Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.
This week, we reached out to Pete R., a travel filmmaker and founder of BucketListly. Pete’s adventures began with a solo trek in the Himalayas, and he’s been traveling ever since, adopting the motto, “No plan is the best plan.” Today, he discusses the entertainment he turns to during travel’s quieter moments.
“The Lost City of Z” by David Grann
One of the highlights of traveling to South America is the chance to explore the unforgiving Amazon and, as I was planning a six-month trip there in 2016, I decided to pick up this book for some downtime rainforest reading. The book illustrated how difficult and unforgiving it was to traverse and map the unexplored Amazon region in the early 19th century. Based on true story, it follows one of the last independent explorers, Percy Fawcett, who was initially tasked with mapping the Amazon region to prevent a war between Bolivia and Brazil.
The book details the treacherous conditions these explorers had to endure while charting the unforgiving Amazon. Hundreds of people died, and many expeditions failed to result in any useful information for the map we now take for granted.
As my guide and I explored the rainforest on foot, I asked him how he was able to find his way around — he said that his father and everyone before him still get lost sometimes even after years and years of experience. “We might even be lost right now,” he said. I laughed and gulped a little.
No entertainment is more immersive than watching a TV series set in a city you are currently exploring. In Medellin, Colombia, I was staying with a friend and had quite a bit of free time in between hiking and exploring the city. I decided to start watching “Narcos,” a Netflix original show about the rise and fall of the cocaine trade in Colombia based on the real-life stories of drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel.
It may be dramatized quite a bit, but with the constant switch between the gripping real life footage and reconstructed scenes, you start to feel for the people who live in Medellin, their perspective, and how much they have grown since the most violent moments in their history. It’s incredible and fascinating to see the city developing and the people enjoying themselves in such a way that you wouldn’t have thought possible only a few decades ago.
“Olympic” by French 79
My music tastes have changed a lot throughout my years of travel, thanks in part to Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature, which recommends new songs for me every week. Every time I embark on a new trip, I always create a specific playlist, so it’s hard to pick a favorite song or group. But since my recent trip in Central Asia, I have been listening to “Olympic” by French 79 quite a lot on the road.
French 79 is a warm electronic emotional wave groupfrom Marseille, France, with a good mix between blissful and uplifting sound. I found it to be perfect for an eight-day road trip along the Pamir Highway, which connects Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Songs like “DDROPP” put me in a constant blissful mood while I stared out the window of a Jeep speeding through the mountainous region. The uplifting climax of songs like “Pantheon Neon” also gave me the energy I needed as I hiked up the Ala Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan.