Think Again

Standing behind the reception desk of a hotel in south west Iceland, the clerk was being as polite as his utter bewilderment and exasperation would allow. He was wearing the expression of someone who has just suspected he is the victim of a prank. His haunted eyes scarcely blinked as they flitted around the room,…

A few more days in Argentina

I have always been fascinated by maps. As a child, I would spend hours paging through my first world atlas; a book with a glossy, light blue, hardback cover whose spine weakened with each enthusiastic read. Occasionally, with a pen in my unsteady young hand, I would trace the borders between countries whose names I…

A few days in Argentina

There is a taxi driver in southern Argentina named Ernesto. We didn’t know each other until a few days ago and we will never meet again. We met when chance placed us in his taxi at El Calafate airport. On the drive into town he politely asked us to share the contents of his small…

Hopes, Fears and Egrets

It’s something I’ve done hundreds of times. Sitting in my preferred window seat, I watch as the aircraft makes a ninety degree turn, lining up with its back to the lights that will guide its return. There is a slight pause. The dull throb from the engines turns to a roar as their full power…

Delay, affray and the passenger in 2A

Abrupt U-turns are rarely an indication that something has gone exactly as intended. They are the change of direction caused by each missed turning, each botched product launch, each political policy failure. In the air, unless you’re part of an aeronautical display team or are pulling an advertising banner above a sporting event, you can…

A few more days in Peru

The day did not start well. Today we would leave Cuzco and, over the next four days, drive the 350 miles or so south to Arequipa, stopping for a couple of nights in Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Hoping for the early start that would see us rolling into Puno by late afternoon,…

A few days in Peru

There is a map of the world in the basement of our house. Each place we’ve visited is indicated on the map by a colored pin. There are a lot of pins. They sweep confidently across Europe, from the Algarve to Moscow, barely missing a country. The eastern side of North America is equally well represented – so much…