While traveling in Brazil and trying to make his way to Peru, Shafik Meghji – an award-winning journalist, travel writer, and author – chose to get there using a cheap overland route through Bolivia. What was supposed to be a country that he would simply pass through on his way to somewhere else became a source of fascinating stories and experiences, which ultimately provided the inspiration for his recently published travel book, Crossed Off the Map: Travels in Bolivia. The book was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2023 and explores everything from the country’s forgotten role in global industrialization to its fraught history with its neighbors to the products and politics that have shaped its culture, all set against the stunning landscapes and beauty that Bolivia offers.
I recently interviewed Meghji and spoke to him about the responsibility travel writers wield when deciding what and where to write about, whether it’s possible to be truly objective as a travel writer, and the way good travel writing helps us make connections that may get overlooked. He also offered some great insight into how travel writers can decide which stories are interesting enough to tell and how to make potentially uninteresting stories feel relevant and inspiring.
Listen to the interview here:
And here are links to the various articles that Shafik and I reference during the podcast: