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Winter 2018


Japan Rising

As the population decreases, tourists flock to the land of the rising sun EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.

explore. dream. discover.

A Man-Eating Mountain Traveling with Toddlers Derelict Tourism

Photo Contest Winner See back inside cover for runners-up


Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

I was struck by the symmetry of this scene. The Hasidic Jew in the foreground was near the crowd at the Western Wall, but he was removed enough to worship and ponder in his own way.

3rd Place Brittany Ting

Tirta Empul, Bali, Indonesia This is Tirta Empul, a Hindu Balinese water temple. This was one of my favorite spots in Bali because I was able to observe Hindu devotees praying and bathing under the waterspouts.

Jรถkulsรกrlรณn, Glacier Lagoon, Iceland It was surreal to stand on the shore and watch the massive chunks of beautifully blue ice float on the water. I took this photo to forever cement in my mind that image of Iceland.

Allyse Meaneaw

Mckenna Clarke

Tyler Balli

Alyssa Hazen

Emily Strong

Clarissa McIntire

McCall Rawlings

Managing Editor

Assistant Managing Editor

Assistant Managing Editor

Art Director

Design Team

Design Team

Haley Brown

Miriam Sweeney

Ashley Lee

Brennan Clawson

Web Director

Web Team

Alexandria Despain

Laurie Bradshaw

Design Team

Social Media Director

Social Media Team

Web Team

Staff Photos: Mckenna Clarke Cover: The Hakone Shrine on Lake Ashi in Hakone, Kanagawa, Japan. Publisher: Jacob D. Rawlins

Morgan Baker

Rachael Nelson

Jacob Rawlins

Advertising Director

Advertising Team

Editor in Chief

© 2018 Jacob D. Rawlins 4051 JFSB, Brigham Young University Provo, Utah 84602 Printed by Brigham Young University Press

Stowaway is produced as a project for English Language 430R, Editing for Publication, the capstone class of the editing minor at Brigham Young University. All staff m ​ embers contributed to planning, writing, editing, designing, and advertising. The views expressed in this publication are solely the views of the authors and do not represent the views or opinions of BYU. Stowaway takes inspiration from the words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


Letter from the Editor

o, can you come with us in two weeks?” my uncle asked on the other end of the phone. I paused and considered the implications of skipping the first week of school to go on my uncle’s company cruise to help with my four cousins. My initial instinct was to say no. I had work, plans to be with my family until the end of Christmas break, homework, and a full class load that coming semester. But after talking it over with several people, who all encouraged me to do something spontaneous for once, I called my uncle back and told him I’d love to go. Two weeks later, I was skipping the first week of school, watching the sun set over the ocean, getting my hair done in cornrows, and trying snails for dinner. The straight-A weekly planner in me couldn’t believe what I’d done, but rearranging my schedule to be spontaneous ended up being worth it. I wouldn’t trade the closeness I now have with my cousins, the experience of visiting three different countries, and the memories of that trip for anything. On other trips, spontaneity brought me to a small indoor market in Oaxaca, Mexico, where I found the perfect steaming-hot tamale and fresh mango smoothie. In the Philippines, spontaneity brought me to bright green rice fields as far as the eye could see. Spontaneity made me jump in the ocean in North Carolina fully clothed, try hang gliding, and eat a fertilized duck egg. I’ve learned that leaving some room in your itinerary and travel plans to explore means traveling off the beaten path, discovering something new, and embarking on adventures you wouldn’t have otherwise. Spontaneity may not always be as easy as saying yes to a free cruise. Sometimes it requires getting out of a comfort zone, breaking a status quo, or taking the road less traveled, but I think you’ll always find it a rewarding experience. In this issue, you’ll read about an author getting out of her comfort zone on a fishing trip to Alaska. You’ll read about challenging common ways of thinking about volunteering abroad. You’ll read about being a mindful traveler, soaking in the place where you are. As you explore the world through this issue of Stowaway, I hope you’ll be inspired to be a little more spontaneous on your next expedition into the wide world.

—Mckenna Clarke


Photo Contest Winner

104 106

Escapades: Gardens

Letter from the Editor Happenings: UFO Sightings Photo Contest Runners-up

10 12 14 18 22 26

Hoodoo You Do? Forts and Fudge New York Hooked on Alaska Ode to a Grecian Yearn It’s More Masaya in the Philippines


1 3 6



32 37 42

Abandoned Beauty

46 50


Toddling Travelers The Mountain That Eats Men Decline

61 64 67 70 72

Four Corners of the Kitchen: Flatbreads La Cueca Ancient Sounds Accidental Criminal Lunchtime in San JosĂŠ Geisha in Gion

76 78 81 84 88 90

Little Tour on the Prairie The Road: 469 Miles Cave of Stars After the Storm Time Capsule Town Forest Bathing




Field Notes

Pragser Wildsee, Italy. (Ales Krivec)

96 98 101 102

Don’t Be Shark Bait


Travel Hacking

Have Dog, Will Travel Wanderlust When It Rains on Your Parade


UFOS Do you want to believe?

Carson Sink Case, NV

Two US Army pilots, flying from San Francisco to Colorado Springs in 1952, observed three unidentified aircrafts over Carson Sink, Nevada. The pilots reported that the aircrafts came within 400–800 yards of their planes and estimated that the objects were flying at least three times faster than them. When landing, they learned that no other civilian or military personnel were flying in that area at the time of the incident.

Honolulu UFO Sighting, HI

In 2007, several Honolulu residents reported seeing two lights orbiting each other in the sky. They described the lights as “two little fireballs with a stream behind it,” and a local news station’s SkyCam even caught the phenomenon on camera. Despite local astronomists’ attempts to debunk the event as merely contrails, a water byproduct from airplanes, the event is still unexplained.

Roswell Incident, NM

In mid-1947, reports surfaced of rubber and wood debris found on a ranch near Roswell. The US Army issued a press release shortly after, saying the debris was from a weather balloon they had been testing. The balloon was actually a part of Project Mogul, an attempt to monitor nuclear tests from the Soviet Union with high-altitude balloons. Thirty years later, a team of UFO conspirators revisited the case, surveying hundreds of people said to be connected to the Roswell incident. They maintained that the government had covered up a UFO crash, but the government still insists it was a weather balloon.


Levelland UFO Case, TX

Several people reported seeing a large, egg-shaped object during the evening of November 2, 1957, in the area around Levelland, Texas. Most witnesses were driving their cars down a rural road when each had an individual encounter. Each encounter began with the car motor sputtering and sporadically turning off. The egg-shaped object sat in the road in front of them, and when the driver got out to check what had happened with their car, the object disappeared in a flash of blue light and the car started up again as if nothing had happened.

Tinley Park Lights, IL

In a unique mass sighting in 2004, three red lights were seen hovering over the Tinley Park area and were reported to authorities in five towns. This sighting is particularly interesting given the number of people who witnessed the lights: it was in full view of traffic exiting an Ozzy Osbourne concert, meaning at least hundreds of people saw the sensation. Several videos were posted as well, showing the red lights moving in unison. The movement suggested they were attached to a larger, triangular object. The lights reappeared over the same area four more times in the following two years, though their origin is still unknown.

—Rachael Nelson


8 Learn more about what you can find in the Philippines on page 26.

Getaways “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” —Neale Donald Walsch



A Weekend at Bryce Canyon

December sunrise in Bryce Canyon. (Wenjie Qiao)


n the area of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, there is a cluster of national parks. Among these lies Bryce Canyon National Park, which is actually many natural amphitheaters rather than a canyon; it is known for its beautiful scenery, red sandstone, and hoodoos—rock columns created by erosion. More than 1.5 million people visit this geological wonder each year to hike, camp, and just look at the views. So how do you navigate this natural masterpiece amidst so many other visitors?


Luckily, the National Park Service has an informative and succinct website that can answer many questions as you plan your stay. I wanted to plan a camping trip, so I tailored my searches to camping grounds and hiking; however, there are many options available if you want to stay in a hotel at the park or in a city nearby. My itinerary spans from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday morning. On a Friday, my group will arrive at Bryce Canyon, getting in by paying a $30 vehicle permit fee. Also available is a $35 annual

pass to Bryce Canyon, which covers the vehicle permit fee and is valid for one year, unlike the vehicle permit, which is only valid for one week. There are two campgrounds: North Campground and Sunset Campground. Each costs $20 per night. North Campground, where we will be staying, is year-round, and has paved roads, toilets, and drinking water available for campers. Saturday will be devoted to hiking. The best viewpoint for Bryce Amphitheater (the main amphitheater in the park) comes from the Rim Trail, an 11-mile

roundtrip hike. Despite its length, this is a fairly easy hike that also provides a great view. The Fairyland Loop is also a good trail for seeing much of the park. This hike goes from the Rim Trail down into the amphitheaters below and allows hikers to see inside the canyon. However, the Fairyland Loop is a strenuous hike, so if you aren’t feeling up to hiking a lot, try a shorter, easier trail. One easy hike (less than a mile roundtrip) is the Mossy Cave hike. It follows a small stream and reaches a waterfall at the end. On Sunday morning, we will leave,

cleaning well enough to leave no trace that we were ever there. The park is open year-round (however, the visitor center and fee booths close for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day), and, while the hours depend on the month, the visitor center is open from dawn until dusk to help with any questions you may have. Bryce Canyon has its “off-season” from October to May, so one good way to avoid the thousands of people that visit each year is to visit during this time. One thing to note, however, is that in winter months, the

roads leading into Bryce Canyon may be closed due to snowstorms, so plan accordingly. The Bryce Canyon National Park website has a section about current weather conditions for the park under the “basic information” tab which can help as you plan your visit in the winter months. With plenty of research and planning, you can make your trip to Bryce Canyon (or any other national park) a wonderful experience for yourself and those who join you on your adventure.

—Brennan Clawson


A view of the Grand Hotel from the lawn. (Michael Patterson, cropped)

Forts & Fudge Experience Mackinac Island’s tasty treats, vibrant small town, and biking roads.


estled between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, Mackinac (pronounced MACKi-naw) Island lies untouched by recent decades. Victorian-era houses line the downtown streets, and the only highway around the island is teeming with tourists on bicycles. More than a dozen fudge shops inhabit the island,


which make for good stops after exploring caves and old army forts. This quaint island, measuring only 3.8 square miles, is a popular summer getaway and an unforgettable weekend destination. Despite its size, Mackinac Island is home to an impressive number of attractions. The ferry to Mackinac departs from both the north and south sides

of Mackinac Bridge (which, contrary to the name, is not connected to Mackinac Island itself ). The only way to travel on the island is by foot, bike, or horse. Almost all vehicles have been banned from the island since the end of the nineteenth century, and since then, there has been only one auto accident, in which the island’s police car rear-ended the ambulance.


When heading to the island, the most pronounced view is of the Grand Hotel along the coast. Erected in 1887, it is most known for its appearance in the 1980 film Somewhere in Time. The historic and photogenic hotel is open for business and hosts a variety of events and celebrations. It resides close to the legion of fudge shops that line the main street. There are at least 15 of these decadent fudge shops, each with marble slabs as big as dinner tables that are used to craft the treats. The marble is essential to the fudgemaking process, as it draws the heat from the melted chocolate when firming up. Some shops offer dozens of flavors, such as turtle, chocolate sweet black cherry, and Michigan honey butter, alongside the traditional chocolate and vanilla.

Fort Mackinac

Up the hill from the main hub of downtown lies Fort Mackinac, originally built by the British to protect their settlements during the American Revolutionary War. The island fort was chosen for its strategic placement in the Great Lakes, essential for control of the lakes in the War of 1812. Many of the modern-day attractions at the fort herald back to those days, showcasing what the buildings were like back in their heyday. Costumed soldiers give tours, show off highlights of the area, and even lead dances as live musicians play historically appropriate music. Cannons line the walkway overlooking the coast, and is a must-see to any visitors to the island.

Beyond the City

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the scenery, as well as the engaging

transportation around the island. Cyclists dominate M-185, or Main Street, as the road hugs the eightmile coast all the way around the island. Aside from the popular stops downtown and at the fort, there are also several geological formations that draw attention. Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch, is the most popular for pictures. Other interesting formations include Sugar Loaf, a singular limestone pillar in the middle of the island; Skull Cave, a small cave historians suspect to be a burial site; and Devil’s Kitchen, two partial alcoves atop one another, coated in soot from fires. All in all, Mackinac Island has a plethora of things for everyone to enjoy. From the treats to the trails, the experience of this unique island will be a favorite memory in years to come. Adventure awaits!

—Rachael Nelson

Left: A traditional fudge log. (mackinacislandgal, cropped) Right: A solitary cyclist. (ashokboghani, cropped)



From musicals to cuisine to the most popular tourist attractions, experience the best New York City has to offer in a week.


he Big Apple.” “The greatest city in the world.” “The city so nice they named it twice.” Whatever you call it, New York City is bursting at the seams with life and culture. Even so, it’s not impossible to explore it in a week—if you have a solid plan.

Getting Around

You can find most of the iconic NYC activities in Manhattan, and you can get just about anywhere in Manhattan with a MetroCard and a good pair of walking shoes. Your first stop once you get into town should be at the nearest Metro station, where you can buy a 7-Day Unlimited Pass for $32. You’ll

get your money’s worth on day one, and by day two you’ll be a Metro pro.

Broadway on a Budget

Let’s be real: you haven’t experienced NYC until you’ve seen a Broadway show. And if you think you can’t afford it, think again. If there’s a popular show that you’re dying to see, check whether that show offers a lottery for tickets. These tickets are often heavily discounted­—tickets to Dear Evan Hansen, which often start at $119, cost only $42 through the lottery. Hamilton—a show that’s notoriously hard to get into at all, let alone for a

reasonable price—awards lottery winners $10 tickets. The TKTS booth on Times Square (47th Street and Broadway) is a more reliable option. TKTS sells discounted same-day Broadway tickets for the more established, less trendy productions—you won’t find tickets to Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen here. The office opens at 10 am for matinees and 3 am for evening shows. Arrive 30 to 60 minutes early for a good spot in line, and be prepared to wait about an hour once the booth opens. The good news? Once you’ve bought one ticket through TKTS, that ticket is your fast pass to skip the line for the next seven days.


Visit TKTS on your first full day in town, and use it for the rest of the week to see as many discounted Broadway shows as you can afford.


The Halal Guys The Halal Guys restaurant lives right at the intersection of affordability and deliciousness. The menu is limited but the flavor is not. Find multiple locations south of Central Park, and one on the Upper West Side. If you can get only one item, get the combo platter with lots of their famous white sauce. Up Thai Make a trip to Up Thai (1411 2nd Avenue) for dinner after you’ve spent hours wandering around the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The restaurant is cozy and dimly lit, with hanging lanterns, exposed brick walls, and plenty of greenery adding to the ambience. Whatever else you order, get the fried rice clay pot, and finish off the meal with a mango sticky rice for dessert. Serendipity 3 When you’re ready for dessert, head to Serendipity 3 (225 E 60th Street). The frozen hot chocolates have earned their reputation, as has the indulgent Forbidden Broadway Sundae. With celebrity visitors ranging from Bill Clinton to Sarah Palin to the cast of High School Musical, you know it’s going to be good.


Patzeria Perfect Pizza This small pizzeria is the perfect place for dinner after you’ve been sitting in a Broadway show for three hours, when it’s late and you’re starving. It’s a small and unimpressive storefront, and that’s the point. This pizza is greasy and delicious—the perfectly authentic New York pizza.

Seeing the Sights

The Empire State Building See the city from the 102nd story. The Empire State Building is open every day of the year from 8 am to 2 am. Visit

Admire the architectural details, such as the constellations painted in gold on the main ceiling, and take advantage of an acoustic phenomenon in the Whispering Gallery, where you can talk to a friend from opposite corners of the room. The Metropolitan Museum of Art At the Met, you can not only view five thousand years of human art, but also decide how much you pay for the experience. The museum suggests donation amounts ranging from $12 to $25, but you could walk in for free if you wanted. Plan

At the Met, you can not only view five thousand years of human art, but also decide how much you pay for the experience. between 8 am and 11 am to beat the crowds. Adult tickets start at $54 for the top deck, but you can often find cheaper tickets on sites like Groupon. Make sure your ticket includes the 102nd floor to get the full experience. Grand Central Station Take 30 minutes to stop at Grand Central Station on your way from point A to point B.

to spend the better part of a full day here—you won’t want to feel rushed. Central Park This massive urban park is more than two miles long and draws 42 million visitors every year. Take a ride on the famous carousel—one of the largest in the United States, and open seven days a week. Skate around one

of Central Park’s three ice rinks. Visit Belvedere Castle, a mini castle that was built in 1869 and has since been renovated and turned into a visitor center. View the animals at the Central Park Zoo, or just stroll around and take in the nearly 850 acres of land the park comprises.


—Ashley Lee

A view of the Empire State Building from the north.


oHo 18

a k s n la oA dke

An Alaskan fishing trip is a vacation that both avid anglers and novices can enjoy.


he view out my window on Alaskan Airlines flight 71 saturated my eyes with more green than they had probably absorbed in their prior 22 years put together. My uneasy anticipation for a week at a remote Alaskan fishing lodge quickly evolved into kid-atChristmastime excitement. I was venturing off with two professors and six other students to Pybus Point Lodge on Admiralty Island, a spot off the coast of Alaska that is home to more bears than people. We were on our way there to catch fish for our research. I had no idea what to expect, but with

the unbelievable scenery I was already catching glimpses of, I was elated to be there no matter what I’d be doing. My travel companions and I spent the night in Juneau, and early the next morning, a float plane carried us low over an endless intermingling of forest and ocean. We spent the hour with foreheads glued to glass, trying to commit each wave and branch and wing to memory and eagerly scanning grassy clearings for the russet fur of a brown bear. At the end of our journey, the plane landed in secluded Pybus Bay with the grace of a dandelion seed. We puttered over to the dock, where the dockhands

swarmed to help us off the plane and replace us with the previous week’s travelers. The door flipped open, my Keds hit the weathered dock, and I was in love. The ocean’s signature cool, briny aroma rushed into my nose and mouth and wide-open eyes, reminding me of the sultry beaches of Northern California and Oregon, but somehow more isolated—like this air was the ocean’s secret reserve saved for hard-to-reach locales. Other than the lodge, all we could see was sky, forest, ocean, and bald eagles. As we progressed up the dock, last week’s visitors greeted us warmly, comparing my size to that of the fish they had just

Left: A fishing line gets a bite. (Peter Searle) Above: Samantha Tilden poses with a day’s catch. (Haley Brown)


One of the lodge’s resident dogs, Berkeley, makes sure everything’s running smoothly. (Taylor Bly)

caught. The staff guided us up to the dining hall while the departing visitors waved goodbye out the windows we had just become so well acquainted with. Our captains wasted no time: after a quick briefing on the lodge rules and our schedule for the week, we wrestled into our fishing bibs, jackets, and boots, and headed out on the boats. Dots of rain and ocean water hit the boat’s windows and made watery paths through which I frequently caught glimpses of a humpback’s tail or dorsal fin. We passed island after island of


towering conifers until our captain, led by his sonar fish finder, stopped the boat. He led us out of the cabin, handed us each an enormous fishing rod with a rubbery lure, positioned us around the boat, and told us to drop our lines. We quickly learned this was no typical fishing trip where you

spend the day waiting for your floater to bob under the water only to realize you caught a twig. The first of us caught his halibut in just minutes. It took me a little longer to figure out the correct bobbing technique, but soon my line went taut and I felt a tug through the rod. I quickly yanked the rod back to set the hook and started reeling. I hadn’t expected catching a 25-pound fish to be easy, but I had absolutely no idea how exhausting it is to fight an angry halibut through 300 feet of ocean. It took what felt like hours to my underused biceps to reel in all that line, but at long last I saw the dark green scales of a halibut. I used my last energy to call out to the captain to scoop my catch out of the water before I flopped against the cabin, my arms hanging beside me limper than the rubber lure that still dangled from my line. I was exhausted, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite as accomplished as I did in that moment. Fortunately for my fatigued muscles, the limit per person for halibut is one per day. Once everyone caught theirs, we moved on to rockfish, and some days we caught salmon too. Every day went basically the same as the first, except we had a lot more time to fish because we started the day already at the lodge. After a full day of fishing, we

There’s nothing like the Alaskan wilderness to bring you to the present.

would return to the docks where the captains filleted and vacuum sealed our fish for us to take home. We had the rest of the evening until dinner to relax and explore. Some of the lodge guests preferred to take a skiff out to do more fishing (you have to stay close to the lodge, but you can catch as many halibut as big as you want if you’re not with a captain). My muscles were done with fishing rods by the end of the day, so I preferred to take a kayak or paddleboard around the bay and enjoy the serenity that comes with being surrounded by still water and gently swaying trees. One thing Pybus Point Lodge does better than anyone else is serve amazing recipes using local resources. We enjoyed warm

huckleberry muffins and pancakes for breakfast, an unbelievably delicious halibut spread on sandwiches for lunch, and unbeatable almond-crusted rockfish for dinner. To top it all off, on our last night, we had crab and shrimp that we had caught with the crew only hours before. After dinner each night, as the sun slowly made its way toward the horizon for its six-hour rest, my lodge mates and I would gather in the hot tub or around the fire, hot tea in hand, to discuss the day’s events and get to know each other better. It was a much-needed break, both for our aching muscles and our ever-busy minds. There’s nothing like the Alaskan wilderness to bring you to the present and remind you how vast the world is.

As we soared in another float plane over the snow-peaked mountains and endless ocean back to Juneau, I spent the hour jealously trying to absorb every inch of Alaskan water and soil, irritated with my eyes for needing to blink, and wondering how I managed to end a vacation feeling both accomplished and refreshed. I would never have guessed I’d enjoy a fishing trip so much, but by the time our plane landed under the overcast sky in the stretch of ocean that was Juneau’s seaplane airport, I was already planning my trip back. I mean, what other vacation destination sends you home with 50 pounds of fish?

—Haley Brown

Ana Kokkonen takes in the view of Pybus Bay from a kayak. (Haley Brown)


to a



hile living in the American Rockies for a few years as a visiting professor, Loula missed Greece. It wasn’t just that no one in her new town shared her Orthodox upbringing or that the only version of her native language taught at the local university wasn’t even modern Greek. She missed her native land’s cuisine, its rich age, its sun-kissed hills, and its whitewashed seaside adobe homes. But now that Loula is back and comfortable in her Grecian home, she’s ready to advise about how to spend a few weeks in the land she loves. If you begin your trip in

Athens—which you ought to do—prepare to get around. Flights within Greece and to other parts of Europe are relatively inexpensive, but don’t default to them. Check out ferry schedules if you plan to jump from island to island. You could rent a car, but the slender streets and endless views may lend themselves better to motorized scooter travel. Once you’re settled in at one of the many bed and breakfasts within the city or resort hotels just without, Loula would recommend going to the theater. Look no farther than the narrow street of Broadway to confirm that theatrical culture thrives in the United States, but its prevalence in quotidian life pales in comparison to that on the stages of Greece. Theatre was born in Athens centuries ago. Visit the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, where up to 17,000 people watched festivals to the pagan god

over two millennia ago. When you’ve had your fill of the relics of ancient theatre, relax in the 1800s-vintage National Theatre of Greece, where you can see anything from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller shows. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’re lucky; you’ll have more options for outdoor theaters than you know how to choose from, and you get to enjoy them alongside the locals. While you’re loitering in Athens, go back in time to the Byzantine era—centuries after the first plays, but still practically ancient history. Tour the city one day with the purpose of finding as many Byzantine churches as possible. You may have to abandon the rental car and go on foot to find some of them, but it’s worth it; the intricate paintings on the ceilings of the tiny domed chapels are riveting. Be sure to visit the Acropolis. You’ll recognize the Parthenon from any visual reference to ancient Greece, but take the time to learn about the collection of buildings Pericles constructed in the fifth century BC.

Tour the city one day with the purpose of finding as many Byzantine churches as possible. You may have to abandon the rental car and go on foot to find some of them, but it’s worth it; the intricate paintings on the ceilings of the tiny domed chapels are riveting. 24

You could take a guided tour, or you could immerse yourself in the past before your visit by reading one of the many histories of the place during a walk along the Port of Athens. In fact, while you’re at it, make sure you read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Loula recommends hunkering down with the two books during a visit to one of the dozens of dazzling beaches that are less than an hour’s drive from the city. Before leaving Athens, consider visiting the Agora, which is an ancient model for the marketplace or the modern town center. Don’t expect the splendor of the architecture of the Acropolis here; the Agora is a location of ruins that will require you to know a bit of historical background (like knowing that it was the main social gathering place of Athens) and to use your imagination to make it come to life. Athens boasts dozens of lovely taverns where locals go for special occasions. Bypass the overpriced tourist traps by searching online in Greek for a place to eat and drink and find out what the Athenians like to do in the evenings. Google Translate is the best travel buddy you don’t even have to book an extra bed for. If you still haven’t had enough of history even after browsing the many free (and not-so-free) museums in Athens, it’s time to leave the city. Catch a plane to Knossos, the Neolithic city on a Mediterranean island. It’s said to be the oldest European city. Even if you’re not interested in its Neolithic roots or the subsequent Minoan

period, you’ll want to get lost in the city where King Minos build a labyrinth for his son, the Minotaur. Spend an afternoon puzzling over the dozens of double bladed axes etched into the ancient stone walls. If the lure of history is no longer getting you out of bed and beyond the adobe walls of your hotel in the morning, then it’s time to explore the Grecian shore in earnest. Loula may suggest taking

a daytime ferry from port to port if you want to see the iconic whitewashed towns spilling across the Greek hills and cliffs. If you’d rather take a dip in the Mediterranean, then hop on that rental scooter and follow the rolling roads to any number of beaches and resorts. Don’t discount Lake Vouliagmeni just because it’s not the sea; the warm, green waters will fulfill your every relaxation need after all that

museum wandering. Bear in mind that, like most any other place, the country is made alive by its people. Strike up a conversation with your preferred lamb vendor at the market anywhere you visit—Google Translate will make your introductions if there’s a language barrier—and try to spend time with the locals. You’ll find that, beyond the constant influx of tourists in the cities and the countryside,

many people make peaceful, happy lives on the green hills. If you happen to meet Loula, invite her to a cup of coffee or glass of wine outside your hotel after dinner. Her favorite thing about Greece is that you can enjoy a drink and a chat outdoors even in December, and it might become your favorite thing about Greece too.

—Miriam Sweeney


It’s More T

hey say that everything is more fun—masaya—in the Philippines. Known for having some of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world, along with white sand beaches, waterfalls, and majestic bright green mountains, the Philippines should be on everyone’s travel list. Even getting around can be fun. Instead of taxis, you’ll find jeepneys (WWII jeeps converted into bus-like transportation) and tricycles (motorcycles with sidecars for passengers). While you’re in the ’Pines, try fresh, sweet mangoes; sour soup called sinigang; and if you’re feeling brave, balut: boiled fertilized duck egg. If you’re looking for adventure and a whole lot of fun, the


Masaya in Philippines is the place to be. Here are four travel destinations to plan your vacation around:

Honda Bay, Palawan

The island of Palawan beat out Bali and Maui to be named the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine and Condé Nast Traveler readers. Getting to Palawan is easy—a short flight from Manila lands you in the capital city of Puerto Princesa. Don’t leave Palawan without visiting Honda Bay, about 30 minutes outside of the city. To get there, you can take a tricycle for a day trip and then come back to Puerto Princesa at night. Honda Bay is just a short boat ride to several other islands,

where you can snorkel in a coral reef, cliff jump, or kayak. You may even end up the only one on an island and get to spend the day exploring the white sand beaches and turquoise ocean.

Puerto Princesa

While on Palawan, you really shouldn’t skip the region of Puerto Princesa. Its name means “princess port,” and guests of the city will definitely get the regal treatment. Its main attraction is an underground river, a world heritage UNESCO site and one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature. Tour boats run on the five-mile river, giving guests a view of bats hanging above them, stalactites growing down from the ceiling, and jagged limestone cave walls.



The river gets very narrow at parts, but experienced boat guides can steer down the river and out the other side.

Hundred Islands National Park

Where else can you look out and see over one hundred islands at once? Hundred Islands National Park, located on the west coast of Luzon, is famous for

its plethora of islands. Some are large enough to house hotels and resorts, and some are just a rocky outcropping popping up from the ocean’s surface. Consider hopping from island to island via boat, or try out the island-to-island zipline that takes you on a thrilling ride over the water. You can also put on a diving helmet and walk along the ocean floor to check out the coral reef and ocean wildlife near the islands. There are also plenty

of restaurants and hotels nearby where you can relax and eat after a long day of adventuring.

Banaue Rice Terraces

After you exchange your American dollars for pesos, you may notice the image of the Banaue Rice Terraces on the back of the 20-peso bill. The ancestors of the indigenous people carved

Above: Puerto Princesa underground river. (Paweesit, CC BY-ND 2.0, cropped) Below: Hundred Islands National Part. (Gabo Halili, CC BY 2.0)


The Banaue Rice Terraces.(Caitriana Nicholson, CC BY-ND 2.0, brightened)

this “stairway to heaven” into the Cordillera Central range as a source of livelihood, and locals still use the paddies to grow rice during the rainy season each year. If you go, you’ll want to devote at least one or two full days to exploring the area and taking in the gorgeous terraces. The area is just a one-day bus ride from Manila. Once in Banaue, you can easily find a guide who can take you hiking through the rice terraces. While you’re there, make sure to ask your guide if you can check out the huge Tappiya waterfall in the jungle nearby. If the weather is good, you will probably be able to swim in the huge pool at the base of the falls. Remember to

bring a hiking stick with you, though—the trail is rocky and can be muddy. While these are just four destinations the Philippines has to offer, you can find unexpected fun and adventures wherever you go in the country. Take a page from the culture book of the locals and enjoy your adventures, wherever they take you. From singing bus and jeepney drivers to colorful markets and

outdoor adventures, you’re sure to find that almost everything is more masaya in the Philippines.

—Mckenna Clarke

(Jeff Jacinto, CC BY2.0)


30 Read about derelict tourism on page 32. (Ashley Gordon)

Features “Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” —Ibn Battuta




Doorway of abandoned building in Kolmanskop, Namibia. (Christiaan Triebert, some rights reserved)


oned W

hat is the appeal of abandoned buildings? That depends on the explorer. Many explorers take their cameras to capture the texture of the decaying walls and the eerie lighting of the sun shining through holes in the roof. If they’re lucky and looters haven’t taken everything from the site, photographers might also find relics from the time of the abandonment. However, many urban explorers say there is an unspoken rule to leave the site as it is found, ensuring that the building avoids the look of recent human presence. Many urban explorers also upload their photos of abandoned sites to their blogs or websites to share their adventures with other explorers. The word urban usually refers to anything in the city, but urban explorers have broadened the definition to refer to anything that shows human influence, meaning that an abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods is fair game for urban explorers. The categories of urban exploration are endless; there are abandoned churches and factories, school buildings and malls, barns and stadiums. Explorers can roam entire abandoned cities or search for a derelict house in the Russian wilderness. Sometimes these buildings didn’t have the necessary funding for restoration. Other times, entire cities were abandoned when inhabitants lost their jobs. Once the people have left and looters have taken everything of value, plants begin to grow in places they were formerly not welcome, and feral dogs and cats


happily find shelter in the building. Depending on the location of the site, graffiti artists might visit once in a while, otherwise there is very little human influence beyond the occasional urban explorer. The following are examples of some popular sites.

Kolmanskop, Namibia, Africa

In the middle of the Namib desert, there is a small, abandoned town. The buildings have the bones of majesty, but their facades are slowly being weathered away by sandstorms. Sand has found its way into most buildings and continues to take over the once-wealthy, diamondmining town. Urban explorers

take advantage of the unique contrast between the peeling paint on the walls and the sand piled against interior doors. Many of the buildings were built by German architects, which brought European architecture to the African desert, another unique aspect of the site. Some rooms in a building have been restored, including a dining room, bedroom, and bowling alley, to show the luxury that Kolmanskop residents enjoyed before abandoning the town, but for the most part, buildings have been left to the sands. Visit to see more photographs of the town, learn more about the history of the town, and plan your own trip there.

Bokor Station Hill, Cambodia

In Cambodia, moss and lichen climb up the walls of derelict buildings built for French colonists in the early 20th century. Tourists can stand on well-worn balconies and look across the green Cambodian landscape of Bokor National Park and then escape back into the ruins of the once-elegant town. Its early 20th-century architecture makes Bokor Station Hill both an exciting and sobering stop for tourists in Cambodia. Hundreds of Cambodian servants died building the resort, and the luxurious buildings in the jungle landscape serve as a reminder of the dark consequences of European

Derelict hotel at Bokor Station Hill. The hotel is now being renovated. (Matthew Klein, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Derelict St. Agnes cathedral. (Freaktography, some rights reserved)

colonialism. When visiting the ruins, many visitors explore the rest of the national park, including rice fields and a waterfall. To get the most out of your trip to Bokor Station Hill, we recommend reading up on Cambodia’s history in a book or on a webpage to appreciate the significance of Bokor Station Hill.

Detroit, Michigan, USA

For the past decade, the migration out of Detroit has made headlines. Many buildings have been abandoned and looted, and graffiti artists still use the derelict buildings as their canvases. It is illegal to enter many of the buildings, but many urban explorers ignore the risk. Their goal is to

The majesty of the pointed arches of the ceiling and the windows gives way to the coarseness of the patchy plaster and missing bricks. document the decline, including the derelict St. Agnes cathedral. Photos depict gothic architecture partnered with modern graffiti. The majesty of the pointed arches of the ceiling and the windows gives way to the coarseness of the patchy plaster and missing bricks. Officials in Detroit are trying to keep up with the abandoned

buildings by tearing them down or restoring them. However, many remain, and Detroit is quickly becoming known for its derelict buildings.

Rural Iowa, USA

Previously a place of learning, a school in Beaver, Iowa, now


Derelict school in Iowa. (Max Goldberg, some rights reserved)

serves as a destination for urban explorers unafraid of structurally unsound buildings. Old desks, tables, and chairs lie on their sides in the middle of a pile of old wood. Windows are broken and steel beams are rusted; the second story chalkboard is still intact, even though the floor isn’t. Barb and Dave Else published a book entitled For All the Small Schools to document abandoned schools in Iowa. They explain that small schools in rural Iowan towns were abandoned in the 1940s in favor of sending children to larger schools. Their book features over 200 abandoned schools and is a great place for urban explorers to begin looking for their next adventure. However, it is important for urban explorers to


remember that danger lurks in all abandoned buildings. Costly asbestos removal often prevents these old schools from being torn down, and though it may be disappointing, it is safer to look at the building from the outside. Urban exploration is more than just looking at abandoned buildings. Photos of abandoned buildings fill an innate human desire to see what life would look like without us. How do humans impact the world? When Kolmanskop was inhabited, people in the town kept the sand out of their homes and watered their landscapes. Now, the plants are gone and the sand has taken over. These photos also bring us closer to our own mortality. What will our own homes look like when

we die, when they are still here and we are not? Some urban explorers also want people to see the beauty in abandonment. They often trespass and brave structurally unsound buildings to get a photo that depicts the past wealth and happiness with the present decline and abandonment. Restored buildings are great for learning about past life, but abandoned buildings portray the transience of the past and the fleeting reality of the present.

—Morgan Baker Sources

Toddling Travelers This young family of five is choosing to invest time and money in one of the greatest worldview-changing educational experiences this planet has to offer—travel.


ophia is only seven years old, yet, in her short life, she has already visited 27 countries. Sophia and her sisters Lexi (4 years old) and Savannah (1 year old) have traveled all across the world, even in the short span of time since Savannah was born: from Slovenia to Egypt, Lebanon to Portugal, Greece to Brazil. But, of course, they aren’t traveling alone.

These three sisters’ parents, Ryan and Ashleigh, were bitten by the travel bug long before the birth of their girls and have sought to make traveling to foreign countries an integral component of their family culture. But why? These parents readily admit it’s hard to find bathrooms that are functional for little kids, enjoy the sights when one child is determined to irk the other, and

pack much sightseeing into one day due to their little ones’ limited endurance. So why would parents endure the thorns of traveling with little children just to see some pretty sights and eat some tasty food? Well, for Ryan and Ashleigh, the catalyst to travel is not simply finding exquisite cuisine and stunning natural beauty abroad; travel has influenced and shaped their very worldview in


a profound way, and they hope it can do the same for their daughters—a desire that makes all the pain worth it. “I feel much more connected to the world, more specifically to the people,” Ashleigh said. “I love having firsthand experience of the goodness of people around the world. I also love seeing that no matter where you go, people are all the same: we are all trying to provide for our families.” Ryan fell in love with traveling because


it “challenged [his] assumptions and beliefs” about history, politics, culture, and religion. Regarding religion, he said, “My own faith has been greatly enriched by those whose practices and beliefs may appear—at first glance—to be so very different, but I have learned that, in reality, all faith traditions are pointed in the same direction.” The lessons learned through years of travel have been so meaningful and instructive that Ryan and Ashleigh have made it

a priority to show the world to their young girls, hoping that the girls, too, will one day cherish the world’s rich diversity. “Even though people may look, speak, and act differently from us, the world is full of wonderful people,” Ryan said. “There are bad apples in every country. The reality is that most people are good. The reality is that most people just want the same things as us: a job to pay the bills, time to spend with their family, and a roof over their head. We are learning together that our similarities outnumber our differences.”  However, it requires work to create wonderful learning experiences about the world and the peoples that populate it. This family’s travel preparations go beyond merely consulting the first travel guidebook they come across—they do their homework. First, Ryan and Ashleigh select their destinations very carefully, choosing to spend their time and money on “travel that will teach [them] something.” Ryan said, “We look for places that have a rich culture and history or outstanding natural beauty. . . . We also—when possible—try to time our trips to coincide with important cultural or religious events in the country we will be visiting.” Once a location is decided on, the family learns together about the country’s culture, history, political situation, and religion, watching movies and documentaries and reading books. They feel this research process has been particularly rewarding. The pre-vacation study makes all they see at the destination “come alive.” “On our trip to Greece,

Left: Sophia and Lexi participating in the Holy Week events in Nafplio, Greece. Previous page: Ashleigh, Ryan, Lexi, Savannah, and Sophia in front of the Pyramid of Djoser, in Saqqara necropolis, Egypt.

for example,” said Ashleigh, “the girls studied and read a lot about Greek mythology and history and were particularly geeked out to see references to all these stories at historic sites and museums.” The excitement and uniqueness of each trip lead the girls to be curious and ask questions. “Our fondest memories are when what we are seeing sparks questions from the girls. We have had some interesting discussions about poverty, religion, and other topics that really matter.” These moments have occurred while interacting with locals, visiting mosques throughout the Middle East, participating in the Holy Week services in Greece, and witnessing cremations at Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath Hindu temple. Being physically present for these interactions, Ryan and Ashleigh believe, inspires the girls to ask questions that wouldn’t come up otherwise. One of Ryan and Ashleigh’s most memorable moments happened when Sophia was still their only child. One night at their hotel in Nepal, they ran into a family from India that had a daughter about the same age as Sophia. The two little ones started to play, chasing one another while their parents chatted. The girls couldn’t understand each other, but it didn’t matter. Before the families said their goodbyes and went their own ways, the other little girl gave Sophia a big hug and a little gift—a bracelet. Through this experience and many others, Ryan and Ashleigh have discovered that traveling with children makes it much easier to connect with locals and other families.

Lexi and Sophia at Lake Bled, Slovenia.

Ryan, Ashleigh, and Sophia in Patan’s Durbar Square, Kathmandu Valley.

But the children are still young, and Ryan and Ashleigh are under no illusion that every place they visit will profoundly influence their girls or will even be remembered. When asked whether they like travel or not, Sophia (7) responded, “Yes! I like going to hotels and eating desserts,” and Lexi (4) replied, “I like watching movies on the plane!” Kids are kids. Ultimately, they are

often more thrilled by sleeping in a hotel or by having free reign over the television than they are by learning about the subtleties of culture, religion, or history. And of course sometimes they are just too young to understand. For example, when visiting the nude statue David by Michelangelo, Ryan was awed by the inspiring, almost reverent setting of the statue, but the only impression


Lexi took away from the famed sculpture was “That is a really big bum!”—an understandable reaction for a 4-year-old witnessing the 17-foot statue. Teaching young children is difficult, and Ryan and Ashleigh

said, we have tried to put together our trips in a way that will inspire something in the girls that will bear fruit later down the line, helping them to get curious and ask questions. Given their age, we are shooting for just a couple

“Traveling will . . . be etched in their souls.” don’t claim to continually have poignant, deep, philosophical discussions with their girls. Ryan said, “The fact of the matter is that they just want to find some sorbet and they are happy! That


gems, or learning moments, each trip.” So while one trip might not result in a dramatic, immediate change in their daughters’ natures, Ryan and Ashleigh believe that “traveling will over time be etched

in their souls. It becomes part of them.” Ryan hopes that “because of their experiences, they will hopefully always be curious about the world around them and want to see and learn more about it.” For this family, the purpose of travel exceeds the opportunity to lie by the hotel’s pool or guiltlessly break a New Year’s resolution to diet; instead, travel is an educational opportunity, a soul-forming and worldview-changing experience. It is something to invest in, just like any kind of education; it is something Ryan and Ashleigh believe will pay dividends down the road in how their girls interact with and view people vastly different from them. They have

Above: Gazing up at the Acropolis of Athens. Left: Ashleigh and Sophia posing with new friends at the Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu.

discovered that these trips’ benefits long outlive the moment of actually visiting a particular foreign country. The experiences live on. The family continues to reminisce about past trips, viewing pictures and retelling funny stories. Ryan said the memories act as triggers, sparking more rounds of questions about the peoples and cultures from their

trips. Ryan and Ashleigh hope that, down the road, these memories will help their girls make sense of the world. But no matter what happens later in life for Sophia, Lexi, and Savannah, they are reaping some of the benefits of travel now. “Travel also brings us together. Many of our best memories, for good or bad, occurred

while traveling,” Ashleigh said. So, with all the pros and cons considered, do Ryan and Ashleigh believe the benefits outweigh the difficulties of having traveled with their small children to 27 countries? “Absolutely!”

—Tyler Balli


The mou nta in

eat sM


tha t



estled in the mountain Cerro Rico in the Bolivian Andes is the small town of Potosí. Once the location of the largest silver mine in the world, Potosí is now only a shadow of the great city that once flourished above tree line. Located at 13,420 feet (nearly twice the elevation of Machu Picchu), this city has relied on silver for hundreds of years, because no trees, fruits, vegetables, or even bugs can survive at this height. One thing that has survived among the miners, however, is devil worship. Alexis Hullinger, a photography student at Brigham Young University, shares her experiences at Potosí and her plans to save the dying city. She first encountered the town while on an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bolivia, and she returned in May of 2017 to document the town through photography. Hullinger

Opposite: Cerro Rico. (Alexis Hullinger) Above: Minerals from the mine. (Alexis Hullinger)

“Without miners, there is no Potosí.”

spent the first six months of her mission in Potosí, which she says is very different from the rest of Bolivia, in part because of the mining culture that is so prevalent there. In fact, a sign at the entrance to the mine reads, Sin mineros, no hay Potosí, or, “Without miners, there is no Potosí.”

The History of Potosí

The legend of Cerro Rico began hundreds of years ago when a man lost his llamas on the mountain. The story goes that by the time he found them, it was too late to go home, so he decided to stay on the mountain for the night. When he built a campfire, however, the ground

underneath it melted and he realized that the mountain was rich with silver and ore. From then, the natives used silver for everything. A museum in Potosí shows that they used silver to make nearly anything they could think of, from utensils to saddles, because it was so abundant. But when the Spanish arrived in Peru, the Peruvians quickly communicated that, while they had little themselves, their northern neighbors were blessed with a silver mine. The Spanish went north and took over the Bolivian city, mercilessly forcing the people to mine the silver so that they could send it back to Spain. So many people died in the mines that Cerro Rico is still known as “the mountain that eats men.”


underworld, the Tío, will impregnate Pachamama with minerals for the miners if he is worshipped every day as they enter the mines. Even though many of the Potosí claim to be Catholic, the Catholic church in the town hasn’t been opened in 50 years. The Potosí have a saying: “Christian above ground and devils underground.” Because of this attitude toward the Tío, it seems as though the mountain not only eats the lives of these men—it eats their souls as well. The mountain has 3,000 mine openings, although only 1,500 are active. Some date back to before the Spanish arrived—the one that Hullinger visited opened around the year 1640. In every mine entrance there is a Tío idol made of stone. The idols differ in each mine—some are intricately carved and some are just a mound—but all have horns, eyes, an open mouth, and prominent genitals. Each miner covers the Tío with alcohol and stuffs its mouth with coca leaves (the main ingredient in cocaine) and cigarettes. After paying this unsettling tribute to the devil of the mine, the miners’ work day starts.

The Mining Lifestyle The Tío in a mine. (Alexis Hullinger)

Since the Spanish left in the early nineteenth century, Potosí has been subsisting off the mine. Only small pockets of silver are left over from the Spanish exploitation, so now the mine is mostly used for mining sulfur, copper, tin, and other minerals.


Potosí Today

Now there are around 20,000 miners, and a main part of the mining culture is devil worship. The miners believe that the Pachamama (a Quechuan goddess that equates to Mother Nature) lives in Cerro Rico and that the Quechuan lord of the

Since any food brought into the mine becomes toxic, the men have to eat a huge meal before they go in to work at 7:00 AM, and they don’t eat until they get home after 7:00 PM. To abate their hunger, many men chew on coca leaves. The leaves have a similar effect as cocaine: they suppress hunger, have anti-nausea properties, and act as a stimulant.

At the end of the work day, the men go back down the mountain to their village and often resort to violence or alcohol after their long shift. Hullinger saw a very obvious difference between the miners who truly worshipped the Tío and those who did not. The miners who do not participate in the devil worship generally do not abuse drugs and alcohol, and they are more active in their families’ lives and in their religious communities. However, she relates that the devil worshippers get dangerously drunk, abuse drugs, and disrespect women; they act like the creature that they worship. She remembers being required to be home by sunset for her own safety. “The lifestyle is very telling of who they worship,” Hullinger says. “If [they] were Christian all the way down into the mines, [they] would not do the things that they do, but they have a very real belief in the Tío.”

The Future of Potosí

Despite the terrible things she’s seen as a result of the devil worship, Hullinger went back to Potosí in May to photograph the town, the mountain, and the mines. “The town is dying, the mountain is collapsing, the people are leaving,” says Hullinger. “Everything revolves around that mining culture. I want to document it before it’s gone.” Families that have lived in Potosí for generations are leaving to find better work, and the mountain is unstable after hundreds of years of mining. She wants to educate people about the town and its history before it’s too late. However, that’s not her only mission. Hullinger hopes to one day open a school and clinic where women can go to learn a vocation and children can receive basic medical treatment. While the Potosí men can become

miners as early as 14, the women often end up marrying young, with few prospects and many children. Hullinger believes that a school could drastically improve the lives of these women: they could learn Spanish (most grow up speaking the native Quechua) so they could communicate with people in other regions and gain skills to provide for their families. The clinic would also provide vaccines for children. Most people in Potosí do not get vaccinated or practice basic hygiene, so many children die of very treatable diseases like whooping cough. Potosí has a rich and vibrant history and culture. Hullinger hopes that humanitarian efforts and broadened knowledge of the town will improve the lives of the people of Potosí, so that one day the devil worship can be eradicated.

—Brennan Clawson

The people of Potosí. (Alexis Hullinger)


Voluntourism When “Helping” May Be Hurting


wo billion dollars. That’s the amount organizations and individuals spend each year on voluntourism, a type of travel that combines tourism with service. An estimated 1.6 million voluntourists embark on trips ranging from a few days to a few weeks to third world countries each year. By


definition, voluntourists have little or no formal skills or training. Voluntourist experiences are typically run by non-profit organizations, many of which have received criticism recently for focusing more on the short-term needs of participants than on the long-term needs of the locals. One writer, Pippa Biddle, shares an experience she had

when she went on a voluntourism trip to India to build a library and help take care of orphans. She and her fellow travelers, all self-described “privileged white girls,” spent many days mixing cement, laying bricks, and building walls for the orphanage’s library. What they did not know, however, was that the walls they worked so hard to

more harm than good when they travel to third world countries with no skills, no understanding of the problems of the area, and no knowledge of what would best help the people there. Biddle and her group could have done more good if they had used their money to provide jobs for local bricklayers to build the library and for local caregivers to take care of the children.

for trips to take care of orphans or fix up orphanages indirectly and unknowingly contribute to human trafficking and abuse. Some orphanage owners even purposely keep their orphanages looking run down so that people will give money and supplies. No amount of institutional organization can replace the home and family environment, so voluntourists should support

Consider all the ways your actions could affect the community you are trying to serve. When “Helping” is Hurting

build each day were structurally unsound and had to be removed and rebuilt by local professional bricklayers each night while the girls were sleeping. Members of Biddle’s group paid thousands of dollars and flew to India with good intentions, but their good intentions didn’t get them very far. Voluntourists often end up doing

Not all voluntourism is as harmless as unstable bricks needing to be re-laid, however. Like Biddle’s group, many voluntourist programs are aimed at helping orphanages. What many don’t realize, though, is that Save the Children estimates that a staggering 80% of orphans actually have at least one surviving parent. Many well-intentioned parents sell their children to orphanages because of the promise of a safe place to sleep, a consistent food source, and a chance at a better education. There are even those with evil motives who sell their children to get money. Because not all orphanages are innocuous as they may seem, Voluntourists who pay

organizations that place children in foster care situations rather than in orphanages. In addition, many voluntourists with good intentions can end up unintentionally supporting a handout culture that creates dependence. Many voluntourism programs operate during the day, when voluntourists feel safer in rural or impoverished areas. Participants often bring food, clothing, toys, school supplies, and household items to hand out to locals, but only to those who are home during the day receive those items. Those locals who are out working to try to support their families miss out on the handouts, and after seeing the gifts their neighbors receive, they may choose to quit their


jobs and stay home to wait for handouts. Voluntourists don’t always realize that when they give handouts, they are creating dependent communities. These are just two issues that voluntourists may unknowingly cause when they visit other countries. There are dozens of ways that “helping” may be hurting, so consider all the ways your actions could affect the community you are trying to serve before signing up for a trip.

Voluntouring vs. Volunteering

That being said, there is a big difference between voluntouring and volunteering. Volunteering tends to be long term and

requires participants to have professional skills or intensive training before they begin working. Professionals such as doctors, engineers, nurses, and dentists who have skills that locals don’t can make a big impact. In addition, those trained in international development are more likely to understand that the best change happens when local leaders are empowered to help their communities. Local leaders are the ones who understand the issues and culture, and when they have the skills and knowledge they need, they can make important advancements. Effective foreign service empowers local leaders to help their countries. Pippa Biddle reminds us of the best way to help

A young Haitian boy plays while American volunteers construct a chicken coop in the background. (Tim Triad)


communities: “[Don’t] presume you know how to fix it and that going there yourself will be a solution,” she says. “Instead, seek out those who know the community and development best. Help them help the communities.”

When Helping Does Help

Of course, there are certain situations where donations from other countries are much needed: for example, after natural disasters or in countries destroyed by tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have been affected by war, natural disasters, and other serious problems and don’t have the infrastructure or resources to get back on their

Voluntourists haul tools and building materials to a school construction site.

feet. In these situations, foreign aid is not only welcome—it is necessary. But anyone who helps with disaster cleanup needs to remember that the final goal of all humanitarian efforts should be to help local people become self-sufficient.

Before You Serve Before you plan an elaborate service trip, remember that sometimes the best thing to do is simply visit other countries as a tourist. Many times, the best “service” you can do in other countries is to spend money on the tourism industry, providing jobs for the locals of the area. It is also important to realize that you don’t need to fly

halfway around the world to provide service to others. There are thousands of ways to serve in every community and town, no matter where you are in the world. Visit to find ideas in your area. If you still consider going on a voluntourism trip, make sure that before you do any kind of work abroad, you consider all the potential implications of your service. Thoroughly research the organization putting together the trip, including where the money is going. Would it be better to just visit the place as a tourist and donate money to a charity? If you want a more authentic cultural or language experience, could you stay with a local host family? What are

your motivations for visiting the place? Is your trip about taking impressive selfies with foreign children, beefing up your resume, or actually doing what’s best for the people? Ultimately, remember that your travel affects many other people. Choose to be a conscientious traveler and find ways to help without hurting.

—Mckenna Clarke




LINE How Japan’s Decreasing Population Will Change Travel

(Richard Schneider, cropped)


hen I was weaving my way through crowds of people on the streets of Shibuya in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, I never thought that Japan might be running short on people. Shibuya is one of the most densely populated municipalities in Tokyo, sporting a population density in 2017 of over 13,000 people per square kilometer, or 13 people per square meter (which requires a lot of stacking). As many as 2,500 pedestrians cross Shibuya’s busiest crosswalk during one traffic signal. People visiting Japan probably expect to be confronted by masses like these, and they’re usually right. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard about Japan’s population crisis: since 2010, Japan’s population has decreased by over one million people, and with a fertility rate of 1.4 births per woman, it’s not looking like it will go back up anytime soon. In fact, researchers estimate that by the end of the century, Japan will lose over 34% of its

population. That’s comparable to the United States losing the entire population of California and then some. A fertility rate of at least 2.1 is necessary for a country’s healthy growth, so the predictions about Japan’s future are pretty scary for one of the world’s most developed nations. When I asked Setsuko Amakasu, a longtime resident of Abiko, Japan, what she thinks about the population decline, she said, “It is a big issue; that’s what everybody thinks.” It’s not just Japan, either—the Washington Post put together a list of 11 countries expected to shrink dramatically by the end of the century, and Japan was only ninth on the list. A few other countries listed included Hungary, Croatia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria, the last of which is predicted to lose over 52% of its population by 2100. What’s keeping people from having babies? Reporters attribute a nation’s low fertility rate to a variety of factors: there aren’t enough stable jobs for young men,

women are more career-driven, people are getting married later, immigration levels are low, or people are just not having sex. No matter the reason, these prospective population plunges will drastically affect every aspect of these countries’ futures—including travel and tourism. Japan, with its ancient shrines, technological gadgets, tasty seafood, and wild fashions, is a major tourist destination, drawing in over 24 million visitors in 2016. How will the population decline affect the experience of visitors to Japan?

Stores and Restaurants

Japanese people highly value their food, and anyone who visits Japan will want a taste of traditional Japanese cuisine. Every part of Japan offers its own specialty: Utsunomiya is famous for its authentic potstickers, Niigata is known for its fluffy rice, Hokkaido offers extra-fresh seafood, and so on. Even small towns have a tiny



A bike lies beside an abandoned factory in Japan. Many buildings are left deserted as businesses shut down. (Tantan Haikyo)

“It is a big issue; that’s what everybody thinks.” ramen shop or two, which just might offer the tastiest food. I once heard a Japanese person say, “The dirtier the ramen shop, the more delicious the ramen.” With the importance of food and the prevalence of restaurants in Japanese culture, there’s no doubt the population drop will affect the number of businesses that remain open, especially the smaller ones. Fewer people means fewer employees to run stores and restaurants, forcing businesses to close. Currently, 27% of Japan’s population is 65 or older, compared to 15% in the United States. As the

ratio of old to young increases, more able-bodied workers are needed to sustain the elderly population, and fewer people are able to work in service jobs. “Japan needs more care workers, nurses, and doctors who can take care of those old people rather than work at restaurants or service jobs,” said Risa Tuttle, 27-year-old native of Nagoya, Japan. “That’s also a problem, because there will be few people to work at other jobs.” While some people suggest changing migration laws to allow more foreigners to come to

Japan to claim these jobs, doing so could offer only a temporary solution. To counter the effects of the decreasing population, Japan would need to increase annual migration to around 600,000 people, which is unlikely, because only about 50,000 people currently migrate to Japan each year. Unless Japan can produce a lot more residents for their workforce, future visitors to Japan may need to stick to larger cities for their meals and might have more limited meal options than are available now.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is incredibly efficient in Japan. You can get from the top of the main island to the bottom via train. In fact, the public transportation system is so


A Japanese great-grandmother plays with her great-grandchild. (tenaciousme)

efficient that many Japanese don’t own a car because they don’t need one. This is especially convenient for tourists, who find little need to rent a car or take a taxi to get to most places. How might the dwindling population change transportation? Not only will there be fewer people to ride the buses and trains, but there will be fewer places to get to as small businesses shut down and homes are deserted. In response, public transit prices will increase. Although regular train fare is relatively inexpensive, costs for even short distances on the train may rise as transportation companies are forced to compensate for the lower number of customers. Visitors to Japan will likely see transportation costs rise, and smaller train lines may be shut down if they don’t get enough traffic.


Small Towns

While Japan is known for its massive skyscrapers and urban landscape, visitors to the island are also drawn to its stunning natural sceneries. You can unwind in exclusive forest hot springs, hike beautiful mountains like Mount Asahi and Mount Fuji, or visit secluded beaches and climb on salt-encrusted rocks. Although major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto offer their own picturesque views, nature-lovers will find the most joy in exploring smaller towns and landscapes, away from the big cities. Unfortunately, small towns are expected to shrink with the population. As the national population decreases and shops shut down, Japanese residents will have to either travel farther for basic commodities or migrate toward bigger cities. Tourists hoping to get a

taste of small-town Japan may have less chance in the future.

Hope on the Horizon

Although Japan’s fertility rate is down, its tourism is up. In the past five years, Japan has more than quadrupled its annual visitors from overseas. The country plans to bring in 40 million tourists in 2020, the year Tokyo will host the Olympics, and the Japanese government hopes tourism continues to grow after that. Population decline is certainly not keeping people from going to Japan—in fact, more people are visiting the country than ever before. Now may be a better time than any to consider your own visit. You might even want to live there for a while.

—McCall Rawlings

56 There’s more to geisha than meets the eye—find out more on page 72. (kyoto flowertourism)

Culture “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” —Mark Twain




latbreads have been with the human race for over 6,000 years, and since then, they have remained an integral part of many societies. The dish is still popular worldwide, and every country has its own unique flatbread variation. Here are a few flatbread recipes from around the world, along with explanations of their significance.

—Laurie Bradshaw

Indian Naan

Naan has been a traditional Indian bread since the fourteenth century and was first cooked in the Imperial Court at Delhi. Its versatility and soft texture have made it a popular addition to many South Asian meals.


2 tsp dry active yeast 1 tsp sugar 1/2 cup water 2 ½ –3 cups flour, divided 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup olive oil 1/3 cup plain yogurt 1 large egg


1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, then let sit for a few minutes or until it is frothy on top. Whisk in the oil, yogurt, and egg until evenly combined.


2. Add salt and flour. Stir until well combined. Continue adding flour, a half cup at a time, until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (about 1 to 1½ cups). 3. Turn the ball of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the ball of dough for about 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour to keep the dough from sticking. You’ll end up using between 2½ to 3 cups flour total. The dough should be smooth and very soft but not sticky. Avoid adding excessive amounts of flour, as this can make the dough too dry and stiff. 4. Cover the dough and let it rise 1 hour. Gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball. 5. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Roll each ball out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the dough on the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until golden brown as well. Stack the cooked bread on a plate and cover to keep warm. Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs. Adapted from

Mediterranean Pita Bread

For over 4,000 years, the pita has been a staple in the Middle Eastern diet. The “pocket” that forms when cooking makes pita bread perfect for all sorts of fillings and turns it into not only a food, but a utensil.


2 tsp active dry yeast 1 cup lukewarm water ½ tsp sugar ¼ cup whole-wheat flour 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 1 tsp kosher salt 2 Tbs olive oil


1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in water. Whisk in whole-wheat flour and ¼ cup all-purpose flour. Put bowl in a warm place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

2. Add salt, olive oil, and nearly all remaining allpurpose flour (reserve ½ cup). With a wooden spoon, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little of the reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough. 3. Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Cover bowl tightly and put in a warm place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. 4. Heat oven to 475 degrees. On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy-duty baking sheet. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a little ball. 5. Take a ball and press into a flat disk with rolling pin. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary. 6. Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Flip and bake 1 minute more until pita is pale with only a few brown speckles. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls. Adapted from


Native American Frybread

Norwegian Potato Lefse





When Native Americans were forced from their homelands in the mid-1800s, they were sent to land that lacked farming resources the people needed. The US government sent help in the form of canned rations and flour, sugar, and lard. These ingredients were used to create frybread. Today, frybread has become a symbol of Native American strength and pride.

4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon baking powder 11/2 cups lukewarm water 4 cups shortening

1. C ombine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in 1½ cups lukewarm water. Knead until soft but not sticky. Shape dough into balls about 3 inches in diameter. Flatten into patties ½ inch thick, and make a small hole in the center of each. 2. Fry one at a time in 1 inch of hot shortening, turning to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Recipe adapted from

Norwegian folklore claims that lefse was a gift from the ancient Norse gods. This is likely untrue, seeing as the dish is only 350 years old. Despite this, Norwegians take great pride in lefse. The flatbread is a traditional Christmas treat and a symbol of Norwegian heritage. Due to its sacred, revered status, some have referred to it as Norway’s own “holy bread.”

5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled 2 sticks unsalted sweet cream butter (room temperature) 1 teaspoon salt 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1. Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil. Cut peeled potatoes into 2-3 pieces and cook until tender. 2. Rice cooked potatoes into a large bowl with a potato ricer. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 3. Remove potatoes from refrigerator and let them warm to room temperature. Move approximately half of the riced potatoes to a smaller bowl. Add flour in 1/4-cup increments, along with ½ stick of butter and salt. Knead until well-mixed. The dough should have a texture similar to light pie dough. It should form into a ball without sticking to your hands and hold its shape without cracking when pressed lightly. Warm griddle to 400°F. 4. Form finished potato mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Flour a pastry board covered with a pastry cloth and rub flour into cloth. You want just enough flour so that lefse will not stick. Roll out lefse until it is 1/8 inch thick. Transfer lefse to griddle and cook until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place lefse on damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve. Recipe adapted from



Step Into Chilean Culture


n my first day in Chile, colorful leaves were falling in May, and I couldn’t understand some of the signs and street vendors. I was visiting with my dance team, but I felt strange walking into a local church dance when I didn’t quite feel like part of the community. The event began with the performance of a traditional dance, and I looked on blankly, unfamiliar with the music and movement. Unexpectedly, an aging woman in a bright shawl took me by the arm and led me to a partner. She and her daughter

began teaching me and my team members how to do the cueca, the traditional dance they’d just been performing. I mimicked her movements, winding around my partner to an energetic rhythm. Little did I know my new friends weren’t just sharing a dance with me: they were sharing their culture and history too.

The Conquest

The cueca began as a style of music in the 1800s that featured guitars and tambourines. Later, a flirtatious dance developed to the music and became popular between the cattle-ranching

huasos and their sweethearts. In the dance, each man and woman waves a handkerchief high as they lock eyes and dance a set pattern of figures: a half moon, a vuelta (turn), a brush, stomps, another vuelta. The lady, in a colorful, full-skirted dress and apron, waves her handkerchief tauntingly as she performs rhythmic footwork. Dressed as a huaso—spurs and all—the man executes heavy stomps and high-kneed jumps. The cueca mimics the courtship rituals of roosters and hens; however, even though the dance is about pursuit, the dancers barely touch. The dance represents a conquista, or


conquest—a man’s attempt to gain a woman’s affection. Not every dance is the same, however. In northern Chile, dancers in Santiago perform the cueca nortiña; in the cooler, forest-covered south, rural communities gather to dance the cueca chilota. Though they are the same in their figure pattern, the dances of each area have different styles of musicality, dress, and technique. There are other less common styles as well, such as the sophisticated urbana, bold brava, and graceful corralera. No matter the style, each dance ends with the couple’s coming together or linking arms to show that the conquest has finally been made.

Dancers of all ages can participate in the cueca. (Felipe Ovalle)


Women continue to dance the cueca alone, not out of protest but out of remembrance. Dancing Alone

During the 1973–90 regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the cueca was used in patriotic parades and other propaganda as a tool of the dictatorship. Following the horrors of the regime, the dance became a symbol of sorrow. To protest the government, at

whose hands hundreds of men “disappeared,” women danced the cueca alone, sometimes without music. Rather than showcasing the woman, the cueca sola highlighted the absence of a brother, son, or lover. Though Pinochet lost power in 1998, some women continue to dance the cueca alone, not out of protest but out of remembrance.

Making Friends from Abroad

The cueca, rich in cultural and historical meaning, can be found all over Chile; it’s as common as the Macarena or the YMCA in the United States. When I was in Chile, my friends had only to teach me the dance to make me feel welcome. Everywhere I went in the country after that, I felt a little less like a stranger and a little more like a local. To know the cueca is to know the unspoken language of Chile. My Chilean friends recognized the dance’s significance, too; they didn’t hesitate to share such a precious element of their heritage with me. Later, I ran into the woman and her daughter who had taught me the cueca, and they surprised me with my own lacy cueca handkerchief. These women, along with many other men and women I met during my visit, brought to life these words from a famous Chilean folk song: “Y verás como quieren en Chile al amigo es forastero”—or, “In Chile, you’ll see how well they treat friends from abroad.”

—Clarissa McIntire

Sources Top: A couple joins hands as the dance ends. (Orlando Contreras López) Middle: A cueca dancer wears traditional huaso boots. (Felipe Ovalle) Bottom: Audience members clap to the music as cueca dancers perform. (Orlando Contreras López)


Ancient Sounds The National Instruments of Europe


usic varies widely among different communities and groups. As widely varied as music is, so too are the instruments that are used to pluck out a melody. Instruments carry special significance in their countries or communities. They can be symbolic or spiritual, or they can simply be a reminder of a people’s origin. Like many other places in the world, Europe’s culture is pervaded with these instruments.Instruments help shape the culture of each country and its people.


The Nyckelharpa

The nyckelharpa (pronounced nick-el- harp-a) has a warm, resonant sound that is reminiscent of a robust violin. Originally created in Sweden, its name meaning “key harp”, the nyckelharpa has been played for over 600 years. Although its form has evolved over the ages, today’s nykelharpa has three melody strings, one drone string, and twelve resonance strings for a total of sixteen strings. The instrument also has thirty-seven keys that slide under the strings; the player presses these keys down to change the pitch of

the instrument. Similar to other stringed instruments, the nyckelharpa is played with a short bow. The instrument nearly disappeared in the early 1900s, but today there are over 10,000 nyckelharpa players in Sweden alone. This can largely be credited to the work of a man named Eric Sahlström, a player of the instrument who revived and revitalized folk music in Sweden.

The Kantele

The kantele (pronounced CAHN-tel- a) has an ethereal, mysterious sound that evokes

feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time. The instrument is played in the lap of its musicians, and its strings, either plucked or strummed, ring out like small bells. The kantele is an extremely varied instrument and can have anywhere from five to forty strings. Although the origins of the kantele aren’t known with certainty, estimations list this instrument as thousands of years old. The kantele is the national instrument of Finland, and it is present in Finland’s national epic, Kalevala. In this epic, the sage Väinämöinen creates the first kantele out of the jawbone of a giant pike and horse-tail hairs. This kantele enchanted all of mankind and nature alike with its beautiful music. Today, the kantele is used for both folk and modern music. It’s a common instrument in Finland and can even be found in schools.

The Alphorn

Proudly stretching eight feet long, the alphorn (pronounced alp-horn) has a rich, mellow timbre, filled with a power that rings off the high peaks of the Swiss Alps this instrument calls home. The alphorn originated as early as AD 1400. It had many important roles in village societies. The alphorn’s most important role was as a shepherd’s tool to call animals from the fields. However, it was also used as a deterrent against wild animals, as a rudimentary communication system, and even as the replacement for a church bell, to call villagers to evening prayer.

Unlike the other instruments discussed in this article, the alphorn can play only the natural harmonics of the instrument; this means that the pitch is changed by air alone, not with keys or buttons. Originally, the alphorn was made of a singular piece of straight wood that curved at the end. Today, the instrument is made by attaching the curved bell onto the alphorn’s straight body. The alphorn can be found throughout Switzerland today and is an integral part of the Swiss Yodeling Festival. It can also be found in parades held by the Swiss Association for Traditional Costume and at the annual international alphorn festival in Nendaz.

A collection of nyckelharpas. (

These instruments, as well as the music they create, are an important part of the fabric that weaves a country’s identity. Their importance goes beyond the making of music; they create memories and meanings that go far beyond what they are. It’s no wonder that they’ve persisted over hundreds of years. Undoubtedly, they will continue on for hundreds more.

—Laurie Bradshaw

Sources www.kardemimmit.f

A man playing the kantele. (


Want to hear more? Scan these QR codes to listen to each instrument being played.

The Nyckelharpa

The Kantele

A collection of alphorns overlooking the mountain. (


The Alphorn

) l a t n e (A c c i d

l a n i m i Cr

es i n o l e F and s e n i F Avoiding


ou’ve finally arrived in Cuba and it’s absolutely picturesque—pastel houses, cobblestone streets, turquoise beaches—and you don’t want to forget a single detail. You pass by a large decorated building ornamented with security guards; it looks impressive and important, so you snap a few pictures to show your friends back home. Before you’ve even put your camera down, a scowling security guard is

blocking your view, demanding to see your camera, and interrogating you as if you’re some kind of criminal. You don’t even know what you’ve done wrong! When it comes to foreign laws, ignorance is not bliss. An innocent mistake can lead to more than just a scolding; knowing the laws of the land can save you from hefty fees or even jail time. Here are a few of these unfamiliar rules to look out for when traveling.

When to Shoot

What you might not have known in the scenario above is that taking pictures of government buildings in Cuba is illegal. In fact, photographing military, police, or government buildings— which sometimes include palaces or even airports—is prohibited in several countries, including Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and Vietnam. Uganda and Saudi Arabia take it a step further,


requiring you to obtain permission from any local person you photograph. While there is a slim chance that violating this law will result in jail time, at the very least you may get a stern reprimand.

Bubblegum Ban

The road toward El Capitolio, Havana, Cuba. (Ashu Mathura)

Singapore has banned chewing gum. (Cory Doctorow)

Singapore is famous for its spotless, orderly communities, but maintaining this level of cleanliness requires strict regulations. Littering, jaywalking, and failing to flush the toilet can result in large fines, and in order to eliminate the possibility of stepping on gum or finding it under a local park bench, Singapore has banned selling or chewing gum throughout the entire country. Some small exceptions apply: Therapeutic dental or nicotine gum is allowed with special permission, but a $700 fine is given to anyone who spits it out in the street. Tourists are permitted to bring up to two packs of gum into the country, but attempting to smuggle in any more could land you a sentence in jail for up to a year or a fine of over $5,000, so it may be wise to stick to mints.

Pigeons of Mass Destruction Over the centuries, pigeons have become iconic residents of Venice, Italy, especially in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). However, due to an overpopulation of these winged scavengers, Venice outlawed feeding the pigeons and began slapping a $700 fine on anyone caught doing so. This law received heavy backlash from birdseed vendors and

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theatre, Athens, Greece (lensnmatter)


locals who viewed pigeon feeding as an important part of Venetian culture, but local authorities declared the pigeon surplus a threat to both public health and historic monuments. To prevent famous statues and old mosaics from being scratched up, pecked at, and pooped on, Venetians have abandoned the bird-feeding tradition.

Fashion Faux Pas

If you were going to a play at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (a stone theater built in AD 161), what would you wear? Anything but stilettos. Officials have banned high heels from several historic sites in Greece in an effort to prevent damage to monuments. According to those in charge of preservation efforts, thin heels put an enormous amount of focused pressure on the delicate marble flooring of the Odeon, causing it to decay or even crack over time. Choosing to wear potentially damaging footwear won’t get you thrown in prison or heavily fined, but you may end up having to carry your shoes instead of wearing them.

Empty on the Autobahn

If you’re road-tripping on the Autobahn, make sure to fill up your tank before you go—running out of gas can cost you $82 in fines, and that amount goes up if you put anyone in danger while doing so. In fact, stopping for anything short of an emergency can take a chunk out of

your trip budget. Running out of gas is considered preventable and therefore does not count as an emergency, so consider yourself warned and take an extra gas can just in case! In addition, walking on the Autobahn is not only dangerous but also a punishable offense.

Dubai’s PDA Policy

The dazzling city lights of Dubai may seem to provide a romantic atmosphere, but the law suggests you leave your romance at home. In the United Arab Emirates, public displays of affection are punishable by jail time. Married couples are permitted

to hold hands, but kissing or any other PDA is strictly prohibited, even if you are married. Unmarried, nonrelated couples are also forbidden from being in any private area alone together. Kissing on the cheek as a formal greeting is usually acceptable but is done at your own risk. Dubai is an incredible destination, but make sure you read up on the public decency laws and dress code before you go.

Proceed with Caution

Traveling to new places is exciting, but be sure to study the laws and customs of your destination prior to your trip. A great

resource to consult is uk, which provides a “Foreign Travel Advice” page that allows you to quickly search for tips by country. There are many other books, videos, and websites designed to help keep you out of trouble. If you take the time to learn a culture’s do-nots, you won’t face unexpected setbacks while checking off your list of travel to-dos.

—Emily Strong Sources

This is the caption. Author/Artist. Copyright. First page: The clean streets of Singapore. (nate) Above: Feeding the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy. (Herna’n Pinera)


Lunchtime in San JosĂŠ



unchtime. If you’re leaving work in San José, Costa Rica, you’re lucky if you’re not in the dead center of downtown, where well-designed and overpriced American chains like Taco Bell and McDonald’s infest every street corner and occupy cherished on-the-ground, touristaccessible real estate. If you are there, plan on walking a few cuadras or taking a bus to escape the constant press of people. It shouldn’t take you long to spot some sign, probably hanging above an open door and most likely sporting “SODA” in bold sans serif. Don’t let the name mislead you; if you’re looking for caffeine, you’re more likely to find freshly ground black coffee from the hills of Heredia. The soda isn’t a drink bar; it’s a café. Whether or not you’re a regular, you’ll greet the café (“Buenas”) and the diners will echo your greeting. The señora at the counter will call you señor or señora if this is your first time meeting. If it’s not, then she’ll call you whatever adjective most superficially describes you, be it fatty, cutie, blackie, whitey, skinny, or good-looking. It’s never meant as a compliment or an insult; it’s a guileless observation. You could order an olla de carne and pick through the nearly whole vegetables in the rich, dense beef stew if it’s cold outside. You could ask for a chifrijo and enjoy fried pork cubes on rice and beans with a generous helping of tomato, avocado, and cilantro piled on top, protected by a fence of tortilla chips

marching along the rim of the bowl and sealed with fresh lemon juice. But more than likely, you’ll order the casado. The señora at the counter writes your order in careful, wide cursive on a pad of paper with a ballpoint pen. Within minutes, she busses a broad plate to your table. This isn’t the kind of food you eat on the go. The casado is said to be called “the married” because only men who are married eat that well. Your casado plate will likely be half white rice—but not just any rice. The dry kernels were fried in oil, cooked in chicken broth, then

today, because, although this tiny country contains 6% of the world’s biodiversity, there’s not much green on your plate. Don’t bother asking for water; you’ll be offered a fresco, which may come as a cool oatmeal drink with cinnamon and lots of sugar. If you want to drink the local bounty, ask for any of a variety of fruit drinks that are made by blending fresh mangos, tamarindos, or pineapple; straining out the fruit; and ladling in the white sugar. Take your time with your food. It’s the biggest meal of the day, and you’ve earned it since

It’s called “the married” because only men who are married eat that well. refried right before serving. Each spoonful is packed with flavor. Spilling over your rice is a helping of soft black beans that were cooked in onion, garlic, and salsa lizano, a condiment unique to the green hills of Costa Rica. You’ll find fried plantains— maybe sweet and maybe savory, depending on whether it’s meant to be a vegetable or dessert. There may be boiled chicken or seared steak and fried yucca—a starchy root and a cousin of the potato, but much stringier and more flavorful. It will share plate space with a salad of diced tomatoes and onions with a sprinkle of confettied cabbage, glistening with fresh lemon juice. I hope you came hungry, and I hope you’ve already eaten vegetables

you’ve been at work since before 6:00 am along with the rest of the early-to-rise country. That being said, you’ll have to take your time with your food. Just like some cultures prefer chopsticks, Ticans use spoons almost exclusively. Good luck with that salad. Pay for your meal at the register, despedir yourself of the rest of the cafe occupants (“Adiós!”), and head out to catch a bus in the warm afternoon rain. Later on, you may go to a Saprissa soccer game at the Savannah Arena or catch a show at the Teatro Nacional. But if you’re looking for an immersive experience in Costa Rican culture, you can bet you’ll get a taste of it during lunchtime in San José.

—Miriam Sweeney

71 Photos courtesy of Andre Riberio

Geisha in Gion


ext stop is the geisha district,” Peter said before remounting his bike and leading us across the street. I pedaled behind him and thought about what I knew about geisha. I knew that they wore kimonos. I knew that they painted their faces white. I knew that there was a Hollywood movie about a geisha that my mom wouldn’t let me watch. That’s all. And because that movie had been labeled “bad” in my middle school brain, geishas had been too. But I was about to learn the truth and come to respect and admire the geisha culture. We were on a bicycle tour called Cycle Kyoto, riding through the streets of Kyoto, Japan, and stopping at notable sites to learn some history and interesting facts about Japan. Peter, originally from New York but now fluent in Japanese, was our tour guide. He gave us incredible insights into life in Kyoto. The tour was a diverting educational experience, very different from the classroom education I was used to in college.


We rode down the alleyway of Gion (pronounced ghee-ohn), one of the biggest geisha districts left in Japan. To me, the street we rode along didn’t look any different from others in the city, but I did notice that the roads were especially quiet and peaceful. I sensed the deep and rich history of the place. Geisha have existed in Japanese culture since the 1700s, during the Edo period, and those roots bring a sense of nobility to Gion. Our cycling group stopped in front of the school for maiko, or geisha in training. As Peter told us about the lifestyle and culture in the geisha district, we saw maiko walking by in their kimonos, conversing and smiling as they entered the building. We learned that young women choose for themselves to enter geisha training around the age of sixteen. In earlier times, poverty required some families to send their children away, and because the life of a geisha promised comfort and stability, parents would send their daughters there out of necessity. Although that is no longer the case, the practice led

to the misconception that geisha are young women who have lost their freedom. But as the maiko passed us, I could see the commitment and contentment in their faces. They were happily pursuing a career in something they enjoyed—just as I was doing at my chosen university. Another misconception about geisha is that they engage in prostitution. This is not true. One source of this myth could be the activity of Japanese prostitutes during World War II; some dressed like geisha and called themselves geisha to attract American soldiers as customers. But they were not true geisha— true geisha are not prostitutes. Prostitution is illegal in Japan, while being a geisha is an honorable profession. Peter explained to us that geisha are artists and entertainers. They dance, sing, and play traditional Japanese music. They are also trained in the art of conversation. Wealthy clients hire geisha to perform music and dance at banquets or even to dine with them at expensive restaurants in Gion. Geisha are respected and honored for their skills and eloquence. Because geisha are unique and because so much mystery surrounds their culture, tourists seek them out and love to take their pictures. Many tourists do not realize that they are actually photographing other tourists! People pay to have a “geisha makeover” and then get to walk around the city in costume, sometimes with a professional photographer documenting their experience. Peter said that if we see geisha accompanied by a photographer, we can

assume they are not authentic geisha; real geisha don’t travel the streets being photographed. Another key difference between real and fake geisha is the way they walk. Maiko and geisha wear tall wooden sandals that are difficult to walk in. Geisha are trained to move very gracefully, Peter pointed out, so if we see someone stumbling awkwardly along or needing help to make her way down the street, we can know that she is a tourist. On our way through Gion, we had the uncommon privilege of seeing two real geisha. They were returning home from what Peter said must have been a rare afternoon appointment (geisha usually work in the evenings). They were beautiful, poised, and graceful. I admired them and their commitment to their craft. No longer did I think geisha were bad. I learned the truth of a beautiful piece of Japanese culture. Being in Gion and feeling the strength of the culture and history reminded me how important it is to expand our vision of the world. Next time you are traveling, discover the truth about something you may have previously misunderstood. And if you are in Kyoto, take a stroll through Gion to see the maiko talking and laughing on their way to class, and know that you are seeing respected artists in the making.

—Alyssa Hazen Sources

73 Geiko Toshikana at Ryuhonji Temple. (kyoto flowertourism, cropped)

74 Discover how to forest bathe on page 90. (John Mcsporran)

Field Notes “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” —Anonymous


little tour on the prairie (Michael Janke)


aura Ingalls Wilder wrote the beloved Little House series that generations of children have read and continue to read. Laura recorded her family’s trek across the midwestern United States, and many of the towns she lived in with her family have built museums and replicated houses in honor of them. This article will take you on a tour of the most popular sites, where you will see many log cabins and learn more about pioneer life. Whether you stick with a virtual tour or visit the sites in person, you will discover the sacrifices that pioneers made for their posterity, creating a new appreciation for hard work and love.

Pepin, Wisconsin

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in Pepin, Wisconsin, and a replica of the “little house in the big woods” was built on the same land where Laura’s original house stood. Many readers will remember this town as the site where young Laura visited her grandparents and cousins for Christmas and gathered sap to make maple syrup. Today, there is a museum and gift shop where fans of the books can visit and buy pioneer memorabilia. The site of the replica log cabin includes picnic


tables and restrooms outside, so on your visit you can stop here to eat lunch and walk around the well-kept grounds of the cabin.

Independence, Kansas

After leaving Wisconsin, the Ingallses first stopped in Independence, Kansas. In your modern-day journey it would take you a little over nine hours by car from Pepin, Wisconsin, to reach Independence, Kansas. Fans of the novels might remember that in Kansas the family first meets Mr. Edwards, who teaches Laura how to spit and brings Christmas gifts from Santa to the family. Another replicated cabin stands in the Ingalls family’s honor, and you can also visit a well dug by Laura’s father, Charles (or “Pa,” as the family called him). An old post office and school are also on site, and though neither was there when the Ingallses were, they serve the same purpose as the Ingallses’ cabin: to provide a historical context for younger generations.

Walnut Grove, Minnesota

After traveling south to Kansas from Wisconsin, the Ingallses trekked north again to Minnesota.

You would drive another nine hours to get to Walnut Grove, Minnesota. However, once you got there, your lodgings would be decidedly more comfortable than the Ingallses’. They lived in a dugout until Pa built a cabin for the family. The dugout caved in years ago, but the site still exists today and is open for visitors from May to October. There is also a Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. On your visit, you can tour the museum to see a quilt that Laura once owned, and if you go in July, you can watch the Wilder Pageant, which dramatizes events from Laura’s life when she lived in Walnut Grove. No doubt Nellie Olsen, the infamous bully, will make an appearance during the pageant, along with other more beloved characters in the novels.

De Smet, South Dakota

De Smet, South Dakota, was the final stop for Laura’s family. Five books in the nine-book series are based in what was known at the time as the Dakota Territory. The last leg of your journey would be much shorter than previous legs; it will take you just two hours to reach De Smet from Walnut Grove. The Ingallses endured many cold winters in De

Smet, but De Smet is also where Laura and Almanzo got married. There are many pioneer activities for De Smet visitors, including taking covered wagon rides, making corncob dolls, and washing clothes on a washboard. You can also tour the Ingalls homestead and visit many other sites, including barns and a school. At the end of your tour, you will have seen many replicas of cabins and learned how to do a few pioneer chores. However, it is likely that you will have also gained appreciation for modernday conveniences (washing machines certainly take less effort to operate than washboards). You will also have seen how important family was to the Ingallses and that society can still learn from our pioneer ancestors how to work hard and take care of each other. Visit these websites for more information about the places mentioned in this article:

—Morgan Baker Sources www.littlehouseontheprairiemuseum. com Photos, top to bottom: Little House Wayside in Pepin, Wisconsin. (Lorie Shaull) Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Walnut Grove, Minnesota. (Randy Stern) Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum, Mansfield, Missouri. (MRHSfan)


469 Miles Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway


here’s a reason the Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s most visited National Park Service site. The 469-mile road does more than connect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It is both a fascinating display of the nation’s history and a gorgeous landscape to explore. It is renowned for its beauty and for its peaceful natural atmosphere— even though it is a popular vacation spot, the park is large enough that it feels secluded and peaceful.

One of the reasons the Blue Ridge Parkway attracts so many visitors is its universal appeal; it really does have something for everyone. Because of the variety of options for experiencing the parkway—you can camp or stay in a rustic hotel; hike, bike, or just stay in the car; and visit the entire parkway or just a small stretch—it is a perfect vacation for people of all ages and activity levels. It is one continuous road with no offshoots, other than exits to leave the park. Along the sides of the road are mile markers, which correspond with guidebooks to help

visitors identify where the trails, overlooks, and campsites are.


The parkway was originally conceived in 1933 by US senator Henry Byrd. Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw the potential of Byrd’s idea, and the Civilian Conservation Corps began construction of the parkway two years later in North Carolina. Most of the parkway was completed in 1966; however, it took an additional 21 years for the last 7.7 miles of the road to be completed.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for its winding roads, which curve around the sides of mountains. (Jackie O) Opposite: Many of the hiking trails in the Parkway feature beautiful views, such as in this photo of Crabtree Falls. (Ken Lane)



The Linn Cove Viaduct was the final piece of the parkway, constructed in 1987 using revolutionary technology to wind around Grandfather Mountain without damaging the iconic mountain. The parkway was finally complete.


Today, the parkway preserves a beautiful landscape replete with hiking trials and tree-filled, mountainous overlooks. Although most famous for its fall scenery, when the colorful leaves draw the most visitors, it is beautiful year-round. The Blue Ridge Parkway does close in the winter, however, because it would be too difficult for the National Park Service to clear any ice and snow. In the spring, waterfalls and streams are particularly awe-inspiring thanks to the winter’s snow melt, and wildflowers bloom across the parkway. No matter what time of year you visit, you are sure to have a memorable experience.

Sites along the Parkway

The National Park Service owns much of the land surrounding the

road in North Carolina, but in parts of Virginia the road is surrounded by ordinary farms. However, both states boast popular visitor sites. In Virginia, where the Blue Ridge Parkway starts, notable sites include the James River, where visitors can hike, camp, and fish; Mabry Mill, which features historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia, hiking trails, and a diner known for its pancakes; and the Blue Ridge Music Center, where the sound of folk and bluegrass music can almost always be heard, played by local musicians. The North Carolina portion of the parkway includes even more sights: Cumberland Knob, a natural landscape and the site where construction started in 1935; Moses H. Cone Park, which features a late nineteenth century manor overlooking hiking trails, horse trails, and a pristine lake; Linn Cove Viaduct; the Folk Art Center and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center; and Mount Pisgah, which features a 16-mile hiking trail, beautiful views, and the Pisgah Inn and its restaurant. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to drive

more than a few miles along the parkway without encountering a hiking trail or overlook, and there are beautiful views from the entire road. The hikes range from short leg-stretchers to rigorous excursions, and from well-traveled routes to overgrown, secluded paths. The Blue Ridge Parkway is something everyone should experience at least once; it has so many options that there is something for any type of interest. Visiting the parkway will allow you to see pristine mountains and beautiful forests. You likely won’t be able to visit just once; the parkway’s immense size allows visitors to come again and again, and still experience something new each time. The Blue Ridge Parkway is “America’s Favorite Drive,” and it will certainly become one of yours too.

—Alexandria Despain  

The parkway features many overlooks that allow visitors to watch sunrises and sunsets, such as this one at Courthouse Valley Overlook. (Ken Lane)


Waitomo glowworms. (Shaun Jeffers)

Cave of Stars


New Zealand is chock-full of amazing adventures, but black water rafting through a glowworm cave is one experience you don’t want to miss.

f you visit New Zealand, put down the delicious local chocolate (I know it’s hard), plan to visit Hobbiton another day, resist jumping out of the car to pet the endless droves of fluffy sheep, and head to Waitomo Caves for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience—black water rafting through a glowworm cave. Black water rafting was an exhilarating, unearthly experience, one that definitively topped the list of my favorite New Zealand

activities. The caves sit two and a half hours south of Auckland and boast some of the Pacific’s most gorgeous glowworm caves. For 30 years now, the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. has been guiding people through the caves’ subterranean labyrinth. When we arrived at the rafting company’s headquarters, employees directed us to changing rooms, where we squeezed into wet suits that would help attenuate the bite of the icy mountain water

that runs through the caves. The employees issued each of us a pair of waterproof boots, a helmet, a headlamp, and our own donutshaped black rubber tube, and then we hopped into a bus with our two guides and four other rafters and zipped off to the cave entrance. After hunching through the entrance, we began trekking though ankle-high water, the daylight quickly fading into utter blackness. We flipped on our


headlamps. The river that runs through the caves alternated between stretches of deeper water (which we tubed through) and shallow shoals (which we hiked through). One of the more intense moments arrived when the cave ceiling dropped to less than a foot above the three-foot-deep water. For several seconds we had to get on hands and knees and push our tubes out in front of us while breathing out of the sides of our mouths for several seconds in the tiny air pocket between water and cave ceiling. My heart was pounding like a Travis Barker drum solo. Although the whole trip is adventurous, it is perfectly safe, as the very competent guides know the caves and river well and consider your safety their number-one priority. Then, after whishing through some particularly swift currents on our tubes, we arrived at the top of a small waterfall, about 10 feet high. One by one, we toed the edge of the waterfall, turned around so that our backs faced the drop-off, held the tubes firmly to our backsides, and sprang backward off the waterfall—splashing into the drink, our tubes keeping us from getting fully submerged. After a few more swift sections and one more blind leap off a waterfall, we arrived at the pièce de résistance, the grand finale. Our guides told us to sit in our tubes and form a chain, with each rafter gripping the legs of the tuber behind. They told us to turn off our headlamps and allowed us to float down the river, the lazy current slowly, smoothly pulling us along.


I reclined back in my tube and tilted my head upward, gazing at the cave roof. Thousands of glowworms greeted my eyes, the animals’ bluish-white light penetrating through the darkness. They looked like tiny stars burning in the night sky. Their appearance, coupled with the weightless feeling of slowly floating through the cave, truly made me feel like I was an astronaut floating through space (sorry

Space Mountain, but you’ve got nothing on Waitomo). The sensation caused a feeling of peaceful awe to wash over me. I’m not sure how long we drifted under those terrestrial stars, because the view was all-consuming, but gradually the concentration of glowworms began to thin until we spotted no more of them. Following our sublime encounter with the glowworms, we exited the cave and emerged

Woman jumping off into river outside of caves. (Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.)

Tubing through the glowworm caves. (Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.)

out into the sunlight once again. All in all, the trip took about an hour and a half. Someone picked us up in a bus again and brought us back to headquarters, where dry clothes and complimentary bowls of warm soup awaited us.

Black water rafting is one of the don’t-you-dare-miss-it attractions in the land of the long white cloud. The experience provides a great mix of adventure, exhilaration, and wonderinspiring natural beauty. I’m as much of a Lord of the Rings fan as most,

but there is so much more to New Zealand than just visiting the homes of little men with hairy, abnormally large feet. So while Hobbiton and other sights are indeed enjoyable, make time to go to Waitomo.

—Tyler Balli


After the Storm

Natural disasters can be crippling for tourismdependent economies, but healing is possible.

Above: St. Maarten after Hurricane Irma. (Climate Centre, cropped) Opposite: The eye of Hurricane Irma. (NASA Johnson, cropped)


fter bathing in their swimming pool, which was full of debris, Ben and Elizabeth Zenger handed their car keys to a stranger and took one last picture in front of their battered home. Hurricane Irma had shattered the paradise of St. Maarten, where the couple and their daughter,


Maggie, were living for medical school. The Zengers were miraculously protected during the storm, but they lost all of their belongings and were forced to relocate. Ben and the other medical students will continue their schooling elsewhere and will not return to St. Maarten. St. Maarten is a 16-squaremile Dutch territory on an

island in the Caribbean. St. Maarten’s official tourism website ( describes the destination as a “magical place,” a place “where European sophistication and raw island passion have fallen in love.” Sadly, the Category 5 hurricane left this magical place ruined and, in some areas, almost uninhabitable.

When the Zengers left their island home, they did not have an opportunity to say goodbye to friends. They and other United States citizens—including Elizabeth’s sister and brotherin-law, who were visiting when Hurricane Irma hit—were flown off the island as quickly as possible following the storm. The St. Maarten international airport was damaged in the hurricane, so military transport planes took these citizens back to the United States. As the Zengers left, Elizabeth posted a plea on Instagram for everyone to pray for the people of St. Maarten and continue to show them love as they try to recover from this tragedy. Some island residents wonder if complete recovery is even possible. In an NPR report after Hurricane Irma, one citizen said, “We all survived this monster storm. But will we survive the aftermath?” In addition to losing their homes and belongings, many of the people of St. Maarten lost their source of income. Tourist industries make up most of the island’s economy, and the devastation of natural disasters results in a major decrease in tourism. St. Maarten is just one Caribbean location with an economy heavily dependent on tourism. Many other islands also rely on tourists to keep them financially stable. Some of these islands suffered as much as or more than St. Maarten during the 2017 hurricane season. Hurricanes devastated coastal regions in 2017, but that was neither the beginning nor the end of natural disasters in the world. And Caribbean islands are not the only


place so financially dependent on tourism. What can you as a traveler do to help in the aftermath of such terrible events? First, thoroughly research your possible travel destination and how it has been impacted by natural disaster. Be aware of what’s going on and how you might be able to help once you arrive. Could you contribute manual labor on a service project? Are there areas you should avoid in order to be respectful to residents? Don’t be a burden to the community, and never travel somewhere just to get a good look at the damage. When asked how travelers could help the island, Elizabeth said, “Be sensitive and kind to the locals. Honestly, there are no words for what some of the people have gone through and how quickly their lives have changed.”

“There are no words for what some of the people have gone through and how quickly their lives have changed.” Remember that the citizens are real people who have suffered immensely and are trying to heal. Second, if you do travel to places affected by natural disaster, support the local economy. Some businesses (possibly fast food chains and large hotel chains) are not financially rooted in the community—their money goes elsewhere, to a large corporation, instead of back to the local government and citizens. Your patronage at these places won’t help the community rebuild and recover from the disaster. Websites

such as and can guide you in making responsible and helpful travel plans. Also recognize that damage in one area does not mean that travel to surrounding areas is impossible. You can support regions that have been impacted by natural disasters by effectively researching which ones you can travel to. Some of them will still be functional, and traveling there can help to keep the tourism industry alive. Visiting these places might even help the more devastated areas

Above: Hurricane Irma left parts of St. Maarten almost unihabitable. (Climate Centre) Opposite: (nvainio)


recover more quickly. Finally, don’t forget about these places once the news coverage stops. The horror of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis shouts at us from photos and videos on the television and internet. But the tragedy of a lost economy

and deliberate choices by considering how your travel will affect economies, communities, and people. Remember that we live in a global community and share human experience. The World Travel and Tourism Council encourages us to “embrace travel

“Even some of the smaller ones already are budding.” is quiet, especially once the media moves on. These places will still need your support and your tourism to help them recover and, one day, thrive again. Be a conscientious traveler. Next time you’re looking for a vacation spot, make informed

as a means to unite in our common humanity.” As we recognize our common humanity and create opportunities to help others rebuild after tragedies, we will help communities heal from natural disasters and see growth once again. In

an interview with NPR following Hurricane Irma, Reverend Jeff Neevel said of his home in St. Thomas, one of the United States Virgin Islands, “There’s hardly a tree left or a leaf left if the tree’s standing. But even some of the smaller ones already are budding. . . . There [are] signs of new life . . . and that’s hopeful.” Your contribution to the tourism industries in places like St. Thomas and St. Maarten can be like the buds appearing on storm-torn trees.

—Alyssa Hazen Sources




f you open the flower altar book in St. Leonard’s Church in Downham, England, you’ll find Lord and Lady Clitheroe have signed up to provide flowers on the first of every month. You’ll also find that the couple provides and cares for the whole village, since


they own it all (think Downton Abbey). The Clitheroes have possessed Downham for generations, and every lord in recent memory has enforced the same rule: no visible electric wires, satellite dishes, or distracting signs allowed. This rule keeps the northern

England town looking like it did a century ago. Stone cottages, the oldest dating back to the late sixteenth century, overshadow flower gardens and narrow streets. Heys Brook flows staunchly under an arched bridge; the chapel sits across from the inn, not too far from the ice

cream shop (which also offers fresh milk, pies, and sandwiches); the chapel and Downham Hall, the Clitheroe manor, overlook them all. Pastures offer a scenic walk through the countryside, so long as visitors obey the “countryside code”: a plea that properties and gates be left the way they were found so the animals don’t get loose. Downham’s charm and eighteenth-century appearance make it the perfect setting for historical films; Whistle Down the Wind (1961) and the BBC’s Born and Bred (2002) featured scenes filmed in Downham. The village is also a favorite spot for weddings due to its idyllic views and quaint atmosphere. However, the area isn’t all romance; from the church cemetery, you can see Pendle Hill, legendarily associated with witchcraft and the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials. If you’re thinking of moving to Downham, it’s difficult to become one of the two hundred tenants—there’s a waiting list to get in. Visiting is easy, though, and highly encouraged. Stop by as part of a literary tour to see views as close as they come to those of Victorian England, or come to just visit a spot that actively keeps England’s past in its present.

—Clarissa McIntire


Opposite: A train rolls through the countryside toward Downham. (Andrew, cropped) Above: Pendle Hill from St. Leonard’s Church. (Andrew, cropped)


Forest Bat hing Forest bathing is more than just admiring—it’s about becoming one with the forest around you. 90 (Bong Grit)

Rather than visit a crowded amusement park or tourist attraction, why not spend some quality time with nature? Forest bathing is an activity you can do anywhere there’s a forest, and it comes with benefits for both body and soul. A man meditates in the seclusion of the forest. (Mitchell Joyce)


very time I come home from my latest family trip, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. After flying for hours, driving from place to place, seeing the sights, and eating—and spending—a little too much, I return home without having relaxed as much as I had hoped. So I was intrigued when I heard about forest bathing. It’s not what you might think; it doesn’t actually involve bathing in the middle of a shady grove. Forest bathing is the English term for “shinrin-yoku,” a practice Japanese people invented in the 1980s as an approach to healing. All it involves is walking peacefully through a forest and allowing yourself to take in the natural atmosphere around you. Scientific studies claim that the practice has therapeutic benefits for the body and soul. Forest bathing could offer you the perfect respite during your next busy getaway (or after your next hectic day at the office).

How to Do It

We’ve all watched the sun set, driven through mountain canyons, gazed at trickling streams, or otherwise admired the beauty of nature. But forest bathing is more than just admiring—it’s about becoming one with the forest around you, and it requires engaging all your senses. Walk slowly. Inhale the earthy scents. Observe every color, the light and the shadows. Feel the damp air on your skin. Listen to the twigs crunching beneath your feet. The method is similar to other meditative practices: free your mind, breathe, and be aware. You can wander the forest on your own (if you feel comfortable with your surroundings), with a friend, with a guide, or with a group. No matter whom you go with, let the focus be on your individual experience with nature. You might prepare to get in the right mindset by turning off loud music on the drive to the forest, wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, and

meditating or practicing breathing techniques before you arrive at the forest. There’s no duration requirement for forest bathing, but you should give yourself enough time to really clear your mind and relax your body.

Where to Do It Because the practice originated in Japan, the country offers multiple forest-bathing bases to help you reach your forest nirvana. However, shinrin-yoku has spread far beyond the island nation to become a global trend. Forest bathing groups gather throughout South Korea, China, Europe, and the United States. Dozens of spas include forest-bathing sessions and trained guides to direct you through the experience. If you live in a forested area, chances are there is a forestbathing group within reach. One of the great things about shinrin-yoku, though, is that you don’t need to locate a spa or pay to do it; you can try it yourself anywhere there are woods


(accessible to the public—don’t get in trouble for trespassing!). If you’re having an especially stressful week, find the nearest forest and head over for a self-prescribed therapy session. Try to get far enough away from the city that bustling people and cars don’t interrupt your experience. If you don’t live near a forest, find other ways to connect with nature, whether it’s at a park, in a desert, or on your balcony. When Atlantic reporter Rahawa Haile tried forest bathing, one of her instructors told her, “If people are going outside and centering themselves in nature, they’re forest bathing, even if they’re at the beach.” In an article, Haile continues, “He stressed that the most important thing was getting people to associate being in nature with feeling good.”


Since the practice began, researchers have been studying the potential health benefits of forest bathing. The Shinrin Yoku organization’s website lists several of the scientifically proven benefits. Here are some of the benefits you might enjoy if you give it a try: ▶▶ Boosts to your immune system ▶▶ Lower blood pressure ▶▶ Less stress ▶▶ Better moods ▶▶ Increased focus ▶▶ Faster recovery from surgery or illness ▶▶ More energy ▶▶ Better sleep The Shinrin Yoku organization even claims that the practice can help prevent cancer, because trees give off organic compounds that help our cells fight cancer.

A shot taken toward the top of Mount Odaigahara in Japan. (coniferconifer)


Scores of people who have tried the method have confirmed that they felt less stressed and more aware of the world around them. Katherine Pioli, who tried forest bathing in a grove near Salt Lake City, said after the experience, “I noticed how slow my breath felt. . . . Despite the craziness around me, I felt really good.” So does forest bathing really do all people claim it does? The only way to know is to try it yourself.

—McCall Rawlings




Jackson Hole • Driggs • Rexburg • Idaho Falls • Pocatello

Whether you are a landscaper, homeowner, golf course owner, or commercial developer, Teton Turf and Tree Farms can supply the quality sod and trees you need. Visit or call (208) 390-4161 for more information. Photo Credit: Kamil Porembiński (CC BY-SA 2.0, cropped)

94 Know what to do when it rains on your vacation, page 102. (Kewish Wihongi)

Insider “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” —Susan Sontag


don’t be

Shark Bait Swimming with sharks may seem scary, but these shark tips may change your mind.


o this is how it ends. As the motorboat sped away from the lush shore, the beautiful blue waters of Oahu started to look less like paradise and more like a watery grave. Swimming with sharks— without a cage—had seemed like an adventure when I signed up, but now, as the green island grew smaller, even the dolphins jumping alongside the boat couldn’t ease my nerves. Our diving guide, Cody, had seen this squeamish reaction from


his passengers many times before. In an effort to calm us down, he shared with us some of the shark wisdom he had accumulated over many years of experience: True: No one has ever been injured by a shark during a guided shark tour. There have been some rare occasions where a shark has jumped into a shark cage, but these accidents are usually due to the tour guides ignoring certain baiting rules. In every case, the shark did not attack the divers and no one was injured.

False: Sharks consider humans to be prey. The majority of shark attacks are “hit and runs,” meaning the shark takes a taste test, realizes you are not a seal, and leaves. I was amazed at how the sharks treated us while we swam with them; they seemed to view us with the same gentle curiosity with which we viewed them. This is not to say that they are harmless, though. Touching any kind of wildlife is always risky, and no guest in unfamiliar waters should do it.

True: Eye contact matters. Sharks are like cats: they will sometimes try to sneak up behind you when you’re not looking and give you a nudge. Cody suggested that we maintain eye contact to let the sharks know we are aware of them, encouraging them to keep their distance. When a bolder shark appeared, Cody simply charged at it and it backed down immediately. Some species are more aggressive than others, so if push comes to shove (or bite), a good punch to the nose or gills would likely send the culprit swimming. False: Blood sends sharks into a feeding frenzy. It is true that sharks can detect even tiny amounts of blood from impressive distances, but Cody assured us from experience that this is unlikely to trigger a shark attack. Sharks are more attracted to fish oils in the water than to blood. I also learned that a feeding frenzy is actually a competition for food and hierarchy

Cave divers watch as a Great White catches a seal. (Jeff Kurr) Opposite: (Daniel Kwok)

within a group of sharks, not a state of crazed delirium like Finding Nemo suggests. The media often portrays sharks as demonic, blood-thirsty killers, but the reality is that they are just like any other wild animal: dangerous when provoked, but generally peaceful. Swimming next to three Galapagos sharks was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget. They meandered

around us like we were their peers, not their prey. Cody taught me an important lesson that day: the more we understand the truth about the unfamiliar, the easier we can coexist.

—Emily Strong Sources

How to Avoid Shark Attacks

What to avoid: ▶▶ ▶▶

▶▶ ▶▶

▶▶ ▶▶

▶▶ ▶▶

Swimming with pets, especially dogs­—they look, splash, and act more like seals. Swimming at dawn or dusk, or in murky water. Shark attacks are more likely when visibility in the water is low. Swimming near sandbars. Sharks like to hang out near these areas and often get stuck there. Splashing or making erratic movements that may signal distress. The noise of splashing sounds like a distressed fish—easy prey. Swimming alone. Sharks are less likely to attack a group. Areas where lots of fish, dolphins, or seabirds are congregating. They usually gather around corpses, which sharks consider fast-food. River mouths, fishing boats, and harbors. Sharks often come to these areas to hunt for food. Jewelry or bright swimwear. The colors and shine may look like fish scales.

If a shark attacks you anyway, punch the nose, eyes, or gills. Calmly but quickly swim away (sharks can sense distress) if it backs off, but if not, be as aggressive as possible—that alone may scare it away!


a k s onAla d

Have Dog, Will Travel

Ho k e




very time my family travels, we’re faced with the impossible task of leaving our dog behind. It’s terrible; I don’t know if he can tell we’re leaving by all our rushing around or if he’s just learned what a suitcase means, but he spends the entire time we’re getting ready moping around and sighing. It’s a conundrum all traveling dog owners must face, though: do you leave your canine companion behind with a surrogate caregiver, or do you brave a vacation with your furriest family member? While you may not want to take Rover on every trip, it’s not as difficult as it may seem to include him on some of your adventures.

like national parks or beaches, may be off-limits to her. Do your research before you depart on your adventure to avoid any disappointments. If you want to find a national park that won’t turn your pup away, you can search ­www.­ The site lists information on where dogs are and aren’t allowed in each national park, as well as tips and warnings for visiting each one. is also a great resource; it allows you to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and more in just about any city.


Dog-friendly hotels (especially ones that don’t charge Great Dane–sized fees) are hard to find in some cities, so it’s a good idea to book lodging ahead of time so you don’t end up sleeping

Unfortunately, the world isn’t a utopia where dogs are welcomed everywhere. Even places you might think your dog would love,


in your car. And if you plan to do any activities your furry friend can’t attend, make sure he has a place to stay while you’re away, such as a kennel or pet resort. It’s not safe for your pet to be alone in the hotel room, and he’ll be happier with other people and dogs to interact with while you’re away. Companies like Dog Vacay and connect people who want to pet sit with people who need pet sitters. You can read reviews for pet sitters on the companies’ respective apps, and they provide you with 24/7 customer support, pet insurance, and photo updates. Pet resorts, though more expensive than pet sitters and kennels, will often provide you and your dog with amenities like live video feeds, activities, and grooming. These can all be good options whether your dog needs somewhere to stay for the day or for a few nights.


Mutts Welcome

If you want to make your vacation all about Spot, there are plenty of events and destinations that will welcome the both of you with open paws.


Doggie Street Festival, San Diego and Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ ▶▶ Enjoy food, music, speakers, and the company of other dogs and dog lovers while supporting local pet businesses.


Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona ▶▶ Dogs are allowed on the ­Greenway and South Rim trails, and there are dogfriendly campgrounds and hotels nearby; just make sure to bring plenty of water.


Imperial Beach Surf Dog, Imperial Beach, CA ▶▶ Let your dog compete in the annual surfing competition, or hang out on the shore and meet other dogs and dog people.


Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, Tompkins Square Park, NY ▶▶ Dress up with your pooch and show off your creativity in a parade through the park.



Before you take your dog on a long car ride, you should take her out on shorter trips. If she continually gets sick after 10 minutes in a car, you might not want to take her on your crosscountry road trip. These shorter trips are also good for getting her used to the car and to associate it with positive experiences. (If you ended up at the vet every time you got in a car, you wouldn’t like cars either!) If you do take your dog on a road trip, it’s safest for you and for her if she stays in a crate. You might not like the idea of keeping your four-legged friend cooped up, but it keeps her from becoming a projectile if you stop suddenly or get into an accident. Of course, accustom her to being in a kennel well in advance if she hasn’t used one before. On your trip, make sure you take plenty of stops to give her a chance to stretch and release some energy.


Most airlines allow you to take a pet with you in the cabin if he will fit under the seat in front of you in a crate he can comfortably turn around in. Otherwise, your dog is kept in the cargo hold under the plane or not allowed at all. The cargo hold can be extremely stressful for a dog because it’s a loud, unfamiliar environment that may reach uncomfortable temperatures. Some airlines refuse to carry animals during the peak of summer or winter to prevent

animals from freezing or overheating. Regardless, pets die in cargo holds every year, and airlines have yet to find a solution. If you do decide flying is the best option for you and your dog, make sure you know all the rules and requirements for the airline you’re flying with—and that you can afford the extra cost. There is usually a limit for the total number of dogs allowed in the cabin at a time, so you’ll definitely want to notify the airline as soon as you know that you’re bringing your dog. You reduce the risk of something happening to your dog on the flight if you visit your vet beforehand to make sure your dog is fit to fly (this is usually required by the airlines anyway), avoid flying during summer and winter months, and book direct flights. Traveling with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience you’ll remember forever. As long as you puppare properly, you can avoid any dogsasters and enjoy a perfect vacation with your best friend furever.

—Haley Brown


remedy for



ou could go to Paris, pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, and add to the collection of the world’s most popular selfie spot. You could order overpriced Mickey Mouse ears in preparation for a day of nostalgic childhood flashbacks at Disney World. You could travel to see—with your bare eyes—that Great Wall that is visible to the bare eye from outer space. Or you could travel off the beaten path. The world is waking up from its social media craze and realizing that the attitude of “pics or it didn’t happen” can distract from the experience itself. I know it because I am guilty of spending more time posing for a picture of a well-known destination than enjoying the experience. If all I wanted was the likes, retweets, and follows, I could spend an afternoon and combine images of myself in front of dozens of locations Amelia Liana-style. But what if traveling isn’t about going exactly where everywhere else has

gone? When did the generic itinerary replace the explorer’s empty map? What if traveling is more than a bucket list? Enter Atlas Obscura. Since 2009, travelers have uploaded unique destinations to the website in 1,243 cities as of 2017. Atlas Obscura has received funding from angel investors and the New York Times for its efforts to look at the world and at travel from a new perspective. Part of the joy of this source for travel ideas is that, while these destinations are (by virtue of their publication on the website) not unexplored, they are discussed through a lens of their history, local legends, or role in their community. Atlas Obscura allows the wanderer to add his or her own experiences to existing profiles of destinations and create new profiles for their own discoveries. It’s run by the collaboration of travelers across the world. I thought I knew everything there was to know about my hometown, but Atlas Obscura showed me that there’s an exact

replica of the house from Pixar’s Up not far from where I live, and that there’s a hot springs crater— the only warm water diving location in the United States—just a thirty minutes’ drive from my university. If you have a ticket to New York City, you could visit the Empire State Building. Or you could follow instructions to the abandoned first subway station, dating back to 1904. If you must visit the Louvre, do, but consider diving deeper into human history by wandering through the catacombs of Paris. And, although most first-time visitors to the Bay Area require a Golden Gate Bridge selfie, see what your friends think of a picture in front of a staircase that leads directly to a ceiling. It was built by a woman who was either a poor architect or haunted by the ghosts that she tried to confuse and mislead by creating The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. You’ll have to go to decide what you think.

—Miriam Sweeney


When It Rains on Your Parade


ain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” Staring out your hotel window at a day marred by precipitation, you might find yourself humming this nursery rhyme. You’ve traveled far and spent a lot of money to come on this vacation, and now your sightseeing plans are halted by an unexpected storm. What can you do to make the most out of a trip when the weather gets bad? I asked myself this question when on a study abroad in England. And although many days were wet, those days turned out to be some of my favorite. One of these I spent in the village of Tudeley at All Saints’ Church. The church is the home of twelve stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, a Belorussian-born Jewish painter. The day I visited, the dreariness outside magnified the peace inside the church and the quiet beauty of Chagall’s artwork. Stained glass is often more brilliant when the sun shines through the colors, but the lack of bright sunlight that day softened the tone of the art and contributed to the serene atmosphere.


After carefully examining each window, I walked outside and admired the charming homes and fields surrounding the small chapel. The rain only added to the tranquil experience, and I didn’t mind getting wet for the picturesque views. I even walked through the mud to stand out in the open field and imagine living like a local. I don’t regret the stains on my walking shoes. You might not enjoy standing in the rain or getting mud on your shoes to see a scenic view, but you too can enjoy traveling even when the weather suggests otherwise. Indoor activities can replace excursions or events cancelled due to inclement weather. Use Google Maps or (or the Yelp app) to search by category (museums, restaurants, bookstores, arcades, etc.) for something to do that won’t leave you in the rain. To avoid getting wet in transit, plan ahead and budget for a taxi or a rideshare (,, or their respective apps) so you don’t have to walk in a downpour. Look around and see what the locals are doing to deal with

the rain. They’re accustomed to the climate and have probably come up with ways to enjoy daily life even when the weather gets gloomy. Ask the waiter at dinner, your Airbnb host, or your talkative neighbor on the bus for suggestions. Visit to arrange experiences that will connect you with locals who can teach you their insider knowledge. (Keep this site in mind for every trip, not just those with rainy days.) Also browse to find insider recommendations and to post questions for locals to answer. Embrace every day of your trip, even if the weather tries to bring you down. Look for hidden gems, like All Saints’ Church with its moving art and diverting surroundings. I suspect the extra effort to find a new activity will be better than singing nursery rhymes in your hotel room.

—Alyssa Hazen Sources

Earning bonus points by making purchases with credit cards is one way to “travel hack.” (frankieleon)

TRAVEL HACKING Simple steps to earning flights, hotel stays, and other travel perks for free or at a discount.


hen you hear the phrase “travel hacking,” you may imagine a darkened room where nefarious spies try to infiltrate airline databases to get tickets. In reality, travel hacking means using hotel, airline, credit card, and loyalty program rules that are already in place to travel for free or at a significant discount. Anyone can be a travel hacker if willing to invest some time and effort—no specialized computer skills required. Here are some tips to help you get started: Sign up for the loyalty programs of any hotels you stay in or airlines you fly with. These programs are almost always free, and you can gain loyalty points only by signing up. Why not use the money you’re already spending on travel to earn points toward future trips? According to an October 2017 study, Wyndham Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and Hilton Honors are the hotel loyalty programs that offer the greatest return on investment. Wyndham Rewards returns about $16.70 in rewards for every $100 spent, while the study’s lowest-ranked rewards program, Starwood SPG, returns only about $5.40 for every $100 spent.

US News Travel ranked the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, and JetBlue TrueBlue as the top three airline rewards programs based on each program’s benefits, availability of award flights, and other features. Maximize the benefits of loyalty programs by being a repeat customer when it makes sense. Generally, you’ll earn more rewards by staying with one hotel chain 10 times than you will by staying twice each with five hotel chains. The more you stay with one hotel chain or fly on one airline, the more rewards you’ll accumulate. Sign up for a credit card that offers bonus points for signing up. Many millennials recoil at the mention of “credit card,” but credit cards are an excellent financial tool when used correctly. Brigham Young University alumna Elizabeth Johnson earned tens of thousands of bonus points on her Chase Sapphire Reserve card by spending $4,000 in the first three months — a threshold she said she met easily by using her credit card to pay rent. Johnson then used those bonus points to get two roundtrip tickets to Hawaii and one roundtrip ticket to Chicago at no cost to her. Johnson’s resource for travel hacking ( also recommends the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business

Preferred, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business, United MileagePlus Explorer Business, and Marriott Rewards Premier credit cards. If you would normally spend the minimum amount required to earn bonus points in the given period, just use your credit card for the purchases you would normally make and pay off the balance with the money in your bank account. If you pay off your balance before the due date every month, you’ll not only never pay interest, but you’ll also build your credit history, which is helpful for large purchases such as cars and homes. Keep track of the rewards you earn, including frequent flyer miles and credit card bonus points. Some loyalty rewards expire if they’re not used within a certain period. Make sure you know the requirements for the programs you sign up for and use your rewards to their full advantage. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to travelling the globe for free!

—Ashley Lee Sources


Escapades Gardens

Visiting gardens around the world is a great way to gain insight into the different cultures and aesthetics of the local people. Gardens vary greatly from region to region, featuring both native plant life and exotic flora, displaying the flowers most valued by the people in the area. These gardens are among the world’s most beautiful, renowned for their plants and designs.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Cape Town, South Africa Some consider Kirstenbosch the most beautiful garden in Africa, and with its combination of gorgeous flowers and a backdrop of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, it is easy to see why. The garden is a perfect reflection of Cape Town’s natural flora since it doubles as a part of a nature reserve. Set aside by the government in the early twentieth century, Kirstenbosch seamlessly fits with the surrounding mountains’ natural plant life. It is a great look into the natural world of South Africa. (Randy OHC)

Gardens of Versailles

Versailles, France Dating from the seventeenth century, the gardens of Versailles are a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the adjacent Palace of Versailles. The site is steeped in French history, but also draws visitors with its beauty and elegance. This garden is carefully crafted with ornate landscaping and a focus on symmetry. Be sure to visit the palace as well and, if possible, the Fountains Night Show fireworks on Saturday evenings in the summer.

(Kimberly Vardeman)


Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Richmond, Virginia, United States Once the hunting ground of Native Americans, this picturesque region of Virginia was turned into a botanical garden by Major Lewis Ginter in the twentieth century and is now considered to be one of the best gardens in North America. It features beautiful flowers year-round thanks to the mild climate of the southern United States. The site’s 50 acres include a domed conservatory and many themed gardens, including an interactive children’s garden, a rose garden, and a cherry tree walk. With its wide variety of flowers, it is sure to appeal to any garden lover.


Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubailand, Dubai, United Arab Emirates This garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden. What makes it remarkable, though, is not its millions of flowers but its location in the middle of the desert. Its surroundings are dry and barren, but the Dubai Miracle Garden features beautiful, intricate sculptures and designs, all made of flowers. It is a rare source of vibrant color in the area, and the designs are often compared to the whimsical atmosphere of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland cartoon. It is a must-visit for lovers of extravagant floral design.

—Alexandria Despain

(Oiva Eskola)


Stowaway Fall 2017  
Stowaway Fall 2017