Chris is an avid traveler and hypercaffeinated writer, criss-crossing the globe and occasionally remembering to call home.
Follow me at postcardjunky.wordpress.com.
UPDATE, 22 January 2010: For those of you - both of you? - who have been following this blog off and on (mostly off) for the past few years, it's time to officially put it on a permanent hiatus. As much as I love these nutty little essays about my time on the road, they're just a bit too time-consuming to keep up with, given the demands of my freelance work. So for now, my dear TravelBlog, it's time to say adieu, though it was blogging here that helped me develop a voice as a travel writer, and that in no small way allowed me to set off on this professional path. For that, TravelBlog, I thank you, and I thank all the readers who have followed my travels, offering their support along the way.
Not to say I'm hanging up my laptop - in fact, I've launched a new blog, postcardjunky.wordpress.com, which I hope you'll all check out. It is, admittedly, less a travel blog than a platform - personal and professional - for me to weigh in on what's happening across the marvelous, maligned, often misunderstood continent I now call home, including my own experiences in Burundi, Congo and beyond. I hope you'll visit me now and then, and if you like what you see, I hope you'll share it with others who take an interest - casual or fanatical - in Africa today.
Thanks for everything, TravelBlog and TravelBloggers. Keep traveling, and keep blogging.
January 22nd 2010
For those of you - both of you? - who have been following this blog off and on (mostly off) for the past few years, it's time to officially put it on a permanent hiatus. As much as I love these nutty little essays about my time on the road, they're just a bit too time-consuming to keep up with, given the demands of my freelance work. So for now, my dear TravelBlog, it's time to say adieu, though it was blogging here that helped me develop a voice as a travel writer, and that in no small way allowed me to set off on this professional path. For that, TravelBlog, I thank you, and I thank all the readers who have followed my travels, offering their support along the way. Not to say I'm hanging ... read more
August 19th 2009
Chango was literally beside himself. The old, scarlet-bearded proprietor of the Cold Drink Hotel seemed to be everywhere at once: reassuring the customers, scolding the cooks, greeting the newcomers who came through the curtained doorway. His prayer cap was askew, his myopic eyes squinted into the gathering darkness, where a few chickens scratched at the dust in the yard. The news from the kitchen was grim. First came word that there was no more fish; then the goat meat, too, was finished. “Hakuna samaki,” he said apologetically to a table of frustrated clients. “Hakuna nyama.” Chango, born Mohammed Abdi Karim, tugged at the bright red threads of his beard. He had seen a lot in his time, but the commotion this week was a first. “There has never been anything like this in Loiyangalani,” he said. ... read more
June 17th 2009
Settled into my old room at Auberge la Caverne, sipping cappuccino at the Bourbon Coffee - Kigali, green and rolling, brushed by plump tufts of cumulus, receding like waves in the distance - I feel buoyed, at peace. New York is a memory, Vermont is a memory, the great emotional upheaval I’d dreaded these past few weeks little more than a slight murmur of unease. The apartment hunt is on, and the thought of making a home of this small, energetic city for the next few months is already growing on me. You feel something in Kigali these days. You see it in the blue-glass towers and the luxury sedans, the garish compounds with their reflective windows and Doric columns and million-dollar views. This is a city on the move, a proud showpiece for the Kagame ... read more
June 14th 2009
Forty hours, seven time zones, and two dismal lay-overs after leaving New York, I arrive in Kigali at half-past three in the morning, a somnolent mess of rumpled clothes, dried-out contacts, and skin like wax paper. The bunch of us debarking in Rwanda shuffle through the airport’s halls like refugees; apart from a young, eager barrista manning the bar at the Bourbon Coffee shop, the place is lifeless. You can’t help but feel like a fugitive creeping into a country under the cover of darkness. I think of my first visit to Rwanda last year, whisking across the smooth tarmac from Uganda, when the tall stands of eucalyptus trees and the bright green tea plantations and the banana plants like starbursts made my arrival feel like a triumphal parade. Now there’s something ignoble about my hunched ... read more
April 1st 2009
And so on a sunny Wednesday morning in Maputo, waking up for the last time in an apartment I’d only just begun to consider home, I’ve packed the last of my bags, washed the last of my dishes, polished off the leftovers, exchanged a few brisk farewells, sighed at a life that had seemed so full of promise, and hauled my things into the back of a cab for the start of a very long trip home. It’s hardly where I would’ve pictured my life heading just a few weeks ago. Ten days ago I was shopping for groceries and stocking the fridge; I was making plans for friends’ birthdays, imagining an endless string of Friday nights at Rua d’Arte, imagining beaches and dhow trips and lazy weekends swimming in an ocean the temperature of a ... read more
December 22nd 2008
In the morning Johannas and I toss our packs into the back of Gabriel’s pick-up, and with a few toots of the horn and a handful of merry waves, we bump along through the streets of Ilha. We’re undoubtedly a curious sight - at no point this week have I seen more than three or four other white tourists on the island - and there are plenty of barefoot kids in varying states of undress to chase our clouds of dust. At the bridge to the mainland a chapa idles near the checkpoint, four haggard faces peering from the rear. It’s a Sunday, and traffic to the mainland is slow: the driver wearily informs us he’s been waiting for his truck to fill since early morning. Gabriel shakes his head and offers us his best wishes, ... read more
December 13th 2008
Rui is wrapped in a bedsheet and sleeping under the cashew tree when I set off for the train to Nampula. He wipes the sleep from his eyes, raises half-heartedly, offers to walk me to the station. I pat his shoulder and thank him for the offer, but tell him to go back to sleep. “Estou bêm,” I assure him. The early pre-dawn blue has begun to show in the sky, and sleepy Cuamba doubtless has few surprises between here and the train station. The askari opens the gate and wags his hand and sends me off, no doubt grateful to dispense of his responsibilities before heading back to bed. Stray dogs prowl through the street trash; a truck idles outside the bakery, the driver slouched in his seat. At the station, two surprisingly patient queues ... read more
December 6th 2008
After a brief, boozy farewell at Doogles on Thursday night, we leave Blantyre in high spirits - me, ready after ten weeks in Malawi to move on to wider and wilder pastures; and the others - Marie and Eline from the Kabula Lodge; Richard and Melise, two ex-pat friends - at the start of a ten-day holiday to the Mozambican coast. Spend enough time as a freelancer and you begin to forget what it’s like to live a life of early-morning commutes, workplace politics, nine-to-fives. In short, you forget how much of the world lives. But now, with the others giddy at the prospect of a ten-day jailbreak, and the girls free from the hospital’s headaches, even I’m infected by the holiday mood. Ten days! Imagine the luxury, after daily wake-up calls at half-past four; after ... read more
November 14th 2008
Under a kachere tree in the village of Mtunthama, ninety miles over rough dirt roads from what is today the Malawian capital of Lilongwe, a young Kamuzu Banda sat in short pants, waiting for the day’s lessons to begin. The beating of drums called the students from miles around; like Banda - the future Life President - they came and sat in the shade of the kachere, daydreaming at the puffs of cloud drifting over the treetops, reciting their ABCs. It is hard to imagine one of Africa’s most resilient Big Men growing up in poverty in turn-of-the-century Nyasaland. But the story of his modest roots played well to the populist image the patrician Banda cultivated during his three decades of heavy-handed rule in Malawi. Indeed, the Banda legend of a self-made man was one of ... read more
October 21st 2008
After a rigorous trek across the Nyika Plateau and a few days of licking my wounds in Livingstonia, I’ve slumped back to Mzuzu in time for a cold drink, a hot meal, a hearty welcome - and, after a couple of days, an equally hearty farewell. It’s been a lovely and laid-back fortnight in this pretty, jacaranda-studded city, but at the risk of missing the ferry to Likoma - and having my backside firmly planted on the bar stool at Mzoozoozoo for another week - I’m off with a few cheerful waves and adieus, leaving the convivial scene at the ‘Zoo in the capable hands of Paul, Charity, Gerard, et al. I’ve spared myself the hassles of the bus station and ordered a taxi to Nkhata Bay - a taxi which, at a well-spent 25 US ... read more