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.

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Nepal FINAL CHAPTER: Departures

Wow! One year and 111 chapters later, I’m done with this project!! What a ride. Thanks everyone for coming along with me on this journey. I’ve appreciated each and every reader more than you can know. I’ll drop some more in-depth thoughts about the process and what’s next for me next week, but for now, just enjoy the closing chapter of this story.

And if you’re new here, I guess you can read the whole story now, start to finish, right here.

**

I awoke early on my final day in Nepal.

Some animal instinct warned me of impending change.

Sunlight was streaming onto my pallet-like bed in my room at the Annapurna Guesthouse. Dust shimmered in the sunbeam, leading the air an ethereal solidity. It looked like I could reach across the room and pluck the sunbeam straight out of the sky. It was a strangely beautiful sight.

Dust was inescapable in this city. Already, after only two days back in Kathmandu, my cough had come back.  It would linger with me long after I returned home, a half-welcome reminder the damages wandering could inflict on a person.

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Permaculture in Panama

Habla Ya Spanish School Bocas Del Toro

I don’t know how to slaughter an animal. I don’t know which plants are edible and which will kill me. I don’t know much about gardening. Heck, I’m a barely competent chef. I eat out more than I’d like to admit.

Growing up as a kid in the suburban U.S., if I wanted something, the solution was always to buy it. If we wanted food, we bought it. If we wanted furniture, we bought it. If we needed a service provided — oil changed in our cars, say — we bought it. And usually, whatever it was, we threw it away soon after. I knew no other way of life.

Capitalism, eh?

That is not how they’re living here at Habla Ya Spanish School in Panama.

Panama is blessed with an incredibly lush climate, where things grow like mad. The seas teem with life, trees practically sprout out of the asphalt, and rain falls frequently. Here, the climate is basically perfect for sustainability. And yet, still, many multinational corporations have done quite well in convincing people here that they need to buy things.

But here in Bocas Del Toro, Habla Ya Spanish School is pushing back on that idea, bit by bit. Check out some of the cool sustainability and community building efforts they’ve got under way here in this tropical paradise:

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