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Friends of a Long Year is a private mailing list bringing stories to your inbox like it's still 1995. It's written in the spirit of Mary Austin. It was originally called Place Without a Postcard, which does a better job of summarizing what I like to write about. Friends is delivered roughly twice a month.


You Can’t Go Home Again

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua The first time we came to Little Corn Island it was April, the tail end of the dry season. It rained once or twice, but never for more than five minutes and always followed by more sunshine. This time it's the end of June, just well into the wet season, and the island is an entirely different place.

Returning Again — Back on Little Corn Island

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua Generally speaking, the world seems so huge and so full of amazing destinations that repeating one never struck me as a judicious use of my short allotment of time. But for Little Corn Island I'm willing to make an exception and of course, the universe being what it is, our second trip to Little Corn Island has been unpredictable and entirely new.

In Love With a View: Vagabonds, Responsibilty and Living Well

Athens, Georgia, U.S. Why all the vitriol about a seemingly innocuous concept -- that traveling doesn't have to cost a lot of money, isn't all that difficult and hey, you can even go right now? People like us, who feel tied down by responsibility, find the suggestion that we actually aren't tied down patronizing and yes, elitist.

Little Island in the Sun

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua We arrived on Little Corn Island around sundown and met Ali, whom I at first took to be a tout, but he showed us the way to our guesthouse and, after settling in and getting a feel for the island, I realized that Ali, wasn't a tout, he was just a really nice guy who enjoyed doing favors for tourists, just beware the Yoni beverage he offers.

Return to the Sea

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua Southwestern Nicaragua is a very small strip of land with Lago Nicaragua to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The main town in the area, Juan Del Sur, surrounds a well protected harbor with a mediocre strip of sand. For the nice beaches you have to head up or down the coast to one of the many small inlets.

Ring The Bells

Granada, Nicaragua The Church, which dates from the 1600s has the the narrowest, steepest, circular concrete staircase that I've ever encountered. It had a low railing and circled up four stories worth of precipitous dropoffs before you hit solid ground. From the top was a views of Granada's endless sea of mottled pink, orange and brown hues -- terra cotta roof tiles stretching from the shores of Lago Nicaragua all the way back toward the hills.


Athens, Georgia, U.S. The trees are in full technicolor swing. The land is slowly dying, and not just because it's Fall, we're also in the middle of a prolonged drought and this year the leaves are opting for a James Dean-style, leave-a-good-looking-corpse exit. If you're a leaf and you've got to go, do it with class.

On The Other Ocean

Catalina Island, California, U.S. Consider what would happen if your house were tilted 30 degrees to the left, how this would complicate ordinary activities -- like say walking. Now throw in a bouncing motion that lifts the floor five or six feet up and down in a seesaw-like motion on a perpendicular axis to the 30 degree tilt -- things become more like riding a seesaw that's attached to a merry-go-round which is missing a few bolts. That's sailing.

Being There

Myrtle Beach Airport, South Carolina, U.S. Myrtle Beach does not exist. Nearly everything in Myrtle Beach is a paltry derivative of some original form. For instance, most of the country has golf courses, in Myrtle Beach there are endless rows of putt-putt courses, where most towns attempt to draw in big name musical acts for their tourist venues, Myrtle Beach is content with impersonators.

Sailing Through

Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. The rumors are true. I moved back to the south; Athens GA to be exact. But I hate staying in one place for too long, so after a month or two in Athens I headed up to Charleston to visit a friend. The south is curious place. If you've never been here I couldn't hope to explain it, but it's not so much a place as an approach. A way of getting somewhere more than anywhere specific. Perhaps even a wrong turn.

Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove

Los Angeles, California, U.S. It's strange how you can plan something, go through all the motions of making it happen without ever really understanding what you're doing. I've been doing this for the better part of three years now. I realized recently that I have no real idea how I came to be here.

Everything All The Time

Los Angeles, California, U.S. I don't know if I'm just overly paranoid but when I call up memories in the dark hours of the Beaujolais-soaked pre-dawn, I see a collection of mildly amusing, occasionally painful series of embarrassments, misunderstandings and general wrong-place, wrong-time sort of moments. Which isn't to imply that my life is a British sitcom, just that I'm not in a hurry to re-live any of it.

The Sun Came Up With No Conclusions

Los Angeles, California, U.S. "And so it is that we, as men, do not exist until we do; and then it is that we play with our world of existent things, and order and disorder them, and so it shall be that non-existence shall take us back from existence and that nameless spirituality shall return to Void, like a tired child home from a very wild circus." -- Robert Anton Wilson and Kerry Thornley. Good luck and Godspeed Mr. Wilson.

Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose

Los Angeles, California, U.S. Traveling soul. Soul is not something out there or in you, it's the place where you meet the out there; something very similar to what I think James Brown meant — a mixture of the secular and the spiritual, the profane and the sublime.


Los Angeles, California, U.S. New York, New York. John F Kennedy airport 1 am date unknown, sleepy looking customs guard stamps a passport without hardly looking at, without even checking to see where I had been. A light drizzle is falling outside and the subways extension to the terminal never looked so good. What is it like to be home? I don't know, I'll tell you when I get there.


Paris, France Paris - Outside it's raining. Beads of water form on the window in front of me. The glow of the unseen sun is fading behind midnight blue clouds and darkening sky. An old man in a butcher apron selling oysters under an awning smokes a cigarette and watches the mothers and children walking home with bags of groceries.

I Don’t Sleep I Dream

Vienna, Austria How can Freud's former residence in Vienna lack a couch? The closest thing is up against the wall, behind a small writing desk in what was then the waiting room — a small divan where one might stare at the patternless ceiling until the patterns emerge as it were. “Tell me about it,” he began.


Vienna, Austria The Kunsthistorisches Museum contains probably the best collection of art outside of France — Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Raphael, Velazquez, Bruegel and a certain Italian for whom I have a festering personal obsession, which shall be addressed shortly — and what's remarkable about this magnificent assemblage is that the vast majority of it was once the Hapsburg's private collection.

Four Minutes Thirty-Three Seconds

Prague, Czech Republic Just north of Prague's old town square and east of the River Vltava is Josefov, the old Jewish quarter of Prague. The Pinkas Synagogue in Josefov is an unassuming pale, sand-colored building with a slightly sunken entrance. Inside is a small alter and little else. The floor is bare; there are no places for worshipers to sit. The synagogue is little more than walls. And on the walls inscribed in extremely small print are the names of the 77,297 Jewish citizens of Bohemia and Moravia who died in the Holocaust.

Inside and Out

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic Chasing Egon Schiele: The attention to detail that makes the difference between a building and work of art was everywhere in Cesky Krumlov, from the delicate pink and red complements of a fine dovetailed corner, to the white plaster and oak beams of the Egon Schiele museum, which, despite geometric differences, looked not unlike the Globe Theatre in London.

The King of Carrot Flowers Part Two

Bled, Slovenia There is a roughly 200km loop of road that leads northwest out of Bled, through a pass in the Julian Alps and then down the other side, twisting and winding back toward Bled by way of craggy canyons, small hamlets and crystalline rivers. We set out sometime after breakfast.


Ljubljana, Slovenia Like Dubrovnik, Trogir is a walled city of roughly Venetian vintage, but Trogir's wall has largely crumbled away or been removed. Still, it has the gorgeous narrow cobblestone streets, arched doorways and towering forts that give all Dalmatian towns their Rapunzel-like fairly tale quality.

Feel Good Lost

Dubrovnik, Croatia Dubrovnik, Croatia was heavily shelled during the Bosnian conflict and roughly 65 percent of its buildings were hit, built for the most part you'd never know it. Most of the buildings date from about 1468, though some were destroyed in the great earthquake of 1667, still, by and large, the city looks as it did in the fifteenth century.

Blue Milk

Dubrovnik, Croatia It's hard to understand, standing on the banks of such crystalline, cerulean lakes, whose dazzling colors come from the mineral rich silt runoff of glaciers, that the largest European conflict since world war two began here, at Like Plitvice Croatia. But indeed this is where the first shots were fired on Easter Sunday in 1991 and the first casualty was a park policeman.