Introducing Volume 21: The Islands Issue

Introducing Volume 21: The Islands Issue

This article appears in Volume 21: The Islands Issue.

This article appears in Volume 21: The Islands

It’s my long-held suspicion that there exists inside each of us
a strange longing to be shipwrecked. From the swashbuckling pirate
tales of childhood to the desert island dreams we take refuge in as
adults, the irresistible idea of life lived away from the mainland
– and the mainstream – retains a tenacious hold on our imagination,
particularly in troubled times when the urge to escape and build a
new world intensifies.

This fantasy of paradise found is perhaps at the core of our
fascination with islands. Each rock represents one of a myriad of
possibilities, a tiny reality unfolding at its own pace and locked
into battle with the surrounding waters and the contradictions
inherent in island living – isolation versus interdependence,
tradition versus reinvention, borders versus freedom.

Most poignantly, they mirror the constant shaping and reshaping
of our own identity. “No man is an island”, goes the well-worn
cliché – but in fact we are all sprawling, idiosyncratic islands of
our own making. As the author Grace Banks discovered in her dive
into the unique customs of island communities, they “can shape a
rare state of mind where you have free rein to develop ways of
living away from the gaze of the rest of the world”. Everyday
existence on the Chilean island of Chiloé is suffused by local
legend, such as that of the rapacious trauco demon.

Traditions handed down from generation to generation emerge in
the earthy flavours of the isle of Menorca, where our Food Editors
were forced to slow down and savour life lived by the seasons
(p114). While pilgrimaging to the Greek island of Hydra in the
tracks of her musical icon Leonard Cohen, Dolly Alderton found a
place where time seems to have stopped altogether.

A desire to escape the frenetic speed of modern living motivated
the founders of Off Grid Hideaways to launch their collection of
far-flung digital detoxes, where the emphasis is on disconnecting
your phone and reconnecting with yourself. This concept of islands
as places to get lost and be found haunts the canals of Venice,
where outcasts and artists have long flocked to find secrecy and
solace. Only with the help of its natives did the writer Delilah
Khomo unlock a few of its mysteries.

The romance of a tropical idyll is encapsulated in the laid-back
Mexican island of Holbox, where the most urgent task consists of
locating the next fish taco (p126). Realising this halcyon dream
can take many miles and years, as the Kolkata-born chef Romy Gill
found out when she finally journeyed to the paradise of her
childhood imagination, India’s Andaman Islands (p130).

Although islands may seem impervious to the world beyond their
borders, environmental shifts have the potential to desiccate their
postcard-perfect vistas. Resorts in fragile ecosystems such as the
Maldives are fighting to preserve their surroundings, while our
Social Media Editor, Ranyhyn Akui, visited the Caribbean island of
Nevis and found a community thankful to have escaped the ravages of
the recent hurricanes. In Havana, however, the photographer Michael
Marquand documented a people ready to embrace the tide of incoming
social change.

The inhabitants of Greenland’s icy extremities are used to
weathering storms under the gaze of the northern lights (p108),
while fishermen along Sweden’s Bohuslän coast bravely navigate its
cold waters in search of seafood. Finally, a story of resilience
and renewal is being told at one of the four corners of the earth,
Canada’s Newfoundland, where the poet Rosalind Jana encountered a
community being revitalised by tourism.

As one year comes to a close and another begins, it feels
appropriate to end on this note of introspection and change. Just
as islands invite us to investigate the edges of our own identity
and our relationship to the world, SUITCASE Magazine has taken this
moment of pause to re-centre around a phrase that expresses who we
have become: The Culture of Travel. As we journey forward, I hope
you will use this issue as an opportunity to embrace your
eccentricities and imbibe the spirit of curiosity and creativity
that SUITCASE has always represented to me as a reader – and now,
as the new Editor of our own island in the sea.

Discover More
Books That Get Sandy – Caribbean Inspiration