Editor’s note

The eye has to travel

Volume 11 (Wander), Summer 2023/24

Photographs from Charl’s Instagram page showing his recent travels to the Mediterranean

I usually write my editor’s note at the eleventh hour, just in time for our print deadline, with the emphasis on just. I always have high hopes of doing it in advance, but something about that just doesn’t sit right with me. I need to see the whole issue printed out, up on our studio wall or in our dummy book (my Anna Wintour moment), to stand back, assess and have a proper overview of the issue, before I put pen to paper. It’s in these last few seconds that it all comes together, and my fingers know what to type. It feels more authentic and in the moment. A last touch.

And so, again, a few minutes before we go to print, I find myself typing this note. This time I’m on a plane bound for Istanbul – fitting for our wanderlust-worthy issue. I’ve left town for a whirlwind weekend work trip – not even our print deadline will stop me. ‘The eye has to travel,’ said Anna’s predecessor, Diana Vreeland. But the well-known Maasai proverb probably says it best: ‘The eye that travels sees further.’

I’ve just pressed play on my playlist to set the scene for the rest of this page and the trip. ‘Go West’ by Pet Shop Boys is playing, although I’m actually going east, while Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel is on the screen in front of me (this issue is an unofficial love letter to him), stealing my attention away from my one last task for Wander (focus, Charl!).

The point of all this scene-setting detail? Well, flip through this issue, pause on any page and you’ll instantly be transported to a magical, faraway destination. Our studio has curated the most incredible map of stories for you to wander through. Add to that stories by our contributors and editors-at-large, who were all very much ‘at large’, travelling the globe from Turkey to Tokyo, Marseille to Marrakech, Milan to Mexico City, Sicily to the Serengeti, Copenhagen to the Cayman Islands, New York to Namibia. Which reminds me of a travel memory in those dunes…

On a recent trip (and shoot) in Namibia, spanning many miles, we found ourselves rushing to Deadvlei in the surreal Sossusvlei, to get that perfect shot before sunset. We just made it in time (never mind the mission back in the dark!). It was in this crazy rush, in which I so often find myself for work, or in the pursuit of that perfect picture, that I stood back, allowing it to fade and stillness to take over. Then it hit me.

I realised that this might be the last time I ever set foot there, which is true of so many places, I guess. But this sudden realisation truly struck a chord and had a profound effect on how I now experience space and time, and my appreciation for travel and the places I encounter. I felt overwhelmed and overjoyed all at once – apparently Namibia does this to you. I’ve never felt more lonely or connected to the world, if that makes any sense.

Charl in Sossusvlei, Namibia, while on location for this issue’s inspiration shoot, captured by fellow traveller and photographer by Sarah da Pina

Before Sossusvlei, travel for me had mostly become about finding the next thing to feature on my Insta feed or to channel into work. But it was in this vlei, surrounded by only dunes (in the most magical light I have ever seen), that the noise of the world faded away and a different kind of connection was established. Travelling took on a new meaning for me: discovery without an outcome. Just, being. Just me and those dunes.

I got the picture, but I also got so much more. And that’s what Wander is all about. It’s one thing to travel, but an entirely different thing to wander. The eye has to travel. But so too do the soul and heart. 😉

See you again in early 2024, for Volume 12.