October 24, 2008

Off to Africa

The best trips are the spontaneous ones. No planning at all--just pick up and go. And like that, I'm off to the Okavango Delta of beautiful Botswana in about . . . well, right now. I think it was all meant to be since I recently met the former president of Botswana, the Travel Channel just released their one hour special on the country AND I live two blocks from the Embassy of Botswana. Lions, warthogs, and lilac-breasted rollers, oh my!

October 19, 2008

My Big Fat Shiny Silver Medal

I always love a good rumor, especially when it's about me. Imagine my excitement yesterday when a travel writer friend shot me an email congratulating me on my recent Lowell Thomas Award. I was like, really? So I checked it on their site and sure enough, it seems that I won the Lowell Thomas for my latest book, Iceland.

Now wait a minute, there. I didn't WIN win. I won SILVER, which if I am not mistaken, means I am not the greatest guidebook author in the universe, but only the second best guidebook writer in the universe . . until next year. But that's okay, because I love silver. In fact, I prefer wearing silver to gold, and it makes me feel just like the United States women's gymnastics team.

Here are the judges' nice comments about my book:

Full of fascinating details in writing, graphics and photos, “Iceland” delves deeply into the country in a format that often resists depth. Evans knows the country, and it shows. But he also organizes the essential information in an easy-to-use way. It’s the combination of depth and breadth that sets this guidebook apart from many others. Evans takes his subject seriously and invites the reader into the experience of Iceland with wit and authority.

"Depth and breadth . . . wit and authority." Oh, I'm so flattered and I have way too many people to thank: Dr. Brian Gratwicke (my trusty sidekick and the photographer whose images made the book pretty), my awesome contributors, especially Gudni Johannesson and Eliza Reid (who fact checked and wrote interesting text boxes), Nick Gilroy, and Dennis Riege. My awesome editor Anna Moores, who was extremely patient and full of good ideas, not to mention smart, meticulous, and respectful of all my little primadonna moments. Thanks to Adrian Phillips, Tricia Hayne, Donald Greig, and the rest of the team at Bradt Travel Guides in England. The biggest thanks of all goes to Hilary Bradt who gave me a shot at writing a book. Thank you, Hilary.

To Iceland and the Icelanders, I can't say Takk enough. Thanks to Einar Gustavsson for his interest and longstanding support of my book project, to Magnus Gustavsson for his genuine kindness and promotion of the book, and to Ambassador Albert Jonsson for his personal support. I am indebted to way too many Icelanders to squeeze into a blog post, but please know how grateful I am to all of your contributions big and small.

Getting a Lowell Thomas means a lot to me, so a huge thanks to the Society of American Travel Writers. It's really nice to be recognized for a book that took a whole year to research and write.

So what will I spend my prize money on? A ticket, to somewhere.

October 15, 2008


It was my very first cruise. Ever. To Mexico, on Holland America. Yes, I loved it--I mean, I loved traveling by boat, being at sea, and coasting down the Baja coast. And I love Mexico. I don't know if I liked going on vacation with 2,800 other people. There are some disadvantages with a bunch that size.

Like so many travelers to Mexico before me, I picked up a souvenir case of Montezuma's Revenge (the Shrimp Ceviche sounded too authentic to miss). Then I made the mistake of going down to see the ship's doctor, who, in lieu of administering me any medicine, put me in quarantine for 24 hours. Aha! There's no vacation like quarantine, especially when you're paying for it. I tried to make the most of it, watching old movies, ordering room service every 20 minutes and trying to establish the ultimate Love in a Time of Cholera moment. Alas, sitting in your bed on a cruise ship with the sunny Pacific Ocean outside, well it kind of really sucks.

Oh, I understand the whole principle of keeping me away from the rest of the merry cruisegoers, but, but, but . . . . I spent a day of my tropical vacation in isolation! Alright, I'll get over it. OK, inhale, I think I'm over it. No hard feelings Holland America. I love your ship and your perky crew and your all day ice cream stand! You know, I might even go on another cruise with you some day. Next time though, don't expect me to tell you about my funny tummy.

October 1, 2008

Bridge To Nowhere

National Geographic Traveler published my bit about trying to walk across the Bridge of the Americas in Panama. You can read it here. Quite tragic that any place becomes popular for suicide attempts, but it's happened all over the world--at the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hampshire Downs in England. The point of my piece was to promote safe intercontinental passage on foot. Alas, our world is not safe.