Category Archives: trips

Terra Australis Incognita


Etnias de la Patagonia:

Selk’ram people

Tierra del Fuego: Karukinka


Photographic copy of a portrait lithograph made by Herman John Schmidt (1872-1959), from Auckland, of Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy (1805-1865), Governor of New Zealand 1843-1845. Via Wikimedia.

FitzRoy, Parker King and the HMS Beagle

Tratado de Tordesillas


Dutch map of the Moluccas. Via Wikimedia.

Isla de la especias (Islas Molucas)


Antonio de Pigafetta cronista

punta de tierra baja
las virgenes

cabo virgenes

Terra Australis incognita

Estrecho Le Maire

La Tierra de los Estado y Cabo de Hornos

Presidente Bulnes

Fuerte Aneud

Bernhard Eunom Philippi cartografo

Puerto de Hambre

Rio Carbon

Punta Arenosa


Glaciar Perito Moreno


Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Signet Classics, 2007. Print. (First ed. 1914.)

The Sisters

The priest “Sometimes he had amused himself by putting difficult questions to me, asking me what one should do in certain circumstances or whether such and such sins were mortal or venial or only imperfections. His questions showed me how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which I had always regarded as the simplest acts.” p. 5

“His face was very truculent, grey and massive, with black cavernous nostrils and circled by a scanty white fur. There was a heavy odour in the room — the flowers.” p. 7

**An Encounter p. 13

“It was too late and we were too tired to carry out our project of visiting the Pigeon House.” p. 18

“- I say! Look what he’s doing!
As I neither answered nor raised my eyes Mahony exclaimed again:
-I say …He’s a queer old josser!
-In case he asks us for our names, I said, let you be Murphy and I’ll be Smith.” p. 21

“A slap on the hand or a box on the ear was no good: what he wanted was to get a nice warm whipping. I was surprised at this sentiment and involuntarily glanced up at his face. As I did do I met the gaze of a pair of bottle-green eyes peering at me from under a twitching forehead. I turned my eyes away again.” p. 22


“I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” p. 32

After the Race

“They walked northward with a curious feeling of disappointment in the exercise, while the city hung its pale globes of light above them in a haze of summer evening.” p. 42

Two Gallants

“Corley halted at the first lamp and stared grimly before him. Then with a grave gesture he extended a hand toward the light and, smiling, opened it slowly to the gaze of his disciple. A small gold coin shone in the palm.” p. 59

A Little Cloud

“A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.” p. 72

“Their faces were powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth, like alarmed Atalantas.” p. 73

“The bar seemed to him to be full of people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. He glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to make his errand appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody had turned to look at him:” p. 75-76

Lord Byron

“Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom,
Not e’en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret’s tomb
And scatter flowers on the dust I love.”


“The dark damp night was coming and he longed to spend it in the bars, drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas and the clatter of glasses.” p. 92

“His wife was a little sharp-faced woman who bullied her husband when he was sober and was bullied by him when he was drunk. They had five children. A little boy came running down the stairs.” p. 101


“Then she asked all the children had any of them eaten it — by mistake, of course–but the children all said no and looked as if they did not like to eat cakes if they were to be accused of stealing.” p. 108

I dreamt that I Dwelt (song)

“I had riches too great to count, could boast
of a high ancestral name,
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you loved me still the same.” p. 110

“But no one tried to show her her mistake” p. 111

A Painful  Case

“He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars, and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel.” p. 114

“The workmen’s discussions, he said, were too timorous; the interest they took in the question of wages was inordinate. He felt that they were hard-featured realists and that they resented an exactitude which was the product of a leisure not within their reach. No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to strike Dublin for some centuries.” p. 117

“he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own.” p. 118

“he realised that she was dead, that she had ceased to exist, that she had become a memory.” p. 123

No one wanted him; he was outcast from life’s feast. He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness, obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engines reiterating the syllables of her name.” p. 124

Ivy Day in the Committee Room

“-There’s no tumblers, said the old man.
-O, don’t let that trouble you, Jack, said Mr Henchy. Many’s the good man before now drank out of the bottle.” p. 136

“Then he took up the corkscrew and went out of the door sideways, muttering some form of salutation.
-That’s the way it begins, said the old man.
-The thin edge of the wedge, said Mr Henchy.” p. 137

“Mr Crofton sat down on a box and looked fixedly at the other bottle on the hob. He was silent for two reasons. The first reason, sufficient in itself, was that he had nothing to say; the second reason was that he considered his companions beneath him.” p. 138-139

“Mr Hynes hesitated a little longer. Then amid the silence he took off his hat, laid it on the table and stood up. He seemed to be rehearsing the piece in his mind. After a rather long pause he announced:

The Death of Parnell
6TH OCTOBER 1891″ p. 142

“-Good man, Joe! said Mr O’Connor, taking out his cigarette-papers and pouch the better to hide his emotion.” p. 144

A Mother

Mr O’Madden Burke “His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely respected.” p. 155


“She believed steadily in the Sacred Heart as the most generally useful of all Catholic devotions and approved of the sacraments. Her faith was bounded by her kitchen but, if she was put to it, she could believe also in the banshee and in the Holy Ghost.” p. 169

Soldiers at Dublin Castle, c.1905. Via Wikimedia.

Dublin Castle (Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath)

peloothered (drunk)


“The General of the Jesuits stands next to the Pope.” p. 175

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, first Superior General. Via Wikimedia.

The Prisoner of the Vatican


Pope Leo XIII “union of the Latin and Greek Churches.” p. 179

Lux upon Lux
Lux in Tenebris

Papal infallibility

John of Tuam

*****The Dead p. 189

Mr Browne “He was astonished to hear that the monks never spoke, got up at two in the morning and slept in their coffins…
-The coffin, said Mary Jane, is to remind them of their last end.” p. 217

***”Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and righly claim, our strenuous endeavours.” p. 220

“And everything went on beautifully until Johnny came in sight of King Billy’s statue: and whether he fell in love with the horse King Billy sits on or whether he thought he was back again in the mill, anyhow he began to walk round the statue.
Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid the laughter of the others.” p. 224

*****”He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light tones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.” p. 226

“O, the rain falls on my heavy locks
And the dew wets my skin,
My babe lies cold…” p. 227

****”A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fires of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illuminated his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy.” p. 230-231

“A ghostly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from one window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a couch and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into the street in order that his emotion might calm him a little.” p. 233

*******”The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.” p. 240

*******”A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill were Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly though the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” p. 241


“The Irish playwright John Millington Synge once said that words should have the crispness of an autumn apple,” p. 244

“Dubliners was accepted for publication in 1904 and, due to the prevailing puritan prudery, it got passed from fearful publisher to fearful publisher and was eventually published nine years later. It was not a book that reverberated like the shot heard around the world; indeed it sold three hundred copies, of which one hundred were purchased by the author himself, a not unfamiliar tactic to gain bestseller status,” p. 247

Ireland “is somewhat a matriarchy, which to me is a society where men look down on their women with reverence.” p. 248

“Some scholars say that James Augustine Aloysius Joyce could not, in his early years, write anything that he had not observed and personally experienced in some way; thus Dubliners follows a path through childhood, through puberty and ts sins of the flesh, a constant torment to Irish teenagers, sometime maturity, and the emerging of the man into public view.” p. 248

To read Anton Chekhov Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов

The Dead (1987 film) John Huston

World War Z

Brooks, Max. World War Z: An Oral History of The Zombie War. New York: Broadway, 2006. Print.

Fengdu (city of ghosts) 豐都鬼城
Old Dachang
Monasteries at Meteora, Greece

Rabbi Loew and Golem by Mikoláš Aleš, 1899. Via Wikimedia.

Golem גלמי

Sinai Desert at Taba

Ship breaking at AlangGujarat, India
“Pakistan’s south central mountains: the Pab, the Kirthar, the Central Brahui range.” p. 113

List of mountain ranges of Pakistan

thermobaric weapon

Henry J. Kaiser (father of modern American shipbuilding)

Vo Nguyen Giap in 1954. Via Wikimedia.

Vo Nguyen Giap (General in the Vietnam People’s Army)

Bosozoku 暴走族 Japanese motorbike subculture

Haya-ji  Shinto wind god

The Japanese wind god Fūjin, Sōtatsu, 17th century. Via Wikimedia.

Fujin Shinto wind god

Winston Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

To read: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

The Ossuary and Port-Mahon Quarry

The Lawless Roads

Greene, Graham. The Lawless Roads. London: Penguin, 1976. Print. (First Ed. 1939)

“Man’s like the earth, his hair like grasse is grown,
His veins the rivers are, his heart the stone.”
Wit’s Recreations (1640)

“Most priests wear their mufti with a kind of uneasiness, but Pro was a good actor.” p. 19

The execution of Miguel Pro. Via Wikimedia.

“Within two months of Pro’s landing, President Calles had begun the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.” p. 19

President Plutarco Elías Calles.

“For Mexico remained Catholic; it was only the governing class – politicians and pistoleros – which was anti-Catholic.” p. 20

“Over there – one argued to oneself – were Chichen Itza and Mitla and Palenque, the enormous tombstones of history,” p. 24

“For the priest prison, and for the politician a bullet.” p. 24

Quadragesimo Anno (encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931)

“We writers are apt to judge a country by freedom of the Press, and politicians by freedom of speech – it’s the same really.” p. 32

“This was Mexico, that was the United States. The only difference was dirt and darkness: there weren’t so many lights in Mexico. They called this Nuevo Laredo to distinguish it from the town in Texas, but as so often happens the son looked older than the father, more acquainted with the seamy side of life.” p. 33

“A drunken voice sung in Spanish and the rain fell over the dreary  Nuevo León plain,” p. 34

“mud huts and a few factories and then nothing at all until the seal-grey mountains gathered slowly round, little outcrops of rock like sailing-ships on the horizon.” p. 36

“The dry and prickly desert: the cacti sticking up like pins with an effect of untidiness, and the night deepening. Paths went off into the dark gleaming with wet, going to nowhere one knew of at all.” p. 37

“For one can respect an atheist as one cannot respect a deist: once accept a God and reason should carry you further, but to accept nothing at all – that requires some stubbornness, some courage.” p. 37

“The cheers were everywhere, stretching out to the dim mountains: they weren’t cheers at all, but the cocks crowing for miles around, an odd Biblical rhapsody at dawn.” p. 39

“God didn’t cease to exist when men lost their faith in Him; there were always catacombs where the secret rite could be kept alive till the bad times passed” p. 39

“At dinner the old gentleman couldn’t get over the joke of it: here I’d been walking miles about town and he’d gone all round in one hour by street car – for five cents. American money. ‘But I like walking,’ I kept on telling him – uselessly. ‘I’m going to tell them that back home,’ he said, ‘about my English friend who walked all day and saved five cents American.'” p. 41

(San Luis Potosí) “Roads were like the lines on a map; you saw them meandering thinly for an immense distance, dying out at the margin among the rocks and cacti. The cacti had no beauty – they were like some simple shorthand sign for such words as ‘barrenness’ and ‘drought’; you felt they were less the product than the cause of this dryness, that they had absorbed all the water there was in the land and held it as camels do in their green, aged, tubular bellies. ” p. 42

“Everything is repeated there, even the blood sacrifices of the Aztecs; the age of Mexico falls on the spirit like a cloud.” p. 44

“‘If you are a philosopher,’ he rebuked me, ‘every place is the same. Why not Mexico?'” p. 52

“The veranda was crowded with politicians waiting for the General to appear, with guns on their hips, the holsters and the cartridge belts beautifully worked, a decorative death” p. 53

“The General sat in the front seat; the great back and rounded shoulders reminded me of Tommy Brock in Miss Beatrice Potter‘s book – ‘he waddled about by moonlight, digging things up'” p. 56

Illustration of Tommy Brock from The Tale of Mr. Tod (via wikimedia)

“Presently somebody thought of trying a switch and the light went obediently on, a bare globe beating on a cracked mirror, a few hard chairs, a miniature billiard table with a ragged cloth.” p. 57

“He was caught in a maze of friends and enemies with similar faces.” p. 58

“Somewhere far away a thunderstorm shifted cumbrously in the hills… like cargo unloaded in a railway-yard.” p. 60

Rural Rides by William Cobbet

To Mexico City “[Cobbet] judged landscape by its value to human beings… The Romantics would have enjoyed the Mexican scene, describing it as ‘sublime’ and ‘awe-inspiring’; they scented God in the most barren regions, as if He were a poet of escape whom it was necessary to watch tactfully through spy-glasses as He brooded beside a waterfall or on the summit of Helvellyn: as if God, disappointed in His final creation, had fallen back on one of His earlier works. They preferred the kind of Nature which rejects man.” p. 61

Tacuba area in Mexico City. See Tlacopan

Map of “Valley of Mexico on the eve of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.” Via Wikimedia.

José Clemente Orozco

See mural Entering the Mine by Rivera (Murals by Diego Rivera in the Secretaria de Educacion Publico)


“All monuments in Mexico are to violent deaths.” p. 80

“In the great grey courtyard of Teotihuacán, surrounded by the platforms of small pyramidal temples, you do get the sense of a continent over the world’s edge – a flatness, a vacancy, through which peer plumed serpents and faces like gas-masks over over orifices that might be the mouths of Lewis guns or flamethrowers.” p. 82

Virgen de Guadalupe 

“But this shrine of Guadalupe, even at the height of the persecution, remained open – no government dared to rob the Indian of his Virgin, and it helped to break the career of the only man who ever threatened it.” p. 87

“The Virgin of Guadalupe, like St Joan in France, had become identified not only with the faith but with the country, she was a patriotic symbol even to the faithless…” p. 88

“I didn’t like the serious way he took this matter of the insurance; this was graveyard talk. The boat couldn’t be as bad as all that.” p. 101

“We climbed over the rail with the suitcase, and a sailor led the way down a few stairs into the engine-room, where one old greasy engine say like an elephant neglected in its tiny house.” p. 101

“breakfast was handed up through a hatch in the deck from the engine-room – a loaf of bread and a plate of anonymous fish scraps from which the eyeballs stood mournfully out.” p. 105

“Shark fins glided like periscopes at the entrance to the Grijalva River, the scene of the Conquistadores’ first landing in Mexico” 105-106

Villahermosa, Tabasco

“The vultures squatted on the roofs. It was like a place besieged by scavengers – sharks in the river and vultures in the streets.” p. 107

“For twelve hours there had been nothing but trees on either side; one had moved forward only into darkness; and here with an effect of melodrama was a city – lights burning down into the river, a great crown outlined in electricity like a casino. All felt the shock – it was like coming to Venice through an uninhabited jungle – they called, triumphantly, ‘El puerto, el puerto!'” p. 111

Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope

“I went back to the hotel to bed and began to read Dr Thorne… A cockchafer came buzzing and beating through the room and I turned out the light – the light went out all over Barsetshire, the hedges and hte rectories and paddocks dropped into darkness,” p. 114

“It will be a fine journey, the man said, if you can make it – you’ll know what Cortés had to face in heavy armour on his march to Guatemala.” p. 116

“I had won twenty pesos with my first ticket. That sold the lottery to me: I bought at least a small share in a ticket in every town I came to, but never won again.” p. 117

“In the night beetles woke me, thumping against the wall. I killed two – one in the very centre of the great tiles floor, but when I woke there wasn’t a sign of it. It was uncanny.” p. 118

A Victorian Adventurer (p. 118-122)

The frontispiece for the 1638 edition of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. Via Wikimedia.

“In West Africa once I had made the mistake of taking the Anatomy of Melancholy, with the idea that it would, as it were, match the mood. It matched all right, but what one really needs is contrast, and so I surrendered perhaps my only hope of ever reading War and Peace in favour of something overwhelmingly national.” p. 128

“Ortega’s little red plane moved back across the merciless sky, like an insect on a mirror, towards Villahermosa. I had a sense of being marooned… ” p. 132

“The fireflies moved like brilliant pocket torches, and a small boy stood by the track with a flaming brand making mysterious animal noises into the dark.” p. 134

“I dreamed of a Mr Wang, also known as Mr Moon, who was to guide me – somewhere. He was dressed in the most extravagant robes – all silk and gold embroidery and dragons” p. 134

“the two mules swimming beside the canoe, with just their muzzles and their eyes above the water like a pair of alligator heads,” p. 135

***”Then the sound of horses came beating up across the plain – this is the romantic attraction of the Mexican countryside, the armed stranger travelling at night who may be a friend of an enemy. The door of the hut was barred shut. A horse whistled, stirrup irons jangled; when the lightning flared I could see four horses, and a man dismounting. He felt his way across the veranda and knocked at the door – ‘Con amistad.'” p.

“I learned from her for the first time of the rather wild dream that buoys up many people in Chiapas: the hope of a rising which will separate Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo from the rest of Mexico and of an alliance with Catholic Guatemala.” p. 153

“Time passed; I saw the mule climbing briskly up the opposite slope, the size of a toy animal, and fifty yards behind it a toy man. Then they both disappeared altogether, and dusk began to fall. I was alone with the two mules – it seemed to be the end of that journey.
“In the mountains the sun sets early – the horizon is high up the sky. I waited half an hour; the sun dropped out of sight, the forests became black below their gilded tips. The world was all steel and gold, like war. The opposite slope dropped into obscurity, untenanted.” p. 164

“The guide couldn’t put up in their presence that Mexican façade of bonhomie – the embrace, the spar, the joke – with which they hide from themselves the cruelty and treachery of their life.” p. 167

“When we rode up the beds heaved on their piles and rows of eyes peered out of the darkness like a cave of cats: there wasn’t an inch of space to spare in the windswept shelter.” p. 168

“About eleven a fist beating on the barred door woke us all. I switched on my torch and saw the doubtful bearded faces lifted from the beds; somebody felt for his revolver holster, and then the password came, ‘Con amistad.'” p. 168

A Grove of Crosses “The scenery was magnificent: the great pine forests swept down to where we trudge at a mere six thousand feet, great rocky precipices showed like grey castle walls through breaks in the pines.” p. 169

“It was like a scene from the past before the human race had bred its millions – England of the Conquest before the forests had been cut, a herd called Sweyn, the wattle huts, the word of Ivanhoe.”

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

“It was like an adventure of Rider Haggard – coming so unexpectedly out of the forest above this city, once the capital of Chiapas and the home of Las Casas, a place with one rough road, impassable in the rains, running down to Tuxtla and the coast, and only a mule track for the traveller from the north.” p. 171

“I felt my incredulity shaken. Suppose there was a miracle, suppose out of some box a voice did speak… it was horrifying thought that life could never be the same again; one couldn’t go on living as one had been living. What happens afterwards to the people who are present at a genuine miracle?”

Mixtec ruins

“We stopped at a cantina, and had some mescal – the driver told me it was good for dysentery. I don’t think it was, but it was good for our spirits.” p. 198

Puebla’s Hidden Convent “In a glass of case enclosed in a reliquary was the founder’s withered heart, the colour of long-dried blood.” p. 203

“For the first time since I came to Mexico I could see the great volcano Popocatepetl, a cone of ice bobbing between the woods and peaks, over the decaying churches, like the moon outliving everything. It was beautiful, but I was more concerned with the incompetence of the drive.” p. 205

Garci Crespo “I had to ask him several times before I got it, and every time he nodded more winningly, darkly, knowingly – as if I were insisting on the letter of a code. When I was undressing, the glass of the door darkened; somebody scratched, scratched at the pane: it was the waiter. I asked him what he wanted; he merely grinned and said hadn’t I asked for a Garci Crespo? I slammed the door shut nad a little while later he came padding up the passage and scratched again. I shouted to him to go and turned out the light, but for a long while the small vicious shadow waited, with the patience of a snake, on the other side of the glass.” p. 206

Taxco is the showplace of the Mexican tourist belt – old Mexico carefully preserved by a society of business men and American artists known as ‘The Friends of Taxco’. It is the Greenwich Village of Mexico” p. 208

Tempest Over Mexico by Rosa E.King (Zapata rising)

The Escapist (218-222)

“Somewhere I suppose, the Ruiz Cano rolled from Vercruz or Villahermosa and back and the sailors stood about doing up their trousers; the dentists was back at El Frontera; and the Norwegian lady waited with hopeless optimism for her son’s return. It is awful how things go on when you are not there.” p. 223

The Wheel by W. B. Yeats (p. 223)

Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter’s best of all;
And after that there s nothing good
Because the spring-time has not come –
Nor know that what disturbs our blood
Is but its longing for the tomb.

To read

Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Journey Without Maps, The Heart of the Matter, The Third Man (film treatment), Our Man in Havana.

Beatrice Potter

W. B. Yeats


Caste War of Yucatán

Project Gutenberg (free e-books)





The Happiness of Pursuit

Guillebeau, Chris. The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life. New York: Harmony Books, 2014. Print.


“If I made a list and worked on the list, a big goal–even a huge goal–seemed feasible.” p.24

The Grapes of Canaan (c. 1896-1902) by James Tissot. Although the spies brought back a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it (Numbers 13:23), only two of the twelve brought back a good report of the land.

Story in the Torah about the 12 spies investigating the land of Canaan. p. 39 (from the Book of Numbers)

“When a person is really happy they don’t have to tell people about it. It just shows.” p. 45

“In an interview for Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan was asked about the word calling…
“Mine, Not any different than anybody else’s. Some people are called to be a good sailor. Some people have a calling to be a good tiller of the land. Some people are called to be a good friend. You have to be the best at whatever you are called at. Whatever you do. You ought to be the best at it–highly skilled. It’s about confidence, not arrogance. You have to know that you’re the best whether you anybody else tells you that or not.”” p. 47

Amelia Earhart might have put it best: “When a great adventure is offered, you don’t refuse it.”” p. 49

the seven emirates

“In the words of a great Bob Dylan song, “He not busy being born is busy dying,”  and perhaps some of us are busier than others.” p. 58

“As much as it sounds trite to “live like you’re ying” or “live every day as if it were your last,” that’s exactly what many people obsessed with a quest do.” p. 58

“John wrote in his journal: “How interesting it is that men seldom find the true value of life until they are faced with death.”” p. 59

Book: Birding in Borrowed Time by Phoebe Snetsinger

Laura Dekker (youngest sailor to circumvent the globe)

Dekker’s solo circumnavigation route 2010-2012. Via wikimedia.


“learn to become comfortable with failure… ” p. 74
“become more bold in making requests.” p. 75

“You must believe that your quest can be successful, even if no one else does.” p. 80

“I didn’t want to mention I was a writer. (In many countries, “writer” means “journalist,” and journalists are treated with suspicion in places without a free press.” p. 83

“What people say about an adventure or quest that involves perceived risk:
Succesful Outcome: brave, courageous, confident
Failed Outcome: stupid, risky, naive, arrogant” p. 84

Chris McCandless’ letter published in Into The Wild “The basic core og a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from out encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” p. 85

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) p. 87

Book: The Flinch by Julien Smith “breaking your programming requires a single moment of strength.” p. 97

“Documenting Your Quest… Keeping a scrapbook (either a traditional one or a digital one)” p. 99

“If you want to prioritize adventure but can’t find the time, something’s got to give.” p. 100

“I spent the better part of a week every December reviewing the year that had just passed and planning ahead for the next one. The quest to visit every country came about only after I spent a lot of time thinking through the logistics… The quest was successful because I’d thought it through–not in spite of it.” p. 108

Travel to every country in the world “I guessed that it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000, and that it would take approximately five to seven years to complete.” p. 108

“How much time? How much money? What might those other variables be? Let’s figure it out.” p. 109

“Visit every country in Africa (the most challenging continent, containing more than 50 countries).” p. 110

“Since it would be a ten-year journey, I couldn’t stay excited on a daily basis by thinking about the finish line. That’s when subgoals proved helpful.” p.110


Time: __
Money: __
Other Costs:__
Unknown:__” p. 111

“Scott Young, who taught himself the four-year MIT computer science curriculum in one year, didn’t just jump into the project at first thought. “I spent nearly two months preparing the curriculum before starting my challenge,” he told me, “including a one-week pilot study with a single class… He considered the rest of the curriculum and visualized which parts would be more challenging. By the end og the pilot study, he felt his head was in the game and that he was ready to strike out on the full, yearlong commitment.” p. 112

Poem: “Ithaca” by Constantine Cavafy

“Always keep Ithaca on your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.” p. 115

“The review begins with a set of journaling exercises, focused on two questions:
What went well this year?
What did not go well this year?” p. 115

“I then set a number of goals based on specific categories. Your own categories may vary, but some of mine include:
Friends and Family
Financial (Earning)
Financial (Giving)
Financial (Saving)” p. 116

outcome statement p. 117
“built a new small business that supports my primary writing goals.” p. 117

“If you’re predisposed to overthink, the answer is simple: Just do it.” p. 119

“His best advice has now been simplified: “Pick a departure date. Start saving. Get a bike, tent, and sleeping bad. And go.”” p. 119

“All students sign a pledge to speak only the new language they are learning for the entire time they are there, including evenings and weekends.” p. 119

To pursue your goal: “Get specific. Be sure to clearly understand the time, money, and other costs before you begin.” p. 121

The Personal Annual Reports of Nicholas Felton “This project is more about recording than influencing behavior. As Nicholas explained, when he started compiling the information each year, he felt inspired to “say yes” to activities he might normally decline.” p. 125

“If your primary goal is to write a book, produce a documentary, or otherwise publicize your quest, maybe it’s more of a career move. There’s nothing wrong with doing something for your career–but it’s not really a quest, since a quest requires sacrifice and uncertainty.” p. 128 [contradictions by the author? his own personal definition of quest]

“If you set specific goals, you’ll know exactly when you’ve accomplished them.” p. 133

“As much as possible, you should also ignore fear when you write your life list. Fear of failure, and even the fear of success, holds us back from attempting many of the things we secretly wish for.” p. 133

Next Step: ” p. 135

“Experience produces confidence, and confidence produces success.” p. 140

Martin Parnell: biked Cairo to Cape Town p. 144

MIT course work online p. 147

“These people are all about making things and sharing them with the world, over and over.” p. 151

Seth Godin: “The lesson, as he explains it: “If I fail more than you do, I win. Built into this notion is the ability to keep playing. If you get to keep playing, sooner or later you’re gonna make it succeed.” p. 155

Elise Blaha “She clearly defines her projects, and she breaks them down into multiple parts. When she has success with one project she applies the same format to others. The medium doesn’t need to be the same, she told me, but the process for working on them can still be…One autumn she baked forty different kinds of bread.” p. 158

Seinfeld told the New York Times. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down.” p. 162

“When I woke up in the morning I immediately thought about what I’d work on for the next few hours. At night I’d go to bed thinking about how I could improve the next day.” p. 163

John and Nancy Vogel and their twin boys: Alaska to Argentina on a bike “They were especially motivated by the goal of becoming the youngest travelers to cross the America’s by bicycle. An improvised rule specifying “twenty miles per cookie” didn’t hurt, either.” p. 172

Gothic Symphony by Havergal Brian

****Steven Pressfield: “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” p. 196

“Even the most expensive parts of the world can be reached for $2,500 or less. If that sum seems exorbitant, just think of it as $2 a day for three and a half years, or a bit less than $7 a day over one year.” p. 198-199

“Juno Kim… originally took her savings with her and planned to live off that money as long as it lasted. But four years and twenty-four countries later, she’s actually increased her savings, thanks to her work as freelance writer and photographer.” p. 200

Ron Avitzur (graphing calculator) “I wasn’t a big spender… But it also helped that we worked all the time.” p. 200

“If you’re going to do something outlandish, there are a probably a lot of people who would like to do it, too, but don’t for various reasons.” p. 201

Costs of several quests featured in the book (p. 202-203)

“How long will it take me to save this amount of money?
Is there any other way to get the money (crowdfunding, selling something, extra work…?
Do I need to wait to start until I have all the money?
If getting the money will be difficult, is there a wat to reduce the cost?” p. 204

“Selected Savings Rates:
$25/day = $9,125/year
$10/day = $3,650/year
$5/day = $1,825/year
$2/day = $730/year” p. 204

“John Lasseter, one of the founders of Pixar, says that “Every one of our films was the worst motion picture ever made at one time or another.” … As soon as they identify the mistakes, they’re able to fix them–but the point is to not shy away from the initial failure.” p. 213

“some people are simply obsessed with failure–or at least they have a general expectation that a new project will more likely meet with failure than success.” p. 214

“Nothing worth doing is ever easy.” p. 214

“Short-term relief and long-term happiness can be very different things. ” p. 215

“Regret is what you should fear the most. If something is going to keep you awake at night, let it be the fear of not following your dream. Be afraid of setting.” p. 220

“If you’re going to worry about something, worry about the cost of not pursuing your dream.” p. 222

Nate Damm “I’m definitely not motivated by achievement. I just do what I like every day, and good things seem to happen as a result.” p. 228

Once Upon a Galaxy by Josepha Sherman

“Don’t try to explain everything, but do tell a few good stories.” p. 246

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

John Stuart Mill and the “fleeting sense of happiness” “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized… the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.” p. 249-250

Shannin O’Donnell “At that moment I blamed the very idea of my aimless wandering for my illness, but as I healed I realized that the illness was a setback, not a sign that I was on the wrong path.” p. 253

From the poem Ithaca “To arrive there is your ultimate goal, but do not hurry.” p. 259

Phoebe Snetsinger “It has become ever more clear to me that if I had spent my life avoiding any and all potential risks, I would have missed doing most of the things that have comprised the best years of my life.” p. 263

“The support and understanding of others will vary. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about your quest, but if you don’t have sufficient motivation to see it through, it will be tough going.” p. 268

“If you measure success by the opinions of others, you’re effectively set yourself up for failure.” p. 269

****** About the Author: “Someone who will work twenty-four hours a day for themselves to avoid working one hour a day for someone else.” p. 293

“Script #4: Everyone should work 35 to 40 hours a week, mostly in the office, usually on the same days and times (even though research shows that this is largely and unproductive schedule for most people).” p. 306

“Richard Branson put it best: “Business opportunities are like buses. There’s always another one coming.” p. 307

Eat Pray Love

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. New York, N.Y.; Penguin, 2007. Print. (First ed. 2006)

“When the Crusaders drove East for the holy wars, they witnessed worshipers praying with these japa malas, admired the technique, and brought the idea home to Europe as rosary.” p. 1

“the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes.” p. 1-2

“This division means that there are 36 tales in each section, which appeals to me on a personal level because I am writing all this during my thirty-sixth year.” p. 2

Om Namah Shivaya

“It wasn’t so much that I wanted to thoroughly explore the countries themselves; this has been done. It was more that I wanted to thoroughly explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country,” p. 37

“Therefore, what we today call French is really a version of medieval Parisian. Portuguese is really Lisboan. Spanish is essentially Madrileño. These were capitalist victories; the strongest city ultimately determined the language of the whole country.” p. 57

“What this congress decided would henceforth be considered proper Italian was the personal language of the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri. When Dante published his Divine Comedy back in 1321, detailing a visionary progression through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, he’d shocked the literate world by not writing in Latin.” p. 58-59

“He wrote his masterpiece in what he called il dolce stil nuovo, the “sweet new style” of the vernacular, and he shaped that vernacular even as he was writing it, affecting it as personally as Shakespeare would someday affect Elizabethan English.” p. 59

terza rima

“Dante writes that God is not merely a blinding vision of glorious light, but that He is, most of all, l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle… ” p, 60

il bel far niente “the beauty of doing nothing” p. 80

“For me, though, a major obstacle in my pursuit of pleasure was my ingrained sense of Puritan guilt. Do I really deserve this pleasure? This is very American, too–the insecurity about whether we have earned our happiness.”p. 81

“Dai, dai, dai, Albertini, dai … va bene, va bene, ragazzo mio, perfetto, bravo, bravo… Dai! Dai! Via! Via! Nella porta! Eccola, eccola, eccola, mio bravo ragazzo, caro mio, eccola, eccola, ecco–AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!  VAFFANCULO!! FIGLIO DI MIGNOTTA!! STRONZO! CAFONE! TRADITORE! Madonna… Ah, Dio mio, perché, perché, perché, questo e stupido, e una vergogna, la vergogna… Che casino, che bordello… NON HAI UN CUORE, ALBERTINI! FAI FINTA! Guarda, non e successo niente.. Dai, dai, ah… Molto migliore, si si si, eccola, bello, bravo, anima mia, ah ottimo, eccola adesso … nella porta, nella porta, nell–VAFFANCULO!!!!!!!” p. 90-91

Plan Roms im Altertum. Via Wikimedia.


“The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve… Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.” p. 100

magari (maybe, if only, I wish)

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

“Parla come magni.” p. 115

“Virginia Woolf wrote, “Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.” On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where “all is correct.” But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, “all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.”” p. 126

The Bhagavad Gita–that ancient Indian Yogic text–says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” p. 127

“I drop out of my Italian-language school, having come to feel that it was interfering with my efforts to learn Italian, since it was keeping me stuck in the classroom instead of wandering around Italy, where I could practice with people in person.” p. 128

codega “a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.” p. 135

“Or maybe I only want to go to Sicily because of what Goethe said: “Without seeing Sicily one cannot get a clear idea of what Italy is.”” p. 148


“Historians say that rhetoric was invented in Syracuse, and also (and this is just a minor thing) plot.” p. 150

The Italians (1964) by Luigi Barzini

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible.” p. 152

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” p. 154

arati prayer

“Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: “You bear God within you, poor wretched, and you know it not.”” p. 161

To Read: Epictetus

“”Our whole business therefore in this life,” wrote Saint Augustine, rather Yogically, “is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.”” p. 162

To Read: Saint Augustine

“the monk quoted to me from the Bhagavad Gita, the most sacred ancient text of Yoga: “Oh Khrisna, the mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding. I consider it as difficult to subdue as the wind.”” p. 174

Ham-sa mantra

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens. Via Wikimedia.

Saint Teresa of Avila

“The most difficult challenge, the saint wrote in her memoirs, was to not stir up the intellect during meditation, for any thoughts of the mind–even the most fervent prayers–will extinguish the fire of God.” p. 190

kundalini shakti  

“You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” p. 199

guru gita

“Zen masters always say that you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.” p. 226

Vipassana meditation

“”The world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world,” says an old Buddhist teaching.” p. 229

“Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention.” p. 235

“Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.” p. 236

“”Guilt’s just your ego’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re making moral progress.”” p. 244

(Instructions for Freedom) “3. The day is ending. It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.” p. 245

“7. Let your intentions be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.” p. 246

“the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame.” p. 247

“To know God, you need only to renounce one thing–your sense of division from God.” p. 255

Sextus “”The wise man is always similar to himself.” p. 256

Sentences of Sextus

turiya state (pure consciousness)


“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, begging for pennies from every passerby, unaware that his fortune was right under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But claim it,” p. 262

“”All know that the drop merges into the coean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir” p. 265

To Read: Kabir

“”Imagine that the universe is a great spinning engine,” he said. “You want to stay near the core of the thing–right in the hub of the wheel–not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place,” p. 275

“In the dead of night the dogs howl about how misunderstood they are.” p. 312

“The word paradise, by the way, which comes to us from the Persian, means literally “a walled garden.”” p. 313

“The next piece of land was rejected because it was too close to a river, which, as everyone knows, is where ghosts live.” p. 411

“We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure… I’m lonely…I’m a failure… I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them.” p. 433

Saint Anthony once wrote about having gone into the desert on silent retreat and being assaulted by all manner of visions–devils and angels, both… you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.” p. 435

The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul, Master of the Osservanza, 15th century. Via Wikimedia.

To Read: Saint Anthony





The Travels of Sir John Mandeville and Marco Polo

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville text from

Jonh Mandeville Wikipedia entry

John Mandeville – The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Fanciful depiction of cotton by John Mandeville, featuring sheep instead of cotton bolls. Via Wikimedia

Travels of Marco Polo Wikipedia entry.

The probable view of Marco Polo’s own geography (drawn by H. Yule, 1871). Via Wikimedia

Travels of Marco Polo text from



Films set in San Francisco