- On the train destined for Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 1, 2008.
By Christopher Wink | Oct 23, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
You take trains from big cities to other big cities. Lands, untold by tour books and unseen by sloppy tourists like yourself, unfold beneath your high carriage of jet setting: two months, 10 cities 3,000 miles wide and two or three days deep.
You are riding great dividers of place and time, laughing at great empires of history. Slicing corridors of culture. Other trains pass with silent screams at 70 miles per hour. You mull issues of personal importance and navigate narrow bathrooms.
There’s the old story of the boy who took a train and came back a man. No great story of accomplishment or adventure, but stalking late-night cars and toeing empty rail yards. Sleeping with a bag in his lap until he wanted someone to know him again. Until he learned who is chasing whom.
Continue reading Notes on seeing Europe from a train
By Christopher Wink | Oct. 8, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
Worlds – yes, disparate worlds – come to some form of a cross-section in red-eyed, late nights in train stations.
Early Tuesday morning, we were doing that, surfing the intersection of the young and the acutely itinerant – being reminded of the sociological difference between situational and generational poverty.
We, three, were in a 24-hour coffee shop just before 1 A.M., waiting on a 6 A.M. train. A security guard recommended the spot, a few modern chairs off to the side where people buy cups of foam and cream. A young man, a year or two my junior, sat beside me, tapping his foot and twitching in his chair, regularly, if subtly. The kind of movements you might expect at 1 A.M. in a late-night train station coffee shop.
Continue reading The boy in the train station coffee shop
By Christopher Wink | Oct 26, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
He liked the movement of the mouse cursor on my computer screen. So I pried his hands from the keys and opened up Microsoft Paint. With a few interruptions to change color and tool, a four-year-old who stumbled upon me in a park in Budapest, Hungary drew me a computer-generated painting.
Children don’t likely understand the concept of language. I certainly don’t remember when I learned of the six billion people in the world, most don’t speak like me. The little boy with the dirty sweatsuit, dirt on his brown-olive skin, and sand in his bushy, black hair spoke on to me, in a language I couldn’t understand.
He shrieked, too. First when – hoping to get him to stop smacking my laptop – I took his underarms and lifted him into the hanging leaves of a nearby tree.
He was positively gleeful.
He got on toy horse near the swings and – with a strong-armed point and another high-pitched shout – demanded I get on one nearby. For a few good moments, he and I raced fast and long toward a Soviet-era apartment complex across the street.
Then he got off and wanted to be lifted more. Offering demand I still couldn’t understand, but smiling in a way I could.
I don’t know where he went. Someone called what I thought was a name – a woman in the distance. He asked me to lift him once more – into the branches and leaves. He spoke more to me, grabbed some leaves and tossed them at me – sand included – and was gone.
Running off with a green soccer ball. A young boy I’ll never know. Who shrieked in my ears, threw sand at my face and gave me a pleasant picture to keep.
Originally written for the travel blog WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com.
By Christopher Wink | Oct 9, 2008 | WeDontSpeaktheLanguage.com
We meet Sander and Neek at the outskirts of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Sean, his brother Brian, and I are on a bridge demarcating where the sex ends and the large, quiet residences begin. A small, sloping bridge over a small canal, 15-feet wide, on which covered bicycle taxis perch to take drunk tourists back to their hotels.
We’re deciding if one more walk through the alleyways glancing at half-naked women in their rented window brothel doorways would be one too many. Half-naked women tap on the glass under red fluorescent lighting – the most give and take you’ll ever have window shopping. They’ll sleep with you for a little money. This is one half of many people’s Amsterdam.
Sander and Neek walk by reminding us of the other half, shouting at us to ’smoke weed everday.”
Continue reading Weed and prostitutes: a conversation in Amsterdam
Currently I am abroad, video podcasting at WeDontSpeakTheLanguage.com: A video podcast and blog about traveling the world for the young and broke. Follow me there, but also continue to enjoy regular posts here at ChristopherWink.com about the plight of a young, aspiring journalist, which will appear below this reminder.
Continue reading We Don't Speak the Language: European Exploration
Today, my good friend Sean Blanda and I are departing for London. I mentioned this trip last month.
He and I are beginning an open-ended European backpacking adventure. We have no return ticket, no definite plans or destinations: just a month long, 10-stop itinerary on the way to Hungary and vague plans of reassesing our funds to get down to Greece and circling all the way back to Spain.
We’ll be blogging and video podcasting the trip together, but more on that next week when the official rollout comes.
Stay posted for that, but don’t worry, ChristopherWink.com will remain fresh and posted – I know you’re concerned.
God bless America and wish us luck. Lots of exciting news to come next week.
By Christopher Wink | Mar 18, 2007 | Newsweek submission
I have an excessive devotion to my nationality. I like to think there is something distinctly American in that pride of being American. I have saved money and made friends all to answer my desperation to travel, desperate to learn and explore and represent this nation.
I carry a four foot by six foot American flag that was once my grandfather’s whenever I’m abroad, whenever I’m representing this nation. So, that faded flag has gone from his attic, to the wall of my row home in Philadelphia, to a migrant workers’ station in Mexico, to a slave castle in Ghana, to a great wall in China.
I take very seriously my representing the United States. I speak with the polite “vous” in southern Quebec and drink slowly my wine in central Tuscany. Yes, I have an excessive devotion to my nationality. But, sadly, perhaps it is my expressiveness that is distinctly American. I have seen hundreds of Italian club-goers glaring at a group of American girls who were having too much fun–pocketbooks over their shoulders, shoes in one hand, drinks in the other–as they tripped through a break-dancing competition.
Continue reading Travel Well (Newsweek submission: 3/18/07)