An American Abroad

My Travel Essays & Articles

In the last two years, I’ve had various articles and essays published by the Village Voice of Ottawa Hills, my hometown’s monthly newspaper. They have graciously permitted me to repost those pieces here.

Your Miserable Life Will Soon Be Over and Mom-and-Pop Businesses and BMWs

Where English is a Pose

High Standards and Student Rights

Elephant Unemployment in Northern Laos

Taking the Road to Fuxian Lake

Expatriate Year

Why Would You Want to Go There?

Tunisia: A New Democracy is Born

When American Values Collide with Tunisian Society

Copyright Village Voice of Ottawa Hills. Used by permission.

For other places I’ve been published, check out my Hire Me page.

Nicaragua 2008: The Buses of San Carlos

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After a remarkable visit to El Castillo, Spencer and I caught another riverboat, this one going upriver back to San Carlos. We went directly to the bus station and bought tickets for Managua. While we waited, we drank sodas and watched ancient, … [Continue reading]

Nicaragua 2008: The Tributaries of the Rio San Juan

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Continuing my reminiscences of a journey my son and I took to Granada and El Castillo in 2008 . . . In El Castillo, Spencer and I inquired around town and found a native-born naturalist with a canoe who agreed to take us deeper into the jungle on … [Continue reading]

40 Books That Made Me a Traveler — Part 3


The authors of the books featured this week have distinctive voices, the kind you can identify from a single paragraph. There's the amphetamine-fueled Beat Generation prose of Jack Kerouac. The media-drenched flat affect of Alex Garland. The … [Continue reading]

The Murals of Toledo’s Old South End

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Toledo's Central Union Station, where my sons and I have caught the Lake Shore Limited east many times, is situated in the city's Old South End. I had gone down to the tracks there to photograph an antique steam locomotive as it chuffed through … [Continue reading]

40 Books That Made Me a Traveler — Part 2

This week's entry in my series about books that made me a traveler is all over the map. Literally. Iran, the Caribbean, Congo, the road from Istanbul to India, and South America are all represented in these selections. What these books have in common … [Continue reading]

Nicaragua 2008: The Dogs of El Castillo (Plus a Couple of Horses)

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Caution: dangerous generalization ahead. When I was in the jungle town of El Castillo, Nicaragua in 2008, I was surprised to see so many dogs. I noted with pleasure and approval that the dogs generally looked cared for, well-fed, and to belong to … [Continue reading]

Nicaragua 2008: The Town of El Castillo

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(This is a continuation of my narrative of a trip I took to Nicaragua seven years ago.) We awoke the morning after our journey down the Rio San Juan to find ourselves in the Victoria Hotel. Since the power had been out when we arrived the night … [Continue reading]

Audio Interview With Yours Truly

Odyssey Master and fellow travel blogger Jay of Jay's Odyssey conducted an audio interview me earlier this week about my travels and tribulations. It was a fun -- even outrageous -- conversation. We covered the pitfalls of eating spicy food in … [Continue reading]

40 Books That Made Me a Traveler — Part 1

Literature and travel are tightly linked with me. Back when I graduated from college, bought a Eurail Pass, and backpacked through western Europe, I learned to love the racks of Penguin and Pelican paperbacks that seemed to be stationed in every … [Continue reading]