Joined July 2010 and calls http://blogs.bootsnall.com/denni/ home.

17 stories, 0 challenges, 21 comments, and 4 friends

I’m a zoologist who loves to travel and write about travel. ‘Around the World in 1024 Characters’ is a non-fiction project. I’ll try to write one or more ficlies about every country I’ve been to, and spin out my tales in the ’quels. Feel free to join in the adventures, both real and imagined!


  1. The Pact (prologue)

    When I was a child I made a pact with the devil. I wanted to have adventures, to discover new things, to travel to distant shores. The devil agreed, but of course He extracted a price. He didn’t want my soul, because there is no such thing as a s...

  2. China: Swords at Dawn

    I woke up with salt-encrusted sweat stains on my pyjamas. There was no point in going back to sleep. People were already out, loading up bicycles and scooters and embarking on early-morning cleaning rounds. The park was busy. There was a gathering on a...

  3. Trinidad: The Manatee Pond

    “Can you handle a kayak?” Once upon a time I could. I nodded and glided out into the water, paddling furiously to keep up as Shortman swept by with barely a splash. We left the boys behind in a two-seater, trying to paddle in opposite directions.

  4. Trinidad: Rehabilitation

    We raced down canals which cut like veins through the expanse of reeds. Dense mangrove tunneled above our heads. I feared that at any moment we might be impaled on lance-like roots, but Shortman steered the boat with practised ease. “There are no man...

  5. Trinidad: Into the Swamp

    Grey clouds held the promise of rain. I watched them pile up as the clock turned to eight-thirty, then nine. “Still playing the waiting game?” I wondered what it looked like to Mr. D. He’d seen me arrive with a different guy every day and now I w...

  6. Tea in Taroko Gorge

    Three kilometres from Tienhsiang, steps lead down to the Taisha river. As I descended the vegetation grew lusher, as if walking into a jungle. A suspension bridge led to a path where hot springs gurgle from the rocks. I stopped by a cabin to put on my ...

  7. Hitching in Taroko Gorge (Taiwan)

    During the construction of the Cross Island Highway, deposits of marble—known as white jade—were discovered around Hualien. The Taroko Gorge was declared a national park. Here cliffs drop hundreds of metres into rivers gushing around slabs of gleam...

  8. Magical Morning in Semenggoh, Sarawak, Borneo

    I would be lucky to see the orangutans, the keeper said. “It’s the rainy season. Many trees are fruiting.” No sooner had he spoken than a rustling announced the arrival of a mother and her baby. She was joined by two juveniles, hanging in the...

  9. Greenland: Sculptures of Ice

    The light of the arctic summer is unique. The sky shimmers with mother-of-pearl shades of baby-blue, light turquoise and just a hint of bronze. It is the same light we sometimes see just after dawn, but it had turned 10 pm. We were floating among magic...

  10. Million Mile Shoes (Zaïre, 1984)

    The old man woke me at 5 am. In the light of the petroleum lamp he carried I saw two rats scuttling along the beam above my head. One nearly fell but caught itself—just. I needed an early start as it was clear that there would be no transport. No veh...

  11. Libong Dugong

    I watched for movements on the surface, but the coastline kept drawing my gaze. A limestone pinnacle rose out of the water like a shaggy tooth, marking the habitat of the endangered dugong. The last place I expected to find the gentle mammals was near ...

  12. Damascus Roads

    Fresh from the sterile, air-conditioned surrounds of airports and hotel lobbies we piled into a taxi, all five of us. The faint odour of dust and diesel fumes hung in the air. Damascus was not like I had imagined from Biblical texts and Karl May fantas...

  13. Sanctuary

    The heat was like a furnace. We had seen no people for days. We were short of food and water, and we were lost. Then we came to a verdant shore in an ocean of dust. A path, not made by people. A smell of dung. A pair of colobus jumped between branches,...

  14. Tobago: Grassroots

    The Iguana and I walked down the street. “You have to jam,” I said to the Iguana, “I have to write.” Later I found notes from that night. I’d kept asking the barkeeper for a pen and scribbled on a scrap of paper. Captain&#...

  15. Venezuela: on the River

    I remember San Fernando de Apure. Ants. The world’s largest rodent on the menu. Giant waterbugs expiring on the pavement. Piranhas that eat cigarettes. The finest rum. And river dolphins. We were drifting, keeping an eye on the water. It was a g...

  16. Sri Lanka: Size of Whales (Mature)

  17. Japan, Condensed

    We flew back, and I mean right back. Across the tropics, all the way from Capricorn to Cancer, and across half the world to arrive back in winter. Time and space reverted. It’s cold in the north in February, and walking out of the plane was like ...

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