Papua New Guinea

“I fell asleep to the legends of the sun and moon…”

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Bhutan

“I dream more often of Bhutan itself. I am walking through narrow green valleys with rivers rushing through them. The mountains rise up so steeply on all sides, I have to look up and up to find the sky above. I walk through forests at night to a ring of dark-ringed fir trees, to a rocky pool beneath a waterfall, to open spaces where I can see the stars thrown across the deep blue-black sky. In my dreams, clouds climb down from the sky, fill up ravines, melt into fields, darkening the green of the rice and the maize. I watch the mist and tell myself I am dreaming, the world cannot possibly be so beautiful, but I wake up and it is.”

Cuba

“Havana was a woman who had once been renowned for her beauty until hard times had sourced her. Her hand had gotten heavy with makeup application; her necklines had crept down; her beauty was tainted with vulgarity. But sometimes, when she was alone, after she’d taken off her makeup, she danced in her garden, bare-faced and barefoot, to an old bolero, and the old elegance appeared, normal as a Tuesday evening.”

Armenia

“I was twenty-three and no one had spoken to me about the Armenian Genocide. My grandmother’s flashback had been a strange set of surrealistic images that left an imprint on me, but she never talked about her past in rational language.”

England

“I spread out a map and lost myself in the names. This is, to me, one of the deep and abiding pleasures of life in Britain.”

North Korea

“North Korea is a country of secrets, lies, and questions with no answers. It was as much a psychological journey as a tourist experience for me, and I was profoundly affected by my time there.”

Italy

“Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience—buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello—become new all over again.”

Barbados

“Beyond the circle of illumination cast by the flames, the darkness was full of strange noises. The music of the Caribbean night- that orchestra of sounds made by cicadas, frogs and rustling leaves- which seemed so charming when accompanied by the bustle of Bridgetown, now seemed menacing in the context of this great, dark, breathing wilderness, and George must have slept fitfully if he managed to sleep at all.”

Kenya

“It’s impossible to imagine that so much of the world lives this way until you see it for yourself. Even seeing it, it’s impossible to fathom: the garbage, the chickens, and the children toddling alone through the street. I’m overcome by a desire to know everything about this place, it’s corners, crannies, and secrets.”

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