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Women on the Road Blog

Solo travel tips for women like you - the first Tuesday of every month >>

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Nostalgia

The emphasis is on ‘memories’. This is where I document decades of note-free and camera-free travels. I remember places, people, moments, tastes – anything that comes to mind from my travels, things that struck me, that inspired me, for which I have only memories, often vague, but always powerful. I often take one of these impressions, and follow the thread wherever it may lead me.

Wild Rides in the Philippine Cordilleras

Filipino Jeepney

The rains come early to the Cordilleras this year and we watch as the waters rise from the river below. Slowly, inexorably, a few bushes disappear each day. Our food supplies dwindle. We’ve eaten more than half our sardines and two-thirds of our rice. The tempting coconuts are stuck up in their trees, the slick palm trunks [...]

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Yes, You Can Get Lost in the Amazon

Amazon rainforest Brazil

I didn’t think I’d ever find my way out. The two children spoke a language I had never heard before. I tried Portuguese, and then used my hands in a clumsy version of charades. I even attempted to imitate a car on a road but their raised eyebrows hinted that they might have never seen either. [...]

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Of Discos and Serenos in Madrid

Serenos of Spain

It started with the keys. Clanking, jiggling, each heavy skeleton banging against a clutch of loose weighty metal. Then clap, clap clap. We clapped our hands, at first lightly, then with the growing impatience of youth. We could hear the keys in the distance. He couldn't be far. It was somewhere between Saturday night and Sunday [...]

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Lost in a Minefield in Mozambique

Minefield in Mozambique

Roberto slammed on the brakes, pushing the Land Rover into a skid. I grabbed the safety bar and my thoughts drifted to the bright orange shoes I had begged my mother to buy me when I turned seven. My mother, so worried about my Africa trip, my mother, so clearly right about its dangers. “We’re lost,” the park ranger whispered, hysteria edging into [...]

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Great Zimbabwe: An Accidental Sunrise

Great Zimbabwe

I'm notorious for missing the sights. I'm the kind of traveler who manages to visit Niagara without seeing the Falls or Paris without climbing the Eiffel Tower. Sometimes it's on purpose, because popular attractions can be excessively packaged, reduced to their lowest common denominator and devoid of discovery or excitement. At other times I simply get [...]

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The Bullet Ring: Asmara, Eritrea

Asmara City Hall

I couldn't take my eyes off her fingers. They were draped in bands of metal, dirty, gritty and dull, with scratches and bumps, uneven on the sides. Some were thin bands, others majestic constructs jutting into the air, ready to poke out an eye with the slightest gesture. She was northern European, her pale hair [...]

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Congo Lime Green

Chaise longue

Not too long ago I was invited to run a one-week journalism workshop in Brazzaville, the 'other' Congo, the one Mobutu didn't run into the ground. I remember a sea of expectant faces, everyone utterly dressed up as is often the case in more formal settings across Africa. "It's a sign of respect," my Nigerian friend [...]

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The Cuban Embargo: Memories of the Mouse that Roared

It was 1999 when I arrived on a two-month assignment to cover Cuba and my first thought as I left the airport was: "This country is a survivor." Already into its fifth or sixth metamorphosis since the revolution overthrew a corrupt dictator, Cuba had become friends with the Soviet Union, survived the Eastern Bloc’s demise, crawled through the lean [...]

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Travel Nostalgia: The Way We Went

Travel Nostalgia bottles on planes

Be honest. If you're over 50 you've said these words to yourself. "Travel was so much better/nicer/fun back then." Back then before low-cost airlines scrunched us on one another's laps or the online world revealed every destination's secrets before we arrived. You know, back then when the No Smoking section was smaller than a folded handkerchief (all [...]

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Blogging with a Wraparound Velcro Band

Old-fashioned modem

I became a blogger without realizing it. Accidentally. It was 1996 and I’d snagged a cool email address, something quite inspiring and sexy along the lines of 1013303213@compuserve.com. I was heading off into the big wide world of Africa for six months but being bad at math I would be gone more than three years. As a [...]

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Desert: A Sahara Night

Stars and camels in the Sahara

The stars hang like an unfinished choreography, dancers suspended in mid-air. The North Star sits straight above - or is it Venus? It would land on my forehead if it fell. The space between each speck of light is deep navy, the kind of blue that exists only when light is absent and here, in the [...]

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The Scents of the Fez Medina

Olives and chillies in Fez

How can you even begin to understand the Fez medina, a walled city that has 9000 streets, 10,000 shops, a million people and is nearly a millennium old? Confusion sets in with an early-morning walk through the twisted streets of Fes el Bali, the largest of the city's two medinas. The sweetness of sandalwood and cinnamon [...]

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