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  noun 1. The act of immersing oneself in other cultures without crossing national borders. 2. Local cultural diversification. 3. Traveling on a budget. 4. A website that will allow you to accomplish all the above from the very seat in which you sit.


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Mali: a sketchy blog

[UPDATE: since this posting, the Times Online has restricted their website to subscription-only. To view the links below, you will have to pay to subscribe. Enjoy the words and images on our blog; sign up to view George Butler's and other travel blogs at thetimes.co.uk.]

We love our blog. But we can admit when someone has an idea we wish we thought of.

Presenting: George Butler's Sketch Travel Blog, part of Times Online (UK) and the Times' Travel Blog network.

The consumer and even nonconsumer travel world is often so full of crisp, clean photographs. Photography transports us in ways that our minds and sometimes words (and our schedules, and budgets) cannot. It is an art form as any other. But the art of illustration always heightens the imagination; it also tests the memory. Sketching forces the brain and the hand to do a lot of the work that a camera will do, and so makes us question the nature of reality, of the senses. George Butler even comments on this very subject in one of his recent posts, entitled "The Kindness of Strangers, Mali":

Sometimes you think you have done a good drawing, but when you look at it again it is not at all like the place you remember.

In this case I was pretty unsatisfied with the drawing, but looking at it now, it is exactly how I saw this messy, rustic sofa making scene. All that was missing is the leopard print.

His drawings are simple in that they are not complete in all the detail of the real location. But they are complex in their focus. Take "Street food in Bamako":

And they are highly skilled. Even abstract. "Making Tuareg tea":

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