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Best American Travel Writing 2020, Robert Macfarlane


I needed this. Feeling bummed, travel on hold to foreign destinations, bags way deep in the closet collecting dust and spider webs, these stories helped bring a smile. The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. Iceland becoming synonymous with the term ‘overtourism’ where repeated avalanches of tourists change the quality of life for people who actually live there; Avalanche school and the traps that validated a species-wide frailty rather than personal quirks- familiarity (failing to remain vigilant when faced with the unknown), social facilitation (everybody’s doing it so it must be okay), and expert halo (follow the experts, they must know what they’re doing); one man’s hunt for the perfect viewing of the aurora borealis in Scandanavia (lights caused by high-velocity solar particles interacting with the earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere); trying to hold oneself together in the Aland Islands after pain and tragedy- contentment with a simple agreement to be in life, to be in it all the time as the possible solution; crossing lanes of your youth; a man’s obsession with travel and sharing his experiences; a woman’s assistance at the Mexican border. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here, even if you don’t like to travel. You can get perspectives on how each travel experience is unique to that person, and that person alone… the shape of what helps define that person and can change who they are, becoming the kind of archive that want to be or become.