against+the+wallTo celebrate the wedding of BNT and MatadorTravel, this week’s collection of inspiring travel tales highlights the best writing from the Matador community.

Some of the selections are polished feature articles from Matador’s magazine, Traverse. Others are rough hewn blogs scattered with diamonds of humor and insight.

What makes all the travel stories on Matador special and unique is the possibility for interaction. Connecting with the people behind the words is as simple as checking out their profile, leaving a comment, getting in touch.

I’m stoked about Matador because it’s more than a magazine – it’s a community. It has a heartbeat. It’s a gathering point, a watering hole, a place for people to come together and share inspiration and advice.

Enjoy the stories!

1) “The Crazy List” by DeepSeaGangster

Commercial fishing is tough work, but the moments captured in Deep Sea Gangster’s “crazy list” makes life on the high seas sound as romantic and magical as anything in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. A sampler:

-a bald eagle swooped down and snatched the skipper’s little pet dog off the bow.

-in a squall, hundreds of small, brightly colored birds seek shelter in the cabin of a fishing boat. the mate on watch can’t concentrate as they flutter all about and their tiny feet tickle his head and shoulders.

2) “Common Denominators: Soy Sauce and Chilies” by Noelljt

Noellejt writes from You Sabai, a hilltop cooking school near Chiang Mai that happens to be my favorite place in Southeast Asia. So maybe I’m biased. But the food descriptions in this blog will make anyone’s mouth water.

3) “Khoomei: The Ancient Art Of Tuvan Throat Singing” by girlgoesglobal

Politically Tuva is part of Russia, a wedge of Siberia on the northern border of Mongolia. Culturally it is a nation apart, its people worshipful of nature and deeply rooted to the land:

“Khoomei (throat singing) was birthed from a desire to speak the language of Nature, translating the earthly sounds of a whistling wind or gurgling brook into human tones.”

4) “Booty And Bootlegs: A Diary Of Baile Funk In The Favelas Of Rio de Janeiro” by Drew Murphy

I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this story – less a narrative than a collage of music, violence, sex and poverty. Here’s the first sentence – you can almost feel the heat and grime:

A marijuana-sweat stew boils in the walls. It’s 11am. The sun drags on the earth’s belt. Only now are the sounds of life emerging — cheap TV’s and radios pump the western world through bad reception and small speakers. Dylan’s universal words blare in mono over the boom-crash absurdities of Saturday morning cartoons.

5) “The Traveling Warrior” by Japanhoch

Journalism is often called the first draft of history, but the journalism of the 21st century is hardly confined to newsbites in the mainstream media. Blogs like The Traveling Warrior paint a picture of the everyday trials of soldiers caught in wars around the world, helping us to empathize with the people behind the headlines.

6) “Running With Zelda” by Tim Patterson

A blatant publicity plug: Running With Zelda is probably the funniest (and most embarrassing) story I’ve ever written. It’s published online as part of a contest, with the story that gets the most votes winning its author (and 2 voters) a trip to Martinique. Give it a read, and if you like it, please give it a vote too.

Have you found any great travel stories this week? Share in the comments!

BNT contributing editor Tim Patterson travels with a sleeping bag and pup tent strapped to the back of his folding bicycle. His articles and travel guides have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Get Lost Magazine, Tales Of Asia and Traverse Magazine. Check out his Matador profile.