Valletta window and street detail



As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times

gary-snyder-bw-1Gary Snyder

When you travel, one of the best ways to get to know a country and its people is to sit around the kitchen table and eat with them: be it cold cut meats and slices of pickled cucumber from Denmark, grizzled community chicken and boiled plantain from Nicaragua or sea urchin and linguini in oil from the Maltese archipelago


The abandoned dance floor, Hotel Continental, Liberia, 2009

DSC_0209 copyThe scars of civil war and chaos, a view in the shattered remains of the old Intercontinental Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia. To access the ruins of the old hotel one walks up a narrow path past the empty swimming pool where a collection of children play and enter a short entertaining process of heckling the Nigerian peacekeepers who protect the building. They lounge around in the rotting old lobby their equipment spread about them as though they themselves are newly arrived guests. After the usual talk and introductions they wave us through the protective cordon and we are free to wander about the vast crumbling emptiness. The war has left its mark. Before, in the flourishing period of the mid 1960’s the wealthy and the famous came here, from the Onasis’ to the Queen of England, all had visited and had at one time or another taken in the view from the top floor restaurant and dance floor. No one ever comes here anymore. The restaurant is smashed and broken, there are still a few shining tiles not removed from the concrete flooring, which preserves the original place where dancers once swayed in front of the band stand. Everything is gutted, pulled from its sockets, broken and smashed in a turmoil of anarchy hard to comprehend now as one gazes across the city, watching the hawks and eagles lazily drift amid the thermals thrown up by the Atlantic.

I knew instinctively that it was the very hardness of life in the desert which drew me back there — it was the same pull which takes men back to the polar ice, to high mountains, and to the sea


Wilfred Thesiger