I’m a freelance journalist and documentary producer. I was born in London, grew up in Uganda and Zambia, have spent much of my life in Central America, and am currently in Cadiz, Spain. London, home to many friends and where I started my career, has remained the default base. I don’t regard it as home. I can’t afford to park there and the climate is not a good fit. I miss my Tate membership, restaurants, people, and knowing somewhere so well, but I hanker after hot, empty places and driving barefoot.

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between people and place, and the mixed blessing of having the freedom to choose. Years ago, I suggested an Expat Lives column to my editor at the Financial Times, and then got to interview people around the world, probing into their daily lives. Almost all (I think Pico Iyer was the only exception) confessed to missing ‘home’ although they explained home was a place from which they had vigorously fought to escape, or that had changed beyond recognition, or was inextricably linked to childhood. I’ve since written extensively about irregular migration, and migrants – people with no choice or a difficult choice, or the ambition of a better life.

Theoretically, paperwork aside, I could live anywhere, and I’ve tried a few countries for size. Criss-crossing the United States, I visited communities founded by Swedes, Poles, Italians and Iranians, and met Texans still searching for new frontiers. A disciple of Robinson Crusoe and Thoreau, I inhabited my own Walden, a tropical one, living for eight months on an isolated beach in Costa Rica. Then I sunk my money into an old farm in Cadiz.

I often wonder whether I’m supposed to be here, if this is my Somewheresville, or if people even have a Somewheresville. I have a love-hate relationship with this place: I need it and dream of escaping it. Those kind of thoughts formed the basis for a novel.

LinkedIn / Sorrel Downer


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