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Ancient Wonders and Desert Hallucinations by Victor Paul Borg
Winner of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest
Travels in Libya
The plant called felesles lured me by its radiance and fragrance, like an irresistible sorceress tricking a man into a trap. Its purple flowers were the brightest, its leaves the most vital, and its entire body among the most conspicuous of all bushes that thrive in the central Sahara-a place where rainfall is nonexistent, dew is imperceptible, and the closest water lies 400 meters underground. Only the White Crowned Wheatear, a bird with black and white plumage, matches the felesles' visibility. Now I rolled the leaves of the felesles covered with soft hair between my fingers, and then raised my fingers to my mouth.

"Stop!" cried Mohamed Suleiman, running towards me. "Don't put your fingers in your mouth. If you do, it would be like ingesting a cocktail of heroin, cocaine, and hashish — then you would tear off your clothes and run in the desert like a madman."...


Armies and Allah in the Vale of Kashmir by Mark Hawthorne
3rd Place Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest

Only upon landing at the Srinagar airport did I realize just how blindly I had ventured into Indian-controlled Kashmir, knowing so little about the region flanked by Pakistan and China. But I was eager to spend time on a houseboat on fabled Dal Lake, so, stepping onto the tarmac, I focused on the beauty of the surrounding Himalayas even as I felt anxious about the Indian security forces, the barricades and the razor wire. Kashmiri extremists were struggling to wrest the territory from India's control, a fellow passenger told me, and violence was not uncommon...


Brave Eyes, Laughing Hearts: My First Encounter with Yemen by Sarah Shourd
3rd Place Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest

After an hour or so of pure hassle on the border we are in a cab speeding away from a small, port town on Yemen's coast. Al-Makha tapers out and we enter the Tihama, a vast, uninhabited stretch of desert. It is dotted with dry shrubs and the occasional wide, flat tree with torn, tattered plastic bags blooming on its branches. There are women walking along the road, covered in black, balancing yellow plastic jugs on their heads. The black looks pure against the dusty landscape; my eyes sink eagerly into its depth, searching for definition but getting nowhere. The women have a strong effect on me. They are there but they are not there, seen but not seen. I am drawn to them, but feel oddly intimidated at the same time...


Danger About Us by Zachary Haynes
3rd Place Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest

...Yemen: Kidnappings, Kalashnikovs, embassy bombings, Al Qaeda. Pirates? Paranoia? Or is it the sensationalism propagated by travelers and bloggers? Yemen is one of many stigmatized nations that appeals to the traveler who takes the time to ask why this is so. Is the world more dangerous now than ever before? Of course it is, the world is a horrible place and they all hate you, so don't ever leave your home again! ...


Saffron and Nukes by Nancy Penrose
Finalist Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest
In the heart of the “axis of evil,” I linked arms with the women students arranged around me and we all smiled. Seven clicks later, after photographs on all the cameras, my face ached from grinning into the bright sun

We were standing in the middle of the Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz, Iran.

Only a few moments before I had met the eyes of a young couple and we had nodded to each other. That was all it took. Instantly we were in conversation.

 “Kojast?” they asked, “From where?”

 “Amrika, USA” I said, unsure what their reaction would be...


Long Live Pakistan by Sonya Spry
Finalist Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest
Traveling anywhere in the world can be risky if you don't do your homework before hand. Government organizations are overly cautious, the media sensationalizes and second-hand travel stories are exaggerated more often than not. The best advice is to read up on where you want to venture, heed the warnings, keep alert, but do not allow anyone to disuade you from following your travel dreams.

After selling all our possessions, we handed in our rental keys to the none-the-wiser woman behind the counter at the Arnhem council office in The Netherlands. At this point, we could hardly envisage what was in store for us as we ambled our way down the bike path and across the German border on our way to distant Pakistan. About one thing we were certain: the much talked about Karakoram Highway would be one of our biggest cycling challenges. That was why when we finally reached it-18 countries and almost one year later-realizing our dream became more than just a dilemma over whether to cross the border or not...


Road…What Road? A Shortcut from Ganzi to Litang, China by Jules Bass
Finalist Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest

...At times the road descended down to the fast-flowing river and we had to make a couple of crossings through the most shallow parts. There were a couple of houses scattered through the lower valley where horseback was the only mode of transport for the occupants. Glimpses of people were rare and thoroughly rewarding when they did occur. Imagine the look on their faces upon the sight of a white foreign woman sitting in the back of a taxi smiling, or should I say exhibiting a frozen grimace of terror in the shape of a smile? It is funny how you react to this kind of fear; my response was an uncontrollable fit of laughter, and the monk's answer was to constantly chant his prayer to the heavenly gods...


Guatemala City: The Aftermath of Civil War by Veronica Hackethal
Finalist Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest

Guatemala City, July 1997. It is six months since the Peace Accords ended 36 years of civil war. An uncertain cease fire exists between rival guerilla forces of the URNG (Unidad Revolucionara Nacional Guatemalteca) and the Guatemalan military. Heavily brokered by the UN, peacekeepers enforce the agreement. A spirit of fear pervades Guatemala's capitol: fear of violence, fear of crime, fear of death. I am an idealistic pre-med from Los Angeles, and arrive in Guatemala City for the summer to work at Rodolfo Robles V Hospital. The most I know about hospital work, war, and crime comes from TV shows and movies. I do not know what to expect. How true are the warnings about the dangers of Guatemala City? ...


The Brandy Making Bee Keeper of Bosnia by John Webster
Finalist Winner (tied) of the 2009 Transitions Abroad Narrative Writing Contest
I am driving alone, and the speedometer says 60 but it feels more like 90 as a menacing black Mercedes looms like a cyclone in my rear view mirror. As the chilled early morning mist clears I see the vague outline of a haphazardly laden timber truck powering towards me, its illicit cargo lurching violently against decaying, wafer-thin restraining straps.

The road is horrendous, a white-knuckle, energy-sapping ride through cavernous potholes and the pulverized remnants of countless stray dogs.

Welcome to Bosnia, land of jaw dropping countryside, mountains, valleys, mind-boggling history, welcoming people, and without doubt home to the worst drivers on the face of this earth...


Travel Safety Reputations Die Hard
Are your worries based on old assumptions, last decade's news, or meaningless statistics?
Resourceful Travel Editor Tim Leffel
Tim Leffel

What images come to mind when you hear "Mexico City?" Fantastic food and 135 museums, or kidnappings and murder? Ancient ruins and cutting-edge architecture, or scary taxi drivers and armed robbers?...


Beth Whitman

With the very best of intentions — before I set out on a grand adventure — my friends, family and colleagues usually say to me. you could die. you might get tossed in jail. you'll get into an accident. I can always see it in their eyes and feel it in their farewell hugs. I know what they're really thinking is, "I'll never see you again."...


Ask the Expat Q&A
How Friendly is Your Host Country?
by a Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl

...It is not only essential for expatriates to learn about the practical aspects of life in their host country, but they should also find out if they would actually enjoy living in the country of their interest and how well they get along with the locals. Some cultures are traditionally more closed to outsiders while others are very welcoming. This does not mean that you will be discriminated against, but it may prove harder to make friends and you could remain a relative outsider. Some countries have a culture similar to your own, while others are so different from the Western way of life that it is very difficult for expatriates to adapt...


Alison Gardner

On a pleasure rating of 1 to 10, camping is somewhere between 1 and 2 for me, depending on the state of the outhouse and the thinness of the sleeping mat. I never do it willingly, but sometimes I get tricked into it. This happened last summer while visiting the Historic Hat Creek Ranch in central British Columbia's Cariboo country...


Traveling by Cargo Ship Around the World
Long-Term Traveler Columnist Friedel Rother
Friedel Rother
Imagine for a moment that you are on the deck of a ship, sipping a glass of wine. You turn your head towards the water just in time to spot a pod of dolphins swimming by. After lingering in the sunshine for a while, it's time to head inside for a 3-course evening meal and a splash in the pool before retiring to bed.

Now, what kind of vessel are you on?

No, you are not on a standard commercial cruise ship. This is no luxury liner hopping between Caribbean islands. It is a modern freighter. Hundreds of cargo ships, carrying everything from fire engines to apples, are crossing the world's oceans and many are happy to take you along for the ride...

TAzine Editorial
We are proud to launch TAzine as a monthly Webzine which continues the 31-year tradition started by Transitions Abroad magazine. TAzine features many of the same columnists who wrote for the magazine, a growing group of new columnists, while featuring many freelance writers who wish to share their experiences and expertise within the context of our innovative alternative coverage of work, study, travel, and living abroad.

Founded in 1977 by Dr. Clayton Allen Hubbs, Transitions Abroad magazine was the only print publication dedicated to work, study, living, volunteering, and immersion travel abroad. Its purpose — in print and now as a Webzine — is the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community.

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