Listening
It's too late to stop now - A week in New Orleans

It’s too late to stop now – A week in New Orleans

Crossing the border from Mexico into the US six weeks ago felt like the end of… something. Leaving the Spanish-speaking Americas didn’t signal the climax of our trip; at the time, we still had more than 4,000km to ride. Even so, more than at any other border crossing, we sensed we were leaving behind a...
And finally...

And finally…

Several places bill themselves as the cradle of country music, which has long been an interest of ours, but few have a better claim than the handsome old railroad town of Meridian in eastern Mississippi. Meridian was the birthplace of the great Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, who became country’s first superstar in the late...
Saturday at Fred's

Saturday at Fred’s

We finished our food, dropped a $20 bill on the table, crossed the road and gingerly eased open the barroom door. It was 8.30, half an hour after the lounge had opened, and things were just beginning to warm up. At the bar, gossiping over bottled beers, a dozen or so old-timers, plainly locals. In...
A Fortune, lost and found

A Fortune, lost and found

An imposing corner building in the small Texas town of New Braunfels, the Phoenix Saloon opened for business in 1871. Back in the 19th century, the ground floor held a bar, the basement briefly housed a brewery (a keg of beer cost a princely $2.25), the garden contained an alligator pit and the back room...
Four's a crowd

Four’s a crowd

Ever the romantic, I hired a mariachi quartet to serenade Ruth over dinner last night. I thought it went rather well. from México, Distrito Federal, Mexico
The opposite of dancing

The opposite of dancing

Like most people who pass through, I took some dance classes in the Colombian city of Cali (tourist tagline: World Capital of Salsa). They were held at sunset in the attic studio of the pool house at our hostel, orange light flickering through mango leaves to finger the towers of downtown below. (Somehow, I fancied...
Pause for breath

Pause for breath

While you’re presumably being guided through Argentina v Switzerland in relative comfort, this is the commentary we’re currently having to decode on Colombian television, courtesy of a chap named Javier Fernández. (Stick with it. The first minute or so turns out to be a warm-up for the rest.) It’s rather like being stuck inside a...
In Quito

In Quito

It sometimes surprises us how many of the cycle tourists we meet regard Latin America’s big cities as obstacles to overcome or annoyances to avoid. It shouldn’t, perhaps. Not everybody is as predisposed towards city life as this pair of Londoners; indeed, many riders are drawn to Latin America chiefly for the opportunities it affords...
It's all in the game

It’s all in the game

Watching on television in rural Ecuador, the World Cup looks the same as it presumably does back in London. But, of course, it sounds a little different: Or, as David Coleman would have put it, ‘3-1.’ We suspect we may be hearing rather more of this sort of thing in the coming weeks. (Related: ten...
The mysterious case of the Italo-Peruvian violin

The mysterious case of the Italo-Peruvian violin

We recently found ourselves at a farm in central Peru. For several generations, the farm has been in the hands of an Italian family, one of numerous European clans that settled in the area during the 19th and 20th centuries after Peruvian independence, and enjoys a peaceful, river-valley setting. One of the possessions most prized...
The Voice of the Bolivian Andes | Listening in

The Voice of the Bolivian Andes | Listening in

Two nights spent listening to music in La Paz. The banner in the lobby shows a young man: tie pulled tight, face scrubbed clean, topped with a quiff and lit up by a Saturday-night smile. The look, Roy Orbison stripped of his sunglasses, is archaic; so, too, is the photograph, tinted by hand and probably...
Sparrows, snails and the dizzy heights

Sparrows, snails and the dizzy heights

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in every major city around the world, you’re never more than three wrong turns from encountering a troupe of brightly clothed street musicians playing ‘El Cóndor Pasa‘ on the pan-pipes. This is as much a hazard in Chicago as it is in Covent Garden, as problematic in Paris...