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Fathom Questionnaire

Meet the Writer: James Sturz

by James Sturz

Meet the Writer: James Sturz

James in Botswana.

Hometown: New York, NY. 

Occupation: Writer.

Favorite destinations: Bhutan, Indonesia, everywhere I've visited in Africa, and every place for me that's new.

Dying to visit: Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Ethiopia, Madagascar.

Bizarre travel rituals: Overpacking, despite every serious effort not to. But how will I know what I'll feel like wearing until I'm there?

In-flight relaxation regime: I immediately remove all unnecessary items from my back-seat pocket and stow them in the pockets of neighboring seats (if they're empty) or overhead. Every inch of space is too valuable to waste.

Always in carry-on: Earplugs, sleep mask, my own Skullcandy earbuds, a pair of in-flight socks, 11" MacBook Air pre-loaded with movies, and some Tylenol PM if I want to go to sleep. Also at least one good book, but preferably two.

Concierge or DIY? Both.

See it all or take it easy? See it all. Eat it all, too.

Drive or be driven? Drive!

Travel hero: John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Bruce Chatwin, and Herman Melville.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: The giant ejaculating phalluses painted on walls in Bhutan are fairly well-known. Lesser known are the wooden phalluses erected as fertility totems on the farms, with suggestive strands of thick white yarn dangling from the tips.

My favorite hotel is Amanwana on Moyo Island, Indonesia because I can spend my days scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, having outdoor massages...and then there are also the private tents with their own beaches. Plus, there are monkeys. There should always be monkeys.

I dream about my meal at a little outdoor place in Trastevere which I've never been able to find again. I ordered a plate of paglia e fieno that was so good I should have ordered it again as my second course. I deeply regret this error.

Best hotel amenity: This is really easy: free WiFi in rooms. Worst hotel insult: having to pay for the same.

Favorite childhood travel memory: Summers in Middlebury, Vermont, with my late parents and sister, playing tennis and eating as much maple syrup as we could get.

Everywhere I go, I check out the supermarkets, bookstores, and local markets.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by walking, and then walking some more.

I always bring home delicious things to eat. But the best thing I ever brought home is our Chilean fox terrier, Moai.

If I never return to a clogged and rank squat toilet swarmed with flies, it'll be too soon because...No, I'm sure I'll be back at one soon enough.

I travel for the chance to see what I can only imagine and the chance to see what I can't imagine at all. 

MORE JAMES

Website: jamessturz.com
Stories on Fathom

James, Fathom's contributing koan editor, is author of the novel Sasso. His travel journalism, short fiction, and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Outside, Afar, Men's Journal, Travel + Leisure, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and the anthology Italy: The Best Travel Writing from the New York Times. He travels for the jet lag. And the pretzels. And other stuff.

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