"Columbus", you'll discover when you go to Santo Domingo, is right up there with "ay dios!" and "mierda" as the most popular, all-purpose expletive in the Dominican Republic. It takes just three days in Santo Domingo, city on the verge of a quintecentennial breakdown, before I, too, am tossing the C- word around like a native.

    Several years ago I went to Greenland on a travel writing assignment. Getting there was a trip in itself. First I flew from New York to Ottawa, then from Ottawa to Iqaluit, Canada on commercial airliners. In Iqaluit, I hopped an eight-seater charter jet for the journey over the Greenland Sea.   It was an exciting flight. Halfway there, at 25,000 feet or so, one of the baggage compartments popped open, releasing the Canadian pilot’s gear into the cold, cloudless skies. I couldn’t see what was happening from my side, but I heard him groan, “Oh shit!” and I thought we were...

 
AUTHOR'S NOTE: An oldie from my archives--this article appeared in the 1990s, in a magazine that no longer exists. My calypso career as "Lady Complainer" began in 1984 and continued until 1986. Ah what nights! Singing my calypso number, sandwiched in the bill between a Chinese Trinidadian guy (who was hired as a comedy act because he sang off key and completely out of rhythm), and a pair of singing midgets.

The other day a fellow traveler wrote to ask me what I thought were the most important languages for a traveler to have. I'm not much for lists (hate all those magazine cover lines that reduce the subtlety and wonder of the world to the 5 most this and the 50 best that), but once I got started on this theme, I couldn't stop And so--with apologies to an overused meme--here's my somewhat list-like take on the language-while-traveling issue. First up--what's the number one language you need to have in your travel toolkit? The hands down, no-contest winner is...

It's always great to be recognized by your peers, but this one is especially sweet. Today I found out that my article, "Ghosts of Hong Kong", won the 2011 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Gold prize, awarded by the Society of American Travel Writers. I've won Lowell Thomas awards before, but this is the first time I've won for writing a personal story about my life in the city I love. There are a few characters in the article, but there is one person who is the heart of the piece, who has for many years, patiently and with great affection, taught...