Terence Baker has enjoyed travelling ever since he can remember. A wonder of the world started at a young age by watching British TV program Holiday, which he remembers came on on a Sunday evening a little while before The World About Us. He travelled with his family around the United Kingdom, before—as his father insisted he studied Latin—then visiting with his school, Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar, the country of Greece at the age of 12. There, in the small seaside town of Matala, Crete, he was handed a pomegranate as a present by an old woman dressed completely in black, who smiled an almost toothless smile and then walked off. This delighted him, and the travel bug grew new wings; back in his native Kent, England, he once disappeared en route to his brother's Saturday-morning play club and was discovered swaying happily to Indian music with a group of local Sikhs that was just finishing up its religious service. There was no turning back. The world was a fascinating place, and he was curious, which surely is the greatest gift that humankind has been bestowed.
Baker has written and still writes for travel magazines and has at last count racked up 82 countries on six continents. On moving to Brooklyn, New York, USA, he consistently looked south of the border to Central and South America. Visiting the hill town of Villa de Leyva, Colombia, remains a favourite memory, as does walking across the Salinas Grandes in northwest Argentina; saying hello to the god Maximón in Santiago de Atitlán in Guatemala; sitting for 90 minutes completely alone at the Mayan pyramid of Xunantunich, Belize, and losing his luggage and running out of money in the Nasoland territory of northwest, jungle-clad Panama, the people of which are the only people in the Americas to have a legally recognised monarch...actually, two, but that's another story. After 19 years in the States, he moved back to his native London in 2012.
A 2013 adventure was getting to the remote Ethiopian village of Sheikh Hussein, where a beautiful whitewashed tomb with black Arabic inscription is the joy of qat-chewing locals, the children of whom are so excited to see you they forget to put down their cut-throat razors. Dinner was served in a "restaurant" that serves only when required—not often, seemingly—over a real fire, and the hotel was a floor of a small, one-storey government building; the Wabe Shebelle river that flows into Somalia is just a few miles to the north.
He needs to get to India, Oceania and Southeast Asia, three areas of the world that so far he has not been to, and he realises that the more he travels, the more he realises how much there is to go...which is a good state of affairs...plus, he wants to go back to all those places he loves such as Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Peru and Central Park, New York. In his spare time, he runs marathons (best time, 2:44:56) and goes birdwatching, a hobby that allows him to wander to delightful places and see the world as a breathing, living, three-dimensional, glorious thing. He reads, reads, reads; collects 20th Century literature from Spain in English translation (Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes, Juan Marsé, Ana Maria Mutate, etc.) and suffers in his love of West Ham United Football Club.
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