Bloody Good Travel Writing is a recurring series highlighting inspiring, informative, and provocative travel writing in line with the Traveling Savage philosophy.
In the midst of a stressful October, I found a batch of articles that lifted my spirits with their levity and reached me from far-flung destinations around the world. England, Bolivia, Syria: the adventurous spirit of travel writers always makes me smile. Whether you’re interested in following in their footsteps or enjoying a laugh from the comfort of your armchair, these posts will satisfy the travel itch.
The North York Moors: A Birthday Challenge by Fevered Mutterings
Mike Sowden’s self-proclaimed niche is “unfortunate travel,” and he stays true to his course with a dolorous outlook and the biting wit of a north Englishman. For his birthday, Mike somewhat irrationally decided to hike alone through the North York Moors. What follows is a hilarious tale (which I’m sure was awful in the flesh) of a man coming to terms with his own mortality in the midst of a day-long rainstorm. There’s sodden equipment, clammy skin, blinding panic – everything a good comedy needs. Throughout the piece Mike recounts his birthday insights and ultimately sees the value in the self-imposed hardship. Mike’s take on the experience reminded me that character development and understanding are often their most prolific in those difficult yet fertile times.
Bolivian Bus Hell – An Illustrated Guide by Never Ending Voyage
Simon of Never Ending Voyage is one hell of a character. He and Erin have been traveling through South American and this post recounts a harrowing (at least for Simon) tale of a bus ride through the mountains of Bolivia. The story, replete with illustrations, takes you on a journey not only through Bolivian bus hell, but through Simon’s mind as well, which is itself a trip. I loved the creativity and humor of this post. It serves as another example of the idiom “it’s either a good time or good story,” and shows that people who love travel always find the positive in otherwise negative experiences. But really, Simon, jalapeño Pringles on a twisty bus ride? Ugh.
Welcome to Syria My Friend! by Wandering Earl
Derek Earl Baron has been on the road continuously for more than a decade. He gets around, and this time he’s dropped into Syria of all places. Upon arriving in Aleppo, Earl is overcome by a blinding moment of sheer happiness. The welcoming people, exotic architecture and customs, and freedom to explore have all conspired to take Earl to new places within himself. Talk about a revelation. Most Americans think of Syria as part of the so-called “Axis of Evil,” but Earl’s observations cast an important, unique light on daily life in Syria at the ground level. There’s no substitute for this kind of “reporting.” Earl’s posts from Syria have been an important reminder to take media coverage and news stories of foreign countries with a big ol’ cup of salt.
The next Bloody Good Travel Writing segment will be coming to you from sunny Argentina! Until then, enjoy this month’s selections and follow these writers while you’re at it.