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Articles tagged "Travel"

Travel by Train

Translation © 2015 by Meghan Forbes. All rights reserved.

Fish Television

I was clouds transforming, a sinking billow. I wanted to stretch out; I threaded and spun myself across the ground floor to the tracks. In times of haphazard, interrupted sleep, I had always used the train station as my sleeping pill. The new ice-white high-speed train stood before the waiting passengers with its windows closed, a foreign being. No one knows what goes on inside its smooth skin. These creatures are called Schlingerlings in common parlance, after the nameless white snakes...

Where the Sidewalk Bends: In Search of Manoel de Barros’s Pantanal

It’s an odd sensation to arrive in a place that you’ve never been before, but that you’ve already experienced through someone else’s eyes. Especially when that other person is a poet. I first learned about the Pantanal—vast wetlands in central Brazil that seep over the border into Bolivia and Paraguay—through the poetry of Manoel de Barros. Barros was born in Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso state, in 1916. A lawyer and ranch owner by profession,...

Bitter Lemons

Everything went well until we got to Corfu.  It’s not that things started to go wrong there, but that this may have been an omen that our happiness had already been drawn out far too long.  I was a new professor.  Upon completing my first course as a lecturer, I bought myself a car: a white Fiat 127.   My goal was to travel through Greece that summer, traversing those historic and literary places of which I had dreamed since my childhood.  I was neither...

Literary Journeys Through Catalonia: Through Josep Pla’s Empordà

"Landscape elucidates literature, because literature                                                                 is the landscape’s memory through time." —Josep Pla, Cartes de lluny   The Empordà, the northernmost territory of the Province of Girona, stretches from the northern border of the...

A New Series: Literary Journeys Through Catalonia

Throughout history writers have, again and again, undertaken journeys—journeys of the mind and actual journeys, traveling across their respective homelands as well as exploring more distant, foreign territories. They have traveled, one could argue, to feel captivated and reinvigorated by a sense of discovery, and perhaps even to make sense of the apparent chaos of the human condition by observing its nuanced manifestations through a variety of cultures and landscapes.  The...

Holding Pattern

I’m so uneasy with reality that I find planes comfortable. I surrender myself, resigned, to movies I don’t want to see and food I don’t want to eat, as if practicing a disciplined spiritual routine. A samurai with headphones and plastic knife. Suspended, my cell phone off, I enjoy the nirvana of having nothing to decide. That’s what flying is to me: a way to postpone the numbers that get through to me. The last call I got before take-off was from Clara. I was at...

Mukhtar

When my mother asked me to spend the summer in her brothers’ house in the south, I employed every sophistry of my sixteen years—an age when only a mother pays attention to your budding philosophy of life—to explain to her that life forces surge northward, that the south, from which she and my father came, was becoming obsolete, that Ibn Khaldun (who had inspired this claim) was a great man, that the money could be better spent on a vacation, and that her brothers were...

from “Man Angel”

Endless, the levee. Endless, the dead straight path. Endless, the whirring of the bicycle tires on the asphalt, the whistling of the wind in their ears and the high, bare, immutable blue of the sky over their heads. Endless, the blazing hole of the sun, the shimmer of the heat over the fields and the cruelty of midsummer in the afternoon, when the greasy coating of sweat, dust, and sunscreen begins to drip from their faces onto the handlebars, and each revolution of the pedals climbs with...

A Car Trip

After Nikolaj slams the car door shut they realize that Tobias isn't in the car. “Damnit,” he says, and looks at Mie, who unbuckles her seatbelt and gets out. He watches her walk back to the house, he sees her fumble with the key. “When are we there?” Signe asks, and Little Brother begins to cry. Nikolaj turns and reaches down to grab the pacifier, but it scoots away underneath the front seat. “Give him the pacifier,” he says to Andreas, who is...

Prague

Let’s not talk about Prague. We spent a lover’s weekend there, Madeleine and I, around Easter, in an almost windowless attic room which gave the impression of being in some tawdry flophouse, with its mezzanine floor and half-closed blinds, dark, dusty, a bit smelly (we left an envelope with a couple of deutsche marks on the coffee table for the little racketeer who’d sublet it to us when we left). And yet the trip had started off well enough. In Berlin, full of hope...

Capoeira With Heckler & Koch

My bag in the back of the truck, the Antarctica bottles open, and we're off. David at the wheel of the red pickup, Felix in an open shirt and panama hat, me with the twenty-four-hour flight in my bones. We blast through a red light. Between the entrance ramps and concrete pillars the greenery grows rampant, and above everything an airplane thunders in for a landing. Felix reaches for the glove compartment and tears the door off, Holy Mother of God, there's nothing there, did you...

On Packing

Everything I have I carry with me. Or: everything that's mine I carry on me. I carried everything I had. It wasn't actually mine. It was either intended for a different purpose or somebody else's. The pigskin suitcase was a gramophone box. The jacket was from my father. The town coat with the velvet neckband from my grandfather. The breeches from my Uncle Edwin. The leather puttees from our neighbor, Herr Carp. The green gloves from my Auntie Fini. Only the claret silk...

From “Towers of Stone”

I made a habit of visiting the refugees in the train standing in the middle of nowhere, outside the village of Karabulak. From far away you got the impression that the train had stopped because of some breakdown, or had simply taken a break in the journey due to the passengers' request. The people walked up and down alongside the cars, staying near to it, as though afraid of the train making off without them. They were stretching out their numb arms and legs. The men gathered in...

“Survivors,” from “The Ears of the Wolf”

I wake up. The bus stops, and a village full of horses appears. Mama and her women meditator friends and her women communist friends and my sister are on the bus, along with the peasants. We get off, we wander among the horses, we eat something, we find someone to guide us. Beyond the village and throughout the following days are only the infinite mountains of Tierra Adentro. Days spent walking up and down mountains. Fat, fatigued meditators. Farms reeking of fermented coffee. Nights...

Memory of a Paris Street

It's been almost three years since I ended up on that street in the Grenelle quarter. Chance led me there—or rather, not so much chance as intoxication. The intoxication of the streets that always seizes me in Paris. At the time I encountered the street, I was spending four weeks completely alone in Paris and would walk for several hours each day through the quarters. It was an obsession that I couldn't resist. Its power is best attested by the fact that I felt it to be a...

Paradise . . . Kind of

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The Total corporation—jewel in the crown of the French economy—maintains a presence in many countries across the globe, wherever there are fossil fuels to exploit. To do so, it hires locals, but also French employees with expatriate contracts lasting an average of two years. Two years in westernized surroundings, with housing, a company car, and schooling for their children in comfortable conditions and their own language. That’s how there came to be a small Gallic...

A Journey to Spitsbergen

I On the flight from Oslo to Tromsø, two worlds: the land far below me, the map on my lap. Outside, the sun is setting. The clouds hanging over the land on my map have been painted by Max Ernst, surreal, puffy sky formations, squadrons whizzing past us, fire within the gray, the land below already dark, less and less visible, a mere assumption. And mysterious as it may be, it cannot be chaos because roads have been drawn on the map, there are towns, harbors, names. The thin green...

from “I Can’t Stand Still”: An Interview with Jáchym Topol

Weiss: What was your first time out of the country? Topol: My first time was in East Germany with my mom. She took my brother and me to the seaside there. That change—all of a sudden by the sea in the GDR instead of in Poříčí1 as usual—happened thanks to my mother's coworkers. Apparently they explained that you're supposed to go away on vacation with your kids. That ended the era of staying at home or with our grandma. Vacations at home...

From “The Sleepwalker”

"Flying Dolphin!" Alan leapt out of bed. It was a quarter to seven and he had missed the boat. He had packed his bags and dressed for the trip the night before, and though it was May he'd even put on his Burberry raincoat so as to be completely ready. Then he sat on his bed smoking and drinking coffee, listening to the church bells marking the hours, counting them as they passed, holding his watch up to his ear to make sure it hadn't stopped. He saw the whole night pass before...

From “The Book of Andreas Kordopatis, Part I, America”

I kept walking slow-like, straight ahead, the road took me back to the river. Same place the ship stopped the first day, then it left and went further up. I saw someone who looked like a watchman. I ask him, Grik sala? No answer. I ask him again, he points further up the road. I walk along in that direction, there was a small house with a fence around it, real low. I go inside. Hello, I say, they look at me, two men and some women, they don't say a thing. I turn to go,...

Maybe Not Yem

"Can you believe it? One of my friends threw her boss's baby into a washing machine, just before going back to her village," the woman beside me said in a flat voice. I turned my gaze to the darkness outside the car window. The woman was terrorizing me. Damn it all! A chill ran through me as I thought of what she had just told me. The air was stuffy. Our small van crawled along the road. The heat from the van's engine was enough to make frozen blood boil. As we traveled along...

Ports of Madness

"We have art in order not to die of the truth."—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power A gray hood, a red shawl, woolen gloves, tight knit socks, leather boots, a big fleece sweater, Dacron pants barely visible beneath an enormous fur coat. She advanced, postcard in hand. The sun was at its height, and city-dwellers sipped their drinks on café terraces grown too narrow. Summer shone on faces sunburned but relaxed. The heat had loosened their lips and made them quick to...

Travels with My Aunt

If I had to choose a few words to sum up the trip it wouldn't be one phrase, but several, shouted loudly in my aunt Adelina's dry, shrill voice: "Stop! Stop! Will you stop once and for all! What's wrong with this imbecile, darling? Stooooop!" I am "darling," her nephew, whom she invited to join her on a voyage through Madagascar, whether I wanted to or not. The one she's calling an imbecile is Tsiery, our Madagascan driver. Over the course of fifteen days the three of...

The Silence of the Outcasts: An Interview with Dacia Maraini

(Pescasseroli, Easter 2005) To meet with Dacia Maraini and speak with her in peace means going up to the bitter and severe lands of Abruzzo where the writer, who lives in Rome, takes refuge during holidays and in summer. This March, Easter concludes a winter of polar temperatures and the snow in the National Park of Abruzzo remains plentiful. Dacia Maraini loves cross-country skiing and walking in the woods; this is her natural realm, and she settles here to write her books in solitude...

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