Is Nicaragua Safe to Visit?

In April of 2018, widespread protests broke out in Nicaragua against the government and Daniel Ortega, the country's dictator. The government responded with massive violent crackdowns, with estimates of those killed ranging from 30 to well over 100, including the well-publicized shooting up of a church in which some protestors had taken refuge. The United…

Guatemala Beyond the News Cycle

For so many Americans, Guatemala isn't a place per se. Rather, it is synonymous with drugs, violence, and illegal immigration, since that is what we see in the news. As a first-time visitor to the northernmost of the "northern triangle" countries - or as Fox News put it, three Mexican countries - I was curious…

La Vie Bordelaise

The sun is shining, and the wide boulevards are full of people. They walk slowly, smiling, never seeming to be in a hurry. I stroll past beautiful stone buildings, pausing to admire them, stopping here and there to watch the joggers, the skateboarders, the picnickers. The river moves past as slowly as the Bordelais themselves.…

Why Marseille

When I announced that I would be spending a month in the Southern French city of Marseille, it was met with some disbelief and bewilderment. "But Marseille is dangerous," some said. "Marseille is dirty," cried others. As my month here comes to an end, I can safely and confidently share that I made the right…

Measuring a Happy City

Each year, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network measures world happiness. It takes data from 158 countries, and combines that with surveys, in order to index happiness. It's a fascinating endeavor, and one that undoubtedly leads to a good deal of subjectivity, even if the results are tabulated scientifically. For instance, let's examine the…

The Royal Tour: Spokane

I have been fascinated with the idea of the World's Fair ever since my parents read a children's book to me long ago about the invention of the ice cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. This excitement only increased when I recently read Devil in the White City about the 1893 Chicago…