I'm writing this letter in mid-September, and hurricanes have been battering the Caribbean and Florida. My son, an assistant producer at a network news division, just called to say he was leaving for Biloxi, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, an area that has arrows pointing at it in TV weather reports. One thing I know—there was no problem getting a seat on a flight heading that way. I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him not to go, or, at least, to stay indoors.
Flying into a storm is well outside the range of T+L-recommended adventures, but it got me thinking about an important aspect of travel: the desire to engage with the world. Staying indoors is the very antithesis of this engagement—no expansion of personal horizons here, and certainly nothing to write home about to one's family and friends, or to a T+L editor.
Travel is a contact sport, and even as I pray for minimum contact for everyone in Ivan's path, I take pride in all the high-impact material in this issue. Forging ahead into unfamiliar and challenging places always yields interesting experiences of discovery. I'm thinking in particular of two stories—Douglas Rogers's feature on Johannesburg, South Africa, a city known for its poverty, crime, and racial conflict that is remaking itself as the epicenter of spirited modern Africa. Closer to home for me, and for many of my colleagues and friends, is our Women's Travel Special, which reports on the rapidly expanding population of women who are both creating and responding to travel trends. Along with security concerns and unwanted approaches by aspiring dinner companions, many women find that traveling solo takes some getting used to. The first time I ventured out on my own internationally, my discomfort expressed itself as a kind of vertigo upon boarding the plane, a sensation that has long since been overcome by the pleasure of having 5 to 18 hours to myself. I must admit, however, that my meditations are less baroquely entertaining than Douglas Anthony Cooper's, who shares his inner monologue from his trip to Lapland in winter. Or those of Guy Trebay, who brings his family album of memories to the Big Island of Hawaii.
There are discoveries of a more sporting sort (hiking, fishing, riding) to be made at the six luxuriously rustic Argentine inns and lodges in "Argentina's Greatest Escapes", by T+L's South America correspondent Connie McCabe. Our L.A. correspondent, David A. Keeps, presents insider finds in his portrait of Nassau and Paradise Island, where he traveled to interview actress Salma Hayek, whose latest movie was filmed there.
As we go to press, I have just learned that while the storm gusted ashore, my son was hunkered down, reporting on a family that refused to evacuate. Their house sits on a reinforced concrete foundation smack-dab on the coastline. Sometimes staying indoors can be an adventure, too.