This time last year, we published a post titled ‘11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures’ with illustrations by Ella, who was interning with us last summer in Morocco. The next morning we woke to a torrent of emails and tweets from thousands upon thousands of people who had commented, shared, or volunteered more suggestions for these untranslatables. We’ll let Ella share the story of what happened next...
JONNY (co-founder at Maptia): Hi Ella! Wow, where to even begin... 400 days ago you were interning with us out in Morocco and today you are are holding your very own book that has just been published with Random House, 48 hours before your 21st birthday. That’s one hell of a story, please do enlighten our readers...
ELLA: It was all an accident, and I don’t accept any responsibility for what happened. Honestly though? The story can be compressed into the following: a single tweet, emails, a mere three weeks at university, phone calls, a return flight to Morocco, more emails, a manic three months of work, further communication, excitement. The End (of the beginning).
If stories are the currency of a life well lived, then Alastair Humphreys is a wealthy chap! The last time that we heard from him he had just returned from trekking across Iceland (by foot and inflatable packraft) however, his latest epic tale is not about any superhuman feat of endurance and more importantly it involves YOU, a beer-can stove and a bivvy bag—read on to find out how you can enter Al’s Summer Solstice Microadventure Challenge and win awesome prizes!
Al dreamt up the idea for ‘microadventures’ with the aim of democratising the spirit of adventure and to inspire people to regain a childlike enjoyment of wild places. Think of them as refresh buttons for busy lives—short, tight burst of meaningful, uncomfortable, challenging madness that teaches you something about the world and yourself.
If you think you’re too tired, too broke or too stressed for an adventure, then you’re the perfect candidate! All you really require is bags of enthusiasm and boundless curiosity...
Aside from being a real tongue-twister for non-Scandinavians, ‘Arbejdsglæde’ is a wonderful word that literally means ‘work-love’ or more literally ‘work-glad’. Sadly, there is no direct translation for this word in the English language.
Here at Maptia, we loved the concept behind this word so much, that we decided to ask people to help us crowdsource an alternative translation and created an illustrated ‘Translating Arbejisglæde’ poster to share the results. Huge thanks to Ella Frances Sanders for transforming our poster into this colourful illustration.
Over 200 people shared three words that described how they felt on a Monday morning. The size of the words on our poster below represents how many people felt each emotion and what they do for a living.
Click on the link below to see the illustrated infographic...
The sum total of all ideas, dreams, legends, rituals brought into the world by the mankind since the dawn of our time—this is our ‘ethnosphere’. This is humanity’s great legacy.
As Wade Davis describes, some of this legacy is expressed in physical objects or impressive constructions, for example the man-made wonders of the world. However other aspects can be less tangible, living cultural expressions that have been passed down through generations and contribute to our collective sense of identity and community. Whether these expressions take the form of rituals, festivities, skills, dance or knowledge—they elicit certain emotions within us or make us feel a sense of belonging. It is an unavoidable truth of modernity that, along with many of the benefits that globalisation has brought to society, it is also causing some of our gloriously diverse cultural heritage to be lost.
The legendary anthropologist Margaret Mead said before she passed away that her greatest fear was that as we headed towards this blandly amorphous generic worldview, not only would we see the entire range of the human imagination reduced to a more narrow modality of thought, but that we would wake from a dream one day having forgotten there were even other possibilities.
“In the end, then, it really comes down to a choice: do we want to live in a monochromatic world of monotony or do we want to embrace a polychromatic world of diversity?”—Wade Davis
Click on the link below to see the 11 illustrated endangered traditions.
This theme features 26 gloriously human stories from far-flung corners of the globe. A compendium of worldly tales that celebrate the wondrous notion that our reality does not exist in any absolute sense, but rather that there are a near infinite number of ways of orienting ourselves on this planet.
“In the end, I think it’s pretty obvious at least to all of all us who’ve travelled in these remote reaches of the planet, to realize that they’re not remote at all. They’re homelands of somebody. They represent branches of the human imagination that go back to the dawn of time.” — Wade Davis
Like any well-told tales, we hope these will inspire you to care and foster a curiosity for otherness—whether for indigenous Amazon tribes and colourful Indian Gypsies or for the mountain-dwelling Hmong people and the young Burmese Monks—you may find a feeling of fascination emerge of which you were not previously aware.
Without further ado, we suggest you close your other tabs and pay attention—you are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime anthropological adventure! We hope that you enjoy discovering what an astonishingly diverse, curious, and absurdly fascinating species we humans can be.
Click on the link below to read the 26 stories.
Have you ever embraced gravity and free-fallen through the atmosphere, made your way through the barrel of a double-overhead wave, or triumphantly punched the air after scaling the vertical face of an icy mountain? Have you ever felt your stomach drop at the sight of an ‘iron-boomerang’ shaped dorsal fin heading in your direction, or glanced up from 50m underwater, knowing that you only have a single breath of oxygen left to make it back up to the ocean surface?
“The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy sh*t, what a ride!’”— Mavis Leyrer (age 83)
Click below to read the 20 adrenaline-fuelled and heart-pounding tales, contributed by intrepid members of our community.
In mid-December last year, the three of us bid farewell to our unconventional home between cultures in the little village of Taghazout. We had grown attached to the gregarious Moroccan surfers, the generous Arabic-hollering vegetable sellers, and the amicable café owners... not to mention the charming and endlessly curious local cats and goats.
With our impractically-sized (but nonetheless lucky) globe and our folded canvas maps packed carefully away, we flew back home to England.
With the African chapter of our startup adventure concluded (at least for now), the curtains were drawn for a brief intermission as we rejuvenated (assisted by mince pies and mulled wine) with our family and friends over a wonderfully British Christmas. Rather predictably, January whooshed by and soon our bags (and our globe) were packed—we were back on the road again.
Before we knew it, we had landed in what was to be our new home...
We’re quietly chuffed to declare that since we launched Maptia last September, over 10 months of collective human time has been spent reading the stories crafted by our wonderful founding storytellers.
That roughly equates to 432,000 minutes—or more impressively, over 8 million nanocenturies—spent reading tales of hiking summits, hitting the open road, visiting magnificent world wonders, setting off on urban explorations, attending festive celebrations, and embarking on exotic culinary adventures. And what is perhaps more amazing is that our readers have so far hailed from 163 different countries around the world!
To mark the occasion, we have compiled a tremendous armchair adventure—a full circumnavigation of the globe taking you around the world in 80 stories.
Click on the link below to embark on this RTW Adventure...
Have you ever experienced a moment when you have tasted something and the world is changed—be it a transcendental bowl of pho soup or tasting kopi luwak, the world’s most infamous cup of coffee? Have you ever learnt the art of making sweet candies in rural Myanmar, foraged for rare truffle in secret English woods, or felt the roof of your mouth instantly explode with a searing spear of spice-induced heat?
“You have to taste a culture to understand it.”—Deborah Cater
Rick Steves once quipped that, ‘travel wallops our ethnocentricity’—stating that when you immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture, you become aware that there are an infinite number of ways to orientate yourself on this lump of spinning space rock we call home. Without doubt, one of the most profound and transformative of these ‘whallopings’ can occur through the medium of food.
Taste speaks the truth. It creates momentary mouthfuls of exquisite epiphanies that thrust our senses into ecstatic parallel universes of unfathomable zesty and zingy dimensions. A foreign flavour opens up untrodden paths to explore the ‘terra incognita’ of our personal culinary cartographies. In the spirit of St. Augustine:
The world is not a book but a Smörgåsbord—and those who don’t travel, experience only one dish!
Click read more below and tuck in to all 20 mouthwatering narratives...
Have you ever experienced the sensory overload of Burning Man or watched cultural barriers disintegrate during Holi’s glorious human rainbow? Have you felt the magical effervescence and communal joy at the Thai Lantern festival, watched a procession during a penis festival in Japan, crashed an Uzbek wedding, or spent Christmas away from home baking in 36 degree heat?
“If you concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens… Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”—Paulo Coelho
Since the earliest days of humanity, festivals and celebrations have brought communities together—fostering traditions and forming an important part of our cultural heritage—yet in recent years we feel more connected to our iPhones and via the internet than each other. As as result the value of opportunities for meaningful, real-world connections with both family and strangers is greater than ever. Some celebrations can feel like stepping into dream-worlds in which cultural norms cease to apply, and for this reason, attending great festivals can feel like turning up the saturation on life.
Click on the link below to read all 21 stories and explore an interactive world map of festivals and celebrations from all corners of the globe.
Great books give our senses a workout. They make us laugh, cry and expand our emotional horizons, provide us with new perspectives, teach us about different realities, free us from feeling tranquillised with trivialities, and above all make us feel gloriously alive! Just in case your left-brain needs convincing—did you know that reading also keeps you mentally sharp, can chill you out and relieve stress, and can even increase your capacity for empathy...
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”—Dr. Suess
‘I already love books’, we hear you cry out. ‘But there are so many... I just don’t know where to start...’ —Ah ha! That is precisely why we have reached out to a few of our good friends with impeccable taste, and with their help, have compiled a short-list of thirteen somewhat under-appreciated but remarkable gems written in the last hundred years that deserve a place on your bookshelf for 2014.
Click through below to see the eclectic combination of 13 books we’ve gathered together.
Have you ever spiralled down into a disused tube station, feared for your well-being during an exhilarating ride on the backseat of a Vietnamese motorcycle or scaled a derelict chimney in London? Have you ever wandered through the perpetual flow of humans in a Mumbai market, felt the chaos resolve itself around you as dusk falls and lanterns alight in Kyoto, or found yourself wonderfully lost whilst meandering down a charming Milanese side-street?
The French have a wonderful word—flâneur—for someone who seeks to explore and understand the nature of a city’s landscape, usually by taking spontaneous adventures amidst the ebb and flow of life going on around them. In this week’s theme we invite you to lose yourself reading about the flâneur-esque adventures of Maptia’s streetwise connoisseurs and explore a myriad of cities through their eyes.
Click the read more button below to peruse the 26 curious tales of urban exploration that we have featured in this week’s theme.
Greetings future explorer of the world! In this post we will be introducing you to Spontaneity and his mischievous cousin Serendipity.* They have faithfully accompanied many great explorers throughout the ages and we can guarantee that befriending these two on the road is bound to lead to unexpected wayward adventures and happy coincidences.
Inspired by Guerrilla artist Keri Smith’s delightful book on ‘How To Be An Explorer of the World’ and also some of the wonderfully creative ideas listed in the Lonely Planet ‘Guide to Experimental Travel’, we have compiled a short, illustrated field guide with seven ideas that we hope will encourage you to succumb to your spontaneous urges, adopt a healthy caution against over-preparation, embrace serendipity, shed the heavy cloak of routine, chase down happenstance, and invite chance to be your chaperon as you follow in the footsteps of the three aforementioned Princes—Onward! ¡Vamos! Allons-y!
Click the read more link below to discover our illustrated guide.
Have you ever bathed in the ancient springs of Pamukkale? Woken to the unmistakable dawn chorus of the Amazonian wilderness? Followed an underwater kaleidoscopic rainbow of coral? Tasted the relentlessly dry heat of the Sahara Desert or dreamt of finding yourself face to face with a Komodo Dragon?
A few days ago in Wonders of the World: Part I we shared tales from ten astounding man-made wonders of the world, and through the stories in Part II we hope you enjoy exploring some of the remarkable natural beauty of our planet.
Click the read more link below to explore a map of the stories and discover six wonderful tales from our founding storytellers.
Have you ever stood, enveloped in the cool, morning mists of the Andean foothills, and watched the first rays of sun strike the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu? Have you ever felt the modern world melt away as you wander amongst the Pyramids of Giza, dwarfed by their audacious size? Have ever stopped in your tracks, your world arrested for a moment, as you experienced one of the wonders of our world for the first time?
Through the stories in Part I of this theme, we are sending you on a vicarious and colourful journey to experience 10 goliaths of human creation—via the diverse perspectives of our founding storytellers.
Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of our wondrous stories.
Have you ever felt the tug of the horizon, or been filled with a fierce desire to seek a life of freedom on the open road? Have you ever felt the rumble of cylinders or the squeeze in your thighs as your feet push the pedals? Have you ever left a million footprints behind you or pressed tire tracks into the dust of a faraway land? Have you ever turned the key in the ignition with only miles of unknown adventures ahead? Have you ever drawn a finish line that you barely believed you could reach?
For the twenty storytellers featured today in our ‘On the Road to Somewhere’ theme, the answer is a resounding yes. Together they have driven, cycled and walked across six continents — conveying themselves by car and motorbike, on bicycles, scooters and rickshaws, and even on foot. We (genuinely) calculated that these twenty journeys rack up enough cumulative miles travel to the moon and beyond.
Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of today’s theme, and to peruse the twenty featured stories themselves.
Have you ever marvelled at the scale and magnificence of those great, immoveable giants of nature, the mountains? Have you ever felt the cool caress of a snow-scented breeze from distant peaks, or seen the first long sun rays of dawn dispel shadows as light creeps up to heights? Have you ever lifted your eyes to a looming ridge and found a deep well of strength and resolve to take the next step upwards? Have you ever stumbled, half-delirious with fatigue and joy, onto a summit?
Today, for our inaugural Maptia Storytelling Theme, we bring to you the inspiring tales of thirteen mountainous adventures from all over the world.
Each of the featured stories touches on a different aspect of hiking, whether it is the mental and physical endurance required, the sublime feelings of insignificance evoked by the majestic surroundings, the relationships forged through adversity, or the jokes and laughter shared along the way.
Click the read more link below to explore a beautiful map of today’s theme, and to peruse the thirteen featured stories themselves.
Today we are delighted to announce that Maptia is officially launching! Here we share with you an illustrated guide to Maptia, the new storytelling platform on a mission to build the most inspirational map in the world. This post was written by Dorothy Sanders, Jonny Miller, and Dean Fischer, co-founders at Maptia. Illustrations by Ella Frances Sanders.
Maptia is a beautiful way to tell stories about places. It is a new platform designed for thoughtful, inspiring stories that make us want to get out there and explore the world, and each story has its own unique map.
A story could be big or small, a fleeting moment or the tale of a long journey. It could be about a place close to home or on the other side of the world. A story could be told by someone living just over the road or travelling many thousands of miles away. It could be told by you.
Today we are sharing version one of Maptia with the world. It is just a taster, an embryonic version of what we hope to build one day. Head over to our new homepage to check it out. There you will find some of the top stories contributed to Maptia so far, and you can also create your very own beautiful, typographical version of our manifesto.
Read on to learn more about what we are building, the philosophies behind storytelling on Maptia, and our vision for the future.
Over the past six months we have featured an eclectic mix of 47 memorable travel or life moments from places all over the world. Some have been inspiring or uplifting, others have made us want to grab our backpacks and head for the open road, some have made us laugh, and in a few cases some have nearly brought us to tears. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this wonderful project.
Maptia moment submissions are now closed, but we wanted to end on a high and leave you with the final twelve moments that have found their way to the Maptia HQ from all over the globe.
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." - Anaïs Nin
Click below to read the last Maptia moments and see the maps we have created for them...
Ed Stafford is a man who doesn't like to quit. In 2008 Ed set himself the audacious goal of being the first man to walk the length of the Amazon from sea to source. A mere 860 days later he returned home safe and sound with a well earned National Geographic's adventurer of the year award and a story to tell the grandchildren. You can read his story in his excellent 'Walking the Amazon' book. More recently Ed spent 60 days on the Fijian island of Olorua, completely alone and with nothing to help him.
Ed, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the Latitude Series! Let’s launch straight in... When did the outrageous idea of walking the entire length of the Amazon first plant itself in your mind? What triggered the 180 degree turn from almost becoming a city stockbroker to spending over two years of your life following the planet’s most epic river for over 4,000 miles from source to sea? Was there one crazy, wild moment of complete commitment, or did the idea for your record-breaking expedition capture your imagination over time?
Thanks Jonny. It had started as a pipe dream - an idea that I never thought would come to anything. I was living and running expeditions in Argentine Patagonia and longing to return to a hotter environment - the jungle. People would ask me how long I thought it would take and I would laugh and say, "Who cares! Wouldn't it be a fantastic adventure!?"
Click below to read the full interview...