Deep and Wide: A Travel Guide Interlude

Ah, Andy is proving to be as elusive as a wild stoat, so next up on Spartan Holiday–a travel guide to Guatemala! Mostly Antigua, actually.

But first a few business items:

1). I see no one has posted new tips in the comment section of the New Zealand Travel Guide. Yet, I am quite certain, several readers have tripped the light fantastic all over  that foreign land. (You know who you are: BrianKimHessDaveValerieEllen.) Also remember my clause that you needn’t even have visited New Zealand to add your two cents. Ignorance is no impediment here at Spartan Holiday.

2) I made a pavlova.  Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.

3)  A deep thought: The older I get the more I gravitate from breadth to depth. I used to be a breadth person–I wanted to read as many authors as I could, visit as many countries as I could, learn as many words as I could. Now as I age, I’m sinking more into the depth of things. I want to read one author’s whole oeuvre (maybe like Jonathan Safran Foer, because he is awesome and only has 4 books), get to know one particular place really well, and pretty much only use the words “chafing dish” and “thimblerig.”

My friend Donna once said that she doesn’t feel the need to travel the world; that she instead has the desire to really know and understand her own city starting with her backyard…what birds live there, when do they come and go, the types of grasses, the texture of the soil, the ripening of fruit, budding of flowers, the skeleton of the tree in winter, the movement of heavenly bodies…


I’ve realized that any gnawing feelings of wanderlust can be answered by going deeper in, not farther afield. Wanderlust is really about a desire for discovery, for the foreign, the universal in the unknown particular. All of which exists in our midst. Aldo Leopold and  Kathleen Norris are two  authors who helped me see this.

So, this year I’m trying to focus on the micro instead of the macro. (Or the accessible ultra-macro like the night sky).  I may, from time to time, post what I’ve discovered.

For now, I would like to close by saying: Thimblerig chafing dish, chafing dish, chafing dish thimblerig.



3 thoughts on “Deep and Wide: A Travel Guide Interlude

  1. I’m posting this for Anne S who was having technical difficulties on her home computer.: I cannot comment intelligently, never having been to New Zealand. I can’t even prevaricate intelligently! I have read at least 2 books set in New Zealand – Green Dolphin Street, by Elizabeth Goudge – with a very old-fashioned, and I venture to say, racist, attitude about the Maoris (or, who knows?, maybe they have a blood-thirsty history, but you have failed us in your lack of educational commentary on the Maoris in this travelogue; however I guess I did pick up some tidbits about Germans abroad!) – and Truth to Tell, by Nancy Bond – a children’s book that I can’t quite recall, but thought had some sheep in it. A google search for review doesn’t seem to substantiate that, however. It may have been a Nancy Bond set in Australia or England… I recently finished a book about the history of the English language (The story of English), in which it is mentioned that New Zealanders have a bit of an inferiority complex regarding language (and perhaps other things) when compared with their giant neighbor, Australia. Ironically, the book that was pointing this out spent a lot more time telling us about Australian English than New Zealand influences… I was grateful for the photo of the Southern Cross – I’ve read about it, and love the Crosby, Stills and Nash song with the title – but never realized it was basically just 4 bright stars. I’m assuming the crossed line in the photo does not appear in the sky. Sorry the lamington didn’t hold up to expectations. Guess you’ll have to explore more deeply the whoopie pie in your own back yard. That stoat video was wild! How long do you think it took evolution to build up to that crazy stoat break dancing? I had to look up both thimblerig (so that’s what that game is called?!) and chafing dish (of which Wikipedia had a Diego Velasquez painting). I learned that the latter comes from French for heating “chauffer.” Do carry on – and we beg you to share with us the insights you gain as you go deeper!

  2. Nothing like calling a girl out.

    My En-Zed trip concentrated more on separating baby calves from their mothers, separating girl baby calves from boy baby calves (veal!) and planting thousands of seeds (literal, not symbolic), though there was some frolicking around a particular Party Tree in a particular Shire-like habitat.

    I’m super proud of you for making pavlova. I’ve made it twice, both on the same day, and the second one because the first one failed and it was for a university class. Love the stuff, though there’s got to be a way to put chocolate in the equation …

    I do encourage you to consider revisiting your wanderlust within the next three years, because I know a cheap place you can sleep in the wilderness of Hackney. It’s a magical place full of little rascals who are always begging, “please suh, can eye halvf summ moor?”

  3. Valerie: Check this out:
    I got my classic pavlova recipe from this website too.

    Anne: I don’t know if I saw a single Maori person. I guess they’re mostly on the North Island like everyone else. As far as Kiwi inferiority complex–I suppose that’s natural. But a shame, because they shine in their own way. I think there are 250,000 some Kiwis living in Australia.

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