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Biking Solo in Hvar - Katherine Leamy

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  “ Zdravo ,” said the man setting up tables, smiling as he spoke. I tried my best to repeat the greeting, and to get my tongue around the “zdra” that seemed to roll together in a fusion of letters, completely foreign to me. “ Kavu, molim ,” I replied, holding up one finger to make it clear that only one coffee was required. I’d practiced this phrase, which meant “coffee, please”, many times. But he could probably tell that explaining exactly what type of coffee was well beyond my ability. Grabbing a laminated page off the counter, he showed me the different options. I pointed to one that looked like a cappuccino. Once outside, I picked a small table. There was no sun on this spot yet, so I pulled my jacket hood tight around my neck. When my coffee arrived, I cupped the hot mug in both hands, inhaling the smell of the strong brew, before taking a sip. I love that first taste of coffee. Rich, creamy, strong. With no distractions I sat and watched the world go by: shopkeepers busy pu

Stubbing Your Toe on History in Mexico

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You can’t walk a single block in this city without stubbing your toe on History. I pass a bakery and spot an Aztec calendar hanging on the wall of the shop. It displays an image of a five-hundred-year-old Aztec prince holding a dying woman in his arms. History. Whenever I encounter a person or a street named after a Famous Indigenous, you know, a name with too many X’s or C’s or U’s, like CuauhtĂ©moc (kwou-TAY-mahk), Cuitláhuac(kwit-LA-wahk), Xiuhcoatl (ZAYA-ka-whatl), it's as if the person or street were introducing themselves to me, “Hi, I’m History.” Indigenous tribes are really good at thinking up hard-to-say and hard-to-spell names with the letter X. It can sound like an “s” or “sh,” or “j” or even “k,” and your guess is as good as mine. If I try to pronounce the name of this sort, my tongue tangles in my throat like I'm choking on a chicken bone. A purplish tint washes over my face in an attempt to let the name out but it never gets even close to the tip of my tong

Bex Band on walking in Israel's Negev desert

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On both sides of us tall crags towered above, almost vertical, boxing us in. The valley floor was wide and flat. Turning another corner, I spotted something up ahead that initially made me think I must be hallucinating. Nestled in among the dry, rocky terrain was an explosion of greenery and, right in the centre of the oasis, Ein Akev spring. It was a perfect bowl carved out in the smooth rock, the water the same green as the trees that surrounded it. Above the spring on the vertical crag a wall of plants spilled over the top of the mountain like a waterfall. You could be mistaken into thinking there is no life to be found in the barren landscape of the desert, but each day brought something new. Sometimes it might be a creature hidden and camouflaged, easy to miss, like a gecko or a snake, and sometimes something glaringly obvious like this hub of flora and fauna. Nearing the trees, I noticed the temperature drop a few degrees instantly, a cool moisture hanging in the air. Rich palms

Nights in deserted places of the Dodecanese

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It is summer on Tilos, and afternoon has turned the abandoned wheat fields golden. There’s the breathy whistle of bee-eaters as I pick my way down the path, Lisa eagerly pulling on the lead. A harmless black whip-snake disappears into the rocks. I let Lisa cool off in the water first, then from the grey pebble beach I swim with a mask, seeing a painted comber – a zebra-striped fish with yellow fan-tail and a blush of blue underneath – and armoured grey parrotfish. If winter is a time for long walks, summer is for long swims. When the sun is baking hot, it’s essential to dive into the sea’s soothing, silky coolness. The summer months warm the water, making it easier to keep going until my muscles ache, explore around the headlands, scare myself looking down to rocks dropping away into the depths. I also love the pure pleasure of lying on an empty beach and listening to the waves, drowsy from swimming, falling asleep. There’s something sensual about lying on warm sand, like b

Ben Thompson Searches for an Unspoiled Dive Location in Mozambique

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  We turned south and whizzed along on silky smooth new tarmac for exactly 100 kilometres before being abruptly met by a belt of bitumen that was like Swiss cheese. Our love for tarmac quickly faded. The highway was in such a state that, again, we were down to averages of around 45 kilometres per hour., and the road surface was taking its toll on the car.  Another legacy of the war, a real and dangerous threat, were the landmines. Some clearing had been done outside a few of the major cities, but the rest of the country was still at the mercy of these hidden killers. The danger was compounded by the floods, which had floated and reburied millions of mines across the land. Every so often you would see red rags tied to trees, the occasional fenced off area and then kilometre after kilometre of little red and white signs on stakes, with skull and crossbones, announcing PERIGO MINAS! EMINA! You did not have to read Portuguese to get the gist. We learnt that you should never pull your car o

Me, My Bike and a Street Dog Called Lucy - Ishbel Holmes

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  On my very first night cycling the world, with 30 kilos of luggage hanging from my bicycle, I realised I had forgotten to pack a lighter. I sat outside my tent in darkness, striking two pebbles together without success. Crawling into my sleeping bag that night, I was hungry and disappointed, knowing a real adventurer would have found a way to light her stove and cook dinner. Five months later and pedalling across my tenth country, Turkey, I still yearned for the day I’d resemble an adventurer, but to date I’d had too many hysterical moments involving spiders, slugs, and imaginary monsters to count myself as the real deal. Each night I wild camped, and every sunset brought along with it my three biggest fears: one, that human beings would find me and murder me; two, that animals would find me and eat me; and three, that a combine harvester wouldn’t see my tent and I’d be combine-harvested up. I’d wanted to build a campfire many times along the way through Europe, but visions of b

Welcome to our Words on the World

Why did I set up Meanwhile, on Another Part of the Planet? One of the first books I co-edited, published almost twenty years ago, was a literary anthology called  AWOL: Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds .  Since then I've written four travel memoirs, been a commissioning editor of travel books, edited countless travel narratives and helped many find publishers as an agent. Needless to say, I love travel writing and books that inspire my sense of adventure, but not only that. I also love non-fiction and fiction that's very rooted in a particular place. I love books that increase my understanding of the world.  I set up this site in 2020 when many people were unable to travel. Because we can always travel and dream through books. How does it work? The site is a place for finding books and for sharing them, particularly books that are independently published. It's a community site, curated by me, so I keep it as simple as possible.  You can scroll down to read posts, or search t

A Nurse in the Cariboo-Chilcotin - Marion Crook

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I stepped down from the Greyhound bus in the late afternoon of a hot August day, relieved at the end of my twelve-hour trip from the city. After four years of university, I was where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be—Marion McKinnon, Cariboo Public Health Nurse. That feeling of satisfaction lasted only a minute. The truth was, I wasn’t sure of anything. I felt like a foreigner in a new country, my suitcases beside me, abandoned by the bus that had delivered me, awkward and alien. From the coast, the bus had wound through the Fraser Canyon, following the river up into the Interior Plateau of British Columbia. Even though the windows had been open, the air had been stifling and I’d sat almost stupefied by the heat. The land was vast and seemed to roll into forever. Get a grip , I told myself. This is going to be an adventure. I took a deep breath and looked around. Dust was everywhere: on the asphalt road, on the parked cars and the windows sills of the motel above the town that