Usually my vacations are fast and furious. I wait until I get home to relax as I would rather be exploring a new country. This last vacation was different. With a full month at our disposal along with a lot of time for spent in transit, I had a lot of “spare time”. Thankfully I had my Pocket fully loaded and ready to read. Here are my recommended reads in case you want something for this long weekend and beyond:
I agree with all of Lisa’s tips. Rob has taught me many of them along the way. A new tip we really liked, too: free international roaming. Get it if you can.
Rob and I have begun to watch Parts Unknown and reading his travel tips are interesting. Does he recommend checking his bags? And what about food on the airplane?
We much prefer staying at places through Airbnb and managed to do this in Johannesburg and Capetown during our last trip. We spoke a bit with our awesome host in Capetown about Airbnb travellers. We tend to have an adventurist nature but honestly, I do not worry with reputable hosts.
Although a few years old, this is a more elaborate vacation experience than I could ever write but very similar to our experiences.
But I have to be honest. Lemur-watching, like bird-watching, takes a bit of concentration. For most people it’s probably not going to pack the same adrenaline punch as a typical African safari, infused with that exhilarating, almost spiritual sense of being out on the open veldt, with lions stalking their kill. Yet tracking lemurs offers something different, perhaps an even more intimate, delicate view of nature.
This article is also about Madagascar but highlights its unstable nature even after the election earlier this year. It was hard to travel in a country which had been shunned from the global aid community after the 2009 coup. Emotionally and physically hard.
It has been instructive to see all these pressures up close here in Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world. The globalization of illicit trade has left Madagascar exposed to Chinese merchants working with corrupt officials here to illegally import everything from valuable rosewood timber to rare tortoises. Some global textile manufacturers set up factories then quit when the politics turned too unstable. Mandatory education here is only through age 15, and it’s in the local Malagasy language. That makes it hard to compete in a world where some developed countries are teaching computer coding in first grade.
And then there’s Mother Nature: the population of Madagascar is exploding, and the forests and soils are eroding. The soil for agriculture here is iron rich, nutrient poor and often very soft. Since 90 percent of Madagascar’s forests have been chopped down for slash-and-burn agriculture, timber, firewood and charcoal over the last century, most hillsides have no trees to hold the soil when it rains. Flying along the northwest coast, you can’t miss the scale of the problem. You see a giant red plume of eroded red soil bleeding into the Betsiboka River, bleeding into Mahajanga Bay, bleeding into the Indian Ocean. The mess is so big that astronauts take pictures of it from space.
I read this in Madagascar and while it is about the sharp differences in experiences from someone born in America and Myanmar, it resonates equally well with those living in Madagascar.
All about Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ quest to expose the world’s market for human organs for transplantation.
After meat and dairy disappeared during the collapse, Cubans became vegan virtually overnight. Along with reduced calories, their health improved. Fascinating article.
When I travelled to Morocco my friend was really excited about eating a banana.She wanted to taste a non-Cavendish banana that we’re eating in North America. While the history of the banana in America is not new, it is a fascinating story about the real Banana Republics.
The mass-produced banana first came to the United States in the 19th century. As the next century rolled on, buccaneering banana men pioneered such innovative business practices as propping up puppet heads of states throughout Latin America, keeping them in power through corporate largesse, and exploiting local workers, when not actually encouraging local governments to enslave or kill them. By building railroads, in exchange for land for plantations, United Fruit tightly entwined itself with the economies of many countries, and came to own huge swaths of Central America. Its reach was so extensive that it became known as “the Octopus.”
As much as I cycle, I do not follow sport politics but this is a lengthy look at Armstrong’s aftermath.
On the subject of cycling… and the nature of their eats while on the Tour de France. Mint and melon coulis with blueberries and raspberry and praline, anyone?
What good reads have you read lately?