The Porteño taxi driver surprised me several times. He smiled and whispered affectionately as he moved the small dog across to steer the car. The terrier had been whimpering, seeking attention as we zipped through Buenos Aires traffic. The smell in the car was also surprising. The windows were open because of the heat and the interior was decorated with toilet bowl fresheners. Pine and lavender as I recall, six clipped to doors and seats that I could see.[Read more…] about 1996 Memory
Patagonian and Fuegian Tales
‘I passed through three boring towns’ was the start of a chapter that changed the way I thought about travel writers yet again. It helped that I would visit them after I read the chapter. Both visits were stopovers of a kind. One by commercial jet, the other by ship seeking shelter from two cyclones that seemed to merge just to scare us off.
I had found In Patagonia in a shop in Buenos Aires in late 1995. I was living in a hotel on Avenida de Mayo just a stone’s throw from the Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace. Carlos Menem had just been re-elected and there were almost weekly protest marches on Thursdays. Once, a firework cannister was directed at me for watching the passing flag, banner and placard waving throngs from my third floor hotel balcony window.[Read more…] about Patagonian and Fuegian Tales
Tax Collectors I
I first visited Algeria between reading The Plague and A Savage War of Peace.
‘…the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good …’
Albert Camus’ fiction of the plague in Oran from 1947 is quoted as the Afterword in Alistair Horne’s visceral history of the decade leading to Algerian independence (as written in 1977).[Read more…] about Tax Collectors I
Look On The Bright Side
20 Mar 2020 – 10:36 GMT – 7°C Mostly Cloudy – Co. Dublin, Ireland
Always liked the idea of travel, the wonderment of it. Little intrigues in stories recounted by friends who had travelled widely. Not stories of cruise ships or ski chalets or student binges. I was more interested in stories of life in extremis.
Writer Gerry Hanley told me about the village elder missing the tip of his nose. Elder was shot through a thicket in the crossfire between Japanese and British troops in Burma. The thicket was big enough to have hidden an entire village. The elder was the only casualty despite none of the troops realising there were several hundred people between their muzzles.[Read more…] about Look On The Bright Side