Issue 05 Fall 2019 Methods of Transportation
Letter from the Editor
Welcome to Guac Magazine’s 7th issue and my first as Editor-in-Chief. While
Table of Contents 2
Letter from the Editor
Paths to the Himalayas
it was a trying semester filled with speed bumps and pot holes, these past
months modeled itself after a much anticipated trip— there may be delayed flights and missed Ubers, but we ultimately arrive at our final destination, in this case, our Methods of Transportation issue!
Venice: A City of Nostalgia
Bordeaux Tram d’Adventure
Planes, Trains, and Automo-feels
The Sandhills: Pedalling a Sea of Hills...
Everywhere & Nowhere
The beauty of travel is in our differentiated experiences, even if the itineraries are identical. Whether it’s a result of our cultures, personalities, risk appetites, or budgets leading to our different ways of travel, we ultimately arrive at the same destination with experiences that are worlds apart. Transportation is often at the core of this, as its flexibility allows us to craft our own adventure. In this issue, you’ll read about an assortment of travels, from hitch-hiking across Europe, to trekking the Himalayas. I encourage you to read on, allowing the articles to teleport you through six stories of wanderlust.
I wholeheartedly hope this issue can serve as inspiration for your future travels. Stay happy and explore the world!
Teresa Liang Editor-in-Chief
Jayne R Philips
Paths to the Himalayas WORDS Priya Pradhan PLACE Manang, Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal
he sight of the Himalayas will never cease to rob me of my breath. Their glory and splendour, a glimpse of where our world connects to the heavens, is ineffable; something to be felt and experienced, not explained. Yet if one place could encapsulate the beauty and wonder of these mountains, I’d have to say that it would be Manang. Nestled into the crook of the mid-Western Nepal, 3518 metres above sea level, Manang lies just north of the Annapurna Range. Though the Marsyangdi river lies just to the east, the terrain remains dry and barren. There may not be much to see on the ground, but lift your eyes
just the slightest, and it’s a whole different world. The mountains — with shades of blue, gray, and white — starkly contrast the vast stretches of dry dirt. You can witness the terrain transform from dull expanses to dense fir forests to sparse bushes and eventually slates of sheer rock adorned by slivers of glistening glaciers. No city lights, no concrete jungles — nothing to distract you from the beauty of pure, unimpeded nature. The paths to the Himalayas have been trodden upon by vast and many –– villagers passing through with dokos dokos,, or baskets, full of freshly picked seabuckthorn, high-mountain goats jostling
along the narrow trails, and eager hikers with backs bent under the heavy loads of their packs. Once only travelled by foot, the winding mountain trails have now given way to treacherous cliffside highways. Rock-strewn, narrow, and precipitous, the ‘highway’ to Manang is but a glorified mountain road. Yet, it is increasingly traversed by jeeps, motorcycles, and even the occasional bold bus. On this very highway in late May, I
could do little but stand “ Ithere in disbelief and wonder: how can one place contain so much magnificence?
fastened my seatbelt as our land cruiser swung from side to side, roving over loose stones and eroding bheers, or cliff faces. To my left was a sheer drop to the bottom of the valley –– so steep that looking down for too long made me feel waves of vertigo. Chiselled into the sloping green hills, the highway was riddled with signs of landslides and forceful jharanas, or waterfalls, that sprayed us with an icy mist. Allured by the stunning mountain views that peeked behind the hills, I rolled down my window and pulled myself up so I was sitting with half my body outside, clutching the car roof for support. Despite the intimidating drop below and my father’s protests from inside the land cruiser, I reveled in the glory around me. With the wind in my hair, the air clean and crisp, the snowy peaks dazzling me as sun rays reflected off them, I shielded my eyes, taking in the feeling of freedom. Hitting a big rock shook the car enough
to snap me from my reverie just as my brother pulled me inside. “It’s unbelievable,” I told him breathlessly, unwilling to shake away my taste of refreshing liberation. Faced with dubious bridges — better described as wooden logs and planks loosely bound together without concrete — we crossed several rivers. Rickety and barely spanning the width of our four-wheel drive, these bridges forced us to pile out of the landcruiser and help navigate our driver across. At one point, the front right wheel was more off the precariously structure than on it. Looking on with nails dug into my palms, my dad and brother waved their arms wildly, urging the driver to turn left, as we narrowly saved our car from taking a plunge into the icy glacial meltwater below. Along the way, we passed by numerous hikers travelling the Annapurna Circuit with all their belongings all stuffed into heavy packs. Brows slick with sweat, they lifted up their masks to shield themselves from the cloud of dust we left in our wake. It almost felt as though we were missing out, taking a fourwheel drive instead of walking with the other travellers in a region famed for its trekking routes — we were only getting half the true Annapurna experience. Upon arriving in the Manang village the first thing I noticed was the cobblestone paths that ran throughout the village, connecting each lodge, restaurant, and theater. It may seem odd that a high-altitude village seated at the base of the Himalayas has theaters, but with screenings of themed films like Into Thin Air, Everest, and Sherpa, Manang’s homely theaters were a hidden gem I discovered this summer. Around me, trekkers walked to and fro as I caught snippets of their conversations in lan-
guages ranging from Nepali to Spanish to French and English. Stone chortens, small Buddhist monuments, spanned the village and even dotted the hills further away. Local herders urged us aside as they led their cattle and ponies through the village towards the pasture lands. The sound of hiking boots and pony hooves clicking against the cobblestone set a rhythm to the village, while flurries of vivid prayer flags fluttered everywhere in the background. As the morning sun rose the next day, the himals were awash in an ethereal glow of golden hues. Monumental and majestic, the mountains demand awe. I could do little but stand there in disbelief and wonder: how can one place contain so much magnificence? It’s the one time that waking up at 5am has truly been worth the agony of forgoing
sleep. Walking to the tune of Bipul Chhetri’s hit song Syndicate, we set off on a day of actual hiking. With the himals glistening in every direction, I walked with a skip in my step, eager to finally head onto the mountain trails without Within an hour I felt a heavy weight against my lungs, and the cold breeze I had found so much freedom in before now stung at my ears and nose. Suspended bridges awaited us on our route to Khangsar, a neighbouring village that reached an altitude of 4,200 meters. Below us, swift rivers ran under the bridges that swayed in motion with the wind and prayer flags. Above us, in every direction, the Himalayas stood like sentinels –– stoic and strong –– a marvel that felt close by yet all too distant.
By midafternoon, wisps of clouds had threaded themselves across the blue tapestry of the sky. Peaks became shrouded in gray, gradually enveloped by a curtain of mystery. Having taken a wrong turn, we were now faced with making our way down a steep hill that had no trails –– and so we forged our own. The darkening sky hid the white gleam of the mountaintops, and in a bizarre turn of weather, flurries of snow rained down upon us. Crouching close to the ground, leaning on hiking sticks for support, and pushing through thick undergrowth, we inched our way to the road below. Eventually, with a few slips and falls, several scratches, and clothes nearly drenched by the snow-turnedrain, we were able to find our path once more, guiding ourselves back to the warmth and shelter of our Manang lodge. In the warmth of the lodge’s kitchen, narrating our adventurous escapade to fellow lodgers, I felt the buzz of adrenaline die down. Awash with joy I could hardly stop grinning as I told our tale
to others. Sharing stories and sipping piping hot chiya, milk tea, I’d found serenity after the turbulence of the past few days. With each cliff face we edged along, each waterfall we crossed, and each incline we scaled, I was rewarded with sights I can never forget, and will always long to see again and again.
PRIYA PRADHAN is from Kathmandu, Nepal. Her favorite city is Pokhara, Nepal because of its relaxed vacation atmosphere and the fact that it’s the hub of many trekking routes across the region. Photo credits to Biman Shrestha and Anil Bhatta from Wikimedia Commons, and Mathieu from lejournalduweb.fr.
a gondola, my perspective of Ven“ In ice changes, almost as though I have
traveled hundreds of years back in time.
he endless number of bridges connecting each of the 118 islands to the next, gondola rides, archways, canals; this is the city of Venice.
Venice: A City of Nostalgia WORDS Zoe Hauser PLACE Venice, Italy
I’ve visited Venice twice, once at the age of ten and again at nineteen, each time traveling along the canals and beneath the bridges. My perspective changes, almost as though traveling hundreds of years back in time. The gondolier hums a traditional Veniese tune, waves to his fellow mates, and strategically navigates through the narrow passageways. There’s a difference looking up at a city rather than walking through it. It’s an escape from the distractions, tourist traps, and noises that perpetually accompany traveling.
The top of the Campananelia, with the bell loudly ringing, reminds me of the first time I visited the city. Running around the tower, I see flashbacks from ten years before with my brother, mother, and father, fingers in our ears attempting to block out the headache sounds of the bell’s ring. The wind pushes me all around just as it did before, but this time I can see out over the town, no step stool needed. The city has changed, beginning to flood due to rising sea levels, yet it also remains the same, untouched by the changes in society. Glancing up at the buildings, I notice the subtle arches and intricate marble
carvings adorning the aging homes once owned by wealthy merchants and patrons. I can feel the nostalgia encompassing the walls of the city, as if to draw me in and allow me to escape into the past. Venice is a city of nostalgia; these winding streets, endless number of Venetian glass shops, and extravagant masks make you want to disguise yourself and dawn a new identity. This view from the gondola reminds me of the importance of different perspectives, not only in thought but also in traveling.
An early morning walk across the Pont de Rialto, crossing the Grand Canal, the horns blare from the ships as they bring in the daily deliveries. The Venetian dock workers holler in Italian as they unload the goods. I feel as though I am in the 1800s, before the advent of technology. I can see the shops with sparkling, glittering masks, and colorful, intricately decorated glass sculptures. Venice is a city of color and extravagance, yet also remains somewhat imperfect in the most perfect sense. This imperfection allows one to see the influence
of different historical movements, architectural shifts, and technological cal developments while also experiencing the old charm and Venetian traditions not lost over the years.
ZOE HAUSER is a junior (Cornell â€˜21) from San Rafael, California studying French and History. Her favorite city is the island of Capri just off the Amalfi Coast in Italy for its sparkling blue waters and lemon-scented way of life.
A sense of nostalgia runs through me as I walk the city of Venice and take a gondola ride. It reminds me of the laughter, smiles, and joy I felt ten years before as I wander aimlessly through the windy streets and stumble upon almost entirely hidden shops. A time capsule; this is Venice.
Bordeaux Tram dâ€™Adventure WORDS Anna Canny PLACE Bordeaux, France
ordeaux, France is the timeless, coastal European city of your dreams. It surrounds you in majesty, with castle-like buildings, the towering Cathédrale Saint-André, and the broad columns at the facade of the Grande Theatre. But look closely to find the clandestine key to the city, in the form of two thin metal tracks snaking over cobblestone, through grassy medians, and around the tight corners of narrow neighborhoods. Imagine sitting on the patio of a local cafe, enjoying the classic pastry pain du chocolat along with un cafe au lait. The sleek, bullet-shaped tram glides by, drawing your eye out towards the expanses of the city you’ve yet to see. I arrived in Bordeaux last April on a college student’s budget, with some birthday money and a small collection of paychecks racked up from workstudy shifts. My first glimpse of the rolling vineyards full of warm, golden grapes was framed by the windows of a compact European car. My Uber driver, taking pity on me and my graceless French, offered a silence which I filled with deep sighs of awe.
La Gardette, Cite du Vin, or Stade on the A,B and C lines. The tram carried us across the city. It brought us to the public gardens, where I sat, smiling among the wisteria and shamelessly posing for iPhone portraits. At the fine arts museum, I came up face to face with a plethora of lovely paintings, breathing on the deep blue brushstrokes of Henri Matisse. We spent hours at the Museum of Wine climbing our way to the top, learning about the history, creation, and varieties of wine. We sat for an hour sipping savagnin blanc and surveying the Garonne river flowing below us.
My dear friend, a pseudo-local after her months studying abroad, greeted me with joy as I pulled up on the curb of the narrow street of her student apartment. Shortly after my arrival, she escorted me to what would become the most important spot in the city: the nearest metro station. The TBM, or “Transport Bordeaux Metropole,” offered Bordeaux for 14 Euros, and with one swipe of my debit card at the kiosk, I made the deal of a lifetime. The machine spit out a small plastic card, white with vibrant circles of blue, green, and pink. The green pixels on the front of the tram spelled out numerous, ever-changing destinations:
There was an advertising campaign for tram safety at the time of my visit in April. It stood out in bright yellow: “Attention Rhino.” Apparently, the tram weighed the same amount as a rhinoceros, and therefore, being hit by
it should be avoided. It was accompanied by a TV advertisement, which featured the innocent citizens of Bordeaux fleeing a herd of rhinos on skateboards, wreaking havoc on the city. My friend swore this rhino had a name, but when she couldn’t remember, it became our task to christen it again each time we boarded. This little train wove its way not only through the city of Bordeaux, but also through my memories of the place. I couldn’t have made it anywhere if it wasn’t for this simple mode of transport. I can still remember the way the floors themselves swiveled to carry us around corners, the way a cloud of lively French bounced off the windows around us in the daylight. A warm, shared silence settled onto the folding seats when the sun went down. The throngs of people pushed through the sliding glass doors, relegating my
friend and I to opposite sides of the car. All I could do was make hand signals to communicate with her across the crowd, praying to get off at the correct stop. My favorite day in Bordeaux was just with the TBM and I, as my usual travel companion went off to class. I boarded at our original stop by la Pharmacie, without a clear destination in mind, and rode it out to the end of the A line. Down by the harbor, I watched the massive cruise ships come in. I visited the newly opened Musée de Mer marine and looked at the colorful photos of sea slugs to my heart’s content. I walked back along the A line and stumbled across a sculpture garden tucked away, with massive, rusted chairs in dappled sunlight. I sat for a while as windchimes swayed in a weeping tree. I then strolled by two older men bickering in French over the repair of a vintage, bright teal colored coop which looked to be straight from a movie.
little train wove its way “ This not only through the city of
Bordeaux, but also through my memories of the place.
There’s nothing like Bordeaux sans itinerary. Just let the tram choose your way. I hopped back on the TBM that day with the familiar bliss of a warm belly full of wine. I followed the A line through the heart of the city, down the tree-lined streets, tunnels of sycamores, and straight onto all the corners I longed to see. ANNA CANNY is a junior studying ESS from Marcellus, New York. She loves coastal and mountain views, scouring museums, and trying all types of new food. Her favorite city is Bariloche, Argentina because of its snow-capped peaks evoke awe and its world-famous chocolate is delicious. Photo credits to Julien Lanoo, Robert Harding, Z Klein, and Julien Tondu from unsplash.com.
Planes, Trains, and Automo-feels The Highs and Lows of Seeing 4 Countries in 4 Weeks
WORDS Kat Martin PLACES England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands
s Ithaca winter drags into April, I scroll through my phone waiting for the TCAT to arrive. I see the ILR School sent an email about a brand new, hot-off-the-shelf, study abroad program in England. Curious if London gray is the same hue as Ithaca gray, I apply and am later accepted. My ILR friend is also accepted and wants us to travel after our academic program ends. Iâ€™ve never visited Europe, so I figure traveling with a friend is the best way to go.
with the Tower Bridge. I appreciate the symbolism associated with its functionalism. Though cliché, the purpose of a bridge is to bring people together, linking two sides of one. While admiring the interachite architecture of this bridge, I recognize that this bridge joins me, as well as other people from
“ I recognize that this bridge has
connected me to England and it will continue to connect people to England... around the world to England. When looking back on my time in London, a multi-cultural and interconnected city, the feelings associated with walking on the Tower Bridge are what sticks with me the most.
England London Bridge
After landing in London, I receive my study visa and head to the exchange campus. It’s nerve-wracking being alone in a foreign county, a continent away. I don’t know what to expect, but I notice the streets are lined with candy colored Fiats, giving me a sense of comfort. Just this year, I got my own two door Fiat which my friends tease is the ‘smallest car in Ithaca.’ Our campus is a 45 minute train ride out of downtown London in a town called Twickenham. On a day-to-day basis, we use the iconic red double decker busses to venture to neighboring towns such as Kensington and Teddington. Much like a TCAT, these buses take up the whole
road and are rarely on time, but they do take Apple pay which is a definite plus. To reach downtown London, we need to take the South West Railway. With zero attendants to assist us, we are flying blind into Waterloo station. We quickly realize our tickets are wrong, but the workers of Waterloo see us dumb Americans, take pity on us, and wave us through regardless. With one hurdle down, the next is tackling the Tube system. Since the Tube is comparable to any American subway system, we’re able to understand it. During my time in London, I connect
France From the Club to the Cockpit
As our program winds down, my friend and I plan our transportation for the rest of our trip. We heard European travel is a breeze, and there is no need to buy train tickets in advance. We decide to purchase a Eurorail Pass so we can ‘bundle’ our train tickets to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, realizing after we purchased the passes that there are no trains available that qualify with our pass. In short, we have been scammed by over 150 Euros.
clubbing with everyone and then head to the airport at 2am. We make our flight and, aside from our sleep deprivation, everything is going smoothly. We even got lucky and wound up with exit row seats. While trying to sleep on the plane, we hear a loud bang and realize air is leaking from the emergency exit door seal. The flight attendants nonchalantly mention that, ‘it happens sometimes, but we’re landing soon so it’s fine.’
By the time we understand the extent to which we are scammed, train tickets to Paris from London jump up to over 250 Euros. So, we improvise. My friend finds a flight to Paris at 6am the day after our program ends, but it departs from an airport that’s an hour away. Not wanting to miss our last night with our new friends, we go out
At this moment, I’m just grateful we’re almost there, realizing lucky and privileged I am to be able to take part in this trip. As our shotty plane proves, I shouldn’t take another minute for granted.
Belgium Mosey to the Manneken
The trip from Paris to Brussels is a straight shot, taking a little over two hours by train. In my opinion, Brussels is a drastically underrated city. When I tell people about my trip, many seem surprised to hear that we are spending a few days in Brussels, but it soon becomes my favorite city.
sible to cars, and the streets are too narrow to bike through, though some do try. This city has somewhat of a slower pace of life. As the capital of the European Union, it reminds me of a mellow Washington D.C. My favorite part of the city is when the Grand-Place, the center square of Brussels, lights up at night with different colors. People having picnics and watch-
The majority of downtown Brussels is inacces-
ing the summer night unfold takes hold of me. One of the biggest landmarks of Brussels is the Manneken Pis, a bronze statue which depicts a boy urinating into a fountain. The Belgians even enjoy dressing him up in delightful outfits.
building walls. I love the corky and alternative vibes of this city, full of record shops and art galleries, and I do not want to leave.
Brussels, unlike any other city we visit, has art and street work all over the sidewalks and
As our trip winds down, we head to our last stop, the Netherlands. Once again, we have a smooth train ride and are ready to take on Amsterdam.. When we arrive, the first thing we notice is the prevalence of biking. I appreciate that the city is trying to reduce its carbon footprint as well as traffic congestion, but the transportation system is incredibly overwhelming. There are separate roads for cars, busses, and bikes, making it hard for us to tell when and where we can walk. We are only here for three days and donâ€™t have time to learn the rules of the road, so we elect to walk everywhere. I like being able to walk everywhere because itâ€™s easier to meet with the locals. Spending our last night abroad on a canal cruise to see the city, the light lined canals become my favorite part. We are able to see the lights reflect off the calm canal water as the stars shine down. I find a deep sense of peace as we float down. After a missed connection, I arrive home twenty-two hours after my departure from Amsterdam. These innovative modes of transportation send me home with a new found perspective and appreciation for Western Europe.
KAT MARTIN Kat Martin is a sophomore in the School of Industrial Labor Relations and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Her favorite city is Sedona, Arizona due to the emphasis on metaphysicality and Native American influences. Photo credits to Kat Martin; Marius Badstuber, Christian Battaglia, Robin Benrihem, Coralline Clin, Isabella Juskova from Unsplashed.com.
The Netherlands Canal Cruising 28
The Sandhills: Pedalling a Sea of Hills... WORDS Ari Dubow PLACE Nebraska
n a gas station in Bartlett, Nebraska, I bought a grilled cheese sandwich, hot from the warming oven and wrapped in flaccid aluminum foil. After five weeks on the road, I managed to quit hesitating with food like this. Someone asked me what I was doing, and I said I was biking across the continent, that I had enjoyed Nebraska so far, and was feeling good because I was about halfway done. I was deep into the Great Plains, and the feeling of middle-ness was freeing. “Bartlett’s halfway between a lot of stuff,” the man said. Isn’t everything? An odd truism to deploy at that moment. “I’d even say it’s halfway between everything!” his wife said. And there it was: a truism becoming a world view. I was in the Sandhills, a region of northern Nebraska, and I’d be remiss if I tried to describe the area in any way other than this: it was a sea of hills. That was the phrase fixed in my mind as I pedaled across, and it’s the phrase that still felt most true. The hills were so fluid, so graceful, that you’d almost expect one to crest in white foam and tumble down over itself. The grasses were dense and green from the spring rains, so thickly packed that it only took a few feet of distance for the individual blades to mesh in an astro-turf looking mat.
Photo credits to Greg Shield and Stephen Pederson from unsplash.com
It was the first really hot day of the year, and the ground felt steamy. The birds and insects in the Sandhills made a sheet of glistening, penetrating sounds. Every store, every motel, every church, had Sandhill in the name: the Sandhill Diner, Welcome to the Sandhills Motel, Sandhill Elementary, Sandhill Church of Christ.
Sandhills Diner, Welcome “ The to the Sandhills Motel, Sandhill Elementary, Sandhill Church of Christ.
I turned out of the gas station and bicycled east, rolling down a hill while eating my grilled cheese. By the time I was at the bottom, I had finished my grilled cheese, and turned upward. Most people try to use their momentum going downhill to help them get uphill, cranking and cranking and shifting gears diligently so as to avoid lost energy. But halfway across the continent I stopped doing this. Biking long distances exhausted me mentally far more than it did physically, and the franticness of up-hill strategy involved more mental effort than I cared to expend. So I just relaxed into the incline. I heard a pick-up truck behind me slowing down— I learned to identify the size and type of vehicle by the sound it made behind me, a skill which came in handy— and then there it was just on my left. The window rolled down, and I saw the man I spoke to in the gas station with his wife in the passenger seat. She leaned out and handed my a bundle of dollar bills. "Treat yourself to a nice dinner tonight,” she said. I smiled enormously, thanked them profusely, said I would
get two burgers tonight, not just one, and they said God Bless, and I said the same. At the top of the hill, I turned right. In this part of the country, turns were a much anticipated event. I’d been waiting to make this right turn for around 3 days. Turns never failed to feel like the ending of an old era and the beginning of a new one. Good bye, US highway 281, and hello NE 70! And NE 70 was a particularly interesting one because from the map, it appeared to function as a sort of corridor between major roads and towns, which meant it was quiet. Something about a corridor was intriguing to me— it evoked a hidden reality and backdoor into something. The asphalt was new, deeply black, and— perhaps an illusion from the glistening of the road combined with the extraordinary wet heat— felt soft. I pedaled, with a feeling a refreshment from the change of scene and a feeling of comfort from the grilled cheese slowly digesting. Bicycling across the the continent felt slow, though not slow in time, not simply slow in miles per hour. It felt slow because there were so few stimuli, not much really happened, and I realized, somewhere in the Sandhills, that often what we think of as “speed” is just a misconstrued distraction. I heard a thundering behind me that definitely wasn’t a car. It was a massive, beastly horse, galloping alongside me, snorting, kicking its legs out from behind itself. I stopped, and it stopped with me, and we stared at each other for a little while. I started pedaling again, and he ran with me once again. He seemed angry, but playful. It felt like
we were playing a game. I went faster and faster, using my the straps on my pedals to pull up with one leg while the other leg pushed down, and the horse galloped, looking forward, and then to his left at me, and then back. Birds and insects called out in a chorus that had the emotional register of a mass-protest. The road dipped into a small valley while the embankment on which the horse ran turned upward. He stood on top of a small peak looking down at me while I rolled away. I kept pedaling for some amount of time, which was always hard to tell when biking 100 miles in a day, looking left, looking right, looking straight. Thinking, remembering, observing, planning— ruminating. The sun was bright, the green hills both absorbing and reflecting that light at powerful levels. Street signs cropped up at unexpected locations, reading 512th avenue, or 970th street. They felt sarcastic. I turned onto 630th avenue because I was hungry, and I had a few thousand calories of Planters peanuts in one of my bike bags. I liked to get off the main road sometimes, so I went
a mansard-roofed barn of grey wood. I didn’t want to land a nail in a tire, so I leaned my bike against a tree, took out my jar of peanuts, and with wobbly legs, went to the barn. In the barn, I called out to confirm I was alone. I whistled, said “hey! hey!” No one responded but some sparrows nesting by a window. In the back of the main area was a red sofa, made of a material hardly softer than burlap. I sat down and munched on peanuts. The sun came in through the main entrance like an overexposed photograph. Above the opening, beside which two massive wood sliding doors clung to the wall, a sign as tall as me hung. Painted in deeply saturated acrylic paints, mostly green, blue and yellow, was a landscape of the sea of hills, with a straw-hatted farmer in the foreground. It read: “The Sandhills: God Country.”
ARI DUBOW is a junior from Brookyn, New York studying philosophy. His favorite places to visit include Portland, Oregon and the Great Basin Desert.
Everywhere & Nowhere WORDS Jayne R Philips PLACE Everywhere
must admit, I was quite nervous the first time I stuck out my thumb and hitched a ride. My mind was racing with questions: who would stop? Where would they take us? Would they secretly be an axe murderer, waiting to chop us up and dump our bodies at the side of the road?
plunge and reluctantly climbed inside. Timothei was his name, and he turned out to be one of the most generous and caring souls we’d meet on our journey. Aside from a few minor hiccups (in the first five minutes he crashed into a small car while turning around to offer me a cigarette), our journey was smooth sailing, and we cruised from Bayonne to Bordeaux in record time.
It was my first day embarking upon an eight-month traveling odyssey across Europe with my teenage boyfriend. We’d just finished school and with meager summer savings in our pockets. We planned to wander aimlessly, without purpose or the constraints of time to hold us down. So hitchhiking seemed the perfect mode of transport: a fantastic way to meet people you wouldn’t encounter in a boring hostel, and cheap too!
After this initial baptism of fire, the road seemed a lot less daunting. We threw caution to the wind, hopping in trucks, tractors, smoke filled cruisers, sleek Mercedes, and even unlucky Volvos. Perched between poodles, stuffed into minis, or rolling with the top down, our outstretched thumbs introduced us to people from all walks of life: curious characters we never would have encountered if we’d stuck to the tourist’s path.
With no signage or fixed direction, if we felt uncomfortable, there was always the option to tell whoever stopped their car that we were traveling in another direction. Each time someone rolled up, I waved them away. All, of course, for good reasons: “They looked scary; I didn‘t like their beard; Volvos are unlucky; did you not see that weird plastic bag in the passenger seat? It was definitely filled with human!”
Whenever we offered to contribute to petrol, we were always met with the same answer: Pay it forward. So, along the way, we ensured to put our labour into praxis: volunteering on community farms, refugee camps, squatted forests resisting destruction, helping to keep the dream alive so that another way of life was possible.
My partner soon grew impatient. “Okay. The next one, for sure!”
We were shuttled back and forth across the continent, all while gazing out the window at unfolding landscapes and endless horizons. But such freedom of movement, of being able to traverse borders and boundaries with ease, was a luxury we did not dare take for granted, especially after being picked up by a car full of anarcho-punks making their way to Calais. They were helping to construct the No Borders Camp, a protest site built in solidarity and support of the Farsi Refugees who were stuck
Almost immediately, a large truck rolled up, the window adorned with a neon upside-down crucifix and a stream of ever-so-classy banners decorated with topless pin ups. “Awesome!” my partner cheered, while I let out a silent cry. The door flew open to reveal a beaming, bearded face covered in tattoos, waving us in to join him. Taking a deep breath, I took the
“...helping to keep the dream alive so that another way of life was possible. in limbo waiting to cross the channel. They had just made a journey far more treacherous than us and were fleeing a situation far more horrific than our adolescent refusal of the academic drudgery waiting for us across the waters. Of course, the trip was not always idyllic rays of utopian sunshine. There were days we got soaked and stank like rancid cheese for days, or got dropped off in some desolate landscape with no cars in sight. Other days, the sweltering heat would make our 30 kg backpacks seem twice as heavy (why on earth did I bring 8 books?). There was one time it took
us two days to catch a ride out of sternfaced Paris while our diverse dinner menu of rice, more rice, or, if we were feeling fancy, rice and salt, soon grew boring. But still, we stumbled on, determined not to return to that wretched island known as Great Britain. And then, the dramatic End, that brought those days of naive optimism to a sudden close. We were driving from Istanbul to Berlin, and it turned out one particularly grizzled truck driver had been expecting favours in exchange for the journey, something I only discovered after dozing off in the
It did, however, shatter my relationship with my partner. Somehow, it was my fault. For what? For inadvertently tempting the driver? For not sitting back, thinking of England and allowing those wandering fingers to find what they were seeking, just to get a ‘free’ ride? I didn’t stick around to find out the answer. This was the final straw. After months of microaggressions, of being branded a burden for not speaking enough French, for not contributing enough money, for not ‘getting over it,’ I finally found the fire in my belly to make it on my own. And so, I took the plunge, stuck out a solitary thumb, and cruised my way to freedom.
Luckily, those months on the road had toughened me up, and I firmly removed his rummaging hands before anything worse could transpire. It which resulted in him forcefully ejecting us from his truck, in the darkest of night, on an unknown road in an unknown land. Slovenia? Croatia? We’d fallen asleep somewhere along the way, and in those days before Google Maps, had to rely on our senses and street signs to figure our way out of the darkness. I did not let that encounter extinguish the hope in humanity this journey had rekindled. It was just one person out of hundreds who’d acted inappropriately. The majority of people we‘d encountered had gone out of their way to support us.
Much to my surprise, my language skills had secretly improved, and I travelled across France in two days, safely
making it to my final destination: a sanctuary for refugees, wayward strays, and all those who needed to heal. I was welcomed with open arms, not being judged for my looks or what material goods I would bring to the table. Eventually, my partner attempted to follow me, only to discover that as a scruffy young white man, it was not so easy to pick up a ride without a dashing femme by your side. A lot can be gained from taking a risk, stepping out of your comfort zone, and venturing into the vast unknown. Of course, the journey is not always smooth; there is much to learn, and obstacles will definitely lay in your way. But on those paths, we discover the strength and support in order to keep climbing, as well as helping hands along the way. It’s been ten years since I made that journey, and I doubt I am as brave, or foolish, to make the same choices again. Although I‘ve never learned to drive, preferring to be a passenger, I always ensure to hold open doors to those in need and continue to pay the favour forward.
“...I finally found the fire in my belly to make it on my own. And so, I took the plunge, stuck out a solitary thumb, and cruised my way to freedom.
Jayne Phillips is an anthropologist, originally from a small village in the North of England. She’s here at Cornell for just one semester, conducting research on rituals of resistance and radical spiritual praxis as part of her MA in North American Studies. She normally resides in Berlin, the city which captured her heart many years ago.
Teresa Liang Director of Operations
Guac is an award-winning travel publication run by an interdisciplinary group of students at Cornell University.
Ethan Kahm Operations Assistant
We aim celebrate cultural diversity and inspire communities to view the world with an open mind.
Find us on guacmag.com, Medium Guac Magazine, Facebook Guac Magazine, Instagram @guacmag All illustrations of Guac characters were created by Eric Lee
Zoe Hauser AUG 2017
Let's start a travel magazine
Hidden Gems, Our First Issue
The headline news story was of President Trump's travel ban on predominantly Muslim nations. As international students, we wanted to value of diversity to be appreciated and known. This is why we started a travel magazine. To celebrate the beauty of the world and inspire people to go out and experience different cultures for themselves.
For our first issue, we wanted to truly show the different level of diversity the world has to offer. This is why we chose the theme Hidden Gems. Written by friends who traveled to various interesting places, this issue exposes some of the worldâ€™s best kept secrets that is often overlooked by travelers.
Pete Assakul Digital Media Director
Kaitlyn Zhao Isa Arocha
Social Media Director
Dana Chan Finance Directors
Ploy Chirathivat Steven Wang
40 Students, 14 Countries
More than a magazine
After a semester, we grew into a publication of 40 students from 14 countries, representing 5 different continents. This is only the start, we are only getting bigger and more diverse!
Only after 8 months, Guac Magazine was awarded an honorary mention for the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial & Intercultural Peace & Harmony. We believe we are the youngest club at Cornell to have ever been awarded with this honor.
We are embarking on a new and exciting journey to expand our impact beyond delivering high quality print magazines. We are creating a growing community where diverse voices can be heard and barriers will be broken.
Special Thanks to International Students Union, Bartel Family, ALANA