I walked two hours into town from the Dublin airport, arriving at my host’s door exhausted and perfectly singed from a heartbreaking sunrise.
In Rome I took a bus from the city center to the outskirts and hoofed back home along the Appian Way until the streets became too narrow to safely maneuver in the dawning darkness and fresh hatch of headlights.
On my way to Guilin I accidentally got on a train to the farthest station from my apartment. I turned down the cab and opted for the long, slow transition from rural China to its urban counterpart.
In each case I happened to cross the sacred, fleeting boundary of night and day. And there I found a carnivalesque world in the space between source and destination.
Begin your walk in the late afternoon, post-zenith, avoiding the worst heat. Start at your hostel or a landmark in the heart of downtown and take a jagged route toward the violence of tangled arteries leading to onramps and truck stops, hitchhikers and last ditch greasy spoon diners. Let the ride pass you by. Find a frontage road by sunset and make your way through blazing colors and long shadows. Evaporate into the dovetail smudge where city fades to country.
These between places speak both languages and wear both hats. Here occasional second-hand neon hangs off rusting fences and threads through the slats of piebald gates before running back to a generator on 20amp extension cords. The smell of motor oil and wet grass, still water and scattered cow shit, sliced fruit and leftover meat smoking on the ember’s last gasp. For some reason there’s always something sugary, too, like a gasp of cotton candy already fading away in the cool breeze. Solo petrol pumps and wayward markets closed long before sunset.
Gradually farmland broadens and fences lean or go invisible. Follow a road reclaimed by weeds, where a stream flows past some long forgotten shrine or the lofted path of telephone wire. Somewhere along the way a new city begins…