Archives for category: Weekend Reads


Photo credit: AFAR magazine

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is both a revealing and introspective memoir by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.

The book shifts from past and present frequently; Wamariya’s past as a refugee who moves through more than seven African countries before she and her older sister arrive in the United States, and the internal and physical challenges and tragedies of survival and of a life suspended.

In the present narrative, Wamariya struggles to reconcile how her turbulent past has shaped her into the woman she is now, and the person she wishes to be.  

Read this for a first-person perspective on the consequences of war – the 1994 Rwandan genocide, specifically – and the complicated relationships we have with our family and our selves.

Rwanda travel

For further reading, I enjoyed this story from AFAR magazine that considers a Rwanda as a travel destination in the decades following the conflict. The New York Times’ travel section also published a 36-hour itinerary of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city.


Photo credit: California Sunday Magazine

History is a subject that interested me in school, but I had trouble retaining the information. I’d read the text and listen to the lecture, yet when it came down to take the test my rewards for my efforts rarely reaped top marks.

I love history for providing a framework for why the world is, context for why it isn’t and a blueprint for what it could be. When history unfolds through the lens of food, its lessons stick with me much longer than a stubborn jar peanut butter. Even more so when I’m in an interactive experience, like the tapas tour in Madrid where I learned that the origins of the Spanish tapa may have began as a small snack to tide over field workers when they got too tipsy during their lunch break.

We soaked in this factoid while sipping a vermouth and chowing down on tostas at Los Gatos in the historic Huertas neighborhood, a more appealing environment than a sterile lecture hall by spades.

This weekend, I’ve rounded up a handful of nuggets that look at the origins of things using food as a flashpoint for historical, cultural momentum:


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Weekend Reads is an almost-weekly series on The Curious Passport and features a round-up of travel news, features and other related links (probably related to food, fitness or the outdoors) I’ve either found around the internet or has been sent my way by friends and family.


Tinto de veranos in Madrid

In the weeks after my return from my month-long, mostly solo trip to Europe earlier this summer, I was met with a mixture of surprise, concern and awe when I mentioned that I ventured off by myself. Curious to get to the root of their reaction, I did what we all do when we have a question we can’t answer: I Googled it.

When I did, I  learned that I may have put the proverbial cart in front of the solo travel horse. My search results yielded more media articles and blog posts about why Americans don’t travel abroad than why we’re more hesitant than other countries to globe trot solo.

As it turns out, examining the country’s attitude toward travel in general may offer clues to help answer my original question.

So first thing’s first; why don’t Americans travel internationally?

Read the rest of this entry »

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