10. DAVID LOCKE (Jack Nicholson); The Passenger (1975)
Native of: USA
Lost in: North Africa and Spain
Travel may be defined by leaving one’s established location. For some, it offers an opportunity to also leave oneself.
David Locke (Nicholson) is a cynical American journalist stuck in a North African desert struggling to make a documentary on political rebels. After a frustrating day of failure and now back at his sandy ramshackle hotel, he finds his new Englishman friend in the next room has suddenly died. Wanting a change, he decides to check out of the hotel, but only after stealing the Englishman’s passport and identity. As the movie trailer cliché goes “he would soon find out that he got more than he bargained for”. Finding an appointment book in the Englishman’s belongings, he soon goes on a bizarre, rather subdued (for Nicholson) adventure through urban Barcelona and … Read More »
Steven in transit, 1985
“Where are you from?”
This question gets tossed around guesthouses, bars, bus stations and just about anywhere else people with unfamiliar faces and accents congregate. I’ve answered it so many times that I sometimes lie just to keep myself from walking away.
However, someone recently asked me a more poignant question:
“Where is your home?”
Instinctually, that question should also be an easy one. Everyone needs an address. It’s 2013. Humans no longer chase deer across continents.
But I couldn’t answer it.
Since the first time I read it at 16, I have always remembered Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again: “You can’t go back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.” Surely, home must be able to evolve with you for it to not just be merely a memory, or … Read More »
How is there so little street crime?
Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Asia. There is government corruption, bribery, domestic abuse and organized crime. However, a traveler is highly unlikely to get caught up in this. “Street crime” such as robbery, assault, rape and murder are astonishingly low, especially in North Asia (Mongolia somewhat excluded). In large Asian cities, I have no fear listening to my iPod and walking home through unknown neighborhoods for two hours in the middle of the night.
Travelers and expats appreciate this quality over here, yet can’t seem to explain exactly why it is. Rich and poor are living together. Surely, there are plenty of “opportunities” for crime walking down the streets. So why is Asia so safe?
Here are a few factors that likely influence the low street crime of Asia:
THE SHAME FACTOR
In the USA, … Read More »
5. Malcolm Lowry, UNDER THE VOLCANO (1947)
In On the Road, Dean and Sal head down Mexico way to get their kicks- and experience little else in the process. For contrast, in the less-manic Under the Volcano, alcoholic British consul Geoffrey Firmin stammers through his accepted hometown as his beloved urban purgatory- the somewhat mythical Quauhnahuac, Mexico (based on Cuernavaca, where Lowry spent much of his own life).
Under the Volcano is not a book concerned with travel, but is instead features a fascinating examination of place; particularly how it can mirror our own personal standing in life, or vice versa. Lowry paints a vivid picture of the small city, with its dirty cantinas, disappearing (and reappearing) volcano, overgrown gardens, and luminous circus spinning eerily in the night. Anyone who has traveled through Latin America will feel these places vividly on each … Read More »