Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Numen of Regret


  It’s strange to think that after everything, when it’s all over, you just quit. Your light simply goes out and you are no more. What I find saddest about that whole notion is all the questions left unanswered when we die. Nothing will be solved. No one will tell us what it was really all about. How we did. Worst of all, we’ll never find the answers to all those nagging...

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes 13—Tearing The Veils From History


  Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in the Peten region of Guatemala… Overgrown jungle pathways linked the main ruins of Tikal, transforming predictable sightseeing into something approaching exploration. I walked quietly and breathed deeply of...

The Mayan World


The Mayan world occupied the upper third of Central America, from the baking jungle flatlands of the Yucatan Peninsula (present day Mexico, Belize and the Guatemalan Petén) to volcanic highlands stretching as far south as Copán in Honduras. Mayan civilization was not an empire, but a loose collection of entities that shared a common cultural background. Large centers of power like Tikal, Copán or...

Something Eating Up My Days


Things have been busy in Murdland, and blogs have been scarce… This will be an update rather than the usual traveler’s tale. Not a lame excuse for neglecting you, not a mea culpa, just a simple update with some links that you may enjoy checking out. So where the fork have I been these past two weeks? Australian rock legends The Church just wrapped up the tail end of their coast-to...

Holi-daze in Hell


Surrealism supplanted reality the moment I landed in Pyongyang, North Korea. In front of the airport terminal, beneath an enormous painting of Kim Il-Sung, a long line of women in traditional dress chanted “Welcome Pyongyang!” as they pumped their fists in the air. At the airport I was paired with an “escort” who wouldn’t leave my side the entire time I was in the...

Death on the Mass Interment Plan


  Half an hour by motorcycle outside of Phnom Penh. A peaceful spot by the riverside. A place where fat lazy bees buzzed, and where crickets sawed songs in the grass. A dirt pathway wound through this scene. I followed it until I met with the overgrown pit of an exhumed grave, its sides eroded like elderly gums or the caved-in face of a hobo. There were dozens of them, choked with stagnant...

Sommières Daze


      moonlight echoes through nighttime streets reverberating off walls of limburger cheese and the yellow plaster of peeling bandages over Poseidon blue. razor wounds or Time’s shaving nicks? black cats scuttle through dead-end alleys like fading dreams they dissolve into cognac fumes rain dogs howl and the light peels away as the evening train mourns its passing with a brassy...

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes # 12—Unleashing Delerium


Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in Guatemala… Guatemala City lay far below me, shrouded in the valley’s pre-dawn silence, as I wound down the corkscrew highway from the highlands. My head hung in half-sleep, swaying with the motions of the van...

A Postcard from Armageddon


  I’m 31 feet below ground at the Delta One (D-01) launch facility, standing in a reinforced concrete tube, behind a foot-thick steel blast door. A loop of Cold War tunes plays in my head: The Final Countdown, followed by 99 Red Balloons (the English version, with that sexy accent). I’m facing a grey metal control panel with several bakelite telephones and a number of switches —...


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