Editors’ Choice

Editors’ Choice Articles

Strangers in the Bush

travelers-talesBy Susan Bloch

Destination Story Gold Winner in the Thirteenth Annual Solas Awards

I’m traveling into unknown territory with a man I just met. His name is Karl, my safari guide here in Namibia, and we’re driving along a coast shaped by death and diamonds. A coast where shifting sand dunes bury secrets, mysteries, and skeletons; where for centuries, Atlantic waves smashed sails, masts, gunwales, and rudders, against treacherous rocks; where secrets drowned and secrets were lost at sea; where secrets skulk in rusted ships’ keels and hulls and lie camouflaged inside the bleached whale ribcages littering the beaches. The secrets of what shipwrecked sailors did to survive the torture of thirst, hunger, and exposure; secrets shared between sailors and prostitutes about buried treasure; and in the late 1930s, how Germany’s secret plan to recapture Southern Africa was smuggled to Nazi sympathizers in the region. These tales had captivated me for decades. But no secret was ever so carefully guarded as that by Karl—his family scandal. The secret I didn’t know when the two of us trekked alone into the bush.

Strangers in the Bush 2019-04-12T15:18:03+00:00

That Other Hijab Story

travelers-talesBy Maryah Converse

Culture and Ideas Gold Winner in the Thirteenth Annual Solas Awards

When I tell people that I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan, the response is usually predictable: “Wow. How was that?” How am I supposed to answer that in few enough words that their eyes don’t glaze over? Overwhelming. Amazing. The hardest job you’ll ever love. A place where I was always and inexplicably a foreigner and a daughter of the desert at the same time. And sooner or later, they ask the inevitable question: “Did you have to…?”

That Other Hijab Story 2019-04-12T15:20:52+00:00

This Never Happens

travelers-talesBy Anne Lowrey

Bad Trip Gold Winner in the Thirteenth Annual Solas Awards

"Nunca ha pasado aquí," he repeated. I shrugged as if I didn’t hear him, though I understood every word. “This never happens.” Except it did. I sat silently in the back of the rusted car that was taking me slowly away from the events of the past few days. I had run out of words to say in Spanish. In the middle of Colombia’s coffee country, with nothing but the clothes on my back, I was too exhausted to be angry. “This never happens” was all anybody seemed to be able to say to me when I told them. Each time the phrase came it spoke with a loaded look that also pleaded, “Please don’t tell anyone.” Why did getting robbed with a gun to my head feel like some terrible secret I’d be forced to keep?

This Never Happens 2019-03-29T16:27:50+00:00

The Place Where Norman Slept

travelers-talesBy Teresa O'Kane

Animal Encounters Gold Winner in the Thirteenth Annual Solas Awards

Norman is a solitary old bull elephant who lives on Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Years ago, he spent his days with his elephant friend George, until George had a battle with an electric fence. These days Norman wanders alone, joining the breeding herd only during mating season. The rest of the time he observes the other elephants from a distance or ignores them completely. Norman is bigger than most elephants his age. He is the one who asserts discipline over the herd and metes out punishment when he and his eight tons deem it necessary.

The Place Where Norman Slept 2019-03-29T16:04:54+00:00

The House on KVR Swamy Road

travelers-talesBy Sivani Babu

Grand Prize Bronze Winner in the Thirteenth Annual Solas Awards

We push through a sea of people and cows, the dust and smog swirling red and heavy, giving the scene around us the hazy air of a vintage photograph. A calf chews languidly on a banana as flies buzz around its head. We walk down the street as the tinny sound of temple music floats by and the aromas of everyday life assault our senses: fruits, spices, incense, the musk of oxen, diesel, smoke. Nearly two decades have passed since I last walked KVR Swamy Road, but I still remember the childhood admonitions to keep the dust down by not dragging my feet. I laugh. A drop in the bucket, I think to myself, but I make sure to pick my feet up anyway, hopping, jumping, leaping over puddles and pungent piles of cow manure.

The House on KVR Swamy Road 2019-03-14T14:42:17+00:00