Andi Hulm - I Have A Dream

Saturday, February 8, 2020 | Algiers, Algeria

Click here to watch the promo clip for "Andi Hulm" / "I Have A Dream"
At last, the big day has finally arrived!

Tonight is the official premier of "Andi Hulm" ("عندي حلم" or "I Have A Dream"), Algeria's first entrepreneurship reality television show. I serve as the show's host, and thus have the surreal privilege of appearing in many of the show's promotional materials, sometimes sprinkled in fairy dust (see above). Who ever said all those years spent struggling through Arabic class wouldn't lead anywhere?

Across 10 episodes, the show tracks the progress of 60 young Algerian aspiring entrepreneurs as they complete a series of increasingly difficult, high-energy challenges. Along the way, jury members whittle down the group until just a few standout finalists—then one final grand prize winner—remain. As the stakes rise you will see numerous surprises, moments of ecstatic joy and profound disappointment, and much more.

With any luck, the show will earn a wide following here in Algeria and spark greater discussion about the prospects young Algerians face as they work to realize their dreams in life. That's the hope, at least, of the show's creators at the

Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam, and the Deer and the Antelope Play

Friday, February 7, 2020 | Granby, Colorado, USA

With every passing year I spend away from the US, I feel the psychological distance grow, stretching to match the physical distance a bit more. Sometimes it's nice to return home and soak up a little Americana.

So for our longest vacation of 2019, Nina and I decided to spend ten days in August in Colorado catching up with my uncle Chris, aunt Kari, and cousin Mitch.

Back when I lived in DC in my 20s, my uncle, an avid outdoorsman, had invited me several times to spend July 4th weekend with their friends and family at a campground on the shore of Turquoise Lake, deep in the Rocky Mountains. I have fond memories of campfire stories with my cousins, and of hikes up to pristine high-mountain lakes in search of cutthroat trout. (See "Turqoise to Timberline: Chasing Trout in the Rockies")

More recently, Chris and Kari bought a small property near the town of Granby, just over two hours' drive from their home in suburban Denver. Ever since, my uncle had been pressing me to come back for another visit. As he well knew, I could only open my phone so many times to find an unsolicited snapshot of snow-capped mountains or sparkling streams before I caved.

Much To Love in MTL

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | Montreal, Canada

Dépanneur: Even for French speakers, visiting Montreal can expand one's vocabulary and horizons alike.
Spend enough time in the francophone world and you hear lots of hype about Montreal.

Nina had never visited Canada, and both my previous visits had come amid blistering December weather, so while en route from Algiers to a week in the mountains of Colorado last summer, we slipped in a 36-hour layover in Canada's second city.

Visiting in August sure beats the winter. Back in 2013 I had spent a few days in Montreal shuttling an Algerian study mission between meetings—and did my best not to leave the network of tunnels underlying the city's downtown. On this trip, by contrast, we wore shorts and t-shirts and spent all day crisscrossing the city, strolling from trendy brunch spots in the Vieux Port to street markets in Chinatown to an outdoor art expo in the Gay Village. We scarfed a massive platter of poutine (the local delicacy, if you can call it that) from La Banquise, on the Plateau, and tried maple-syrup-flavored coffee, ice cream, and more.

Montreal was covered with exquisite street art and filled with gourmet boutiques. But more than anything else there were restaurants—seemingly more per square mile than anywhere I've ever been. "Does anyone eat at home in this city?" Nina wondered aloud as we walked past yet another block of nothing but fusion cafés,

Glimpses of London on the Eve of Brexit

Thursday, January 30, 2020 | London, UK

For many visitors, London's authentically local sites pale in comparison to the multicultural imports.
After a torturous 3.5-year saga, the fateful day has finally arrived: Brexit is here. Tomorrow will be the United Kingdom's last day in the European Union; after 47 years of integration, it's back to "splendid isolation"—with all the tradeoffs, missed opportunities, and problems (bafflingly invisible to some) that it will entail.

By this point, most Europeans I know have long since settled on "good riddance." The Brits, by contrast, remain a bitterly divided bunch.

Nina and I have taken two trips to London in the past year or so, visiting this past New Year's and around Christmas a year earlier (my first time back since a trip during college in 2005). Both visits were brief and we spent most of our time catching up with American expat friends rather than pestering the locals about politics. However, my British friends around the world (a very non-representative, cosmopolitan sample) have spent the past few years feeling universally horrified at—yet powerless to stop—their country's willing self-destruction.

Britain won't be weighing anchor and shoving off further into the Atlantic tomorrow, of course. It will still depend on Europe for most of its trade. (And what's so bad

Snow Devils Lurk and Daredevils Soar in an Alpine Wonderland

Sunday, January 26, 2020 | Filzmoos, Austria

Filzmoos's traditional winter Perchten festival dates back centuries.
These days, feats of glory rarely go unrecorded. But on this chilly night high in the Austrian Alps, while Markus arced gracefully through the sky, our cell phones failed us.

For Nina and me, it was the last night of a five-day stay with Markus, his girlfriend Vroni, and his parents at their chalet in the little alpine town of Filzmoos. Eager to make the most of our final day, we had skied since just after dawn—not as early as it might sound, this being winter in central Europe, but early enough to give us over six uninterrupted hours of blazing trails through the deep powder that had fallen steadily during our entire stay.

That evening we had only returned to the cabin well after darkness fell, after closing the day with our usual ritual: We would take one last gondola ride up to the mountain's frigid, windswept peak then, amid the murky dusk and driving flakes, we would glide half by sight, half by feel over the moguls to the lights of the nearest ski hut. Having skipped lunch to maximize our skiing time, there we would dig enthusiastically into some of the doughy, buttery local delights we had