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Vagabond Dreams Outtakes 10—Zack Speaks

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Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios… From The Philosophy of Zachary Peoples: Page 12: “I dunno, man. Philosophy’s interestin’, but I think that what you believe has to come from inside yourself, ya know? No one can teach you how to examine and make sense of...

Volumes Have Secrets

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No matter where I am in the world, I feel immediately at home in a library. Oriented in space by the catalog system and the temple-like, almost ritual regularity of checkout desk, reference section, fiction and nonfiction. I also feel oriented in Time — through the mathematical chronology of the history section, and in terms of the linear development of human thought through the eras of...

A Postcard from Alexandria

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To me, a library has always been a sacred place. I went there as a child in search of silence and reflection, just as others seek the dim solace of a church. I went there to find answers to my questions, just as others might seek a priest in times of distress. Sometimes I went there simply for the atmosphere — the smell of the books, the soft tread of shoes on worn green carpet, the weight of the...

The Courage to Dream Great Dreams

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In the Black Hills of South Dakota, not far from the patriotic visage of Mount Rushmore, the curious traveler can find the growing realization of one man’s dream. In 1939 Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Sioux asked Bostonian Korczak Ziolkowski, already a well-known sculptor, to come west to carve a mountain. Standing Bear wanted him to tell the story of his people, “So that the white...

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes # 9—A Viewfinder for You

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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 highlands of Guatemala… Something had been nagging at me during my entire interlude in Antigua. I wasn’t sure what it was, and so I waited for it to reveal itself. I did magic tricks for the children of...

Travels with Herodotus

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In 1955, just out of university, the Polish writer Ryszard Kapuscinski made his first disoriented forays into the world outside the Iron Curtain. He had only dreamed of the simple act of “crossing the border”. Instead, he found himself sent to India, then China, and then Africa as a foreign correspondent. Untrained for the job and unsure of himself, he takes along a copy of...

Why Do You Travel?

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Some people travel as a vacation: to decompress from life’s stresses, to shut down and escape. Others view travel as a vocation in itself. I’m one of the latter. Every journey is like a life in microcosm. At the beginning we’re energetic and naïve, filled with wonder at the strangeness that surrounds us. By midway, experience has dulled our shine; we see a little less, perhaps...

A Postcard—Teaching ESL in Japan

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The tortured sounds of the alphabet song drifted across the lobby for the fifth time that day. From the next room, rising above the muffled voices, I heard, “Teacher, what does it mean, ‘feces’?” I sighed and rubbed my eyes, fighting sleep. “What is…. what is surprise?” Tomio, the pudgy bald Japanese salaryman sitting across from me, jiggled a leg beneath...

Caught in the Slipstream Pull of the Road

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The endless steaming ribbon of road unrolls before you like a film. Heat haze shimmers and distorts the horizon, breaking the asphalt into tiny lakes which dissolve into nothingness as you rocket on through. A lanky saguaro cactus seems to nod at your passing; but maybe that’s just the red shift. Your hair whips and flutters in the slipstream, bleached blond by the desert sun. The land...

Untitled #23

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In addition to reviewing classic works of travel literature, I’d also like to draw your attention to works of outstanding artistic merit. The sort of thing that’s likely to appeal to those who enjoy my prose. The music of The Church has formed the soundtrack for every journey I’ve ever taken. Allow me to introduce you to their latest album: Untitled #23.     Untitled...

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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