Last weekend, I found myself descending down a rope without being able to see the top of it, or the bottom. I moved down slowly, steadily, one had below the other – unsure what I was heading towards or how much further I had to go before reaching my destination. I couldn’t see more than …
As the sun sets and the sweltering temperatures begin to subside, the dancers come out in Cartagena. The energetic drumming is like a siren call, ringing through the colonial streets, drawing onlookers from across the old city.
For a fan of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the ancient wooden doors of Old Cartagena are each as exciting as a book cover – each awaiting to be opened to reveal the stories within, of traders, aristocrats and drug barons.
One of the loveliest afternoons of my life was spent writing proverbs onto pieces of slate beside an idyllic lagoon in southwestern Ghana. You often find you take a little piece of a place with you when you travel – it’s nice every now and again to know you’ve left a little piece of yourself behind.
There is an island off the coast of Cartagena de Indias, far from the sounds of horses and carts clattering over cobblestones, from the salsa drum that drifts through shuttered windows. The island is near silent – the Caribbean heat is brutal here, and nothing can bear to move.
It’s not every day that you get a tattoo while 3,000m up a mountain. My tattooist was a delightful little Colombian named Maruja, and her simple tools were plucked from the Andean mountainside, just as they had been for centuries: a plant, and a pinch of soil. This was no ordinary traveller’s tattoo: this was a Muisca tattoo
“England, huh? So what language do they speak there?” It sounds like the punchline to a rubbish joke, but this was a question I was once asked by a Panamanian boat driver. As we cruised between Caribbean islets, I wasn’t exactly feeling close to home, but the question reminded me just how far away I really was.
Mystery meat stalls are such an intrinsic part of travelling that it only seemed right to ask for a photograph of Thomas, with his corrugated aluminium kebab stall under the shade of the looming baobabs – and he was happy to oblige.
In a small corner of Ghana’s Upper East Region, the buildings themselves tell stories. Faint patterns emerge on the adobe walls of the compounds and granaries and huts. Smudges of red ochre, ebony and ashy white flake from the baked mud, becoming richer and more visible the further north we travel.
Chief Zotentaar-Suhbazaa of Tengzuk sits beneath a vast baobab, squinting at us through his orange-tinted aviators. He is an extraordinarily powerful and respected man, as his entourage and his ceremonial walking stick suggest, and so, presumably, does the neon-streaked beach towel he has draped casually around his neck.