Don George has been busy at Don’s Place. Here are the highlights:

Feature Destination
I’m about to embark on a two-week adventure to Kenya and Tanzania. But the journey begins at home — with visas, vaccines, and other essential preparations. Join me as I perfect my imitation of a human pin cushion.

It happened 30 years ago, but it’s still one of my most magical memories: Timeless connections enliven an unexpected stay on the uninhabited island of Delos.

July 18, 2007toJuly 22, 2007

“Join Wild Women Workshops instructors Heather Sullivan and Cynthia Ramaciotti for a wonderful backpacking trip in the high country of Yosemite. Yoga and reflective writing instruction will be offered.” July 18-22, 2007. Cost: $675. Please email us for registration forms. Some scholarships available. (209) 379-9453.

Beyond Green

April 16, 2007 | Leave a Comment

From Get Lost Travel Books March, 2007 Newsletter: “In a recent cover story on “green travel” Publishers Weekly (1/29/07) asked various publishers to define the terms “green” and “eco-travel”. The definitions proffered turned out to be so broad as to render the terms meaningless. Tim Jarrell, the publisher of Fodor’s thinks of eco-travel as outdoor activities and eco-tours. (Can someone explain to me what an eco-tour actually is?) He identified two trends in green travel: 1) sustainability, i.e., minimizing the impact of tourism on resources such as fuel and water; and 2) “out-of-the-ordinary” experiences. He is spot-on with the first point. But isn’t “out-of-the-ordinary” just good old “independent travel”? Editorial director Elizabeth Newhouse of National Geographic believes that “experiential travel is important, because the closer people feel to the places they visit, the more careful they will be in preserving them.” Ouch. I am afraid that the imprecision here is going to go down as yet another marketing trend that will soon be forgotten. If millions of well-meaning travelers are throwing away their non-recyclable water bottles every day, is it right to consider them green if they all decide to go on bike tours half way around the world?”In the 1980s I used A Guide to Trekking in Nepal by Stephen Bezruchka. He pointed out how a trekker impacts the communities he/she passes through: only 3 cents of every dollar stayed with the locals; trees and branches being the primary heating fuel, to provide trekkers hot showers meant further deforestation; and a trekker’s ability to pay more for bread and provisions made them less affordable for locals in the long run. Bezruchka’s facts and advice were revelations. It was the first time that I considered my impact as a tourist on a given economy. The questions one could ask about how one travels and where one stays are limitless. Beyond green vs. non-green practices there ought to be the most crucial consideration: “who is benefiting here and who is losing out?”

A tireless giver to the world’s desperate and needy, Marc Gold has become a St. Nicholas for the new millenniumby Michael McCarthy
Pacific Sun, December 15, 2006

“If Santa Claus is an old man with a long white beard who gives away gifts at Christmas, then Marc Gold must be one of his merry elves.

Or Santa’s helper, for few people personify the spirit of giving more than Gold, to whom every day seems to be Christmas. News about his work is spreading via word of mouth; the world may be a mess, but meeting Gold presents opportunities to change all that.

Thanks to Bradley Charbonneau for sending these helpful directions for Adventure Travel to London:

  1. Go to Google
  2. Click on “maps”
  3. Click on “get directions”
  4. Type “New York” in the first box (the “from” box)
  5. Type “London” in the second box (the “to” box)
  6. Click on “Get directions”
  7. Scroll down to step #23

Now you know.

“Travel often turns my expectations upside down. In 1999, I visited Iran with a small group of Americans to watch a total eclipse of the sun. On the afternoon of the event, I found myself alone in Esfahan’s vast Khomeini Square: one American among 50,000 Iranians…” Read the rest of this article about Jeff Greenwald in the March 13 New York Times. If you haven’t visited Jeff’s Ethical Traveler website in a while, check it out here.

Here are Stephanie Elizondo Griest’s tips for traveling in communist/post-communist bloc countries. Her books look good, too.

My first podcast was an interview with Dr. John Harte from UC Berkeley — who studies the interaction of humans and climate change — and Dr. Ross MacPhee from the American Museum of Natural History in New York — who studies the extinction of woolly mammoths on Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic.

We talked about what “global warming” means, why the current forecasts might be underestimating the near-term impact of global warming(!), and an upcoming trip to Wrangel Island to learn firsthand about global climate change in an area that is already feeling the effects. You can go here to listen to the archived show, and you can go here to find out how to travel to Wrangel Island this July 5-18, along with Tom Brokaw and four world-class scientists.

Songlines from southeast Asia, from Laurie Weed

Burmese Days

Hi Everyone,

It’s been an action-packed month (OK, month and a half) over here. From trekking in the remote eastern hills of Myanmar’s Shan State, to asphyxiating in Yangon, home of the world’s worst taxis, I covered a lot of new territory. Rather than trying to capture it ALL in words, I’ve posted some photos online and picked out one of my favorite adventures to share — it’s a boat story. Links and text are below.

Songlines from Southeast Asia, from Laurie Weed

Chiang Mai, Thailand

November-December: Thailand

In Bangkok, I stayed with the exuberant and charming Fluke Ganitta, who graciously put me up in her cozy apartment and spared me the Bangkok guesthouse roulette I later inflicted on my friend Christina (see below.)

I knew Fluke and I were going to get along like gangbusters when the first CD she played was the soundtrack from “I Am Sam”. (Back in El Cerrito, my housemate and I play this disc so often it must be handled with oven mitts to prevent friction burns.) At Vietnamese food later that night, Fluke further endeared herself to me when she picked up the menu and announced that she would be happy to order for us, but she *doesn’t eat pets*. It’s like we were separated at birth.

Songlines from Southeast Asia

From Laurie Weed:

Hi Folks,

Welcome to the latest incarnation of my travel dispatch, formerly known as the Update. I had big plans for launching a multimedia version this year, but after too many hours in the world’s slowest internet cafés, I’m scrapping it for now.

The Aborigines, world-class wanderers, map unknown territories by collecting bits of data along the trail. Directions, distances, positions of the sun and moon, landmarks and signs are strung together into a story or song to tell the rest of the tribe about the journey. These “songlines” become

March 13, 2007
7:00 pm

Thanks to Diane LeBow for forwarding info about an upcoming presentation by Michael Kohn: “Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad’s Land.” This will be awonderful opportunity hear about Michael’s latest book and to meet this intrepid travel writer.

Tuesday, March 13th at 7 p.m.
Books Inc (Opera Plaza)
601 Van Ness Ave, SF, CA 94102

Greenwald in Iran

February 28, 2007 | Leave a Comment

Hear Jeff Greenwald tell his story about being the lone American in a vast Iranian crowd gathered to watch a solar eclipse, and what happens to him when an aggressive anti-American demonstration erupts. This and other stories are archived by Tales from Earth on KUSF.

Full of funny misadventures. My story is about inadvertently locking my keys in the car in the middle of the Australian Outback.

Hello from Kathmandu

June 24, 2006 | Comments Off on Hello from Kathmandu

Here’s a 6/22/06 note from Michael McCarthy.

To all:

Just a word to say that I am alive and doing fairly well in Kathmandu. I somehow survived my 21-day trek with a Tibetan lama, 3 members of his family and 6 Tibetan horsemen to the Upper Dolpo region of Nepal, and if I ever suggest doing such a crazy thing again please take me out and shoot me.

We walked over 200 miles of some of the highest mountains on the planet, in the world’s most remote region, climbed four 16,000-feet passes, were robbed by the Maoist terorists of all our money, forded raging rivers, hung off cliff faces while following trails 3-4 inches wide all covered with dust and loose rocks, nearly died about a dozen times, lived with nomadic Tibetan horsemen for 3 weeks, and rescued six little abandoned children from tiny remote villages on the Tibetan plateau.


Annette’s Intrepid Travel

April 23, 2006 | Comments Off on Annette’s Intrepid Travel

From Annette Terkaly (4/2/06): Greetings from Switzerland!! I know I have not been in touch very much with you all . . . I guess since I wasn’t traveling I didn’t want to bore you all with my mundane life in Italy. But that will all change very soon, as you will hear later. But first let me bring you up to date . . .

[read more in extended entry]

So, I have to be in Beijing in the beginning of June for training and then I’ll start leading trips. I hope all of you will check out their website and please, if you can come on one of my trips. They have a bunch of wonderful itineraries and it would be great to have you!

Dispatch from Nepal – Back safely in US

April 23, 2006 | Comments Off on Dispatch from Nepal – Back safely in US

From Li Miao Lovett (4/16/04): My husband and I arrived safely back in San Francisco on Friday, after two weeks in Nepal, the last few days of which were spent in suspended animation, as the entire city of Kathmandu was held under house arrest during the government-ordered curfews. I did not have everyone’s email when I sent the first dispatch from Nepal (below) last Tuesday, and for those interested, this is a link to a fairly objective website with news updates. Another news site, with more of a homegrown liberal sway, comes from the International Nepal Solidarity Network for Democratic Peace.

Dispatch from Nepal (4/11/06, 1 of 2)

April 23, 2006 | Comments Off on Dispatch from Nepal (4/11/06, 1 of 2)

From Li Miao Lovett: The magic of the internet allows me to write to you from Nepal, where a curfew has been imposed by the government for the past two days in the Kathmandu Valley, following a strike by opposition parties demanding a modicum of democracy from the king. If this sounds like the headlines of a newspaper article, it is a strange experience to be in this country, surrounded by this kind of unrest.


Buenas tardes from Caracas

April 23, 2006 | Comments Off on Buenas tardes from Caracas

From Diane LeBow, 4/22/06: Here we are 18 days into our current adventure in Venezuela. The first 11 days we were with Global Exchange, a human rights organization from San Francisco. In Caracas, we had many extremely busy days, meeting, sometimes 4 meetings-day, with various governmental agencies, tv stations, barrio projects, educational groups, research data managers as well as museums, trying to figure out the “truth” about this very complicated “revolution” that is going on here.

Of course, it is impossible to really figure this out. It’s a bit like if you dropped in from outer space and interviewed Jerry Falwell and then Jesse Jackson in trying to learn about what the US government is up to and the state of the United States. What we can see is that Venezuela is a very rich country in resources: the largest oil reserves in the world, gold, minerals, precious stones, agriculture, high Andes, ancient rock plateaus called Tapuis that date back billions of years, gorgeous beaches and Caribbean coast and islands, very friendly people.

Also hundreds of years of colonial history, fighting to free themselves from Spain, England, France, Holland, and then decades of corrupt dictators where the rich got very rich and the majority of the people very poor. Most of the indigenous people were killed off. Much of the oil profits were shipped out to the United States and foreign companies who controlled the oil production and paid only a small percentage back to the Venezuelan people. Enormous illiteracy, poverty, etc.


Guatemala on the Gringo Trail

January 8, 2006 | Comments Off on Guatemala on the Gringo Trail

Hello from Laurie Weed (12/25/2005), who sends greetings from “Copan Ruinas, a sleepy colonial town about 10 kilometers east of the Guatemalan border. It was misty and cool here when I arrived, but today the sun is shining and it’s a tropical 75 degrees. There’s a breeze ruffling the palm fronds, marimba music in the streets, and I think the kids next door may have finally run out of firecrackers, so it should be a tranquil Christmas night.”

Guatemala: A Subjective Best-Of List:

– Peering into the sulfurous mouth of Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s 3 live volcanoes (see November’s email).

– Hiking from San Pedro out to La Finca (the Ranch) and spending the day lazing at Lake Atitlan on a private, palapa-covered dock.

– Eating hot pupusas (flat bread fried around local cheese, then smothered in mashed avocado and chile sauce) at the street stalls, followed by a cup of azole (sp?), a sweet, warm drink made from maize that tastes like runny corn pudding. Yum!

– Swimming in the brilliant green pools at Semuc Champey, surrounded by pristine rainforest.

– Admiring the hypnotically bright, intricately woven cloth made and worn by indigenous women in the highlands.

– Traveling among Guatemala’s amazing variety of cultures, from diverse Mayan villages in the highlands to Garifuna-Creole settlements on the Caribbean coast.

(Read on: learn about Laurie’s adventure swiming through a cave with a candle, and learn to identify a jungle chicken….)

Hello from Laurie Weed (11/24/05)

December 2, 2005 | Comments Off on Hello from Laurie Weed (11/24/05)

Laurie Weed is alive and well and traveling in Guatemala:

“I’m happy to report that I’m out on the road again now – this time in Central America. I arrived about a week ago and have been making my way west from Guatemala City to San Pedro, a very small town on Lake Atitlan. I stopped along the way to check out the colonial city of Antigua (cute, but very touristy), visit the huge craft market at Chichicastenango, and climb Pacaya, an active volcano. Those who know me well will wonder what I was thinking (or drinking) with that last one, so let me just say it sounded like it would be a walk in the park.

It wasn’t.


100 Friends

December 18, 2004 | Comments Off on 100 Friends

Here’s news from Marc Gold, project director for the 100 Friends Project:

Hello Friends,

I hope that all of you are well and enjoying life.

Here is the latest report from the 100 Friends Project, just to let you all know what I have been doing with the donations and to tell you about future plans for the project.

All you need to do is click here to read all about it and to see the photographs.

Best wishes and happy holidays,

Marc Gold

Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches

September 26, 2004 | Comments Off on Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches

And now for another kind of travel writing. Thanks to Jeff Pfleuger, who is managing Dahr’s Jamail’s website, for sending this information:

“Weary of the failure of the US media to accurately report on the realities of the war in Iraq for the US soldiers and Iraqis, Dahr Jamail went to Iraq to report on the war himself.

100 Friends Project: A Project of the Foundation for Sustainable Development

May 12, 2004 | Comments Off on 100 Friends Project: A Project of the Foundation for Sustainable Development

An open letter from Marc Gold (May, 2004):

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you well. For the ninth time, I am preparing for another humanitarian mission overseas and I hope you can support the project to whatever degree possible.

Please click on this link for our latest newsletter:

It tells you all about the project, how to donate,gives an overview of project activities and donations in 2003 and describes more recent developments.

The newsletter describes the project, how to donate (we are now a tax-deductible organization under the auspices of the Foundation for Sustainable Development) and explains new developments related to the project.

At a time when our nation is seen so unfavorably by so many, I hope in my own small way to present a countervailing image and show others another way to view Americans instead of the ones we sadly see so prominently in the media.

Even more importantly, I plan to use whatever funds I collect to directly impact the needy, especially children and the elderly, in the poverty-stricken countries that I will visit. They are always so curious to know: “Who are these 100 Friends?” (Actually, last year it was 135 Friends!) I do my best to describe some of you to them!


Lynn Ferrin on Cuba

January 11, 2004 | Comments Off on Lynn Ferrin on Cuba

January, 2004: Lynn Ferrin is just back from Cuba, and we chatted briefly about her trip (which sounded wonderful!): “I wanted to get there before January 1, when Bush Two enforced further restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba…. I went with Elderhostel–which turned out to be a lively and wise group of old Lefties.

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