A Postcard from the Pripyat, Belarus

The young woman walked up to me, and, without a word, began rearranging the coins on my hand…. *** References to the Pripyat Marshes, near the border of Belarus and Ukraine, keep popping up in books as the area where the Slavic languages appeared. I… Read more

Belarus – and that ‘Registration Thing’

The passport control officer at Minsk Airport seemed genuinely shocked to see me (well, OK, I can have that effect on people). For so long, Belarus had seemed to be the hardest country in Europe to visit. This changed suddenly for citizens of many countries,… Read more

Yelnya-Bog Belarus

Excuse me, I’m looking for the bog – Yelnya, Belarus

This all started in Minsk with my CouchSurfing host Alex’s Mum, Olga. Alex wasn’t home from his tutoring work, so Olga thought she would show me some photos of Belarus on the internet. Among a slew of truly stunning landscape shots, a few reached out… Read more

Desperately Seeking Cool Cafes in Odesa, Ukraine

My first impression of Odesa was not good. It was back in 2006 when I was merely transiting on the way to neighbouring Moldova and Transdnistria. From the train, I needed to jump almost directly onto a little shuttle bus. After an overnight trip from… Read more

Magic on the Night Train to Odesa, Ukraine

“Only First-Class!” Well darn, that wasn’t in the script – there were no other berths on the train from Poltava to Odesa. I had tried to be organised, and buy them earlier in New Zealand. Buying Ukrainian railway tickets on line is essentially quite straight… Read more

The antifragile (?) tree-ferns of Omatepe, Nicaragua

“We’ll follow these guys – they’re three local hoodlums”, This from my local guide on Omatepe Island, Nicaragua. I was sitting behind him on his trail bike, and we were burning down the road after walking up Volcan Maderas, the smaller of the two volcanoes… Read more

One Night in San Salvador (El Salvador)

The first El Salvadorian who I asked about visiting his country advised me to avoid its capital, San Salvador, entirely. “I love my country, but….” He urged that I get a bus direct from Guatemala (where I was based) to a beach town, chill there,… Read more

Yes – Go to Nicaragua now

The news coming out of Nicaragua back in October 2018, was uncertain. Violence from the political situation seemed to have abated, but various travelers and locals were reporting that the tourism infrastructure was in chaos. Hostels had closed down, buses weren’t running, etc. I went… Read more

The Return from Mexico – the Joys of Modern Travel

There’s nothing to focus a man’s mind like an execution in the morning – or the knowledge that it will cost $500 to “change” your air ticket. I’m just back home after about two and a half months in Central America. When I was first… Read more

Academic Misconduct at Otago University – what Misconduct?

What happens when you make the serious charge of Academic Misconduct at the University of Otago? I decided to find out. In 2015 a doctoral thesis was awarded to one Tammo Reichgelt, under the senior supervision of Associate Professor Daphne Lee of the University of… Read more

Ready in Teotihuacan Player One? (Mexico)

I’m no gamer, but….. ***** Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology is simply stunning. It’s task is to somehow present the bewildering range of peoples, cultures, languages which are, and have been, in this huge country. It does this in the range of usual ways:… Read more

A Short Walk in the Lamington Kush – The Stintson plane wreck, Australia

“If I had a camera I could take a photo and show guests what my uncle’s legs looked like after he found the Stintson”. ****** Between teaching my groups of American students ecology up at the rainforested O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, and in the adjacent Lamington… Read more