Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Dirty Secret About Paradise: It’s Boring

I’m specifically talking about the postcard idea of “paradise” here, something like white, palm-fringed sand under empty blue skies, or a palatial suite at a five-star boutique hotel. Whatever it looks like to you, the trouble with “paradise”, besides not existing in the first place, is that we get used to it. We get used to everything, it’s human to do so. It’s an evolutionary survival trait that we are all better-off for having. But it also brings this side-effect of causing bliss to decay, inevitably and rapidly. In what is curiously entitled the Hedonic Treadmill, the science shows us that people tend to normalise to the same level of happiness throughout their whole lives. This normalisation occurs even after extreme events. People who have had large lottery winnings at one end of the spectrum, and those who have lost their limbs or close relatives at the other, all get back to their old […]

My Favourite Animal Encounters From Around the Globe

Here’s a trivial and subjective list of some of the encounters I’ve had with wild animals that have, for widely different reasons, stayed in a special place in my memory. They’re in no meaningful order. Albatrosses, Otago Peninsula New Zealand (2010) From within a whirling, squawking cloud of seagulls, we saw a strangely captivating bird soar past. An albatross isn’t far off being just a big gull, yet somehow they have far more grace and beauty. It was a real surprise and it was breathtaking to watch. See more pics in my Flickr album, Otago and the East Coast. Whale Shark, Yucatán Peninsula, México (2015) It was a relatively small one, a female about 8-9m in length, and we were surrounded by boatloads of tourists, each queuing for the next turn in the water. But to swim alongside her, watching her languid movement, all the distraction disappeared and for a brief time we […]

Back to Civilisation in Granada, via Masaya & Apoyo

After the highlands of the north, we travelled south by bus to the city of Masaya. On the way we were struck by how uncultivated Nica was. Rather than crop-filled fields, we saw large areas of grass and trees. Everything was green. We passed fertile plains that were fringed by volcanoes, and sprinkled with colourful flowers. Cyclones of vultures, perhaps 100-strong, turned in the middle distance, gliding on some thermal, or over some dead animal. We got ourselves set-up in a windowless room at the centre of a shitty guesthouse in Masaya. I woke on our first morning there with a cold, probably induced by the chilly, damp nights of the northern highlands. An illness that I would normally associate with winters at home felt incongruous with Nica’s hot climate. A few miles from the city is the Masaya volcano. We were too cheap to pay for a guide so we walked up the […]