Fes, Door Handles of Palace (Corbis)

Bringing the Noise


Every year, we receive hundreds of sub­­missions from our readers. Some make us laugh. Some make us wince. Some make it into the magazine. (So don’t give up.) Recently, we dove into a teetering pile of stories and found a few moments in which our readers’ gusto and/or narrative prowess grabbed us. Shout-out to Oliver Gunther, author of our favorite passages: You’ve won Geographic Expeditions’ new 12-day, $7,600 Village to Village in Ladakh trip, which means you’re going hiking and rafting through remote northern India. To the rest of you: Keep ’em comin’. The next free trip could be yours.

The Winner!

We bought meats from a butcher who had some bloody camel heads hanging from hooks in front of his booth in the market.
The next afternoon we went to the market square to grab lunch. On our way into the square we were blocked by cobras and vipers.
Then the same man who was harassing me took the head of that limp snake and put it in his mouth. He started walking around in a circle with it swaying from side to side, swinging the helpless snake around like a skinny, broken elephant trunk.

From “Captured: The Imperial City of Fès,” by Oliver Gunther, Toronto, Ontario


Two weeks before I stood with Michael at the falls, a charmingly foul-mouthed Irishman had recommended that I ignore the $30 U.S. visa requirement and bribe my way into Zimbabwe. This seemed a rather unwise suggestion and I’d immediately rejected it, but even so, I ran it past Michael. “Into Zimbabwe?” he asked, snickering and motioning toward the roadway. Only then did I notice the crude yellow line dissecting the bridge just a few meters from my feet. “You in Zimbabwe.”

From “I Am Tanzania,” by Bryan Bourgault, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Our speed was somewhat enhanced by the massive quantities of coca leaves which the driver was shoveling into his mouth like a shameless bulldozer. Sticky green coca juice frothed at the corners of his mouth as the accelerator inched closer and closer to the floor.

From “The Skateboard Diaries,” by Shawn O’Bryant, Portland, Oregon

We found out later that a policeman had been killed at the intersection outside the hotel. …The only other information I could learn was that it all started at a soccer game. The next day I saw a man in the street with a water hose. I think he was washing the blood away.

From “South American Tragedy,” by Craig Kosmowski, Belleville, Michigan

Rim to rim to rim solo!! Hallelujah! A quest!! A Eureka moment!! Glory!! Fame!!!! Bragging rights!!

From “Rim to Rim to Rim Solo,” by Kevin Kearley, Charlotte, North Carolina

Huge sequoias looked like monsters peering into the campground that had wiped out many of their brothers and sisters. …After two miles, we came to the waterfall. It was three hundred feet high and sounded as if you were surrounded by thousands of buffalo stampeding by.

From “Half Dome Horror,” by Lauren Macklin, Henniker, New Hampshire

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lauren, 15, wrote this at age 11. And FYI, we’re already accepting applications for our summer 2016 internship.

Before we left, my uncle warned me about saddle sores, my brother told me to learn Spanish, my girlfriend bought me a compass, my co-workers thought I was crazy (I quit my job, by the way), Frank’s friend told us to carry a gun, and Lucio told us to be careful.

From “Ride Across the Andes,” by Morgan Stair, Washington, D.C.

During our descent, we were pelted with Styrofoam-like balls of snow. Nearly two dozen mountain goats escorted us past scree, talus and loose gravel. The whistling marmots and playful pikas seemed to celebrate with us.

From “Bagging 14ers,” by Polly Keith Scotland, Bemidji, Minnesota

Unlike many of our development-fueled problems—endangered species, watershed pollution, and even global warming—you can make a difference in the cause to save the river tuber. Call your local tire dealer and urge them to continue sales of tubed tires.

From “Expedition Gila,” by Cameron Chambers, Helena, Montana

Detailed maps are a dangerous and expensive habit.

From “Human-Powered Revolutions,” by Charlie Stadtlander, Seattle, Washington

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: Corbis