Book Review: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

When I was in Panama six weeks ago, I found myself in a bad place. I was depressed and isolated. There was no reason for this feeling really — my way was being paid by a blogging partnership, and I was practicing my Spanish. I was caught up in my own head, feeling depressed in a situation where I knew I needn’t.

As I was walking around one of the poorer districts of Bocas Del Toro, feeling sorry for myself, I had a stark realization: I felt no drive to help these people.

Bocas is a place of contrasts: hovels and broken roads alongside million-dollar homes for wealthy expats. Privilege alongside poverty. And no matter how poorly I was feeling, I knew I fell firmly on the privileged side of that divide.

I thought of my sister, Christina, who has dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate. Once you have seen true inequality with your own eyes, “I don’t see how you could want to do anything else,” but try and alleviate it, she had once told me.

Here I was, in the middle of such inequality, and it couldn’t touch me.

Which brings us to “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” by Tracy Kidder. Christina handed it to me recently, with the instructions: “You should really read it. If only to understand your dear sister a little better.”

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A Taste of Colorado: A Day Rock Climbing in Eldo

Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of Colorado’s premier climbing destinations. Nestled in a hidden little valley just a few minutes from the edge of Boulder, Colorado, Eldo is a spot most people will never have reason to visit. Unless you’re a rock climber.

If you’re a climber, Eldo is a Mecca.

I spend a lot of time on the road. This is, after all, a travel blog. But I can never spend all my time abroad — the pull of home is too strong. And climbing, for me, is a huge part of that pull. I don’t write about it much — but the fact is, climbing is just as exciting as anything I do abroad. (And I have not been that successful at climbing while on the road). So today, we’re going to take a look at one of the reasons I love my home so much, and why Colorado is a premier travel destination for many adventurers.

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Armchair Travel: Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Armchair Traveler is my series about places I have no personal experience with. Usually, it’s just a piece of content someone else produced that I find fascinating and think my audience would also enjoy!

If you spend a lot of time on the Internet, you probably recognize Drew Scanlon as this guy with the weird blinks:

For about a month in 2017, this GIF was a super popular meme. Almost unavoidable on social media. Which was weird for me, since I recognized Drew from Giant Bomb, a video game site where I used to be a frequent contributor. We used to chat in the IRC.

But times change, and Drew doesn’t work there, and I don’t think about video games much anymore (read an essay about that, here).

When he’s not moonlighting as an Internet meme, Drew produces a series of travel videos, called Cloth Map. He recently visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine, and documented the strange experience of visiting a place most of us have only ever seen in computer games.

See the 30-minute video below:

You can support Cloth Map on Patreon.