THIS WAS A MASSIVE YEAR for Matador on every level. To celebrate New Years, here’s a selection of some of our favorite publications from the year. Some were huge viral traffic hits. Others were memorable in the way they captured certain characters, emotions, moments in people’s lives.
There’s no particular order, and there were many more posts that we loved. As we go into 2015, here’s wishing everyone a productive, happy, healthy new year. See you on the road!
This piece just went off on the internet with over a million social shares.
Writer Turner Barr, who volunteered at Thailand’s now-infamous “Tiger Temple,” wrote, “You’ve probably seen pictures of people posing next to a majestic tiger, bravely holding up a tiger’s tail and grinning proudly, or perhaps even shoving a baby bottle filled with formula down a tiger cub’s mouth. Obviously great shots for Facebook. However, I’m here to tell you those photos come at a steep price.” His portrayal of these animals’ lives opened a massive international conversation about the treatment of animals in captivity and the (often unwitting) role we play as travelers.
Part of Matador’s mission is to publish writing that isn’t just about travel itself but the effect of travel on our lives back at home. After a year in Australia, Kellie Donnelly had a new perspective on the US–everything from how employees are paid to how people drink. This article resonated massively with readers both in the US and those in Australia.
Over the past month, our first interactive map exploded across the internet. Not filled yours out yet? Click here to share where you’ve traveled so far.
With more than 239,000 likes on Facebook, this list of “signs you were raised by a Mexican mother” (translation here) was one of the biggest hits of the year from our new Spanish language site, Matador en español.
This year Matador was honored to publish stunning portraits and mini profiles from the crew at ClearWater, a a movement for clean water and cultural survival in Ecuador’s northern Amazon.
You can find plenty of articles analyzing relationships and sex on the road, but very few narratives which put you in the story as honestly and poignantly as this piece by author Suzanne Roberts. We need more travel writing as real as this.
PALWAN FROM THE AIR
Matador Media House director Scott Sporleder took a bunch of epic drone videos in 2014, but this one of Palwan in the Phillipines blew up on YouTube with over 300,000 views.
Author Cullen Thomas spent three and a half years in a South Korean prison after a felony conviction for possession of hashish. He later wrote about it in his first book, Brother One Cell. Two decades after the conviction, at border crossing between the US and Canada, this conviction comes back to haunt him in this tight, tension-filled narrative that shows the juxtaposition of laws, law enforcement, and the reality of our decisions as travelers.
We published a lot of cultural identity pieces in 2014. While some readers are dismissive of this form, the fact remains that these kinds of articles can have massive social relevance. This particular piece was produced by MatadorU writing student Jarret Leong.
A great example of how these kinds of pieces clue people in to cultures and places: Native Inuit writer Tina Egede’s article on Greenland brought both serious applause in the comments as well as a healthy debate.
For some, the highest levels of intensity we reach as travelers may be climbing a peak in the Andes or surfing perfect conditions on the North Shore. Then there are those like Matador Ambassador and documentary photographer Cengiz Yar Jr. His account of photographing on the front lines of the Syrian civil war is fascinating on so many levels, from the challenges of traveling / operating in a war zone to the conflict itself.
This story by Reda Wigle had a special resonance with our readers; she gets at that complex, difficult to describe set of emotions we all feel at times as travelers when we feel that urge to get on the road.
What other stories did you like (or maybe not like) in 2014? What would you like to see more of in 2015?