Before Emigration

      September 1964, a week before Independence     The summer was bright over the rocks and the sea. A seagull dived into the water. A young boy watched it and thought of German bombers diving over ships and cities during the war. He was young and he wanted to jump into the…

The Distant Mountain Tops

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”   – Gustave Flaubert   I’ve been mulling over that quote for quite some time now as I prepare for my honeymoon adventure to the other end of the world. It’s a blindingly obvious thing to say, but: Chile is a…

Never Forget Hope

  Zeus was an old man. Still a god but not the indestructible lord everyone on Olympus and on earth thought he was. It happened all of a sudden. Last year, as he travelled to one of his temples in Sicily, Zeus passed out. His son, Apollo, the god of music, truth and most importantly,…

The Blinding Myths of Easter

  The events of Easter never happened in the way people celebrate them. Everyone, even the most ardent believer, knows this on an intimate level. But religion, and its penchant for myth-making, is a will to simplicity and nostalgia which can be as irrational as the belief itself. What actually happened during the events of…

The Origins of Travel: Grace Under Pressure

  We are often told that travel is freedom. It’s a romantic view of what is essentially leisurely migration. I don’t see it that way. Not anymore. Wanderlust: one of the most beautiful words in the English language (and typically of Germanic origins) is an evocative word that breathes mountain air and wistful breezes. But…

The Voyages of a Devoted Reader

Literary Travel Guide to Europe and the Americas   Travel guides. Is there anything more miserable, more cliché-making, complacent and sheepish than those small, compact dictionaries-of-places that you can conveniently, nay embarrassingly, carry in your pockets? All you need to scream out ‘tourist’ even louder is a sun-hat, bermuda shorts and sandals. What happened to…

Cenote of Maya Blue – Part I

  The smell of the suckling pig flew into the air like the musical aroma created by a butterfly’s flapping wing. If you go close to it as it marinates in the banana leaves you could smell the potently acidic citrus that comes from the bitter orange that drowns it. Angelica moves past me and…

The Ghost in the Arena

  The Ghost in the Arena     Writing is a blood-sport. And in many blood-sports you tend to find the influence of religion. Think of the superstitions of bullfighters. Or the outspoken religiosity of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Or the Zen-like spirituality of karate. Faith brings these fighters, who frequently flirt with death…

Pool, Bulls and Humanity

What does Mosul and the festival of San Fermin have in common? Humanity. A photograph I saw recently on Twitter (the featured photo above), of a group of Mosul residents, including children, playing pool in a recently liberated district of Mosul where IS previously forbade pool, filled me with that rarest of elements: hope. Hope…

Championing Our Divisive Modern History

    As a devoted admirer of the art of history, a tour guide and a writer who lives on an island so densely packed and renowned for its history you would be right to expect a historical novel or two from me. I recently read an article about Jon Cassar, a Hollywood producer of…