Beyond The Map

Shaun Tan – The Arrival (

Welcome to Caravanerserai 230 – Beyond The Map!

Here we can explore a myriad of people, places and customs that cross borders, mix cultures and tell stories. I’ll be looking at everything from books, music and art to agriculture, climate, people and countless other amazing things that come my way through the Caravanserai 230 project!

Are you an expat learning a new way of life? Have you written a story about a country that has stolen your heart? Does your family live on a border? Have you learnt a skill that belongs to another people?…

Feel free to contribute something from your own life that is beyond the map!

Shaun Tan – The Arrival (

Shaun Tan – The Arrival (

Shaun Tan – The Arrival (

These images are all from Shaun Tan’s, The Arrival. See more of his amazing work and read his story here.

I love the way his drawings combine things we recognise with surprising objects and scenes from his immense imagination. I think they symbolise the way it can feel when we encounter a new culture or country.

Here’s an example of the sort of post I’m looking for…Look out for future posts like this under the category Beyond The Map on my home page!

The Sami People of the Reindeer; rooftop migration including a 5km swim!

The Sami people live in the northern regions of Europe and Russia. Like other herding peoples from the north, they live and travel with a large number of reindeer.

When summer pastures are in winter dormancy, the reindeer require a supply of lichen to feed on. Often, their grasslands lack the lichen they need and so they have to move on. Over the past 500 years the Sami people have established migration routes to move their animals between  summer and winter pastures.

For the herds-people of the Arnoy Island, the lichen can be up to 500km away and so an arduous journey begins. In this freezing cold part of the world, the sea ice and snow dictate how and when they can travel.

Sami Reindeer Herder (

Sami People (

Sami Reindeer Herder (

Sami Reindeer Herder (

Before they set off the animals are divided into manageable groups, fed, health checked and medicated.

As soon as they begin their migration they come up against their first barrier – the open ocean.

Sami Reindeer Herder (

Swimming Reindeer (

The only way to get over to the nearest island, 5kms away is to swim. Understandably, this is a stressful time for the reindeer and their herders. The swim is difficult for the adult reindeer and extremely gruelling for the young calves.  To add to the difficultly, the herders need to keep an eye out for boat traffic too.

The Sami people follow on behind in small boats gently encouraging the younger ones and monitoring the progress of the crossing. The greatest danger is that the herd will spook and try to swim back to shore, jeopardising the entire migration.  

Once the reindeer have finished their swim, found their feet and their calves, they face weeks of walking, although it’s fair to say the trickiest part of the migration is over for another year.

Reindeer feeding on lichen (



One thought on “Beyond The Map

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