Recently by Darrin DuFord:


We had climbed halfway up the staircase of a Valparaiso sidewalk when Salvador Dalí appeared. He was stenciled to the landing above, waiting for us with his perked up handlebar mustache. For a closer look, my fiancée Melanie and I stepped around another stray dog, his long body blocking almost the whole width of the concrete step — Valparaiso’s take on multi-use public space.

Morning had barely arrived and cargo ships at the port, in the distance below, had probably unloaded enough plastic silverware to outfit Chile’s entire fast food industry. Meanwhile, the hung-over hills overlooking the port still slept, still hugged a blanket of overcast gauze. I wondered how many cans of Escudo beer the town had put back last night. And how many new stencils had been tattooed to its buildings?
More… “What the Walls Taught Me”

Darrin DuFord is the author of Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama Without A Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards. He has written food and travel pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Roads & Kingdoms, Gastronomica, and Perceptive Travel, among others. Follow him on Twitter at @darrinduford.


The smell of molten glass was sweet and deceptively inviting. I was crouching near four artisans who squinted as they poked metal rods into the yellow-hot maws of a furnace made of clay. Wearing jeans and ball caps, the artisans, all men, were shaping nazar boncuğus, amulets that have been warding off the evil eye in what is now Turkey for millennia. The 100-year-old furnace, unevenly shaped and studded with recent modifications of rebar, appeared more like a disturbing sculpture than something that restrained 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. From my distance, however, the waves of heat faded into a pleasant warmth against the briskness of an Anatolian winter.

I was in Kurudere, a mountain town better known as Nazar Köy — Evil Eye Village. But I had met with the gaze of the nazar boncuğu (pronounced “nahzar… More…