Maximon isn’t an easy idol to comprehend. He is both divine and devilish, fiend and friend, a communicator to Ajaw, the supreme Mayan god, but also a trickster that may double cross whoever presents an offering.
Beyond the Pharaohs’ tombs, Egypt’s oldest and most alluring secrets lay in its extraordinary geology. David Sly found this while camping Bedouin-style in the White Desert.
A different type of ash cloud hung over Bali, and had nothing to do with volcanic activity. It involved the mass burning of human bones, conjuring a rich, communal celebration of spirituality. Souls were leaving an earthly paradise to attain a higher paradise.
At the end of a long day’s trek, you reach The Sun Gate. This is the greatest arrival portal imaginable: Below you rests Machu Picchu, built in the 14th century and still magnificent and mysterious. A beguiling stone monument of a previous civilization.
Medieval pilgrim trails across northern Spain took devout Christians to the town of Santiago de Compostella, to worship before what is believed to be the remains of St James. Modern travellers have different intentions for taking the two surviving Camino routes (as they are known).
Indeed, my walking destination is a specific modern shrine—Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian, ranked number seven in San Pellegrino’s world Best 50 restaurants.
Tourist numbers are scant in Jordan, making visits to its historical sights all the more memorable.
There is one ring to rule them all – at least among alpine skiers. In Austria, where skiing is a most serious and earnest religion, there is a great 22km circuit of continuous pistes that winds through the high Arlberg region. This is Der Weisse Ring – the White Ring.
Arms outstretched, my palms lay flat against 1200-year-old mud brick walls, defining the width of cobblestone laneways through Fes’s ancient Medina – but here comes a donkey caravan, laden with plastic water drums and bolts of cloth, and it is my obligation to scuttle into a doorway and allow them clear passage.
Crossing the Andes has long been the stuff of legend; a daunting task for the bravest pioneer climbers. The steepness to such high elevation and the harsh climate amidst rugged rock faces throughout this imposing South American range have provided a barrier that is especially difficult to traverse. If you’re a passenger in a coach on the trans-national highway, you often have serious doubts about whether you’ll reach your destination.
In the dry, dusty centre of Turkey, as the first light hits a strangely sculptural sandstone landscape, a giant nylon orb peeks over tall, spindly stone fingers. Then another, then scores more. Within minutes, the dawn sky is filled with 100 hot-air balloons; a candy-coloured kaleidoscope that is as mesmerizing as the strange moonscape above which it floats. A daily occurrence in one of Turkey’s tourism hotspots.