Where are you from?

For global nomad, Bhavana Gesota, the question “Where are you from?” is not an easy one to answer. Are people asking, she wonders, where she was born? Where she lives now? Or, are they asking which passport she carries? Is there a single answer to this single question? Read on…

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Searching for the Familiar

Many of us travel in search of the different, the unusual, the exotic. But, for B.J. Stolbov, wherever he travels, he often finds himself searching for the familiar. Not the things that remind him of “back home,” but, rather, the moments of connection—to others, to nature, to himself—that each journey inspires.

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Trekking Into The Stone Age

A trekking adventure in West Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, a place where some people still hunt their food with bows and arrows, challenges preconceptions and produces unexpected insights for intrepid traveler Barbara Brown Allen.

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Blame It On Travel: Why I still have hope.

In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, Ellen Barone is surprised to find that she is still full of hope. Like everyone else, she has moments of disgust and despair, but then, almost miraculously, a ray of light shines through. How does this happen? She blames it on travel. 

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Are Cubans Happy?

Much as travelers may try not to make sweeping conclusions based on superficial observations, happiness is a common attribute applied to Cubans by foreign visitors to the island. In this reflective essay, writer and tango aficionado Maraya Loza Koxahn shares her experiences in Cuba and thoughts on happiness as viewed through the lens of music and dance. 

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No Maps in Marrakech

On their first day in Marrakech, Jennifer Shanahan and her daughter learned a crucial lesson: To navigate the Medina, a labyrinth of streets and shops, you will need a map (not a phone) to find your way. But, more importantly, you must never use this map in public.

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Where Is Home? A Collection of Very Very Short Stories

We challenged YourLifeIsATrip.com writers to tell us about home in 25 words or less. What it means. What it doesn’t mean. Where they feel it. Where they don't. Is it a person? A place? A memory?. And, don’t let the small size fool you — at the heart of each of these very very short essays is a powerful story.

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Night[mare] at the Opera, First Act

Kids and culture is a difficult thing to get right. How to introduce the kids to high culture while managing not to ruin it for the adults involved? Author Jules Older attempts to do just that when he buys tickets for the family to see Madame Butterfly at the Sydney Opera House. He'd hoped for the ultimate Believe-Me, You'll-Thank-Me-Later cultural experience. His young daughters, however, saw things differently. 

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We Are All Immigrants

As an American expat teaching English in high schools and universities in the Philippines, YourLifeIsATrip.com contributor BJ Stolbov's students often ask him, “What makes Americans American?” Learn why it's a question that he finds difficult to answer as America becomes increasingly socially and politically divisive and discover how his answer is still one that unites. 

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The Risks of Time Travel in Santa Fe

by Elyn Aviva

We punched in the entry code on the keypad on the side of the looming concrete storage building, opened the door, and walked down the empty, darkened corridors to our numbered unit. We unlocked the roll-up metal door and pushed it up, revealing a colorful hodgepodge of items stacked along the walls and piled on metal shelving units in the center. We were entering a mysterious domain, a mixture of refuse dump and Treasure Island. 

This was the stuff we had left behind six years ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when my husband, Gary, and I moved to Spain. Now that were happily settled as expats in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, the time had come to clear out the storage unit. No more excuses.

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Fishing for a Future

by B.J. Stolbov

When I was young, my father took me on a father-son bonding/camping/fishing trip to some unpronounceable lake in upstate New York.  I learned to squeamishly poke a hook through a wiggling worm.  I learned to awkwardly cast a fishing line out into the lake.  And when I did catch a fish, with the point of the hook sticking out through its eye, I immediately learned, while screaming and crying, that I was no fisherman.  No fisherman either, my father and I gratefully agreed to bond by never going fishing again.

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by Judith Fein

Around the world, viewers and readers are transfixed by the racism dialogue that has transformed from a whisper to a scream in America. It took atrocities, murders, abuse to reach the point where black Americans are being heard. They are refusing to take it any more.

And in my heart, I think the roots of this racism are in slavery. I thought I had a basic grasp of the subject until I went to Louisiana and discovered 12 surprising—sometimes shocking--things I learned that I wanted to share with you.  

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Stay and Away

Two young men, Juan and José sit, side-by-side, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, beside the road, watching the cars and the vans and the trucks and the buses going by.

Both are high school graduates, but no more than that; neither of their families could afford to send them to school anymore.

Juan lives on this side of the road. He helps around the house, helps to raise his younger brothers and sisters, and helps in his mother’s ukay-ukay (used clothing) store. Juan has not heard from his father for years.

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The Little Burmese Tout in Training

I was an easy target, strolling happily towards the temple outside Inwa, Myanmar. The little Burmese girl chose me as the unwilling object of her relentless sales pitch. Clinging to my side she chanted loudly, “Lady! Lady! You buy my earrings? Buy my earrings! Lucky money! Lucky money!” She recited these words over and over in exactly the same order, a mindless loop of singsong, all the while holding up a selection of cheap handmade jewelry. My polite refusals were completely ignored or perhaps she simply didn’t hear me. She absentmindedly stared off into space while repeating her jingle, daydreaming of being someplace else, any place else. She was clearly bored with her job but needed the money. 

As a seasoned traveler, I’d seen my share of touts. Overly aggressive to say the least, they will do just about anything to make a sale.

I learned long ago to avoid eye contact. Keep walking. Say nothing to encourage them. But from the moment my plane touched down in Burma, I felt no need for such guardedness.

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