Caprera, Maddalena Islands, Sardinia
“Entrance is allowed only to those who are properly clothed and have the correct attitude to the importance and sacredness of this place” reads tour regulation number three, while number four threatens to bar access to those “wearing only a swimsuit or flimsy garments”. The regulations, displayed prominently at the entrance to the museum, make it clear that this is less a visitor attraction than a shrine. “You should dress and behave as though you were in a church”, said the guide of a private tour party sotto voce to his clients while we were standing in line to go in.
Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland
In the summer of 1793, in a graveyard in the parish of Dunnotar on the north east coast of Scotland, there occurred a chance meeting between Robert Paterson, a stonemason known by local people as ‘Old Mortality’, and the still unknown but aspiring writer, Walter Scott. The event was recorded years later in a letter that Scott wrote to an admirer and, if true, took place when Paterson was already in his eighth decade and a long way from his home in the hills of Galloway, south west Scotland.
Saigon, South Vietnam
A-Go took me to see the factory on the back of his motorbike soon after our arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. The brother of one of the company employees in the compound where we had once lived, he had been a childhood friend with whom I had kept in touch since leaving Saigon in 1970. His formal, Vietnamese, name is Lu Thuong but I had always known him by his Chinese diminutive. As he skated between the interminable columns of other scooters and bicycles, I held onto him for dear life, relaxing my grip at intervals only to check for my wallet and camera.
San Rafael National Park, Paraguay
Meals at San Rafael are taken with the owners, Hans and Christina, around the the table in their kitchen. The latter opens onto a covered verandah and, if the number of guests, or simply the occasion, demands it, then meals can be taken on the verandah itself, around a larger table. Dinners in particular are entertaining, not so much for the food, which is always excellent, but for the experience of eating cheek by jowl with the rainforest.