ALL THE NEGATIVITY THAT we’ve been hearing about the past 364 days has come from realizing things we’ve known all along, but have somehow ignored or shrugged aside. From miserably depressing scandals in athletics to uprisings across the Arab World to protests in Russia and the biggest wave of social demonstration in the United States since the 1960s, the world has begun its dreary awakening.
And it seems everywhere we went this year, from Patagonian Chile to Egypt to New York, the stories we brought back were shaped by these awakenings.
As well, within the Matador Network itself, we saw a year of unprecedented change and achievement:
We produced our very own video series, Breaking Free, a collection of stories about American citizens living abroad to pursue their dreams, to debut next year.
We launched our new-and-improved Matador Community, which has become arguably the greatest place on the Internet for travelers, writers, photographers, filmmakers, and straight-up life-seekers to connect and share their work.
Below you’ll find a few of our favorite moments here at Matador for 2011. Some you may remember, some you might have missed. We’d love for you to share your thoughts on what you loved, hated, laughed at, cried with, or raised your eyebrow to. We’ll see you on the other side of the calendar.
This year, we kicked off the beginning of a new series of ground-level guides to how to make the absolute most of your 24 hours in a city. So far, we've covered Manila, Seattle, San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, Puerto Escondido and Quebec City, among others. If you think you know your city like the back of your hand, hit us up!
How to Watch a Bullfight
If you've ever been to a bullfight--and even if you haven't--chances are good that you have an opinion on the matter. In How to watch a bullfight, Jason Wire takes a step back from what he saw and, as he says, "it might be the most impressive thing you see all day."
Memories of Life in the Burn Unit
As perpetual travelers, what we seek is not the "destination"--it's simply the place. That place can be a beach in Thailand, a bar in Chicago--but it can also be some place we don't actively search for--a burn unit of a hospital, like the one in Jane Nemis' Memories of life in the burn unit. It is not filled with sun-dappled, glittering landscapes, nor exotic spices, nor enchanting street performers. It is, however, filled with truth...something worth seeking no matter where you find yourself.
One of the year's most celebrated pieces among the Matador staff was How to identify a narcotrafficker, by contributor Philip Johnson. As Nights editor Kate Sedgwick notes, "it's the insider/outsider view that criticizes without condemning, that plays on our fears as travelers" that illuminates the culture within our travels themselves.
2011 witnessed the most amount of Matador staff meeting up in the same place at the same time, when 10 of us took part in TBEX 2011 in Vancouver. From back left to right: Ross Borden, Karen Mackenzie, Joshua Johnson, Eric Warren, (2nd row) Michelle Schusterman, Stefan Klopp, (front row) Carlo Alcos, Candice Walsh, Eileen Smith, Ian Mackenzie.
Even the most neutral conflict-avoiders had an opinion on Ernest "Fly Brother" White's 8 things white people will never know about travel, which churned up a storm of comments and discussion by putting into perspective the vastly different experiences that can happen when traveling simply because of one's race.
How to Get Laid in Mexico
Matador's senior editor, David Miller, had a particular goal in mind during a surfing trip in Mexico some years ago: "Goal: find partner and engage in sexual encounter which possibly evolves from straight-up "boning" into unprecedentedly life-affirming moments." By the time you finish reading, whether or not he succeeded in reaching the goal may not even matter anymore.