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W H E R E T R AV E L C A N TA K E YO U

A FA R .CO M

# T R AV E L DE E P E R

Go Abroad

OUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPAT LIFE

THE MEXICO YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW p.96

IRELAND’S WILD WEST p.76

POSTCARDS FROM MOROCCO p.47

MARCH/APRIL 2017


© 2016 TUMI, INC.


Sydney, Australia

In 2018, we will be introducing the much-anticipated World Journey – your opportunity to travel to some of the world’s most stunning destinations on one incredible sailing. Take a page from the book of past European explorers and experience the world with an adventure unlike any other. Auckland, New Zealand, is the starting point en route to London, England, with many world events and stunning destinations, and plenty of sea days in between. It’s the voyage for those who really love travel. Learn more at AzamaraClubCruises.com/WorldJourney.

1 0 2 D A Y S • 6 0 P O RT S • 2 9 C O U NT R I E S • 1 8 L AT E N I G HT ST A Y S


London, England

Azamara World Journey. In addition to our inclusive amenities, the World Journey comes with: • Roundtrip Air: Business class for suites and standard air for other categories. Upgrade to Business available for $2,999 per person. • One night pre-voyage 5-star hotel stay • $1,000 per person in Onboard Spending Money • One laundry bag per week per person • Up to $500 per person luggage reimbursement • Free Internet • Specially selected destination-driven gifts along the way

1 3 O V E R N I G H T S • 8 A Z A M A Z I N G E V E N I N G S® E V E N T S


MARCH/ APRIL THE EXPAT ISSUE

THE OTHER SIDE

A warm welcome to Ireland’s desolate, windswept western coast might be just what you need. by CHRIS COLIN 4

AFAR

MARCH/APRIL 2017

JOONEY WOODWARD

76


MARCH/ APRIL

88

DREAMSCAPES French photographer Patrick Willocq works with refugee children to create beauty from chaos.

96

A RETURN TO OAXACA

A writer and his wife go back to the scene of a youthful adventure and wonder what it means to travel dangerously. by ERIC PUCHNER

6

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DESTINATION INDEX AFGHANISTAN 68 ARGENTINA 66 BRAZIL 70, 74 COLORADO 34 DENMARK 62 DUBAI 53 ECUADOR 70 EGYPT 70

ENGLAND 64 FLORIDA 44 ICELAND 20, 44 ILLINOIS 44 INDONESIA 45, 70 IRELAND 76 ITALY 44 JAPAN 24, 74 KUWAIT 70 MALTA 70

MARYLAND 34 MEXICO 96 MOROCCO 47 NAMIBIA 39 NETHERLANDS 44, 74 NEW YORK 74 NEW ZEALAND 70 NICARAGUA 74 NORWAY 74 OKLAHOMA 34

OREGON 44 SINGAPORE 64 SOUTH AFRICA 28 SPAIN 44, 45, 60, 62 SWEDEN 70 TAIWAN 70 TANZANIA 74 TENNESSEE 34 TURKEY 72 VIETNAM 108

ANDY RICHTER

THE EXPAT ISSUE


83x

zoom

1x

zoom

When you’re an animal Lover, you know that Mother Nature never repeats herself. But to see every unique stripe, you need to get close. The COOLPIX P900’s extraordinary, built-in 83x zoom lens brings you right up to the wildest of subjects. And with a zoom range of 24 to 2,000 mm, this compact point-and-shoot is all you need to take in every single detail.

Show Your Love Some Love. nikonusa.com/P900 Nikon is a registered trademark of Nikon Corporation. ©2016 Nikon Inc.


MARCH/ APRIL THE EXPAT ISSUE

p. 28

p. 43

20 ONE GREAT BLOCK

Find steeples, sweaters, and swimming pools on this polished Reykjavík street.

24 DOORS ARE OPEN

a peaceful wine country weekend.

34 CHART YOUR JOURNEY

Four emerging U.S. destinations that should be on your travel radar.

Airbnb opens a community-run guesthouse in rural Japan.

26 MIX

These tiles will floor you.

28 WHERE IT’S AT

Head to Cape Town for a breathtaking hike, a bustling art scene, and 8

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MARCH/APRIL 2017

CONNECT 39 FEAST

An oyster lover finds her favorite food in the last place she expected: Namibia.

43 STAY

Five affordable and stylish hostel brands for any type of traveler. Plus, a sybarite’s dispatch from Bali.

47 SPIN THE GLOBE

Writer and new mother Freda Moon finds courage and comfort in Morocco.

53 RESIDENT

See Dubai through the eyes of four transplants who call it home.

SPECIAL SECTION 59 THE EXPAT FILES

Find out what it’s really like to live abroad. (And some tips to get you out there.)

12 FOUNDER’S NOTE 14 FROM THE EDITOR 16 CONTRIBUTORS 108 JUST BACK FROM

ON THE COVER

Folk dancers twirl in Oaxaca City. Turn to page 96 to join a couple as they rediscover the place’s everyday magic. Photograph by Bob Krist/ Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

FROM LEFT: COURTESY OF DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE, LAURYN ISHAK

WANDER


W I NNER : BES T CR U ISE T O S A I L T H E D A N U BE I N 2 0 17

— AFAR Travelers’ Choice Awards

BY R I V ER, BY SE A.

Only with Viking® A W A R D S fff

The small ship experts.

WINNER

Elegant & state-of-the-art. Serene Scandinavian spaces. Destination-focused dining. Award-winning service. Cultural enrichment from ship to shore. The Thinking Person’s Cruise.

TM

Visit vikingcruises.com, see your Travel Agent or call 1-888-307-6790.

©2016. Travel + Leisure and Time Inc. Affluent Media Group are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Viking Cruises. Viking Ocean Cruises was voted Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the 2016 World’s Best Awards.

CST: #2052644-40


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Three Perfect Pins:

Moloka‘i

FOUNDER’S NOTE

with Sale Sproat

To “Let Hawai‘i Happen” you need to get off the beaten path. Just ask Sale Sproat, a 4th generation mule man. Sale loves his home, an island with no traffic lights and no buildings taller than a coconut tree. Here are his top Moloka‘i spots:

KALAUPAPA TRAIL “All the views you’re witnessing are mind blowing. The view that you see when you come around the fi rst turn takes your breath away. At the bottom is Kalaupapa, a truly special place like no other you’ll ever experience.” SWEET EVIE’S SNOW FACTORY “Very different from shave ice, the consistency of the snow is like a soft pillow of ice cream.”

Get inspired at # LetHawaiiHappen #VisitMolokai

Where Are You From? THAT’S OFTEN ONE OF THE FIRST

things we’re asked as travelers. I don’t have just one answer. Oklahoma, where I was born? Arizona, where I lived most of my life? California, where I pay my taxes? San Francisco and New York, the two cities I bounce between each month? Or maybe simply the United States? “I’m a citizen of the world,” was the answer reportedly given by ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes. I’d probably get some funny looks if I said that, but I do consider myself a global citizen. If you’re reading this, you might consider yourself one, too. And you’ve probably learned what I have: The more we travel, the more we realize how much we have in common with our fellow humans and how dependent we are on each other for our happiness and security. Being a citizen of the world doesn’t make me any less of a citizen of my home country or state or city. In fact, learning about other cultures helps me appreciate my own even more. Plus, travel has taught me to be curious about everything I encounter as soon as I walk out my own front door.

The places I’ve lived are a big part of who I am. But so are the things I’ve done in the places I’ve visited: volunteering in Roodeport, South Africa; skiing in Verbier, Switzerland; doing business in Tokyo; biking through Australia’s Barossa Valley; delving into the museums of Montreal; trying to decipher Tehran; and so on. Of all the places in the world, I’ve chosen to live in the ones I love most. But the places I’ve visited have also contributed to who I am. That is why I’m a traveler. So how do I say all of that the next time someone asks? GOOD TRAVELS,

Greg Sullivan Cofounder & CEO

What does it mean to you to be a global citizen? Email me at greg@afar.com.

FOCALPOINT/ALAMY

KALAUPAPA GUIDED MULE TOUR “I happen to work here! You’re surrounded by the beautiful sounds, sights and smells of nature as you ride down the highest sea cliffs in the world on a sure-footed mule. My absolute favorite photo spot is along these 3.2 mile sea cliffs.”


FROM THE EDITOR It’s Time to Go Farther

14

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MARCH/APRIL 2017

to Turkey, now with her children and husband, who works for the Foreign Service. She’s chosen to live the life of an expat. I think it’s a choice that we travelers have probably all contemplated at some point. In AFAR’s ultimate guide to expat life, starting on page 59, we hope to inspire you with real stories of people living outside of the States, and to give you the practical information you need to do it yourself. Check out our expanded coverage at afar.com/ expats. And be sure to catch up with my old friend Anna, on page 72, who’s always finding her way home. TRAVEL WELL,

Julia Cosgrove Editor in Chief

Follow my travels near and far on Instagram @juliacosgrove.

ANDREW RAYMOND

I’LL NEVER FORGET receiving my roommate assignment the summer before my freshman year of college. Sitting on my family’s front porch in Berkeley, California, I tore open the envelope and there it was: Anna from Paris. I couldn’t believe my luck. Visions of spring breaks spent gallivanting around Europe filled my head. I had been to France once as a child and had fantasized about returning ever since. Anna didn’t disappoint. Born in Italy, she had also lived in France and Miami before coming to New York for college. Because she had attended international schools, she knew people from all over the globe. At 18, her worldview seemed vast and sophisticated compared to mine. We quickly became friends and did in fact spend school breaks exploring Italy, France, and even California. She introduced me to The Little Prince, Place des Vosges, and the finest pesto in all of Genoa. I schooled her on the writer Joan Didion, Point Reyes National Seashore, and such only-in-theBay-Area words as “hella.” After graduation, we both eventually left New York and from there our paths diverged. I returned to California; she continued a peripatetic existence. We’ve kept in touch as she’s gone from Washington, D.C., to Russia


CONTRIBUTORS

p. 43

ERIC PUCHNER

JOONEY WOODWARD

KELLY BASTONE

PATRICK WILLOCQ

HYE JIN CHUNG

On taking chances: “My wife and I talk about our life in Oaxaca as a trial by fire. We moved with rudimentary language skills and a nearly broken-down car, and we lived together for the first time. We’ve been together ever since, so I’d recommend it!” Mexico today: “It’s weird to think about the Mexico that I know and compare it to the negative version we see in American news and politics. The discrepancy motivated me to visit again and see it as I remember it.”

Rain or shine: “It was pouring during the majority of my time in Ireland. Once, I got out of the car with an umbrella to get a shot, and the umbrella nearly broke from the wind.” Some peace and quiet: “I’d never been anywhere so remote—it was a complete contrast to the hectic city of London, where I live and work. I rarely passed another car, and all I could see for miles was rugged coastline.” Get out there with her: on Instagram @jooneywoodward

An unexpected treat: “Americans tend to paint Africa in broad strokes, and I think I was guilty of that. My expectations didn’t include fine cuisine. Coming across delicious oysters confirmed that there is a lot of diversity within Namibia.” Speaking of diversity: “The country was once a German colony, so there’s a strong German influence there. I was shocked to find Jägermeister in every bar—everybody drinks it.” Learn with her: on Instagram @bastonek

An eye-catching assignment: “When the nonprofit Save the Children assigned me to photograph Burundian and Syrian refugee kids in Tanzania and Lebanon, I connected with the project. It was similar to previous work I’ve done in the Congo.” Tough good-byes: “It was hard to leave the refugee camps. Together, we had created some beauty from their horrible experiences.” Make a difference with him: on Instagram @patrick_willocq

Vision quest: “I’ve never been to Morocco, but Freda Moon’s story made me want to go. She created such a strong visual image with her words; I felt a duty to bring it to life with my illustrations.” Global citizen: “I’m Korean, but I was born in Singapore and moved a lot as a kid because of my father’s job. It set me up to be inspired by all kinds of travel, whether I’m on a beach or visiting a busy city.” Get inspired with her: on Instagram @hyejinchung831

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Photographer The Other Side p.76

MARCH/APRIL 2017

Writer Namibia Discovers Seafood p.39

Photographer Dreamscapes p.88

Illustrator You’re a Brave Girl p.47

MARTIN KHARUMWA/SAVE THE CHILDREN

Writer A Return to Oaxaca p.96


SINCE 1947

70 YEARS OF

AWE-INSPIRING ALASKA. From the grandeur of Denali National Park to pristine glaciers and historic frontier towns, there’s no better way to experience Alaska than on a Holland America Line cruise or Land+Sea Journey. On board you’ll enjoy classic style, attentive service, and fine dining. Plus, 70th Anniversary exclusives like our new BBC Earth Experiences Alaska show and activities, talks by distinguished Alaska experts, and commemorative keepsakes. On shore, remarkable experiences await — with help from our innovative Destination Guides in partnership with AFAR. Come, The Great Land is calling you.

Ships’ Registry: The Netherlands


WANDER CURIOUS TRAVELERS ONLY

MIX

Beneath the feet of the pedestrians strolling Lisbon’s Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument are thousands of cobblestone tiles, which evoke an undulating sea. Turn to page 26 for even more reasons to shoe-gaze.

photograph by ANDREW ROWAT

MARCH/APRIL 2017

AFAR

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ONE GREAT BLOCK

REYKJAVÍK’S MEMORY LANE

Though it’s only a five-minute walk end-to-end, central Reykjavík’s steep and narrow Skólavörðustígur Street is a mix of modern and folksy that merits hours of exploration. By ANDREW EVANS

2

The standout silhouette in Reykjavík’s skyline, Hallgrímskirkja is the modernist triumph of Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson. Pop inside the church’s great white hall for a concert or take an elevator to the top of the tower for the ultimate panoramic view of the city. Hallgrímstorg 101

3

Skip the tourist shop imports and hunt for handmade knitwear at the Handknitting Association of Iceland. “Traditional Icelandic sweaters are knit using yarn made from undyed sheep’s wool—brown, black, gray, and white—in designs with simple straight lines that radiate from the neckline,” says shopkeeper Soléy Anna. The store also sells hats and gloves, all handmade in Iceland. Or, buy local yarn, also sold on-site, to make your own comfy pieces at home. Skólavörðustígur 19

4

6

Plush chairs, espresso, and turntables with headphones solidify 12 Tónar’s reputation as a music lover’s paradise. The indie label and record shop encourages you to linger and listen to the obscure tracks of Reykjavík’s underground music scene. Skólavörðustígur 15

A rambling shop packed with pretty throw pillows, teacups, and oldfashioned light fixtures, Magnolia highlights cool, clean design for your home. Its real specialty is artsy glass and austere handmade ceramic ware, and half the fun is stumbling on the perfect random piece you never knew you needed. Skólavörðustígur 38

5

Sundhöllin might be the oldest public bathhouse in town, but it’s also the most stylish, with its brash art deco facade, a steam bath, and outdoor hot tubs bubbling with natural spring water. Barónsstígur 45A 20

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illustrations by WENDY MACNAUGHTON

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MEL LONGHURST/VWPICS/REDUX, COURTESY OF KOL, COURTESY OF TINEKHOME, COURTESY OF SUNDHÖLLIN, TIM BODDY

1

Inside the cozy, wood-and-leather decorated walls of Kol Restaurant, chef Kári Þorsteinsson conjures Viking-era flavors in Nordic comfort foods with an Icelandic twist, including braised ox, duck-fat soaked and deep-fried potatoes, and grand platters of fresh fruits de mer. Skólavörðustígur 40


BVITOURISM.COM 1-800-835-8530 The British Virgin Islands is a treasured respite from winter’s chill. It’s the warm breeze that fills your sail on sapphire seas. The curiosity that blazes trails on towering mountains. The whispers shared over picnics on deserted beaches and the understated attention to detail, woven into luxe accommodations. More than anything, it’s the satisfaction of knowing these personal experiences can be kept all to yourself.

LET’S KEEP THIS TO OURSELVES


It’s always

HAPPY HOUR at 40,000 ft.

EMIRATES FIRST AND BUSINESS Anytime is a good time to enjoy a relaxing drink or two in our spacious onboard bar, serving cocktails, canapés, spirits and exclusive wines. You never know who you’ll meet.

Hello Tomorrow

Onboard lounge available on Emirates A380s.


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THE DOORS ARE OPEN

KNOCK ON WOOD

The Yoshino Cedar House first appeared in 2016 at an architecture exhibition in Tokyo before being given to the town of Yoshino, where it stands today.

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MARCH/APRIL 2017

Imagine booking your next Airbnb stay—with an entire town as your host. That’s the idea behind Yoshino Cedar House, the home-sharing site’s first-ever guesthouse, set along a river 65 miles south of Kyoto in rural Yoshino, a town surrounded by the cedar forests of Japan’s Nara prefecture. Yoshino Cedar House is the inaugural project from Airbnb’s new Samara design and innovation studio, created by cofounder Joe Gebbia to explore the company’s next frontier of service offerings. Part guest lodgings, part community center, the building was designed to boost the town’s economy and support the aging, dwindling population, a common demographic in rural Japanese communities. Locals manage the

house, and profits stay within the community. The project started as an exhibit in Tokyo before the structure was permanently installed in Yoshino, and if the experiment proves successful, Samara will look at doing similar projects in other rural villages around the world. What to expect: an elegant, woodpaneled structure that Samara created in partnership with the Tokyobased architect Go Hasegawa and local builders. Interiors are decorated with cups, trays, and other objects handcrafted by local artisans. A groundfloor communal area serves familystyle meals and locally made sake. The two bedrooms on the upper floor can accommodate up to eight guests a night. And it’s all bookable, of course, on Airbnb. From $125 per person. —JENNIFER FLOWERS

COURTESY OF AIRBNB

Airbnb is entering the hotel business (sort of).


Announcing

Arriving April 2017 A PERSONAL TOUCH With less than 300 suites, Silver Muse will be the epitome of Silversea excellence. A small, intimate ship with uncompromised levels of service, comfort, design and accommodation, she will offer tailor-made experiences to last a lifetime.

OUTDOOR LIVING From tranquil niches and observation areas to an unprecedented spacious pool deck, outdoor lounges and three open-air restaurants, our tailor-made outdoor spaces have been conceived so that time spent aboard is most definitely, time well spent.

CULINARY EXCELLENCE Soak up the ambience and award-winning gastronomic pedigree of what is surely the most comprehensive dining experience at sea. Eight superb restaurants mean more choices than ever while our unrivalled culinary excellence raises the bar in offshore dining.

For more information and to reserve your suite, please contact your travel professional, call Silversea at 855.486.0598 or visit Silvermuse.info.

Discover Silver Muse at silvermuse.info


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MIX

SANTA FE, ARGENTINA

LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

BANGKOK, THAILAND

JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

PARIS, FRANCE

MANHATTAN, KANSAS, USA

HONG KONG, CHINA

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA

HOI AN, VIETNAM

HAPPY FEET

Move over #selfie. The overhead foot shot—otherwise known as a #selfeet—is a toe-tally different way to capture your march around the globe. by SARAH ROSE BUDER

DUBAI, UAE


MEET THE INSTAGRAMMERS ON THIS PAGE AT AFAR.COM/HAPPYFEET

ISTANBUL, TURKEY

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

FEZ, MOROCCO

CANCÚN, MEXICO

SINGAPORE

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA

HAVANA, CUBA

ABU DHABI, UAE

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

OSIJEK, CROATIA


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WHERE IT’S AT

Cape Town

CAPE TOWN CALLING

Go now to taste the natural wines earning the world’s attention and to experience the South African city’s art boom. Plus, it’s more affordable than ever.

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MARCH/APRIL 2017

COURTESY OF DOOK/BABYLONSTOREN

A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without a weekend in wine country—and a night at the easy-on-the-eyes Babylonstoren.


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The Next Great Wine Region

WHERE IT’S AT

Cape Town

After a tour of the classic Franschhoek and Stellenbosch winelands, drive an hour north to visit Swartland, a low-key region that’s producing some of the country’s most impressive natural wines. (Book ahead— most wineries host by appointment only.) Here are three bottles to uncork.

1 COLUMELLA

Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines is one of the country’s most influential winemakers. His Columella, a rich, full-bodied blend of syrah and mourvèdre, is one of the main reasons the Swartland region has gained so much attention.

How to Weekend in the Winelands

TRUE VALUE

Shepherd creates family-style dishes out of produce grown on-site and serves them at wooden tables beneath a canopy of trees. On day two, start early to try wines at a cluster of Stellenbosch wineries, including Hidden Valley Wines and Delaire Graff Estate. In the afternoon, head toward Franschhoek for cold brew from Terbodore Coffee Roasters followed by a hike at La Motte Farm, through vineyards and past vivid panoramas of the valley. Got an extra night? Book a cottage or suite at the Akademie Street Boutique Hotel, a refurbished house with views of the Franschhoek Mountains. —MARY HOLLAND

At Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, winemaker Andrea Mullineux’s signature wine is made from old-vine chenin blanc grapes, then aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. In your glass, it’s fresh with hints of pear and almond.

3 EL BANDITO SKIN

Established by a young husband-and-wife team in 2013, Testalonga produces 12 outstanding wines, including El Bandito Skin, a gentle, slightly cloudy chenin blanc made without filtering or adding sulfites. —M.H.

Cape Town on $100 a Day

For travelers, there’s a silver lining to the nosedive the South African rand took last year: Your dollar will go far.

R30 ($2) Tour of the historical District Six Museum

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R48 ($3.50) Boerie sausage roll from Gourmet Boerie

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From R125 ($9) Concert at the Kirstenbosch gardens

From R418 ($30) One-bedroom house on Airbnb

From R767 ($55) Lavish dinner for two at Chef’s Warehouse

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT COURTESY OF: THE TABLE AT DE MEYE, SAM LINSELL, LA MOTTE, BABYLONSTOREN, LA MOTTE, DELAIRE GRAFF; LETTERING AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY A. SALAMANDRA

To get the full measure of Cape Town’s mountain-ringed winelands, give yourself at least two days. Private, all-day tours are available, but renting a car allows you to meander as you please. And the three-town triangle of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl is full of pleasures. Paarl-based Babylonstoren, with its glass-and-steel tasting room, edible garden, and Cape Dutch cottages, remains the most romantic place to spend your first night. Babel, the on-site restaurant, is a stunner, but for an unrivaled farm-to-fork meal, book the Table at the nearby De Meye wine farm. Chef Jessica

2 OLD VINES WHITE


www.poland.travel


W

State of the Art

WHERE IT’S AT

Though the soon-to-open Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is getting all the attention, the city is already bursting with art. Here’s our guide to the best museum alternatives. —SARAH KHAN

Cape Town

Art emporium

Miles of crafts

Legit souvenirs

THE WATERSHED DESIGN MARKET

With more than 150 stalls, the cavernous market is made for omnivorous art lovers. Look for Simple Intrigue, where artist Keri Muller displays her whimsical book sculptures. waterfront.co.za

Neighborhood to Stroll: Tamboerskloof

Walking tour

Away from the buzz of Bree Street, this residential area offers a village-y feel and lots to explore. Begin here.

It’s easy to spend a day at The Power & the Glory, run by restaurateur Adam Whiteman. Mornings bring the city’s best flat white; five o’clock, prime people-watching and glasses of local rosé; and nights, cocktails at P&G’s semi-hidden bar, the Black Ram.

2 PRAISE PRAWNS

3 DECK YOUR WALLS

Just around the corner is Hallelujah, an Asianstyle tapas restaurant also dreamed up by Whiteman. Prawn buns, Thai green papaya salad, and spicy chicken wings—and walls papered with pink flamingos—keep locals coming back again and again.

A walk up the very steep Kloof Nek Road will land you at the textile and plant showroom Handmade by Me + Windowsill. Your reward: A bright studio filled with locally made interior goods (wallpaper, cushion covers) and plants in funky planters. —M.H.

Street art

WOODSTOCK CREATIVE TOUR

World-renowned street artist Faith47 is based in Cape Town. See some of her masterpieces on a tour of the Woodstock district with Juma Mkwela of Township Art Tours. townshiparttours.co.za

Intimate gallery

Peak Attraction

Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park, which hugs the perimeter of the city, is so popular that the line for the cable car to the top can be longer than a queue for a Disneyland ride. But why stand in line when you can put your feet to use? There are several routes that lead to the top of the 3,562-foot, flat-topped mountain, including the two-mile Platteklip Gorge trail. Yes, it’s steep, but startling views of the city and the Atlantic await. Trek, get hungry, then picnic on local provisions—crackers, Dutch-style Gouda, and biltong, the thick-sliced South African jerky—before riding the cable car back down. —ANDREW RICHDALE

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Instagram ops

Edgy paintings

Collectible works

WORLDART GALLERY

Founder Charl Bezuidenhout showcases provocative emerging artists such as Khaya Witbooi, a former newspaper illustrator who now produces politically inclined pop art paintings. worldart.co.za Plan your trip at afar.com/visit/capetown.

FROM TOP: SEAN KRISTAFOR, TAI POWER SEEFF

1 POWER UP


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HAWAI‘I ISLAND


W

CHART YOUR JOURNEY

Oklahoma City

TIME TO PLAY

New hotels, surprising restaurants, and easier access are just some of the ways these lesser-traveled U.S. destinations are upping their games. by SARAH PURKRABEK

Baltimore

The city’s empty industrial spaces are buzzing with new energy these days. The 50,000-square-foot food hall R. House, once an auto shop, rolled open its garage doors in December with seven restaurants, a café, an ice cream shop, and a bar. Early this year, West Coast hotel brand Pendry opens its first eastern outpost on Fell’s Point Recreation Pier. The 1914 building was originally a dance hall and social hub for Baltimore’s immigrants, and the former ballroom will now become a banquet space. The whole city is easier than ever to explore after the October launch of a 24/7 bike share program with a fleet of both eight-gear and electric-assist rides.

Telluride

The ski town is shaking its image as a hard-to-reach destination with more frequent nonstop flights from Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Denver. It’s also polishing its beyond-the-slopes image: An outdoor stage unveiled last spring has hosted concerts by Pearl Jam and Neil Young, and in December, one of the town’s oldest bars, Roma Bar & Grill, was restored and reopened after stints as a sushi joint and a pizza place. A $15-million renovation has given the Madeline Hotel a new sky terrace overlooking the San Juan Mountains, and the Dunton Town House, a five-bedroom historic inn, provides guests with a convenient base for ski slopes, restaurants, and art galleries.

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2 Nashville

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The Gulch, a walkable neighborhood near Nashville’s downtown and Music Row, is thriving. Several new hotels—such as the Thompson, 21c, and Virgin—have recently opened or are in development. Plus, thanks in part to LED traffic lights, more frequent bus routes, and reused spaces, it’s the first LEED-certified neighborhood in the South. In the neighborhood next door, 12South, fashion boutiques blend country and modern styles: Imogene + Willie has gained a cult following for its comfortable jeans; Draper James—Reese Witherspoon’s clothing line—charms shoppers with tongue-in-cheek pieces such as her signature “Totes, Y’all” bag.

ART CREDIT

1

Over the past two decades, Oklahoma City has spent $5 billion constructing schools, a sports arena, and a mile-long canal that winds through Bricktown, a once-vacant warehouse district. The neighborhood and adjacent Midtown are growing up with additions such as Bleu Garten, OKC’s first food truck park, and the new 21c Museum Hotel. Built inside an old Ford Motor Company assembly plant, the hotel also houses a free contemporary art museum. Another pleasant surprise? The city’s phenomenal Vietnamese food, at spots such as Pho Lien Hoa in the Asian District. Owner Lien Le started the restaurant, which offers more than a dozen types of pho, after moving from Saigon to Oklahoma City in the ’90s.

illustration by MIKEY BURTON


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CONNEC T

DECO/ALAMY

FEAST p.39

STAY p.43

SPIN THE GLOBE p.47

RESIDENT p.53

Expats in Dubai know the city is more than just luxury hotels (such as the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, pictured). Meet the people who call it home on page 53.

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T R AV EL JOUR NA L WHERE TO GO NOW FOR CHARM, CULTURE & CUISINE

Charleston,

S O U T H C A RO LI NA With her flickering carriage lanterns, cobblestone streets, exquisitely preserved historic mansions, and famed gardens, Charleston is a timeless beauty. And while the aesthetics of this jewel box-like destination are classically elegant, a palpable vitality blossoms each spring with a slate of high energy festivals and signature events.

SPRING SOCIAL DIARY Book a getaway to this southern charmer to take part in a social season filled with parties and cultural pursuits. Spoleto Festival USA: Pack your bags for a 17-day hit parade of live performances that unfold in traditional and unexpected venues across Charleston. From breathtaking acrobatic feats staged at an intimate theatre to a flamboyant jazz songbird seizing control of a basketball arena, Spoleto’s May 26 – June 11 schedule is a spellbinding array of world-class artistry. FOR INSIDER TIPS ON WHERE TO STAY, EAT & PLAY: EXPLORECHARLESTON.COM @E X P LO R E C H A R LE S TO N

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CONNECT F E A S T The Fish Deli—one of Namibia’s first seafood restaurants— may look modest. But inside, you’ll find much more than just fresh fish.

Namibia Discovers Seafood

The pearl in the country’s oysters? A new source of national pride. by KELLY BASTONE

I

’VE EATEN BIVALVES in France, on the Chesapeake Bay, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, and in trendy Seattle oyster bars where I’ve blown my meager paychecks on the ephemeral pleasures of Washington Kumamotos and Quilcenes. During those moments, an oyster’s raw, creamy brine is the only sensation I know, and it’s bigger than mere food: It’s the entirety of the ocean in my mouth. Once it dissipates, I’ll open my wallet to the wind just to feel it again. So when I saw local Walvis Bay oysters on the menu at a restaurant in the Namibian

photographs by DOOK

coastal town of Swakopmund, I was surprised, but I ordered them without hesitation. Nothing in my lifetime of oyster chasing prepared me for what I discovered that night: shellfish so sweet and rich, it tasted like the Atlantic’s version of a salted caramel. Had I just gotten lucky, or are Namibian oysters always this divine? To find out, I hunted down a few more restaurants with oysters on the menu—and discovered that my first experience wasn’t a fluke. But it wasn’t until my final stop at the Fish Deli, a Swakopmund seafood shop and restaurant, that I learned why these oysters taste so good.

“Our oysters are special,” agreed owner Martin Wittneben. “They’re fed by the Benguela Current, which is one of the richest waters on the continent.” Flowing up from a particularly deep pocket of ocean off the Namibian shore, the current bathes Walvis Bay in a nourishing stream of algae, plankton, and other phytonutrients. When those cold currents hit warm trade winds, they produce the coastal fog that makes the snaggled Skeleton Coast look so romantic. The waters also grow oysters in record time (less than one year to maturity, compared to two to three MARCH/APRIL 2017

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CONNECT F E A S T

years elsewhere). That makes Walvis Bay oysters incomparably tender—the veal of shellfish. “Oysters are just like any other meat; they toughen as they age,” he explained. Oysters aren’t native to Namibia, but in the late 1980s, a few innovators began to

Walvis Bay bivalves soon began appearing on the finest menus in Asia, including at the Oyster and Wine Bar in the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers. “They have a plump, meaty texture, with hints of mineral flavors and not too much

Nothing in my lifetime of oyster chasing prepared me for what I discovered that night. experiment with farming them. One of them, a Spanish expat named Manuel Romero, even developed a hatchery to spawn oyster larvae. This eliminated the need to import starters from Chile—and created an oyster industry that is 100 percent Namibian. Soon there were oyster farms all along the coast, from Walvis Bay to Lüderitz in the south, feeding a new demand, especially in China, one of the first countries to import Namibian oysters. 40

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salt,” says chef Oscar Chow, the Sheraton’s buyer (known as the “Oyster Guru”), who continues to periodically include Namibian oysters among his daily selection of 25-plus varieties flown in from across the globe. Demand from within Namibia has also increased. Wittneben and his wife, Katja, are among the pioneers helping Namibians recognize that their ocean is far more fertile than their deserts ever were. When the Wittnebens,

having operated an oyster farm for a couple of years, switched to retail and opened the Fish Deli in 2008, it was one of the first seafood shops in a nation of meat eaters. Business started off slow, because Namibians weren’t accustomed to eating seafood. (Game meats, such as oryx and kudu, tend to be the proteins of choice.) But as the couple expanded the shop to include a smokehouse and a restaurant, their customers’ appetite for fish—and the country’s celebrated oysters—grew. During my Fish Deli lunch of Walvis Bay bivalves and pan-fried kingklip (cusk eel), I noticed platters of iced oysters being delivered to almost every table. “When Namibians come to the coast now, they gorge themselves on oysters, almost making it a contest to see how many they can eat,” Wittneben said. But more than just vacationland delicacies, oysters have become a source of national pride. “We’re a not-so-well-known country, so people here are looking for something to identify with,” he continued. “Now, it’s a Namibian thing to eat oysters.”


PROMOTION

HANDPICKED HOTELS

CONNECT MORE DEEPLY WITH YOUR DESTINATION WHEN YOU BOOK AFAR’S CHOSEN HOTELS AND RESORTS. afar.com/hotels/collection

Baglioni Cala Del Porto Punta Ala, Italy

Freehand Chicago Chicago, Illinois

Belmond Maroma Riviera Maya, Mexico

Galley Bay Resort & Spa St. John’s, Antigua

Carillon Miami Beach Miami Beach, Florida

Halekulani Honolulu, Hawaii

Casa de las Olas Tulum, Mexico

Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club Hamilton, Bermuda

Castle Hill Inn Newport, Rhode Island Cavallo Point Lodge Sausalito, California Chatham Bars Inn Cape Cod, Massachusetts Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado, Puerto Rico

Hotel 1000 Seattle, Washington Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue New York, New York Las Alcobas Mexico City, Mexico Loews Regency New York New York, New York

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong Hong Kong Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai Shanghai, China Mandarin Oriental, Taipei Taipei, Taiwan Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo Tokyo Japan Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Kohala Coast, Hawaii One&Only Royal Mirage Dubai, United Arab Emirates One&Only The Palm Dubai, United Arab Emirates Park Hyatt New York New York, New York

Ritz-Carlton Montreal Montreal, Canada

The Residence Boutique Hotel Johannesburg, South Africa

Singita Grumeti Serengeti, Tanzania

The Resort at Pedregal Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hanoi, Vietnam

The Savoy London, United Kingdom

The Hay-Adams Washington, D.C. The Leela Palace New Delhi New Delhi, India The Peninsula Shanghai Shanghai, China The Ranch at Rock Creek Philipsburg, Montana The Reefs Resort and Club Southampton, Bermuda

The Siam Bangkok, Thailand Tierra ChiloŽ Chiloé, Chile Vero Beach Hotel & Spa Vero Beach, Florida Windsor Court Hotel New Orleans, Louisiana XV Beacon Boston, Massachusetts


CONNECT S T A Y

VALENCIA LOUNGE HOSTEL Valencia, Spain

Hostel Takeover

COURTESY OF VALENCIA LOUNGE HOSTEL

What do you get when you take the playfulness of a hostel and add a dose of sophistication? These five new lodging options. Plus: a new retreat in Bali that will cure whatever ails you.

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CONNECT S T A Y 3

Oddsson

FREEHAND Chicago

TRENDWATCH

The Hostel, 2.0 They aren’t just for backpackers anymore. These next-generation hostels are as stylish as they are social—room sharing not required. by JENNIFER FLOWERS

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Generator

12 LOCATIONS IN EUROPE Launched in London in 2007, Generator has grown at a steady

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clip, expanding into 11 European cities. The focus is on prime locations (Canal St. Martin in Paris, for instance), inspired design (300 lanterns hang from the

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ceiling of the bar in the Generator Barcelona), and inviting spaces that are part of the social life of the neighborhood (a latenight speakeasy in Amsterdam). The latest addition: the 75-room Generator Rome, whose rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the city. The first Generator in the United States will open in Miami later this year. From $22 for a shared room in Rome; $83 for a private room.

2

Freehand MIAMI AND CHICAGO

When Freehand launched in Miami at the end of 2012, it was a welcome alternative to the city’s glitzy hotel scene. The retro summer camp– style hotel/hostel is housed in a 1930s building outfitted with vintage furnishings and wood paneling by New York design firm Roman and Williams. Laid-back activities (art classes, yoga) encourage mingling; the Broken Shaker cocktail lounge has become a local hangout and earned two nominations for James Beard Awards. In

June of 2015, the second Freehand opened, this one in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and the brand plans to expand to Los Angeles and New York City. From $25 for a shared room in Chicago; from $79 for a private room.

Created by Icelandic design studio Döðlur, the Oddsson opened in May of 2016, occupying the fourth and fifth floors of a warehouse building that also houses the Reykjavík School of Visual Arts. Interiors mix such industrial touches as repurposed factory pipes and blueprints with custom furnishings by Eero Saarinen and other iconic names in design. The hostel offers a fun mix of high and low: suites with ocean views, caviar on the to-go menu, and a soundproof karaoke room right in the middle of a fine dining restaurant. Döðlur plans to expand with more properties in 2018. From $37 for a private single with shared bath; from $107 for a private room. 4

Society Hotel PORTLAND, OREGON

A former lodging house for sailors

ODDSSON Reykjavík

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT COURTESY OF: FREEHAND CHICAGO (2), ODDSSON. OPPOSITE PAGE: FROM LEFT COURTESY OF: GENERATOR ROME; MANDAPA, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE. ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID WILSON.

REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND


has been reimagined as the Society Hotel, located inside an 1881 cast-ironfront building in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown. Guest rooms, with their exposed brick walls and framed vintage newspaper clippings, range from bunk rooms to suites with private bathrooms. Guests can mingle at the Society Café, which serves wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and coffee from local microroasters. Bunks

from $35; private rooms from $75; suites from $119.

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Valencia Lounge Hostel

VALENCIA, SPAIN Spanish designer Masquespacio is behind the bright aesthetic of Valencia Lounge Hostel in the city’s historic center. Vintage tiles and plaster-mold ceilings play off

geometric designs on the walls and contemporary furnishings. The 11 guest rooms, each with a private balcony and its own bold and colorful design, range from triples and quads good for groups or families to junior suites; they share four bathrooms and common living areas, including a kitchen where guests can make their own meals. From $53; suites from $95.

GENERATOR Rome

DISPATCH PARADISE FOUND I tapped into the spiritual magic of the city of Ubud on a recent trip to Bali, thanks to the new Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, located a 10-minute drive out of town. A stroll through a working rice paddy and past an ancient temple led me to my villa, one of 25 on the Ayung River. From my private pool, I watched as a wall of river-

Q&A

How to Hostel Fredrik Korallus, the CEO of London-based Generator Hostels, preps first-time guests. by JENNIFER FLOWERS

local coffee shop, and our dining concepts are more akin to street food than to gourmet.

What makes Generator different from a traditional hostel? Most people think of hostels as small spaces for students on a budget. Ever since 2007, when the first Generator opened in London, we’ve emphasized the lifestyle experience. We recently put a stronger focus on restaurants and bars that bring locals in. We opened a nightclub in Amsterdam and a rooftop restaurant in Paris, an ice bar in Copenhagen, and a freestanding restaurant next to Generator Stockholm. At all of our locations, you’re going to get a brilliant cup of coffee for the same price you’d pay at a

What’s it like to sleep at a Generator hostel? We typically have 70 percent shared rooms and 30 percent private rooms. We also have accommodations for women only. In the shared rooms, each bed has a USB plug, a locker underneath, and privacy lights so you can read at night. Who is your typical guest? The average age of our customers is 24, but we also have older travelers and even business travelers from creative industries, such as music or software. And these aren’t necessarily cheap travelers— they just have different priorities for how they spend their money. At the Generator in

Copenhagen, a city with some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, people will stay with us and then go to eat in a three-Michelin-star restaurant. What’s the vibe like? One of the first things you’ll notice is that you make friends quickly. In normal hotels, it’s harder to meet people because you’ve got your own private space, and everybody does their own thing. When you come to Generator, you’re meeting people all the time in shared spaces. You’ll also find that guests are quite nomadic in how they travel. When they’re in Paris, they make new friends, and off they go to London with people they just met. Our guests are highly sociable, highly mobile, and highly impulsive— they’re out to discover the world.

side vegetation undulated with the breeze, my idyll occasionally punctuated by the shouts of passing rafting groups. On a more exploratory day, a tour in the resort’s vintage Volkswagen 181 convertible took me to a purification ceremony at the Tirta Empul water temple. I spent evenings in Mandapa’s spa, where a blind healer steered me away from bad energy, and Indah, my Balinese masseuse, aligned my body with my blissedout mind. From $495. —J.F.

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O N E & O N LY O C E A N C L U B R E D I S C O V E R E D TH E BA H A M I A N L EGE N D R ETUR NS

Re-opening 14th February, 2017

FOR RESERVATIONS OR TO FIND OUT MORE, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR OR EMAIL RESERVATIONS@ONEANDONLYOCEANCLUB.COM

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CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E

You’re a Brave Girl

Writer Freda Moon knew that she was about to take her first solo trip since giving birth to her daughter. But it wasn’t until the day before she left that she learned she would be going to Morocco.

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Illustrations by HYE JIN CHUNG

The Hammam I WAS NAKED EXCEPT FOR A PAIR

of granny panties that were soaking wet and riding up uncomfortably as I flopped on the hammam’s smooth white floor. My body was covered in what looked, and felt, like bicycle chain grease, goopy and the color of petroleum. But the smell was faintly herbal and the air was thick with steam. A sturdy, middle-aged woman, also wearing only underwear, manhandled my clueless body into position— tugging an arm here, pushing a leg there on the Moroccan tadelakt plaster. She scrubbed with such force that my skin tingled, then burned,

then became increasingly numb to the near-scalding water she delivered in sharp, shallow flicks. I felt like a fish being filleted. But through the heat and exhaustion, the jet lag and awkwardness, I was surprisingly, deeply comforted. Around me, women washed themselves and each other. Low murmurs echoed off the arched ceiling, but there was little conversation. In the room were old women with strong shoulders and thick middles, a teenager with long, damp curls and an angelic face, and several women who, like me, were mothers. No longer young, but not yet old. I knew they had borne children because their

bodies told me. They had the same signs of physical wear and tear that mine did. I even saw in them the same combination of relief and longing that I felt, alone on the floor of a public bath in Marrakech, apart from my 15-monthold daughter, Roxie, for the first time in her life—for the first time in my life as a mother. There was a tap on my forearm, and I looked down to see two gray cocoons. It took me a minute to register what they were: pillowy rolls of my sloughed flesh. The hammam worker looked at me proudly, smiling for the first time. I felt cared for, like a child having lice assiduously scraped from her hair. Except for a few nods on a two-leg, 13-hour red-eye flight and a brief afternoon nap, I had been awake and mostly in transit for 33 hours. Two days before, I hadn’t known I would be in Morocco this week. It was my first time in Africa, my first experience with a majority Muslim country. I spoke neither Arabic nor French. I had six days, no plan, and no obligations. This combination of freedom and disorientation spurred a manic excitement. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. MARCH/APRIL 2017

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2

Stranded in Agdz AGDZ IS PROBABLY A PLEASANT

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town, but when I arrived it was dark. Unlike in Marrakech, the bus didn’t stop at a station. Instead, I descended onto a main street, where I saw young men huddled in tight crowds. I dragged my suitcase back and forth, searching for a taxi or a café. I was doing my best not to look as hapless as I felt. When I’m in a new country, my instinct is to get outside of its main cities immediately. So after a day in Marrakech, I had decided on a whim to head for the palmeraie—the palm oasis—of the Drâa Valley. It was a seven-hour bus ride over the High Atlas mountains, where I watched the moon rise, astonishingly aglow, over the road’s notoriously brutal switchbacks. Though I normally shun guidebooks, I made a reservation at an ecolodge I’d read about in Lonely Planet. The hotel was only seven kilometers away, which I assumed would be an easy cab ride. Instead, as the bus pulled away, I found myself staring down a nearly carless street. Where the bus had been, there was a man with an official-looking clipboard. “Taxi?” I asked. He patted the air as if to say, “Don’t worry,” and dialed his cell phone. After a quick conversation, he hung up. He turned to me and, in rapid-fire French, attempted to explain. But I understood only the no cab part. He should have been exasperated: this foolish American, arrogantly moving through the world with such limited language.

Instead, he pointed to an almost toy-size white coupe and began crossing the street, waving for me to follow. Before I knew it, he was throwing my bags in the back. I’m not in the habit of hopping in cars with strange men in a foreign country, especially when I don’t speak the language, my family doesn’t know where I am, and I’m without the false comfort of a functioning cell phone. But I looked into the man’s eyes so directly it felt almost intrusive. Then I got in. As we left town and the full moon dipped behind the cliffs, the night became black and I worried I had made a mistake. Then, perhaps sensing my need for reassurance, he began talking. He knew I didn’t understand, but he talked anyway. The meaning came with the tone of his voice, warm and measured, as he narrated our trip, announcing a turn before he made it, tapping his hands on the dashboard as he slowed ahead of a rough patch of road. All of it as if to say, “You are safe with me.” Finally, we turned off the main road and onto an unlit dirt lane. When we pulled up beside Ecolodge Bab El Oued Maroc Oasis, the large wooden gate to the walled compound was closed. He tapped his horn and it soon opened. Hamid, the driver, refused to take a dime. PO

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The adrenaline-like rush of newness had once defined travel’s allure for me. But like the difference between the delirious first months of a new love and the depth of a decades-long marriage, travel had become less thrilling and more fulfilling. The spontaneity of this trip, along with being on my own for the first time in over a year, was a reminder of a younger, more volatile version of myself. After landing in Casablanca at 7 a.m., I caught the next train to Marrakech. Several hours later, with a fitful half-sleep at my $47-anight riad behind me, I stepped out of the low wooden doorway and into the blinding brightness of late afternoon. Immediately, I was nearly hit by one of the motorbikes that swerve through the narrow streets of the medina, where the smell of exhaust and dust mix with market funk. When I had announced my trip on Facebook a couple days before, a friend who had lived in Morocco some years back insisted I visit a hammam. Maybe it’ll help me relax, I thought. It did. I slept for 10 hours that night.

To the Sahara MATHILDE IS THE WOMAN OF

the house at the lodge. French by birth, she’s married to a Moroccan man whom I saw only in blurry flashes as he raced after the couple’s daughter, a three-year-old with wild hair who was almost always naked. The compound was planted with rose, jasmine, and date palm and populated with strutting, squawking peacocks. My cottage was in the traditional mud-brick style known as pisé, with a roof of reeds and palm wood. The room had glazed bejmat mosaic tile and ornately carved tables, doors, and shutters. I would have been happy to spend days there. But if I wanted to see the Sahara, I needed to leave soon. “I would normally go with you,” Mathilde said, rubbing her stomach with a simper. In her drop-crotch pants and flowing black shirt, I hadn’t noticed that she was pregnant. Had I watched her longer, I would have recognized the familiar walk, like a pack camel shuffling beneath a foreign weight. I told her about Roxie, about being away from her for the first time. “I was never away from mine,” she said. “You can take them to the Sahara, you know. Mine was there at nine months.” I liked her immediately. And all

the more when, later, she divulged that she allowed herself one glass of wine and one cigarette each day. “To relax,” she said, explaining that stress is not good for the baby. Mathilde insisted I visit the 16th-century kasbah next door before I left. It was a fantastic piece of architecture, a puzzle of earthen rooms surrounded by a fortress of exterior walls. For lunch, I sat on the terrace at Chez Yacob, a hotel-restaurant just outside the kasbah gates. There was a large table of touring Israeli dirt bikers. With them was a young, stylish Moroccan businessman, their fixer of sorts, and an older Israeli who was leading the group. I made small talk with each separately. They seemed puzzled by my presence there, just me and a book and a giant serving of beef tagine. “Are you alone?” they each asked. “Yes,” I said, without explanation. And each man had the same response, identical even in its phrasing. “You’re a brave girl,” they said. I knew it was intended as a compliment, but I couldn’t help but hear it as something else, something between patronizing and threatening. Does eating alone in a restaurant really require bravery? Should it? The next day, Mathilde finally reached her friend who arranges trips to Erg Chegaga, a bedouin camp in the Sahara. My driver, Yusef, was Tuareg. He spoke little English, but as we drove, we made awkward small talk. He told me that he and his wife had an arranged marriage, and that one of his uncles had three wives. As we passed through a small town, he pointed out that all the men were sitting around drinking tea. “Women only are working,” he said with a laugh. When we left the paved road, we bounced over rocks and small dunes in the open desert. Then, in a soft patch of sand, he pretended to get stuck. “Maybe you for push?” he teased. “Maybe I drive,” I replied. We reached the camp just before sunset. Where I’d imagined colorful shelters set back into the dunes, the tents were covered in black tarping beside a trash-littered parking lot. I ached with disappointment. The dunes were too far to walk at that hour, so Yusef drove me. I took wide strides up the face of a small dune, then crawled up the larger, steeper slope behind it. At the top, I looked out over an ocean of sand. It was the color of rose gold, rippling into the distance. I just wanted to sit alone there. I wanted to cry for no reason. Or really, for two reasons: I was overwhelmed by the Sahara’s beauty. And I missed my child more than I had known was possible.


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CONNECT S P I N T H E G L O B E Lost in Fez THE BUSLOADS OF EUROPEAN

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tourists crowded Fez’s Blue Gate and choked the train-car-narrow alleys of its medina. I felt claustrophobic, but each time I veered from this recognizable main route, I was lost and soon spotted by a man or boy, each insisting on helping me help find my way. So I passed stall after stall of souvenirs: engraved marble tabletops, etched leather ottomans, caftans, and colorful ceramic tableware. Along this boulevard, nearly every stall catered to tourists. I don’t like shopping. And I hate this kind of shopping, with aggressive hawkers who expect you to haggle. But in a place with so many beautiful objects, I felt compelled to try. At one stall, I eyed a soft, shimmering gray shirt-andpants outfit, trying to gauge whether it would fit my dad. Oddly, here I was ignored. When the shopkeeper finally looked up from his cell phone, he let out an odd, unsettling laugh. I was concerned about the size, a modest “large.” After asking the vendor to take it down from where it hung, displayed against a stone wall, I concluded it was too small. I thanked him and began to leave. He objected, calling after me that he’d done so much, that I owed him. He insisted he had a larger pair. Shamed, I returned, and the dreaded negotiation began. He asked for 200 dirham, about $20, and I suggested 180. But really, I just didn’t want to do this dance. I thanked him again and left. “Good price,” he called out. Then, with a barely contained rage in his voice: “You’re crazy, lady.” I was startled. And though I was several stalls down, our eyes met. “OK,” he shouted across the souk. “Hundred-eighty.” But his voice and his face remained steely and seething. I felt a wave of confusion, then guilt, then fear. Rattled, I shook my head and turned to leave. “You’re sick!” I did feel sick. I felt ill from hunger and heat and an interaction I didn’t understand, frightened by how quickly a benign exchange had become threatening. When Gentle Is Harsh THE HAMMAM AT PALAIS FARAJ,

an ornate palace hotel that clung to a hill above Fez’s 12th-century medina, was only vaguely reminiscent of the one I had visited days before. Though it had a swimming pool, a library, and a trendy rooftop bar, I’d chosen it for its in-house bath. When I arrived for the “Oriental Purifying 50

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Ritual,” which was 20 times the cost of the Marrakech bath, I was escorted to an immaculate dressing room with tall wooden lockers, instructed to change into a robe, and handed a condom-size plastic package. The packet contained disposable mesh thong underwear, which somehow managed to be even less comfortable than wet cotton. Outside the bath, I hung my robe and deposited my pointy-toed terry cloth slippers. The spa worker—one of five who would attend to me during my three-hour treatment—pulled a wooden handle and I was walloped with a hot, vaporous tidal wave of eucalyptus-scented steam. The setting was beautiful, a tall white dome lit with tiny starlike lights, which flickered through the fog. Along the wall, stadium-

Faraj hammam left me cold. The workers were young and attractive, clothed while I was naked. They did their jobs well. But I struggled to relax. I felt self-conscious and exposed. When it was time for my massage, I lay face down on fresh-smelling sheets, my face in a stirrup. After too gently caressing my back, the masseuse asked me to flip over. “Madam,” she said, laying her hand softly on my stomach: “Baby?” “No,” I said. “Before.” “OK, sorry. No massage with baby.” I didn’t know if she was apologizing for the indelicate question. Or if she hadn’t understood my response. But being asked if I was pregnant when I wasn’t—when I hadn’t been for some time, and when I was still hopeful

I’m not in the habit of hopping in cars with strange men in a foreign country. style wooden benches were lined with foam pads. I sat beside the emerald-green tiled basin and poured water over myself with a poundedcopper bowl, each bowlful echoing through the mosque-like room. I was alone. I lay down and fell asleep in the heat. I don’t know how much time passed before I was awakened and led by the arm to a sterile room with a cold, slippery stone table. Facedown, I couldn’t see the woman whose hands were upon me. Using a brush, she made long, deliberate swipes from my feet to my shoulders. “Madam,” she whispered, “it’s OK?” It was. But just as fine restaurants can be impressive while also unsatisfying, the Palais

that my body would somehow return to its pre-baby condition—was crushing. I found myself missing the physical harshness of the public bath where I’d been comforted by the strong arms of the hammam worker, by the strength of my own body, and by the maternal scars I shared with the bodies around me. They reminded me that being a woman in the world, traveling or not, does sometimes require bravery and strength. And we are brave. We are strong. Freda Moon’s last story for AFAR, “Born to Travel,” was included in the 2016 edition of The Best American Travel Writing.


CONNECT R E S I D E N T

Dubai’s New Creative Class

An American woman, a Swiss man, and a French woman walk into a gallery . . . . No, this isn’t the setup to a joke about the UN. It’s the reality of expat-rich Dubai and its emerging art scene. Four residents give us the local color. by VICTORIA GOMELSK Y

photographs by SIDDHARTH SIVA

M.A.D., a home for kinetic art run by watchmaker Maximilian Büsser, is one of the many new noteworthy galleries in Dubai.

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ARABIAN SIGHTS

Lindsay Miller, managing director of the Dubai Design District (d3), wants travelers to see the city’s creative side. “Before we started the d3 project in 2012, we were hearing from tourists that it was hard to access work originating here. “In November 2015, we completed the first phase of the district: 2 million square feet of space with concept and niche shops, galleries, and workshops for artists, including the product designer Aljoud Lootah.” (Her “Oru” chair is pictured below.) “We’re still moving in, though people can visit. The second phase—a mix of ateliers, workshops, and retail space—will be in place in 2019. When complete, the district will be a meeting zone for design enthusiasts and practitioners from all over the world and the Arab region in particular. We want creative people to collaborate, vibe off each other, and ultimately establish a new design vernacular. And it’s completely accessible to visitors. It’s only three minutes by car from the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa.”

Where I Live

Maximilian Büsser, founder of the avant-garde Swiss watch brand MB&F, reveals the true Dubai—much more than just shopping malls. as told to VICTORIA GOMELSK Y

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impression most people have of Dubai is of five-star hotels and malls. But that’s not my experience. Before my family and I moved here in January 2015, we visited friends who’d lived in Dubai for years. I saw that their quality of life was noticeably higher than in Geneva, which is where I had been livHE FIRST

ing since 1998. I began a career as a watch creator 25 years ago and founded my own brand, MB&F, in 2005. After my daughter was born in 2013, I realized that I’d be too busy to watch her grow up if we stayed in Geneva. We chose Dubai because it was halfway between Europe and Asia. But we didn’t really know what we were getting into. It’s so much more interesting

HOW HAS DUBAI INFLUENCED YOU?

than that first impression. In a city of more than 2.6 million inhabitants, roughly 10 percent are Emiratis and 90 percent are expats who’ve arrived in the last 20 years. It’s one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world, and virtually no one has an extended family here. Everybody welcomes you warmheartedly and wants to introduce you to everyone else. Of course, you’ve got fantastic hotels and restaurants, and the tallest building in the world, but there’s another Dubai that tourists don’t usually see. It’s populated by numerous ethnic communities and groups that share common interests. For me, that social mix combined with proximity to the ocean is extraordinary. One of the coolest new neighborhoods is Alserkal Avenue. It’s a little like Shoreditch in East London, which used to be all warehouses that were slowly taken over by artists and galleries. Alserkal includes galleries like the Third Line, one of the most reputable art venues in the Middle East; Custot from Paris; and, as of January 2016, my own gallery, M.A.D., which stands for “mechanical art devices.” The art on display might share traits of watchmaking—gears and moving parts—but we’re not interested in telling time. We want to create kinetic sculpture. Dubai is constantly transforming. After spending the summer in Geneva, my wife and I wondered what we’d discover when we came back. On Sheikh Zayed Road, the main thoroughfare, they elevated a 14-lane highway in eight months. That is what is possible in Dubai.

“The historic district of Bur Dubai inspired my photo series called Chasing Bur Dubai. The project began as a diary to preserve what has become the place closest to what I call home. Through it, I found other in-betweeners who shared my desire to create that sense of belonging.” Ekta Saran, Indian photographer and filmmaker

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BOTTOM LEFT: COURTESY OF ALJOUD LOOTAH; ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID WILSON

CONNECT R E S I D E N T


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EXPLORE MAXIMILIAN’S DUBAI

From a raw-food restaurant that could’ve been imported from L.A. to a ride with a view.

1. KITE BEACH “This public whitesand beach is good for adults and kids. They have stand-up paddleboarding, kitesurfing, all sorts of games, trampolines, climbing walls, and a skateboard and scooter play zone.” thekitebeach.com 2. LITTLE BLACK DOOR “A club at the Conrad Hotel, LBD 56

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has a very cool bar with great music. The space channels old-school New York with a dash of fashion-forward London and a touch of a Parisian club privé. Reserve a table in advance.” knocktoenter.com 3. WILD & THE MOON “An organic, vegetarian place owned by French entrepreneur Emma Sawko

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just opened next to our M.A.D. Gallery in Alserkal. It has incredible juices, smoothies, and food.” wildandthe moon.com

meditation, Pilates, and capoeira. The restaurant is in a shady garden and serves raw and gluten-free foods.” lifenone.com

4. COMPTOIR 102 “Emma, with her friend Alexandra de Montaudouin, also curated an organic restaurant and store where they serve and sell what they love.” comptoir102.com

6. M.A.D. GALLERY “We chose our location in Alserkal because it feels industrial but it’s surrounded by some of

5. LIFE ’N ONE “Located in the Jumeirah district, this wellness center has a yoga studio and hosts workshops and classes in

the best galleries in the world.” madgallery.net

found or dared eat in.” fryingpan adventures.com

7. FRYING PAN ADVENTURES “If you like to eat Arab or Indian food, a tour with sisters Farida and Arva Ahmed is a must. I discovered the best falafel at a place I would never have

8. UBERCHOPPER “You can book a 20-minute helicopter ride for only $120 to $150 per person. If there is one city worth flying over, it’s Dubai!” uber.com/cities/ dubai

HOW HAS DUBAI INFLUENCED YOU?

“I never worry about my safety. I can go bird-watching in the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in the middle of the city or take in the fountain light show downtown. Thanks to the strong community, I can go out alone without fear.” Amel B. Makkawi, French owner of the Art Sawa gallery

Plan your trip at afar.com/visit/dubai.


IT’S GOOD TO KNOW YOUR PLACE IN THE WORLD.

IT’S EVEN BETTER WHEN SEARCH AND RESCUE KNOWS.

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With an inReach® satellite communicator, you can navigate, trigger an SOS, send and receive text messages, and share your GPS location with friends and family from anywhere on earth, even when there’s no cell phone service.

©2017 Garmin Ltd. or its subsidiaries


THE EXPAT F ILES 9

TRUE-LIFE STORIES

What it’s really like to live abroad—and why you should do it.

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THE SEA DOG

Magazine-editor-turned-mariner Amy Paulsen squeezed her family of four onto a sailboat (twice!) and let the winds guide their adventures. What they found in Barcelona, however, was a reason to stay put.

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are big fans of quitting our jobs; we ditched “real life” twice to live on a boat. The first time, when my daughters were 11 and 7, we sailed from the Chesapeake Bay to the Bahamas. We hopped from island to island for 11 months, homeschooling our kids along the way. Five years later, we sold our townhouse in New York and had a boat custombuilt and shipped to Mallorca. We

MY HUSBAND AND I

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had no idea how long we would be abroad, but we stayed in Spain for five years, living on the boat for a year and a half in a Barcelona marina. We got used to functioning in a small space. You turn around and you’re facing the stove, and then you turn 90 degrees and you’re facing the refrigerator. Our daughters shared a bedroom the size of a closet. There was one bathroom. And you can’t take a shower every day, because you need to conserve water. We had clothes, schoolbooks, computers,

a dog. It was mayhem. But it’s not as though we were roughing it. People thought we would buy 10 cases of Vienna sausage and ramen noodles, but we cooked amazing meals. Every morning, my husband made eggs with kale and goat cheese and fresh grilled bread or some other delicious breakfast. We had a coffee grinder onboard and nice cheeses in the fridge. Some evenings, I’d put a candle in a lantern, and we would sit inside this wood-paneled, womblike space, drinking wine while the boat gently rocked. And waking up with the sunrise right outside your window never gets old. The boat’s lack of privacy became an issue when our girls reached adolescence. They didn’t have a place to be alone or to hang out with friends. Eventually we rented a small apartment in Barcelona, but we still spent our summers sailing around the Mediterranean.

Barcelona has a great sailing community. The marina was our de facto neighborhood. One of the big joys of boating is the camaraderie you find. We made friends with Canadian, British, German, and Scottish boaters. There is an unwritten code that anyone who has spent serious time on a boat is familiar with: If a fellow boater gets into trouble and you are nearby, you help out, no questions asked. That’s not something you find everywhere. We had to make a conscious effort to not hang out with just expats. We would go to the same cafés and restaurants and befriend the people who ran them. Gradually, our community expanded to include Catalan people. And once I got certified as an English language teacher and started giving private lessons, I made even more friends. That was a wonderful way to infiltrate the local community. —AS TOLD TO ANDREW PARKS

ZOONAR GMBH/ALAMY

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T H E C U LT U R E SPONGE

AFAR contributing writer and serial expat Lisa Abend knows she’s become “one of them” when she feels guilty for making social faux pas.

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ONE DAY SEVERAL years ago, I

was walking home with a baguette still warm from the oven under my arm. It was a sunny morning in Madrid, and in the few blocks that separated the bakery from my apartment, I passed the dim bar where an elderly man stood staring into his 11 a.m. beer; the market where a pair of Pekingese waited patiently for their owner to emerge; the kiosk where Manuel handed me my paper of choice every day without asking. It was in every way a normal morning, or at least it was until I decided to do the unthinkable. Feeling peckish, I broke off a heel from the loaf and began to snack. Almost immediately, I got my comeuppance. Watching me as I passed, a man in a jacket shook his head disapprovingly. “Quien come por la calle no se casa,” he admonished. “Whoever eats in the street will never marry.” It was then I knew I finally fit in. Not because the man mistook me for Spanish; after six years of living in Madrid I recognized that your average Spaniard is just as likely to comment on the appropriateness of a foreigner’s behavior as a local’s. No, I fit in because I felt guilty. I knew that Spaniards consider it bad manners—so bad, in fact, that it will doom all chance at future romance—to eat anything besides an ice cream cone in the street. I knew, in other words, exactly what I was doing wrong. All expats have moments in which they realize they’ve acquired skills needed for their 62

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adopted home. For me, there was the party at which I danced a sevillana well enough to have my partner lean in and tell me I had duende, a particularly Spanish kind of “soul.” That time on the metro when I realized I could understand the conversation swirling around me without actively trying. That dinner in Barcelona when I found myself accurately dissecting the differences among Spain’s bewildering slew of political parties. But I think I only felt that I truly fit in when I got chastised for snacking on that baguette. In my feelings

of guilt lay the proof that I had internalized at least a piece of the Spanish worldview: Only boors eat in the street. Three years ago, I moved to Copenhagen and began the process all over again. I started taking Danish classes, I learned to ride a bike. I developed a taste for lumpfish roe. But these changes still feel superficial. I can tell— when that woman flinched as I leaned in to give her a good-bye kiss on the cheek after a meeting; when that man frowned after I referred to one of my own ideas as “brilliant”—that I still haven’t absorbed the subtle rules about what not to do. Not long ago I traveled to Gibraltar, on Spain’s southern coast. The cheapest route entailed flying to Málaga, then taking a two-hour taxi ride to the British enclave. It had been a busy week, so once I settled into the cab, I pulled out my laptop, intending to catch up on work during the long drive. But then I remem-

EXPAT WISDOM FROM THE AFAR COMMUNITY

“Speak the language as much as you can, even if you’re not 100 percent confident in your skills. Locals respect that.” —Jamie Rosenfield, an American living in Argentina

bered where I was. I knew that Spaniards love nothing so much as a good conversation, and that to rebuff one would be almost unspeakably rude. I put the laptop away. Over the next two hours, the driver and I talked about food and football and the lingering effects of the financial crisis. But mostly, we talked about how good it is to be Spanish.

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THE GLOBAL DAD Parag Khanna, author of Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, on why raising kids abroad is the best thing you can do for them.

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THE FIRST STEP is the hardest.

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to relocate from New York City to London in 2011. Storage, bank accounts, taxes, schools—we had a never-ending list of chores. But the next step is always easier. Moving from London to Singapore a year later was a snap:

buying one-way tickets, renting an apartment online, changing SIM cards. Five years on, we’re not just expats but “perma-pats,” joining the nearly 9 million Americans who live abroad, many chasing opportunity rather than longing for home. We’ve got plans for mini sabbaticals in Berlin, Dubai, and San Francisco. Our goal is to live in a different city every year or two. It has become impossible to imagine our two kids growing up any other way. My seven-year-old daughter recently announced her chosen career path as “explorer.” Having already notched 60 trips to 30 countries, it’s not clear that

she’ll ever live anywhere for long. Our five-year-old son loves being on the move, too: He gets to see different cars and trucks in each city. Together, they are practically the poster children for the Samsonite scooter suitcases they ride as they whiz around airports. Taking trips to Thailand, Laos, and China is the norm for our kids. They’ve become bilingual in Hindi and English at home and learn Mandarin in the classroom. No student graduates from an international school in Singapore speaking fewer than three languages. This is my plan to keep my kids from getting outsourced or

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Insta-Expat!

These remote work programs offer all the perks of expat life—and save you the planning. by SARAH PURKRABEK

EXPAT WISDOM FROM THE AFAR COMMUNITY

How it works Locations What it costs

automated. They’ll be multilingual. They’ll have global street smarts. They will prize mobility over sedentary nationality. But they will still be as American as apple pie. The international culture they’re immersed in is dominated by American English and pop music. In a way, the more they move around, the more the common denominator remains being American—a global American. Or, in this age of cities driving the world forward, my daughter considers herself first and foremost a “New York-ista.” The world is fraught with political populism and talk of borders going up. Don’t believe it. Today, every country in the world is capitalist. Dozens of countries are modernizing and offering world-class infrastructure and safe and healthy lifestyles. Around the world, globalization is marching forward on the shoulders of pragmatic governments strategizing for seamless connectivity to trade partners and markets—no matter what some politicians might say. This is the future. I want my kids to be ready for it.

What it covers

“Find shared accommodation. Roommates speak the local language with you and can set you up with a bank and phone, show you cool spots, and expose you to cultural nuances you might not pick up on otherwise.” —Damien Williams, an American living in the Netherlands

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REMOTE YEAR remoteyear.com

ROAM roam.co

THE REMOTE EXPERIENCE theremote experience.com

WE ROAM we-roam.com

This 12-citiesin-12-months program places participants on a world tour with 74 other digital nomads, all of whom must be able to work remotely throughout the year.

Workers can hop around Roam’s farflung network of smartly designed coliving spaces. Reservations are first-come, firstserved, and the program prefers that participants spend at least one month in each destination.

Spend four months at a time in a different corner of the world. Monthly dinners and trips (island-hopping in Croatia, biking in the Alps) help you make friends, while local ambassadors point the way to cool offerings in each city.

Commit to a year or six months of travel hopscotch, checking out a new city each month. The emphasis here, however, is on career development. Participants take workshops and routinely hear from local business leaders.

More than 20 cities, including Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Medellín, Colombia; and Rabat, Morocco.

London, Madrid, Miami, Tokyo, and Ubud, Bali, for now. A space in San Francisco is coming soon.

Megalopolises including Santiago and Buenos Aires, as well as Turin, Italy, and Canggu, Indonesia.  

Barcelona and Berlin, plus Chiang Mai, Thailand; Florianópolis, Brazil; and Split, Croatia, among others.

$5,000 up front, plus $2,000 per month.

$500 per week or $1,800 per month, pay as you go.

$1,900–$2,000 per month.  

$15,000 for six months or $27,000 for the year.

Transportation between cities, a private bedroom in an apartment or hotel, a 24-hour coworking space with fast Internet access, plus networking and social events.

A private bedroom and bath with laundry facilities, a shared office with “battle-tested” Wi-Fi, and a chef’s kitchen to inspire bonding.

A private bedroom in a one- to fourbedroom apartment or villa, office space and utilities, group events and excursions, and travel and medical insurance.

Transportation between destinations, a private room, shared workspace, community outings, and networking events.


THE E X PAT FILE S

THE HOTEL B R AT As a kid moving from one fine hotel to the next, AFAR deputy editor Jennifer Flowers found nourishment in family rituals.

THE ENTREPRENEUR Michael Evans went to Argentina to clear his head. Twelve years and a booming business later, he has no intention of leaving.

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IN 2004, I CAME to Argentina for what I thought would be a three-week vacation. I needed a break after working as a consultant on the John Kerry campaign. We lost, of course. At that point, I couldn’t imagine living outside the United States. But Argentina struck me on a deep level. It was spectacularly beautiful, and the people were warm and welcoming. So I figured, I’ll stay for six months. It’ll be a great adventure. I’ll learn Spanish, have a good time, then go back 66

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to the States. As a wine nut, I wanted to visit Mendoza. I went to a tasting in Buenos Aires and asked the sommelier if she knew anyone in Mendoza. She connected me with winemaker Pablo Giménez Riili. We met for coffee, and it was like reuniting with a long-lost brother. Pablo took three days off to show me the city and its wineries. That’s when I decided to buy a little piece of land here. Pablo’s family would take care of it, and I’d come down once a year and make some wine. Then I started talking to my buddies, and they said, “If you’re going to do that, we want to do it, too.” That’s when the

lightbulb went off. A lot of people dream of making their own wine but don’t have millions of dollars to invest. So we started the Vines of Mendoza. It’s a resort and winery. We give wine lovers the opportunity to buy small plots of land and participate in farming and winemaking as much or as little as they’d like. There’s something primal about creating something you love from scratch—from planting and tending the vines to harvesting, fermenting, and blending. Twelve years in, I love it. I go back to the States six or seven times a year, but I don’t know if I’ll ever live there again. Business is good. Our success comes from the best of both cultures. We act like gringos when it comes to legal documents, but if you have a business lunch with us, it’ll last three or four hours. It’s not about running through an agenda. It’s about getting to know each other and making sure everybody is getting what they want out of the company.

THE RICE COOKER I own is a dinged-up workhorse, its insides browned from years of use. Thanks to my dad’s hotelier career, that rice cooker followed my family into a string of hotels in Asia and the United States that we called home; it was the one constant in every new en suite kitchen. What changed were the things we put on our rice: vinegary chicken adobo in the Philippines, sweet and smoky lap cheong sausage in Hong Kong, or spicy beef rendang in Singapore. The nightly duty of washing rice, one of my Japanese American mom’s tasks as a girl growing up in Hawaii, became our own family ritual. She swore we would live a normal existence, with chores and home-cooked meals, even if room service was just a phone call away. When I went off to college, my mom gave me the rice cooker. She, my dad, and my younger brother lived in Singapore at the time, but she knew I needed it more than they did. She was right—it was a godsend to be able to make a hot meal in my dorm during late-night cram sessions. But more than that, it reminded me, as it does today in my New York City kitchen, to be open to trying new flavors and to maintain my appetite for exploring the world, knowing that every time I turn on my rice cooker, no matter where I am, I’ll be home.

—AS TOLD TO ANDREW PARKS

For more on how to be an expat, go to afar.com/expats.

BERTI HANNA/REA/REDUX

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PROMOTION

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A SMALL GROUP TO SOLVE THE WORLD’S GRAND CHALLENGES.

T

he Nantucket Project (TNP) strives to make this possibility a reality. Its gatherings attract a small group of curious people eager to delve deep into compelling stories and issues. They congregate on Nantucket each fall, after the tourists have packed up and as the island takes on a starker, wilder beauty. Over four days that feel like camp for grown-ups, 400 TNP attendees

take part in thought-provoking presentations and conversations, broken up by music, art, and comedy interludes. Speakers and performers have included Tony Blair, Steve Wozniak, Julie Taymor, Paul Giamatti, John McCain, Eve Ensler, Norman Lear, Hope Solo, and Neil Young. It's an eclectic mix, but they are all asked to take the stage in the same spirit: to shake up your perceptions and inspire you with possibilities. How can we learn to embrace feeling vulnerable? Reach new space frontiers? Reclaim democracy? Live longer than ever?

TNP’s exploration of bold ideas and remarkable personal narratives unfolds in a tent overlooking Nantucket Harbor. Everyone follows the same agenda, making the gathering uniquely intimate and cohesive. We could go on, but the only way to truly appreciate what sets TNP apart is to experience it for yourself. Just be warned: You may not go home the same. To find out more and check out TNP Idea Films from past events, visit nantucketproject.com.


THE H U M A N I TA R I A N

From Afghanistan to Sierra Leone, conflict photographer Maria de la Guardia finds beauty and purpose in some of the world’s most challenging places.

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stories in some of the world’s most remote and misunderstood locations and cultures. I have lived abroad for nearly 17 years and called a dozen countries home. Now I’m back in Afghanistan. When nonprofit organizations contract me to document the work they do, some give me insurance, medical coverage, and kidnapping protection. When I’m not with them, I take care of all that myself and know that if I get I DOCUMENT HUMAN

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kidnapped, I’m on my own. It’s more difficult, but I have a lot of freedom. I can travel where I want and choose where I live without meeting the security standards imposed by NGOs. I need that flexibility to tell the best stories. The last time I was in Kabul, I had my own bungalow in a predominantly Afghani neighborhood. Most foreigners hire a chowkidor. Chowki in Dari means chair and dor is door, so it literally means a guy who sits in a chair and watches your door. He’s not armed, but he opens and closes the gate and looks to see who is on the street. I didn’t have one.

I didn’t have barbed wire around the top of my fence. What I did have was good neighbors. It took time to build those relationships. When I first moved in, it was a harsh winter. I had a tiny generator that would power two lights and a laptop. I made relationships by loaning the generator to my neighbors. Little things like waving or kicking a football to their kids also helped. When you’re on the ground in conflict zones, you can separate yourself from the war stories. You see the simplicity of everyday lives and how much we all have in common. The key is listening and showing absolute respect to whomever you’re talking to. If they can see that you’re not coming in to enforce your own ideas or beliefs, they’ll start to trust you. You’re not just there taking a picture because it looks beautiful; you’re there because you’re interested in their life. That’s when the real stories start to come out. Only a small circle of foreigners remains in Afghanistan

today. We share a passion for the country and its people. I am most devoted to reporting on women’s issues. I want to help women feel stronger by listening to them. My brother is in the U. S. military. At one point, we overlapped in Afghanistan. At first, my family didn’t want to hear any news that wasn’t absolutely proAmerica. But over the years, my photographs broke down those ideas. My mom accepts what I do now—dare I say, she is proud of me. I watched her become more tolerant in front of my eyes, wanting to know more about countries, cultures, and religions she would have dismissed before. I love that my pictures can inspire change in someone. I’ve had friends killed here. Sometimes I wonder, why them and not me? Any one of us could have gone to that restaurant the night it was ambushed. But I never rethink my decision to be here. There are stories that need to be told. I can do that. —AS TOLD TO ASHLEA HALPERN

MARIA DE LA GUARDIA

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ADVENTURE.TRAVEL Inspiring Impactful Travel


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Ready to Ship Out?

THE P O LY G L O T

Not so fast. Putting down roots is harder than traveling. According to a 2016 survey conducted by InterNations, a global networking and data platform for expatriates, these are some of the countries most and least welcoming of foreign residents. by ASHLEY GOLDSMITH

It’s easy to feel offended when you don’t understand linguistic nuances. Stockholm-based writer and photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström explains.

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fascinated by language ever since I was a child, growing up in Nigeria amidst more than 250 tribes and their unique dialects. I taught myself Italian (which has waned over time), struggled with German, and studied Spanish at university. When I arrived on Sweden’s shores seven years ago, newly married to a Swede, I knew I needed to learn the language as deeply as I could. Though most Swedes speak English, cracking their hard outer shell can take years. Here, friendships date back to childhood and compliments are rare. Mastering the subtle nuances of the language was the hammer I needed to start chipping away. I enrolled in free Swedish classes offered to immigrants. And while it was challenging to learn how to properly purse my lips when pronouncing such similar-sounding words as sjö, sju, and tjö, it was regularly encountering the word duktig in everyday conversation that bothered me the most. Duktig means “smart” in Swedish. To locals, the word is harmless, part of the natural flow of their native language. To me, an outsider trying to fit into an insular culture, it suggested a level of condeI’VE BEEN

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scension to which many native speakers might be oblivious. I would share an idea at a business meeting. “Vad duktig du är!” (How smart you are!) At a dinner party, I would tell people I had worked as a computer programmer (my former profession). “Vad duktig du är!” Duktig felt like a veiled insult—that somehow, I had miraculously exceeded their low expectations. For me, it evoked the same negative, visceral reaction as being told in the United States that I speak “eloquently” for an African American. Many expats in Sweden have difficulties securing jobs. It sometimes felt like whatever expertise I brought with me was simply not enough, so duktig came off as patronizing. Over time, as I advanced my language skills and delved deeper into Swedish expression, I came to realize that duktig, in the right context, really could be a compliment. Often it means, “I think you’re cool.” Still, until I progress further on my journey toward fluency, I’ll probably reserve the phrase “Vad duktig du är!” for kids under 10.

C’MON OVER! TAIWAN Of the 67 countries surveyed, Taiwan took top honors in the quality-of-life department. Expats report feeling safe and pleased with their work-life balance.

MALTA The Mediterranean nation scored well for its sunny climate, hospitable locals, cheap housing, and welcoming environment for entrepreneurs.

ECUADOR Though the country has recently suffered through tough economic times, Ecuador is consistently top-rated thanks to its quality health care and low cost of housing.

THINK ABOUT IT NEW ZEALAND Kiwi-wannabes enjoy a strong job market, a clean environment, and lots of leisure activities. But making friends is tough, as is dealing with the geographic isolation.

ITALY Expats report shorter workweeks, heavenly food, and outstanding beaches. But high taxes and the continuing economic crisis are major downsides.

INDONESIA The beaches are stunning and the locals are welcoming, but expats surveyed warn of long workweeks, difficulties finding jobs, and concerns over safety.

WHOA, HOLD UP! BRAZIL For some expats, fine weather and friendly locals aren’t enough to offset Brazil’s high crime rate, tumultuous political scene, and limited schooling options.

EGYPT It’s one of the more affordable countries, but high pollution, dodgy medical care, lousy job prospects, and concerns about personal safety are serious challenges.

KUWAIT A high cost of living, political instability, and an icy reception toward expats (working women in particular) land Kuwait near the bottom of the list, along with Saudi Arabia.


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THE FOREIGN SERVICE MAMA What helps Italian-born writer and mother-of-three Anna Pellicioli power through sticky situations? A good sense of humor and faith in humanity.

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WE’RE DRIVING A minivan with

a Space Shuttle bumper sticker: three children, one husband, and my visiting sister. The kids squirm in the backseat. Everyone’s hungry. It’s Saturday in Istanbul, our fourth Foreign Service home in seven years. I turn onto a narrow street, heading to our usual parking lot near the Grand Bazaar. A few ablas (sisters) in their bright hijabs walk in front of us, bags full of lemons and pomegranates. I turn into a current of carts that are pushed by men

peddling copper wire and knife sharpeners. I stop. Is this a oneway street? Is this even a street? I thought I remembered. This doesn’t look right. The car behind me honks a long, irritated honk. More men cross the street, balancing carpets on their shoulders, cigarettes between their lips. A basket tied to a rope drops from a window, waiting for clotted cream. Fourteen million people get on with their day. A distant ferry blows its foghorn like a deep, condescending I-told-you-so. I turn up a hill into a dead end. My husband sighs. “Mami, I want simit,” the little one howls, referring to the seeded

ring of bread, a Turkish snack. Within seconds, someone knocks on my bumper and waves his hands. I roll down the window. The outside smells like jasmine, gasoline, and fresh bread. Six men surround our car. My sister laughs nervously. Each man gestures for me to come his direction. “Ghel, abla, ghel.” Come, sister, come. Go, my husband says. Go Mami, the boys yell from the back. “Simiiiiiiit!” the littlest one insists. I tune out the inside noise and let the outside guide me until, by some magic, my gigantic silver machine is out of the maze of streets, and the men are shaking my husband’s hand, blessing our children and the road ahead. When we finally get to the bazaar, the kids feast on rose candies and gobble simit on a rooftop, facing two continents and counting ships on the most enchanting body of water in the world. “I want to be an astronaut,” my six-year-old son says, “and go to space and sing the prayer from there, so everybody in the world can hear it.” My son, the muezzin

astronaut, has already lived in four different countries. If you ask my children where they’re from, they’ll say Washington, D.C., but if you ask them where home is, they may not know. They know we took sleds to school on snowy Moscow mornings. They know I nursed their sister on the ferry from Europe to Asia. They know we lit a candle in a Jura mountain chapel, where the ghosts of my grandfathers whispered: How lucky you are— to be so lost and yet so alive. Sometimes it’s hard. Every foreign service mama dreams of a farm with a porch swing back home. All of us, at some point, cry because everyone in the house gets the barking cough, or the only windshield wiper fluid we could find smells like toxic watermelon, or we just put our kids on a school bus to a place we’ve never been. Sometimes, we just want to go home. That’s when someone finds you and pulls you out. The world rescues your kid’s scooter from the Bosporus. It hands your crying daughter a ripe fruit you don’t know the name of. It lets your boys jump from one rug pile to another. And you say thank you, in their language and in yours. Güle, güle, they say. Go laughing. And you do. Because you were never really stuck, and you were always really home.

“Trying to ‘blend in’ isn’t the best approach. Be yourself, and discuss and celebrate the differences and similarities between cultures.” —Stacie Abney, an American living in Germany

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IANNI DIMITROV/STOCKIMO/ALAMY

EXPAT WISDOM FROM THE AFAR COMMUNITY


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THE RETIREES

Amy and Darrell Bushnell sought an early retirement in Nicaragua. Now they’re busier than ever.

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WE WERE LIKE most couples back in the States: workaholics. But we traveled a lot when we were younger and knew we wanted to retire overseas. Each time we went on a trip, it got tougher to come home. We decided to retire sooner rather than later. We were 55 and 49 when we moved to Nicaragua in 2006. For us, retiring abroad was largely a financial decision. Health insurance in the United States would have eaten up our pension. These days, we pay as we go. It’s that cheap. A doctor’s visit is $17, and you don’t need a prescription for anything but narcotics. Hospitals are of North American quality. And the doctors are not only great, they’re accessible. They’ll give you their home number and cell phone in case you have issues. They make house calls. The cost of living is what first attracted us, but the people are what keep us here. They’re friendly, hardworking, and funny. The first four months, we lived in the coastal town of San Juan del Sur. We thought Darrell was going to have to fish for our food every day. We even bought a couple of Bowie knives; that’s how rugged we expected it to be. But the

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basics were there. We had a house overlooking Nacascolo Bay. Our water supply was unreliable because it was on an electric pump, and electricity was on for less than eight hours a day, but we could walk to town and buy food at the mercado. Every once in a while, we would rent a hotel room in town, just to recharge ourselves. Darrell never fished for our meals. The changes we’ve seen are unbelievable. The pioneers and hippies were here when we arrived, growing their own veggies and minimizing their materialism. The roads were horrific, and the grocery stores were very basic. Now, the middle class has grown substantially. Health care is better. Schools are better. The infrastructure has blossomed. Forget eight-hours-a-day electricity; now it’s unusual if it ever goes off. But Nicaragua isn’t for everybody. If you’re the kind of person who is choosing between Nicaragua and the Bahamas, you’re not going to make it here. Eventually we moved to the city of Granada and opened an art studio and gallery, and started a website and newsletter for expats. We have a farm with chickens, pigs, ducks, and horses. We’re busier than ever, but we don’t work crazy hours. And we’re doing things we actually like. Our lives are joyful. —AS TOLD TO ANDREW PARKS

What $2,000 a Month Buys You Around the World

From a tiny walk-up studio to a sprawling villa, this is what your life could look like—and cost—in six different countries. by S. JHOANNA ROBLEDO

NEW YORK CITY Old-school charm abounds in this studio walk-up on the Upper East Side: arched doorways, hardwood floors, decorative fireplace. But living quarters are cramped, and the kitchen—with its minifridge—is nanoscopic.

TANZANIA A furnished three-bedroom, four-bath beachfront bungalow sits on 8.6 private acres in the seaside town of Kigoma. Selling points include a private terrace with an ocean view, garage, manicured garden, and servant’s quarters.

THE NETHERLANDS A three-bedroom, 1,356square-foot duplex on the two upper floors of a historic canal-front mansion in the town of Utrecht also offers a spacious balcony where you can relax and watch the boats go by.

BRAZIL Rent this six-bedroom house on a 16-acre farm five minutes from Rasa Beach—a kitesurfing hot spot in the Búzios section of Rio de Janeiro—and you can harvest avocados, mangoes, and bananas whenever you need a snack.

JAPAN It’s a tight squeeze, but at least this 314-square-foot, onebedroom tower apartment comes with a ninth-floor balcony and a walk-in closet. Plus, it’s located in Tokyo’s nightclub-saturated Roppongi district.

NORWAY Forget one month’s rent. In Oslo, $2,000 buys only 11 nights in a one-bedroom cottage on the banks of a fjord. The furnished house has a sleeping loft, an outdoor shower, and picture windows with views of downtown.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRISTOPHER DELORENZO

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Buried within this jungle is the 3000-year-old Maya metropolis known as Lamanai. Here, you can scale the High Temple and imagine life in ancient times. It’s a perspective you can only ďŹ nd in Belize. Discover how to be at travelbelize.org


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The Other Side Sorting things out on Ireland’s rugged western edge.

by Chris Colin

photographs by Jooney Woodward


THE LEVEL OF TURBULENCE WAS HIGH FOR A HOTEL ROOM. As the late afternoon wind howled up from the white-capped bay, the

rain-lashed window rattled in its frame, the pipes in the bathroom groaned, and periodically the building itself gave an overwrought shudder. It had been a long day. Then again it had been a long month, arguably a long year. I brushed my teeth at the old sink, pulled on every piece of warm clothing from my bag and started walking. I set out from a grassy bluff above Clew Bay, where the Mulranny Park Hotel has sat for more than a century. Evidence of time’s passage was scant. It could’ve been yesterday that these parts were ruled by Grace O’Malley, the swaggering 16th-century chieftain and Ireland’s so-called Pirate Queen. Her wildness can’t be separated from the place. After giving birth to her son at sea, she saw her ship boarded by Algerian pirates; she wrapped the boy in a blanket and led her crew in fighting off the invaders. At port, she was said to sleep with a mooring rope tied to her bedpost, the other end run all the way down to that same ship. If someone tried to steal it, she’d know. The legend is meant to illustrate the depths of her seafaringness. As I walked through the rain in Mulranny, I just thought she sounded lonely.  It was my first day in the west of Ireland, nearly two hours by car northwest of Galway. The country is its rugged, woolliest self here. The wind is harder, the greenery shaggier. A narrow road curled away from the hotel, ran through the brief bit of town, and somewhere in there intersected an overgrown stairway leading down to the bay. I made my way with little resembling a plan. I was soaked, as foretold; no traveler flies to Ireland without first being warned 400 times about the rain. I’d nodded earnestly in these conversations, then ignored the whole matter. I do not melt in water. Anyway, a sunny beach in Mallorca will scratch many itches but not all. Now and then a soul needs to get drenched. Sligo Belfast A narrow path ran along the bay, and as I hopped over puddles, I fell into conversation Mulranny with a tall, ruddy young man. You can do that in Ireland, just talk to fellow humans. His name Dublin was Matthew. He’d grown up here. He had a shaved head and a friendly, shy manner; with a Galway little prodding he told me the seesawing history of this tiny coastal town. Once it had been a quiet agricultural outpost. Then in 1894 the local railway station opened, and suddenly Mulranny was a destination. The hotel opened soon after, a gleaming thing from the future— it had electric lights years before any other place around, hot baths, and at great expense a swimming pool with water pumped up from the bay. Mulranny exploded, was twice the size it is today. And then it all went away. Cars started to get popular in the 1930s, the train was IRELAND discontinued, and soon the economy withered. The hotel limped along, then shuttered.  Matthew does maintenance for holiday homes in the area. His mother worked at the hotel 78

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Opposite: the Garavogue River flows through Sligo. Above left: Damien Brennan hosts Yeats Evenings along with his wife, Paula Gilvarry. Above right: Ashford Castle, which dates back to 1228, now welcomes guests as a five-star hotel. Previous page: the stove at Tricky’s McGarrigles pub in Sligo.

before it closed in 1990. His father farmed. The family goes back three generations here, which isn’t uncommon—it’s going forward that’s increasingly rare. In secondary school Matthew had 60 classmates. All but four eventually emigrated or moved to Dublin. When Matthew’s son starts school here, he will have one other child in his class. It gets lonely here, he told me. But he said it without complaint. Windswept, isolated, desolate: These traits do not diminish the appeal of seaside towns like this one. To a certain state of mind, they heighten it. It was true—I hadn’t seen a place so pretty, so movingly pretty, in some time. But you know that already. You know of the pull Ireland has on certain types, at certain points in life. You know that the bedraggled heart seeks out the leaden sky over the low stone wall, finds dark poetry in the wisps of smoke rising from the stone chimney. You know also that we mostly travel happy, but sometimes we travel sad. One night your partner of 16 years turns to you and says things

are complicated. Weeks later you’re in western Ireland without a plan except to bob about atop the moodiness, hope to wash up somewhere in a better turn of mind. Back at the hotel that evening, I stared out at the churning bay. Mulranny is changing again. In 2005, the hotel reopened, obviously, and then the Great Western Greenway was unveiled—a gorgeous 26-mile cycling and walking trail along the path of the old train line, skirting Clew Bay. Lately locals have launched a campaign against light pollution; a town that once celebrated its lights now proudly dims them. Something’s in the air. At one point I stopped into a craft workshop called Gift of Hands. A dozen local women were seated at tables making rugs, jewelry, goat puppets. The proceeds help pay for community projects such as heating the local tourism office. There’s a local tourism office.  Traditionally, my interest in the ups and downs of tiny Irish towns has been limited. Now the ups and downs of everything and everyone had come to obsess me. I thought about

places moving backwards; the population falling, not rising; the specific sadness of life not doing what it’s supposed to do. “The world’s more full of weeping than you can understand,” William Butler Yeats wrote. Suddenly I was someone who knew Yeats quotes. The next morning I’d start driving, heading off somewhere new to burrow deeper. Into what I couldn’t say. Later, improbably, I’d decide megalithic tombs had something important to say about my life. I didn’t recognize myself, but I was propelled. “We are happy when for everything inside us there is a corresponding something outside us.” Yeats again. Whatever was inside me, I thought I’d find its reflection in Ireland. OUTWARDLY MY MOVEMENTS across the west were those of a deranged person. Inwardly, too, I suppose. From Mulranny I meandered northwest a couple hours for no reason but poetry, and a road trip awash in evocative greens. This one green makes you want to draw a hot bath, or drink heavy beer MARCH/APRIL 2017

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WHAT TO READ BEFORE YOU GO In a country where pubs are named after playwrights and festivals celebrate poets, the literary tradition is gloriously unavoidable. These reads make good travel companions. —maggie fuller The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems by William Butler Yeats The first collection of Yeats’s poetry exemplifies his interest in mythology and romanticism. The title epic helped establish his reputation. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien Banned upon publication, the controversial coming-of-age novel follows two childhood friends from bleak, rural Ireland as they navigate the repressive society of 1950s Dublin.

The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics by William Butler Yeats Yeats’s love for Sligo influenced his second poetry collection. “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is a classic example of the Celtic Revival style, which strove to be uniquely Irish in both structure and subject. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien Narrated by a fictional student, the trippy, bawdy novel weaves a web of invented writers, their characters, and legendary figures and explores Ireland’s deep ties to its literary legacy. Collected Poems by Patrick Kavanagh In down-to-earth, striking landscape poetry, Kavanagh maneuvers through the often harsh daily realities of life in rural Ireland in the mid 20th century.


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Left: a local tips back a pint at Thomas Connolly, the oldest pub in Sligo. Above: Michael Cosgrove Sr. opened his delicatessen in 1898. Today his grandson, also named Michael, runs the place.

somewhere with a roaring fire. That one somehow calls to mind Sunday football matches you never even played in, next to a church you’ve never seen. Don’t make that face. I didn’t care about green before this, either. I arrived in Sligo to find a seemingly ordinary Irish town. Here’s the pub, there’s the halal butcher. Old rowboats dot the Garavogue River, katie and liza and ciara handpainted on their sides. But look closer and Yeats is everywhere. He wrote about that river! At Eala Bhán, a bistro-like spot in town, you eat under Yeats quotes. He didn’t live in Sligo, but it was his special place; he insisted on being buried here. In front of the bank is a statue not of a general or politician, but Yeats. In turn, he dedicated much of his career to Sligo’s haunting beauty. The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen Strand, Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;

Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies. I WAS NEVER a Yeats guy. I couldn’t get with

the mysticism. His nationalist politics always felt distant to me. He called women shrill. But there’s that one aspect of him that everyone relates to at some point: He was heartbroken. He spent his life pining for Maud Gonne, the actress and revolutionary. She would constitute his broken emotional core from the very first time he laid eyes on her in 1889, when he was 24. She’d just stepped out of a hansom cab. “Wait right here, I’ll only be an hour,” she told the driver. Yeats was mesmerized. He began writing about her (“The Song of Wandering Aengus” was an early love poem) and never really stopped. They became friends, soul mates even, and exchanged intimate correspondence, but she rejected every proposal, loved other men. He spent his life searching—via spiritualism, séances, a fixation on magic—for something that would help.

When she’d finally rejected him for the last time, he proposed to her damn daughter. I tried to grasp a heartsickness that lasted not months or years but decades. Eventually Yeats married another woman. There’s evidence he found happiness with her. But he only ever wrote love poems for Gonne. I don’t want to overstate my connection to Yeats’s romantic life. His love for Gonne feels adolescent to me now, undercooked. Also, I’m not insane and face neither core sadness nor unrequited love. But I found that if you have even a little heartache, even just the temporary kind, it is impossible not to wonder about a man so consumed and undone by his own heart. So I did what anyone would do: I walked around reading Yeats on my phone, and one brisk night I knocked on the door of Damien Brennan and Paula Gilvarry. Brennan and Gilvarry are the opposite of Yeats in a way. They’ve been married 36 years, no daughter proposals issued. Still, they spend a good chunk of their time throwing Yeats To plan your trip, go to afar.com/visit/ireland.


Evenings: Over the course of an elaborate meal, Brennan tells his guests—five of us that evening—about the poet and reads some of his verse. This happens at their jewel box of a house overlooking Lough Gill, the shimmering lake immortalized by Yeats himself. Brennan’s a wry man with a tight gray ponytail. He owns 125 bow ties. Gilvarry, a retired doctor, is the less flamboyant of the two; her focus on this night was the smoked leg of lamb, the sweet onion and thyme soup. (Did she love Yeats as much as her husband did? He’s OK, she told me. Sort of pompous.) For three hours Brennan slathered us with Yeats. It’d be hard to overstate his love for the man. He was president of the Yeats Society. His dogs, Georgie and Rico, are named after Yeats’s wife and Gonne’s monkey. Should you need to know how many times Yeats mentions birds over the course of his work, he can tell you: 167. Most of all, the poetry retains its power to knock him over. “The Sligo landscape still looks like what it looked like for Yeats,” he said as we peered out toward the misty lough. “The other day I took an early walk and thought of those lines from ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’: ‘Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings.’ I was amazed at how precise yet another poem of his was.” It’s wild, being in a country where poetry matters. It’s wilder still being in one where the most important poet was defined by deep, warping sadness. The place and the poet

people who told funny yarns and then ordered another Guinness. Clever of them, I thought, burying their sorrow in happiness. In defense of my ridiculousness I will just say this: There exist only two schools of thought on heartache. One, you blast Katrina and the Waves all day until your sadness melts into simple syrup. Two, you embrace that sadness, go so absurdly deep that you pass through to the other side. I’d chosen the latter, or it had chosen me. Turns out the other side can be found 10 minutes outside Sligo. IT WAS A BLUSTERY Tuesday morning and I hadn’t wanted to do anything but carefully monitor the grayness of the river from my room and write emails to my wife in my head. But here I was, tromping across an expanse of grass, craggy mountains all around, wind whipping up from every direction. Welcome to Carrowmore, said the woman with the badge, home to the country’s largest collection of megalithic tombs. I made my best I-knowwhat-a-megalithic-tomb-is face. Understanding what happened here means understanding a wildness that dwarfs anything Ireland can muster now, anything Yeats could summon. Bears and wolves roaming the forest—that kind of wildness. For the settlers who arrived some 5,000 years ago, life revolved around basic survival. This led to large rocks. The tombs don’t leap out at you right away; Ireland’s Stonehenge doesn’t have that clear Stonehenge look. Mostly I saw Volkswagen-

Windswept, isolated, desolate: These traits do not diminish the appeal of seaside towns like this one. To a certain state of mind, they heighten it.

seemed so deeply entwined. Did a municipal Yeatsian sadness course through Sligo, carried on its bitter, black wind? Poor Ireland, forever indulging the projections of saps like me. Over the next few days, in pubs and by the riverside, I struck up as many conversations as I could, looking for Yeats’s mark. Mostly what I found were joyful, kind 86

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size piles of giant stones scattered about this rolling field. Here and there a stone had been laid carefully atop others, but nothing requiring an engineering degree, exactly. Then I walked a ways more and suddenly understood why I had come. Looming at one end of the field was a huge mound of rocks, like something you’d find at a

construction site. Walking around its outer edge, I saw that a passageway had been cut into the pile. This was a passage tomb, a corridor of stones leading to a central burial chamber. In I walked, walls of rock stacked higher than my head on either side. In the center was a flat, 15-ton stone, balanced precariously across a framework of smaller stones. What looked like a crude assembly was anything but. Every year on the first and last days of winter, the sun would pass just so through a slit in the rocks, the ray crawling up the back of the chamber until it met perfectly with a corresponding shadow. And every year on these dates, everyone would come here, slogging miles to do so, just to be together for it. Why? Because they were terrified. Winter meant profound, horrifying uncertainty. Will we go hungry? Will we stay warm? Will my children die before spring? In the face of this doubt they would dance and feast and pray. That killed me. Imagine that: feeling so uncertain about your future that you somehow drag this unimaginable weight down a mountain, somehow hoist it atop some other stones, somehow grasp astronomy and then, because nothing is assured in this life, you fucking pray. You pray that things will be OK. I don’t know how long I stood there, gawking at that stupid rock. Long enough to feel something shift in me. A giant sycamore rustled at the edge of the field and I snapped to. I drove back to Sligo. A few days later I drove to Dublin, then flew home. I’ve been back three weeks and I bring news of the human condition. None of us knows anything. Time works us over. We live largely in the dark, subject to forces beyond our measure or control. But there’s this, too: You can turn things around now and then. The old hotel reopens. The lovesick poet gives it his best shot with the new lady. The cold and frightened summon the strength to hope for the best, and they throw in some freaky solar math to boot. I’m writing this from a car in California, laptop balanced precariously on my lap, heading home from the beach. Amy’s driving, the kids are in the back jabbering about how cold the water was. Back at the house we’ll pack their lunches for tomorrow, then lie in bed, and I’ll try to explain about where I’ve been, though I might just say it’s complicated, because it is. Contributing writer Chris Colin wrote about mezcal in the May/June 2016 issue of AFAR. Photographer Jooney Woodward is profiled on page 16.


WHERE TO STAY, EAT, AND PLAY IN WEST IRELAND Local pride runs deep in the region William Butler Yeats dubbed “The Land of Heart’s Desire.” Historic houses trace their lineage back generations, restaurant owners greet their suppliers by name, and the countryside begs to be explored along well-worn trails. —maggie fuller

STAY

EAT

PLAY

Ashford Castle Cong, Co. Mayo The recently refurbished castle, which dates back to 1228, is perhaps the finest hotel in Ireland. Antiques and art fill the 82 rooms and suites, and the surrounding 350 acres provide a playground where guests can try archery, falconry, and many other activities. From $330.

Hargadon Bros. Sligo, Co. Sligo A maze of walled snugs, alcoves, and worn bar tops, the Hargadon Bros. pub prides itself on honest, highquality fare. Try the local Coopershill estate venison in beetroot jus, or settle in with a perfectly poured pint of Guinness and catch some traditional Irish music.

Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths Enniscrone, Co. Sligo According to local lore, the therapeutic powers of a hot bath filled with fresh, hand-harvested seaweed will cure what ails you— especially if what ails you is a good old-fashioned hangover. Kilcullen’s bathhouse was built in 1912, and the enameled tubs and woodpaneled showers still have antique brass fittings.

Coopershill House Riverstown, Co. Sligo The stately house at Coopershill is straight out of a Georgian-era novel. Dainty-legged mahogany antiques and plush sofas furnish the eight bedrooms, and the 500-acre estate provides seasonal game and vegetables for dinner. April 1 through October 31, from $120 per person. Enniscoe House Crossmolina, Co. Mayo Twelve generations of the same family have occupied the six-bedroom Enniscoe House, where paintings by Patita Nicholson, the mother of the current owner, hang on the walls. A Victorian garden extends to the shores of Lough Conn, and outlying farmhouses have been converted into self-catering apartments. April 1 through October 31, from $90. Mulranny Park Hotel Mulranny, Co. Mayo The historic Mulranny Park Hotel is perched between the Wild Atlantic Way’s coastal vistas and the hiking and biking trails of the Great Western Greenway. Most of the 41 contemporary rooms and 19 apartment suites offer a view of the sea or woodlands. From $100.

The Idle Wall Westport, Co. Mayo Housed in an idyllic harborside cottage, the Idle Wall restaurant is named for a nearby landmark where dockworkers would sit while waiting for work. The menu features fresh-from-the-sea Irish comfort food, relying on seasonal and foraged ingredients to complement classic dishes such as bone broth– braised oxtail and local lobster. Yeats Evening Sligo, Co. Sligo Damien Brennan talks Yeats and local heritage to private groups of up to 50 people over a six-course, locally sourced dinner cooked by his wife, Paula Gilvarry, a celebrated local chef. The night ends with coffee, and guests are encouraged to share a favorite song or poem.

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DREAMSCAPES Through his series of theatrical photographs, Patrick Willocq gives a voice to refugee children from Burundi and Syria.

“All the images out there of refugee kids are the same,” says photographer Patrick Willocq. “Google it, and you’ll find so many photos of dirty, crying kids. I wanted to break away from that and give them back their dignity.” Last year, Willocq visited refugee camps in Tanzania and Lebanon on assignment for Save the Children, the humanitarian group. First, Willocq spent five days in each camp playing with the kids, coloring, and talking about life in the camps, their lives back home, and their dreams for the future. Then, Willocq and his team returned to each settlement for 12-day stints. With the help of adults from the camps and refugee children (whose names have been changed), the team built sets depicting scenes from these conversations, using props made from bought and salvaged supplies. “We were actually listening to their stories and doing something with them, which was a big deal for the kids,” explains Willocq. “The hope is that this project puts the attention of policy makers back on the refugee crisis.” –sarah purkrabek


Willocq worked with the refugees at the Nyarugusu Camp to show the journey that many families take to get from Burundi to Tanzania. Young children—sometimes with their parents, sometimes alone—must cross mountains on foot to get to the border. The dangerous trip takes five days and often means going for several days without food. “The kids understood what they were re-creating,” says Willocq. “As soon as they got on stage, they became very serious.”


“Syrian refugees at the Anjar settlement in Lebanon have access to television, and these two girls, Samira and Zeina, were heavily influenced by it,” Willocq says. Samira, 11, wants to be an actress, inspired by the women she sees on her favorite Lebanese sitcoms. Zeina, 10, dreams of being an artist—when she first met Willocq, she gave him a drawing of Cinderella she had made. For the photo shoot, Willocq’s assistant helped Zeina transform one of her drawings into a life-size backdrop. Samira posed with teacups donated by other members of the camp. “It was a big moment for the girls,” Willocq says. “Everyone came out to watch. There were a hundred people seeing these children’s fantasies come true.”


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Many of the kids in the Nyarugusu Camp want to be doctors, including Anicet, cast as the doctor in this scene. “There’s a big malaria problem in the camp, and Anicet wanted to save people from the disease,” Willocq says. Anicet’s peers play the patient and the mosquitoes that spread the disease. Willocq’s team, with the help of refugees, sourced from the camp the socks, plastic bottles, and tires used to make the costumes. They bought additional set supplies in nearby cities. Now the costumes are reused by the camp’s community theater, which puts on educational performances about malaria prevention.


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“Walaa, an 11-year-old Syrian girl at the Anjar Camp in Lebanon, communicated with me through drawings,” Willocq says. He asked her to show him her life in Syria, and she gave him a picture of her friends, her jump rope, and flowers. “Then I asked her to draw why she was here, instead of in her home country, and she drew bombs,” says Willocq. He decided to merge the two realities, but he wanted to get away from the stereotype of a destroyed school and dead bodies, picturing a more child-friendly version instead. “The shocking image doesn’t get people to notice anymore,” he says. “There’s a chance, with the way we interpreted her story, that people will stop and pay attention.”


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Writer Eric Puchner and his wife go back to the Mexican city where they lived in their youth to see how it—and they—have changed.


and headed away from the tourist center of Oaxaca,

in search of the house we’d lived in 18 years ago, when we were young and adventurous and stupid and thought that living in the mountains of southern Mexico with a 20-yearold Volvo was a good idea—an inspired one, in fact. In this house, we had been stung by multiple scorpions. We’d almost died from a gas leak. We’d spent a great deal of time 98

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Doors open on Oaxaca’s Templo del Carmen Alto complex, a Carmelite church that was completed in 1751.

on the roof, rearranging pipes from the well so we could take a shower. We’d been kept awake all night by a farmhand who liked to sneak into our garden at 2 a.m., shitfaced on mezcal, and howl at the moon. Now, simply taking the local bus, instead of a taxi, counted as an adventure. It was the last day of our four-day visit to Oaxaca, and this was the only bus trip we had been on. We could afford to travel in style, which was partly why we’d returned after all these years: to see what it was about the place that loomed so powerfully in our minds. Was it the hardship we valued? Or Oaxaca itself ? For so long we’d equated travel with a shock to bourgeois comfort, with bushwhacking our way clear of the Gringo Trail—getting drunk with pickpocketers in Mexico City, seeing dogs eat a dead body in Varanasi, India—and yet this idea struck us now as earnestly naïve, even morally dubious. 100

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Would we find Oaxaca as thrilling, now that there was no struggle involved? Outside the bus window, at least if I ignored the Home Depot sign, was the Mexico I remembered: feral dogs limping along the side of the road; four men standing in the bed of a speeding pickup, holding on for dear life; rows of taquerías and farmacias and auto repair shops with their names handpainted on the front, letters accordioned at one end to make them fit. The house we’d lived in had no address, or at least it didn’t back then. It was on a dirt road we shared with campesinos and cattle ranchers and, according to our landlord, one or two “gangsters.” Both of us remembered the road as being at the end of the bus line, so we got off at the last stop and hiked up the first dirt road we saw. A volcanic peak loomed in the distance, wearing a necklace of clouds. I was nervous.

Our landlord used to bring firecrackers with him when he’d stop by, to scare the bloodthirstier dogs away, but we didn’t have any firecrackers. We had a money belt, our Lonely Planet guide, and two kids in Baltimore who needed us home the next day. The sun was hot, and we were the only gringos for miles. But we were determined to find the house we had lived in, the place where we’d spent six months of our youth.

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hat do Americans who can afford to seek it out even mean by “adventure”? For those of us who’d rather drive across a bridge than dive off it, we usually mean travel, of the low-budget and slightly sketchy variety. There should be discomfort, and venomous critters previously only seen in zoos, and some kind of poignant reminder of


MAP AND LETTERING BY A. SALAMANDRA

The Zapotec people have lived in and around Oaxaca for centuries, and their culture continues to be a part of the region’s social fabric. Here, women in traditional Zapotec attire take part in a street procession.

the luxuries we take for granted. This notion of adventure was why Katharine and I had decided, at the tender age of 27, to move to Mexico on a whim. We were still young and wanted to prove it. Also, it was supposed to be cheap. One of our professors in grad school had spent time in Oaxaca, and her passionate endorsement of the city had made it seem like Valhalla. Just the way she pronounced “Oaxaca,” all wind and rhythm, was enough to convince us. So we had packed our earthly belongings into our ancient Volvo wagon and set off for Mexico. We had little money and even less Spanish. No sooner had we crossed the border at Nogales, Arizona, than an 18-wheeler deliberately drove us off the road, sending us into a ditch. By the time we got to Oaxaca City, we’d been robbed by the police; our car windows had been smashed, twice, and all our camping gear stolen; and Katharine had lost so much

weight from a food-borne illness that she resembled a Day of the Dead skeleton. We hadn’t expected to live in the mountains, but as soon as the Oaxacan lawyer who would become our landlord drove us up to his farmhouse and showed us the green hills and banana trees and brick-columned portico with a hammock overlooking the garden, we were smitten. The closest neighbors, some Zapotecs who spoke less Spanish than we did, were astonished that we wanted to live there. But we loved our Mexican idyll, partly because we had the privilege of knowing it was temporary. We loved having to buy our own propane, walking up the trail every morning to unclog the well, even braving rabies every time we wanted to grab the bus into town. There was the sense—whether it was true or not—that we were skirting disaster. Now, 18 years later, we’d left the kids at

home and embarked on a very different trip to Mexico. Nobody in his right mind would call it an adventure. We’d booked the nicest place we could find in Oaxaca City, expensive by Mexican standards but less than you might pay to stay in a closet-size room in Manhattan. This was the master suite at Casa Oaxaca, a 17th-century manor that’s been converted into a boutique hotel. Turns out it wasn’t a room at MARCH/APRIL 2017

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In the fall, Oaxaca is a center for the observance of the Day of the Dead, when families build altars filled with offerings to the departed.

all but a house: two floors, with marble bathrooms, paintings on the walls, and a fairy-tale staircase swooping up to the bedroom, which overlooked a serene swimming pool. Bougainvillea curtained the windows. The showers were marble, and while washing myself with the brass sprayer after our long flight from Baltimore, it never occurred to me to worry about a scorpion climbing out of the drain to sting me, which had happened in our old house and made me shower-phobic for a month. “We could never come here with Clem,” Katharine said, referring to our five-year-old. “Why?” “Look! The staircase would kill him.” It was true: no railing. This was our idea of danger now, a stairway without a banister. Afterward, we walked around town for a while, reacquainting ourselves with our old stomping 102

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grounds. When we’d lived here, we’d both taught English in the city—making about two dollars an hour—but even on our days off we generally made the trip down from the hills to pick up our mail or visit the one Internet café in town, or simply to walk around the historic cobblestone streets together, feeling the grandiose buzz of being in love in a beautiful place. If anything, on this trip the city seemed even more glamorous than I remembered. The crumbling buildings painted like Easter eggs; the boy buskers playing accordion; the checkered domes of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo floating against a backdrop of scudding clouds. Some things I’d completely forgotten about. The view up Calle Alcalá, for example, the mountains rearing from the cobblestones as if you could hopscotch up to them and jump right over. I had the feeling that Katharine and

I were the only things that had aged. It was the closest I’d ever come to time travel. And there were less romantic things that gave me déjà-vu, too, like the fact that we kept referring to our guidebook as if it were the Bible, as in “Can I see The Book again for a sec?” or the shame and self-consciousness of pulling it out in the middle of a crowded sidewalk to look something up. (There should be a German word—lonelyplanetenschande—for this feeling.) Still, it was less mortifying than I remembered; in fact, the shame had completely evaporated by the second or third time we yanked out The Book. When had I become a Bright and Shiny Tourist? As Bright and Shiny Tourists tend to do, we went to the nicest restaurant in town. We sat outside on a lovely roof terrace, overlooking the cupolas of the cathedral. A bored-looking


Monte Albán, just outside the city of Oaxaca, was a capital of the Zapotec people between 500 b.c.e. and 850 c.e.

waiter made salsa at our table, crushing raw vegetables with a mortar and pestle, and we reminisced about having to soak all our vegetables in iodine every time we wanted a salad. We dined on things we couldn’t have dreamed of affording in our 20s: duck taquitos, rabbit in mole amarillo, grilled octopus with risotto. It was all very good, or mostly very good, but I couldn’t help thinking, as I drank my “mezcaltini,” that the chicken mole we used to get at a place called El Biche Pobre II was better. It cost about 10 pesos, and you could see a mechanic working on cars from the window. Certainly eating there was more fun. Near the end of our expensive meal, some revelers congregated in the plaza below us to sing a song—dancing skeletons, a Catherine wheel shooting sparks—but we were stuck up on the roof, waiting for our bill.

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fterwards, we went back to our beautiful hotel room, where there was complimentary wine chilling in the fridge. I thought about the ritual we used to perform every night before bed, squashing all the mosquitoes we could find on the walls, many of them fat with our own blood, so that after a month it looked like we’d done a hack job of butchering something. As challenging as our life sometimes was back then, I missed it. In fact, it was probably the worst parts I felt most nostalgic for. I remembered the wildfire that nearly burned down our house, how we’d come home one afternoon to find our back fence ablaze and the neighbors lined up with buckets, trying unsuccessfully to douse the flames. It had been terrifying at the time, and then infuriating—the firefighters who eventually showed

up to put out the fire ended up stealing our propane tank—but now the drama of that day seemed exciting and colorful, something that made our lives memorable. It gave our past meaning—gave it, I guess you’d say, a plot. I had to wonder, lying in our private suite overlooking a moonlit pool, what Mexico would mean to me if we’d lived in a place like this. What would I have written in my journal? Another mosquito-less night, and we slept like babies. The next morning, when I opened the door, nothing was on fire. We had a delicious breakfast outside in the hotel’s courtyard—our coffees had tiny flowers and chocolate-covered espresso beans artfully arranged on the saucer—then took a taxi to Monte Albán, one of the more spectacular ruins in Mexico. We’d had to take a bus the first time we’d gone there, stranding ourselves for hours, but this time we To plan your trip, go to afar.com/visit/oaxaca.


For years, Wednesdays in Oaxaca have been the days of danzón, when couples gather to dance in the city’s main square.

were able to pay the taxi driver to stick around while we toured the place. It’s a breathtaking site, first settled by ancient Zapotecs around 500 b.c.e., and the huge vacant plaza with its temples and ball court and Olmec-style carvings had a weird effect on me. Certainly I was moved in a way I hadn’t been at 27. I was particularly struck by the danzantes: carvings of disemboweled enemies contorted in pain and spraying cheerful spurts of blood. And of course it was hard to look at the displayed skulls of young children, possibly decapitated and offered up to the gods, without thinking of my own kids. On the way back to the city we stopped at the Central de Abastos, the enormous market where we used to buy eggs and flowers and avocados. It was just as I remembered it. There were pieces of meat thin enough to see through, hung up like laundry; heirloom tomatoes so cheap and beautiful they’d make 104

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Whole Foods customers weep; bowls of live worms and sheep heads covered in flies; and Zapotec women scraping the spines off cacti as if they were whittling sticks. Nearby, an old woman was selling chapulines—fried grasshoppers—and I took a free sample, remembering what a big deal it was when I’d first tried them 18 years ago. I’d had to pull off the legs first, and even then it took me a while to work up the courage. Now, maybe because I’m older and better traveled, or because we live in an era of ho-hum nose-to-tail eating, I popped the thing right into my mouth. It was crunchy, and about as adventurous-seeming as a Dorito.

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he next day, Katharine and I strolled down to the zócalo to do one of our favorite things, which was to drink micheladas at a café on the plaza and people-watch. We used to blow entire afternoons that way, reading books

together or planning our next bus trip or eating free peanuts so we wouldn’t have to buy dinner. As always, the place was thronged with people. There were vendors holding so many balloons they looked like they might lift up and float away; shoe shiners bent over irredeemable shoes; indigenous women selling yellow hats shaped like the Minions from Despicable Me. Katharine and I sat outside at one of our old haunts and ordered drinks. We were immediately bombarded. Tapestries, wooden salad spoons, a little comb for my beard—the peddlers wouldn’t take no for an answer. A little girl, maybe three years old, stood by our table with her hand out. “¿Un regalo de un peso?” she said, over and over again, but as much as we wanted to, we didn’t dare give her anything for fear of what would descend upon us if we did. Had this happened when we were younger? Did we chalk it up, eagerly, to “experience”? In


any case, we felt way too sad and besieged and guilty to enjoy our beers. It made the “broke” adventure of our youth—our living on a few dollars a day in somebody’s farmhouse—seem absurd. Or worse: like exploitation. That night happened to be the 20th anniversary of our first date, and so we decided to go to the same restaurant we’d gone for our second anniversary, an Italian place near Santo Domingo that, amazingly, was still in business. This had been our splurge restaurant. The owner was out of town, so we couldn’t reminisce with him, which was just as well, given that it was now the sort of place with pictures of the Coliseum and the Platonic ideal

We might as well have been aliens. That was the real story: They couldn’t imagine being us, and we couldn’t imagine being them. As we walked home, that kind of magical Oaxacan thing happened, too perfect to be real, which is that an enormous parade celebrating some saint or holiday came out of nowhere and we weren’t on the roof of a fancy restaurant and so we were suddenly swept along with it, half willingly, feeling drunker than we were. It was a Wednesday night. There were children on stilts, and giant spinning puppets that dancers immune to dizziness propped on their shoulders, and women twirling their skirts in a choreographed way with

ones—we’re supposed to equate adventure with the craziest, most challenging things that have happened to us: that time we got driven off the road, or were bitten by a howler monkey, or almost fell into a crevasse. But are these really the most adventurous things we’ve done? I can only speak for myself, but having kids and raising them is the hardest thing I’ve done by a mile, and probably the craziest, too. When I think about our life in Oaxaca, I’ve tended to think about how intrepid we were, as if intrepidness were some special province of the young. But it’s easy to forget how terrified we were too: not about whether scorpions were hiding in our shoes, but of growing up, of failure, of making a life together somehow when we returned to the States. Living in Mexico, dodging a few savage dogs, was kid stuff.

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of a plate of spaghetti (labeled spaghetti) on the wall. In our quaint memory of the place, spaghetti porn had played no part. Halfway through our meal, an American couple came in and took a table in the corner, where they ordered some mezcal. They were tan and attractive and had that force field of invincibility that young couples in love have. “We weren’t that young when we lived here, were we?” Katharine whispered. “Maybe younger,” I said. The young woman stole a glance at us, as if she’d overheard us whispering, but she didn’t seem to care much. I sensed they were a bit embarrassed by us, the middle-aged couple with eroded Spanish, who’d invaded their Hemingwayesque fantasy of bohemian travel.

baskets on their heads. A man, staggering, handed out cups of mezcal to the crowd. We walked for blocks and blocks, tugged along by the crazy energy of it, knowing we could sleep in the next morning. Instead I woke up at 4 a.m., feeling like the old lady who’d swallowed a horse. I spent the next few hours on the toilet. It seemed too neat an irony that the one restaurant from our youth—the one we’d returned to hoping to relive a bit of our past—had made me sick. Enthroned in that beautiful bathroom, about as far removed as you could imagine from the other Mexican bathrooms where I’d spent turista-crippled nights, I had plenty of time to ponder the meaning of experience. As U.S. travelers—or at least as privileged

ater, when I was feeling a bit better, Katharine and I got on that bus to the mountains and hiked up the dirt road to look for our old house. Despite some new development, the neighborhood was still a far cry from Oaxaca City and its picturesque courtyards. The road was lined with homes we didn’t recognize, fenced off by chicken wire or barely visible behind rusty sheets of corrugated tin. One of them had a three-wheeled mototaxi with a flat tire parked out front. Roosters were crowing, just as they used to, and the few people we saw stared at us from their yards. We had stepped off the Gringo Trail. I couldn’t help feeling like we’d taken a bus to the end of the line and wandered into a dream. Where were the vicious dogs? The banana trees? Our porch with the hammock? It was hot, and I was thirsty, and we hadn’t brought enough water. Katharine and I walked all the way to the mountains. I wondered whether you seek adventure when you’re young because you’re still trying to make a plot out of your life, to shape it into a story, and then you reach an age when life begins to tell the story for you. We tried a different dirt road, then another, before we stumbled upon a house, hidden behind a high new fence, that looked like it might be the right one. Katharine climbed the front gate and peered over it. But the place wasn’t ours anymore, if it ever had been.

Writer Eric Puchner is profiled on page 16. Photographer Andy Richter shot “Breaking Free,” a photo essay about Taipei street style, in the January/February 2017 issue of AFAR. MARCH/APRIL 2017

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“I like to go with the flow when I travel, which is why my husband and I didn’t plan much for our trip through Vietnam. I did want to see Ha Long Bay, so after a couple of days in Hanoi, we took a bus a hundred miles east. The bay was beautiful. We stayed on a boat and kayaked between green limestone mountains. But it also felt touristy. In search of a more authentic experience, we headed to the village of An Bang, where we found the Spirit Bird B&B, run by two German expats. They introduced us to their neighbor, Chu, who invited us to his house. We brought beer and sat on a straw mat, drinking, while he told us about his involvement in the war. We also shouted yo! [cheers] a lot. The next day, we rented a motorbike and rode out to the Marble Mountains, low peaks covered in temples, Buddha statues, and caves. It was my first time driving a bike and I loved it. It wasn’t like being on a bus—we could hear and smell everything and feel the sun. I was inspired by the Vietnamese attitude toward life. Most people are so relaxed, but they’re also busy, so they’re direct. It feels like they have their priorities straight.” —AS TOLD TO ASHLEY GOLDSMITH 108

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EVERY STEP IN A NEW PLACE HOLDS ENDLESS POSSIBILITY. The new friends made, beaches explored, those quiet moments to your self – these things become part of you. Hinatea Boosie quickly fell under Kaua‘i’s spell. Thousands of miles from her home in Tahiti, she found a balance on unfamiliar ground. Few things top that last sunset in a place that’s gotten into your heart. Waimea, Kaua‘i – Hawai‘i

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May June 2017  
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