Forget shuttle buses and trains, why not walk to (or from) the airport instead? That is the preferred method of novelist Will Self, who even went as far to include one such stroll – from Los Angeles airport to Hollywood – in his surreal novel-cum-walkalogue Walking to Hollywood.
It is something I’ve experimented with myself here in Trujillo. Well, sort of. In my case, the airport was actually more an obstacle than the final destination itself.
Some weeks ago, you see, I decided that if I was going to have to spend my birthday alone this year – what with my wife being on the other side of the continent in Brazil – I’d do so by going on a long walk to the beach in Huanchaco, a small coastal town nine miles (15km) upcoast from Trujillo. The local airport – an entirely forgettable place if it were not for the charm of its arrivals lounge doubling as a car park – would merely serve as a milepost that, whilst requiring circumnavigation, would at least reassure me that the birthday beer I envisaged having on the beach was almost within reach. Continue Reading
In the months prior to leaving Brazil I’d written about walking and psychogeography as means of finding new ways to see, explore and understand the complexities and unseen beauty of São Paulo. It was fitting then, that during those final few months I became increasingly aware of a stencilled call to arms which seemed to echo my own advocacy for urban exploration:
‘See the city’
In the context of an iconic SP location like Parque Ibirapuera – where I took the photograph above – ‘ver a cidade’ (see the city) seems to convey a fairly straightforward observation: look how beautiful our city is. Continue Reading
Below is an English translation of my article for the Brasil Post (Huffington Post). Enjoy.
“Não existe amor em SP” (Love doesn’t exist in SP), sings Criolo in that beautiful song of his. I must admit, I was inclined to agree with him when my Paulistano wife and I first moved to São Paulo from London just over two years ago.
During my first few months here the city felt like an impenetrable and ugly concrete jungle whose dense canopy consisted solely of bland high-rises. And, of course, there was the bumper-to-bumper traffic, smelly rivers and turnstiles on buses, which even now still baffle me.
Much of this I recorded on my blog, the book is on the table, which I started after my wife and sister-in-law thought my stereotypically grumpy British observations provided an amusing outsider’s perspective on life in São Paulo. Continue Reading
It was during my walk along the Minhocão – São Paulo’s grotesquely endearing monument to the car – that I first spotted it: an islet of tiled perfection in a city full of fractured and forgotten pavements.
An isle of tiled perfection (otherwise known as a ‘curb extension’). Note, the Minhocão in the background.
Unlike the pragmatically Ilha Grande (big island) and Ilhabela (beautiful island) which sit along the coast between Rio and São Paulo, mine is no island of exotica but instead one of Ballardian concrete.
Why, though, my fascination with a slab of paving in an unremarkable neighbourhood like Santa Cecília? Aren’t those ‘real’ islands on the Atlantic coast infinitely more interesting? Perhaps, but thousands of words have already been written in their honour; they’ve been Trip Advised to death.
What interests me are the ignored curiosities on our streets, and taking the time to stop, notice and appreciate them. As psychogeographer and novelist Iain Sincliar observes: ‘Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city…allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself’. Continue Reading
During my formative years I remember one of my friends remarking that it’s impossible to ever be lost in London because most of the time you never know where you are in the first-place.
Back then I was inclined to agree because despite living just ten miles from Central London I only sporadically ventured there, and when I did I often found myself feeling slightly disorientated by its relentless bustle and vast mazy topography.
Later though, as I worked in and around London, and travelled more outside of the UK, I came to appreciate London’s randomness as being part of its endearing charm; the ability to amble aimlessly around its meandering streets far preferable to the irksome intermittences walkers suffer on the streets of obsessively gridded cities like Buenos Aires. Continue Reading