, of course, to view them from a distance, but there was always a "but” lingering in the air. Meanwhile, the guide prompted us to take our binoculars out for we would soon be in an area where some very elusive birds could be seen.

Birding involved watching out for eight different varieties of kingfishers that could be found in the area. And while the guide kept pointing out where they were-- sometimes exasperated that we weren’t quick enough– I nodded mutely and joined the game, although at first I really wasn't interested.  It was only the crocs that intrigued and terrified me. Time passed and the horizon was painted with reds and oranges and every fathomable shade in between. The atmosphere made me thoughtful and I began to realize how much more there was to the world than the little window I usually view it from.

We returned to our fashionable tents where a bonfire awaited us during dinner. And as we ate some of the limited cuisine options, my mind kept drifting back to my urban habitat, where none of the pristine beauty of the wild touches me. I was grateful to experience this unique ecosystem, where the crocs rule.  Their mute but towering presence clearly indicates that Bhitarkanika belongs to them. We rode back towards home in silence and in awe, having experienced the magnificent creatures whose presence asserts their power, and we were grateful for their magnanimity in allowing us to experience their land. 


Neelu Agarwal is a freelance writer at Pen India and contributor to

Learning to Adventure from Daddy

by Laura Hedgecock 


I was born with Fernweh, an ache to explore faraway places. It’s in my DNA; both of my parents had it. It was my dad, however, who taught us to pack adventure into our explorations.  

Like my mother, I’d bask in the preparations for travel. I’d research, map out itineraries, and pack well in advance. For Daddy, however, the best part of travel was the adventure—the experiences you couldn’t plan for. 

Mother and Father in Alaska.

In 1985, I was interning in Germany when Daddy was due to come over on a business trip. Since I was stressed about making a move from Köln (Cologne) to Homburg-Saar, Daddy decided we would make the move together and he would take care of the details. 

What he meant by that was that he’d leave the details to take care of themselves. 

He rented a BMW with a manual transmission. His plan was to teach me how to drive a shift as he took in the beauty along the winding road that followed the Rhine River. It would be cheaper, he said, than replacing the clutch in a car he owned if my “learning” didn’t go well. In my mind, he rented a red convertible, but I’m honestly not sure if I’m coloring the memory. 

He’d laugh and say, “Way to go kid!” when I wasn’t able to find a gear.

Click to read more ...


If Only The Teachers Could See Me Now

by Cathy Laska


I had to step back a few feet to get a glance of the Scott Monument from the ground up to the spire. It was terrifying and made me rather dizzy. (It reminded me of the time back in junior high when I froze at the top of a five-tier bleacher and it took a couple of teachers at least an hour to get me down.)   

I was in my last full day of strolling around the streets of Edinburgh, taking in the remaining major attractions I wanted to see before leaving. For several days since my arrival, I had walked past the awe-inspiring gothic tribute to the famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. Located in the Princes Street Gardens, the monument, a cathedral-like structure, towers well above the other buildings on Princes Street and the surrounding area. This stunning piece of art, made from Binny sandstone, stands two hundred feet six inches tall, with a spiral staircase of 287 steps.  

I had been reading the brochure and thinking how much I really would like to go up to the top of the monument and experience the view, but my fear of heights kept me firmly planted on the ground, content to just wave to the people at the top of the spire. Eventually, though, curiosity got the better of me and I was faced with a tough decision: Do I let my anxiety take over or do I take the challenge?

Click to read more ...


My Father's Syria

by Claudette Sutton

Growing up in a suburb of Washington, D.C., I knew only bits and pieces of my dad’s life in the years before he became my dad.

I knew that both sides of our family came from an orthodox Jewish community in Syria (we ate delicacies like fried kibbehs, stuffed grape leaves and baba ghanoush, long before these foods hit the mainstream, and men sang Arabic songs at the Passover seder).

I knew that my father’s family had lived in Turkey for a few years when he was little (he once gave me the Turkish answer to a crossword puzzle clue).

I knew that he had lived in Shanghai as a young man (he taught us how to use chopsticks).

But I never knew how these bits came together in a story. For Mike Sutton, oldest son of a Syrian textile merchant, the job of getting to America, obtaining citizenship, finding a wife, starting a business and supporting a family pushed his past to the background.

Then one day several years ago, Dad asked me if I would help him “put [his] story on paper.” That simple, straightforward request set off a multi-year journey of discovery. In our very first interview, I blurted out, “Dad! Do you realize how interesting this is? This is our family treasure.”

My father—modest, soft-spoken, quintessentially pragmatic—had no idea. He was just living his life.

Click to read more ...


Driving in France

by Aysha Griffin

On my first trip to Europe in 1978, I landed a job driving a cheese delivery truck in London. I was too young and enthusiastic to be afraid of a right-hand drive minivan with no visibility or negotiating the "other side" of the road while deciphering the phonebook-sized "A-to-Z" map of London streets to locate stores awaiting chunks of cheddar and rounds of Roquefort. After six weeks, I moved on.

It was one of those jobs I've never known if I should include on my resumé to illustrate gumption and nerve, or never mention for its irrelevance. I submit it here as evidence of my behind-the-wheel experience and competence, and also the lack of clear direction in life. 

I've often taken the "next road" because it appeared, rather than plotting and staying a course. I like to think this has made for an "adventuresome" life, which I must value or else negate the roads I've taken. It's a journey that has often required me to debunk a sense of security as "illusion," although that illusion can be mighty sweet and comforting, deserving of appreciation for as long as it lasts.

I know of no happier sight than sunflower fields, so I smiled my way from Provence to Dijon along two-lane roads dotted with sunflowers and vineyards. Caption and photo by Aysha Griffin.

I admire those born with a sense of purpose and a clear path to satisfying lifelong careers and relationships. But I've discovered they are the exception. Most of us bumble from interest to opportunity, taking wrong turns, getting lost in detours, and sometimes spending years on roads that lead to disappointment in dead ends. 

I have learned to accept that life, for me, is not a clearly marked thoroughfare but a mix of toll roads where I speed along thinking I'm getting somewhere fast and not counting the cost, freeways where the landscape of time rushes past from the comfort of my driver's seat, winding country roads that meander and demand patience, and even bumpy tracks where I'm forced to get out and consider if I have the clearance and will to press on, or good sense to know when to change course. 

Click to read more ...


Land: A World in a Word

story and photos by B.J. Stolbov

What is land? Land can have many different meanings. Land can mean wealth, profit, prosperity, privilege, prestige, power, control, status, accomplishment, satisfaction, success, fame, respect, honor, dignity, safety, security, stability, continuity, contentment, freedom, happiness, hope, joy, beauty, love...

Land, for most people of the world, means wealth. Wealth, like beauty and love, is in the eye of the beholder.


For me, land was never wealth.  Wealth was always money, money in the bank, money in a bankbook, a bankbook safely in hand or in a box in a locked drawer, money invested in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.  Land was always an illiquid asset of uncertain value with high property taxes, constant insurance, repairs, trespassers, and troubles: land is an almost completely useless investment. The only land that I ever owned was a plot: 6 feet long by 3 feet wide by 6 feet deep. 

Every person I know in the Philippines either rents or owns their property outright.  For the average Filipino, there is no mortgage system of credit. In fact, I know few people who own a credit card. The Philippines, at least in the rural Philippines where I live, is a cash-and-carry, or, more often, a barter-and-carry, economy.

This is one of the main reasons why the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for “developing” countries are often so low. GDP measures the above ground economy of wages and income; it does not measure the underground economy of cash and barter.  Particularly at a local level, GDP is a misleading number. Many of the people I know here in the Philippines live on almost nothing, except their own homegrown food, and the products that they barter for goods and services. This is how we, and most people of the world, live.

Click to read more ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...