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The Last Notes

Trekking the Planet: Teaching geography from a traveler’s perspective

Trekking the Planet: Teaching geography from a traveler’s perspective

SANDY AND DARREN VAN SOYE began their campaign to improve geo-literacy years ago, when they took their daughters abroad to Europe. Now, they reach thousands of students in dozens of countries with their educational program, Trekking the Planet. They circled the planet three times in a little over a year, teaching grade-school children geography lessons that go beyond the standard paradigm of memorizing states and capitals.

Why traveler bracelets are better than passport stamps

Why traveler bracelets are better than passport stamps

She walks like a cowbell. There’s a jingle-jangle to every step, and when she sits, her right arm lands with a muted clunk. Wood, cloth, and metal against the plastic table. No notes of flesh in the chord. Her arm is gone, replaced wrist to elbow by something between a prosthesis and a game of ring toss.

Freelancers: Old generation vs. the new

Freelancers: Old generation vs. the new

I consider myself to be a part of today’s new breed of freelance writers. I can’t make a living writing features or ghost writing books, but I can make a living writing a gratuitous amount of newsletters, blog posts, landing pages, “About Us” pages, sales emails, and general web copy of virtually every conceivable type.

Berlin and the art of public nudity

Berlin and the art of public nudity

Siobhán Dowling disrobes in Berlin and becomes one of the locals.It’s ladies day at the sauna in my local gym in East Berlin and I’m almost mesmerized by the amount of flesh on show. I’ve found myself sharing the small wooden enclosure with three elderly East German ladies, all of whom are blessed with ham-like thighs and the most impressively enormous, pendulous breasts.

Field notes from a conservation biologist in Antarctica

Field notes from a conservation biologist in Antarctica

I’VE TRAVELED TO some of the most remote locations across the globe, including the Okavango Delta in Botswana, rainforests in South Vietnam, and the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, but I’ve never been able to fully escape the presence of man. For this reason, the allure of Antarctica as one of the last true wilderness frontiers on Earth was overwhelming.

A quick after-dark guide to Chapinero Alto, Bogotá

A quick after-dark guide to Chapinero Alto, Bogotá

This story was produced via the Bounty Board at MatadorU.WHEN I FIRST GOT TO BOGOTA, my Colombian friends took me out to the popular neighborhoods of Zona H on 72nd Street and the posh Andino area on 82nd. Over the course of a year, I learned that my own quiet neighborhood of Chapinero Alto actually held my favorite spots, with food and drink options devoid of the drunken tourist crowd.

Doors and Beats: Strange pillars of American culture in Mexico

Doors and Beats: Strange pillars of American culture in Mexico

I was standing in a crowd of people after a music festival in Mexico City when I saw a guy with a goatee and horn-rimmed glasses handing out flyers. That guy must really like Johnny Depp, I thought. I looked at the flyer. It advertised a concert by a Doors tribute band, MCed by the guy handing out flyers.

Yelp Worldmap: What’s the hipster density in your city?

Yelp Worldmap: What’s the hipster density in your city?

Yelp is great for finding the sloppiest burger in Toronto, or which strip clubs to avoid because the dancers have sub-bar boob jobs. But did you know some areas of a city are more densely populated with people / things than others? Check out Yelp’s Worldmap — a few keywords on the left-hand sidebar provide you with a “heat map” layout of areas that may be better, or worse, for your travel needs.

How better note taking can improve your travel writing

How better note taking can improve your travel writing

In this new series, writing coach Noah Pelletier lifts the curtain on his process and work with students in the MatadorU Travel Writing course.I have this recurring dream. It goes like this: I’m walking through a flat, green park when out of the woods comes a pack of seedy-looking youths. As they approach me, it’s obvious they’re up to no good.

5 scenes from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ that I experienced in Greece

5 scenes from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ that I experienced in Greece

As someone who grew up spending summers in Greece and who later moved outside of Athens as a teacher in a Greek language school, my life has been colored by scenes reminiscent of those in 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The layered humor throughout this film proves that you can use comedy to pay tribute to a culture in tasteful, charming, and — most importantly — truthful ways.

Welcome to Agra

Welcome to Agra

In the Agra train station, a little boy — no older than seven or eight — approaches us; he holds a plastic shopping bag in one hand and a sick baby in the other. The baby has matted hair, a dirty bare bottom, and her eyes are glued shut with dried pus. The boy holds out his bag. “Shampoo,” he begs, “soap.

What communists and conservatives have in common

What communists and conservatives have in common

It’s an uneasy time to be living in America if your social values happen to be on the conservative end of the political spectrum. It must be frightening to imagine living in a country where people of the same sex can get married (in a minority of states) or where women can choose whether to carry their pregnancies to term and thereby assert control over their bodies and their lives.

The 6 best free photo sharing sites on the web

The 6 best free photo sharing sites on the web

Photo sharing sites are competing for our attention by offering free accounts with a wide array of features. The following are six of the most popular. For more tips on using photo sharing sites, check out the MatadorU Travel Photography program.FlickrOut of all the photo sharing sites, Flickr‘s community is the best.

The 50 greatest campfire songs of all time, Spotified

The 50 greatest campfire songs of all time, Spotified

Back in 2007, the internet was a different place.You could imagine a list of incredible campfire songs, but you couldn’t share them all at once.Now through the magic of TECH-NOL-O-GY we can stream a Spotify playlist of all those campfire hits we proposed in The 50 Greatest Campfire Songs Of All Time.

How the ousting of the Egyptian president is like the Fourth of July

How the ousting of the Egyptian president is like the Fourth of July

As Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi becomes deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, you can hear the familiar grumbling of skeptics in the US. They knew this would happen, of course. The Egyptian populace chooses to sacrifice stability and depose Hosni Mubarak, elects an Islamist president, realizes the error of its ways, and forces its democratically elected president to step down.

David Bowie’s Berlin

David Bowie’s Berlin

Neil Stewart looks at the Thin White Duke’s time in Berlin and the dark records he made here.The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976 – from the V&A exhibition ‘David Bowie is’It’s the most famous salute in rock. Returning to London’s Victoria Station in May 1976, after a spell in Berlin, David Bowie, world-famous, stood up in the back of his open-top Mercedes and saluted the crowd: his right arm extended unbent, his hand flat palm-down.

The hidden meaning of olive dust

The hidden meaning of olive dust

Nobody warns you about the olive dust.It falls in a mist with each shake of the branches, spurts and sneezes with each blast of the chainsaw. Leafy limbs fall onto the net-covered ground. Olive dust settles on my skin, my hair, my boots. I clutch a branch and swipe my hand down its length. A spattering of olives falls onto the net.

Dialogue of 5 travelers on their first night in Rome [script]

Dialogue of 5 travelers on their first night in Rome [script]

TITLE CARD:Conversations of 5 Travelers on Their First Night in… Rome.Fade in:Int. Hostel common area — nightBLAISE is pouring wine for KEIRA, CELESTE, LUCAS, and TOM.BLAISENow, this wine is from Colline di Levanto in the Liguria region of Italy.LOWER THIRD: Blaise (The Know-It-All)LUCASLook man, I don’t care if it’s from a toilet bowl.

How music festivals are the closest thing to utopia in modern society

How music festivals are the closest thing to utopia in modern society

Festivals create and take on a life of their own.A heartbeat starts forming once you join the line-for-miles entering the gates. For Bonnaroo and Coachella, there’s a rush to get off the interstate into either the Farm or the Polo Grounds, a sigh of relief once through the check-in, setting up basecamp in record time, then celebrating with your comrades and neighbors.

Travel photography tip: How to shoot night photography

Travel photography tip: How to shoot night photography

AN HOUR AFTER SUNSET, most photographers are packing up their gear and heading to a nice hot meal and a warm bed, but not me. I’ve waited all day for the sun to dip over the horizon, and now it’s time to grab my camera bag and start hiking.Typically, I will scout a location during the day, looking for unique angles, perspectives, and subjects to shoot, with a vision in mind of how it will look at night.