Tag

postcard

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...

A Postcard from Armageddon

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  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 —...

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...

A Postcard from the Taklamakan (2)

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Desert travel blurs all time sense. I don’t know if it’s the hypnotic motion of the camel or the endless monotony of the scenery. The mind works on two levels simultaneously. The automatic level is watching the route, choosing a path, adjusting for balance. The other level is flowing along rivers of memory, through labyrinths of thought, reliving past events and acting out future...

A Postcard from the Shan Highlands

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    A thin mist broke over pale green rice fields in a wet hill-wrapped bowl in the Shan Highlands of northern Burma. An ox chewed its cud. Smoke rose from bamboo huts on the fringes, and longyi-clad men swung slow-motion sickles in garden plots. From over the next hill came the plaintive cry of the train from Mandalay, winding laboriously from village to village, overloaded with...

A Postcard from The Spanish Main

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The trade wind blows moist on the Caribbean side of Panama, stirring the palms of the tiny coastal fishing village of Portobelo, but it isn’t enough to put more than a ripple on the plate glass sea. It’s difficult to believe this quiet settlement was once the port of entry and exit for all of Spanish South America. Portobelo was the terminus of the Las Cruces Trail, stopping point of...

Two Postcards from Laos

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Laos is a jungle country of rural villages with wooden stilt houses and smoky cooking fires. Karst hills obstruct the journey, jutting up like horribly broken teeth, unbrushed and moss-covered. Distances are not great, but winding roads make journeys into marathons. The highway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is like a footpath that — over time and purely by default — became a highway...

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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