Category Archives: Travel

Ben’s free flights and journalism ethics

Bomb--Arvin61r58

Bomb clip art by Arvin61r58

Interviews are minefields for sources. And the resulting articles? Almost too fickle and frightening to contemplate. At least that’s the view taken by the subject of a Rolling Stone feature who I’ve been reading about lately.

Ben Schlappig’s reaction to major media attention shows the one-two punch of trepidation and surprise that only a savvy source can experience. He describes being cautious taking part in the reporting process for Ben Wofford’s piece, and expecting to emerge either more flattered than he expected or woefully disappointed at the portrayal. The maelstrom of coverage—most of it piggybacking on the RS coverage (see here, here, here, and here)—also got me thinking about journalism ethics.

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Converging new years: Baja and Rosh Hashanah

Norton grapes growing in Missouri.jpg

Grapes serve as a symbol for the new year in Baja. They parallel the round challah and apples I eat during the Jewish new year. Photo credit: “Norton grapes growing in Missouri” by Don Kasak – Flickr: Chaumette Winery. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This week, I’ve had much to celebrate. And contemplate. I can thank two converging new years for the opportunity. The evening of September 24 marked the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Then on the 25th, The Washington Post published a story of how I spent the Gregorian Calendar new year in Baja California, Mexico.

I see Rosh Hashanah as a time to consider the previous year and the coming year. As one tashlich service leader put it, it’s a good time to contemplate how we balance power with kindness, emotions with principles, and intelligence with wisdom.

And as for the publication process?  That was a chance, as always, to take stock of my own writing — what inspires me, how I approach the craft, what I aspire to do with it, and how I take feedback along the way (especially when the editor has plenty).

Shanah tovah to all celebrating, and may everyone have a sweet weekend.

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Disconnect

sunrise

The sun rises near Rancho San Cosme in Baja California, Mexico.

In one of the first pre-dawns of 2014, I stood next to a handful of travelers and watched the sky. As I focused on the layers of stars, I saw it. Meteors cascaded one by one through the Baja night. The only sounds for minutes at a time were our gasps.

It was the end of a two-week bus tour along that western peninsula of Mexico, and that entire time I’d been without a computer. I wanted to bring my laptop, but logistical concerns mounted: Limited access to electrical outlets on the bus where we spent much of our time, the risk of damage or theft, few opportunities to connect to email or look up words and maps. So I left it. Continue reading

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Publication: “Tequila after sunrise” in Whereabouts travel anthology

This fall has flown by, and I now sit among clocks that read two different hours. As we tie up Daylight Savings Time, I’m more than due for a publication update. My essay “Tequila after sunrise” was published last month in Whereabouts: Stepping Out of Place, an anthology about living in between spaces from 2 Leaf Press.

I’m thrilled to see my essay set at a tiny Greek hotel there on page 120 of this book, only in part because Henry Hughes of the The Harvard Review described the compilation asCompellingly narrative and, at times, dazzlingly lyrical” and tagged its stories “both cerebral and sensual.” Continue reading

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In today’s Washington Post: Santorini without the tourists

Oia sunset crowd

Nonplussed tourists wait for a sunset in Oia, Santorini. Photo by Rhea.

My piece on visiting one of the most popular Greek islands without all the bustle appears in today’s Washington Post Travel section. This is my first story for Post Travel and I’m thrilled to see it! Reporting the story wasn’t so bad, either.

Read Losing the tourists on tourist-mobbed Santorini.

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Tequila After Sunrise

Photo by Arlene Fetizanan

My travel essay, “Tequila After Sunrise,” is out in the Outside In travel and literary magazine. If that looks like a mouthful, try writing in red Sharpie in your second language. Or better yet, don’t — it could lead to a major misunderstanding. Yes, as I threatened earlier, it is time to share more about my trip to Greece and Turkey this summer. Check out the piece for details. Then stay for a while and find your way around a travel prose poem, a personal history of breaking into journalism, and other good stuff.

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Stereos the shopkeeper

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This is the best shopkeeper in all of Santorini. His name is Stereos, Greek for “solid.”

Stereos heaped extra figs into our day trip provisions, sold big water bottles for half a Euro, and treated us to an impromptu local wine tasting. “You, speak first. Which one do you want?” He said to me. The varietal options were Dry Red or Sweet Red.

Meeting this bedrock mensch was just one of my adventures in Greece and Turkey this August. (Yes, all went well despite some trepidations). I look forward to sharing more soon.

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