destinations


I've travelled around the world to which I give mixed reviews. Much beauty, much misery. Ecco homo. And yet I have found places where I could live for longer than a month's vacation.

Here they are.


Detroit

The Motor City keeps me coming back home because I can't wait to see what its renaissance is going to be like. Will Detroit become another Atlanta with massive suburbs, bloodless malls filled with churlish shopaholic zombies and a core that disintegrates into a black hole at quitting time? Or will it develop a network of interesting and funky neighbourhoods all linked to a prosperous downtown like Chicago. We already have two first class stadiums and more importantly a first class orchestra which I try to hear at least once a month to keep my spirits up and the philistines at bay. Plus, there's Detroit secret weapon - Windsor, Ontario. It has plenty of tree lined streets and that special vibration of peace, order and good government that you can only get in Canada. Make sure to visit the Via Italia, chock-a-block with Italian grocery stores and trattorias. My barber even gets La Republica in every day from Rome! No matter what, Detroit has a ballsy authenticity of character that history can't beat down. Detroit, love it or leave it!

Rio

Quiet nights of quiet stars, quiet chords on my guitar. Ah yes, Rio. Your heart is in your throat as the plane banks out over Governor's Island. Jetlagged, you walk in a daze along Ipanema, lost in the wonder of the spectacle. This is a city that is full of amazing parts that add up to paradise. If I could have lived in any moment of history, I would choose the years from 1956 to 1966 when Rio was the epicenter of bossa nova. Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes held nightly seances in a variety of small clubs in Copacabana and Ipanema, always massive tumblers of scotch close at hand. Your beautiful lady listens to the music, her head on your shoulder while you massage the small of her back. I never get tired of this city. And to make sure I don't, I either visit friends in Belo Horizonte for awhile or I take an overnight bus to Arraial d'Ajuda in Southern Bahia state. I've been going there for almost 15 years. It's now way overdeveloped, complete with techno luaus and paved roads but so what? The beaches are still excellent, the sun beats down, the surf is blue and I have a fantastic place to crash at Pousada Tororao, owned and operated by the impossibly gracious Vitor and Denise.

Dakar

Few things match the airport in Dakar for delicious nerve shredding experience. You arrive from New York in the middle of the night into the middle of chaos. Hustlers, touts, bag jockeys all await, ready to ply their trade on you. And then in the crowd, you spy your contact. She wisks you downtown, the sedan running hard and cool along the Corniche next to the Atlantic Ocean slumbering beneath a new moon. You reach the incompable Croix du Sud, check in and crash. In the hallways you expect to see Alain Delon in a trenchcoat; here is a place that has found the perfect balance between 60's French Kitsch and modern African elegance. You wake at noon famished. In the super chic restaurant, you order the rabbit (it's a must) and a bottle of wine. After a nap, you hire a taxi to take you to the launch for N'Gor, a small island full of hippie shacks and posh villas. Spend the rest of the afternoon sipping a brew on the patio of Les Ateliers de N'Gor owned by my good friend, Gaston Madeira, art svengali and bon vivant. Or staring off at the roiling ocean behind his place. At night, return to the mainland in time to catch the ladies who grill oysters and fish at Les Almadies, a small beach with a couple of bars. The next day, take a bush taxi to Saly, where a long wide inviting ribbon of sand and a powerful sun wait to work you over. Or go north to Saint Louis, a sort of Senegalese New Orleans, minus the vulgarities of Bourbon Street. Every year there is a jazz festival that attracts world stars of the blue note as well as well-heeled patrons.




Copyright © 2002, Timothy Dugdale. All rights reserved.