Countries Visited


UNESCO Sites Visited


Where am I?

I’m Piia Mustamäki, an academic wanderluster, a Finn, and a New Yorker, currently based in Abu Dhabi where I teach at NYU Abu Dhabi’s writing program. These are my essays:  blog posts, some longer essays, some just anecdotes and some a bit experimental.  Most are about traveling. There are 1001 worlds out there to learn from and to explore.  

Featured Posts

She Stares at Me – A Confrontation in Dakar
She’s on the third floor, next to a statue from Cameroon.   She’s young and beautiful, just a girl really.  Her expression is difficult to interpret.  We pass a loudly chatting group of Senegalese women, all dressed in a medley of primary colors. I wish I’d understand what they’re saying, what they think of the recently …
High in Harar
The living room’s bright blue concrete walls glow under the fluorescent light. The air is full of cigarette smoke and the smell of coffee beans roasting. It’s Ramadan, Islam’s holy month. The old color TV transmits hypnotic praying live from Mecca. I’m in Harar, a historic Muslim town in Ethiopia, about 130 miles from the …
Isfahan Equals Half the World
Isfahan or Esfahan. Or Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan. The ancient Persian, nowadays Iranian, city has many English spellings depending on the time period and source. Duke Ellington spelled it “Isfahan,” in the title of a beautiful jazz song named after the city, allegedly renamed so after his band’s tour of Iran in 1963. After visiting …
A Tale of Two Mesopotamian Cities
I remember having heard about the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and the land between them called Mesopotamia, endless times at school, but, when I finally visited the region in 2011, I had no idea it would make such an impression. Glued to the bus window, I took in the scenery along the river Tigris, running …
5 ½ Things I Learned Road Tripping in Iran
Always bring a watermelon. Well, when in season of course, but if they are, don’t hesitate. At a picnic spot, you can just cut the top of, cut a crisscross with a knife and dig in with forks. Afterwards, just put the “lid” back on, pack in the back of the car, and continue eating …
Walking in Belgrade
“We smoke like Turks. And like similar sugary desserts,” says Ljiljana when we break for soya lattes midway a four-hour street art walking tour. We’re sitting on one of the numerous Belgrade terraces enjoying the mild early May weather. I’m surprised to hear the admission of similarities to Turks from a Serbian as the hundreds …
Cultural Kumasi
The music was nothing like I had heard before.  The rhythm energetic, even a bit aggressive, yet laid back at the same time. The singer spew out words, half singing, sometimes half screaming: a few might have been in English and the rest in a language I didn’t recognize.  The set up was unusual for …
Alone in Namibia with Martha Gellhorn
“You are alone?” The young woman’s raised left eyebrow gave away her surprise.  It was Christmas Day during a pandemic and I had just driven 10 miles on a gravel road. The other woman behind the Hobatere Lodge reception didn’t bother hiding her alarm. Both eyebrows raised, she chimed in, “You don’t have children?” “No …

Where I’ve Been

Meridian: The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology of New Writing

I’m honored to have my essay “A Rich Life” in this stellar collection of poetry, fiction and essays. Though not necessarily about travel, the collection takes you around Asia Pacific in 37 different voices and locations.