Pulled from the Pages: No Fixed Address

Are you an avid traveller? A wannabe backpacker? An armchair adventurer? Do you dream of visiting far-flung locales and immersing yourself in the rich culture of Africa, Europe, and South America? If so, we have the book for you!

About the Book

No Fixed Address is a travelogue, an enthusiastic, informative, and often tongue-in-cheek account of the global explorations undertaken by thriller writer Jon Evans. He documents his visits to sixty-six countries around the world—solo—with rather more adventurousness than many of us would likely consider. Evans takes us to poverty-stricken (but indomitable) Africa, to war-torn Iraq, and to the jungles of South America, preferring to experience life as lived by the locals rather than as a privileged, pampered visitor.


Pulled from the Pages


JUNE 2003
Moses and Monty Python

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

All credit to Moses. Nowadays Mount Sinai is a straightforward two-hour hike up a well-worn trail, but three millennia ago, when there was presumably no path switchbacking up its steep crags, it must have been absolute murder.

I was expecting a mob of people and was amazed to find myself absolutely alone at the summit for sunset. Amazed and grateful. Standing atop a fantasyland of jagged, pitted, striated crags and canyons, eroded by the wind into twisted coiled dragon shapes, stained by the last crimson rays of the sun, on the very mountain where Moses, so legend has it, received the Ten Commandments—a magical moment. It’s not often you get to spend the night in a genuinely mythical place.

I suppose I can’t in good conscience leave you with the notion that I have become lone-wolf-in-the-wilderness Intrepid Man. I wasn’t that alone. Not far below the summit are a half-dozen Bedouin huts/shops providing tea, Coke, chocolate, and mattress/blanket rental; two more overnighters showed up shortly after sunset; and just before dawn an Italian tour-group horde arrived. But still.

In the middle of the night, unless all three of us (wrapped beneath blankets, no tents, a comfortable distance from one another) independently dreamed the very same thing, twenty or thirty monks assembled around the ancient chapel near the summit and sang haunting Latin hymns for half an hour.

I found no burning bush up there. But at the foot of the mountain, in the seventeen-centuries-old Monastery of St. Catherine, grows what is alleged to be an offshoot of the very same bush that spoke to Moses; its remarkably green branches extend over a brick wall that guards its body. They claim that no other bush like it is found in all the Sinai peninsula, and that all the many attempts to cultivate cuttings from this bush in other places have failed. I remain a skeptic, as always, but it’s a cool story.

Like other impoverished tourist destinations, Egypt is populated by many, many touts and hangers-on who will attach themselves to you and try to wheedle baksheesh and/or insist on becoming your guide if you either (a) look like a mark or (b) are excessively rude, in which case they may harass you just to piss you off.

Their usual chat-up lines are ‘Where you from?’ or ‘Where you going?’ My usual answer to the first is ‘What’s it to ya?’ and to the second ‘I seek the Holy Grail.’ (‘I seek enlightenment’ turned out to be too abstract, ‘Yo mamma’s house’ excessively adversarial.) Both usually confuse the tout long enough for a getaway. But today, in a crowded market in Sharm el-Sheikh from where I write, I gave some kid the usual answer, and kept walking, and then I distinctly heard somebody call out to me: ‘Hey! My friend! What is the airspeed of a swallow in flight?’ And my faith in the universe was newly restored.


About the Author

Born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario, Jon Evans is the son of a Rhodesian expatriate father and a tenth-generation Canadian mother. He studied Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo, graduated in 1996, and promptly moved to California to work in the burgeoning software industry. Evans spent the next fourteen years working, writing, and travelling far and wide around the globe. Evans is the author of four thrillers, one graphic novel, and one dark urban fantasy, and his journalism has been published in Wired, The Guardian, Reader’s Digest and The Globe and Mail. His first novel, Dark Places, won the 2005 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel.

portraitI had an absolute blast reading this book, and I hope you will, too. I particularly enjoyed the section on Africa, where we get a taste not only of his adventures on the continent, but also of the political, economic, social and historical forces at play in shaping the cultural experience. Look for the book in print soon!sig

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.