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Postcards from the Edge

A Postcard from the Naqa Temple

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Fifty kilometers east of the Nile — a camel or donkey’s journey in ancient times — sits one of the largest ruined sites in Sudan. Today it’s an area of wild and remote desert. But the Wadi Aeateib was once fertile and well watered, and this was the site of an important city in the Kingdom of Meroe. The remains of three temples greet the traveler who makes the rough desert drive out to visit this...

A Postcard From The Harem

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The theme of Topkapi is seclusion. A graduating depth of shadows. Deeper shades of obscuring darkness. Privacy nestled within privacy like Russian dolls, visible in the layers of courtyards and iridescent tiled chambers. Each layer of rooms contained its own household of secrets that transcended and included the rooms that surrounded it. Only those at the centre knew all. The innermost rooms were...

A Postcard from Central Anatolia

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The theme of Cappadocia is Seclusion and Fear. Isolated by its arid emptiness, its people sought further seclusion by digging vast cities deep under the ground. They tunneled to escape invasion, military recruitment, and puritanical government attempts to control the distillation of raki. The rock is threaded by rooms in which thousands of people could live for 4 or 5 months without ever coming...

A Postcard From Belfast

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One evening Colin and I hiked up Cave Hill to take in Belfast at stereoscopic scale. On our way back to town, we paused to slake our thirst at a pub called The Front Page. It’s close proximity to the offices of the Belfast Telegraph and Irish News had reputedly made it a hangout for journalists and newspaper workers. While I tend to avoid other writers, Colin, a photojournalist by profession...

A Postcard From The Giant’s Causeway

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Colin was mesmerized by the steady geometry of the rocks backed by grassy coastal cliffs which looked as though the land had been bitten off and then softly eroded. But for me the Causeway was just a strange pile of stones on an inhospitable day. I couldn’t buy into its myth. I only sensed something when I picked my way out to where the slippery stones were surrounded on three sides by the sea...

A Postcard From The Camargue

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The chapel was bathed in cool subterranean light, filtered through high window slits as though between lily pads into the chthonic depths of a pond. Sitting in a pew, I felt as though I had drowned. The faint sound of religious music piped through hidden speakers became the Music of the Spheres, the sound of my consciousness as it fled my drowned body. All was stillness and shafts of light. The...

A Postcard from Lastovo

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  Lastovo: isolated Adriatic island of jagged hills clad in holm oak and aleppo pine, where the sea laps sunbleached stones with tongue translucent blue. Settled by Illyrians and later controlled by Rome, over the centuries it was destroyed by Venice for harboring pirates, joined the Dubrovnik Republic, and passed through the hands of Napoleonic France, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, to finally...

Days Between Mirages

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Certain skies have the power to sharpen eyesight. It is the map maker who actually creates the world, and in a landscape devoid of features, cartography turns inward. Far below the walls of Dier Mar Moussa, the sands stretched out like a hazy veil beyond the perpetual present; beyond even remembering. Such a landscape brought to mind the Temptations of St. Anthony. Exiled voices. Delirious days...

Sommières Daze

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      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...

Ryan Murdock

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

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