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IN THE SPOTLIGHT  (SCROLL DOWN TO READ OUR LATEST BLOG POSTS)

 

Tuesday
Apr152014

Confessions of a Traveling Author

by Nancy King

 

Author, Nancy King.

I’m an author, Nancy King—no relation to Stephen King—but if I were, this story might be different.  As it is, I travel to independent bookstores in nearby cities, each time hoping I will find a room full of people waiting to hear what I have to say about my new novel, Changing Spaces, and wanting to buy my books. 

In one bookstore, a few people wander up to the display, pick up copies of my books and thumb through the pages. This is promising, I think. There aren't many people, but at least looking and thumbing are a prelude to buying.  I grin broadly when a petite, woman well-dressed woman approaches me.  “Are you the author?”

“Yes," I reply expectantly.

“I don’t read,” she announces. 

Stunned, I say the first thing that comes to mind. “What do you do?”

“I write novels,” she says, looking pleased with herself. 

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Tuesday
Apr082014

Caught in a Mudslide

story and photos by Lori Marquardson

 

So many reasons for going to Ecuador, but being stuck on a bus full of local Evangelical Christians in a mudslide was not one of them. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. 

I had been backpacking alone through Ecuador and, deciding that a few days exploring the Amazon jungle was in order, made arrangements to meet up with a small group in the dusty oil frontier town of Lago Agrio.  From there we would go to the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve for a few days of roughing it with iguanas, howler monkeys, piranhas and blue morpho butterflies. 

River reflections, Cuyabeno Nature Reserve, Ecuador.

A cool drizzle fell as I boarded the overnight bus in Quito. The driver’s personal touches of green fringe and dangling images of saints above the steering wheel couldn’t mask that the bus was more contraption than road-worthy vehicle. My fellow passengers were mostly short and dark, with a number of women wearing the typical Andean dress of black bowler hats, full skirts and rubber sandals while I, the obvious foreigner on board, sported beige zip-off pants and a purple windbreaker. We headed northeast, following the twisting mountainous roads leading out of the city, and despite the jolting motion, I drifted off.

At some point, I came to: the bus was not moving, no engine running, nada. I could see the driver had relaxed into what was definitely a non-driving position:  head tilted back, mouth agape, arms crossed over his chest, and legs spread-eagled. Strange, but having been in South America for quite some time, I had experienced unexplained delays before and generally they weren’t show-stoppers, so I tried to fall back asleep. Then came a huge rumble outside, followed immediately by murmuring voices inside.

“What the hell is that?”  I said to no one in particular and, being in the front row, I leaned over to the driver, and asked “¿Qué está pasando? “ 

“Hay un derrumbe.”  A landslide.  Hmmm, that did not sound good. 

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Tuesday
Apr012014

Desert Revelations

story and photos by Christopher Clark

 

As the bus eased through the gears, through the green corn fields and farther away from the small terminal in the town of Kitale, I tried to cast my mind back to the beginning, to figure out what it was that had drawn me to the wild and volatile Turkana region of Kenya in the first place. I guessed that the people I would meet once I got there might want to know. But the truth was that I still didn't really have an answer.

I could at least have said that it stemmed from books by long-dead explorers; and that I was looking for something very different; and that Turkana seemed a long way away from pretty much everything I had previously known. At 28 years old I had grown bored of and disillusioned with much of what I had previously experienced. Wasn't that enough reason? 

Either way, it was too late. I was on my way, heading north, already half way there. Soon the bus rose out of the the Rift Valley and gradually left the rich, thick vegetation behind as we entered a place of sparse open space and scorched earth.


The rumours about the poor quality of the dirt road to Turkana were by no means exaggerated. At times the bus seemed to defy physics, leaning precariously to the side, the ground suddenly almost within touching distance of the window. Many of whom I assumed were the more seasoned passengers whooped, laughed and slapped thighs as though it was all part of the fun. I held on to my armrests for dear life.

A few hours into our journey the bus passed a group of five or six men slouched on the sand with T-shirts covering most of their faces like balaclavas and AK-47s slung over their shoulders. As I stared out of the window at them, one of them saw me, stood up, lifted his gun aloft with one hand and waved at me vigorously with the other, and then they were gone.

We arrived at our destination, Lodwar, at a little before 11 p.m., roughly five hours late. Patience is a must for travelling in Kenya.

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