Ghana Will Always Win! Africa story wins the silver in 2012 Solas travel writing awards

ghana soccer black stars africa

Travel and Sports Silver Winner: Ghana Will Always Win

by Joshua Berman

The author experiences World Cup fever on the Gold Coast

It was a two-day journey to Tamale, where Mammah Tenii was waiting to connect us with Chief Kansuk, who everybody called “Chief.” It was the summer of 2006 and the national soccer team, the Ghana Black Stars, was playing in the World Cup in Germany. It was a historical moment to be there and we had this other mission on top of it. Continue reading Ghana Will Always Win! Africa story wins the silver in 2012 Solas travel writing awards

I’m speaking about my Peace Corps service this Monday at CU Boulder

peace corps nicaragua hat Happy Peace Corps week, everybody! I’m proud to be participating in the big Peace Corps Palooza recruiting event this Monday evening in the Glenn Miller Ballroom. CU Boulder is the country’s number one Peace Corps Volunteer–producing university (two years in a row!), so it should be a fun event with many colors, sounds, and sights from around the world.

I’ll be giving a presentation, sometime after 6 p.m., about my Peace Corps service in Nicaragua (Environmental Education, 1998-2000) and how it has affected my life and career.

Event Description: “Peace Corps is actively seeking volunteers to serve across the globe. Come to the Peace Corps Palooza to learn about the organization, life overseas and meet with former volunteers. Also, explore volunteer opportunities in areas including: education, youth/community development, agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, business development, environment and information technology. All CU students are welcome! Life is calling… how far will you go?”

CU-Boulder Peace Corps Recruiting Office

Peace Corps Palooza!

Travel Memoir to write home about: Two big thumbs up for Julian Smith’s ‘Crossing the Heart of Africa’

smith1.jpgI first picked up Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith not so much for the author’s recent route across a continent in the footsteps of some old explorer, but more for Smith’s journey from the guidebook shelves to the more exclusive “Travel Literature” shelf, that holy mish-mash of memoir, adventure-logue, and other curious bits of travel-related nonfiction.

As a writer who spends way too much of his time fact-checking hotel prices and bus departure times for my four guidebook titles — while my own book-length narrative percolates on the back burner — I sympathize with Smith’s journey from guidebook jockey to storyteller. I understand why, after penning successful Moon guides to Ecuador and the US southwest, he gave it all up to try his hand at a narrative tale. In Crossing the Heart of Africa, he succeeds brilliantly. Continue reading Travel Memoir to write home about: Two big thumbs up for Julian Smith’s ‘Crossing the Heart of Africa’

A Rooftop in Pakistan: My latest travel story

travel in lahore pakistan was one of the best travel sites on the Internet way before it became Travel Channel’s official blog for high-caliber narrative stories. Its editors “focus not only on destinations but on the journey, on travel in the broadest sense of the word … how travel changes us, how it changes the way we see the world and how travel itself changes the world.”

So it’s a huge honor to contribute another story to World Hum’s feature well, a tale from my extended honeymoon and a chapter from my next book:

TRAVEL STORIES: “A Welcome Rooftop in the Heart of Pakistan”

I hope you like it.

Malian-Americana Folk Music Mash-Up: Adam Klein Returns to Mali with a guitar and a cameraman

[The following article appears in the Fall 2010 print issue of Worldview, the magazine of the National Peace Corps Association (I love getting to write about my friends)]

by Joshua Berman

chago.jpgAdam Klein, a singer-songwriter from Georgia, stood on a flat rooftop in northern Guatemala. His lean, tall figure, bushy hair, and pregnant guitar cast a silhouette against the Milky Way. He sang and played and searched for words. I sat at Adam’s feet with pen and paper, trying to help as he composed a ballad about don Fernando, the ancient foreman on the bridge project where we were working that week.

“O Fernando … on a fateful morning/ there was a heavy sun/ in the peaceful sleepy town/ Without a warning, they rounded up everyone/ and they cut all the people down….”

Adam and I were in Rabinal, Continue reading Malian-Americana Folk Music Mash-Up: Adam Klein Returns to Mali with a guitar and a cameraman

Go Black Stars! Ghana goes bananas! Tranquilo Traveler digs up World Cup 2006 posts

As Ghana celebrates its first win in the 2010 World Cup, I thought I’d take a look back. Exactly four years ago, my wife and I were living in Accra, a crusty capital on the coast of West Africa, where we were volunteering with Planned Parenthood. The country was deep in World Cup fever for the national team, the Black Stars, which had advanced farther in the tournament than any other African team had ever done in history. Sutay and I watched soccer on TV every day, all over the country, at work, at home, in restaurants, and once during our travels in the rural north, we watched World Cup football under the stars in the chief’s compound.

Here are a few images and stories from that experience:

VIDEO of Ghana youth going nuts over a goal

Accra: sight-free, soccer-insane city by the seaGame On! Ghana vs. USA today…

Jubilation! Ghana 2 – USA 1! Everybody’s Dancin’…

Back from the Bush: Two Weeks in Northeast Ghana

Rest In Peace Professor Khwaja Masud (1922–2010)

By far, the most commented-upon entry I have ever posted is “Why We Came to Pakistan: Gordon College, Rawalpindi, and our search for Dr. Stewart.”

The comments section is a remarkable tribute to two respected educators, one of whom is my wife’s great grandfather, and the other is Prof. Masud. The writers are mostly Pakistani expats living around the world, all of them former students of R.R. and Professor Masud.
The family has set up a memorium page here.

Obit by Adil Najam: “Earlier this month (on January 17), Prof. Khawaja Masud – teacher, mathematician, philosopher, activist, progressive, and truly an intellectual’s intellectual – died in Islamabad.”

A few years ago, this family took us in and helped nurse my wife when she got sick. We are ever grateful for this and we send the Professor’s family our strength and love.

Cooking Classes in Thailand: Tranquilo mention on Ephemerratic

The round-the-worlders over at are exploring cooking classes in Chiang Mai in their latest post:

“I’ve taken a cooking class here and there on this trip and never regretted it – the market tour helps me identify mysterious street food, and since you usually make more than one meal’s worth of dishes, it’s a kind-to-the-budget activity. Chiang Mai also seems to have as many cooking classes as pimped out golden Buddhas.”


Passionate immersive travelers surf cardboard signs through European cities: ExperienceLess and Trourists

exp.jpgCreated for those “who travel to live destinations, not visit them,” ExperienceLess is the collaborative effort of a loose group of “trourists” (I know, say it 3 times fast) who, lacking “real experiences at an unfamiliar destination,” sit out with cardboard signs inviting strangers to invite them into their city for the night. To me, their postmodern couchsurfing and shouting about “the difference between visiting a city and living it,”


invites a rehash of the tired, old “traveler vs. tourist” debate (I’ve always agreed with Kelsey Timmerman that, ultimately, we’re ALL tourons, get over it). Continue reading Passionate immersive travelers surf cardboard signs through European cities: ExperienceLess and Trourists