I conducted a travel experiment recently. Everywhere I go, people make suggestions on what to see, which I usually politely ignore. (“Oh, England? You must see the hedgerows! Spain? Don’t miss Barcelona! Kyrgyzstan? Where’s that?)
I spent a summer crossing the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa in northern Spain, sacrificing sleep and stripping my rental car’s clutch all in the name of improving Let’s Go’s travel guidebooks.
It was a summer of pastoral mountain scenery, hitchhiking with hippies and undercover police, and yes, the Sanfermines in Pamplona.
I didn’t know it then, but my summer jobs researching and writing budget travel guidebooks would morph into my full-time career as a freelance writer.
The Harvard Mountaineering Club, celebrating its 80th anniversary, sent a team of 8 climbers to the northwestern region of the Borkoldoy.
Read the original [pdf] or read the story behind the story here…
This was the formal blurb summarizing the expeditions results for the American Alpine Journal. My teammates and I posted a more complete record at borkoldoy.harvardmountaineering.org and I also wrote a more personal narrative [pdf] about the expedition for Harvard Mountaineering.
It was the watermelons that finally did it. The suspicious border guard accepted the proffered bags of beer, cigarettes, and watermelons and agreed to negotiate with his supervisor at the Karasai military outpost one last time.
When he came out all smiles, we knew we were going to be allowed into the Borkoldoy mountains in the greater Tien Shan range. Continue reading Finding Adventure in Central Asia